2021 English Open Qualifiers – Day 2

This is WST report on Day 2 at the 2021 English Open Qualifiers:

Super Soheil Stuns Perry

Iran’s Soheil Vahedi scored one of his best career wins as he beat Joe Perry 4-2 to qualify for the final stages of the BetVictor English Open.

Former World Amateur Champion Vahedi dropped off the pro tour at the end of last season and is back among the amateur ranks, but will gain entry to main tour events this term having finished sixth on the Q School ranking list.

And the 32-year-old took advantage today with a fine display against world number 21 Perry. Breaks of 72 and 68 helped give Vahedi a 2-1 lead. Perry won frame four, only for his opponent to take the next two with 54 and 63. Vahedi goes through to the final stages of the world ranking event, which will run from November 1-7 in Milton Keynes.

China’s Cao Yupeng maintained his excellent start to the season as he thrashed Mitchell Mann 4-0. Breaks of 52, 60 and 125 helped Cao to an emphatic victory.

Ashley Carty scored a 4-2 win over Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown, while Chang Bingyu top scored with 111 in a 4-1 defeat of Dominic Dale.

Xu Si came from 2-1 down to beat Jamie Jones 4-2 with a top run of 67, while Gary Wilson rounded off a 4-2 win over Craig Steadman with a break of 101.

The action continues on Sunday with Liang Wenbo, Ricky Walden and Graeme Dott among the players on the baize.

I’m very happy for Soheil who had a miserable few months on the baize. Hopefully he can build on that win and get back on the main tour come May.

Soheil Vahedi
Soheil Vahedi has forged a unique path in his snooker career (Picture: Getty Images)

Three of the four Chinese players in action won their match, the exception being Bai Langning who had been called in “last minute” to replace Zhang Jiankang.

I will be supporting Michael Georgiou today … 😉





2021 English Open Qualifiers – Day 1

Snooker was back yesterday with the 2021 English Open qualiers. Eurosport player and Matchroom.live both showed all the matches, which is great.

There were two withdrawals:

Zhou Yuelong and Zhang Jiankang have been withdrawn from BetVictor English Open qualifying due to being close contacts of a Covid-19 case.

Both players are to be replaced in the draw by the next available players in the Q School Order of Merit. Ross Muir will replace Zhou to face Dean Young this afternoon at 4pm.

Zhang’s replacement to face Jak Jones tomorrow at 1pm remains TBC and will be named as soon as possible.

Bai Langning is replacing Zhang.

This is WST report on the action:

Hallworth Fightback Floors Craigie

Steven HallworthWorld number 70 Steven Hallworth claimed the last three frames to secure a dramatic 4-3 win over Sam Craigie and earn his place in the final stages of the BetVictor English Open.

Victory for Hallworth books a spot at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes next month for the final stages. Qualifying for the event is taking place over the next few days in Barnsley.

Hallworth fired in the highest break of the match, a run of 83, on his way to setting up the decider. He then held his nerve to secure a 37-minute final frame and seal his progression.

Jimmy Robertson eased to an impressive 4-0 win over China’s Yuan Sijun. Bexhill’s Robertson was in fine break building form throughout the tie, composing runs of 53, 56 and 108.

World number 24 Tom Ford eased through with a 4-0 whitewash win against Sean Maddocks. Leicester’s Ford made breaks of 61,106 on his way to victory.

Alexander Ursenbacher sealed his place in Milton Keynes with a 4-2 defeat of former English Amateur champion Ben Hancorn. Swiss number one Ursenbacher compiled a break of 111 in the opening frame and added further breaks of 57 and 54.

Chinese teenager Wu Yize held off an Ashley Hugill fightback to progress 4-3, while his compatriot Xiao Guodong defeated Alfie Burden 4-2.

Oh my! That picture of Steven there is not quite up-to-date …

Yuan Sijun looked both out-of-sorts and quite dispirited out there. His game has disintegrated over the last couple of seasons and it’s sad to see really. Jimmy Robertson played well, but he didn’t have much opposition.

