The week-end at the table … and off it

The week-end has been extremely busy at the snooker tables, and this girl has been very busy herself, hence the lack of post over the last two days.

So then … here is what happened.

Neil Robertson won the Riga Masters, the first ranker of the season.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Neil Robertson won the first ranking title of the 2018/19 season by beating Jack Lisowski 5-2 in the final of the Kaspersky Riga Masters.

Australia’s 36-year-old Robertson collected the trophy and a cheque for £50,000 after winning six matches in the Latvian capital.

World number ten Robertson brings his career tally of ranking titles to 14, joining Mark Selby in joint-sixth place on the all-time list.

Last month Robertson revealed he was full of optimism for the new season, having changed cue for the first time in 20 years, and he couldn’t have made a better start to the campaign. He becomes the first player to win the title in Riga twice, having lifted the trophy in 2016.

Lisowski made it to the final of a ranking event for the first time in his career, notably beating Graeme Dott 4-0 in the quarter-finals and Stephen Maguire 5-1 in the semis earlier in the day. But the 27-year-old from Gloucestershire was no match for Robertson in the final.

Former World Champion Robertson won the first two scrappy frames, then made a superb break of 117 to go 3-0 ahead. Lisowski pulled one back and had chances in frame five, but Robertson cleared from the last red for 4-1.

The sixth went to Lisowski and again he had chances in frame seven, but Robertson got the better of a safety exchange on the last red and went on to seal victory.

”It was a tough final, we both played fantastic to get there but then we struggled tonight because the balls ran awkward,” said Robertson, who has won at least one tournament in every year since 2006. “I really had to use my experience. Jack will learn a lot from this, he will win many titles because he is such a talented player and it’s good to see his game coming on.

”I want to build on this and win multiple tournaments this season. I’m really enjoying playing at the moment.”

Lisowski said: “It’s a step in the right direction for me. I’m just disappointed to put on a display like that in the final. It was the first time I had played on the match table and I couldn’t adapt to it.

“I scored very heavily all week and barely missed a ball. Then in the final I missed a straight pink in the first frame and that unsettled me straight away.”

Earlier in the semis, Robertson scored a 5-0 win over Stuart Carrington, who reached the last four of a ranking event for the first time.

The next tournament is the Yushan World Open in China, running from August 6-12.

This was Jack Lisowski first ever final, and Stuart Carrington also excelled himself by reaching his first semi final.  Despite a somewhat depleted field, it was a good tournament. Zhao Xintong and Zhan Yong also did well reaching the last 16; Zhao took Shaun Murphy’s scalp. Graeme Dott, Liang Wenbo and Ricky Walden are both clearly returning to form as well , which is good to see.

The heartbreak of the tournament … has to be awarded to Liang Wenbo!

Detailed results on Cuetracker

Barry Pinches won the Challenge Tour Event 3


Image Worldsnooker

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Veteran Barry Pinches won the third event on the new Challenge Tour series by beating Jackson Page 3-2 in the final in Latvia.

Former pro Pinches, age 48, beat a player 32 years younger in the final to take the £2,000 top prize.

Norwich cueman Pinches, a former UK Championship quarter-finalist, moves up to fourth place in the Challenge Tour rankings, with the top two at the end of the ten-event series to be promoted to the World Snooker Tour.


Round one
Mitchell Mann 3-0 James McArdle
James Cahill 0-3 Charlie Walters
Jamie Curtis-Barrett 3-2 Andreas Ploner
John Foster 2-3 Steven Hallworth
Jackson Page 3-0 Felix Frede
Kevin van Hove 3-1 Dylan Emery
Jake Nicholson 3-1 Lucky Vatnani
Sean Maddocks 3-1 Daniel Womersley
Callum Lloyd 2-3 Brandon Sargeant

Round two
Saqib Nasir 0-3 Mitchell Mann
Barry Pinches 3-0 Charlie Walters
David Grace 0-3 Jamie Curtis-Barrett
Luke Simmonds v Steven Hallworth
Jackson Page 3-2 Kevin van Hove
Jamie O’Neill 3-2 Jake Nicholson
Joshua Cooper 3-2 Daniel Womersley
Patrick Whelan 2-3 Brandon Sargeant


Pinches 3-0 Mann
Curtis-Barrett 3-2 Hallworth
Page 3-2 O’Neill
Sargeant 3-0 Cooper


Pinches 3-2 Curtis-Barrett
Page 3-2 Sargeant


Pinches 3-2 Page

Barry Pinches is a lovely man who loves his snooker with a passion despite never really making it through to the top; he never got past the QF in any ranking event, but DID win a PTC, beating Ronnie in the final! He just loves to play and I’m sure he’d love nothing more than getting back on the tour.

