The Belgian snooker community is in mourning. Patrick Delsemme, one of Belgium’s leading players, was found dead this morning in Casablanca, Morocco. Patrick had travelled to Casablanca to participate in an amateur tournament. Yesterday evening, he had been unwell, suffering from an asthma attack but seemed to have recovered from it.
It was Stephane Ochoiski (father of Brian) who found him dead this morning. He was only 48.
Patrick was well loved and respected in the Belgian snooker community. He will be sadly missed by all.
He was an extremely talented player. In 1991, he was runner-up to Ronnie at the IBSF under-21 Amateur Snooker World Championship. The next year he was runner-up again, this time losing to Robin Hull. Patrick was a professional snooker player for seven years in the 90th early noughties.
My heart goes out to his family and friends in these difficult moments
Fly high Patrick … and teach those angels how the beautiful game of snooker is played 💔
Hosted by new Q Tour venue the Snookerhallen in the Swedish capital of Stockholm, local Scandinavian players joined fellow European cueists and those representing nations from further afield for the fourth leg of the six-event amateur series.
Former professional Castle – who reached the quarter-finals of Event 1 back in September – defeated Patrick Whelan 3-1, Michael Holt 3-2 and Scott Bell 3-0 to qualify for Sunday’s final eight stage.
There he registered breaks of 60, 65 and 76 to stop the run of Event 3 winner Farakh Ajaib 4-1 in the quarter-finals before crafting further efforts of 102, 73 and 50 to deny promising Welsh teenager Liam Davies by the same scoreline in the last four.
On the other side of the draw, former Welsh Open finalist Higginson appeared beyond the last 16 for the first time this Q Tour campaign, although he had to come through a gauntlet that included Event 2 winner Martin O’Donnell, Event 1 winner Ross Muir, and two-time event runner-up George Pragnell. In the semi-finals Higginson came from a frame down to see off Frenchman Brian Ochoiski 4-2.
In the all-English final, Castle led twice early on, although runs of 85 and 70 aided Higginson to go into the mid-session interval level at 2-2.
The process repeated on resumption, with Castle (breaks of 71 and 72) moving 3-2 and 4-3 ahead, only for Higginson to keep pegging him back; a break of 65 in frame eight helping him force a deciding frame.
More drama was to come in that ninth frame with the tightest finish possible. Both players had scoring visits within it, although it would ultimately come down to the colours.
Leading by five points, Higginson potted the pivotal pink but also the cueball in the same shot. Castle then sank the pink to move six in front, but after a safety exchange, the black was left over a pocket for Higginson to force a re-spotted black.
More brilliant safety was played on the re-spot before Castle secured an epic victory with a mid-distance pot on the black.
The 30-year-old former English Amateur Champion zips up the rankings and puts himself in contention for the number one spot at the end of the season and automatic promotion back to the sport’s top tier.
Here is the provisional top 20 in the Q-Tour rankings (source: snooker.org)
His excellent run in Stockholm places Brian Ochoiski in contention for a place in the play-offs. Brian went off the radar after falling off the tour “top ups” main contenders list. His experience of the professional life wasn’t a particularly happy one, and the covid situation at the time did not help.
I was very surprised to see Luo Hong Hao’s name in the draw and I was right. He actually didn’t intend to be there … He lost in the first round in bizarre circumstances. From what transpired on Chinese social media, Luo thought that this event would offer a tour card to players managing to reach the semi-finals, like the Q-School. Learning that this wasn’t the case, he wanted to withdraw but was told by the organisers that he would be fined if he did. He played his first match, the score went 2-2, and he then walked out of the match with just one ball potted in the deciding frame. His explanation was that losing so early allowed him to go back to China right away, whilst he would otherwise have to wait for another 5 days before being able to fly home and the costs of the hotel were very, very high for him. Now he will likely be fined anyway… and he has damaged his reputation as well. All because he didn’t understand the purpose and context of this event… 😟
Without making excuses for Luo, this story illustrates another aspect of the difficulties non UK/Irish players face with most, if not all, WST/WPBSA communication happening in English. Most English native speakers don’t speak a word of any other language but (too) many think it’s “normal” for anyone else to master the language perfectly. It isn’t the case of course. I now live in Greece for over three years, on an island that is one of the major touristic destinations in the world. Big hotels and tourists agencies have multilingual staff but countless times I have witnessed incidents involving British/American tourists getting angry and very rude with the local staff in small villages and taverns because they spoke somewhat broken English… at least they spoke some English and were making an effort. How’s your Greek, guys?
