Is Eurosport anti Selby?

I have deliberately waited before going for this one until the rage and “word war” have come down a bit on social media. It all turned about two main issues.

Issue 1 – the studio discussion about the “snooker behind the brown”

During the 2021 World final and in the aftermath of it, there was a lot of criticism targeting the Eurosport coverage, and a perceived “anti Selby” bias.

The whole thing started when the pundits had a discussion in the ES studio about a difficult situation on the table.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has said it “ain’t right” that Mark Selby was able to benefit from a controversial re-spot in the World Snooker Championship final against Shaun Murphy.
Selby got a taste of his own medicine during the 19th frame of the World Snooker Championship as Murphy had him in a world of trouble with a very sneaky shot with the cue ball rolled in behind the brown, leaving a horrible snooker.
But after three misses on the tricky snooker from an extended ‘spider’ and ‘swan’ rests, Selby was strangely suddenly able to use a normal rest to eventually get out of the shot at the fourth time of asking.
Using freeze-frames in the Eurosport studio, experts O’Sullivan and Neal Foulds made it clear that the re-spot was not correct and the normal rest should never have been a possibility to get out of the original situation.
In O’Sullivan’s mind, it clearly was not right that Selby was suddenly able to play the shot with the different rest – and he was shocked that Murphy did not get out of his chair to flag the incorrect re-spot.
If the white was put back where it was originally, this shot is just not possible,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport. “Because you can’t hit enough of the white, and if you did, you would probably miscue and the white would go towards the yellow.
“So if this shot was playable in the first place, he would have done. But even still, even when the white has moved [from the re-spot] quite considerably, really, he still couldn’t hit enough of the white to come that side of the red.
“So that shot was just never possible. You try not to blame the players, but in that situation, if the player has got the spider out originally and then he is using the rest, surely they should be able to use the technology to see the balls are not right. Because if they were right, you [Selby] would still have the spider in your hands. So maybe they should have used the technology to get it right.”
Foulds added: “Listen, you don’t want to get too involved in blaming players, but the balls were not put back correctly, we know that because we saw how they were put back and it was not correct, so the referee, the marker and the player at the table really have the responsibility. Murphy didn’t leave his chair; he will always take it on trust from the other player, but I’m a little surprised that happened the way it did because the shot was not on that he ended up playing.”

The images above show the situation on the table, before Mark Selby’s first attempt, and before the last one. It’s obvious that the brown is sticking out more on the right side of the white in the second image.

The ES pundits were definitely right in their assesment of the situation. No player would have taken the extended spider or the extended swan-neck if they could reach with the extended rest. Originally Mark Selby needed to cue “on top” of the white because he wasn’t seeing enough of it to cue on the side.

The ES pundits have discussed controversial situations like this, at length, including when Ronnie was on the wrong side of it notably the incident with the extented rest happened during his match against Luo Honghao during the 2018 English Open. At the time nobody accused them to be “anti-Ronnie” and Ronnie was branded a cheat on social media because “surely” he must have felt it.

Well, I will say that surely in this case Selby should have seen it, or at least questioned why he was suddenly able to play a shot that wasn’t on before. Yet, I haven’t seen anyone branding him “a cheat” on twitter.

To summarise my sentiment about this incident: it was not a case of being “anti-Selby”, even less a case of being “Selby haters”, it was a relevant question, and discussion, about a controversial table situation, and it is puzzling that Mark Selby didn’t question the replacement of the balls. This is a non-issue.

Issue 2: Desmond Kane article after the final

After the final, the always prolofic and lyrical Desmond Kane wrote a long article where he basically defended the idea that Mark Selby is bad for the game.

The article is quite really a long one and it’s mainly nonsense. 

Mark Selby plays to his strength, he’s out there to try his hardest and win and it’s what he has to do. As a fan, you may or may not like to watch it, but it’s clever, skilful and within the rules, unlike what Ebdon did during the 2005 World Championship QF against Ronnie, where is was plain time wasting. Clearly Desmond doesn’t like it. I’m not a great fan either, but I disagree with the article all the same.

Desmond quotes various pundits/commentators to support his own views:

Quoting Ronnie:

O’Sullivan compared his old rival to a “boa constrictor” on Eurosport in his ability to tighten his grip on opponents with balls welded to cushions and Murphy left frozen in some sort of snooker Siberia.

Selby is keeping balls tight on the side cushion,

But he overlooks the fact that Ronnie actually admires Selby for being able to play that way, and that his advice to Murphy was just to do what himself had done last year in the World’s semi-finals to avoid being trapped in Selby’s game.

