Day 12 of “No Crucible ” – Women Snooker Day

Yesterday would have been “Women Snooker Day” in the Winter Garden. Of course, that wasn’t on, instead, there were a few good articles published around.

This one, by WPBSA , looks at how the women’s game has progressed  over the last year:

Women’s Snooker Review 2019/20

29th April 2020

 

Today we look back on a 2019/20 World Women’s Snooker Tour season which has seen some fantastic snooker played across the globe by the world’s leading female players.

Of course, the end of the season has not concluded in the way that we would have liked with the unavoidable postponement of both the Festival and World Championship tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has nevertheless been an important 12 months for women’s snooker with tournament entries and media exposure continuing to increase.

Below we pick out a few of the highlights of the campaign and reflect on the action we have seen on the baize…

Title Triple

For the first time since the 2016/17 season we crowned three ranking event champions as regular champions Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee were joined in the winner’s circle for the first time by Nutcharut Wongharuthai.

Having been knocking on the door for the previous 18 months with four ranking event final appearances to her name, the Thai star memorably broke her title duck at the Australian Women’s Open with victory against On Yee in the final. The win saw her become only the sixth active player to have won a full-ranking event title and reach a new career-high ranking of third in the world where she remains today.

Either side of her triumph came further victories for England’s Reanne Evans, who added record-extending ninth and sixth triumphs at the UK Women’s Championship and Eden Women’s Masters tournaments respectively. The wins helped our reigning world champion extend an unbeaten run dating back to October 2018 and underline her status as the undisputed number one on tour.

It was however Ng On Yee who ended the winning streak of Evans at our most recent competition in Bruges back in February, a 4-2 final success marking her own return to form as she claimed her first title in over a year on the WWS circuit at the second Belgian Women’s Open.

Crucible Return

Prior to the ranking event action though it was at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield where the new season was launched as women’s snooker returned to the home of snooker for the first time in 16 years.

The new Women’s Tour Championship saw our top four ranked players take to the baize at the venue which has hosted the professional World Championship since 1977, with only Reanne Evans have competed there previously.

With plenty of drama, tension and high quality snooker on display, the event represented a wonderful showcase of women’s snooker and demonstrated what our top players can do on the big stage.

  • Read our full report from the day HERE.

Participation on the Rise

The primary objective of WWS remains to provide opportunities for women and girls to pick up a cue and play snooker, providing the platform for players around the world, of any age or level of experience, to do so competitively.

We have been delighted this season to welcome several new players to the World Women’s Snooker Tour with no fewer than 35 women competing on the circuit for the first time.

With a total of 152 players from 29 countries currently ranked – an increase from just 38 players only six years ago – the tour is bigger than it has ever been during the current generation with more players joining all the time.

Among those to have joined the circuit, Northern Ireland’s Chucky Preston made an immediate impression at the Eden Masters by reaching the quarter-finals on her debut, while she was also one of a number of newcomers to reach the final of one of our side-tournaments during the campaign.

For the first time we welcomed players from Morocco as African Games champion Yousra Matine and Hind Bennani travelled to England to compete, with Hind reaching the Challenge Cup final at the UK Championship despite playing with a borrowed cue after her own did not arrive in time.

We have also been excited to welcome new players from Guernsey, Scotland, Russia, New Zealand and more.

Ranking Risers

It has been another season which has seen key movements across the world ranking list with a number of players reaching new career-high positions as they continue to develop their game.

As already mentioned above the most notable example is Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai who climbed to third position behind leading duo Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee at the top of the list.

Not far behind her and up to a new career-best of seventh is Emma Parker of England, who enjoyed another strong season by reaching her second ranking event semi-final at the Belgian Women’s Open, as well as winning Under-21 tournaments in Bruges and Leeds. She also achieved success at national level by claiming the English Women’s Championship for the first time.

Other notable players to have made significant gains at the top end of the rankings include former European champion Wendy Jans, while 17-year-old Ploychompoo Laokiatphong is up to 14th after she reached her first ranking event semi-finals at the UK Women’s Championship and Eden Masters tournaments.

Professional Opportunities

It has been another season where together with our friends at the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and World Snooker Tour, we have continued to work to provide new opportunities for our stars to compete at the highest level.

Most significantly this season saw our reigning world champion Reanne Evans qualify to play at the professional Champion of Champions for the first time, where she took on former triple crown winner Shaun Murphy live on ITV4. There she was able to recover from 3-0 down to force a deciding frame, before Murphy was able to get over the line with a one-visit break.

