Farewell to a Queen

Queen Elisabeth II died peacefully in her Balmoral residence yesterday afternoon. She was 96 tears old. She was a queen before I was born … and I’m a grand mother. Immediately, all over the Internet, respects were paid, tributes were written, and pictures were shared. Most of those images showed her, smiling, wearing her crown with pride… the only one that was in my mind, was of her, petite, frail, all dressed in black, wearing a mask, alone, mourning her husband, the man she had loved since she was 13. Alone, following the rules while those who set those rules were partying in Downing street. Those were the same people who were now flooding social media with tributes. It angered me beyond words. It saddened me beyond words.

Of course, there were also many thousand of sincere tributes, notably from snooker players, including Ronnie.

Tributes and token of respect came from all over the world. The flags were taken at half mast in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. European countries expressed their solidarity with the UK people and shared their sorrow.

Rest in peace Elisabeth Windsor, Queen, mother, grand-mother, grand-grand-mother … a formidable woman in a male dominated world, a unifying force in a profoundly divided country, a beacon of dignity in the face of a deeply corrupted political class. I hope you are now reunited with your love.

Snooker News – 08.08.2022

Live snooker returns tomorrow with the 2022 British Open qualifiers. Among the players scheduled to play tomorrow is Stephen Hendry. His opponent is Zhang Anda, the man who pushed Hendry all the way in the first round at the Crucible in 2010. Zhang, at the time was only 18.

But will Hendry be there? And if he plays, what can we expect? Those are the questions going through my mind after WST announced that Hendry has withdrawn from the 2022 Northern Ireland Open:

Stephen Hendry has pulled out of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open and has been replaced in the draw by Zhao Jianbo.

Hendry was due to face Aaron Hill in the qualifying round later this month in Wigan. Hill will now take on Zhao instead.

Click here for the updated draw

 

No reason has been given, and maybe something important and unexpected happened forcing Hendry to withdraw. We don’t know of course, but I haven’t a good feeling about this, and going by reactions on twitter, I’m not the only one.

The 2022 European Masters qualifiers have been played already of course, and now WST has shared this trailer about the main event:

I’m glad to see snooker returning to Fürth and the event should be well attended but I’m still sad, and to an extend angry, at the way WST actually “killed” the biggest and best European Pro-Am by turning it into a ranking event.

Finally, after a long silence that triggered fears about the future of the World Seniors Tour, some reassuring news have emerged: dates, venues  for the 2023 World Seniors Championships and its qualifying events

Tour Qualifying Events 2022 News – 12.06.2022

The Asian Q-Schools 2022 finished yesterday, with Dechawat Poomjaeng and Himanshu Dinesh Jain earning a two years tour card.

Congratulations to them!

Here is WST report about the final day:

Poomjaeng Earns Tour Return

Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng has regained his professional status with a 4-1 win over compatriot Narongdat Takantong in the final round of Asia-Oceania Q School in Bangkok.

Poomjaeng lost his place on the World Snooker Tour at the conclusion of the 16/17 season and has not regained his professional status since then. He has now earned a fresh two-year card.

The 43-year-old is a fan favourite and is fondly remembered for his run to the last 16 of the 2013 World Championship, where he scored a thrilling 10-9 win over Stephen Maguire.

He had to recover from the setback of losing out in the final round of event one, where he was defeated by fellow Thai Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon. After losing the opening frame today, Poomjaeng held his composure to rack up four on the bounce and emerge victorious.

India’s 30-year-old Himanshu Jain came through an epic clash with former professional Kritsanut Lertsattaythorn 4-3 to earn the other place. The pair battled for over four hours, with Jain eventually winning the deciding frame on the final pink.

Jain earns a place on the tour for the first time and will become the first professional from India since Aditya Mehta left the circuit in 2018.

Many will be happy to see “Poomy” back … but Stephen Maguire is probably not one of them. I’m happy for Poomy but, well, he’s another rather “old” qualifier.

