Day 6 of “No Crucible”

Eurosport continues with their “vodcast” series, and this article is a teaser to the one likely to be shown today, which means that the complete interview will probably be on their youtube channel tomorrow.

This one is about Ronnie’s struggles mainly

O’Sullivan: Rehab was the moment my career truly started

Ronnie Home Nations

Ronnie O’Sullivan has told Eurosport that going into the Priory for drug and alcohol treatment in 2000 was the “best thing” he has ever done, and that it was the moment his career truly started.

In a candid new episode of Eurosport’s new snooker vodcast, O’Sullivan discusses his life away from the table in depth with Andy Goldstein, covering the highs and lows of one of the great sporting careers.

From his sensational victory as a 17-year-old at the UK Championship in 1993, O’Sullivan has been a talent who has commanded intense attention. In an open discussion, the five-time world champion discusses how he could have won even more titles had his father not been imprisoned just weeks after that seminal victory over Stephen Hendry.

In 1998, he was also stripped of an Irish Masters title and forced to return his prize money after testing positive for cannabis following his win over Ken Doherty in the final.

O’Sullivan also discusses the “lightbulb moment” when he realised he needed to change his lifestyle, resulting in a rehab stint at the Priory – a decision which proved to be a major turning point on his road to sporting greatness. So much so that O’Sullivan considers it to be the moment his career truly started.

Addressing his private life in the 1990s, O’Sullivan tells Goldstein: “I was just partying a bit too much and like I said when I won that tournament (in 1993) I thought I’d made it. I’d come into a bit of money, I had a nice house, a nice car, I was single. So, I could do what I want when I liked really. I just probably chose the wrong company but it just got hold of me really. I took my eye off the ball. I wasn’t really focussed on snooker and I wasted probably five years of my career just messing about really.

“I think [the ‘lightbulb moment’ was] after I lost to Stephen Hendry in 1996, and I was quite overweight as well. I was eating and drinking quite a lot. I was looking at a picture of myself and it dawned on me, and I thought, ‘I need to get myself fit again’. So, I spent three months, I lost my driving licence, so I spent three months just going to the gym two or three times a day, eating really well and got myself in good shape for the next season. And then I managed to win four of five tournaments actually, which was great. But then I went back to drinking and partying again.

“So for the next two years I wasn’t as bad as I was before but I was still doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing. So, that’s why I decided that I had to go to The Priory. Basically, first thing in the morning I was getting up, having a drink, having a joint just to function through the day. Which never felt good because I thought ‘I don’t want to have to rely on this sort of stuff’ but it just a hold of me a bit too much and that’s when I decided to get help for it.

“I just rang up the drugs helpline and said, ‘I’ve got some problems and I need to get some help, I think I know what it is, and I’d like some help.’ She said fine, so she came round the house and spoke to me and within two hours of meeting her she had me in The Priory in Roehampton. That was probably the best thing I’ve ever done.

“I didn’t want to go, I was scared. I thought ‘I’m not an addict, I’m not an alcoholic, I’ve just got to learn to just control it a bit’. And when I went in there and they said it was complete abstinence it was like ‘What? There’s no way I’ll be able to do that.’ But, I managed to get clean and sober.

“I haven’t stayed clean and sober the whole time but I don’t go out and have one or two drinks, I have a glass every six months if it’s a birthday party or New Year’s Eve thing. Otherwise I’m teetotal really.”

O’Sullivan was asked by Goldstein if he looks back at that time and sees a ‘different person’, and said he has effectively wiped six years of his career as a result of his personal issues.

“I wouldn’t look at anything from 1994 up until where I came out The Priory. I just wouldn’t want to look at it because it’s such bad memories for me.

“Anything from coming out The Priory onwards I class as my career that was a proper career really where I was giving it 100%. I wasn’t always mentally in great shape because I struggled with performing badly. But I was still putting the work in, putting the practice in because if my game was alright I was one of the favourites to win any tournament.”

Also the press went on to ask Ronnie and Judd Trump their views on a possible World Championship behind closed doors:

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump react to possibility of World Championship behind closed doors

Phil HaighFriday 24 Apr 2020

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump are both of the opinion that a World Championship without a crowd is better than no World Championship, but the event would certainly lose something with no fans in attendance at the Crucible.

The World Championship is set to run from 31 July-16 August, although there is nothing guaranteed on whether there will be a crowd in attendance at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

There remains the possibility that the event could be held behind closed doors, with a reduced crowd, and an outside chance that a full house of around 1,000 would be allowed in South Yorkshire.

Five-time world champion O’Sullivan and reigning world champ Trump would obviously rather have fans in the room, but know that needs must during the coronavirus crisis.

Talking on Instagram with Stephen Hendry, O’Sullivan said: ‘I think as long as it’s safe…

[What if it’s 17-17 in the final frame?] ‘It would be mental wouldn’t it. That’s a terrible thought.

‘I watched the Gibraltar Open, the final when there was no one in the crowd and it was quite bizarre to watch it ‘

I suppose from a TV point of view, a lot of people sitting around just wanting to watch some live sport.

‘From that point of view, any type of World Championships would be better than no World Championships, really.’

Judd Trump won his first World Championship last year and will have been dearly looking forward to returning to the Crucible and being introduced to a packed crowd as the reigning champion.

It will be a disappointment for the world number one if the crowd can’t be there, but like O’Sullivan, he accepts that players need to get back to the table ASAP.

‘Obviously, I’d love to defend my title in front of a full crowd. And it’d be a bit disheartening having that taken away from me,’ Judd told the Sun.

‘But you’ve to look at the bigger picture here. As snooker players, we need to keep playing.

‘Maybe if there aren’t other sports going on, then snooker can become a global sport. People who maybe didn’t watch the sport before might tune in.

‘With football, you need 60-70 people to play a game. In snooker, maybe you need only four or five people.

‘The best-case scenario is a full crowd. But I cannot see things getting back to normal that fast.’

WST are very confident that the event will go ahead on 31 July although there remains the possibility that government guidelines could prevent this entirely.

More likely it will just be a question of crowd restrictions, which WST are flexible to and will make a decision on closer to the time, depending on how government advice changes.

Personally, I still doubt that holding the tournament end of July will be possible. I can’t see the qualifiers, involving a possible 128 players, being deemed safe as early as mid-July.

Yesterday’s “Crucible Gold” was about the 1985 Black Ball final. I have to say, I’m getting sick and tired of the constant rehashing about that final and how it finished.

