As we have an “empty day” before the Scottish Open qualifiers, here are some snooker related news that attracted my attention over the last week…
Having recently won the Asian Championship, Pankaj Advani won the 6-reds IBSF World Championship in Doha. Here is the account by the Times of India:
Pankaj Advani wins his 24th world title in Doha
DOHA : Star Indian cueist Pankaj Advani on Tuesday grabbed his 24th world title when he triumphed at the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup with a victory over Pakistan’s Babar Masih in the final.
Advani, who won his 11th Asian title last week, started the final with a comfortable 42-13 win in the opening frame.
Babar drew parity by winning the second 38-14.
In the third frame, Advani made a foul that only he knew he had committed. The 36-year-old won the third and fourth in quick succession to go 3-1 up.
The Pakistani cueist, in no mood to play second fiddle to his worthy opponent, crafted a wonderful 56 break to bridge the gap.
Advani shifted gears and then took the next three to be one frame away from getting his hands on his 24th world winner’s trophy.
Not going to go down without a fight, Babar brought the match to a precarious situation by winning the next three frames as a strong response.
At 6-5, it was touch and go. Babar had found his touch and Advani had more to lose at this point being within striking distance of the finish line. But a classy 32 break off the cue of the multiple world champion put paid to Babar’s hopes.
Pankaj ensured a clean slate of wins over the last fortnight in Qatar across two international championships – Asian Snooker and 6-red Snooker World Cup.
“I am living a dream. Being away from the table for so long, these two back-to-back triumphs assure me that my hunger and competitive skills haven’t diminished,” Advani said.
“Very fortunate to win both as I am aware there is still a lot of work to put into my game once I return. Happy to return home tomorrow with two gold medals for my country.”
Earlier, in the day, Pankaj got the better of the Asian Snooker finalist Amir Sarkhosh of Iran 6-3.
Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe had John Virgo as a special guest to their podcast.
John Virgo is always entertaining, but it was not all jokes and laugh as he revealed that the coming Word Championship at the Crucible will probably be the last for him and Dennis Taylor as BBC pundits.
John Virgo expects next World Snooker Championship to be the last for him and Dennis Taylor
John Virgo believes the next World Snooker Championship will be the last for him and Dennis Taylor in the commentary box, expecting to be cut from the BBC’s coverage.
Virgo, 75, and Taylor, 72, have been voices of snooker for decades, with Virgo first commentating on the game way back in 1985 and becoming a huge television star through the ’90s thanks to gameshow Big Break.
While no decision has been confirmed by the BBC, Virgo seems sure that his next trip to the Crucible in April will be his last to work behind a microphone.
Speaking to the Talking Snooker podcast, Virgo said: ‘Listen, you never know what’s round the corner in life, but it looks like this will be my last season. Not my choice, theirs [the BBC]. Along with Dennis (Taylor) apparently.
‘Scoop or whatever it is, I don’t know, but that’s what we’re getting, that this will be our last season. I think that’s definite. The World Championship will be our last one. It’s not my decision, I love the game and everything else. But I understand, nothing lasts for ever, I understand that.’
The World Championship, played from 16 April-2 May, will likely represent the end of an era for two of the most significant commentators the sport has had, and Virgo says it will be hard to deal with when it comes around.
The former UK champion first played at the Crucible in the first year the venue hosted the World Championship in 1977 and it is a venue filled with fond memories for him.
‘That’s the decision they’re making, so yeah, I haven’t really felt it at the moment but I probably will do come the World Championship,’ he said.
‘There will be a lot of memories there, memories from when we first went there in ’77. So it will be hard, but as I say, nothing lasts forever, and I’ll give it my best shot and that will be it, yeah.
‘I think they’re probably looking for people who are more in touch with the modern day player. Although I think all players are the same aren’t they? They play shots, there’s not many shots that people play that I haven’t seen, you know. I’m not criticising the decision, I know nothing lasts for ever.
‘The BBC have been fantastic to me, in my commentary career, Big Break, if that’s the decision that’s the decision, we’ll just have to accept it and enjoy it on the telly.’