Quoting Steve Davis:

Davis – who was hardly the life and soul of the party himself back in the day – rather cruelly compared Selby to a villain from the Harry Potter canon of fiction called the Dementor, a sort of grim reaper figure. They are said to “glory in decay and despair, they drain hope and happiness out of the air around them” which pretty much summed up Selby’s mightily effective, but soul-destroying dismantling of fellow Englishman Murphy

One for the purists? Most definitely. One to win a popularity contest? Most definitely not.

Mark Selby adequately answered those criticism 

“What’s the point of going out there just to entertain the crowd if you keep losing? It doesn’t make sense to me. Look at your CV,” he said.

I DON’T WANT PEOPLE SAYING ‘HE WAS GREAT TO WATCH, BUT HE DIDN’T WIN ANYTHING’. IF YOU THINK I’M BORING, WATCH CORONATION STREET.

Quoting Stephen Hendry

The claws are in and they are in deep, Mark Selby is like a snooker vampire. He sucks all the life and adrenaline out of you,” opined Hendry, the record seven-times Crucible holder.

Stephen Hendry is probably the one who really struggles to see positives in Mark Selby’s game because himself played the exact opposite uncompromisingly.

Also, although Eurosport got all the stick, it’s worth noting that Davis and Hendry don’t work for Eurosport. they work for the BBC. Yet, I didn’t see any criticism aimed at the BBC for those comments and, to my knowledge, no one suggested that they were “anti Selby”.

Quoting Graeme Dott

I don’t think that is a good advert for snooker tonight,” said Dott. “That is just my personal opinion. I don’t like being involved in games were lots of people are actually leaving.

IT IS NOT SO MUCH PUTTING ME OFF. YOU JUST DON’T GET RHYTHM. IT IS LIKE KILLING THE GAME. IT IS THE EQUIVALENT OF A FOOTBALL TEAM PUTTING 11 MEN BEHIND THE BALL AND NOT ATTEMPTING TO COME OUT. IT IS JUST THE WAY MARK PLAYS.

Now those quotes date back to January 2013… people were leaving indeed, but surely, the fact that Ally Pally is a rather isolated place, that it was freezing cold and snowing and that the last busses were about to depart had something to do with it. I would know, I was there, duly missed the last bus and caught the mother of all colds.

Desmond also brings in Judd Trump:

All the players need to do their job and make the sport as exciting as possible

Well, for me, one of the beauties of snooker is diversity and not everyone is “excited” by the same things. At the risk of being branded an “odd ball”, I’m not excited by Judd Trump’s game, and certainly would not watch the sport anymore if we had 128 “Judd Trump” clones on the tour.

And Stuart Bingham:

It was gruelling. It’s tough to lose a close game like that,” said Bingham. “Funnily enough, it’s the same sort of player, time in, time out, who plays slow. Does he do it on purpose or what?
I want a free-flowing game. Everyone knows there was one shot which took three minutes. It’s close to gamesmanship.”

So, regarding this issue, for me the main question is: is it a “Eurosport” view, or a “Desmond Kane” view? And should Eurosport distance themselves from the article, if they think it’s going too far, and doesn’t reflect accurately their position as a brand?

Journalists should have the freedom to express their opinion, as long as they stay factually correct. They are the ones responsible for those opinions. The media for which they work should have the possibility to distance themselves if they think things are going too far. I’m not a fan of censorship. In this case, my sentiment is that this article reflects Desmond Kane’s views, and his only. It’s not a Eurosport issue

 

Jason Ferguson gives more information about the Turkish Masters

Jason has been speaking to Phil Haigh about the new Turkish Masters

Jason Ferguson gives the latest on Turkish Masters, the upcoming season and possible new events

Jason Ferguson
Jason Ferguson has confirmed a huge first prize at the Turkish Masters (Picture: Getty Images)

The newly-announced Turkish Masters will have a top prize of ‘at least £100,000’ confirms WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson, who is plotting some more events around the Mediterranean in the near future.

After a low-key unveiling of the season’s calendar last week, with a number of gaps with ‘potential ranking event’ one of those gaps was filled in style with the announcement of the new tournament in Antalya at the end of September.

It’s a glamorous destination for the tour, especially after a year of behind-closed-doors action in Milton Keynes, and of the confirmed £500,000 prize fund, Ferguson says at least £100,000 will go to the champion.