Once again Evans was also invited together with Nutcharut Wongharuthai to compete at the Shoot Out professional ranking event, although both ultimately found themselves up against impressive performances from opponents Ian Burns and Thor Chuan Leong respectively in the first round.

Both Evans and Ng On Yee also competed at the prestigious SangSom 6-Red World Championship in Thailand last September, while our top three ranked players were also set to play at the Betfred World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield this month, prior to the postponement of the tournament until later this summer.

WPBSA also honoured Mandy Fisher, the woman who singlehandedly kept the women’s game alive for years, when nobody else cared:

The Mandy Fisher Story

29th April 2020

 

Whether as a fellow competitor, an organiser, as a colleague or as a friend, it is safe to say that most people involved with women’s snooker during the past 40 years have come across Mandy Fisher at some stage or another.

One of three well-known women to have played under the surname Fisher – bizarrely none of them are related – the highlight of Mandy’s career on the baize came back in 1984 as she achieved her dream of becoming the world women’s snooker champion.

But her legacy to the sport will be something far greater as she played an instrumental role in the creation of the organisation known today as World Women’s Snooker (WWS), which she still heads today as its president.

For over 40 years her life has been intertwined with a sport that has fascinated her since she was a girl. Today in the first of a two-part interview, we hear from Mandy about how she became involved with snooker and the events that led to the formation of WWS in 1981.

“When I left school, I used to go to a local BRSA (British Rail Staff Association) club with my parents because there were a lot of activities including pool and bar billiards,” said Fisher. “One day they were short on players in their team and they asked me to play pool and I won. I then won the local singles championship in my area which was a big achievement at the time. I was the only woman ever to be in it and the only woman ever to win it.

“After that my dad took me somewhere to buy me a cue as a present when I was 16 and that was the first time I had ever seen a snooker table.”

From the outset Mandy was intrigued by the game and as she learned more, inspired by the opportunity in front of her to be able to progress to the highest level in the sport.

“The guy who had the snooker room said he knew of a women’s association and I went along and I saw the standard,” said Fisher. “I thought that there is no other sport in the world where I felt like I could reach this level and become good at it, so I spoke to my parents about how much I loved it. They gave up their front room and moved into a bedroom so I could have a snooker table in there!

“I practiced hard and I went to the World Championship and it was brilliant. A girl called Lesley McIrath won it from Australia and they announced that the following year there was going to be £2,000 for the winner and £1,000 for the runner-up. That was a year’s wages for me so I had a chat with my parents and gave up work to concentrate on snooker. That following year I reached the final, won £1,000 and lost in the final to Vera Selby.”

After her breakthrough performance came a devastating blow however as it was announced in 1981 that there would not be any future women’s snooker tournaments.

Although she was still young and new to the game, Mandy was not prepared to see her snooker journey be cut short and set about forming the association that exists today as WWS. Although this did inevitably come at the expense of her playing career to some extent, she still has many fond memories of the time.

“I was so passionate about the sport and so with the help of a company called Grosser Jack from Windsor in Berkshire, we formed the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association,” explained Fisher. “I was the founder of the association and I liked administration, so I had a lot of fun.

“I carried on playing but when I was running things and trying to get it off the ground it was difficult. I was proud to be one of the first women ever to reach the last 128 of the English Amateur Championship.

“There was a lot of talent in the women’s game at that time, players like Alison Fisher, Kelly Fisher, Tessa Davidson, Stacey Hillyard and other such good players. Everyone inside the top eight could make century breaks, which was significant when you consider that at the time it was still such an achievement in the professional game.

“We used to have 40 entries even in those days coming up to Leeds to play at the Northern Snooker Centre, which was – and still is – one of the best clubs in the country. Jim Williamson welcomed us with open arms which a lot of clubs didn’t in those days, so that makes it extra special that the club continues to be a significant venue for us today.”

Of course, the 1980s were known in the UK as snooker’s first boom period and for the women’s game it was no different as Mandy recalls.

“It was an amazing time to be involved in the sport,” said Fisher. “I was quite good friends with Jimmy White and Tony Meo because in my town the man who first introduced me to snooker used to have them down to play on his table and then he would take them around all of the little snooker clubs in the area.