The Pink Ribbon is down to the Pro stages

The biggest Charity Pro-Am is back again in SWSA in Gloucester. Because the clashes with the Riga Masters and the Challenge tour, one could fear that it would be a bit flat. Not at all. The Capital Venue was busy and buzzing all week-end. No tournament is more inclusive than this one: seniors and juniors, disabled and able-bodied,  pros, top amateurs and complete “non-players”, from UK, Ireland, Asia  and mainland Europe, all happily doing battle at the table for a great cause.

It continues today and tomorrow.

The best source to follow it, and have a look at the pictures is the SWSA Facebook Page

Be patient with results. With over 275 entries Clive Brown is a bit snowed under!


As for for Ronnie …

Those who follow his Instagram will know that he’s been in Sheffiled last week

Running and going back to training after a couple of lazy weeks …

Ron Running 2018-07-28 at 17.59.18.png

Coooking on his boat …

AND practising! (at Vic Snooker Academy it seems)

Ron Practising 2018-07-28 at 17.58.56

And this came up on social media  …

Ron PHC? 2018-07-28 at 18.01.31

Not sure what to make of this. Actually the poster only just shows all the winners of the event since its first edition in 2004. I wouldn’t take this as a sign that any of the players on the poster will be there. I would be surprised if Ronnie entered.

Snooker returns on our screens …

Snooker returns on our screens tomorrow with the first event proper of the season: the Riga Masters 2018. Unfortunately for the event – and for its future – a number of top players decided to give it a miss: no Mark Selby, no John Higgins, no Ronnie, no Ding, no Judd Trump. But the World Champion, Mark Williams, is there, as is Ryan Day the Defending Champion. BTW, both had their last 128 match held over and both are through to the last 64 as their opponents withdrew! Despite a few big names missing it should be a good tournament. It will be on Eurosport and on Eurosport player. Ryan Day is a fantastic player to watch when on form and one who is underrated IMO.

The Riga Masters offers £50000 for the winner, not fantastic, but not bad for a three days event either. And Riga is a gorgeous city, well worth a visit: here is a photo album I made when I was in Riga four years ago.


On the Saturday, the third Challenge Tour event of the season will take place in Riga as well. This event has only 25 entries and THAT is definitely not great. There were discussions on Facebook as to why this is happening. One factor clearly is money, another is time. The players here are amateurs, many have a job, not necessarily one that pays well. A number have a family as well. They seem to find it difficult to sacrifice their money and time for those events. Why? Are they not eager to fulfill their dream and to become pros? I don’t think it’s that simple. Lets have a look at a few things that might deserve a rethink.

  • The Challenge Tour offers two tour cards, going to the ones topping the Order of merit. I’m afraid that, as the series unfolds a number of players may feel that they have no chance to reach one of those two top spots and just give it up. Some ,of course, might see that by persisting they will get useful experience and will probably enter the next Q-school much better prepared. But not everyone will see it this especially if money is tight. So this is what I would consider instead: why not have the top 16 of the Order of Merit competing in a final event, the “Challenge Championship Grand Final”? This of course is inspired by what happened in the days of the PTCs: it culminated with the “Players Championship Grand Final”. The finalists of this event would get the tour cards. This way more players would feel that they do stay in contention for the duration of the season.
  • There is neither live scoring, nor streaming (at least not in this part of the world). As a result it’s hard to follow what’s going on and it’s probably also much harder for the players involved to convince a sponsor to support them, which would ease the financial pressure. Sponsors are looking for visibility. Maybe it’s worth looking into the costs and the possible benefits of having a proper live scoring as well as having a couple of tables streamed.

Finally, on Saturday, in Gloucester, we will have the Pink Ribbon 2018. The Pink Ribbon is a charity Pro-Am and all money gathered goes to help charities that support Breast Cancer sufferers and their families. It’s been held every year since 2010. In the past, some very top players have played in it. John Higgins was there in 2011, as the reigning World Champion, and the runner-up, Judd Trump was there as well. Stuart Bingham won it in 2012. In 2013 Joe Perry beat Barry Hawkins in the final, Barry had been the runner-up in Sheffield that year. In 2015, Ronnie won it, sporting a quite peculiar hairdo.