The match between Wu Yize and Ashley Hugill was an interesting one. It was hard fought, quality, and quite tactical. Wu showed maturity beyond his years; he’s only 17 and matched Ashley in the safety department. He seemed to have lost his way a bit after a bad miss in frame 5, but eventually managed to win the deciding frame. That last frame was a long one. You could clearly feel the tension and both players made unexpected mistakes. At one point Ashley Hugill took several minutes pondering over a shot. He was warned – quite firmly – by Olivier Marteel after playing it. I’m not sure what Olivier said but Ashley looked distraught. On a lighter note … I quite like Wu’s mullet. Somehow reminded me of Hendry in the early 90th.

Tom Ford won easily without playing particularly well.

News from the “Cues” planet – 17.09.2021

Snooker is back for us today as the 2021 English Open gets underway…

Meanwhile, this is (some of) what happened yesterday in our cuesports universe:

Judd Trump bowed out of 2021 US Open Pool Championship (report by WST)

Trump Bows Out Of US Open

Snooker’s world number two Judd Trump is out of the US Open 9-ball after an 11-10 defeat at the hands of South Africa’s Jason Theron.

Trump was making his 9-ball debut this week and started promisingly with comfortable wins in the first two rounds, before an 11-5 defeat of Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Shammari set up a clash with former US Open champion Jason Shaw. Scotland’s Shaw showed his class and highlighted that Trump still has much to learn in the discipline, charging to an 11-1 victory to send Trump to the loser’s side of the draw.

The Ace in the Pack put up a strong showing against Theron, but it wasn’t enough to avert the deciding frame defeat. Theron now progresses to face Japan’s Naoyuki Oi.

Trump said: “I think I will do it again, as a sport it is on the up. I like travelling to America anyway, and it is good to play a sport in another country.

I had a lot more support from fans than I was expecting, and there were enough positives to make me do it again. A week’s practice and I’d still be in the tournament.

I honestly think I was at about five per cent of the level I could reach so that gives you hope, and it was nice to play Jayson Shaw, one of the real top pool players.

You see the level in a match like that, and he could go close to winning it. But other top players who have won events recently went out in the same round I did.

5%? one week practice? Humble as usual… 😉 OK.

Judd will do it again, surely, if only because Emily Frazer, from Matchroom, announced that they will organise a similar tournament in London next year: the UK Open Pool Championship. If I got it correctly (*), this tournament will have a huge prize money and is provisionally scheduled to be played next May.

One thing I like about this tournament is the double elimination format and I would love to see this tried in snooker. Of course it’s only realistically possible with short formats and it requires more tables and a different, more complex, organisation. On the other hand, it would guarantee two matches for everybody and, the early rounds losers are bound to get easier, more winnable matches in the “losers” draw. This, I believe, would benefit the younger players massively: it’s an additional earning opportunity, even if it’s a modest one, some ranking points for the grabs, and another opportunity to play competitive snooker and learn. What’s your view?

Pankaj Advani won the 2021 Asian Championship

Pankaj Advani defends Asian Snooker Championship title in first tournament since 2019

Pankaj Advani had won the title in 2019 before the 2020 edition got scrapped due to the pandemic.

Press Trust of India  – September 16, 2021 
Pankaj Advani defends Asian Snooker Championship title in first tournament since 2019

Pankaj Advani poses with the winner’s trophy after he defended his Asian Snooker Championship title. Image courtesy: Twitter/@PankajAdvani247

Doha: India’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani on Thursday defended his Asian Snooker Championship title defeating Amir Sarkhosh of Iran here.

The Indian great was competing in his first assignment in almost two years due to COVID-19 .

Advani had won the title in 2019 before the 2020 edition got scrapped due to the pandemic.

His tally of Asian titles across both snooker and billiards now stands at 11, apart from the two Asian Games golds in 2006 and 2010.

