The 900 – Andrew Norman wins Week 1

Andrew Norman was a deserved winner at the end of the 900 Week 1. He dominated the field yesterday evening and even made a 129 total clearance against Connor Benzey in his second match.

Congratulations Andrew!

This is how it unforlded:

It was high quality snooker and high scoring all evening . As a result the action finished well ahead of schedule.

Andrew was thrilled is you can imagine. What he earned yesterday is the equivalent of one month salary, but more importantly, it got him buzzing and enjoying his snooker again.

This is what he had to say:

Here are more pictures, shared by Jason and Andrew on social media:

It really was an enjoyable night of snooker… I stayed up watching right to the end of the final … well past 2am where I live! And the hubby as well!

The 900 – Groups 1 and 2 – 20 September 2022

Jason’s Francis “youngest” brainchild took its first steps yesterday as the first two groups of this season “900” were played in the Crucible club in Reading.

A quick reminder: this competition is for amateurs only, it’s played under variant rules, similar to the shoot-out, it’s just one frame, over 15 minutes maximum and under a 20 seconds shot-clock.

Jason, as usual, did a sterling job. Thank you Jason!

The setup is really nice:

He got Michaela Tabb back to work

And a great commentary team: Neal Foulds, Rachel Casey, and “The Shirt” Lee Richardson.

Because of Queen Elisabeth II funerals, Group 1 had been postponed and we had two groups played yesterday. Exceptionally, Group 1 was played in the afternoon, which was great for me as … being in Greece, the “normal schedule” would be from midnight to 3 am here. Far too late for me, I’m afraid.

I really enjoyed it. This event is a celebration of diversity and there was real quality snooker on show.

Group 1:

Michael Collumb was the deserved winner of the first group, he played really well. There was plenty more to enjoy though. Not many would have given Dennis Taylor a chance, but he impressed. It’s quite obvious that he has put the work in for this one. Beating Billy Castle, who was playing well himself, is no mean feat. He may be retired and 73 years old but the inner competitive beast is well and truly alive! Take a bow Dennis!

Maria Catalano isn’t back to her former level. She has gone through extremely though times, following her father death. But she looked better – in a better place and playing better – than a few weeks ago and she appeared to enjoy her game against Dennis. This is a huge positive.

I enjoyed all the matches. Connor Benzey comes across as not just a very good prospect but a lovely young man as well.

Group 2:

I didn’t see much at all from this group. I’m not a night owl, I’m afraid.

Ashley Carty was probably the favourite on paper in this group, but he fell at the first hurdle. Over just one frame those things can happen of course. Zach Richardson won it.

Billy Castle, Dennis Taylor, Connor Benzey, Michael Collumb, Jamie Bodle, Zach Richardson, Andrew Norman and Stuart Reardon will compete today, aiming at reaching the Winners Week.

Here are some images shared on social media by Jason Francis and Michaela Tabb:

Martin O’Donnell wins the 2022 Q-Tour Event 2

Martin O’Donnell has won the second event of the 2022/23 Q-Tour. He now tops the table, with the same number of points as Ross Muir who has won Event 1. George Pragnell is third despite being the most consistent player in the series so far: he was the losing finalist in both events.

Here is the report shared by WST:

O’Donnell Wins Q Tour Event Two

Martin O’Donnell beat George Pragnell 5-1 in the final to win his first Q Tour title at Castle Snooker & Sports Bar in Brighton.

The event represented the second stop of the season on what has become established as snooker’s premier amateur tour, with two places on the World Snooker Tour to be won at the end of the campaign.

Former world number 32 O’Donnell began his quest on Saturday morning with victories against Jamie Wilson, Liam Graham and Florian Nuessle to qualify for what would prove to be a dramatic final day.

In his quarter-final he defeated fellow former professional Daniel Wells 4-3 following a tight deciding frame, before he repeated the feat against Ashley Carty having at one stage needed two snookers.

Awaiting him in the final would be Event 1 runner-up George Pragnell, who himself had survived two deciding-frame finishes on the final day to edge out Hamim Hussain and former World Snooker Federation Junior champion Gao Yang to reach his second consecutive Q Tour final.