It’s a full-ranking, flat draw, 128 players,’ Ferguson explained to Metro.co.uk.The intention is to take 64 players to Turkey, but we’ll hold some first round matches for over there, the world champion and a few others and it will be a minimum of £100,000 first prize.

‘I’m really excited. It’s been two years’ work for me, rumbling along in the background.

‘The promoter, a lovely guy called Tugba [Irten] has pulled everything together and made it work, it’s really exciting.

‘If I could send one message, I urge all players to support this event. This is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.’

The players appear to share Ferguson’s excitement for a trip to Turkey in September – as long as Covid-related travel restrictions are eased by then – and they could have more appealing destinations to look forward to in the coming months as well.

‘I’m working on a few in this sort of area,’ Jason said. ‘We’ve had a lot of time to think in lockdown.

‘It’s been hard in Milton Keynes, it was great for us there, but we can’t keep going back to the same place. We need to get out and show the world what we’re doing.

‘It’ll be good for the players, good for morale and something to look forward to. I think it’s lifted the spirits a little bit.

‘I’m looking at a few other Mediterranean-style destinations, but it’s all to do with travel and countries opening up again, it’s hard to say too much at the minute.

‘That whole area is booming, the interest in snooker in the Mediterranean is booming and it’s not just ex-pats.

When the 2021/22 calendar was announced there was some concern among players that five slots were filled by ‘potential ranking events’ but Ferguson has allayed fears over these dates in the diary.

Restrictions thanks to the pandemic continue to make things difficult, but whether they take place in the UK or abroad, those gaps in the calendar will be filled.

‘Oh they’re happening, yeah,’ he said. ‘We’re in this difficult travel situation at the moment. We’ve had to hold on as long as we could.

‘Ideally we’d be qualifying for overseas events early, but we don’t know if we can do final stages before the new year.

‘We’re starting off with the Championship League [4-30 July], that’s a good way to get people back playing. Qualifiers for Turkey in the qualifying slot in August.

‘We’re looking at a revised WST Pro series, refining that into a better model.

‘There’s a lot of work to do. It might start gentle with some league-style things but it will gain momentum. We will backfill that calendar, we will fill it up.’

The fact that there will be a few held-over matches gives me a hope that Ronnie will enter. After all he remains one of the most popular players, if not the most popular player and the sponsor will probably want to be sure he makes it to the main venue.

One concern might be the conditions: at the scheduled dates the weather will still be quite hot in Antalya, albeit dry.

 

Soheil Vahedi about the fate of lower ranked players

Yesterday Phil Haigh published this interview with Soheil Vahedi and it’s certainly food for thoughts.

Soheil Vahedi on scrapping for snooker survival on foreign soil: ‘There’s nothing enjoyable for us here’

World Games 2017 - Men's Snooker Competition
Soheil Vahedi is fighting to survive on the snooker scene (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Selby lifted the World Championship title earlier this month, pocketing £500,000 for his efforts at the Crucible, but while there are a handful of snooker superstars, there are far more who are kicking hard just to stay afloat in the game.

Soheil Vahedi is one of those players. The 32-year-old from Tehran finished last season ranked number 99 in the world, losing his place as a professional as a result of finishing outside the top 64.

He will be heading to Q School this month in a bid to regain his WST tour card and continue his journey in snooker that has taken him from his native Iran to a new home in Darlington.

With him in the North East are his wife and, as of last week, his son Radine, and while Soheil describes himself as ‘born again’ with the birth of his first child, he admits that life in Darlington is tough.

No,’ he said when asked by Metro.co.uk if he enjoys life there. ‘There’s nothing enjoyable for us here, nothing, absolutely nothing.

‘Snooker players just think about themselves, it all ends in the snooker hall, it all starts and ends in a greeting and a goodbye. On the table, play and go.

That’s what it is. There’s no life here for us really, it’s just snooker and snooker.

My wife is doing well not to moan at me eight hours a day because she has the right to do so. She had a family life, such a good life in Iran, but left all that behind to come here and help me achieve my goal, so I’m very thankful.

With the baby coming, she didn’t want to catch coronavirus, she probably went out of the house nine times in 10 months, just for a walk.

When I leave the house my wife is alone. I couldn’t focus on the table because anything could happen to my wife, I haven’t got family here to help, we’ve got nobody here.

Vahedi paints a bleak picture of chasing a snooker dream thousands of miles away from home, but says he still enjoys the game, even if he has to force himself to do so sometimes.