Now the Academies – Vic’s Academy, Ding’s Academy and the Q-House – help their players with this stuff, but when Ding first arrived on the scene, they didn’t exist and this makes his early successes on the tour even more remarkable. I met him for the first time at the 2008 Premier League Snooker. He was extremely shy, and barely spoke a word of English.
The victory earns the 23-year-old her first ranking title of the 2022/23 season and the first since her historic victory at the World Championship in February. The title is her fourth career success in total and her maiden glory at one of the most prestigious tournaments on the calendar, that had previously only been won by either Ng or Reanne Evans during eight previous stagings.
Seeded second in the tournament as world champion, Nutcharut progressed to the final following wins against Diana Schuler (3-0), Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan (3-1) and most notably six-time champion Reanne Evans in the semi-finals. Evans had recovered from 0-2 and 1-3 down to force a deciding frame, only for Nutcharut to claim the match with a doubled pink.
Awaiting her would be two-time Eden winner Ng On Yee, who had defeated Polish debutant Nikola Broyak (3-1), Mary Talbot-Deegan (3-0) and Rebecca Kenna (4-2) to reach her third consecutive final at Frames. As in 2021, her semi-final against Kenna was a finely balanced affair, during which she came back from behind to claim a crucial fifth frame and a 3-2 lead, before closing out the match with a break of 89.
The final would however prove to be a one-sided affair which was dominated by Nutcharut who top scored with a run of 64 on her way to a convincing 4-0 victory in just under two hours.
The victory will see the Thai number one consolidate her position of third in the world rankings, behind only Evans and Ng.
The highest break of the tournament was a magnificent run of 114 compiled by Tessa Davidson during the group stages – her first century break at a WWS Ranking event since the 1994 Pontins Spring Bowl – albeit having only returned to the Tour this year following a 23-year absence.
There was also a Thai victory in the Under-21 competition as Ploychompoo Laokiatphong made it five in a row since her success at the World Championship back in February. The 20-year-old excelled with breaks of 58, 51, 37 and 33 during a 2-0 victory against Zoe Killington in the final to seal victory.
In the Seniors tournament there was a return to success for England’s Tessa Davidson, who won her fifth Seniors title of the calendar year following a hard-fought 2-1 victory against defending champion Mary Talbot-Deegan in the final. It was Talbot-Deegan who claimed the first frame and had chances to seal a 2-0 victory in the second, only for Davidson to show her class and turn the match around to end the year on a winning note.
The Challenge Cup competition – for the first time played under a 6-Red format trialled at the event – was won by world number six Emma Parker, who defeated Wakefield’s Steph Daughtery 3-0 in the final. The pair came through a strong field which featured four top 20 ranked players in the semi-finals, with Parker coming out on top to earn her first WWS side-event title in almost three years.
As always, World Women’s Snooker would like to thank everyone who has supported the tournament, including title sponsors Eden Resources and our host venue Frames Sports Bar.
Mink is practicing at Vic’s Snooker Academy and she’s clearly improving significantly.
The debut season of The 900 is coming to a close on Wednesday night and after making quite the impact on the amateur snooker scene, we can expect to see plenty more of it in the future.
The late-night, fast-paced action has been cracking entertainment, from Dennis Taylor rolling back the years, to talented teenage prospect Alfie Lee shining on television for the first time.
We’ve also been treated to seeing the likes of fan favourite Tony Drago, star of disability snooker David Church, Emma Parker and Maria Catalano representing the women’s game and a host of recognisable names who have fallen off the professional tour.
It is no surprise that there has been plenty of interest from amateur players with each weekly winner picking up £1,500 and those eight players returning this Wednesday for a crack at the £10,000 top prize.
The force behind The 900, Jason Francis, explained: ‘It’s the biggest prize ever in amateur snooker.