“I was lucky enough during the day to go in and play, then they used to go out and do an exhibition. I would go along and watch which was fantastic, He did that several times and got them lots of exhibitions, in the days when they were amateurs before it really took off in a big way.”

The dominant player during the 1980s was six-time world champion Steve Davis and Mandy has fond memories of crossing cues with him and his great rival Alex Higgins on the baize.

“I did a local exhibition with Steve and Alex at the Bushfield Sports Centre in Peterborough in front of 1,000 people and they bussed a load of people from March to support me which was wonderful,” recalled Fisher. “The atmosphere was incredible and I played three frames against Alex Higgins and I did sneak one off him (he probably allowed me to win it, I’m not quite sure!).

“But during the second best of three against Steve Davis I just produced. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline but I did play really well and I was 54 points ahead at 1-1 in the third frame before he cleared up with a 57 break. But it was fantastic and I have great memories of that evening, it will always stay with me.”

Although he was not a player, another man synonymous with snooker in the 1980s was of course Barry Hearn, then manager to Steve Davis and now chairman of the sport’s commercial arm World Snooker Tour.

“Barry was lovely and in the early days he gave us an awful lot of support which I am eternally grateful for,” explained Fisher. “My first experience with him was when he organised the intercity mixed pairs where I played with Steve Davis and another girl called Julie Islip played with Tony Meo.

“The event was on national television, screened directly before the FA Cup final to keep viewers on that channel. We did a pre-match interview the week before with Dickie Davis on World of Sport and then went down there to Southend to play on a match table in front of all the people which was amazing.

“Barry did all of that and he saw the potential in women’s snooker. He later secured sponsorship from Forte Hotels to sponsor us for three years, with events played across London. He also achieved the Mita world masters which injected huge sums of money into the women’s game. He really is the Midas man!

“Unfortunately for us Barry was becoming heavily involved with other activities such as Leyton Orient football club and boxing, typically making a success of everything that he does! But it was fantastic to be able to work with him during that period and to see what he is doing now with the professional game.”

More recently, women’s snooker has survived some challenging times before in 2015 agreement was reached with snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association (WPBSA) for World Women’s Snooker to become its subsidiary company. With the support of the WPBSA the World Women’s Snooker Tour has been able to expand like never before with international events held across the world and over 150 players now on the world ranking list, leaving Fisher optimistic for the future.

“It has been fantastic to have the WPBSA on board during the last few years,” continued Fisher. “They have been really enthusiastic about it and it has been great to host events outside of the UK in mainland Europe, Asia and the Oceania region of the past few years. In particular, last year’s World Women’s Championship in Thailand was one of the best tournaments that I have been involved in during the past 40 years.

“I firmly believe that the sky is the limit with women’s snooker. There is no physical reason why a woman cannot play snooker as good as a man. Certainly, Reanne Evans is capable of and has proved that she can play amongst the professional men. We are welcoming more new players all the time and I am confident that as we continue to grow and visit new territories, we will only continue to see players improve. I see a very bright future ahead for the women’s game.”

Thank you to Mandy for her time and we look forward to seeing her and everyone else back on Tour next season.

And Annette Lord wrote this lovely piece about Vera Selby, a great champion, strong lady and once “a voice” on BBC snooker.

‘Revelation’ of 1980s BBC female commentator Vera Selby leaves snooker fans shocked

In honour of Women’s Snooker Day, Annette Lord looks at one of the game’s female pioneers who surprised many watching the classic Crucible matches in lockdown.

“Who’s the woman commentating on the BBC in 1982?” That was the question on many fans’ lips when the TV network launched its Crucible Classics last week, looking back at golden matches from yesteryear.

In fact, some messaged Snooker Chat searching for the answer after seeing Tony Knowles trouncing Steve Davis 10-1 and others took to social media with the query.

The answer is Vera Selby, a remarkable lady who is not only a multiple world champion in both snooker and billiards but was honoured for her services to both sports and also amazed everyone by playing regularly well into her 80s.

Selby was born in 1930 in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and first became aware of billiards aged six through watching her uncle play in the cellar of his home in Newcastle. This started a life-long love of cuesports, with Selby becoming women’s world billiards champion eight times between 1970 and 1978.

She was also one of the leading women’s snooker players of the 1970s, winning the national title four years in a row from 1972-75 and also regaining it in 1979.

But her success didn’t end there. Selby was crowned the first ever women’s world snooker champion when the inaugural tournament was held in 1976 and five years later captured the title again, entering the record books by becoming, at 51, the oldest female world champion in any sport.