The title match would prove to be a cagey affair early on as O’Donnell took the opening two frames, before Pragnell claimed the third to establish a foothold in the contest.

From there, however, Pragnell would score just a further 10 points as O’Donnell found his groove. Breaks of 54 and 71 were enough to see him claim a 3-1 lead at the mid-session interval, before he added the following two highlighted by a final frame clearance of 135 to crown victory.

The success ensures that O’Donnell will move to top spot in the Q Tour rankings after two events, level with Event 1 champion Ross Muir, with the pair just £250 ahead of the two-time finalist Pragnell.

The 2022/23 Q Tour season continues with Event 3 which will be held at the Delta Moon venue in Mons, Belgium from 14-16 October 2022.

Following his defeat in this event Michael Georgiou came on social media, saying that he doesn’t enjoy competing anymore and that he would concentrate on coaching in the future, no more on competition. I’m wishing him the best in the future, whatever he decides to do. The tone of his posts was quite downbeat.

Ben Hancorn also hinted at putting an end to his professional ambitions. Ben stated that he had enjoyed his time on the tour and was proud of what he had achieved but that he feels it’s now time to move on. Ben proudly stressed that he is undefeated against Ronnie. Indeed they played just one match, in the 2021 Pro-Series and Ben won it by 2-1 … Ronnie made a 141 in the frame he won. All in good spirit.

The next Q-Tour event will be played in Belgium, in Mons. It’s a bit of an oddity because Mons is in the French speaking area of Belgium and snooker is mainly played in Flanders, the Dutch speaking area of Belgium. On the other hand, Mons is close to the French border, and easily accessible – both by car and train – from the Western and Southern part of Germany.

Snooker News and Talking Points – 15 September 2022

Talking point: Shaun Murphy’s ideas about the World Championship

Yesterday I shared news about a podcast with Shaun Murphy, who branded the World Championship format as scandalously unfair. As you would expect this divided opinions, including among the players.

One player who definitely disagreed with Shaun is Kyren Wilson. Speaking to “The Sportsman”, this is the report on what he had to say:

However former Crucible finalist Wilson, 30, has reacted strongly to the Magician’s outspoken rant. 

And The Warrior claims that the current arrangements are very successful, offer a justified reward to top players for two years’ effort, and guarantee fans booking in advance will see their favourites. 

Wilson said: “I don’t agree with what Shaun has said at all. The World Championships has been the same for many, many years and all the former champions won it coming through the same process. 

It is an event that sells out for most sessions a year in advance. So in this sense it is absolutely perfect the way it is, and doesn’t need touching. 

The fans pay good money to play the top players in the world and I wouldn’t want to touch that.  

And for the top players, there does need to be some reward for being where you are in the world rankings having earned that over two years. And I think this is one of those. 

There is room for many different formats on the tour and it should be mixed up, many with all in from round one and others like the World Championship where they aren’t, or an FA Cup style draw. 

If I were ever to try and modify anything at the World Championship, you could maybe tweak the distance of the semi-finals and final because the best of 33 and then best of 35. 

I only experienced the final once but those really take it out of players and could maybe be shorter.” 

When the World Championship was first staged at the Crucible in 1977 there were eight seeded players going straight through to the iconic Sheffield theatre, with the other eight having to battle through qualifying to take them in in the first round proper. 

That was the case until 1982 when the first round was expanded to the current 32 players, with the top 16 in the rankings seeded and parachuted directly into that stage.  

Since then no one has touched that aspect of the tournament though there have been plenty of changes in the actual qualifying process. 

Until relatively recently the qualifying process was tiered, so that those ranked 17-32 only came in at the end for the last match and therefore had to win only one to get to the Crucible. That all changed in 2015, when the remaining pros were topped up with 16 wildcards for the qualifying event and all players regardless of ranking had to win three best-of-19 frame matches to reach the promised land. 

And there have been further tweaks since then, with some of the earlier rounds reduced to best-of-11 frame contests with just the last round over the traditional distance. And the most recent alteration will come for this season’s competition when once more there will be three rounds for all 128 players, and all restored to the fuller distance for 2022-23.