‘£10,000 for the winner and £1,500 for the runner-up on Wednesday, so at some point one shot is going to cost an amateur snooker player £8,500. As long as you’re not involved, it’s the sort of sporting drama you love!’
For the still uninitiated, The 900 is similar to the Snooker Shoot Out on the professional tour, with 15 minute frames, a 20 second shot clock and a few other tweaks like a spotted cue ball and ball in hand for a foul.
The weekly contests are played Monday-Wednesday from 10pm-1am live on Sporty Stuff TV, hosted by the excellent team of Rachel Casey, Neal Foulds and Lee Richardson, with the likes of Reanne Evans and Ali Carter also popping in.
The champion each Wednesday books their spot on Finals Night and one of those players to come through was former world number 32 Martin O’Donnell, who has been thoroughly impressed with the tournament and the opportunities it is affording amateur players.
‘It’s a good set-up, I enjoyed playing in it,’ he told Metro.co.uk. ‘There’s no crowd but it’s exciting. Having a clock on it makes people a bit nervous and there’s good money at stake for it. It’s a great event.
‘When you’re off tour as an amateur, you’re feeding off scraps a little bit, we all have to do something on the side because it’s hard to earn a living, pretty much impossible really until this came out. So whoever picks up the winner’s cheque on Wednesday night will be very, very happy.
‘This is a bonus that came out of nowhere, none of us were expecting it. What Jason, the sponsors and Sporty Stuff TV have done is amazing, it’s given people a real buzz.’
Adding The 900 to the calendar has made amateur snooker suddenly more viable, with the Q Tour, the English Amateur Tour and Pro-Ams returning after Covid making life off the pro tour an encouragingly busy one, and one that can be profitable.
O’Donnell explained: ‘I got £1,500 for winning my week, which is brilliant. I got £2,500 for winning a Q Tour event, winning my week of The 900 would be more than runner-up on the Q Tour, which is our other biggest earning opportunity. It’s really helpful.
‘The opportunity to play for £10,000 is unheard of as an amateur. What Jason’s doing and what he’ll do in the future will change the amateur game. It will change players’ mentalities because you are a bit lost when you come off tour, you don’t think there’s much around. Now you know that this is going to be there, it might not be as big a deal as it once was, dropping off tour.’
The 900 Finals Night Draw
Martin O’Donnell vs Aaron Canavan Ben Hancorn vs Andrew Higginson Philip Williams vs Andrew Norman Ant Parsons vs Alfie Lee
The success of The 900 so far is going to see the return of a second season, while there are plans in place to create a junior and a professional version.
Francis is excited about it all, but is keen to keep expectations under control as demand increases.
‘I think it’s exceeded my expectations, but in some ways I feel a responsibility now,’ he said. ‘There feels like a huge expectation on me to get amateur snooker on television.
‘So many people are asking when the next one is, can they play, will I do it for kids, for women. So, now I have to realistically see what else I can do because amateur snooker players have loved the opportunity.
‘I’m passionate about it all, but it feels a little bit like I’ve created a monster, but I’ve got to make sure that monster doesn’t get out of control.’
On what is next for The 900, he explained: ‘A junior one is next, the challenge we’re going to face is that the TV station is betting-led and clearly you can’t bet on children’s snooker, so it’s going to have to be self-funded.
‘I’ve already had quite a few people come forward and want to be involved. I’m trying to set it up a bit like the IPL. A company comes forward to fund a team to represent them.
‘The pro one, I’m inundated with professional players wanting to play in a pro series. It’s going to be about finding a date that fits in on the World Snooker calendar. They cannot appear on television while there’s a WST event on and their calendar is pretty busy. I think that’s the easiest one to do because there would be a lot of interest in people wanting to follow that and bet on it.’
When the different versions will emerge is yet to be seen, but we can expect another season of The 900 next year, with Sporty Stuff TV very pleased with the product so far.
‘I’ve had no specific numbers yet, but we’ve heard that it’s been as popular as anything they’ve ever had on that channel,’ said Francis. ‘Specifically in that time slot.
‘We’re already talking about how we structure season two and how that will look.’
A vibrant amateur scene is crucial for the sport to thrive and grow, The 900 has brought something to the party and it should finish Season One with a bang on Wednesday night.
