On this first day of the spring in 2020, very few of us will be thinking about budding flowers, ducklings in the ponds and lambs in the fields. We are going through difficult times, most of us are in lockdown and worrying about relatives and friends, hoping to find them all well and healthy on the other side of this outbreak. Those who are still at work, are either risking their own health and possibly life to save others, or making sure that the essentials are still available to us all: food, medications, and emergency services. We should be grateful to all of them, and make sure not to make things even worse . Please respect the strict social distancing advices and be considerate to others, especially the most vulnerable.
It was still an eventful week on the baize, maybe the last in many months…
The Main Tour
At the start of the week, we were still promised that the 2020 Tour Championship would go ahead “as planned” in Landudno. It was first announced that it would be played behind closed doors and only hours later we were told that is postponed with new provisional dates of July 21st to 26th this year at the same venue.
It didn’t stop Barry Hearn to say that the World Championship would still go ahead as planned, not did it stop the Crucible Theatre to send tickets and messages to fans along the same line before, as was to be expected, WST had to announce that the 2020 World Championship is postponed and that the intention is to play it end July or early August.
This schedule is unrealistic in my opinion as currently UK scientists expect the current situation to last for most of this year.
Barry Hearn is now talking about holding some tournaments behind closed doors in order to help lower ranked players; they are self-employed and badly need some opportunities to earn a living. Most have a family to support, and many, are now already looking for another job, offering their services on social media. How that’s gonna work, and when, and how players will be selected/invited has not been disclosed. I’m not sure that this is anything but a project for now.
I’m not impressed by how WST has been handling the situation.
In contrast, WPBSA has to be commanded for taking concrete measures to support their players. All credits to them!
The Challenge Tour
WST and the WPBSA have today taken the decision to postpone this season’s Challenge Tour Play-offs until further notice following recent government advice regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
Scheduled to take place on 29 March at Pot Black in Clacton-on-Sea with eight players bidding to claim a coveted two-year professional tour card, the event will now be rescheduled in due course as the situation develops.
The Seniors Tour
Most of the Seniors Tour events were scheduled to be played over le late spring and the summer, the time of the year when the Main Tour slows down. They are badly hit by this crisis, with nearly all events either postponed or cancelled.
The Amateur Game
One set of events that DID go ahead are the 2020 European Championships played over the last couple of weeks in Portugal. There were a lot of withdrawals reducing the field of the last, and main, event, the Mixed Championship, but there were still about 60 players in it.
Aaron Hill from Ireland won both the Under-18 and the Under-21 Championsips. The Under-21 title earned him a Tour card. Worth noting that Aaron beat Ben Mertens from Belgium, and only 15 years old, in the semi finals in both competitions.
Iulian Boiko, from Ukraine, won the 6-reds World Championship. Iulian is only 14.
Finally, former professional Andrew Pagett, from Wales won the main event. That earned him a tour card. He beat Heikki Niva from Finland in the final. Andrew Pagett was supposed to play in the Challenge Tour Play-offs. Hopefully, when that event is finally played, Jake Nicholson will now be offered the spot.
It’s good news for snooker that some really good young players are emerging from Ireland and mainland Europe.