Maria Catalano to ‘Brave the Shave’ at UK Women’s Snooker Championship


Catalano to ‘Brave the Shave’ at UK Women’s Snooker Championship

If you are planning on coming to the Northern Snooker Centre for the LITEtask UK Women’s Snooker Championship next month, you might notice one of our leading players looking a little differently than normal.

World no.3 Maria Catalano will be ‘braving the shave’ on the eve of the tournament in support of Macmillan Cancer Support, a registered charity based in the UK which provides support for people affected by cancer.

Maria has decided to undertake the challenge in memory of her late father Antonio who very sadly passed away following a short battle with cancer earlier this summer and has been overwhelmed by the support that she has received.

“I would like to thank everybody for the support with my challenge and focus of supporting Macmillan,” said Catalano. “My reasoning for this is all about saying thank you. I’m not going to say I’m not scared because I am, but there are always woolly hats and hopefully my Italian roots will make my hair grow back quickly!

Maria Catalano plays snooker

“What this has taught me is to never ever take life for granted. It is a cliché I know but you really can be here today and gone tomorrow. I want to turn my heartbreak into a positive and give something back and just to raise awareness of the great man my dad was. I am so grateful for the donations and the awareness, it is deeply appreciated.”

Catalano, who earlier this year reached the final of the 2018 World Women’s Championship in Malta, is also known for being the cousin of five-time world professional champion Ronnie O’Sullivan who has today given his backing to her challenge.

“Antonio was my uncle and I used to spend a lot of time up there when I was youngster in particular,” said O’Sullivan. “He was the kindest, most gentle, lovely human being you can imagine meeting. He was very hard working with the ice cream business and a big family man. He will be forever missed.

“I know how close Maria was to her dad and how painful it was for her, so all credit to her for doing something like this.”

All of us at World Ladies Billiards and Snooker are of course fully supportive of Maria and are delighted that she will be undertaking the challenge surrounded by her snooker family at approximately 7:00pm at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds prior to the start of the new season.

To read Maria’s story and to help her to smash her £2,000 target donate now at:


If you wish and can support Maria, please do so although it might prove difficult if you are not living in UK. Indeed the interface is such that only postcodes with UK structure are accepted…

And, IMO, Antonio Catalano’s illness and death may at least partly explain why Ronnie seems unprepared to sacrifice his quality of life in order to add to his already remarkable tally. Italian families are often very closely knitted and the Catalano are no exception. Antonio was Ronnie’s mother’s brother. He only lived about 5 weeks after the cancer diagnostic was delivered. That’s a harsh reminder that live is fragile and that you never know when your time comes.

Rififi in the balls …

It all started with this …

PHC - PTC rififi

Indeed the Paul Hunter Classic is now a full ranking event, despite having the exact same format as the PTCs, and no more prize money. This year it had a particularly depleted field too. Barry Hearn’s idea was probably that giving it full ranking status would help the event to “grow” , but this hasn’t happened, on the contrary as it used to be on television but no more so now. I have already given my views on why this happened.

it prompted this from Barry Hawkins

PHC - PTC rififi

Which didn’t go down well with Kyren Wilson

PHC - PTC rififi

The “couldn’t be bothered” part wasn’t exactly well received, and Kyren BTW later admitted that the wording wasn’t the best

Screen Shot 2018-08-29 at 18.10.51


PHC - PTC rififi

And it’s going on…

PHC - PTC rififi

Now I very much doubt that Barry Hearn will change his mind, he very seldom does, and IMO in this case he shouldn’t. Everyone knew that it was a full ranking event, they also knew what the prize money was, and that it wasn’t on television and they chose not to enter. Kyren entered, won 7 matches and got the title. Fair play to him.

Of course it might not be just a case of “not being bothered”. As Barry Hawkins highlighted, this time of the year is the one when those with young families have the opportunity to spend relaxing time with their children. It’s a case of setting priorities taking possibilities into account.

When the PTCs were minor rankings, it was the same, everyone knew the status of the events they entered. Some had very competitive line-ups, other certainly didn’t, in particular those played in Asia. Some were on television, some were played behind closed doors.

You can’t change the rules and status after everything is done and dusted.

That said it’s sad that the Paul Hunter Classic has come to this, the “poorest” event in the calendar, not on television. But the name and memory of Paul should not be used to name and shame the players for not entering the event. It’s a full calendar, the structure of the tour is such that the players have a choice to manage their season and skip events if the so wish. And they are professional players, they play for a living, so pretending that money doesn’t matter is both hyppocrit and preposterous. It does matter in any line of work, sport included. It’s not all about the money, but it’s not all about the glory either. Glory doesn’t pay the bills, nor does it bring bread on the table.