The BBC, on the other hand, showed a really good and interesting “Crucible Classic”: the 1988 match between a 19 years old Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White. This was a high-quality match. Young Stephen lacked experience but his quality is there for all to see. As for Jimmy, watching this match, you really wonder how he has never won the World Championship, although, in a way, the answer is there for all to see as well. Unable or unwilling to curb his attacking instinct, ever in the crucial moments, and a certain vulnerability under pressure, although, there was no sign of the latter in this particular match deciding frame.

Today they are showing the 1992 final… same players, different story.

A great piece about Ronnie by David Hendon

David Hendon has written this great piece about Ronnie.

It was written for WST, and published today:

Ronnie O'SullivanFew players have experienced the rollercoaster ride of emotions at the World Championship like Ronnie O’Sullivan, whose Crucible career continues as he approaches middle age. Journalist and commentator David Hendon looks at the Rocket’s highs and lows at the home of snooker…


Matthew Spade, like many young hopefuls chancing their arms when the game went open, did not set the world of professional snooker on fire but earns a place in the record books as the first ever opponent for Ronnie O’Sullivan in the World Championship.

It’s easy now to romanticise the long, hot summer of 1992. In reality, there was little romance to be found in the vast ballroom of the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool, the venue for all qualifying competitions. This was a snooker factory, a seemingly endless carousel of matches for the various ranking events, the final stages of which must have seemed a distant prospect as competitors slogged through round upon round, day after day. Among the sea of faces were up-and-comers, legends on their way out and players who thought they were good enough and in for a rude awakening.

Most thought O’Sullivan was good enough to make the grade. His name was already known through stellar performances in the junior scene and a run to the English amateur championship final. The qualifiers for his first World Championship concluded in September, closer to the 1992 Crucible showpiece than the event he was trying to reach.

By then, O’Sullivan had cut a swathe through the qualifiers. He would win 74 of his 76 matches, including his 5-0 defeat of Spade. In the next five matches in the world qualifiers he only lost three frames, including a 5-1 defeat of Chris Small, who had reached the last 16 in Sheffield a few months earlier. Nobody got near him and O’Sullivan eventually beat Mark Johnston-Allen 10-4 to qualify. He was still 16, the youngest player to ever book a place at the Crucible, although by the time the televised stage began seven months later not the youngest to play there.

Ronnie O'SullivanO’Sullivan, like several other players who would ultimately become legends, began his Crucible career with an immediate defeat, 10-7 to Alan McManus, who would go on to reach the semi-finals. The year ended, though, with his capture of the UK Championship. A star had arrived, and he would burn brightly for the next quarter of a century and counting.

At 44, he is now a veteran. If O’Sullivan wins his first round encounter at the rescheduled World Championship, his second round match will be the 100th he has played in the competition. Only Steve Davis and Jimmy White have mustered more.

His Crucible years have seen it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Stephen Hendry, of course, has the magnificent seven but O’Sullivan still has bullets to fire.

If you were searching for a microcosm of O’Sullivan’s whole career then the contrast between the 1996 and ’97 championships would be as good a place as any to look. In ’96, he played a bad tempered first round match against Alain Robidoux, who objected to O’Sullivan playing left-handed – and presumably to him playing really well left-handed. The match ended absurdly as Robidoux played on needing dozens of snookers on the pink, which O’Sullivan continually refused to pot. (This gave rise to a ridiculous myth that O’Sullivan was then summoned to play Rex Williams at a tribunal to prove he could play left-handed. This never happened.)

Worse was to come when an altercation in the media centre saw him physically assault a tournament official, meaning his continuation in the event was placed in doubt. He was allowed to play on but something was clearly wrong. Looking at pictures of the time, he appeared overweight and in a bad place. A year later, he was a slimmed down, handsome 21 year-old who strode into the arena and made a maximum break clocked at a record five minutes, 20 seconds. Subsequent timings have the break even quicker at five minutes, eight seconds.

This was style, it was class, it was an audacious exhibition of skill. Ronnie was back in everyone’s good books. He was box office. From then on, he became the Crucible’s leading attraction.

Even on the rare occasions he has made early exits, he has still played well. He made five centuries against David Gray in the first round in 2000 and lost 10-9. He made a maximum against Marco Fu in 2003 and lost 10-6. There have also been serious missteps, such as his ungracious verbal attack on Hendry before their 2002 semi-final, which inevitably backfired when he was defeated.

The previous year, O’Sullivan had won his first world title at what for him seemed like the grand old age of 25. He had seen his two great contemporaries, John Higgins and Mark Williams, get there before him. On the final night of the 2001 championship, preparing to play Higgins, he watched from backstage as Jimmy White was invited – absurdly – to join the parade of former champions on the basis that he was the ‘people’s champion.’ O’Sullivan resolved never to be put in that position.

He beat Higgins 18-14, a proper win over a proper player, and the duck was broken. More titles followed in 2004, 2008 and 2012. He had joined the pantheon of greats as a multiple world champion.

Yet by then the relentless grind of the circuit had become too much. After long threatening to put his cue down, he did just that for an entire season, apart from a low key PTC. He eventually came out of hibernation, turning up one night at the Masters. With trademark contrarianism it was to watch Mark Selby v Graeme Dott, two players he did not enjoy playing. And what he realised was that he had missed the buzz of being at tournaments. He had missed the thrill of competition.

So he came back and he won again at the Crucible in 2013, perhaps his greatest achievement and proof of his powers of intimidation. The king across the water had retained his crown. Hendry’s record was now in sight.

Glory and despair are the two extreme sides of the sporting coin. In 2014, O’Sullivan’s defeat to Selby was a taste of that other side and a defining moment of the decade for both. Selby has gone on to win two more world titles so far. O’Sullivan has not even been back in the one-table set-up since.

Listen to his interviews about the World Championship these past few years and you will hear O’Sullivan talk in terms of it being a slog. This seed was surely planted in the manner of the Selby defeat, O’Sullivan’s first in a world final. The painful realisation was that you can be the best player for 16 days and still lose on the 17th. All that effort – begun long before the opening Saturday – and for what?

Ever since, he has lost each year to players he usually beats – Bingham, Hawkins, Ding, Carter. Last year he was humbled in round one by James Cahill, playing under amateur status.

The World Championship serves up pressure like no other tournament, not just in the intensity of its matches but in the goldfish bowl of scrutiny the players are under, none more so than O’Sullivan. His every word, his every gesture is pounced upon, ready to be analysed, judged and, at times, wilfully misinterpreted. There have been years when he has lost at the Crucible and it has seemed like a relief.

