Neal Foulds about his hopes for the World Championship

Neal Fould spoke to Eurosport about his hopes for the World Championship 

Foulds suggests World Championships venue may move due to coronavirus

14 hours ago

I’m not sure that I agree with Neal here. The World Championship does not “need” to be held this year. Why do I say this?

Well, suppose that the event can’t happen before the autumn, which is very possible, even likely given that there are now scientists warning that in Britain the situation won’t be “normal” before about six months from now.  That leads us to end September 2020. Then the qualifiers for the World Championship need to happen and that’s a point that Neal doesn’t tackle at all. It involves 128 players, and, unless the format is shortened, requires a minimum of 12 tables – at the highest professional standard – for eight full days. Basically, the television stages can’t happen before mid-October then and finish in the first days of November. After that – before the next season starts – the Q-school needs to be held. Another three weeks minimum. And, at least a couple of weeks need to be left for the Q-school graduates to sort things like visas, relocation, and other practical aspects out. We are well into December by them with at most two weeks in 2020 left for a possible event, maybe the UK Championship.

Then comes the Christmas break, and after that, we have roughly three months left before the next World Championship. In those three months, how many events can you run? And which ones? I’d say, obviously, the ones involving all tour players should be favoured. It’s the lower-ranked players who will suffer the most. They need to resume playing asap. Their livelihoods depend on it and they won’t have much savings.

There are several consequences resulting for such a shortened season:

  • There is no way that the Coral series can be held. You can’t have a meaningful one year list if only a couple of “128” events are played. This might impact ITV and it commitment to snooker.
  • The Home Nations could be squeezed in those three months, but with, maybe, a German Masters and/or a European Masters. But for both, unless the organisation changes, you have to take qualifiers into account.
  • There would be NO event in China at all. Those are the most lucrative.
  • Players who did well in 2018/19 will have a lot of points to defend, without much opportunities to defend. They will be put at a significant disadvantage.

Circumstances are exceptional, and, in my views, they require an exceptional answer. I would postpone the World Championship until April 2021 and “extend” the current season over two years. It would be two “calendar years” but actually about only 15 months of actual playing opportunities. I would resume the season as soon as possible, with the current field of maintour professionals, favouring events involving all 128 for the reasons explained above. Not running the Q-school would free almost a month for possible events. Why not properly revive the Paul Hunter Classic? Why not have a second serve of the Home Nations? Portugal seems to have controlled the epidemy very well. Why not consider another European event there?

 

 

Do you love a snooker quiz?

Both to keep himself busy and provide snooker players and fans with some distraction, John Hunter from Cuestars created ‘The Big Fat Snooker Quiz’.

John started this a few days ago and each coming day a set of ten questions will be added. John has  made a commitment to keep this going until snooker’s back!

Here’s the link to the quiz: The Big Fat Snooker Quiz

Email addresses are not shown and players can enter anonymously.

The quizzes are “timed”, you won’t be able to start looking up for answers on the Internet and complete them.

Also, once you have taken a quiz, that’s it, you can’t retake it. But each quizz has a theme, so you can do some reading before taking them and get prepared. In this lockdown, there is the opportunity for a topic to be researched before the questions are taken.

There is an order of merit for each quiz. The idea is to make a competition of it.

After some time – probably a couple of weeks – quizzes will be closed, the answers revealed and new quizzes will become available.

Enjoy! Thank you John!

Blast from the past … Tenball

Although I’m far from being young, I’m quite “young” when it comes to snooker. I only “discovered” it in 2004/2005. Until recently, I never realised that, during the 90th, quite a lot of “variant” events were tried and shown on television.

One of those variant games was Tenball. You will find more about this variant, and the 1995 event on wikipedia.

One lover of the game has uploaded footages (VHS rips) from this event… quality is what it is, but it is nice to see those big names of the game in action 25 years ago! They were so young!

Something to savour in this time of snooker starvation!