Himanshu was very emotional at the end of the match. It obviously meant a lot to him. I do hope that he will adapt to the life in the UK. Indian players, notably Pankaj Advani, have often felt very homesick living as expats in the UK. They were missing their family, the food, the sun, the different social life.

The 2022 EBSA under-21 Championship has now reached the semi-finals stage, where Florian Nüssle from Austria will face Aidan Murphy from England and Ben Mertens from Belgium will face Liam Pullen from England. Ben beat Iulian Boïko in the quarter-finals, putting an end to the young Ukrainian hopes of an immediate return to the Main Tour.

That said the 2022 EBSA men Championship is now underway. It’s called “men” championship, but, unless things changed as compared to last year, it’s actually open to both genders. There isn’t a single female in the draw though. Most of the youngsters who played in the under-21 event entered this one as well. Former professionals Robin Hull and Eden Sharav are in the draw. I’m not sure if this event carries a tour card for the winner. It used to be the case.

There are also separate Women and Seniors events, as well as Team events. I noticed that there are only three female players under 30 years of age in the women’s draw and that’s actually a big concern. The youngest one is 23. Young girls are not getting into snooker it seems, quite the opposite.

You can follow the EBSA championships on this site.

 

 

Tour Qualifying Events and Snooker News – 10.06.2022

Tomorrow, both the 2022 Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 2 and the EBSA Under-21 Championship will be played to a conclusion.

This is the semi-finals line-up for the Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 2:

Screenshot 2022-06-10 at 21.16.47

The winners of these matches will get a two years tour card. We have three Thai players, and an Indian player. Of the three Thai players only Narongdat Takantong has never been a pro. Himanshu Dinesh Jain has never been a pro either. Dechawat Poomjaeng would probably be a popular winner tomorrow although Stephen Maguire may disagree …

The EBSA Under-21 Championship is at the quater final stages:

Screenshot 2022-06-10 at 21.14.26

It’s a rather international line-up: Kledio is Albanese, Aidan and Liam are English, Florian is Austrian, Julien and Ben are Belgian, Iulian is Ukrainian and Nicolas is French.

Iulian has both been professional. Florian has not been a pro, but has played in main tour events. Julien has already earned his tour card via the Q-Tour. Tomorrow Florian and Julien will face each other and Florian may feel aggrieved, should he lose, to have lost to someone who had little pressure, whilst himself is trying to gain his tour card.

Iulian will face Ben and although he’s the one fighting to regain his tour card, he’s the youngest of the two. I have mixed feelings about this one. I would like to have three Belgians on the Main Tour, I also want Iulian to regain his professional status. He was far too young the first time, and is only starting to improve significantly. It would be a shame if he suffered a setback in his development now.

For me, the “surprise package” of this line-up is Nicolas Mortreux. I will admit that I know nothing about him, although he’s done well in EBSA events before. Actually, Nicolas, Julien and Florian were all involved in the QFs at the 2019 EBSA under-18 Championship in Israel.

In other snooker news, Sunny Akani‘s father put a post on his son’s Facebook page. Automatic translations are not always accurate, but from what I understood, Sunny will go back or is already back to Thailand and doesn’t intend to play on the Main Tour next season, despite beeing “high” on the Q-School order of merit. Akani struggled with health issues and with his game over the last three years. He wasn’t enjoying his snooker anymore. He’s hoping that going back to Thailand, and playing there without the pressure of the main tour will help him to rediscover his form and his love for the game.

And in other news … Ronnie and Zhao were on their way to Singapore ROSZhaoooftoSingapore

and Mink was also on her way …

ROSOnYeeoftoSingapore

… to play in this …

ROSSAFinalShow

Hopefully I’ll be able to find some kind of report and pictures…

 

 

Mark Selby and Judd Trump honoured

This was announced by WST last Wednesday evening:

Snooker’s Mark Selby and Judd Trump have been awarded MBEs, after being named on the Queen’s 2022 Birthday Honours List.

They are both all-time greats of the sport and receive their honours in recognition of their services to snooker and charity.

Leicester cueman Selby has been World Champion on four occasions, having captured the sport’s biggest prize in 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021.