It is very hard but at the same time, 60-70 per cent I still enjoy snooker,’ he said. ‘Not fully, because of the lifestyle, what’s been happening and matches I’ve lost, but you have to keep the enjoyment, because if you don’t I don’t see a way to improve or win.

Vahedi travelled to Sheffield for the World Championship qualifiers in April hoping to become the first Iranian to appear at the Crucible and with some form behind him after a fine run at the Gibraltar Open in March which saw him beat Mark Williams en route to the last 16.

Things started well as he went 5-2 ahead of Belgian amateur Julien Leclercq in round one, but then disaster struck as he lost the last four frames and fell to a 6-5 defeat.

Soheil admits complacency crept in and it cost him, dearly, as the defeat confirmed that he would drop off the professional tour.

‘I was really gutted,’ he said. ‘This past season I lost maybe four or five matches from being in front or very close matches. Every time I got to that stage of being near the finishing line I was nervous, lost my focus.

I was excited I was going to win, get a little bit of money, all of that helps. I got excited before the game was finished, that was the problem, I needed to stay focused.

That’s experience, not ability, as soon as I start winning a few matches that feeling goes away. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I couldn’t believe it.

After the devastating loss Vahedi sat in his chair for some time rather than leave the arena, seemingly struggling to come to terms with the defeat, but he explains that he was actually talking himself round to a positive mindset.

‘I was thinking, “What happened there? Why did I lose? I can’t keep losing these kind of matches. Now two months off with no earnings, it’s going to be a difficult two months.

But I told myself that I need to be ready, just carry on clawing away, stay focused, don’t give up. If I didn’t do that I might have given up but I told myself I’ve come so far, done everything right, practiced so much, it just didn’t end well.

So I’ve got to carry on punching until everyone else is down. I’m thinking positive, unlike what people might have thought, I was telling myself good stuff, but people thought I was down on myself.

I’ve seen some people run away from the table as soon as they lose, feeling so bad they don’t want to stay there, but I didn’t want to run away from anything and made sure I left the arena with happiness and not anger and all those negative things.’

Other than serving his national service in the Iranian army in 2012, Vahedi has been set firm on a path to a career in snooker for years and is not ready to deviate from that goal.

He has been on tour since 2017 and does not expect the journey to end here.

I dedicated nearly 20 years of my life to this game,’ he said. ‘I’ve never done anything besides snooker so if I leave snooker I don’t know what I’m going to do to earn a living. I’m better at sticking with this and just carry on. Some top players have dropped off tour before and come back.

World Games 2017 - Men's Snooker Competition</di

Vahedi enjoyed a run to the last 16 of the Gibraltar Open last season, beating Mark Williams, Michael White and Tom Ford (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’ve done okay, if I’d won the matches I should have won I would have done well, but I didn’t. I haven’t played so bad, I wasn’t terrible, I can win. I’ve beaten so many good players in these four years. Some players don’t win a match in two years, never beat top players, but I have. There is nothing to be upset about, I just need to gather my thoughts, pull myself together and keep working harder.

I thought I was going to win a few matches at the World Championship but the game doesn’t care what you think, it happens, it doesn’t listen to me. But I try my best, never give up.

With just £25,000 earned in prize money over the last season and the disappointment of no earnings from the World Championship, it is not easy to support a young family with no family in the country to help out.

Vahedi explains that he would be taking another job outside snooker, but visa restrictions stop him from doing so.

We can’t work, that’s the problem,’ Soheil explained. ‘Overseas players get visas and come over here, not allowed to work and have no sponsors but have played the game for so long and want to carry on as a professional and being here.

But they cannot work, so that’s not right. They need to find a way so snooker players who come to the UK are allowed to work, for certain hours, in any job.

That’s one of the things World Snooker doesn’t care about. They need to sit and talk about this. They need to find a way to support people so they don’t end up with no money at all. That’s what my request is and I don’t think there’s anybody out there who would disagree with that.

They can definitely find a way because we pay a lot of tax here. If they let us work or find a job for us, we’ll end up playing better, earning more money and paying more tax! We can live a better life and fulfil our potential.

If we drop off the tour and never play snooker again that’s not good for the game. There would be less people wanting to play snooker or come to the UK because they will know how difficult it is.

But if we had support we would say: “Come over here, don’t worry about money too much, if you run out there is support.”

‘You would see more players coming up, but like this, the way it is it’s always the same names in the finals, semi-finals, it’s never going to change.

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson has rejected this criticism and says that help and support is there if needed, and has indeed been provided in the past.