That was 1981, and within two years Selby – who made a living as a lecturer in art, textiles and dress design at what was then Newcastle Polytechnic – had taken early retirement aged 53.

Selby was also becoming a voice on TV, as some of the Crucible Classics last week proved.

Some fans were astonished to hear Selby commentating, and there was also praise for the BBC for being “ahead of its time”.

“I had no idea there were women commentators back then,” said v3rng (@vernongiles1959), one of many to comment on Twitter.

“Vera Selby commentating for BBC at the Crucible in 1982. Snooker was way ahead of its time with a female commentator,” added Phil Gilman (@bookiemonster81), with Chris Schou Watts (@goatsebeast) saying: “Good on the BBC for getting women involved at the top level so early (seeing as snooker only really ‘started’ in the 70s).”

It was certainly a surprise to remember that snooker had a woman commentator in the early 1980s. But Selby was not the first female to commentate for the BBC on cuesports. Thelma Carpenter, also a champion in both billiards and snooker in the 1930s, commentated for billiards on BBC Radio. And Joyce Gardner, one of her rivals in both games whose once recorded a snooker break of 82, was also employed to commentate on radio. One of her appearances was at the 1946 World Snooker Championship, where she gave her thoughts on Joe Davis v Horace Lindrum for the fee of 6 guineas (£6.30).

Yes, there were female cueists in the 1930s. Alongside Gardner and Carpenter at the top of the game was Ruth Harrison, from County Durham, who won the Women’s Professional Snooker Championship – a national event – eight years running.

Back to Selby, who was given a lifetime achievement award for services to billiards in 2014 and was made an MBE for services to snooker and billiards in the 2016 Queen’s birthday honours.

She told the BBC’s Rob Walker: “It was wonderful. Prince Charles gave me it. He said ‘you don’t look like a snooker player.’ I replied, saying we weren’t all big butch male players and he laughed.”

Amazingly, Selby was still competing at the age of 86 and is now 90, enthusing about the benefits of playing for older people.

She said in 2016: “It guards against dementia and it’s a physical thing as well as being mental. You are not getting fresh air but you are walking round and round the table.”

What a remarkable woman. Vera Selby, we salute you!

I had the pleasure to meet Vera at the Women’s Day in 2016 . She is a truly remarkable person!

I you are passionate about snooker and you don’t already, give Nigel’s blog “The Green Baize” a follow.

Snooker related news – 9 April 2020

There have been quite a few snooker related news in the last couple of days.

Barry Hearn suffered a heart attack – his second – but is now out of hospital

Barry Hearn thanks NHS after coming through his second heart attack

Phil HaighThursday 9 Apr 2020

Barry Hearn has sent his thanks to the NHS as he recovers from a heart attack he suffered on Sunday.

The chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation and World Snooker Tour suffered a ‘minor’ heart attack at the weekend and had an operation on Tuesday. The veteran promoter, 71, returned home on Wednesday and appears to be in good spirits as he makes his way back to fitness.

Hearn tweeted: ‘Humbled by the thousands of “get well” wishes so thanks to each and everyone of you. Massive shout out to Broomfield and Basildon hospitals – don’t know what we’d do without the NHS. God bless you all and stay safe.’

Hearn added on Thursday morning: ‘Memories like this keep you going. Can’t wait for more ! Patience people sport will be back soon but we have a bigger battle to win first. God bless the NHS.’

This echoed the sentiments of his son Eddie, who confirmed the news on Wednesday, tweeting: ‘As if we can’t thank the NHS enough, I want to particularly thank the staff at Broomfield & Basildon. My dad @BarryHearn was taken to hospital on Sunday after a minor heart attack and was operated on yesterday.He is up and well and returns home today in good spirits!Thank you’

Barry first suffered a heart attack in 2002 and his family have a long history of heart problems. ‘I’ve waited 30 years for it so it didn’t come as a surprise,’ Hearn told the Mirror after his 2002 attack, ‘My father had it, and his father had it before him. No male of the past four generations in our family has got past 45. So anything more is a bonus.’

The man credited with booms in darts and snooker in recent years, along with his legendary career as a boxing promoter, was inundated with messages of support on Twitter.