And, lets not forget that the name of Paul Hunter is now on the Masters trophy. That surely is a worthy tribute to his life and achievements.

A tweet by Jason Francis …

Jason Francis tweeted this earlier this afternoon

I may place some Snooker Legends Shows with Ronnie on 27/28th Oct and 1/2 Nov. Nights can be a private appearance on your home table or at your club for a select few, a theatre show with full arena set up, or a club night with me, ROS and JV.

Which means that Ronnie does not intend to play in the International Championship in China.

I may be wrong but, to me, it seems increasingly likely that Ronnie does not plan to have a full season, traveling around the world. He can afford it, of course, his spot at the Crucible is safe, but next season might be a big challenge with a lot of points to defend…

But then of course, last season he won the Grand Prix and the Players Championship. Being the defending champion will not guarantee that he gets a spot in those this season. So, should he want to play in them, he’ll need to do really well in the Home Nations Series and the UK Championship.

That said, except in the Shanghai Masters, he hasn’t really done well in China, so, maybe, this season he wants to focus on the UK events only, and the ones for which he doesn’t need to qualify, something he’d hinted at last season in fact.

Kyren Wilson wins the Paul Hunter Classic 2018

He beat Peter Ebdon by 4-2, from 0-2 down, in the Final.

Congratulations Kyren!

Kyren Wilson PHC 2018 Winner

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Kyren Wilson ended a three-year wait to win his second ranking title by beating Peter Ebdon 4-2 in the final of the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany.

Kettering’s 26-year-old Wilson came from 2-0 down to take the last four frames of the final and claim the £20,000 top prize in Fürth. He moves up one place to eighth in the world rankings and books a place at the Champion of Champions event in November.

Wilson won his first ranking title at the 2015 Shanghai Masters and had several near misses in pursuit of his second. He lost ranking finals at the 2016 Indian Open, 2017 World Open and 2017 English Open, and was also runner-up at the invitational Masters earlier this year, when he broke down in tears after defeat against Mark Allen.

But Wilson has now got his hands on another piece of silverware, having won seven matches over the weekend. In both the quarter and semi-finals he was a few balls away from defeat, but edged 4-3 wins over Daniel Wells and Peter Lines.

Ebdon, aiming to become the second oldest ever winner of a ranking event at the age of 47, took the first two frames of the final with a top break of 66. Wilson crucially took the third by potting the last pink and black, then made a 120 for 2-2. He got the better of a scrappy fifth frame , then made 68 and 57 in the sixth to cross the winning line.

Victory over Ebdon was poignant for Wilson as the pair first met 20 years ago at a charity pool event. After losing a frame against the six-year-old boy, former World Champion Ebdon suggested to Wilson’s parents that their son had a rare talent and should give snooker a try. The two have remained friends ever since.

Ebdon, playing in his first ranking final since 2012, missed the chance to win a tenth title. The £10,000 runner-up prize sees him climb five places up the rankings to 51st.

Wilson said: “It was always going to be a tough final against Peter. He’s a class act and I’d rather have played someone else in the final because usually I want him to win. But I’m chuffed to get the second ranking title on my CV. Your career is all based on what you have won, not how many finals you have been in. I’ve had a strong start to the season and I need to keep building.

“This tournament holds fond memories for me because it was the first overseas one I travelled to as a young kid. I’m delighted to get my name on the trophy.”

Kyren had to beat another veteran, Peter Lines, 48 years old in the semi finals. The match went to a decider. Had Peter been the winner, we could have had a final between a 48 years old and a 47 years old, only one day from turning 48. Probably the oldest combination of age in a ranking final if it had happened.

The Paul Hunter Classic this year had a particularly depleted field, and, for what we could see on the streaming, and also confirmed by fans on site, a weaker audience than usual. No doubt, the combination of a full calendar and low prize money explains why most top players gave it a miss. There were only three top 16 players in the draw, Shaun Murphy who lost in the first round, Luca Brecel who went out in the last 32, and, of course, Kyren Wilson the eventual winner.  For me, the future of this event is very much in doubt and it’s a crying shame as it’s a great event and the German fans are very enthusiastic. I have said this already, but, to me, the close association between snooker and betting isn’t helping when it comes to finding big sponsors in mainland Europe. Also, I’m not sure about some of the promoters marketing decisions. I’m not sure how it was this year, but last year fans had to pay extra money for the right to sit at table 1, the main table. As a result, with ten tables to choose from, table 1 remained almost unattended during the first two days. It doesn’t look good on streaming – hence it’s not appealing to potential sponsors – and it’s not great for the players who play there, including the defending champion. Even during the final last year, there were more people watching from afar, than people actually sitting at the table. And judging by the number of empty seats that could be seen on the stream this year, my guess is that it was the same again.