Statement from WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson

A statement from Ferguson read: ‘In conjunction with the WPBSA, WST goes to significant lengths to help players from overseas to come to the UK to play snooker and to settle here.

‘Soheil has been a professional since 2017 and various levels of support have been available to him throughout the past five years. For example, during the first lockdown, the WPBSA made available financial support to all WST players, which Soheil took advantage of.

‘Soheil has been assisted in gaining a Level 2 qualification as an official WPBSA coach.

‘He currently has a visa as an elite sportsman which is appropriate to allow him to compete on the World Snooker Tour. If he wants to work in a different sector, he would need to apply for the relevant visa. WST and the WPBSA are always willing to give support, advice and encouragement to all players, as the growth of snooker around the world is our greatest ambition.

‘We do not accept the criticism that we don’t do enough for them.’

Vahedi will be hoping to put his snooker struggles behind him at Q School, which starts later this month, as he bids to return to the tour and continue his long and winding journey in the sport.

He has come through the arduous tournament before, winning his card back in 2019 at the first time of asking and expects to again, hoping to once more feel the thrill of success.

Yeah of course I’m confident,’ he said. ‘I try not to let negativity creep in, but I’m very confident. I want to get straight back on, this is what I want, I want to enjoy my life.

It wasn’t easy last time, I had a few tough, close matches, but I came through quickly. I was absolutely thrilled afterwards.

I can understand Jason Ferguson’s frustration as, under his helm, WPBSA has certainly done more than ever to support their players. But that doesn;t change anything to the lower ranked players everyday’s reality, especially those who had to expat to do their job.

This article triggered this reaction by Steve Feeney (Sightright) on Facebook:

#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2021 – is it now time for Professional Snooker to provide lower ranked players with greater financial security to head off mental health issues associated with zero (1st Round losers) / low income?

The Covid pandemic has highlighted how fragile things can be at times and maybe now is the time for our wonderful Sport to show it fully understands the financial stress many lower ranked Professionals are experiencing, the impact this is having on their mental health and take action which is in their power to alleviate this?

As someone with a considerable background in HR issues, once your job is confirmed, you expect a minimum level of pay, even in an Apprenticeship.
A Sport which supports mental health must surely consider the impact low or zero income has on a player who has followed the correct path to become a Professional on the Main Tour.

Pro Footballers get paid when they lose a match or get relegated and this in my opinion should be the same in professional snooker.

When our incredible Sport offers pay at the lowest Professional level it will be far more attractive for young people to consider this career path.

Instead we have many lower ranked players – those recognised as Professionals by the Sport – going broke and that, I feel, can be avoided with relatively small changes #hardfacts #mentalhealthawareness

This is no different to what I have been saying here many times. By playing, they bring value to the tour, to the sponsors, to the venues’ managements, to the broadcasters. They deserve something for it. At the very minimum, playing shouldn’t cost them. Paying them a minimal wage, covering their basic costs when at a tournament would only be right. If it doesn’t count towards ranking, it will not help players who aren’t good enough to stay on tour. This would not be “rewarding mediocrity”, it would be paying them for a work done. No matter how well both player play, and how hard they both try, one of them will lose and that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve anything for their efforts.

Now that Barry Hearn has retired, and not underestimating at all how much good he has done for the game which is immense, I hope that such change will be considered and implemented because the current situation is not right. It would not cost much. It can even be done at no cost by making the prize money structure just a bit less top-heavy. It would not make a huge difference for the top players but it would be massive for the lower-ranked ones and the young.

Just as an example, based on the 2020 prize money distribution for the UK Championship:

Winner: £180000 instead of £200000 >> £20000
Runner-up: £75000 instead of £80000 >> £5000
Losing Semi-finalists £35000 instead of £40000 >> £10000
Highest break: £10000 instead of £15000 >> £5000

Would be enough to give all first round losers £625, without additional cost for WST/WPBSA.

Andrew Norman the happy coach

We are facing the longest break in snooker in years, at least when it comes to live snooker on television or stream, unless some of the coming Q-School matches are being streamed.

During that forced break I will try to find and share some slightly different, interesting snooker related stuff.

So, here is the first one: Andrew Norman speaks about the joy and fulfillment he finds in coaching and in helping young aspiring players.

Former professional Andrew Norman excited to take on head of snooker role at Stratford Sports Club

ATTRACTING a new generation to the sport while trying to find a future world champion – that’s what Stratford Sports Club’s new head of snooker hopes to achieve.