Quarter finals

Steve Davis v Tony Drago

Stephen Hendry v Peter Ebdon

Ronnie O’Sullivan v John Parrott

Jimmy White v Alex Higgins

Semi Finals

Jimmy White v Tony Drago

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stephen Hendry

The Final

Jimmy White v Ronnie O’Sullivan (highlights)

 

 

 

Eurosport looking at the 10 best snooker tacticians

In this lockdown time, everyone is looking at retrospectives and analysis pieces, and Eurosport has just started a weekly series.

This is the first of these themed articles

All-time top 10: Who are snooker’s greatest tacticians?

Some personal additional toughts…

I was at this Masters match between Mark Selby and Graeme Dott, and, if I’m honest, it was torture to me. It was torture to Dott as well, and to a large part of the audience, although part of them probably left just because they needed to catch the last of the public transport available to them. Alexandra Palace is a bit isolated, and London is big.

Dott was a lot more animated than you’d imagine reading the above. He was actualling fuming. He didn’t bluntly accuse his opponent of gamesmanship, but he certainly wondered aloud how anyone could possibly enjoy playing the game that way!

Mark doesn’t always play that way. Himself admits that he plays better when he plays faster and more open. And, it’s not always a deliberate “tactic” either. For all his succes Mark isn’t the most confident person, and when he retreats into his shell, his game tends to become more “conservative” …

I don’t expect that most of us would think about Mark Williams as a great safety player and yet, he is. Ronnie once branded Mark’s style as “nick and run”. He doesn’t mind messing up the table and waiting for an opportunity to grab a few points, mess a bit more, play safe  and wait again. My husband who plays table tennis competitively but is a “casual snooker fan” was watching Willo when he won the World Chamionship in 2018 and reflected “I never knew that Mark was such a great defender!”

Neil Robertson is right … when he made his breakthrough some 10/12 years ago, he was a scary potter, but not much more than that. His game was very one-dimensional, and his shot selection was frankly baffling, and frutrating at times. True, I didn’t think back then that he would become the player he is now. Even when he won the World Championship in 2010 he was nowhere near the complete player he is now.

What I will write hereafter is NOT a dig at Neil in any way. He was a deserving World Champion and I was genuinely happy for him BUT I always wondered what could/would have happened if the NOTW scandal had not obscured that final. Graeme Dott was managed by Pat Mooney. He knew nothing until he came to his press confrence, after his semi-final win over Mark Selby. I was at that press conference and it was clear that Graeme had no idea about what had happened and it clearly was a huge shock to him. He immediately distanced himself from Mooney.  It was already quite late, he still had to do filming with the BBC and he was in an emotional state of shock. I doubt that he slept well that night, if at all. It certainly wasn’t the best preparation for a World Final. That, of course, was none of Neil’s business, he did what he had to do, and Graeme battled valliantly as he would. But …

 

 

 

Ronnie’s podcast with Colin Murray

Ronnie was supposed to do this podcast “live” in Sheffield on March 16, but due to the current crisis the podcast was eventually recorded without an audiience.

And now it is available here

Five questions are randomly “taken” from a deck of carts and Ronnie had to answer them.

It’s a quite relaxed and nice interview.  He is a short “teaser”

  1. Ronnie’s unkown hero … is his mate George
  2. Best sporting venue is … Goffs
  3. Two minutes he hates to remember … when he forfeited his match agaoinst at the UK in 2006
  4. Something nobody knows about him … I let you discover
  5. Most hated sport … not really one eventually but curling came in the conversation

And, finally, happiness is in the simple things.

Enjoy …

And this is Colin’s report on the experience…

Colin Murray: Ronnie O’Sullivan’s simple route to happiness a timely inspiration for us all

Content: O’Sullivan is in a happy place, unlike when he stormed out of his match against Hendry in 2006 (below) PICTURES: GETTY/SPORTSBEAT

THERE are a dozen big sporting names who were unfortunate enough to spend their very last moments before isolation in the company of yours truly. Poor sods.

Although, before you feel too much sympathy for them, it should be noted they were all paid to do so.

My new independent, sponsored podcast was meant to be in front of live audiences over a period of four weeks, but ended up being bashed out in well-sterilised, empty rooms in just four days.