This year, Robert Milkins, the defending Champion is the highest ranked player in the competition. These are the “pros” involved this time

Pink Ribbon 2018 - Pros

As you can see this is a mix of actual pros and Challenge Tour players. The clash of dates with both the Riga Masters AND a Challenge tour event obviously hasn’t helped. How come? Well unfortunately the organisation of a pro-am this size – they have over 270 entries this year, and it was well above 350 in 2015 – takes time. The players need to plan and make themselves available. Clive Brown, who is Tournament Director, needs to find enough referees, and manage to organize the whole event. Everything is done by volunteers. This year the date had to be set before WS calendar was disclosed. The assumption was that end July would be a good time because in the previous couple of years the season started already in June and then featured a gap of 2 or 3 weeks towards end July. Hard luck. This year June was “free” and the first event proper of the season went to clash with the Pink Ribbon. Surely there must be a way to avoid this? I know that WPSA can’t possibly take every possible pro-am into account. That’s obvious. But surely they must have a good idea already of what their next season calendar will look like around end February- early March? Why not have a talk about it even if it’s not yet in the public eye? Anyway, I’m sure the event will be played in great spirit as ever and you’ll have pictures coming your way throughout!


Ronnie to feature in new Fifth Gear Series

It’s well-known that Ronnie loves his cars … he’s an experienced track driver, he featured in Top Gear in 2004, and now the news has filtered on twitter that he will feature in the new Fifth Gear series, a British television  magazines series about cars (produced  in recent years by Discovery / History , the ones that also produced the American Hustle).

Fith Gear July 2018

Ronnie has been on Fifth Gear before when in 2010 he tried himself at car racing

The quality of those two snippets isn’t great but hey!

Vicky gave Ronnie the fright of his life there!

Unfortunately I couldn’t find back the 2004 Top Gear episode where Ronnie had a quite hilarious chat with Jeremy Clarkson and was involved in a snooker challenge, needing to pot all the balls before the Stig completed a race around the track in Ronnie’s car.

But then Tim found this one, showing part of the show. Thank you Tim !

And big thanks to Silvry who has now unearthed the full episode, with Ronnie part (starting around 00:25) with the interview. It will make you smile!

And to stay in the theme… this is one of Ronnie’s favourite songs, it’s called “Fast Car”

and he loves listening to it when driving…

I have to say that I love the whole album, by Tracy Chapman, simply named “Tracy Chapman”. I was released in 1988, 30 years ago, and it’s still very relevant.


Thai Curry and Crumble …

Ronnie and Rhiannon were again cooking together – live on Ronnie’s Facebook – as they prepare their new book “Top of your game”.


So today was about Thai curry and crumble.

Here is the video they shared.

Ronnie also answered a few questions. His firs event (proper) should be the Shanghai Masters in September.

I tried the crumble myself some weeks ago and it’s really, really nice!

A tribute to Marius Ancuta

Adrian Thiess, the man who organised the snooker exhibitions in Romania with Ronnie, Stuart Bingham, Mark Williams, Mark Selby and more, a well as the first ranking tournament in Romania, the 2016 European Masters, paid tribute to Marius yesterday on his Facebook page:


Am gasit poza asta in telefon. Marius la prima vizita a lui Ronnie O’Sullivan in Romania. Noi la Isoletta. Am stat pana la 5 dimineata. Nu imi vine sa cred ca nu mai esti my friend… iti promit ca primul eveniment de snooker cu Ronnie iti va purta numele.

(automatic translation) I found this picture in the phone. Marius on Ronnie O ‘ Sullivan’s first visit to Romania. We at isoletta. I stayed until 5 in the morning. I can’t believe you’re not my friend anymore… I promise you the first snooker event with Ronnie will wear your name.

and yesterday this news came in the Romanian media

Sambata, 21 Iulie, 10:29

Marius Ancuța, unul dintre cei mai cunoscuți comentatori de snooker, a murit joi, la vârsta de 50 ani. Comentatorul celor mai importante evenimente din snooker pentru Eurosport a fost un pion important în popularizarea acestui sport în România.

La auzul veștii triste, Adrian Thiess, cel care a organizat mai multe turnee demonstrative de snooker la București și Cluj, dar și cel care a adus în România Campionatul European de snooker în 2017 și 2018, a luat decizia ca în cel mai scurt timp Capitala să găzduiască o nouă gală de snooker, care să poarte numele lui Ancuța și să-i fie dedicat fostului comentator.

Din informațiile GSP.RO, primul nume care a fost deja contactat pentru a participa la evenimentul de la București este campionul mondial Ronnie O’Sullivan, care și-a dat deja acordul să fie prezent la turneul organizat în memoria lui Marius Ancuța. Ronnie e de 5 ori campion mondial 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 și a fost unul dintre jucătorii pe care “Mario” îi aprecia cel mai mult.