Andrew Norman
Snooker player Andrew Norman at Stratford Sports Club. Photo: Mark Williamson S40/5/21/7662

Former professional Andrew Norman starts his role on 5th June and is already looking forward to introducing youngsters to the sport, as well as coaching regular players of the game.

It’s an exciting chapter for the 40-year-old Bristolian, who told the Herald that being a coach can be very rewarding when seeing players he’s tutored go on to bigger and better things in the world of snooker.

Norman landed the role at Stratford Sports Club purely by chance when working as manager and head coach at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

“What I didn’t know was at the time I was giving coaching lessons to one of the sports club’s committee members,” said Norman.

“We formed a friendship and he responded really well to the coaching. About two months or so later I had a phone call saying that I had been recommended by that committee member to spearhead the sports club’s snooker operations.”

Norman, who peaked at 42 in the world rankings, retired from the game five years ago and is always on the search for the next champion.

Having had a number of positive conversations with the committee at Stratford Sports Club and club members, Norman cannot wait to get started.

I gave up snooker due to family reasons and the fact the cost of being a professional was not enough to support my family due to the era I was in,” he said.

After I gave up snooker I came back to the ‘real world’ with a normal job and decided to become a professional coach.

I’ve always wanted to find a future champion because it inspires me to help others.

Juniors are good to concentrate on as they’re the future, but it’s also rewarding to help the average club player.

“I have been talking with the sports club and a few players there and can see there are fantastic facilities available for people to use.

“The tables are of championship standard and everything about the club shows it is very well run. The club is a professionally run outfit and is one I am proud to represent.”

Although finding a future champion is the ultimate dream for Norman, he stressed being able to attract a new generation to the sport was much more important.

I’ve done summer clubs in the past for children who did not know what snooker was because it isn’t televised as much as the likes of football, cricket or tennis,” he said.

Children then see the tables and are amazed at just how big they are. However, it amazes me just how quickly they grasp the hand-eye co-ordination – their enthusiasm to learn is brilliant.

Playing snooker gives children the chance to learn about angles and mathematics, as well as manners, etiquette and sportsmanship.

Norman added: “I love coaching and seeing those I coach go on to bigger and better things in the world of snooker.

I’ve now realised through coaching that it’s much harder to watch people who you have coached play than playing myself.

To see children or anyone go from two to three years barely holding a cue to making a century break gives me such a buzz.

To get phone calls and texts from parents telling me how well someone I have coached is doing just spurs me on to do even more for them.

Looking back on his time in the professional game, Norman has no regrets but admitted he wished he could go back in time to give his younger self some all-important advice.

At my highest I was number 42 in the world in 2007-08. I’m not sure why I did not get any higher as I have played snooker all my life and practised the right things,” he said.

I was very dedicated. Looking back I was probably too dedicated as I trained too hard.

Snooker has brought me a lovely life and some amazing experiences. I’ve played everyone on the tour apart from Steve Davis, who I’d love to play against.

I look back on my time as a pro with no regrets as I have had some lovely moments. My biggest achievement was getting to the last 16 of the 2006 Grand Prix, where I lost to Neil Robertson in the last frame on the black ball.

That was the year Neil won the Grand Prix and look where he is now.

Looking back, I probably did not have the mental toughness to get better.

Now that I’ve got an older head on my shoulders, I wish I could go back in time and tell the younger me how to handle myself and how to get more out of my game.

When the South West Snooker Academy closed down in 2019, Norman got himself a job at the local Co-op as a goods-in manager but kept his foot in the game by continuing his private coaching at a small snooker club in Clevedon.

But with the opportunity to now spearhead Stratford Sports Club’s snooker operations, Norman is looking forward to the next stage of his career.

“Stratford Sports Club is really investing into the game and to be able to coach there is a fantastic opportunity,” he said.

“There’s the chance now for Stratford to get its name on the snooker world map.

“The sports club is a hidden gem and is clearly set on bringing the game to a higher standard, almost like a centre of excellence.”

He added: “There are some fantastic facilities here with brilliant people behind them. Everyone is welcome to come down and experience snooker for the first time.

“These snooker facilities are a brilliant thing to have on your doorstep and I am looking forward to seeing as many people as possible at Stratford Sports Club.”