Selby won his first major title at the Masters in 2008 and then captured a maiden ranking event win at the Welsh Open later that year.

Trump won his first and only world title to date back in 2019, when he scored a stunning 18-9 defeat of John Higgins in the World Championship final.

The Bristolian made his big breakthrough in 2011. He landed maiden ranking titles at the China Open and the UK Championship and was runner-up to Higgins in the world final.

Between them they have a total of 43 ranking titles to their names, with 38-year-old Selby having amassed 20 to Trump’s 23.

Both players have enjoyed periods of dominance in the sport. Selby was world number one for 49 consecutive months between 2015 and 2019, while 32-year-old Trump holds the record for most ranking titles won in a single season, with six in the 2019/20 campaign.

Selby is a patron of the LOROS Leicester Hospice, who deliver care and support to terminally ill patients. He regularly visits the hospice and works to grow awareness of it and raise vital funds.

On receiving the honour, Selby said: “To receive an MBE is one of the proudest moments of my life. It is an incredible honour. I have always put everything I have into snooker and also tried to help the fantastic charities I am connected with. For someone like me, from an unprivileged background, to achieve a lot and to be recognised with an MBE hopefully gives inspiration to others.

Trump is a patron for Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home, who provide specialist nursing care for terminally ill children in their own homes in the South West of England. Jessie May is the official charity partner of WST and Trump helps to promote the charity, as well as raise funding.

He is also an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust alongside close friend and fellow professional Jack Lisowski, who himself overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a teenager. The pair launched the appeal to fundraise for the unit at Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre and they officially opened the unit alongside the Duchess of York in 2014.

After hearing the news, Trump said: “To be awarded an MBE is an incredibly proud moment for me and my family, it was a huge surprise.

It’s an absolute honour to be an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Jessie May Foundation; both do such amazing work and I will continue to support them as much as possible. I hope I can continue to help grow the sport of snooker and inspire kids to pick up a cue”.

Chairman of WST Steve Dawson said: “On behalf of WST, my sincere congratulations go to Mark and Judd. They have both been fantastic ambassadors for snooker for many years, bringing new fans into our sport, and they are both great characters who have built relationships with the fans, their own charities and local communities. This recognition is richly deserved.

Congratulations to Mark and Judd.

That these honours were awarded, not just because of their sporting achievements, but also because of their support to important charities is great. Those two, and other players, who are supporting charities rarely speak about it, but what they do really matters.

 

 

 

Snooker News – 20.05.2022

WST has shared some information about the Asia -Oceania Q-School draw:

Asia-Oceania Q School Draw

The draw for 2022 Asia Oceania Q School will take place on Friday May 20th at 11am Bangkok time (5am BST).

Fans can watch the draw live on the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thailandsnooker/

Snooker’s first ever Asia-Oceania Q School, starting on June 1st,  gives new opportunities for the most talented players in those regions to graduate to the professional tour. Two tournaments will be staged, with the finalists from both to earn a two-year card to the World Snooker Tour. So in total four players will be awarded a place on the professional circuit for the 2022/23 and 2023/24 seasons.

 

So, that was this morning then. Twitath Warintrakom was conducting the ceremony. The draw was made in Thai and English. Both videos together have about one and a half hour duration. I haven’t worked out the draw yet … and might actually wait for WST to do publish it.

WPBSA/WST have published a statement regarding Jamie O’Neill

WPBSA Statement: Jamie O’Neill

WPBSA Statement: Jamie O’Neill

After a complaint made to the WPBSA by WST, Jamie O’Neill was charged with breaches of the WPBSA Members Rules and his Players Contract with WSL as a result of incidents at the Northern Ireland Qualifying Event in Leicester on Monday 23rd August 2021

The allegation was that Mr O’Neill was drunk on the morning of his match and that he made inappropriate comments and gestures toward two female members of staff. He then played his qualifying match whilst under the influence of alcohol.

The case was heard by the independent WPBSA Disciplinary Committee where after a contested hearing Mr O’Neill was found to be in breach of the WPBSA Rules and his Players Contract.