So what of the future? Only a fool would write off the true greats. Williams came good again. Higgins keeps reaching the world final regardless of his form. Despite recent setbacks at the home of snooker, a sixth world title for O’Sullivan cannot be discounted, and if a sixth then why not a seventh? Age, possibly, will be a factor, as well as hungrier younger players but maybe the changed nature of this year’s event can be an advantage. Who knows? Nobody really knows with Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Why? Because there has never been anyone quite like him. He is still something of an enigma and therefore for many represents a canvas on which to project their own emotions. His vulnerabilities are a reminder of our own frailties. Such candid lapses of control are rare in the great champions of sport, whose very legend is built on their ability to remain focused and resolute.

He splits opinion. Many people don’t like the way he speaks or acts at times or how he hogs the limelight, but if you’ve seen him play, then you have seen something special. All the rest is really just noise, which will have quieted long before the memories of his performances dim from view.

Matthew Spade saw it up close back in the summer of ’92. Multitudes have seen it since. Many snooker fans hope to be seeing it for years to come yet.

Thank you David. 


Days 4 and 5 of “No Crucible”

Well, the big news yesterday was that new dates have been set for the  2020 World Championship in agreement with the broadcasters, BBC and Eurosport.

Of course, it can only go ahead if restrictions are lifted – at least partially – and if it’s safe. The main issue, in my view, remains the qualifiers, that need to happen earlier and involve a lot more players and officials.

Also, if travel restrictions are not lifted globally,  players based outside the UK may find it difficult or even impossible to attend. That’s a serious issue because the World Championship qualifiers are essential for so many players when it comes to their tour survival and it would be completely unfair if they were unable to compete, by no fault of theirs, and lost their tour card as a result.

Interestingly, the Championship is due to start on a Friday and end on a Sunday. That is a very welcome change for a lot of fans around the world. WST stands for “World Snooker Tour”, and having the climax of the final of the biggest event of the season played on a Monday, meaning on a normal working day for everyone except the UK fans was just another example of the persistent UK centric view of the governing body of the sport. I hope this particular change in the schedule is there to stay and not just a “one-off” thing.

Eurosport delivered two interesting vodcasts.

Andy Goldstein spoke to Neil Robertson, about his career, video games addiction, and supporting a partner suffering mental health illness. Neil is truly a great, positive person and this chat is really worth listening to.

He also spoke to Ronnie about his best wins, lockdown life, 146s, and that streaker.

At the time of writing, the vodcast isn’t available on youtube yet, but here is the audio:

And here are some of the key points (source Eurosport)

Ronnie O’Sullivan on his best wins, lockdown life and that streaker

Ronnie 2019/20Ronnie O’Sullivan | Snooker | ESP Player Feature Image credit: Getty Images

Ronnie O’Sullivan joins us for the latest episode of the Snooker Vodcast to discuss, amongst other things, the matches that shaped his career.


It’s actually been alright really – it’s a bit tough for us at the moment because we haven’t actually got a kitchen so we’re just making do with what we can; we’ve got our doors getting delivered in five days and then hopefully our floors will be delivered in another three weeks, and then our kitchen another four/five weeks after that. So, it’s not ideal but it’s alright.


In some ways I wasn’t surprised [by winning it that young]

When I first turned pro I didn’t really know how good the top pros were. You only watch it on TV and sometimes you only get the highlights, and they only show you the best bits. I think my first real insight into playing someone like Stephen Hendry was the tournament before the UK Championship and that was in Dubai – and he beat me 6-2.

And basically the reason why I didn’t win or just get a bit closer was because I showed him too much respect. But he gave me chances, and I just didn’t take them. I think when I went into the next match I had a bit more belief that if I got those chances, there should be no reason why I couldn’t compete with him. Obviously, the pressure was all on Stephen and no one knew me at the time, so that also helped.


It’s so much harder when you’re playing someone that’s younger than you because Stephen was the one to be shot at. So from that moment onwards [the UK Championship win], me, [Mark] Williams and [John] Higgins were trying to just keeping coming at him and every time he beat us it only made us stronger, but every time we would beat him it would make him a bit weaker, you know? Like for me, now if I was to play someone like Higgins, it probably wouldn’t put as much of a dent in him [if I beat him], but for him to get beaten by a younger player, it would really like maybe put more of a dent in him. So, it was harder for Hendry than it was for me in many ways.


I remember that I was lucky to get through the first round. I was playing John Parrott who was a bit of bogeyman for me, as the first seven times I’d played him he’d beaten me. So, every time I had to play him I just thought, he was the one guy I could never get near. He had a straight blue in the middle to beat me 5-4, but he missed it and I cleared up and then went on to win the tournament. And to play John Higgins, who is probably my biggest rival out of all of them, was fantastic.


Because I just started partying really. So, when the tournament season started, I kind of thought, it started in September and finished in May, so I had to kind of curb my drinking, my partying from September to May.

If I had a bad session I felt the sooner this is over, the sooner I can have some fun with my friends.

When it came off, it was the most unbelievable feeling. If you win it once, it doesn’t matter if you don’t win it again because you’ve got your name on the trophy. The monkey off your back is huge, it allows you to go and play and then it’s just a case of clocking up as many titles as you can get. I’m sure Judd [Trump] will go and win it a few more times [now he has won it once].


never thought I’d win it [after the sabbatical], because I’d never won the World Championship back to back. However, when I got on the practice table I felt great immediately. But practise and matches are totally different and I had no match practise and you can only get that by playing matches. But I did feel that after each match [at the Crucible], parts of my game got stronger. And by the final I kind of hit my true, the highest point, you know, I was playing at a very, very high level. Come the final, I just went out there and played as aggressively as I could.


I think my three best victories were the 2012 World Champs, 2013 World Champs and I enjoyed the 2014 Masters when I beat Mark Selby in the final – to beat Selby as convincingly as I did shows that I must have been playing some really good stuff.


I was a lot faster then, a lot younger, and played much more on instinct. I still play on instinct but that was youth and enthusiasm and all that sort of stuff. I probably know I wouldn’t be able to do that now because I’m a different player. It’s still one of the fantastic moments in snooker I suppose.



I was always going to get a 146 [against Barry Pinches]. Yeah, there was no way I was going to get a 147. No chance. I didn’t even need to go round the table [to complete the 147], I’d have just screwed it in with a little bit of side and been on the black. I think I’ve had three 146s now, which could have been maxes.