I have known Andrew for many, many years. He’s a dear friend and a lovely man with a lovely family. He absolutely loves his sport, and he loves coaching. Nothing will please him more than seeing one of his students progress and reach their goal, no matter how humble this goal might be. He will help you and encourage you and be genuinely pleased with your progress  no matter how small the progress and no matter how clumsy and untalented you might be. If you love your snooker he will put all his heart in helping you, always patient, always smiling, always positive.

The closing of the SWSA  came as asurprise and a shock to Andrew. I’m glad that he has found another place where he can do what he loves and does best.

If you live in the area and you know a kid who wants to learn to play but is shy for whatever reason, don’t hesitate to direct them or their parents at Andrew. Young girls in particular are often feeling unwelcome in clubs. Gender prejudices are still very much alive unfortunately. Andrew will make sure that they are treated with respect and seen as “players”, not “girls”.

 

 

The Snooker Tour is heading to Turkey

This was posted by WST today

Snooker Heads To New Territory With Turkish Masters

The World Snooker Tour will stage an event in Turkey for the first time next season when the Turkish Masters takes place in the beautiful city of Antalya.

The provisional dates of the tournament are September 27 to October 3 and WST will closely monitor all guidelines on travel and Covid safety, working with governments in the UK and overseas.

The world ranking event will see 64 players heading to Turkey to compete for total prize money of £500,000.

Ruins of Aspendos theatreAntalya is known for its history, culture, beaches and cuisine

Antalya is renowned as one of Europe’s outstanding destinations, known for its culture, history and ideal location on the Mediterranean coast.

WST has agreed a four-year deal with the Turkish Billiards Federation and Big Break Promotions to stage the Turkish Masters every season until at least 2024/2025. Overall prize money will increase each year.

A qualifying round will be staged in August with players needing to win one match to make it to the final stages. Two Turkish wild cards will also be handed places in the main event in Antalya. The tournament will be televised by a range of broadcasters worldwide including Eurosport and Matchroom Live.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are thrilled to continue snooker’s international expansion by staging a world ranking event in Turkey for the first time. Over the past decade we have made dramatic progress in becoming a truly global sport, and to enter a brand new territory is a further step on that journey.

“We have tracked the growth in interest in snooker in Turkey in terms of television viewing figures and digital audience. This new event will provide a focal point for our sport in the region and it will help us to develop our strategy of building foundations across Europe.

“We are particularly excited to stage this event in Antalya because of the status of the city as an outstanding tourism destination. We have no doubt that the world’s leading players will be delighted with the chance to visit this stunning location while competing for a prestigious title and significant prize money, particularly given the challenges they have faced over the past year.

“We look forward to working with our new partners in Turkey on this fantastic project. To stage a major sporting event in Antalya will help develop the profile of the city.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “Congratulations to Ersan Ercan, President of the Turkish Billiard Federation, his hard working team, and local promoter Tuğba İrten for everything they have done to bring the Turkish Masters to the forefront of snooker’s global calendar. We have no doubt it will become one of the most popular events and destinations on our circuit.”

Antalya – the Pearl of the Mediterranean

Ersan Ercan, President of the Turkish Billiard Federation, added: “I would like to say a sincere thank you to WST for giving us the opportunity to welcome snooker to Turkey for the first time in our history.

“We are very excited and work has already begun to make this event one of the best on the calendar. I can assure those who attend of one thing, and that is they will fall in love with Antalya.”

Antalya is a marvellous place with a rich Greek, Roman and even Persian history. Tradional cuisine should be excellent as well… for those who know better than burgers and kebabs. Expect hot weather at that time of the year though…

I’m a bit surprised at Turkey interest in snooker. Their “traditional” game is 3-cushions billiards, a discipline they excel at. Turkey has produced top 3-cushions billiards players over the years, but none more famous than the great Semih Sayginer, the Turkish Prince.

For those of you who know nothing about 3-cushions here it is in short: there are three balls on the table: a white, a red, a yellow. One of the players plays with the white, the other one with the yellow. the goal is to score points. To score a point, the player at the table has to hit the red and his opponent’s ball, in any order, but before they hir the second ball they need to have hit at leat three cushions. The player stays at the table as long as they score. It’s simple… not!

Here is a short video featuring two of the best exponents of that discipline: Semih Sayginer and Torbjorn Blomdahl

Anyway…

What annoys me with this event is that Turkey is not a great country when it comes to respecting human rights. They have very recently withdrawn from the Istanbul convention , basically making domestic violence against women and girls legal. They also have a history of violence towards ethnic or religious minorities and even genocide, most notably against Armenians and Kurds.