Iconic referee Michaela Tabb left the professional tour back in 2015 but has been really put to work again this year at The 900, not made any easier by running her own business at the same time.
The pioneering ref became the first woman to take charge of a World Snooker Championship final in 2009 and again officiated a Crucible final in 2012.
She has now been off the main tour for seven years, but has had to get used to a new challenge over the last few weeks at the hectic, fast-paced and late night event, The 900.
Not only has she been refereeing from 10pm-1am Monday-Wednesday, but running her successful Blackball Tables business from her Reading hotel room while flying back and forth from Scotland.
‘It’s been quite challenging,’ she told Metro.co.uk. ‘Getting used to the hours of 10pm-1am, then needing a bit of time to wind down, then a nap and getting up in the morning to work, then going to work again at 7.30pm, it’s been quite bizarre but I’ve loved it.
‘I fly down on a Monday and back on a Thursday morning. Those Thursday’s are challenging, it’s tiring. Thursday afternoon I’m in the bath with a book and zonked.
‘I wasn’t concerned or worried, but I was questioning how I was going to stay awake and work those hours. I’m not a late night person to bed anyway, so to start work at 10pm, what the hell?
‘But because the matches are so quick, you find it’s the quickest three hours of the day. We do two games each, me and the other referee Mark, but we score for each other. Before we know it we’ve done four, half way through, it disappears. It’s a perfect format, it’s been amazing.
‘Being part of the team here, from start to finish, seeing it through, it’s been fabulous.’
Tabb’s business, selling pool tables and various snooker and pool accessories went from strength to strength in lockdown, and she hasn’t missed her opportunity to work her magic while donning the white gloves again.
‘We sell snooker and pool accessories so it all merges into one a bit. I’m down here selling snooker balls to a player, not while I’m in a match! But it’s who we are, that’s why we love it,’ she said.
Tabb has never hung her gloves up entirely, staying involved with refereeing since the days of being one of the most recognisable faces in snooker on the main tour.
‘I stopped the professional tour in 2015, but I’ve always reffed for Snooker Legends since 2010,’ she said. ‘I do the Seniors Tour and a lot of exhibitions with Jimmy [White], Ken [Doherty and Ronnie [O’Sullivan]. They’re fun nights. I’ve kept my hand in and I can make it work around my job.
‘I do [miss it] at times. It was long hours and difficult at times. When the World Championship comes round every year it is difficult, obviously I was there for every year bar one, when I was having my son, when I was working on the tour. It’s always like, “Aww, would have been nice to be there.”
‘But things change for a reason. Obviously now I’ve got a very successful business, which couldn’t have happened if I was still on the tour.
‘I do still follow it and there’s still so many people there who were there when I was there, still doing well, and it’s nice to see the young guns coming through as well.’
Tabb was a big name in snooker while she officiated on the pro tour, but even transcended the sport to an extent due to her position as the first female ref at the top of the game.
She was happy to shoulder the burden of pressure that came with that role, but did not quite see how much pressure was coming with it.
‘I didn’t expect it,’ she said. ‘I started on the snooker because I’d refereed the American pool on TV, four years before they came to me with the snooker.
‘I hadn’t appreciated the significance of the history I was making when I started on tour. Then there was actually a lot of pressure on my shoulders because I was representing the whole female population.
‘Let’s be honest, if one of the guys made a mistake, commentators and people at home would say, “That man made a mistake” but if I made a mistake it was “Michaela made a mistake” because I was the only one.
‘So there was quite a lot of pressure there but in hindsight I was probably the right choice for it because I was married and had a family. I wasn’t a young girl, I had responsibilities at home, a bit more mature, a level head on my shoulders, so probably the right kind of person to make that change.’
While she was forging a path, many have followed, with a range of female referees working on the professional circuit now and in recent years.
‘I love it now,’ said Michaela. ‘I look and see all these young ladies out there reffing and think, that’s because of me. I love it.’
In her World Championship final days, were there any approaches to work away from the green baize: ‘Never offers to go on reality shows,’ she said. ‘I was probably a celebrity in the world of snooker, but refs are supposed to keep their head down really…but I’d have probably done it! Maybe not the jungle.’
Tabb’s exit from the professional tour was somewhat controversial at the time, as she claimed sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract against World Snooker, and the two parties came to a settlement over the matter.
On the matter, she said: ‘I suppose, in summary, we had a difference of opinion with regards to my employment contract. I wasn’t happy with the terms that were being imposed and decided it was time to go my own way. That was the long and short of it.
‘It just wasn’t right for me and I couldn’t carry on under the circumstances. It happens to a lot of people in different walks of life, I was just quite prominent as the only female.
‘From my point of view it was stressful. We ended up in an employment tribunal and I wouldn’t have gone there if I didn’t believe I’d been mistreated, but we came to a settlement and we both were happy to walk away. It was time to draw a line and move on.
‘I believe what’s meant for you doesn’t go by you. What’s happened since has worked for me and my family.’
Clearly loving her time at The 900 and enjoying her great success in business, it all appears to have worked out well for her.
Week 6 at the 900 concluded yesterday and it provided great entertainment again.
On Monday… Ant Parsons emerged the winner, beating the legend that is Les Dodd in the final. Here is how it unfolded:
It was however Tam Mustafa who stole the show… playing with incredible flair.
On Tuesday, it was Lenny Baker who prevailed.
George Pragnell, who currently dominates the Q-Tour was the favourite. He was beaten in his first match though. Of course, over just one frame, about anything can happen. Tam Mustafa delighted the fans all evening but Lenny Baker eventually had too much for him.
On Wednesday …
The winners of the previous days met in the final, with Ant Parsons emerging the winner
The 900 proves to be a very interesting, diverse and highly appreciated event. this is what Matt Andrews, a mental coach who helped Ronnie in the past, and David Church, a WDBS player, had to say:
Here are some more images shared by Jason this week:
Jason now “plots” a “Junior 900” and a “Legends 900”. Bring it on!
News from the Barbican …
Mark Williams’ reaction to this tweet was immediately calling for a return of the “best of 17” format. I agree with him and I would like to see a return of the tiered format in the majority, if not all, events.
Some players, notably Barry Pinches, brand it unfair. I don’t think it is, especially if players losing their first match, no matter the round, get no ranking/rating points. That removes the “protection” that was, maybe, a problem in the past. What Barry seems to overlook is that the majority of the current top 16, grew through the tiered system and started at the very bottom, and that includes someone as young as Judd Trump. They weren’t privileged or protected, they were better than the rest and that’s why they are there. Barry, and many others in his generation, had exactly the same opportunities.
What I do see is that the vast majority of the current top 16 who have grown and developed through the tiered system, have been there for many years, despited the alleged “protection” being removed long ago. What those players have, that the younger ones seem to struggle with is consistency and consistency comes from a solid foundation. The current system doesn’t offer a good path for development. It’s too brutal. It’s mentally bruising. Playing more matches, and more winnable matches is what builds a good foundation and grows confidence. It’s naïve to believe that players who qualify for the main tour are “ready” or should be “ready” from day one. Experience matters in all walks of life and in every profession or job.
Alfie Lee has been the most impressive player this week at the 900 and duly book his place in the winners week. Here is how it happened.
Alfie presents himself as a very confident young man
Of course, his father presence at the event has revived the debate about the adequacy of Stephen Lee’s punishment and comparisons with John Higgins. Those cases are NOT comparable.
John Higgins was caught agreeing to fix matches but he didn’t actually fix matches. He was set up, but didn’t know it, so that should not be taken into account. He had no previous, nobody knows for sure if he would have actually fixed those matches if they had been played, he expressed remorse, he paid his fines and his share of the costs in full and promptly. He behaved perfectly well since coming back.
Stephen Lee actually fixed matches, several matches, some at the Crucible. There had been multiple suspicions and even a police inquest before he was banned. He never expressed remorse, never paid what he owns the governing body. Since his ban he has been involved in at least one other “dishonest” incident: he sold a cue to an Asian customer, took the money and did not send the cue.
Andrew Higginson won week 3 at the 900 in the small hours this morning. Yes, that’s right, for the third time in three instances, the 900 “week” has been won by a player who’s name start with A.