I’m glad to defend this title and pick up from where I left off before the onset of the pandemic. The gap only increased the drive and hunger to compete and do well on return,” said Advani.

In the best-of-eleven final, Advani was up against former winner and a seasoned campaigner Amir who was in formidable form.

It was the Indian though who dictated most of the final in his 6-3 victory. Advani drew first blood by winning the first frame with a 55 break. After that a 50 break in the second and some fine potting in the third made the ultimate winner enjoy a 3-0 lead before the Iranian pulled one back.

At 3-1, the Indian employed his billiards knowledge to give his opponent limited scoring opportunity and capitalised on every opening he got to go 4-1 up. The next two frames were shared by the finalists with a remarkable display of quality potting from both players.

However, just when the Indian was one frame away from getting his hands on the coveted trophy, Amir found his touch and bridged the gap to 5-3.

A fine break of 43 gave Amir the lead in the ninth frame but the crowd got to witness a perfect climax from the 23-time world champion as he pieced together an exquisite championship-winning clearance break of 63 to end the match and a two-year wait for an international title.

Advani will stay back to compete in the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup starting on Friday.


Pankaj competed on the main tour a few years back but wasn’t happy: he was home sick and he missed playing billiards, his favourite cuesport. He made the right decision for himself. As a person, he’s a quiet, friendly and very humble character despite a remarkable career. He’s a sporting hero in his country, India.

(*) Those who know me will know that my hearing isn’t the best and I rely on reading lips. This isn’t always easy …

Snooker and Pool – News and Opinions – 15.09.2021

Let’s start with the opinions.

Following Judd Trump’s suggestion that the World Championship should leave the Crucible, David Hendon, in his podcast makes a very strong case for the Crucible, and for keeping longer formats as well. It’s well worth to listen to. It’s only the first 13 minutes and a bit, but it explains why, beyond the emotional aspect of a possible move, it would be extremely costly. David also makes a case for have more TRUE invitational events in the calendar. David was extremely critical of Judd’s ideas, but also praised him for taking part in the  US Open pool event.

Judd BTW won his second match in Atlantic city. Once again his opponent appeared to be quite weak. Here is what Phil Haig put on twitter:

Screenshot 2021-09-15 at 11.12.56

and here is WST report on it:

Trump Eases To Round Three

Judd Trump continued to impress on his 9-ball pool debut at the US Open in Atlantic City, beating India’s Dhruvalkumar Patel 9-2 to reach round three.

The Ace in the Pack swept to a whitewash victory in the opening round against the USA’s Joe Magee. His opponent on that occasion looked nervy and it was a similar story today. It was Trump who secured a 2-1 lead after an edgy first three racks. He then broke and ran the fourth to extend his lead to two at 3-1.

There was a further break and run later in the tie to move 6-2 ahead, from which point he reeled off the following three racks to emerge a comfortable victor. He now faces Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Shammari in round three.

Trump said: “There was a good buzz in here today. It is exciting for me to play pool and to be out here among the American fans. It is something new for me. He looked nervous before the game. He said I was one of his idols and that he watches a lot of snooker so it is obviously very difficult for him.

“It is a good warm up for me to try and see what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. It will obviously get a little bit harder when you go further through the draw. The next game is going to get harder again. I like playing against the top players in any sport. I’m just excited to come up against the top players and see where I’m at.”

WST also published this about the Cazoo Series:

Cazoo Series – Ranking Points

WST is pleased to confirm that, following consultation with both the WPBSA, and the WPBSA Players Board, this season players will receive both prize money and their ranking points where they lose in round one of any Cazoo Series event. This is a change from the previous position where players would only receive the prize money.

This is conditional on players both competing and completing their round one match. Players unable to complete their match for any reason will not receive the associated ranking points.

For the avoidance of doubt the Cazoo Series includes all of the following events: Cazoo World Grand Prix, Cazoo Players Championship and Cazoo Tour Championship.


About a comeback and a debut


Speaking to Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe on their podcast, Stuart Bingham explained why he isn’t “a fan” of Stephen Hendry return  to competition.

Phil Haigh summarised it here

Stuart Bingham ‘not a fan’ of Stephen Hendry’s snooker comeback: ‘He’s going to have more bad days than good days’

Stuart Bingham
Stephen Hendry is continuing his comeback to the main snooker tour (Picture: WST)

Stuart Bingham says he is ‘not a fan’ of Stephen Hendry’s return to snooker, and although the seven-time world champion is fully deserving of the invite to play on the main tour, he will ‘have more bad days than good days now’.

Hendry was offered a two-year tour card by then WST chairman Barry Hearn in 2020 and played for the first time in nine years at the 2021 Gibraltar Open.

He was won a couple of matches since then, beating Jimmy White in the World Championship qualifiers before edging out Chris Wakelin at the British Open last month.

With two wins under his belt and the 52-year-old believing he is fast improving after nine years away from top level competition his return to the baize has not been a failure and he intends to keep playing for some time to come.

However, Bingham is not sure what the legend of the sport will get out of the comeback, thinking it is going to be something of a painful task for the Scot.

Asked about Hendry’s return on the Talking Snooker podcast, Bingham said: ‘Each to their own. I’m probably not a fan.

What he’s done in the game, he deserves a wildcard whenever he wants, same as Jimmy White and most probably Ken Doherty.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Ten
Stuart Bingham feels Hendry has given himself a very tall task (Picture: Getty Images)

I dunno, Stephen’s taken nine years away from the game, even though he’s played a handful in the Seniors, he’s lost that edge. Only really Stephen himself can answer how good he thinks he can get back to.

He gave up the game because he didn’t like losing and I’m not sure how long he’s going to play for. I can see him losing a fair bit the way he’s playing at the moment.

He might have a good match but having that time off, nine years off, he’s going to have more bad days than good days now, I think. As harsh as that may seem, but that’s how I think

Hendry has picked up those two wins and looked good in his first match back, which ended in defeat to Matt Selt who was in superb form at the Gibraltar Open, however, he has struggled in a couple of his other matches.

Bingham isn’t particularly impressed with what he has seen, but he would love to see Hendry rediscover some of his old magic and create more memories on the snooker table.

I watch him but you can see him struggling with himself,’ said the 2015 world champion. ‘He throws in a few snatchy cue actions and you can see why he give up.

He said he had a bit of “cueitis” [or the yips], he couldn’t let go of the cue and things like that and you can still see it’s there. Everything’s very deliberate and when it gets to the crunch, a pressure situation, you see it appear.

Hopefully he can get out of it and get back to some sort of level and it’ll be good for the game.’

I agree with Stuart here, but that doesn’t mean that I think that Stephen Hendry shouldn’t play, that he should have stayed in retirement. He simply has to do what he feels is right for himself. He isn’t proud of his last match at the Crucible and badly wants to return there, if only just once, to play and fight for every ball, no matter the outcome of the match. I fully understand that. Can he do it? I’m not sure.

Inevitably, when a great in sport shows signs of decline, and the wins don’t come anymore, you hear fans saying that they should retire. The usual excuse is that it “damages their legacy”. It doesn’t, none of their achievements will be erased ever. What it does though is “damage” their image in the mind of the said fans, who can’t accept that, no matter how great a sportsperson is/was at their peak, decline comes eventually. They can’t cope with it.

I remember the reactions when Hendry came back on the Seniors tour: he was going to wipe the floor with everyone … allegedly. Actually, he struggled badly, as he had struggled badly in the last years of his (first) career. But somehow it was as if his faithful fans had erased those last years from their memory, remembering only the “peak Hendry”.

I hope that Stephen manages to get back to the Crucible, and that he can do himself justice. He reigned supreme at the Crucible for years. His last match there – there is always a last one – should be a match he’s proud of.


Tomorrow, Judd Trump will make his debut in competitive pool:

US Open Pool Championship Draw Complete

US Open Pool Championship Draw Complete

The draw for the 2021 US Open Pool Championship has been made with 2019 champion Joshua Filler starting his defense against America’s Joseph Byler in the opening match of the tournament at Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City on Monday, September 13.

The draw, brackets, and match schedule can be viewed now on CueScore.

Shane Van Boening and Earl Strickland will start their hunts for a sixth US Open title against Francesco Candela of Italy and the USA’s Adam Martin respectively. Matchroom Pool World Rankings No.1 Albin Ouschan begins against Scott Haas. 22-time World Snooker ranking title winner Judd Trump makes his bow in pool against Joe Magee.

Players were seeded based on the combination of World Ranking and Performance in Major Events. Click here for the full seeding breakdown.

Live rack-by-rack scoring will be available throughout the event at www.matchroompool.com thanks to our partners CueScore. Broadcast details for the tournament in full can be found here with coverage on DAZN for those in the USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, and Brazil with UK coverage available on Sky Sports throughout.

The 2021 US Open Pool Championship will be partnered by Diamond, who supply the Official Table; the cloth is supplied by Iwan Simonis and the Official Balls are ARAMITH Tournament BLACK pool ball set with Duramith™ Technology by Saluc. Predator is the Official Cue of the event and Kamui are the Official Chalk and Tip. The US Open Pool Championship is sanctioned by the WPA.

Quite incredibly the bookies make him favourite for the title. This probably simply means that they believe that enough punters will fall for the bait because Trump himself admitted that deep down he knows that he can’t win it, that he would be happy to just win a match. It’s a different game, with many aspects, and shots, that are not present in snooker.  If he were to win it, it would be truly extraordinary.


2021/22 Q-Tour News

This was shared by WST yesterday:

WPBSA Q Tour 2021/22

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has announced the relaunch of WPBSA Q Tour which will run during this current season.

Initially unveiled last June as a replacement for the previous Challenge Tour system, Q Tour will provide a clear pathway to the World Snooker Tour with two professional places to be won and further high-quality competition for elite amateur talent in our sport.

The 2021/22 season will see a minimum of four Q Tour events held, with the top ranked player at the end of the season guaranteed to earn a two-year tour card. There will also be a play-off tournament run with 16 players with the winner also to be awarded a main tour place.

There will be a prize fund of £12,000 to be won at each tournament with the overall Q Tour ranked number one and the final play-off winner each earning a bonus of £2,000 upon joining the professional circuit.

It is planned that each of the four events staged this season will be held within the UK due to the continued challenges caused by the global pandemic. It is, however, the clear intention that from the start of the 2022/23 season, Q Tour will become a global circuit to include regional Q Tour competitions.

Event structure

Each weekend tournament will be made up of 64 players, with the top 40 eligible players from the 2021 Q School Ranking List eligible to compete. They will be joined by the eight highest ranked junior players on the 2021 Q School Order of Merit, not already qualified.

Tournaments will also include an open entry element through the introduction of preliminary rounds held on the Friday immediately prior to the start of the weekend competition. Up to 16 players will qualify to complete the weekend field.

All Q Tour events will be held at official 147 Clubs recognised by the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “I am today delighted that we are able to announce our plans for the staging of WPBSA Q Tour this season.”

“Snooker has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic, and it is of course the amateur game that has perhaps been most significantly affected as a direct result of the coronavirus restrictions that we have all experienced over the past 18 months. I know that it has been an extremely challenging time for these fantastic players and I am grateful for their continued patience as we have worked to provide opportunities to compete.

“The launch of WPBSA Q Tour 2021/22 represents the first of these opportunities and will be a significant addition to our calendar for elite amateur players, providing a direct pathway to the World Snooker Tour.”

It is anticipated that the first Q Tour competition will take place not before November and further information including entry details will be released soon.