I knew it wasn’t a big prize [for a 147], but then I also knew that if I was to say there should be a bigger prize for a 147, you get people going, ‘Oh, you know, you’re ungrateful, you’re this, you’re that.’ So, I just thought, ‘What’s the best way to illuminate it? I thought, just go for the 147 and ask the ref what the prize is. Once he tells me it’s that, I go, ‘Oh, alright, I’ve made a 140, that’ll do’. It just makes it much more of an interesting talking point.


It was a great moment; especially to do it at the Guild Hall where I won my first UK Championship. To win the title and then make the century in the last frame, against Neil Robertson, who’s a fantastic player, for me it was the perfect place to do it. Yeah, I was buzzing, the crowd were excited, and once they [started clapping] I didn’t know whether to carry on playing or let them carry on clapping so I kept potting the balls. It was a good moment.


It was quite bizarre really. The weird thing was, I was sitting opposite her, so I saw her taking her clothes off and I was thinking ‘what she’s doing now?’ And then she ran down and did a couple laps round the table – I think she was waiting for somebody to take her away, but no-one did. But yeah, it was quite funny.


You could just tell she was no threat and all the security guards come running out, and I thought, oh I hope they don’t grab her to the floor. So, I went, ‘Hold on, let her have a shot.’ So, I gave her a shot, she tried, she was happy, took her shot and off she went.

So, Ronnie admitted to having been naughty about the 146s … in protest against the dwarfing, then the disappearance, of the reward offered for a maximum. One can look at this in many ways, and argue that players are out there to entertain, which is true but only in part. They are there to win, first and foremost, and to earn a living. How they play, and the shot they chose to take is their decision and theirs only. Usually, going for a 147 involves taking risks at some point. It may not be worth it, even if the frame is safe: after all, there is a reward for the highest break, and the 146 – or less – might do the trick just as fine. For years, before the media became centuries obsessed, and before snooker was as reliant as it is today on the betting industry, Mark Williams was known for pushing balls safe as soon as he was confident that his opponent wouldn’t come back to the table. I can’t remember him being blamed for it back then. He was just eager to go on with the matches (*)

Update: the vodcast is now available although it’s “shorter” than the audio.

Also, WST looked back at Ding Junhui’s Crucible career and significance in the context of snooker in China. But I find those Crucible Golds a bit disappointing. To much emphasise on big breaks, and not much on the “stories” behind some matches, or “runs” in the championship.

(*) Willo also frequently conceded frames whilst still being mathematically able to win, when he felt that his chances to actually win were very slim. He did this mainly in qualifiers, not on television. Again, the idea was to not spend a lot of energy on a lost cause and get on with the next frame.

New Dates Set For The 2020 World Championship

This was announced by WST only a couple of hours ago

Tuesday 21 Apr 2020 12:54PM

The Betfred World Snooker Championship has been rescheduled, subject to government policy, to run from July 31st to August 16th at the Crucible Theatre.

Snooker’s biggest tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic but following discussions with key stakeholders including Sheffield City Council, the BBC, Eurosport and Sheffield Theatres, new dates for the World Snooker Championship have been agreed.

The dates for the qualifying rounds have yet to be confirmed.

WST’s preference is to stage the event with a full crowd inside the iconic Crucible Theatre, which seats an audience of just under 1,000 spectators. If that is not possible, based on government advice at the time, WST will consider the following options:

Playing the event with a reduced crowd.

Playing the event behind closed doors.

Postponing the event to a later date again.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to confirm new dates for this huge global sporting event which has an international television audience of 500 million people. The world is going through a very challenging period but live sport can be a massive inspiration for the public and can boost morale. This gives fans of top class sport something on their calendar to look ahead to and enjoy for 17 days.

“It is crucial for our 128 tour players to know that we are doing everything we can to get our circuit going again as soon as it is considered safe to do so by the government. The players are self-employed and they need opportunities to earn, while we keep the health and safety of everyone involved in an event of this scale as a priority.

“In recent weeks we have had intricate negotiations with our key broadcasters including the BBC and Eurosport as well as the Crucible itself and Sheffield City Council. I would like to express my gratitude to all of them as we have progressed to a solution.

“Our sincere hope is that we are able to play the tournament with a full crowd as usual. This event means so much to the fans who have a golden ticket for the Crucible experience, and to the people of Sheffield. The players will desperately want to compete in the atmosphere that only a packed Crucible can generate.

“However if that is not possible then we will give careful consideration to each scenario.”

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council, added: “The World Snooker Championship is one of Sheffield’s annual highlights, something the city looks forward to and is immensely proud of. Although it is disappointing that so many of our events have been cancelled or postponed it is also essential while we meet the current challenges.

“I’m pleased that the Championship has been rescheduled and I really hope that it can be celebrated at the Crucible Theatre in true Sheffield style, when it is safe to do so. We will continue to work with WST and support all decisions taken, to help them deliver the competition whilst keeping everyone safe.”

The top 16 seeds earn an automatic place at the Crucible, and they will be joined by the 16 players who come through the qualifying rounds.

Tickets for the final stages will be automatically transferred to the new dates. The policy for refunds will be announced separately. All ticket holders will be contacted directly by the Box Office in due course.

The Rokit World Seniors Snooker Championship, originally planned for the August 12th to 15th, will now be played between the 19th and 22nd August. All tickets will be transferred to that same corresponding session already booked for.

OK … well, that seems very optimistic to me, especially as the qualifiers must be played first. But, all the same, Barry Hearn’s determination and dynamism is to be applauded.

I’m not sure how a “reduced” crowd can possibly work though. How can you decide who is allowed in, and who isn’t, and how do you deal with the ones who are refused entry? It looks like an endless source of problems to me. There might be many very unhappy and angry fans. It could backlash in the longer term.

And Asian players might be prevented to travel. That would be unfair.

Thank you Olivier Marteel !

This was published on Monday by WST

When Olivier Marteel was asked to put his own health at risk in order to play a vital role in the fight against coronavirus in Belgium, he didn’t hesitate.

Marteel would have been at the Crucible this week for the Betfred World Championship – where he refereed the final in 2015 – had the tournament not been postponed until later in the year. Instead his full time job as a nurse at the AZ West hospital in Veurne has taken precedence.

He usually works in radiology but, as the pandemic took hold, he was asked to play a different role.

“When the virus because widespread, each hospital created an extra Accident and Emergency department, so there was one for Covid patients and one for everything else,” explains the 50-year-old from Ghent. “My head nurse asked me if I could work on the Covid A&E department. Otherwise I would have been in Sheffield so this fortnight was clear in my diary.

“I am working on triage so I am the first person that patients see when they come in. My job is to assess them , check their symptoms, find out if others in their family have been ill, and then I decide whether they need to be tested for Covid or to see a doctor. So I am seeing a lot of patients every day.

