Pool player who refused to play final against transgender rival says walk-out was about ‘not being silenced’, as her son hails her as ‘the champ’: ‘I don’t care about money, it means nothing without fairness’

  • Lynne Pinches walked out of a final after refusing to face transgender opponent 
  • Harriet Haynes was awarded the victory following Pinches’ decision to withdraw 
  • Pinches’ son Tommy praised his mother’s decision and dubbed her the ‘Champ’ 

Lynne Pinches, who forfeited a tournament final on Sunday because she refused to face her trans opponent, has claimed she did so out of ‘fairness’, as her son hails her as ‘the champ’.

Pinches ceded the final of the Women’s Champions of Champions pool tournament on Sunday in Denbighshire, Wales, where she was due to play Harriet Haynes. 

Pinches took her lag shot to officially start the encounter, but soon after shook hands with Haynes and the referee, packed her cue away, and left the arena – a Pontins in Prestatyn. 

Haynes was left surprised but ultimately took the crown, with Pinches finishing the runner-up as a result of her decision, although her son has been quick to praise her decision. 

Since her bold statement to retire from what was just her fourth ever final, Pinches has spoken out on her decision, claiming that she made a statement on the fairness of allowing transgender athletes to compete against natal females. 

Lynne Pinches finished as runner-up in a pool tournament after retiring from the final before the first frame

Lynne Pinches finished as runner-up in a pool tournament after retiring from the final before the first frame

‘Walking out was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in the game in my life,’ she told the Telegraph.

‘I have played 30 years and I’ve never even conceded so much as a frame, never mind a match. This was only my fourth final ever but the trophy or money meant nothing to me without fairness, and that’s what I said to the tournament director afterwards.’

‘I don’t care about the money or the title or the trophy. I care about fairness. If they hadn’t done that U-turn, we wouldn’t be here now. We were all so elated when they originally said they were going to have a strict category for biological females.’

Pinches was quick to add that her withdrawal was not done with intention of causing hurt to the transgender community, not to embarrass anyone, but that she felt women were being humiliated by having to face trans athletes. 

Guidance from the English Pool Association (EPA) dictates that trans athletes should be allowed to play in informal matches and pool competitions, facing no further verification of their sex than any cisgender athletes. 

Part of Pinches’ frustration stems from the fact that pool players were given assurances that non-binary and transgender players would not play against females, only for the World Eightball Pool Federation and Ultimate Pool Group to then U-turn on this last month. 

Pinches’ decision to cede the final of the tournament was a popular one inside the arena, with many fans heard cheering and shout of ‘yes Lynne’ were audible in footage from the event. 

Pinches’ brother, Barry, also took to social media on Monday to praise Lynne’s move, but clarified that her retirement from that game was due to feeling it was ‘unfair to compete against a trans woman’.

‘Full credit and great respect to my sister Lynne Pinches yesterday for taking a stand and not playing in the biggest match of her pool playing life because she feels it’s so unfair to have to compete against a trans woman,’ he said. 

‘I completely agree with her view that it is totally unfair to expect women to compete against trans women in pool or any other sport for that matter.’

Barry added: ‘For the record, this post is about fairness in women’s sport, that is all. I have no problem whatsoever if somebody wants to identify themselves as whatever they want to be and I have nothing against Harriet Haynes.’ 

The controversy now rocking the top levels of women’s professional pool began on October 24 when the sport’s international governing body, the World Eightball Pool Federation (WEPF), changed the rules over trans players’ participation in female tournaments.

Initially, in August, with increasing numbers of trans players applying to play in women’s tournaments, the WEPF had put out a joint statement with its main sponsor the Ultimate Pool Group ruling that ‘these events will be exclusively open to individuals who are born female.’ 

Harriet Haynes was awarded first prize after Pinches' withdrawal from the showpiece on Sunday

Harriet Haynes was awarded first prize after Pinches’ withdrawal from the showpiece on Sunday

But just eight weeks later there was a shock reversal in this decision, which a number of women players have suggested was made under pressure of legal threats from trans competitors.

The WEPF and Ultimate Pool issued an update on ‘competition eligibility for transgender and non-binary players’ stating that there would be no discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.

They stipulated that they would operate a gender ‘self-identification policy’ for competitors, but added that they reserved the right to test that testosterone had been suppressed to the levels required of trans athletes by the International Olympic Committee.

Within a week of this announcement more than 60 professional female pool players joined forces through a WhatsApp support group to oppose the changes, the Mail on Sunday was told.

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