This is how it panned out. It’sworth noting that Gary Filtness beat Patrick Wallace, and only just lost to Andrew Higginson. There still a lot of good snooker in the grumpy Londoner!
There was also big drama in the Dean Sycamore v Matt Ford match. It ended after 15 minutes with points equal and had to be decided on a blue ball shoot-out.
Comm box and logos are ready for next week with these guys:
Alfie Lee is Stephen Lee’s son and a very promising young player.
All credit to Jasmine Bolsover for entering this. Well supported by her father, Jasmine played on the women’s tour at a very young age and was women’s under-21 World Champion in 2015, aged 15. She has not played much in recent years, giving her education priority. She hasn’t played competitively between end 2016 and this season. But she loves snooker and now wants to play more again.
With Emma Parker she is trying to get more girls into the game, notably by organising this
… and here is what happened in groups 5 and 6 so far.
This were the players involved at the start of the week:
Andrew Higginson was seen as the big favourite to win this week. It didn’t go well for him on Monday though…
Raymond Fry was Monday’s winner.
The match between Levi Meiller and Matt Ford was an incredibly nervy affair. Levi has traveled from Canada to play in this and he had never experienced anything similar. He played much better in his second match.
The match between Andrew Higginson and Paddy Wallace was high quality. Gary Filtness was his usual determined, passionate and positive self. Raymond Fry overcame Joe Johnson but it was far from straightforward. We will never know what would have happened if Joe had not forgotten the variant rules and carelessly rolled into the pack, giving his opponent ball in hand.
This is what happened yesterday:
Joe Johnson made an incredible clearance to beat Andy Lavin … and the clock. Andrew Higginson got easily the better of young Liam Graham; there is a gulf in experience between the two and it showed. Mark Ganderton and Dean Sycamore were both nervous and their match was quite scrappy but it was Dean who found some consistency towards the end.
After that the time difference got the better of me… mind you it’s already midnight here when the stuff starts
Anyway … here come some more pictures shared by Jason Francis on social media
And this is the line-up for today:
Jamie Hunter has won the Women’s 2022 Australian Open
She beat Jessica Woods, from Australia, by 4-3 in the final.
Victory for the English player marks her second consecutive triumph on the World Women’s Snooker Tour (WWS) following her victory at the US Open in August and underlines her status as one of the most improved players during the past 12 months.
She becomes the third different winner of the tournament since 2018, following in the footsteps of Ng On Yee and Mink Nutcharut as an Australian Open champion.
The success will see her rise one place in the updated world rankings to a new career-high position of number five.
For Woods it has nevertheless been a career-best week on the WWS circuit, having reached her first ranking event final at just her seventh attempt, with quarter-final runs at the same event in 2018 and 2019 representing her previous best.
The 29-year-old also became the first Australian player – and only the 15th ever overall – to compile a century break on the WWS Tour earlier in the event, following a majestic run of 120 during the group stages against Lilly Meldrum.
Route to the Final
Staged for the first time since 2019, the four day event began with an initial group phase which saw the top two seeds Hunter and Woods make comfortable progress, with the talented Meldrum the only player able to take a frame from either during her match with Woods.
In the knockout rounds Hunter dropped her first frame of the competition against Australia’s Joey Tohme on her way to a 3-1 victory, before she recorded a 4-0 win against 14-year-old Lilly Meldrum in the last four to reach the final.
It was a similar story for Woods who defeated Xuejun Alice Wu 3-1 to break new ground and reach the semi-finals of a WWS ranking tournament for the first time, which she followed up with a 4-0 success against Japan’s Miina Tani to reach her maiden final.
The title match would prove to be a hard-fought contest with Woods taking the opener on the colours, before dominating the second to claim an early 2-0 lead.
Back came Hunter, who took the next two to draw level at 2-2, before moving into the lead for the first time at 3-2 with a break of 41.
Woods – who was celebrating her 29th birthday on finals day – claimed the sixth to take the match to a deciding-frame, but Hunter was not to be denied as she finished in style with a match-high break of 51 to claim victory and become champion in Sydney.
WWS would like to thank its partners in Australia, in particular the Australian Billiards and Snooker Council and the Mounties Club, without both of whom the staging of the event, as well as all of the players who travelled to compete.