The format of ‘Colin Murray’s 52’ is simple. A deck of playing cards, hidden questions on each of them and, by and large, the selected five-card hand forms the basis of the entire interview.

The result? More unpredictable handbrake turns than the World Joyriding Championships, and I’m really chuffed with it.

Snooker’s greatest Ronnie O’Sullivan was my first guinea pig, and had to handle everything from ‘who is your non-famous hero?’ to ‘what is one thing about you nobody knows?’. The answer to the latter, by the way, was ****ing funny.

Ronnie quits UK 2006

Before long, the cards asked him, ‘what two minutes of your career would you hate to relive?’, and the Rocket’s memory shot back in a flash to December 2006.

‘When I walked out on the match against Stephen Hendry,’ he recalled. ‘I played him in the UK Championship and I was just going through a hard time off the table.

‘Things were alright but my brain just wasn’t into the snooker.

‘It was first to nine, I was 4-1 down, and I couldn’t pot a ball anyway. I missed a shot and just shook his hand and walked out of the venue.

‘I wanted to do it three or four matches previous to that. I just didn’t want to be out there. It was off-the-table problems and I wasn’t able to deal with it.

‘I didn’t want to be on display, really. I felt lonely out there, whether I was winning or losing.’

This season, Ronnie has been choosing his tournaments wisely, and that may be the reason a buoyant O’Sullivan has landed beside me, anti-bacterial gel at the ready.

‘This year I’ve done everything I shouldn’t. Didn’t practice, didn’t play in enough tournaments, but I look back and don’t regret one bit of it,’ O’Sullivan added.

‘Your mental health and your happiness, spending time with your family and loved ones, I do believe is the most important thing. It’s like the roots of the tree, you know.’

This unpredictable format seemed to suit Ronnie, and it was the most enjoyable half hour I’ve spent in his company, primarily due to this happy place he has been able to find — a place that has not always been easy for him to locate.

So, when asked to define happiness, through his 44-year-old eyes, his answer was not just encouraging, but also topical, as most of us face an extended period of time indoors in extraordinary circumstances, and others much more serious upheaval.

‘Happiness, I think is simplicity — when I realised it wasn’t in winning or material items.

‘The first step for me was to stop drinking and puffing, then running was a massive endorphin rush.

‘All I have to do is spend £100 on a pair of trainers that last me six months, put on a tatty pair of shorts, an old vest, run for an hour through Epping Forest and I feel brilliant.

‘It’s fantastic and cheap! None of the material things made me feel as happy. For me, to find true happiness is staying fit, eating well and not trying to get these material items.’

With an ace of a chat in the bag and an elbow bump, off flies the Rocket, with the likes of Chris Waddle, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Tony Bellew, Graeme Swann and more following closely behind him.

So, if you fancy some unpredictable, original material over the next five weeks, Colin Murray’s 52 is already out now in all usual podcast places. I promise you, thanks to guests like Ronnie, it is not a busted flush.

@colinmurray

Antony Hamilton’s cue and heart break…

In these times of “no live sports” , WST published this:

“It was one of those stomach-dropping moments which you only experience a few times in your life.”

Anthony Hamilton remembers the anguish he felt when he arrived in Spain for the recent BetVictor Gibraltar Open to find that the cue he had used for 34 years had been snapped. He remains hopeful that it can be fixed but realises the incident could affect the rest of his career.

The cue was broken in transit despite the fact that snooker players use robust ski tubes to carry their cue cases. Since 2001 they have not been allowed to take cues into the cabin on aeroplanes.

Hamilton flew to Malaga airport the day before the Gibraltar tournament started, but when he got to baggage collection, things took a turn for the worse

“When I picked up my ski tube I could see that it had a bit of damage on the outside, but nothing major,” he explains. “I was going to head outside to get  a taxi but I thought I’d better check the cue. I opened the tube and found the case and cue snapped and bent about 30 degrees.