More down to earth… it will be interesting to see if Ronnie will enter, given that, unless he’s drawn against a wildcard, he will likely need to qualify. And if he doesn’t, if he will give any reason for it other than not liking the qualifiers…

In general, I’m curious to see if any player with a moral compass AND politically informed will say anything.

David Lilley wins the 2021 Seniors World Championship

Davis Lilley defeated the defending Champion, Jimmy White, by 5-3, to become the 2021 Seniors World Champion.

Congratulations David!

SeniorsWC2021Final-1

David came into the event as a qualifier.

Darren Morgan had the highest break of the tournament, a 134 he scored in the only frame he won in his QF match against Jimmy White. 

Igor Figueiredo, the first South American to compete at the Crucible, reached the semi-finals and won the “Shot of the Championship” prize for sa fantastic “plant double”.

SeniorsWC2021ShotofChamps

Leo Scullion and his team kept everyone in check!

SeniorsWC2021Refs

You will find more details, and loads of pictures by following the links below:

The last 16 round (6 and 7 May 2021)

After his defeat in this round Dennis Taylor announced that he is retiring from competitive snooker, but will still play exhibitions and Legends events.

SeniorsWC2021DennisRetires

The quarter-finals (8 May 2021)

The semi-finals and Final (9 May 2021)

It was a very enjoyable event, notably thanks to the excellent coverage by BBC and the great work by the pundits and commentators: John Virgo, Dennis Taylor, Mike Dunn, Patsy Fagan and Rob Walker.

Tour News – Provisional 2021/22 Calendar and more

WST has yesterday announced the provisional calendar for the coming season:

2021-22 Snooker Calendar Announced

The provisional calendar for the 2021/22 World Snooker Tour has been released.

Click here for the 2021-22 calendar

WST staged 18 events during the 2020/21 season despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, and is now working towards a packed schedule for the coming campaign.

The season will start with the Championship League in July, which will be a ranking event open to all 128 tour players, promoted by Matchroom Multi Sport.

The four Home Nations events will take place between October and March, while the Cazoo Series of three events will run between December and April.

Snooker’s Triple Crown events remain ever-present with the UK Championship to take place in York in November and December, followed by the Masters in London in January and the Betfred World Championship in Sheffield at the end of the season.

There are five more ranking events on the calendar early in 2022 – the Shoot Out, German Masters, European Masters, China Open and Gibraltar Open. The invitational Champion of Champions will take place in Bolton in November.

Several other weeks have been allocated throughout the season for potential ranking events, with further news to follow.

WST Chairman Steve Dawson said: “We are now working flat out on our calendar for the coming season, and particularly looking towards locations outside the UK. We are determined to get back to the territories around the globe where we have nurtured growth over the past decade, such as China, Germany, Gibraltar and others, while also planning ventures into new markets.

“Over the past year we have been at the forefront of sport in terms of keeping our tour going and maintaining earning opportunities for our players, by staging events in Covid-safe environments in the UK. But we hope it will be possible in the coming season to venture overseas and to welcome crowds to all of our UK events. We are working closely with governments in the UK and abroad to determine what can be achieved.

“At this stage the calendar is a work in progress as we explore all opportunities and we will make further announcements in due course.”

The Home Nations events will have a new structure this season, with a qualifying round for players seeded outside the top 16. All players will start in the same round, but the top 16 will play their opening matches at the final venue.

Further updates on the calendar including venues and ticketing will be announced when available.

This is the thing …

VeryProvisional2021:22Calendar

Interestingly there are 12 days in August for “qualifiers”, likely for the for the first home nations as well as potential ranking events in September and October. And there are other qualifiers early February, likely for the European Masters, Welsh Open and the potential ranking event just before the China Open, the only event currently confirmed in China so far. But maybe there will be more of those Chinese events and if “grouped” it will be better for the players, who will not need to travel through time zones as much as they did in the past.

Regarding the Home Nations, they will still be played over a week, with 79 matches to be played instead of 127. Will it be less tables and more matches on television, or a longer format, or maybe even both?

Other than that WST have announced the season’s awards.

No real surprises there. Just happy for Pang Junxy to get the “Rookie of the year” accolade.

In short:

WST Awards: 2020/21 winners
Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Fans’ Player of the Year – Judd Trump
Snooker Journalists’ Player of the Year – Mark Selby
Performance of the Year – Mark Selby
Rookie of the Year – Pang Junxu
Magic Moment of the Year – Neil Robertson
Hall of Fame: Judd Trump, Brandon Parker