 

As all the readers of this blog will know by now, I don’t always agree with Barry Hearn’s views on the way snooker should be managed and promoted but there is no doubt that he has massively improved the state of the Tour over the last 10 years. There are a lot more tournaments, more exposure and more money … I just wish the latter was a bit more evenly shared so that lower ranked players wouldn’t struggle so badly to make ends meet.

All the same, I’m whishing him the very best and sincerely hope that he fully recovers.

Speaking of the past state of snooker, David Hendon has written this nice piece for the WST site.

Snooker, like all professional sport, is currently on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone involved in the game is looking forward to its return but this is not the first time snooker has been forced to take a break, as journalist and commentator David Hendon explains…

Without Joe Davis, snooker’s first World Professional Championship may have arrived much later than 1927. And yet the game’s first star shone so brightly that he unwittingly played a part in its decline thirty years later.

Unlike the leading lights of today, Davis had no established players to watch, analyse or learn from but his father was a publican at the Queens Hotel, Whittington Moor in Chesterfield and the establishment boasted a full-sized snooker table.

Snooker was still in its infancy when Davis was in his. Billiards was the prevailing cue sport of its time and Davis, and his younger brother, Fred, became proficient players. Billiards, though, often lacked dramatic tension as a spectator sport because its matches could be so one-sided. In 1926, Davis lost in the world professional final by 6,500 points to Tom Newman. Audiences could admire the skills on show, but excitement was thin on the ground.

Davis saw an opportunity with snooker, the young upstart of the cue sports family, to make a name for himself and, more widely, for the game itself. Others had tried with little success. In 1924, Tom Dennis, a player and billiard hall owner, wrote to the then governing body for billiards asking them to consider promoting an open snooker tournament. The sniffy response he received read: “It seems doubtful whether snooker as a spectacular game is sufficiently popular to warrant the successful promotion of such a competition.”

Two years later Davis, supported by the promoter and table-maker Bill Camkin, managed to persuade them to reconsider. Ten players entered the inaugural championship and a trophy was purchased using half of the entry fees. It is still presented to the world champion to this day.

The tournament’s first match began on November 29, 1926. The following May at Camkin’s billiard hall in Birmingham, Davis defeated Dennis 20-11 in the final. The Billiard Player, the leading cue sports organ of the time, gave the event four paragraphs of coverage. There was clearly still a long way to go.

And yet the championship continued, albeit with a small but determined band of players. These were very different times. Davis had never driven a car but a rail strike in 1934 meant he could not get from Nottingham to Kettering to play Tom Newman, the only other entrant. Davis duly purchased a car, was given rough instructions on how to drive it and set off for the match.

Davis kept on winning and, as he did so, his reputation and celebrity grew. There was to be two decades of Davis dominance, interrupted only by the second world war. He won his 14thworld title in 1940 and his 15th and last when the tournament returned in 1946, after which he retired. This proved to be the start of snooker’s problems.

Davis had in fact only retired from competing in the championship but still played in other events, undertook exhibitions and television appearances and was by far the best known figure in the still fledgling sport. The fact he was not playing in the World Championship therefore seriously devalued it – like Hamlet without the prince – and the interest, such as it was, dwindled to the point that by 1957 no promoter wanted to touch it.

And so professional snooker entered a dark period of extended hibernation which was to last until 1964. This was the time of JFK and the Beatles. The 60s were swinging but snooker lay dormant. Perhaps it had been a fad after all, a novelty whose time had come and gone.

These were grim times for the players, who retreated back into normal life. Fred Davis had a hotel in Llandudno; Rex Williams a family printing firm in Staffordshire. Players still undertook exhibitions but making a living was hard, with the sport enjoying very little exposure outside of a few matches on black and white television, usually involving Joe and acting as filler between horse races on the BBC’s Grandstand.

Williams, who at 17 had won the English amateur title, was now 30 and restless. This should have been the prime period of his career. He took it upon himself to revive the World Championship on a challenge basis, with the reigning champion – in this case John Pulman – taking on a single opponent.

The governing body gave their sanction and Pulman beat Fred Davis 19-16 in the first World Championship to be staged for seven years. Pulman would win six further world titles on this basis against a series of challengers, Williams included, until 1968.

Williams believed that the players needed to take greater control of their destinies and pulled together a players’ association, which would become the WPBSA. Largely through his efforts, snooker’s profile was growing again. The players came back blinking into the sunlight of a new era, still uncertain but at least with playing opportunities and a World Championship restored.