De profesie medic stomatolog, Marius “Mario” Ancuţa a devenit în martie 2016 primul antrenor român de snooker acreditat de World Profesional Billiards and Snooker Association.

(google translate)

Marius Ancuţa, one of the most famous snooker commentators, died Thursday at the age of 50. The commentator of the most important snooker events for Eurosport has been an important step in popularizing this sport in Romania.

At the hearing of the sad news, Adrian Thiess, who organized several snooker demonstration tours in Bucharest and Cluj, but also the one who brought the European Snooker Championship to Romania in 2017 and 2018, made the decision that in the shortest time the capital to host a new snooker gala that bears the name of Ancuta and to be dedicated to the former commentator.

From the GSP.RO information, the first name that has already been contacted to attend the Bucharest event is World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has already agreed to be present at the tournament organized in memory of Marius Ancuta. Ronnie is 5 times world champion 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 and was one of the players Mario liked most.

As a dentist, Marius “Mario” Ancuţa became the first Romanian snooker coach accredited by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association in March 2016.

Now a word of caution about the news. I have no doubts about Adrian Thiess emotion or his intention to pay tribute to Marius but it would not be the first time that an exhibition is announced, and claims are made that Ronnie has agreed to it, but that eventually it doesn’t happen for various reasons. It would be nice and appropriate but let’s wait and see.

The 2018/19 Prize Money

This has been published by Worldsnooker

The prize money breakdown for all 2018/19 season ranking events is now available:

Click here for the prize money

And for details of the re-ranking dates Click here

Biggest ranking event winner’s prizes in 2018/19:
Betfred World Championship: £500,000
China Open: £225,000
International Championship: £175,000
Betway UK Championship: £170,000
Ladbrokes Tour Championship: £150,000
Yushan World Open: £150,000
China Championship: £150,000
Ladbrokes Players Championship: £125,000
Ladbrokes World Grand Prix: £100,000 


As you can see the weight of the Chinese events is now very significant whilst the European events carry very little points. In fact all five together carry only 250 000 points (and pounds). The International Championship alone is £175000 and the China Open alone is £225000, and of course the World Championship is £500000. This is very bad for the future of snooker in mainland Europe. Indeed the European events are unlikely to attract the big names, therefore they will not attract big sponsors and the whole situation can only spiral down. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Paul Hunter Classic (only £20000 !) and the Gibraltar Open were disappearing next season and those are the only two events that still involve amateurs. Somehow, making the Paul Hunter Classic a ranking event is killing it. It was such a great “festival of snooker” when it was a pro-am. This is a real shame and a poor tribute to Paul Hunter.


From Snooker Legends to World Seniors Snooker Tour



Jason Francis, creator of Snooker Legends, chairman of the World Seniors Snooker Tour and the man who has been at Ronnie’s side for about five years, tells us about his snooker and business journey since the creation of Snooker Legends in 2010 until today and the building of a viable, well organised and international Seniors Tour.

This is the “second edition” of Jason’s story, but even if you did read the first one, you will find plenty more interesting  stuff in this one.

Jason here is the narrator of his own story, and the whole book takes us through his dreams, his endeavours, his experiences – good and lesss good – and his emotions, from the day he thought about creating snookers shows featuring Legends of the game, and Alex Higgins in particular, to the idea of a proper Seniors Tour giving a future in the sport to those who have given so much to it, still love it with a passion, but aren’t quite good or strong enough anymore for the very competitive main Tour and its hectic schedule.

Along the way, Jason tells us about the players he’s been working with. Jason is a positive person and, clearly, he focuses on the good in people rather than their weaknesses. He’s telling us about the real persons, not the stereotyped images crafted by the media in order to create stories featuring villains and good guys. There are many players you will look at differently next time you see them on TV!

Jason also tells us about his sometimes difficult relationship with World Snooker and Barry Hearn. But then again his focus is on “making things work” rather than “starting a war” although, at a time, that scenario was a real possibility. There were issues, hurdles, misconceptions and, at times distrust and envy. But there were also people really wanting to overcome those and build something for the better of the sport they love.  Ultimately, now they are working together: the WPBSA Seniors Tour is reality.

Jason has been at Ronnie’s side from mid 2012 until end 2017. He tells us about their relationship, building trust and friendship, the highs and lows, the successes and the crises, the laughter and the tears and, finally, where they stand today. By the way, Ronnie wrote the foreword of this book.

I really enjoyed the book. Just one regret: the editorial work could have been better, there are a few glitches here and there and it’s a pity.

The book is available on Amazon

And here is David Hendon, assistant editor at Snooker Scene and Eurosport commentator chatting with Jason about his book: