Barry Hearn plans to play the World Championship end July …

This was reported in the press (metro) today:

Barry Hearn reveals plan for rescheduled Snooker World Championships

The Snooker World Championships has provisionally been moved to July but could still be played behind closed doors at the iconic Crucible Theatre. The sporting calendar has been decimated by the global coronavirus pandemic which has seen the Tokyo Olympics and Euro 2020 pushed back until next year, while in England the Premier League remains suspended indefinitely and an entire summer of international cricket looks set to be wiped out, which would cost the ECB around £300million.

With the UK set to enter its third week of lockdown, World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn told The Sun of his intention to move his three-week flagship tournament to the end of July, starting on the 25th, even if it means staging the event with no fans present.

He said: ‘We have secured the Crucible for the same dates as the Olympics were going to be. ‘And we have applied to the BBC to make that move so it will be played out at the end of July and start of August. ‘We are waiting to hear back from the BBC if that is acceptable to them. ‘Fortunately the Crucible have made those dates available. So we are in the position to stage a truly huge world snooker championship. Provided we fit alongside government rules.

‘When sport is back, we will all be very busy because we’ll play catch-up on a huge scale. ‘When it does come back, it will be wall-to-wall – and that cannot happen soon enough for a lot of our members. ‘Clearly by then we will have all been starved of world-class sport. ‘I think it will be a phased approach. The Crucible is less than 1,000 people. ‘It may well be part of that phased exit. But notwithstanding that, we’re prepared if necessary to stage a Crucible behind closed doors.’

And here is the article in “The Sun” the above is citing:

JACKPOT

World Snooker Championship secures postponed Olympics slot this summer on BBC

THE Snooker World Championship is set to replace the Tokyo Olympics in the TV schedules this summer.

SunSport can reveal the Crucible event has been moved from this month to July 25 – the same slot vacated by the rescheduled Olympics on the BBC.

The Sheffield tournament could also take place behind closed doors for the first time if government restrictions are still in place during the coronavirus crisis.

World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn said: “We have secured the Crucible for the same dates as the Olympics were going to be.

“And we have applied to the BBC to make that move so it will be played out at the end of July and start of August.

“We are waiting to hear back from the BBC if that is acceptable to them.

“When sport is back, we will all be very busy because we’ll play catch-up on a huge scale.

“When it does come back, it will be wall-to-wall – and that cannot happen soon enough for a lot of our members.

“Clearly by then we will have all been starved of world-class sport.”

Instead of watching Katarina Johnson-Thompson go for heptathlon glory in Japan, TV viewers this summer can see Ronnie O’Sullivan attempt to win a sixth snooker world crown.

More than 18 million people watched the epic 1985 snooker world final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis which went down to the final black ball.

And TV figures could go through the roof in the absence of any live sport in this country, especially now Wimbledon, the Olympics and Euro 2020 have gone from the calendar.

Top sports promoter Hearn said: “I don’t think we will come out on one day and the next day they will say go back to normal.

“I think it will be a phased approach. The Crucible is less than 1,000 people.

“It may well be part of that phased exit. But notwithstanding that, we’re prepared if necessary to stage a Crucible behind closed doors.

“This is a business, people’s livelihoods are at stake, and obviously we want to entertain people globally.”

Matchroom Sport look after several sports, including snooker, darts and fishing, and there is an appetite for action – even if it is without fans.

Hearn, 71, said: “When the situation eases slightly enough, we can stage events behind closed doors. The moment it becomes acceptable.

“I don’t know if that is a week or a month. But we can start that in two or three days of getting clearance from various authorities.

That will give an opportunity to players who have remained in the UK.

“Snooker and darts players are self-employed people. I am certainly looking to do several events pre to the worlds, including the qualifiers.

“They can all be played quite comfortably within the two-metre rule.”

Two puzzling thoughts …

  1. Barry Hearn doesn’t say anything about the qualifiers dates. These need to happen BEFORE the main event, starting at the latest mid-July and involve a lot more persons than the main event itself. I’m not sure that it’s realistic to hold such an event, involving 128 players as soon as mid-July or earlier. Has he a plan for that?
  2. That will give an opportunity to players who have remained in the UK.” … and sod the others? Don’t ever tell me again that there isn’t a huge bias in favour of UK players within a sport that claims its ambition to be “global”. We might have the World Championship played without any of the Asian players. And mainland European players might find it difficult, maybe even impossible to attend. How is that right? That’s probably 1 in 4 players, maybe even more who might be unable to play in the main event of the season, by no fault of them, and a good number may face relegation as a consequence.

Right … maybe if that happens WST should rebrand itself  UKST and the event be renamed “Summer UK Championship”.

And one more … IF it happens, then maybe, BBC could stay put and cover the WSS ROKiT Phones.com World Championship? It’s scheduled to start on August 12. If the BBC plans are to fill the Crucible slot in April with classic matches it means that there is an appetite for a bit of nostalgia and history. Why not show the heroes of yesteryear back playing snooker at the Crucible on the BBC as well? The equipement and crew would altready be there…

Eurosport looking at the 10 best long potters

Yesterday, Desmond Kane was looking at the 10 best long potters.

All-time top 10: Who are snooker’s greatest long potters?

In the second of our weekly series, we look at the 10 greatest players in each department of snooker finishing with the Greatest Of All Time. We continue by looking at the game’s finest long potters.

1. Judd Trump (England)

Judd Trump

Judd Trump, with more potting ability than Percy Thrower, perhaps edges out Neil Robertson on the all-time long list for what he provided in the 2019 World Championship final. An 18-9 win over John Higgins was staggering enough, outmanoeuvring one of the game’s true titans, but the manner of the victory was probably the greatest levels ever reached on the sport’s grandest stage.

Cometh the hour, cometh the Bristolian. At one point, Trump seemed to be playing on autopilot, like the pockets were craters. Higgins has witnessed as much as anybody in the sport over 28 years, but was flabbergasted by the green baize hurting bombs TNT Trump unloaded over a bewitching two days.

It was breathless, incomparable one-visit snooker, including seven centuries and nine breaks over 50, in lifting his first world title in the final as he turned the Crucible Theatre into his own living room. With 12 or 13 frames won at a single visit, Higgins was privileged to be on the receiving end: “He doesn’t just overwhelm the opponent, he overwhelms the snooker table. I don’t think there’s been quite a player like him.”

Trump can pot balls, create angles and get movement on the cueball like no other player. He is quickly becoming the all-rounder with a tactical approach enhancing his wares, but it is his opportunism to create from distance that ultimately creates carnage.

If there has ever been a better long potter in snooker, one does not immediately spring to mind.

2. Neil Robertson (Australia)

Neil Robertson

Robertson forged his reputation as a formidable potter when he attempted to make it as a professional on the UK-based professional circuit three times in the late nineties and early noughties before returning to Australia out of pocket and out of form. When he eventually regained his own self-belief by winning the World Under-21 Championship in New Zealand in July 2003, including a victory over a teenage Ding Junhui, he would not be denied a fourth time. He remains a devastating, preening potter at his best, but has added a substantial tactical game to support his adroitness from beyond the balk line.

With one of the best all-round games in the sport’s history, the 2010 world champion Robertson remains as dangerous when he is lining up pots at distance as among them from close range. He holds the record for most centuries in a season with his haul of 103 in 2013/14 – a totemic moment in snooker folklore.

Only Ronnie O’Sullivan (1038), Stephen Hendry (778), John Higgins (772) and Judd Trump (712) have made more career centuries than Robertson’s 701. Like those four icons, the Aussie likes to provide for himself.

Which is perhaps understandable when he almost failed at the sport he lives and breathes.

Projecting a flawless technique, there is arguably no better long potter in the game than the Melbourne Potting Machine, a committed vegan who smells blood on a snooker table.

3. Mark Williams (Wales)

Mark Williams

Described as the best single ball potter in the history of the sport by his peers, Williams has spent 28 years at the very top of the game because of an enviable long game that enables him to dictate the narrative of a frame. He is not nicknamed the Welsh Potting Machine because of a reputation for tactical torpidity despite his innate ability to win at any cost.

Williams has lifted three world titles in 2000, 2003 and 2018 based on a penchant for snaffling up half chances. Only Williams, Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis have won the world title, Masters and UK Championship in a single season, but the man from Cwm in Blaenau Gwent arguably did it in a more taxing era.

He remains in esteemed company. “Long potting is all about confidence, and good eyesight,” he said.

“Think positive. If you’re feeling down or lacking a bit of confidence, your game goes. You start thinking about the balls you might miss more than the ones you are going to pot. “

At the age of 45, Williams has never been blighted by the fatigue of frames. Nor does he appear ready to slip quietly into the night.

4. Ronnie O’Sullivan (England)

Ronnie

O’Sullivan’s game has become more measured in recent years, but his all-round approach has always been supported by his ability to pounce on half chances from distance. He has never been overly keen on waiting for opponents to make errors, preferring to splatter the reds and limit long exacting frames with one-visit snooker.

The five-times word champion has produced a series of devastating sessions, but his 6-0 whitewash of an unsuspecting Ricky Walden in the quarter-finals of the Masters on the road to winning the 2014 invitational tournament among his overall total of seven was as close as you will see to green baize utopia. O’Sullivan was knocking in balls like he was playing on a pool table. O’Sullivan rolled in a record 556 points without reply, beating the 495 points set by Ding Junhui in 2007.

“Probably the best performance I have seen from anybody in all the years I’ve been coming to the Masters,” said 1997 world champion Ken Doherty. Of course, it is impossible to maintain such levels on every occasion, but O’Sullivan ranks high among the greatest long potters in the history of the sport.

When he gets it right, nobody does it better.

5. Stephen Hendry (Scotland)

Stephen Hendry

It is easy to forget how imperious Hendry was in his pomp. Such was his self-belief and dominance of the sport that he rarely became embroiled in tactical duels. While his great rival Steve Davis was more concerned about not leaving shots, Hendry was focused on making them.

It was a mindset that proved key in ending Davis’ dominance of the sport in the early 1990s. Hendry pioneered the new breed of attacking snooker player that we witness today when you study the world’s leading men. There was nobody like Hendry in the late 1980s or the 1990s. His one-visit approach would see him smash open the pack of reds as soon as possible with the blue to middle bag at pace to open up the table or controlled blacks a particular favourite of his canon. It was a manoeuvre that helped him to transform the game.

Hendry was a fearsome, focused sight on a snooker table bolstered by a razor sharp game from long range. He once compiled a 147 to overcome Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 in the final of the Charity Challenge in 1997 after his opponent had recovered from trailing 8-2 to restore parity at 8-8. Hendry’s long potting was the main stanchion of his snooker success. He had problems with technique that contributed to a steady decline in the noughties before he retired in 2012. He was also unwilling to fraternise with a safety game that could have extended his lifespan like Davis or O’Sullivan.

Yet it is astonishing to think of what his success might have been when he largely refused to see extended safety bouts as helpful to his cause. That all seven of his world crowns were donned in the nineties is also fascinating.

Hendry remains the winner of the most world titles in the modern era. His long potting was a key component behind his stockpile of silverware.

6. Shaun Murphy (England)

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Murphy lifted the 2005 World Championship at the age of 22 as a 150-1 qualifier with a performance heavy on long pots and low on safety. Like Stephen Hendry, safety has never really been Murphy’s law. Sometimes when you study Murphy in action, you wonder how he has contrived to win only a solitary world title.
He has a ramrod straight technique, among the best snooker has paid testament to, that allows him to generate power and pace through the cue ball from distance. While a lack of a safety game and odd lapses in concentration has arguably harpooned his quest for greater riches, his potting ability has never been in doubt.
Murphy apparently toyed with the idea of retirement after a barren 2019, but has emerged a stronger figure for his travails lifting the China Championship and Welsh Open this season to increase his career haul to nine ranking event triumphs.
“There are times when the occasion gets the better of you. This time it all clicked,” said Murphy after demolishing Kyren Wilson 9-1 to lift the Welsh Open in February.

“It is dangerous to put too much stock on how you play. There is a small part of the mind that thinks about how you win rather than the winning itself and that can be very dangerous. However, it was nice to allow myself a little moment of enjoying the way I won and the performance in that match.”

7. John Higgins (Scotland)

John Higgins

Higgins merits a place in the pantheon of potters for his range of skills on a snooker table. Renowned as a formidable tactical player, mastering the safety side of the game is only beneficial if you can score heavily.

Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan studied Stephen Henry’s fixation with one-visit snooker, and arguably improved it, adding their own class to the theory of potting a long red, finishing plum on the black before devouring the balls to win frames with minimal fuss.

Higgins remains a devastating long potter. Armed with a technique made to weather the buffeting storms of self-doubt, the stats would back up his success. He has lifted four world titles with victories over Ken Doherty, Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump illustrating an enduring class in all aspects of the game. He has also reached the last three world finals to roll back the years as much as the blacks.

To be a contender at the Crucible over three decades tells the story of a very special potter.

8. Alex Higgins (Northern Ireland)

Alex Higgins

Higgins stood out in the 1970s and 1980s surrounded by figures who were addicted to a percentage, tactical game such as Ray Reardon and Steve Davis. Higgins was also a fine safety player, but was a prodigious potter whose vibe was one of unpredictability. He was more interested in amusing himself and delighting the public with a unique brand of attacking snooker than reverting to the trenches.

While there are arguably more consistent potters in modern snooker than Higgins, it should not be underestimated the level of credibility the Northern Irishman brought to the green baize at the beginning of the televised era. Without Higgins, the mass market appeal of snooker would never have gained traction in the early days of television coverage.

His Hurricane nickname fitted with his ability to race through pots and frames without much thought. His break in the 1982 World Championship semi-final against Jimmy White shows how good a single ball potter Higgins was.

Higgins won two world titles, against John Spencer in 1972 and Ray Reardon in 1982, but the second was the solitary world trophy he carried off at the Crucible. In the semi-finals against Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White, he trailed 15-14 and 59-0 when he came to the table. On the cusp of defeat, he produced a series of unbelievable pots

“It was a mental break, it was phenomenal,” said White. “I didn’t think he would clear up, no. There were about four shots he played that were amazing. His name was on the trophy that year. Did it cost me the World Championship? At that time I didn’t care if I won or lost because I was having such fun. In 1979 and 1980, I went to Australia to play in the amateur World Championship which cost me two years of experience at the Crucible. Who knows? Maybe it was meant to be because I’m still playing now.”

That Higgins could do it under pressure and under the influence of several libations is even more impressive.

9. Jimmy White (England)

Jimmy White

Jimmy White will be recalled as snooker’s nearly man, but the same cannot be said for his potting ability in his prime. White lost six world finals in the 1980s and 1990s, but it is worth noting that he lost four of them to Stephen Hendry and another one to Steve Davis, two of the greatest players to play the game.

If not for those two pesky characters, White’s long game would have delivered multiple world titles, and he would have merited them. His potting ability was not hugely inferior to Davis or Hendry in their halcyon days. It was probably a bit less consistency in scoring, safety and temperament that did for him over a longer period of time. But the Whirlwind was a firm favourite with the snooker public because he played the game to entertain.

Like Alex Higgins, he was a pioneer of attacking play from long range. As a winner of the Masters in 1984 and the UK Championship in 1992, his place in the all-time list of prominent potters must respect his era as well as his role in the sport’s progression.

10. Cliff Wilson (Wales)

Cliff Wilson

A player ahead of his time and after his time. Wilson was a ferocious potter, who played at breakneck speed and put the emphasis firmly on entertainment. At the age of 54, he was remarkably ranked at 14 in the world in 1988 despite battling fading eyesight and ill health. There are certainly more consistent candidates to include in a top 10 of out-and-out potters, but Wilson stood out in his era, and provided his successors with a blueprint on a different way to approach the game.

From Tredegar, the same Welsh town as six-times world champion Ray Reardon, Wilson won the Welsh Amateur Championship in 1956, 1977 and 1978, but worked in the steelworks at Llanwern until he turned professional at the age of 45 after claiming the World Amateur Championship in 1978. He usurped Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-8 in the 1992 UK Championship two years before his premature death at the age of 60 due to ill health. He was once coached by the great Joe Davis, but probably played snooker in the wrong era.

If Wilson was a twentysomething today, he would be a clear and present danger.

Desmond Kane

Where to start with this one?

Well, maybe, with this question: how do you define excellence in long potting? It’s not as straightforward as it reads.

Judd Trump and Neil Robertson, the two players topping this list, go for and get a fair percentage of difficult, and spectacular long pots.  However, if you pay attention to stats, they often have a lower long pot success rate than their opponents. If you don’t believe me, open your eyes and ears whenever snooker is back and they play. This, of course, is because they go for more, and more difficult ones than most others on the tour. Also, both of them have tremendous cue power and frequently play in such a way that the cue ball comes back to relative safety in the baulk area. Therefore, they aren’t punished that often when they miss. What we, fans, tend to remember most, are the misses that proved costly. Shaun Murphy also has a similar style.

Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Ronnie are different. Stephen and Ronnie in particular were/are very attacking, they go for a lot, they didn’t/don’t want to be caught in long drawn out affairs. But, contrary to the ones above, they almost always play for position as well as attempting the pot. Usually, playing either for black or blue. Because of this, they know that they will likely be punished, should they miss. That adds a lot of pressure. As mentioned in the above article, confidence is a huge factor in long potting success, and pressure will always play on your mind, no matter how good you are. In the last year and a half, Judd Trump has also been playing that way more often than he used to do.

A lot of players are fearless when young, and as they age, battle scars undermine their confidence. That was blatant with Stephen Hendry, and it happened as early as in his late twenties. I can’t help to believe that his defeat to Ken Doherty in the 1997 World Final was a turning point in Hendry’s career. He won only one major after that and he was only 28. He won his last World Championship at 30, the age Judd Trump is now, played for another 12 seasons and won only five more titles, none of them “majors”. I’m convinced that losing to Ken that year, and the way of it, delivered a killing blow to Stephen’s confidence, and effectively to his career at the very top. He still remained a top player for years, but no more a serial winner. Think about it this way: Stephen made 5 centuries in that final, his highest break was 137, whilst Ken highest break was 85. Yet, eventually, Ken won by 18-12; the match wasn’t even really close. His all-attack strategy, and “safety is overrated” moto hadn’t worked. Ken had shown that he could be beaten and how.

A  lot of very young players are excellent long potters because they have very few battle scars. Other parts of their game may let them down, but usually potting in general isn’t the issue.

One player who, IMO, should be in the list above is Kyren Wilson.

Then you have this weird concept of “single ball potter” that inevitably comes in the conversation when Mark Williams is mentioned. I write “weird” because potting just one ball isn’t really an efficient approach in snooker. What it means in Willo’s case is that, more often than most, he goes for a ball, without intending to gain position. What he wants is to gain the initiative, and control over the next shot, often combined with getting rid of a “danger” ball, one that could possibly give his opponent an opening.

 

 

The BBC will show snooker come April

BBCSpecialApril2020

Following the BBC annoucements on social media, WST has published this:

The BBC will televise some great Betfred World Championship matches from years gone by during the dates of what would have been this year’s tournament.

The London 2012 Olympics and Euro ’96 are just some of the other memorable moments that viewers on the BBC can relive this summer after the coronavirus pandemic decimated the sporting calendar. For more detail CLICK HERE

The Betfred World Championship would have run from April 18 to May 4 but has been postponed, potentially until July or August.

We’ll also be reliving some magical Crucible moments from the past 40 years on our social media channels – for a taster click here.

Well at least that’s something…

 

Some news about the 2020 World Championship Qualifiers.

Barry Hearn has made no mystery that he is very keen to have the 2020 World Championship organised and run as soon as possible. This is a tournament that carries a lot of prestige and is very lucrative. For the snooker players, who are self-employed, the lack of playing opportunities is a disaster.

WST has rescheduled the Tour Championship to be now played end of July.  This is an eight men tournament and it could, if needed, easily be played without an audience, hence involving a minimal number of persons on site. The coronavirus crisis is expected to be under control, or about, by that time, but nobody can guarantee that social distancing measures will be completely lifted. That’s actually doubtful.

The World Championship itself is a 32 men event. Even played without an audience, it would still involve more people on-site than the Tour Championship, hence present a higher risk. I heard from a trustworthy source that WST and WPBSA are confident that by early September the situation would be such that the tournament could be run safely, and that, hopefully, it could be played at the Crucible.

The real challenge though is the qualifiers. They involve 128 players, coming from all parts of the world, and involve a considerable number of referees, fitters and officials. They require a huge venue, with proper security, and decent conditions. This, in turn, means, in addition to the aforementioned persons, that there will be security personnel, cleaners, on-duty paramedics and minimal catering. This presents a much bigger health risk than the World Championship itself and it’s difficult to see it happen before later in autumn, therefore pushing the main event even further towards the end of the year unless … it goes virtual.

From what I understood, WST and WPBS are considering the possibility to have the World Championship qualifiers run on Snooker 19, the licensed game developed by Ripstone Games in collaboration with Lab42 and World Snooker. The game is available on various platforms and allows for players to play each other online. It has been praised for its very realistic gameplay.

Players would be offered a free copy of the game, on the platform of their choice, and a webcam. The budget initially planned for the rental of the venue would be used for this instead. The shipping should happen in the coming weeks, so that they have time to set the equipment up and get familiar with the game. A help desk will be made available, under the supervision of Paul Collier who is well known amongst the fans and players for his abilities to fix recalcitrant scoreboards. Paul will also organise workshops for the referees involved in the tournament.

During the tournament itself, the webcams will be used to allow the referees on duty to supervise the game remotely, making sure that the players operate the console or computer without external help, but without the need for physical proximity with the players. For technical reasons, frames will be timed – limited to 20 minutes – and played under a 30 seconds shot-clock. The format will remain best of 19 over two sessions but without interval. The player with the most aggregated points will be deemed the winner. There will be prize money for the highest break, but centuries won’t count towards the official tally.

If the experience is a success, the same technology could be used for the Q-school, limiting the need for players’ travel and allowing the Asian Q-school to be held despite the difficult circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

Neal Foulds about his hopes for the World Championship

Neal Fould spoke to Eurosport about his hopes for the World Championship 

Foulds suggests World Championships venue may move due to coronavirus

14 hours ago

I’m not sure that I agree with Neal here. The World Championship does not “need” to be held this year. Why do I say this?

Well, suppose that the event can’t happen before the autumn, which is very possible, even likely given that there are now scientists warning that in Britain the situation won’t be “normal” before about six months from now.  That leads us to end September 2020. Then the qualifiers for the World Championship need to happen and that’s a point that Neal doesn’t tackle at all. It involves 128 players, and, unless the format is shortened, requires a minimum of 12 tables – at the highest professional standard – for eight full days. Basically, the television stages can’t happen before mid-October then and finish in the first days of November. After that – before the next season starts – the Q-school needs to be held. Another three weeks minimum. And, at least a couple of weeks need to be left for the Q-school graduates to sort things like visas, relocation, and other practical aspects out. We are well into December by then with at most two weeks in 2020 left for a possible event, maybe the UK Championship.

Then comes the Christmas break, and after that, we have roughly three months left before the next World Championship. In those three months, how many events can you run? And which ones? I’d say, obviously, the ones involving all tour players should be favoured. It’s the lower-ranked players who will suffer the most. They need to resume playing asap. Their livelihoods depend on it and they won’t have much savings.

There are several consequences resulting for such a shortened season:

  • There is no way that the Coral series can be held. You can’t have a meaningful one year list if only a couple of “128” events are played. This might impact ITV and it commitment to snooker.
  • The Home Nations could be squeezed in those three months, but with, maybe, a German Masters and/or a European Masters. But for both, unless the organisation changes, you have to take qualifiers into account.
  • There would be NO event in China at all. Those are the most lucrative.
  • Players who did well in 2018/19 will have a lot of points to defend, without much opportunities to defend. They will be put at a significant disadvantage.

Circumstances are exceptional, and, in my views, they require an exceptional answer. I would postpone the World Championship until April 2021 and “extend” the current season over two years. It would be two “calendar years” but actually about only 15 months of actual playing opportunities. I would resume the season as soon as possible, with the current field of maintour professionals, favouring events involving all 128 for the reasons explained above. Not running the Q-school would free almost a month for possible events. Why not properly revive the Paul Hunter Classic? Why not have a second serve of the Home Nations? Portugal seems to have controlled the epidemy very well. Why not consider another European event there?

 

 

Eurosport looking at the 10 best snooker tacticians

In this lockdown time, everyone is looking at retrospectives and analysis pieces, and Eurosport has just started a weekly series.

This is the first of these themed articles

All-time top 10: Who are snooker’s greatest tacticians?

Some personal additional toughts…

I was at this Masters match between Mark Selby and Graeme Dott, and, if I’m honest, it was torture to me. It was torture to Dott as well, and to a large part of the audience, although part of them probably left just because they needed to catch the last of the public transport available to them. Alexandra Palace is a bit isolated, and London is big.

Dott was a lot more animated than you’d imagine reading the above. He was actualling fuming. He didn’t bluntly accuse his opponent of gamesmanship, but he certainly wondered aloud how anyone could possibly enjoy playing the game that way!

Mark doesn’t always play that way. Himself admits that he plays better when he plays faster and more open. And, it’s not always a deliberate “tactic” either. For all his succes Mark isn’t the most confident person, and when he retreats into his shell, his game tends to become more “conservative” …

I don’t expect that most of us would think about Mark Williams as a great safety player and yet, he is. Ronnie once branded Mark’s style as “nick and run”. He doesn’t mind messing up the table and waiting for an opportunity to grab a few points, mess a bit more, play safe  and wait again. My husband who plays table tennis competitively but is a “casual snooker fan” was watching Willo when he won the World Chamionship in 2018 and reflected “I never knew that Mark was such a great defender!”

Neil Robertson is right … when he made his breakthrough some 10/12 years ago, he was a scary potter, but not much more than that. His game was very one-dimensional, and his shot selection was frankly baffling, and frutrating at times. True, I didn’t think back then that he would become the player he is now. Even when he won the World Championship in 2010 he was nowhere near the complete player he is now.

What I will write hereafter is NOT a dig at Neil in any way. He was a deserving World Champion and I was genuinely happy for him BUT I always wondered what could/would have happened if the NOTW scandal had not obscured that final. Graeme Dott was managed by Pat Mooney. He knew nothing until he came to his press confrence, after his semi-final win over Mark Selby. I was at that press conference and it was clear that Graeme had no idea about what had happened and it clearly was a huge shock to him. He immediately distanced himself from Mooney.  It was already quite late, he still had to do filming with the BBC and he was in an emotional state of shock. I doubt that he slept well that night, if at all. It certainly wasn’t the best preparation for a World Final. That, of course, was none of Neil’s business, he did what he had to do, and Graeme battled valliantly as he would. But …

 

 

 

The 2020 World Championship postponed

Hector Nunns was first  that the World Championship will be postponed. 

Next month’s Betfred World Championship at the Crucible has been postponed.

The expected decision has been confirmed with an official announcement from World Snooker Tour due on Friday morning.

The 17-day tournament in Sheffield becomes the latest major sporting event to be cancelled, suspended or postponed.

And a tournament due to start on April 18 and preceded by a 128-player qualifying event from April 8 looked doomed as the coronavirus pandemic grew in the UK.

This week’s scheduled Tour Championship was first moved behind closed doors and then postponed until July after discussions with broadcasters ITV.

CrucibleEmpty

And world No1 Judd Trump, after a spectacular record-breaking season with six other titles, will not get to defend his debut success from last year.

It is understood that the decision was only between cancellation and postponement, with staging the blue-riband event behind closed doors considered unacceptable.

And it is hoped the tournament can now be staged in July or August – with uncertainty over other events such as the Olympics preventing a firm decision for now.

I very much doubt that it will be held as early as July or even August, given that the qualifiers must be held before it, with 128 players on 12 tables minimum, enough referees, fitters,  TD staff plus the venue staff, cleaners, security, paramedics, catering … Even without audience that’s a lot of people.

The initialy inadequate and late response from the UK government is likely to eventually result in a longer lockdown period than if they had taken a stronger stance from the start, and there will probably be more casualties as well…

And if the World Championship is pushed further in the year, and the Q-school needs to happen too, the season will be over before it actually starts.

Now the official WST Statement is out… 

Snooker’s 2020 Betfred World Championship has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The qualifying rounds of snooker’s biggest event were due to run from April 8 to 15 at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, followed by the final stages from April 18 to May 4 at the Crucible Theatre.

WST intends to host the final stages at the Crucible on rescheduled dates in July or August. This will be preceded by the qualifying rounds.

We are awaiting feedback from the BBC and our other principal broadcasters before dates are confirmed and we hope to make a further announcement in the coming days.

When new dates are confirmed, tickets for the final stages will be automatically transferred. All ticket holders will be contacted and the Crucible website and social media will be updated – we respectfully ask that ticket holders don’t contact the Crucible Box Office at this time.

Q School 2020, which was due to start on May 18, has also been postponed until after the completion of the Betfred World Championship.

WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “These are tough times for everyone but we are determined to get through it. Fans around the world – as well as the 144 players involved – are anxious to know if and when the World Championship will go ahead. I can assure everyone that we are doing all we can alongside our broadcasters, the venues and other partners to confirm new dates as soon as possible.

“Snooker players are self-employed, they need opportunities to earn prize money so we have a responsibility to them. We are currently exploring the potential to stage tournaments behind closed doors to keep the circuit alive, with more details to follow next week.

“Live televised coverage of the biggest sporting events can be an inspiration to people around the world in these challenging times so it is important that we strive to find solutions for our tournaments.”