2019 world champion Judd Trump called for broadcasters to make a change to their veteran commentary teams earlier this year, telling Metro.co.uk: ‘There’s not enough trying out new things in snooker for me at the moment, it’s all the same every season, not enough excitement, not enough different dimensions,’ he said.
‘Change the coverage, the commentators who have been around a long time, change the way the game is spoken about.’
Asked about Trump’s comments, Virgo said: ‘I still think we’ve got something to offer.
‘I don’t think the shots have changed, I don’t think the mentality [has changed]. When somebody misses an easy shot you can put your finger on why they did it.
‘If someone’s in a spot of bother…Dennis is the best line-drawer in the business, if someone’s in a snooker.
‘Being younger, you might put an emoji on the bottom of it, but how are you going to better it?
‘But no, I understand. I think over the years we’ve had the experience to talk when we need to talk, to be quiet when we need to let the pictures tell the story.
‘It will change, sooner rather than later, but I won’t have any complaints because I’ve enjoyed it.’
The BBC has been approached for comment.
Well… I at least hope that the BBC will not got for the “excitement” bit. I’d absolutely hate “football style” commentary on the snooker. And indeed, their knowledge of the shots and understanding of the table situation are excellent and make for interesting commentary.
That said, I could do without the golf digressions, and discussions about “great players” from 50 years ago that most viewers never had the opportunity to watch except maybe in some blurry Youtube bit. Also, too many times, there have been admissions that they had never seen this one or that one guy playing before. They don’t seem to watch much snooker unless it’s on the BBC. Their choice, but at least do some research.
Also, completely butchering overseas’ players names is not acceptable. I have been contacted by ITV pundits who wanted to make sure about the pronunciation of Belgian and French players’ names and I truly appreciated their efforts to get that right.
And then there is this bit about a great charity challenge initiative where Ronnie will play a very modest role:
Runners set to navigate all 315 London Underground and DLR stations on foot
Psychologist and author Dr Kevin Dutton and Great Britain rower John Collins are embarking on a brutal two-week challenge to raise crucial funds for charity
On Sunday 19 September Dr Kevin Dutton, a psychologist and author, and Great Britain rower John Collins will embark on a unique leg-sapping challenge – navigating all 315 London Underground and DLR stations on foot, over a two-week period. But that’s not all. They’ll be sleeping rough in between legs and, on Day 15, they’ll conclude their challenge by running all 26.2 miles of the London Marathon. The pair have badged the 305-mile feat the ‘Metro Marathon Challenge’.
So why are the pair taking on such a gruelling feat of endurance? Dutton and Collins are raising money for The Running Charity – a charity harnessing the power of running to support young people who are experiencing homelessness or managing complex needs.
The Running Charity believes that running is as good for your mind as it is for your body. Running builds resilience and self-esteem, and they use this to improve the lives of 16-25 year-olds who are homeless or at risk from homelessness.
‘The last year and a half has been tough on all of us,’ said Dutton, ‘but it’s been even tougher for those without a roof over their heads.’
Metro Marathon Challenge logistics
Dutton and Collins have called on a team of data scientists from Capgemini Engineering to help them plot the route. The data scientists have calculated the optimum start point and shortest possible route between the 315 stations, beginning in Chesham and ending in Lewisham, the station nearest to the London Marathon start line.
The pair will be sleeping rough for the entire duration of the challenge, mostly in parks along the route, but sometimes, in a friend’s garden. On Day 10, they’ll be dropping in on none other than snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan to refuel with some of his home-cooked pasta.
There will be a few other famous faces supporting Dutton and Collins on their journey, too. The pair will be started by former London Marathon winner Hugh Jones, and former SAS soldier Andy McNab will also be on hand to support them at various points along the route.
‘The Metro Marathon Challenge is eccentric, original…but genuinely bloody hard,’ said McNab. ‘It’s 50/50 in my book whether Kev and John manage to pull it off. I hope they do – it’s for a great cause. But it’s going to take a monumental effort of guts and willpower, not to mention extreme fitness.’
Ronnie left them a supporting message on his Instagram page