In making their decision on sanction, the Committee took into account that the finding of the Disciplinary Committee puts Mr O’Neill in breach of a suspended penalty imposed by the Disciplinary Committee on 27th May 2021. In addition, Mr O’Neill has breached two previous suspended penalties imposed under the WPBSA Disciplinary process.

Mr O’Neill was suspended from playing or being involved in WST events, effective immediately until 23.59 on 31 July 2022; and to pay a fine of £1,500 and to pay £3,200 towards the costs of the hearings.

Mr O’Neill will be suspended for the Championship League and the European Masters.

————————————————————————————————————————

 Appendix 1

 WSL Players Contract extracts:

  1. Obligations of the Player

3.1 General Obligations

In consideration for the Player having the opportunity to participate in the WSL Events by WSL entering into this Agreement with the Player, the Player shall:

3.1.5 Behave in a professional and reputable manner befitting a professional sportsperson. 3.1.7 Not be under the influence of alcohol whilst competing in a WSL Event and at all times comply with the WPBSA Anti-Doping rules.

WPBSA Members Rules extract

1.3 A Member shall not make or cause to be made any statement or commit or cause to be committed any act which in the reasonable view of the WPBSA is likely to bring into disrepute the games of snooker and/or billiards.”

The full WPBSA Members Rules can be viewed here.

The facts are 9 months old… Considering that this is not the first time Jamie O’Neil’s conduct is inappropriate, I find the “punishment” quite light actually. The previous penalties were about inappropriate behaviour towards hotel and WST staff, as well as breach of covid rules.

I’m sure that if it was a top player behaving like this it would be all over the news and social media for days, and calls would be made for harsher punishment as this is not a first offence and it clearly brings the sport into disrepute.

 

 

 

Some Ronnie News – 14.05.2022

Ronnie is currently doing some exhibitions with Jason, notably in Cornwall where Jason is from.

Meanwhile, Laila has confirmed that they are back together:

Laila Rouass shares how she got back together with snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan

Footballers’ Wives actress and Strictly star Laila Rouass has opened up about how she and fiancé Ronnie O’Sullivan rekindled their romance, following their shock split earlier this year

Actress Laila Rouass has opened up about how she and fiancé Ronnie O’Sullivan found their way back to each other after their breakup.

Footballers’ Wives star Laila met snooker world champion Ronnie by accident while she was house hunting in 2012.

The couple got engaged just a year later but never actually married.

They saddened fans when they announced they would separate after more than a decade together.

Appearing on Loose Women today, the 50-year-old revealed she and Ronnie had already been broken up for eight months when they made the news public in February.

However, over the last few weeks there was plenty of speculation about the couple giving their relationship another go with Laila snapped wearing her engagement ring again.

A friend of the pair told The Mirror at the time: “The love is still there.

“It seems like they are giving things another go. Nothing is ever straightforward when it comes to Ronnie but there’s a lot of love there.”

Laila has now confirmed the happy news on the lunchtime chat show and said they had “found our way back”.

She told the show’s panellists: “Me and Ronnie are back together, we found our way back.

We just worked it out – back when I announced it, we hadn’t been together for almost eight months at that time.

She added: “Talking is so underrated. If you can sit down and say how you feel and what you want – when you get older that is much easier to say too.”

During the chat, Laila also revealed the snooker ace has been “feeling flat” ever since winning the world championship in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

She said: “Ronnie, he’s just won the seventh world title and he’s come back home and he feels flat.

OK.

It’s probably not surprising that Ronnie feels a bit flat. After 17 days spending huge amounts of nervous energy that’s to be expected.

Also I had known since september that they were no more together but had been asked to keep it quiet. That, in itself, suggested to me that things might not be as “definitely over” as they might have appeared. All couples go through crisis and they are both at a critical age. Mid forthies is often the time when our outlook on life changes, and, may I say so, women in particular, go through some hormonal changes that can have a huge impact on their life and even personality. Men maybe too but I can’t speak for them… 😉I’m glad they found the courage to talk about it honestly and are giving it another go.