It’s good to finally get some news about the Q-Tour, and to read that it’s on, even if  it’s with only four events this season. It’s also too to see that 8 spots will be reserved for junior players.

I do not expect covid-19 to go away though and I sincerely hope that WPBSA will come good on the promise of having regional Q-Tour events next season despite the circumstances. We all want and need to go back to normal, even if that means taking a few additional precautions for some more time. It’s something that everyone should accept: it’s a matter of health and security for all.

Judd Trump: pool, shorter formats and moving the World Championship

Judd Trump is going to play in the US Open Pool Championship next week. It’s a Matchoom event. Of course the move has attracted the attention of the media, and Judd took the opportunity to once again air his views on what the future of snooker should be: shorter formats, more like pool and moving the World Championship away from the Crucible and towards a “big” venue. You read it here:

Judd Trump on his chances at pool next week:

‘Deep down I know I can’t win it’ – Judd Trump testing the waters with US Open Pool Championship entry

“I’m going there to see if I could ever do it more, if I could play pool and go back to snooker and not lose too much feel or anything,” he sai, . “It’s a feeler event to go out there and test the water. “Deep down I know I can’t win it, but I’m getting a cue, I’ve got somewhere to practice for the next three days, I’ve got a table when I arrive so I can get going straight away.”

Judd Trump says his trip across the Atlantic for the US Open Pool Championship is to test the waters, and he would be happy to win one game.

There is a gap in the snooker calendar due to the cancellation of the Turkish Masters, and it opened up a window for Trump to enter the eight-ball event.

Trump will face Joe Magee in his opening match on Monday, but is not expecting much as his practice has been non-existent and he does not even possess a pool cue.

I’d be happy to win a game,” Trump told the Metro. “We left it so late and I’ve just tried to experiment and do as much as I can with no snooker tournaments going on.
I’ve not even got a proper cue at the minute. I haven’t played since I was a kid, really. I expect absolutely nothing.”

The US Open is the most prestigious pool tournament on the calendar, and Trump is hoping to make a positive impression to open up the prospect of mixing sports.

“I’m going there to see if I could ever do it more, if I could play pool and go back to snooker and not lose too much feel or anything,” he said. “It’s a feeler event to go out there and test the water.

I don’t like going with the attitude that I’m just there to enjoy it, that’s not what I’m about, I like going there knowing I can win it.

Deep down I know I can’t win it, but I’m getting a cue, I’ve got somewhere to practice for the next three days, I’ve got a table when I arrive so I can get going straight away.

Trump has spoken about trying to modernise snooker, and he feels pool is more suited to his forward-thinking approach.

It’s something I want to be involved with,” Trump said. “It’s much more up to date, more modern and more in line with the year we’re in and values I want and who I want to appeal to.

To be a worldwide sport you’ve got to have the backing of America, I think. Pool has the potential to do that, whereas snooker is still struggling, that’s why I’ve gone over there to suss out the market and see what can be done.

There’ll be a lot more noise. It’s not good when you’re losing and I’m probably going to lose so it’s not good for me, but when you get on a winning streak in that kind of environment you can feel invincible.”

Judd TRump about moving te World Championship away from the Crucible and making it shorter.

Judd Trump: The World Snooker Championship needs to move on from the Crucible

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
Judd Trump feels the World Snooker Championship could do with a new venue (Picture: Getty Images)

Judd Trump believes it is time for the World Snooker Championship to move on from Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, feeling that the pinnacle of the sport deserves a bigger venue.

The World Championship has been held at the Crucible since 1977 and has become the sport’s spiritual home, with the likes of Stephen Hendry, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Steve Davis winning all their world titles there.

However, it is a relatively small venue with a capacity of around 1,000, less than half the number that Alexandra Palace in London can accommodate for the Masters, for example.

Trump accepts that the uniquely tight conditions the Crucible provides helps create the special atmosphere in the room, but also feels that snooker bosses should look to expand if they want to grow the sport.

‘It’s an amazing venue but is it the best place for the World Championship now? Probably not, I don’t think,’ Trump told Metro.co.uk.

‘It needs an historic, prestigious event there, maybe put the UK Championship there but the Worlds needs to go to a bigger venue, for me.

The pinnacle of the sport shouldn’t be held back spectator-wise, there should be thousands! If you can sell the Masters for 2,200 people, the Worlds should be getting 5,000 at a massive stadium or arena, not a little theatre.

‘I know it brings the excitement with the crowd so close, it makes you more nervous but I think they could do that on a bigger scale somewhere else. It’s the World Championship, everyone’s going to be excited, everyone’s gearing up for it all year, but I think it’s just a little bit held back.

The 2019 world champion was speaking after Neil Robertson suggested a reduction in the length of matches in the semi-finals and final of the World Championship, with the Australian also suggesting playing the first few rounds elsewhere before returning to the Crucible for the one-table set-up.

Robertson was making the point that casual or non snooker fans will struggle to stay engaged over matches that last four sessions and Trump agrees that changes are needed to attract new supporters.

Nobody wants to make changes, but Neil’s not saying that for his benefit, he’s thinking of a bigger picture,’ said Judd. ‘He knows that to play snooker over two days, four sessions, the die-hard fans watch it, but the people who we want to appeal to, to grow the sport aren’t going to watch all four sessions.

‘They’re going to come in at the last session and watch the end, it doesn’t really get going until it gets to like 12-12 or something like that. I can see where he’s coming from.

‘The format needs to be long, it needs to be two or three sessions, but first to 18 might be a bit too long these days.

World Snooker Championship - Day 17
Trump beat John Higgins to win the World Championship title at the Crucible in 2019 (Picture: Getty Images)

The semi-finals taking three days…a round should never take longer than the final. I’ve played in second round matches that take three days, which is absolutely ridiculous.

‘Three sessions is enough, you could even do it in a day, play 10am, 2.30pm and 7pm and have it done in a day. I think it could capture the audience more.

‘Going to the first day of a match is not the same as seeing the outcome. I wouldn’t go to, say, golf and just watch the first 12 holes and not the finale. I wouldn’t watch the first set in tennis then not the rest of the match.

‘Probably from a commercial point of view, extending the tournament makes more money, sells more tickets, better viewing figures, but the game could head in a different direction in that tournament.

The Ace enjoys playing at the Crucible and recognises the vast history connected with the venue, but strongly believes it is in the good of the game to move on and try new things to attract new fans.

It’s such a special event with so much history behind it, but unless you were around in that era…I don’t think kids these days go back and watch the 1978 or 1980 final. I know I don’t,’ he said.

Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White
Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White have contested some memorable Crucible matches (Picture: Getty Images)

It’s an amazing place to play snooker, it’s hard to say and a lot of people won’t like it, but maybe put another tournament there and move the World Championship somewhere else, or maybe you could have it there every couple of years at first.

‘Neil’s not saying what he said to benefit himself and neither am I, it’s beneficial for the future of snooker. People aren’t going to like it now but you’ve got to think about 10 years’ time.

‘To grow the game it’s got to go to a bigger venue. It’s not an easy change to make and the Crucible will always be attached to snooker and should have a tournament there, but I’m not sure it should be the World Championship.

Judd Trump Neil Robertson
Trump and Robertson are in agreement that they would like to see the World Championship shaken up (Picture: Getty Images)

Trump has been happy to speak out about the future of snooker in the past, telling Metro.co.uk earlier this year that dress codes, commentary and the marketing of the game all need to be shaken up.

On taking over from Barry Hearn as World Snooker Tour chairman this year, Steve Dawson said he was looking forward to talking with Trump about his ideas for the future.

‘The door is always open,’ Dawson told the BBC in April. ‘It will be good fun to talk.

‘There are formal channels which players should go through but there is no reason why we shouldn’t listen to players and groups of players and their ideas.’