“I have spoken to the airline but I can’t find out how it happened. It takes a huge amount of force to bend those ski tubes so it can’t have just been someone dropping it. Maybe it got trapped between a wall and the car that takes the baggage to the planes – something like that. Kacper Filipiak was there and his tube was also damaged though his cue was fine.

“I decided to pull out of the tournament straight away and fly home the next day. There are only two other players whose cues I could have borrowed  and had any chance of winning – Martin O’Donnell and Alfie Burden – but they were playing on the Saturday so not arriving until the Friday which was too late. So there was no point in me trying to play.

Hamilton

“I will get a bit of money from my insurance company but obviously the cue itself is irreplaceable. I bought it when I was 14, six months after I started playing, for about £60. It has never been the best cue in the world, but it was my cue, and it’s the only one I’ve used since.

“I think it’s harder for players of my generation to change because the older cues are slimmer and less robust. The modern cues all tend to have a butt diameter of 30mm while mine is 27.5mm. You could scour the planet and you’d never find another the same as mine.”

Fortunately for the Sheriff of Pottingham, he can count ace cue maker John Parris among his band of merry men.  “John was actually on holiday at the time but he saw the picture I posted on Facebook and he texted me straight away,” said Hamilton, who turned pro in 1991. “He is trying to fix my cue and he has a few others for me to try. I am massively grateful to him for what he has done to help me.

“When it first happened I thought there was no chance of fixing it because it wasn’t a clean break and there is a lot of splintering. But cue makers like John are miracle workers. Ali Carter’s cue had a similar break a few years ago and it was fixed and he was able to play with it afterwards. So I’ll have to wait and see if mine is ok, if not I’ll try to find one that suits me, but getting used to it will take time.”

This is not the first time Hamilton has had to face a serious challenge to his career. He has a chronic neck condition which often leaves him unable to play or practise, and last summer he had eye lens replacement surgery to improve his vision.

The world number 48, whose highest ranking is tenth in 1999, accepts that his best years are behind him. “If I was 30 years old now and a dangerous player I’d be distraught, in turmoil. But the fact is I’m 48 and not very good any more, so it’s not as if I have a great standard to get back to,” he said.

“I haven’t had a bad season but these days I win matches through experience and graft – there is more than one way to skin a cat. Every now and then I have a good week where things come together, but most of the time it’s like pulling teeth. I seem to play better on the TV tables because the lighting suits my eyes but you need to win matches on the outside tables to get there. I still enjoy the game and I will keep going.”

All snooker players are taking an enforced hiatus from competitive action due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Betfred World Championship qualifiers would have started on April 8, but dates have yet to be rescheduled. Hamilton is confined to his home in North London and is prepared to hunker down.

“I am a film geek but I have seen so many movies I’m struggling to find new ones to watch,” he added. “I’ll try to catch up on some classics. I don’t have a particular favourite genre or era – I just like anything good. Manchester By The Sea is one from recent years that I really admired, and Leviathan is another.

“I have a Playstation and a few games like World Rally Championship. And I’ll do some indoor cycling and yoga to keep fit. Everyone has to be sensible and stay inside as much as possible until the time comes when we can move on. “

For reasons that I never understood, Anthony isn’t liked by some fans. I like him and he’s certainly well liked on the circuit.  He’s a no-nonsense type of guy, and a very, very good break-builder. What happened to his cue is hard to explain, and certainly a big challenge for him to overcome. Some players change cues easily, some struggle with a change. Hendry was a prime example.

All the best Anthony! Stay safe and see you soon(ish) on the baize!

 

 

Whilst there is no snooker …

Whilst there is no live snooker, I will once again try to scan this site for broken links and missing videos. A lot of those I added at the start of the season are gone again unfortunately and I never got news from my friend who traveled to Thailand and disappeared. I will focus on finding matches footages as a priority. If I happen to find punditry as well, great.

Meanwhile, sports events are about to resume in China, starting with the very popular basket-ball. This was shared on twitter. I’m afraid that in Europe, with some countries unable or unwilling to enforce the needed measures, we might be stuck in this crisis for much longer.