“To some extent it is basic nursing because I am judging the symptoms. And I am used to being on the front line because in radiology I do X-Rays and CT scans which show whether cancer is growing, so I see that information first and pass it to the oncologist. But of course I have never worked in an A&E situation like this before.

“When I was asked to take on this role, I didn’t even have one second of doubt. Ever since I was a young child I wanted to work in medicine. I trained for three years and I have been working for 28 years. So when this came up, I jumped at it, even if there are some risks.

“It is tough of course. Just as you do in the UK, we have problems here getting enough personal protective equipment. This weekend we started using scuba diver masks which were bought in a sports shop, because we don’t have enough of the correct masks.

“The worst thing is the heat. The body produces a lot of heat but it can’t escape from the costume. I am often wearing two pairs of gloves – one for the whole day and another pair when I am treating patients. By the end of the day my hands feel like gum.

“Most people in Belgium are supportive, we have clapping or music every day at 8pm, and that helps the medical staff mentally. But some people are the opposite – I had one man shouting at me on the phone because his wife was on the ward but the result of her test hadn’t come through yet. I was gobsmacked, but thankfully it was a one-off.”

Marteel has refereed on the World Snooker Tour since 2006 and has taken charge of the finals of all three Triple Crown events, among many other tournaments. He is also an assessor, helping the younger referees to improve their skills. But while making tricky decisions with millions of people watching around the world may bring its own pressure, that hardly compares with the crucial choices he makes every day in the medical field.

“I have always said that refereeing is a piece of cake compared to my main job,” he added. “I treat snooker like a job as well of course, but for me it is a holiday. And that will never feel more true than when I’m back at a tournament – before long I hope.”

Olivier will never see himself as a hero. He’s a nurse. He cares for people and saves lives. It’s what he does, no matter how difficult it. Olivier is a partner and a father. He puts his own health, and possibly his life, at risk to help others.

If you ever are tempted to break the lockdown, to visit friends, to do something daft, think about people like Olivier. Stay home, stay safe. That’s the best thing you can do to support them and help them. They are overworked as it is. Stay home, stay safe.

Thank you Olivier ❤️

Hopefully, see you in the white gloves soon!


Eurosport: What are the greatest Crucible finals?

Another “All-time top ten” article by Eurosport

Top Ten Crucible Finals banner

by Desmond Kane

1. Judd Trump (Eng) 18-9 John Higgins (Sco) – 2019

Judd Trump 2019 World
Judd Trump completed an 18-9 win over John Higgins in 2019. Image credit: Eurosport

A modern masterpiece, and an all-time classic. Never has a final attained the heights or the quality of the 2019 final. Judd Trump produced the greatest level witnessed by any player in any World Championship final in butchering four-times world champion John Higgins 18-9.

The numbers speak for themselves: Trump made seven centuries, and Higgins compiled four yet still trailed home a distant second. Trump produced runs of 135, 126, 114, 105, 104, 103, 101, 94, 71, 71, 70, 63, 62, 58 and 51 in an awe-inspiring display of power potting, percentage snooker. That he did so against the arguably the finest all-round player in history made it an altogether more staggering feat.

Higgins made an imperious 125 to lead 5-4, but was forced to sit and suffer from that juncture onwards as Trump laid waste to the table, trousering eight straight frames to career 12-5 clear and put the final beyond doubt before the second day. Higgins had suffered a third straight loss in a World Championship final, but unlike the defeats to Mark Selby and Mark Williams in the previous two years, he accepted his fate with great candour.

“I was the lucky one to not have to pay for a ticket, he was just awesome,” said Higgins.

It will be the first of many I am sure, to produce a standard like that is incredible. He was unplayable. I never expected to get to the final, I came up against an unstoppable machine.

As this onlooker wrote in the aftermath: “At times, it was like watching snooker’s version of Swan Lake such was the deft and graceful way the lithe frame danced around the table, almost eyeing up the balls like prey. It was a cathartic experience, like he was at one with the table.

“Well-mannered, thoughtful and talkative in interviews, Trump possesses every quality you would seek from a snooker world champion. He is a marketing man’s dream, the first world champion in his 20s since Neil Robertson in 2010.”

“I was trying to enjoy it, and put on a show for the fans,” said Trump. “Play a few different shots that other players don’t play.

You practice so hard in private so you’ve got to go out and show it somehow.

Fitting that the greatest show was reserved for a great showman. Bristol cream had risen to the very top.

2. Ronnie O’Sullivan (Eng) 18-12 Barry Hawkins (Eng) – 2013

Ronnie World 2013Ronnie O’Sullivan completed an 18-12 win over Barry Hawkins in 2013.
Image credit: Eurosport

It turns out the only way isn’t Essex. O’Sullivan, fighting out of Chigwell, astonishingly returned from a year’s sabbatical when he apparently fraternised with part-time work on a farm to successfully defend the trophy with a swashbuckling display, high on pressure pots and little regard for his opponents. For a man who loves jogging, O’Sullivan seemed to be in a sprint towards his destiny. Only O’Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Mark Selby have successfully defended the old pot in Sheffield, but nobody has managed to do it with such flair as O’Sullivan in 2013.

Until Trump’s fabulous exhibition of high octane elegance in 2019, it was the finest performance by any Crucible champion and one in keeping with his ongoing status as snooker’s greatest natural talent. O’Sullivan never lost a session during his run to a fifth world title usurping Marcus ‘The Pride of Dumbarton’ Campbell, Ali Carter, Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump, but saved the best for last by producing six centuries in the final.

O’Sullivan contributed breaks of 133, 124, 113, 106, 103, 100, 92, 88, 86, 77, 76, 76, 74, 67, 55 and 54. He fairly galloped away from his fellow Englishman Hawkins, a heavy scorer from Ditton, with the final locked at 7-7, winning 11 of the closing 16 frames to rejoice in the moment of a fifth Crucible title to accompany his victories in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2012.

“I thought it was a brilliant final and great to be a part of. I always knew Barry had the talent and the game and he put me under a lot of pressure,” he said. “Everyone in the outside world thought it would be a procession, but people within the game all knew just what a good player Barry is.