There were 47 amateurs in the first round, and one who deserves a mention is Ben Mertens, 13 years old from Belgium, who won two qualifying matches before beating professional Adam Stefanow in the last 128! Ben, remember, also reached the pro stage, in both halves of the draw, at the Pink Ribbon, some four weeks ago.

There were two 147 made on the first day as well: one by Michael Georgiou, in the last 128, and one by Jamie Jones, in the last 64. Unfortunately neither was on a streamed table. Neither player went past the last 64, but both pocketed more money overall than the runner-up! There was £20000 for a maximum, as much as the winner’s prize money. No wonder then that players were going for it.

And today we wish a very happy birthday to yesterday’s runner-up … and all time Vegan Power Champion Peter Ebdon who just turned 48.

Peter Ebdon 48

China Chapionship 2018 Qualifiers

The last 128 round of the China Championship 2018 was played in Preston over the last four days.

You can find all the results here on, as well as the footage of the streamed matches.

With a slightly longer format – best of 9 – there weren’t many surprises: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh losin to Rhys Clark (although by 5-4) and Ben Woollaston losing by 5-0 to Alexander Ursenbacher are the two big ones for me. To a lesser extend Elliott Slessor going down by 5-3 to martin O’Donnell is a bit unexpected as well, although it’s not the first time that Elliott seems to struggle in qualifiers about more methodical players.

Among the veterans, Alan Mc Manus and Jimmy White are clearly struggling, whilst Anthony Hamilton, Ken Doherty and Nigel Bond fight on.

Among the young, Alexander Ursenbacher, Sam Craigie, Xu Si and, Yan Sijun and Zhao Xintong confirm their solid form. Yuan in particular beat Rick Walden, convincingly, by 5-2.

About the previous “slow play” debate, this chart came up on social media yesterday

pace of play vs wins

What this chart shows is that there is a “loose” correlation between pace of play and % of wins, faster players having, on average, a higher % of wins.

That does of course not prove that by forcing players to play faster, you will have them improving.

Actually this chart can be “read” in many ways. It may be that in form players, play faster simply because they are more confident in their instinctive shot selections, whilst those who struggle are more prone to indecision. But it may also be that, by over-thinking, some players get bogged down, look for problems where there are none and fail to get into any rhythm. I have heard players, including very top players, saying that the latter had happened to them.

Whatever, AST is not the tool to detect deliberate unnecessary slow play, which is the only situation that the rules recognise as a problem, nor is it in any way useful to tackle extreme negativity which tends to produce long tedious matches. If Barry Hearn wants to promote entertainment, this isn’t the right tool, neither is the shot-clock.

Snooker’s Ryder Cup coming in November

This was published by Worldsnooker today

The China v Britain Snooker Challenge team event will take place in Shenzhen from November 23 to 25.

The tournament will feature four-man teams from China and the UK, playing singles and doubles matches.

It was staged for the first time in 2017, when the five-man British team of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams, Graeme Dott, Joe Perry and Michael Holt beat China’s Ding Junhui, Liang Wenbo, Yan Bingtao, Zhou Yuelong and Zhao Xintong by an overall score of 26-9.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with the promoter Record Shenzhen on this sanctioned event. It’s important for any successful sport to have a variety of formats and it will be fascinating to see how this team event can grow, perhaps one day becoming snooker’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup. With snooker’s popularity growing rapidly throughout Asia, we now have six events in China this season. Shenzhen proved to be an excellent location for this tournament last year and it will be a fantastic event for the players who make the teams.”

The format will comprise singles matches involving all four players on the opening day, over the best of seven frames. On day two there will be four doubles matches, each best of five frames. And on the final day there will be two singles matches, best of nine and best of 11, with the players to be picked by the team captains.

More information on the team selection will be announced shortly.

Well, Ronnie was the UK captain last year but he is unlikely to be in it this time as he has already commited to some events/exhibitions on 21, 22 and 23 November 2018…

Shanghai Masters 2018 – Draw and Format

Worldsnooker has today published the draw and format for the Shanghai Masters 2018

The draw and format for the 2018 Shanghai Masters is now available.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the provisional format

The event runs from September 10-16 at the Regal East Asia Hotel and tickets are now on sale – fans can buy them by using these links:

Juss Tickets

Damai Tickets

It’s fair to say that Ronnie is probably facing a very difficult first match, with Neil Robertson likely to beat the wildcard. It’s probably the hardest opponent he could have got, considering that the top 8 are seeded… just as well that he’s the defending champion.

If he defends this title, having not played competitively this season, it will be some feat.