Asked whether that chat has taken place yet, Trump says is hasn’t, but understands that it has been a difficult time for snooker chiefs, trying to get tournaments organised as the impact of the pandemic rumbles on.

‘Not yet. I think it will happen in time,’ said Trump. ‘At the moment it’s been quite quiet, it’s probably stressful them with not many tournaments and people moaning that they can’t earn money.

It’s nobody’s fault but it’s a bit of a struggle and stressful time for a lot of people at the moment. They’re obviously working hard behind the scenes but as soon as we can start getting back to tournaments again and crowds back in, and we know it’s not going to be taken away at any given moment, then that’s when we can really get into the nitty gritty and give our opinions on how we can grow the game for the benefit of snooker.’

Trump believes it is not just his opinion that needs to be heard, but all players should have more of a say on how the game is run.

The world number two has the whole of September off as the Turkish Masters was postponed and the top 16 now go straight to the venue for Home Nations events, with qualifiers brought back in for those outside the elite, which take place this month.

The change was brought in for this season and the former World, Masters and UK champion feels players should get a say on such things.

It is quite hard because players don’t really get a say in anything,’ he said. ‘For me, there should have been a vote over whether players want to play in qualifiers or not, but it’s just done instantaneously, all of a sudden a letter’s sent out and people have to go to qualifiers.

‘Everything is brought upon players so fast and I think players need more of a say in stuff.

OK, in short, here are my views:

  • If Judd wants to grow snooker then he should make sure that snooker remains snooker and is not made to look more like pool, be it when it comes to the rules, the dress code, the atmosphere. If people want to watch pool, they will attend pool events.
  • Formats should certainly NOT get shorter. I would go back to best of 9 as the standard, maybe event best of 11. I want the best players to get through, I want tension to build. I’m a traditionalist, not a sensationalist (or a gambler) loving “shocks”.
  • The format of the World Championship offers a unique challenge and should stay. There are two changes I would want to see though: a return to the best of 31 for the SFs – to possibly avoid the very late SF2 night finish – and the Final to conclude on a Sunday, not on a Bank Holiday Monday, which is only a holiday in the UK. If WST has serious ambitions to make snooker global the latter is a must.
  • The Crucible is an iconic but inadequate venue in many respects: it’s cramped, it’s too small, it’s poorly ventilated, it offers little room for hospitality. However, IF the World Championship is to be moved, it should be moved around the World, not just more or less permantly moved somewhere else in the UK. The BBC would probably never agree to such change though.
  • Putting the World Championship or any snooker event in a big 5000 seats stadium is just preposterous. Already at the Tempodrom, if you are sat in the rafters, the table looks very small and you need good eyes … There is no point to be sat in a big venue, and to pay good money, only to have to watch on TV screens to see the action properly. If it comes to that, you’ll be more comfy at home … maybe with a very good bottle of wine that will cost you (much) less than the price of the ticket + travel + hotel.

In principle I would agree on a vote on qualifiers. However, no qualifiers would mean, having to travel to the main venue for all, and this in turn would mean added costs for the UK players, whilst it would stay the same, or be cheaper for the “oversea’s” players and for this reason I’m afraid that, even if nobody likes qualifiers, they would still stay because UK players are a majority, and the current UK centric bias would only be reinforced by the fact that it would then be the result of a “democratic vote”… and that UK bias in turn is one of the reasons why the UK players continue to be a majority. It’s a vicious cercle.

The only way to get out of this vicious cercle would be to scrap qualifiers, play the tournaments as a whole at or near the final venue, and to pay basic fees to the first round losers, not counting towards rankings, but covering basic expenses. It would only be right: you need two to play a match of snooker. As long as they give it their best, the losers contribute to the event, entertain the fans, generate money for the broadcasters, sponsors and venue management. they should get something for it, it should not cost them. It’s not “rewarding mediocrity”, it’s paying for a work done.

Having said all that, good luck to Judd at next week event, and safe trip.