I managed to play my way through the tournament and got stronger and stronger. And I managed my mind better than I ever have done, which got me through. You have to face your demons during this tournament and that’s why it’s such a hard tournament to win. In the final I had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

3. Mark Williams (Wal) 18-16 John Higgins (Sco) – 2018

256920Mark Williams World 2018Mark Williams completed an 18-16 win over John Higgins in 2018. Image credit: Getty Images

Mark Williams experienced something akin to a damascene conversion ahead of the 2017/18 season when he decided to alter technique and begin pursuing the snooker truth according to coach Stephen Feeney, purveyor of SightRight, and a better way to potting perfection. With nothing to lose after six years without a ranking tournament win, it provided Williams with the key to the matrix. Not only did he resume life as a major event winner at the Northern Ireland Open and German Masters, he was sharp enough to claim a third world title in Sheffield, a remarkable 15 years after his second victory at Crucible, the longest gap between titles of any Crucible winner.

The final with John Higgins was an instant classic between two men who turned professional in 1992 yet seemed untouched by the ravages of time. At the age of 43, Williams was the second oldest champion at the Crucible behind his compatriot Ray Reardon, who had lifted the last of his six world titles aged 45 in 1978.

Williams had witnessed Higgins restore parity at 15-15 from 15-10 behind, but maintained his composure as key contributions of 100 and 69 were enough to quell the Scotsman’s trademark resistance. He turned up naked at the post-match conference content in the naked truth that he had emerged victorious after hours of dedication to his chosen vocation.

Last year I was seriously thinking of giving up, but my wife said I can’t sleep in the house 24 hours a day.

4. Dennis Taylor (NI) 18-17 Steve Davis (Eng) – 1985

Steve Davis - Dennis Taylor World 1985Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor after their iconic final in 1985.Image credit: Eurosport

The black ball final was dramatic in its day, a cultural phenomenon and will be remembered as one of the most celebrated finales in the history of British TV sport. Yet it did not contain a single century over 35 frames, and was probably recalled as truly nail-biting because both men felt the pressure right until the bitter end. Davis had blown an 8-0 lead and missed a relatively straightforward cut on a black to claim the crown after midnight in the early hours of Monday 29 April 1985 with Northern Irishman Taylor, who looks younger these days, wiping the steam from his goggles to sink the winning black before wagging his finger in the air like an excitable umpire at Lord’s.

“Steve is wonderful the way he handles everything. He didn’t talk much about it for a couple of years after it happened,” said Taylor.

We both realise now that we were involved in a piece of snooker history, we didn’t at the time. It is 35 years on and people still remember that one. I was just very lucky to have been involved in snooker history.

Despite record viewing figures of 18.5m on BBC2 for snooker’s most famous match, it was a moment in time that illustrated snooker’s popularity at a time when the standard was several levels below what we witness today. To put this into context, only 14 centuries were made in the 1985 tournament compared to 100 last year. It is match that transcends the sport, but it could also be argued that Davis, a pristine perfectionist in his peak years, progressed to play to a higher standard in remaining competitive in the 1990s and 2000s than when he dominated the sport in gobbling up the game’s trophies.It is an argument best illustrated by his 13-11 win over the defending champion John Higgins at the age of 52 in the last 16 of the 2010 World Championship, but defeat to Taylor hurt when he was far and above the rest of the competition in his decade of superiority. The final frame lasted 68 minutes, but has been discussed far more extensively over the past 35 years. Did Davis bottle it? Quite possibly is the harsh answer when the man nicknamed Romford Slim was obviously of a higher calibre yet was also prone to playing negatively under extreme heat.A year earlier, he had crawled over the line 18-16 against young Jimmy White having led 12-4 in the 1984 final, but paid a heavy price for over-thinking and a lack of clarity in his shot selection as the fates conspired against him. Still human foibles make for nerve-shredding suspense.“It will be nice to watch all the old stuff, but it will remind us that a lot of it wasn’t that good,” he said. “There was no century break in the 1985 final, and the standard of play these days has gone through the roof.

I think we’re living in the golden age of snooker now, and we’ve got so many great players to tap into. You’ve got to be even more outrageous if you want to be a character today.

5. Stuart Bingham (Eng) 18-15 Shaun Murphy (Eng) – 2015

Bingham World 2015

Stuart Bingham of England poses with the trophy after beating Shaun Murphy in the final of the 2015 Betfred World Snooker Championship at Crucible Theatre on May 4, 2015. Image credit: Eurosport

“Four words: winner, winner, chicken dinner,” said Stuart ‘Ball-run’ Bingham as he finally made good on his reputation as a fearsome breakbuilder by carrying off the game’s greatest prize as a 50-1 long shot. Bingham’s run to the title was fraught with danger yet he stood up to the pressure with a fabulous effort of personal perseverance by eclipsing Ronnie O’Sullivan (13-9), Judd Trump (17-16) and Shaun Murphy (18-15) to claim the old pot.

It was quite a feat with Bingham overcoming the obstacle of self-doubt to hold off the 2005 world champion Murphy, who had rallied from 15-12 behind to level at 15-15 having led 8-4. Murphy had seemingly steadied the ship heading for home, but Bingham had other plans in summoning the strength of Samson to see it through.

“At 15-15 I thought my chance was gone, my arm felt like someone else’s and nerves sort of got to me,” said Bingham. “We had a marathon 31st frame and I sort of pinched it on the colours and from then on I played pretty solid. It’s just unreal, I can’t believe I’m the 2015 world champion. I’m going to be the same person. I’m going to be playing in all the tournaments, and hopefully I’ll be a good role model being a world champion.”

And he has been the same person, a figure who loves potting snooker balls. Bingham joined Ken Doherty as the only player to win the world title at amateur and professional level. Bingham produced knocks of 123, 112, 105, 102, 89, 88, 87, 87, 76, 65, 57, 57, 56, 55, 53, 51 and 50 to earn the praise of tennis icon Martina Navratilova, who had been keenly following the happenings on TV. Bingham claimed the Masters at the outset of 2020 to complete a remarkable renaissance in his latter years as a competitive professional.

Since turning 35, he has won all of his six ranking events and the Masters. As a late developer, few have been greater.

6. Joe Johnson (Eng) 18-12 Steve Davis (Eng) – 1986

150-1 outsider and talented part-time singer Joe Johnson, sporting some snazzy shoes and a calculating train of thought, was firmly on song in 1986. The then unheralded Bradford professional produced a breathless display of potting ambition to achieve one of the greatest Crucible upsets of all time against the dominant snooker force of the day. Having somehow blown an 8-0 lead to lose to Dennis Taylor a year earlier, Davis made three centuries in the final, but was again mysteriously afflicted by being a hot favourite against Johnson as he succumbed 18-12 with the sport’s iceman suffering another very public meltdown.