The championship proceeded on a challenge basis until 1969 when the open format was revived. It coincided with the arrival of colour television, which led to Pot Black providing a national showcase. Suddenly, the leading players of the day were household names, from the head-masterly Ray Reardon to errant tearaway Alex Higgins. The public took to them, and to the game, and it led to increased interest from sponsors and television. Now, promoters could not get enough of snooker as a professional circuit was born and a boom beckoned.

And what of the man who had started it all?

In 1978, Joe Davis took his seat in the Crucible theatre in Sheffield, the new home for the World Championship, and watched Fred, at the age of 64, compete against Perrie Mans in the semi-finals. The match was so close, so exciting, and for Davis so personally involving, that he collapsed. He died a few months later at the age of 77.

Davis would surely marvel at the sport today, at its players, administration and global reach, but he had lived long enough to see the championship to which he gave life blossom into a major sporting attraction, and for snooker itself to rise from the ashes of indifference and burn brightly in the public consciousness.


Thanks to Roger Lee for the pictures.

And the BBC will show some Classic matches from April 18 on:

CrucibleClassics.jpg

Here is what’s on the menu from April 18 to April 24:

  • Saturday:  Davis v Knowles (82)
  • Sunday: White v Hendry (92)
  • Monday: Reardon v A Higgins (82)
  • Tuesday: N Robertson v Selby (2014)
  • Wednesday: Davis v Taylor (85)
  • Thursday: Davis v Johnson (86)
  • Friday: Hendry v White (88)

Crucible 2019 – Barry Hearn’s announcements

As customary on the second Wednesday of the World Championship Barry Hearn came up with a number of announcements.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn held a press conference at the Crucible on Wednesday.

Here are the key points:

Betfred’s sponsorship of the World Championship will continue until at least 2021. For more on that news, click here.

There will be four extra World Snooker Tour cards available at 2019 Q School. The semi-finalists of the three events will receive 12 of those, with the other four to go to the next four highest players on the Q School Order of Merit. There will be 128 players on the 2019/20 Tour.

Jimmy White has been given a two-year tour card in respect of his undisputed services to snooker.

The structure for the qualifying rounds of the Betfred World Championship will change next year as follows:

There will be 16 amateurs invited by WPBSA. They will join players ranked 81-128 in round one. Those 64 players play each other, with the 32 winners going into round two.

Round two: those 32 winners will face players ranked 49-80.

Round three: those 32 winners will face players ranked 17-48.

Round four: those 32 winners play each other, with the 16 winners going through to the Crucible to face the top 16 seeds.

Total prize money for the 2020 Betfred World Championship will go up to £2.4 million, with the winner to receive £500,000.

Next season, a new £1 million bonus for 147 breaks will be introduced. If there are 20 (or more) maximums in a season, the bonus will be triggered and the £1 million will be shared between the players who made 147s. A player making more than one of those 20 would receive a proportional share, for example if he made two 147s and there were 20 in total, he would receive £100,000. This replaces the previous ‘rolling prize’ system.

So what do we make of it?

Two more years of Betfred sponsorship – OK

Four more tour cards to be gained via the Q-school – OK

Jimmy White getting another 2 years invitational card – fine by me but will ruffle a few feathers

World Championship qualifiers going back to a tiered system – well, well, well … after stating and hammering that the flat draw is the future there we are. Personally I’m pleased. It rewards the better players who will have less matches to play. It will also make the draw less random, and we will see less complete mismatches. It will give lower ranked players a more winnable first round match and allow more of them to earn something for their efforts. All that is very good. That’s 112 matches to be played in qualifiers, same as it is now. It will however be one more match to win for the lowest ranked players and just the two for the 17-48. – Great

The one million bonus to be shared amongst the “maximum men/women” provided there are at least 20 during the season… that reminds me of the one million bonus offered if a player wins all four of the Home Nations. It’s not gonna happen. The most we ever had in one season is 13… I’m not sure that 20 is a realistic target, and I’m not sure that players will be that excited, or bothered to try. Basically that’s the rolling prize for a maxi gone to pot…  – Boooooh!

Barry Hearns Crucible announcements

As per usual  during the World Championship, Barry Hearn took the opportunity to make some announcements to the assembled media. There will be an increase in prize money, with £500000 for the WC winner, but also interestingly more money for the second and third rounds losers. There will also be more events.