Johnson made two centuries in recovering from 12-9 behind to oust Terry Griffiths 13-12 in the quarter-finals before a 16-8 win over Bolton’s Tony Knowles helped him ease into his first world final. He trailed 7-4, but led 13-11 before the final session, an evening he dominated to rejoice in a stunning victory as Davis wilted in the face of some imposing potting.

Johnson almost regained the title a year later to illustrate his golden period was no fluke by beating a young Stephen Hendry 13-12 on his sojourn to a rematch with Davis in 1987. He lost 18-14, but no player has come as close as Johnson to ending the Crucible Curse in becoming the first maiden champion to successfully defend the trophy. Johnson will be recalled as one of the sport’s most popular champions, and the main protagonist in one of its finest finals.

7. Stephen Hendry (Sco) 18-17 Jimmy White (Eng) – 1994

Hendry World 1994Stephen Hendry celebrates victory in 1994. Image credit: Eurosport

Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White lost in six Crucible finals, but will never come as close to lifting the world title as he did on May 2, 1994. In his sixth, and what would prove to be his final fateful stab at becoming world champion, White came up agonisingly short. He had suffered five final defeats to Steve Davis in 1984, John Parrott in 1991 and Stephen Hendry in 1990, 1992 and 1993, but finally seemed set to lift the sport’s most coveted prize.

White had trailed 5-1 on Sunday, but fought back courageously and was among the balls in the final frame when he choked a black off its spot as the realisation dawned that he was on the verge of ending his reign as sport’s ultimate nearly man. The rest as they say is history with Hendry, who had triumphed despite fracturing an elbow earlier in the tournament, contributed a priceless 58 to win his fourth world title.

White never appeared in another final while Hendry would lift three more world gongs in 1995, 1996 and 1999. “What can I say Jimmy apart from Happy Birthday,” said the formidable TV presenter David Vine on White’s 32nd birthday.

“He’s beginning to annoy me,” responded White. He had led 14-8 in the 1992 final before losing 18-14 to Hendry. The defeat two years later was different in nature, but far more cutting.

8. Peter Ebdon (Eng) 18-17 Stephen Hendry (Sco) – 2002

Ebdon World 2002

Seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry would never win the world title beyond the 1990s, but in his private moments will probably wonder how he contrived to lose the 2002 final. Having overcome Ronnie O’Sullivan in the last four with an exceptional display of cueball control, Hendry was a strong favourite to become champion for an eighth time.

He made a record 16 tons in 2002, the most any player has produced during the World Championship at the Crucible yet still found a way to lose. Hendry had outclassed Ebdon 18-12 to win the tournament in 1996, but encountered a steelier figure six years later. The man from Wellingborough – a 33-1 shot to win the event – had led 4-0 and 11-8, but was forced to confront only the third final frame decider in the modern era of the World Championship after missing a black off its spot leading 52–27 in the 34th frame.

Hendry watched Ebdon contribute 59 in the concluding frame before a safety error trying to snooker his opponent allowed The Force to finish off matters in his favour. “Stephen’s been a magnificent ambassador for the sport,” said Ebdon in a weirdly foreboding analysis. “Players like Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams wouldn’t be playing the standard they are playing now if it wasn’t for Hendry.”

The final signalled the deterioration of Hendry as a winning machine in the sport. He reached one more major ranking final at the UK Championship in 2006, which he lost 10-6 to Ebdon, but would never return to a world final.

He can console himself with the fact that he is likely to remain the Crucible’s most prodigious winner of all time.

“I can’t see anyone beating it. O’Sullivan’s got five. He can do it if he keeps playing. But there are four others playing at that level,” said Hendry.

At his absolute best Ronnie wins. But he’s getting to that age where he’s not doing it often. He’ll talk all sorts of bull***t, saying he doesn’t care about the record. But deep down he wants to beat me while, of course, I want to hold on to the record.

9. John Higgins (Sco) 18-15 Judd Trump (Eng) – 2011

Higgins World 2011John Higgins after his 18-15 win over Judd Trump in 2011.Image credit: Eurosport

The 2011 final was a battle of style and wills as 21-year-old Bristol lad Trump bulldozed his way to the final potting balls for fun and opting largely against the strategical excellence for which his opponent was renowned. He had served notice of his intention to progress deep into the tournament with a 10-8 win over the defending champion Neil Robertson in the first round and further victories over Martin Gould, Graeme Dott and Ding Junhui suggested Trump was ready to pot his way to glory.

Higgins was also in supreme form buoyed by victories over Stephen Lee, Rory McLeod, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams to reach the final. Trump rolled in breaks of 104 and 99 to move 12-9 clear, but a missed blue on the cusp of a four-frame advantage proved costly as Higgins responded with a run of five straight frames to lead 14-12.

Trump would level at 14-14, but Higgins always looked the more complete player and finally sealed the victory with a quite majestic double on the pink. “He was the better player. He was playing a brand of snooker I have never seen before in my life,” said Higgins.

It was unbelievable the amount of long shots he was potting, it was incredible. It was great to watch – we have got the new sensation of the game.

It was also a learning experience for Trump, who has crafted a lauded tactical game in the ensuing years.

For Higgins it was a fourth world title, and his last at the venue having also lost four times in the game’s showpiece encounter, but the narrative is correct that Higgins is one of the sport’s true giants.

10. Shaun Murphy (Eng) 18-16 Matthew Stevens (Wal) – 2005

Murphy World 2005Shaun Murphy celebrates victory with the trophy in 2005.Image credit: Eurosport

If Jimmy White is recalled as the Crucible’s most famous nearly man, Matthew Stevens is not a bad second, so to speak. 22-year-old Shaun Murphy, an audacious potting talent with a formidable technique, became the first qualifier since Terry Griffiths to lift the world title in 1979 at odds of 150-1.

He had trailed 12-11 heading into the final session, but revelled in a performance beyond his years to emerge victorious in the last year the tournament was sponsored by Embassy due to the ban on tobacco advertising. Murphy enjoyed breaks of 137, 125, 107, 97, 84, 83, 80, 68, 66, 64, 64, 56, 56, 55, 52 and 51 to end Stevens’ hopes of a first world title including closing runs of 97 and 83 to catapult himself over the winning line from 16-16.

Stevens also lost 18-16 in the 2000 final to Welshman Mark Williams, and has suffered some agonising defeats in the last four, including a 17-15 defeat to John Higgins in 2001, a 17-16 loss to Peter Ebdon in 2002 and a 17-15 loss to Graeme Dott in 2004.