New 8 players ranking event added 

http://www.worldsnooker.com/tour-championship-added-itvs-series-snooker-events/

The new Tour Championship will be added to World Snooker’s calendar for the first time in 2019, televised by ITV4.

The event will run from March 19 to 24, with the leading eight players from the one year ranking list, after the seeding cut off point, competing for total prize money of £375,000 and a top prize of £150,000.

This follows in the series incorporating the World Grand Prix, which is for the leading 32 players on the one year list, and the Players Championship which is for the top 16.

All three world ranking events will be televised by ITV4 for the next three years.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to add the Tour Championship to our global calendar, it will be a highly prestigious event for the best players in the world.

“The race to qualify for this series of tournaments begins from the very first moment of the 2018/19 season, and every pound earned counts. All players will be striving throughout the season to move up the one-year ranking list and make it to these three crucial and highly lucrative events.

“We’re also thrilled to be working with ITV on this series for the next three years. They are a great team to work alongside, with fantastic production values. The viewing figures they receive for snooker are outstanding and growing year on year so their appetite for broadcasting our sport is growing in tandem. This is great news for snooker fans as the amount of coverage on television throughout the season continues to increase.”

The venue and ticket details for the Tour Championship will be announced soon, as will the calendar and seeding cut-off points for the 2018/19 season.

That’s excellent news. ITV coverage is always excellent. However I hope it will be available on Eurosport somehow as well because ITV is not easy to access if you are not in the UK. Speaking to John Parrott and Stephen Hendry during the MSI of this afternoon match, Hearn said that matches in this event will be long format: best of 17, best of 19 and best of 25.

The Shoot-out to stay and be covered by Eurosport

http://www.worldsnooker.com/snooker-shoot-stay-eurosport-quest-agree-take-host-broadcaster/

EurosportSnooker’s Shoot Out event will be televised live by Eurosport and Quest for the first time next season.

The world ranking tournament, which has been running since 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

Broadcast of the event has now been incorporated into World Snooker’s long-term partnership with Eurosport and Quest, which runs until 2026. The Shoot Out brings the total number of events broadcast by Eurosport to 19 (17 in the UK) with qualifying rounds and other events available on Eurosport Player.

The 2019 Shoot Out will run from February 21-24, at the Watford Colosseum, with Eurosport and Quest as the host broadcaster.

The tournament features 128 players in a flat draw, each needing to win seven matches to take the title. Michael Georgiou captured the trophy for the first time in 2018, beating Graeme Dott in a dramatic final.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with Eurosport and Quest on the Shoot Out for the first time. We have established a fantastic partnership with them in recent years. Eurosport really is the Home of Snooker, broadcasting to 137 million homes in 54 countries. We have also seen incredible viewing figures on Quest since they first televised snooker in 2016.

“The Shoot Out is a wonderful event which has become one of the highlights of the season for fans who enjoy the fast and furious pace of play. The 2018 Shoot Out was the best I have ever seen, with so many matches going down to the last few seconds, including the final which was a great moment for Michael Georgiou. It’s a chance for up and coming players to make a name for themselves.

“I’m sure snooker fans will be thrilled that the Shoot Out will stay on the calendar and will be televised both on Eurosport and free-to-air on Quest.”

The agreement to broadcast the Shoot Out supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker throughout the season. The pan-European broadcaster already screens in excess of 800 hours of live snooker action throughout the season.

Laurent Prud’homme, Senior Vice President Rights Acquisition and Syndication at Eurosport, said: “The idea of making snooker quicker and more appealing to a wider viewership through the Shoot Out concept aligns neatly with our own objective to appeal to new and younger and audiences.

“We’re delighted to secure the rights to showcase the Shoot Out on Eurosport and Quest in the UK and are already looking forward to seeing the best players in the world go toe-to-toe – not only playing against esteemed opponents, but also playing against the clock.

“The agreement supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker, where we already offer fans in excess of 800 hours of live action from around the world throughout the season.”

Ticket details for the 2019 Shoot Out will be released soon.