“I challenge any of those people to walk out in the Crucible Theatre, and try to make more than 10,” said Murphy in 2016. “It is not as easy as we sometimes make it look, and I’ve been on the backend of the (seven-times champion Stephen) Hendry era and through (five-times winner Ronnie) O’Sullivan’s dominance of the noughties. I’ve played in some fantastic matches here, but unfortunately some of them haven’t gone my way.”

It went his way in 2005, and he remains one of only 21 men to have become world champion at the Crucible. He finds himself in an esteemed company of green baize goliaths.

Whilst I somehow agree with the first three, I strongly disagree with n°4. That was a horrible final and the drama of the last balls doesn’t change that. Of course, not putting it in this list might have got Desmond Kane in trouble with the editor I guess.

The first weekend of May 1994 will remain a cursed weekend in many snooker fans’ memories. Not only did Jimmy White manage to lose to Hendry once again, but this was also the weekend when Ayrton Senna was killed at the San Marino Grand-Prix after Rubens Barichello had been seriously injured, and Roland Ratzenberger had died during the qualifying stages.

I disagree with Desmond when he says that the 2002 defeat marked the start of the deterioration of Hendry as a winner. To me, it had started five years before, when Ken Doherty managed to beat him by 18-12, with a high break of 85, whilst Hendry had 5 centuries. I believe that this defeat damaged Hendry’s confidence very badly and showed the other players that he could be beaten, and how.

I was on the Crucible floor at the start of the 2011 World Championship final session and the atmosphere was incredible, electric. It’s difficult to describe really. I’ve never felt anything like it, before or after. Not only had Judd Trump been phenomenal throughout the tournament, and a breath of fresh air, but emotions positives and negatives were running high about John Higgins. It was only the year before that the World Championship had been “tainted” by the NOTW scandal. Some admired his will to win after returning from his ban and losing his father earlier in the year, others were strongly of the opinion that he shouldn’t be there playing at all.


Day 3 of “No Crucible” – Stephen Hendry and Ronnie have a chat on Instagram

Yesterday’s Eurosport vodcast was about the “Greatest of all times”.

Well, it’s between Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, and Ronnie, and eventually both Neal Foulds and Jimmy White went for Ronnie, basically for three reasons: he’s won most triple crowns, he’s been a top player for 28 years and counting and he’s done it despite the permanent challenge of the likes of Hendry (for about 20 years), Higgins and Williams. I agree, but it’s a bit of a pointless debate, because sports change over time, as do the conditions, and you can only try to be the best possible in your era, which all three above have done.

It wasn’t the best debate, IMO, with Jimmy insisting from the start that it was Ronnie and not really wanting to consider the others in some depth, adding that Hendry himself would tell them that Ronnie is the GOAT.

The only slightly less usual thing when it’s about the GOAT debate was that both Neal and Andy remarked that John Higgins would almost certainly be in that conversation had he not been in competition with Ronnie and Mark Williams during their entire career. In contrast, Hendry and Davis didn’t really have “close” competitors during their prime years.

The highlight of yesterday to me was provided by Stephen Hendry who had a long, enjoyable and very positive interview with Ronnie on Instagram.


Here are a few things that stayed with me

  • Hendry duly introduced Ronnie as the GOAT, which made me smile because of the coincidence with Jimmy’s statement earlier in the day
  • For the next two years, Ronnie is considering to play in every event he can possibly play and see if he can get back to his best level.
  • Playing well is was gives him enjoyment, not necessarily winning. In contrast with Hendry for whom winning was everything. And also working with Steve Peters, of course, has helped him to cope with playing bad in a less destructive way than in the past.
  • His greatest achievement is probably the 2012 World Championship. Why? Because he’s just had a very bad spell, on and off the table, had worked with Steve Peters for a few months, but wasn’t getting the results. He had started to doubt his own ability to win it again. He thought he was finished, and then he won the World for the fourth time. What Peters did fo him is to give him perspective, to get less hard on himself.
  • The 1000th centuries… that’s something Hendry really admires.
  • Ronnie doesn’t set goals. You just prepare and try your best. Winning tournaments is just a “by-product”.
  • Best performance. A final, European Masters, in Le Touquet, where himself and Hendry played each other at the top of their games.
  • No regrets about not playing at the Masters. Too close to home, with lots of people asking for tickets. And a lot of media work. Last year during the final the kept him for three hours doing filming and interviews after the SF.
  • Preferred tournaments? The Chinese tournaments, because of the hospitality, the way the players are looked after. Shanghai is his favourite. But the travel part is a bit difficult.
  • That led them to discuss the “old days” and the atmosphere there was backstage at tournaments and the hospitality. Now the standard of snooker is higher but there is no atmosphere at the tournaments anymore. (both players agreeing on that)
  • Best 147? the one against Ding in the Welsh final. And “that” last red to black is probably his best ever shot. The feastest 147 was an “inspirational moment” but not a good break.
  • He’d love to win another World. But his private life is/has been a bit complicated and been a “distraction” from snooker. But that’s not an excuse. But yes, he’d love to win another one.
  • Not going vegan! Eating more veggies and fruit, yes, but no, not vegan.
  • Worst loss. The Masters final against Higgins in 2006. That was hard to take.
  • The 1000th century … he would have loved to do it at the Crucible. But, then the opportunity came in a great final, in Preston (the venue of his first title) and he went for it and it was great.
  • Teaching, coaching? No, not really, it’s a different approach than playing, a different state of mind. Ronnie not sure he’s got that mindset.
  • World Championship behind closed doors? As long as it’s safe … although a Crucible final in an empty arena is a terrible thought. But any type of World Championship would be better than no World Championship.
  • No really regret to get to the Players Championship, although that series offers brilliant tournaments.
  • Both wondered at the fact that they never played in a World final. Ronnie remembers the 1999 SF, a defeat that changed his approach to the game. It was a very good match, but he went on the defensive towards the end and it was his downfall. A lesson learned.
  • Goals? Not really. At this stage of Ronnie’s career, it’s about enjoying it. that’s key to longevity.
  • Country Ronnie would love to play in? Iran.
  • Praising Trump. Currently, head and shoulder above anybody else. His brother Jack is a big factor in his success. They practice a lot together.
  • Talent or hard work? Talent without work will get you nowhere. Hard work without talent, you may win a few, but never get to the highest level.

And they might do another one … so many questions still unanswered.

Here it is:

It was really enjoyable, very friendly and lost of respect between them. And Ronnie’s memory when it comes to his past matches is amazing. Hendry asked him three questions, inspired by Cuetracker,  about matches from the 90th and he got all three right.

And the daily “Crucible Gold” about the four  “other” maximum breaks at the Crucible.