I couldn’t care less if I’m honest…

And, finally, Hearn vows to clamp on slow play… 

Now that average shot times are available, Hearn wants to use that data in order to speed up the game in an attempt to make it more entertaining. If I understood correctly, players who get an average shot time above 30 seconds in a match, will be warned at first, get a “yellow card” (whatever that means ???) if they do it again, and get fined if they persist…

I’m not sure I’m convinced about this approach. There are basically two types of slow play. One is the slow pace dictated by the situation in the match and on the table and I strongly disagree with any attempt to “clamp” on that. It would only cut off a very important aspect of snooker, the battle of wits and encourage negative shot selections. The other is the deliberate and unnecessary slow play in an attempt to disrupt the opponent concentration and rhythm. That one is tackled by the section 4 of the rules: such behaviour is gamesmanship. That part of the rules is rarely enforced and that has to be addressed by encouraging the referees to use their discretion when they see it happen. Nothing more or different is needed. Some will tell you that this type of deliberate slow play isn’t an issue in snooker. I believe it is. There aren’t MANY culprits, but there are a few players who often resort to this. I have witnessed a prime example of it in the World Championship qualifiers last season, by a player who eventually DID qualify having used these tactics in the last two rounds.

Barry Hearn’s Full Press Conference

 

Ronnie news and snooker news

Ronnie was out on social media today to confirm that the sequel of “Framed” will be out in November and its title is “Double Kiss”

On twitter:

my new book, out Nov but pre-order it here and i’ll sign it too. thanks for your support Ro x

DoubleKissCover.jpg

And on Facebook

please to say my new book will be out in November. More stories of Frankie, you can order a signed copy here thanks for your support Ro x

As a reminder, here is the “trailer” …

The race is on. The stakes are high. Frankie James thought his troubles were behind him. He’s busy running his Soho Club, and his brother’s finally out of prison. But when a postcard arrives from Mallorca, he’s stopped in his tracks . . . Is it from his mother – the woman who’s been missing for eight years? When the goddaughter of London’s fiercest gangster, Tommy Riley, goes missing in Ibiza, Tommy knows there’s one man for the job – Frankie James. Just when Frankie was on the straight and narrow, he’s now faced with an impossible choice. If he agrees to help find Tanya, he’ll be thrown into a world of danger. If he doesn’t, Tommy could destroy him. For Frankie James, old habits die hard. One thing’s for sure, playing with this gang is no game. But with everything at stake, how can Frankie say no? Double-Kiss is the fast-paced, thrilling sequel to Framed, by snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Note that, unfortunately, whsmith delivers only in the UK, so this offer is only valid for UK readers…

Now about the snooker

It transpired on social media earlier last week that the Shanghai Masters 2017 was still no certainty, that the deal wasn’t done yet and the entry pack not out. Worldsnooker has since removed the tournament from its “live scores” calendar, so I reckon it’s not going to happen. That the Shanghai Masters disappears is a shame, that the week between 13 and 19 November becomes free would be good news, in my opinion at least. I’m not sure how the top players, who are only human, were supposed to cope with playing in China for the International Championship, next in the Champion of Champions in Coventry, then in China again for the Shanghai Masters, then back to UK for the Northern Ireland Open considering that there isn’t a single “free” day in that schedule. It would not have been just about the hectic traveling, it would also be about how the human body adjusts to time difference and broken sleep patterns.  You can’t realistically expect them to play in every of those tournaments AND to perform at the top of their ability in each. That said there is still a “China Ranking Event” in Worldsnooker Calendar but unless it’s all 128 at the venue, I wonder when the qualifiers could possibly be played, Maybe right after the English Open? Anyway, personally, I hope it’s scratched.

Players are currently in Yushan for the World Open and there have been a few notorious casualties already: Mark Selby, Michael White, Liang Wenbo, Shaun Murphy, Barry Hawkins and Graeme Dott are all out already (*) as the last 32 is starting tomorrow. Apparently the venue and conditions are very good. But the trip to get there is quite long and tiring – it’s a rather remote place – and a number of players arrived without their cue or their luggage. This of course isn’t Worldsnooker fault, but the more connections and different transports are needed, the likelier these incidents become. And there are complaints about the hotel(s) too. Why not stick to big cities, with easy connections? Surely this would allow more fans to come and watch live as well?

(*) Ali Carter, the defending Champion and Ronnie didn’t enter, Judd Trump didn’t qualify.

Ronnie has safely arrived in Beijing

Just a short one as I’m traveling home today from Scunthorpe.

RonnieSuperStar

Super Star Online, the sponsor of the World Seniors Championship and also the sponsor of Ronnie in China, has put a short video on their weibo earlier this morning showing Ronnie in the car, en route to his hotel, and expressing his pleasure to be in China and saying he’s looking forward to the tournament and meeting the Chinese fans.

Good news!