Kyren is right. One aspect that Shaun totally overlooked is that the sponsors and broadcasters have a huge say when it comes to the events’ format as well as to who gets on the main table. The top players are the ones bringing the money to the game and every other player benefits from it. They are the ones putting bums on seats, and “selling” the “snooker product”.

Also, most of the players who actually complained, are players who are about the same age as the “Class of 92”. They had exactly the same opportunities as those three to climb the rankings and get at the top, only they didn’t. The “system” was and is the same for everyone.

Personally I stay with what I said yesterday. I believe that more “tiered” events would benefit the young players by helping their development. I know for certain that Mark Williams 100% shares this view and has said so on social media in the past. He’s one of the top players who is really involved with helping the aspiring youngsters in his area.

News: WST has posted the “rules” for the Mixed Doubles

BetVictor World Mixed Doubles – The Rules

Here are the rules for the new BetVictor World Mixed Doubles, which runs on the weekend of September 24 and 25 in Milton Keynes.

Tickets for the ITV-televised event are still available – for details click here.

The Rules

  • The opening round is played on a ‘round robin’ league table basis with each pair playing the other three pairs in four frame matches, where all four frames will be played.
  • Each frame is played under the published Rules of Snooker with particular reference to ‘Four-handed Snooker’ found in Section 3, Rule 18 (pages 33 and 34). To specify, this is alternate visits and NOT an alternate shot version.
  • One point will be awarded for each frame won in a match to determine the league table. In the event of two teams being tied on points, the result from the match between those teams will decide the positions, winner progressing. If this result was a 2-2 draw or in the case of multiple tied positions and results, the individual highest break in the event from the players involved will be the deciding factor, then the second highest if still tied and so on.
  • The pairs finishing first and second in the league table will play each other in the Final, over the best of seven frames.

The Teams
Ronnie O’Sullivan & Reanne Evans
Judd Trump & Ng On Yee
Rebecca Kenna & Mark Selby
Neil Robertson & Mink Nutcharut

News: Mark Williams is the next snooker player to join “Ultimate Pool”

Here is the announcement

Three-time world professional snooker champion Mark Williams is heading for the Ultimate Pool circuit, and is set to make his debut as he teams up alongside Carl Morris in the Pairs Cup live on FreeSports and ultimatepool.tv on Monday 10th October.

One of snooker’s all-time greats – with 24 ranking titles and two invitational Masters triumphs to his name – Williams will also become an Ultimate Pool professional player for the 2023 season, competing in events around his schedule on the snooker circuit.

“The Welsh Potting Machine” is the first professional wildcard to be announced by Ultimate Pool for the 2023 campaign, with 8-ball pool’s top tier expanding in numbers once again.

Williams will partner 1998 WEPF World 8-Ball Pool Champion Morris – still the sport’s youngest-ever world champion – during Group 11 of the unique Pairs Cup. The duo will face very tough opposition in the shape of Adam Bassoo & Dave Fernandez, Lakesh Badhan & Ben Flack and Andy Blurton & Neil Raybone, as they aim to top the group and qualify for the last 16 phase later this year.

As well as several other major Ultimate Pool ranked events that he would be eligible to enter, Williams will be part of an 88-player professional roster for the ten-event Pro Series next year.

The current world number 8 said: “I’m really looking forward to giving the Ultimate Pool circuit a go. I have been playing a lot of 8-ball pool recently and it has been fun.

Ultimate Pool looks exciting to get involved with and I’ve been impressed with the events and high standard on show. It’s going to be very difficult for me, but I will enjoy the challenge!”

Williams is the latest high-profile snooker player to enter the Ultimate Pool arena after appearances from Mark Selby in the Pairs Cup and Mark Allen in the Players Championship.

News: The 900 Series will begin on September 20, in the afternoon

This was initially scheduled on September 19. The change in schedule is motivated by obvious reasons.

It all starts with this group:

It will be streamed here: https://www.sportystuff.tv

Jason Francis, on social media, has hinted at a “Professionals 900” and “Women’s 900” coming in the future…

Shaun Murphy’s ideas and why I disagree

Shaun Murphy is doing a podcast with MC Phil Seymour and in the last instalment he aired ideas … that, to say the least, I strongly disagree with (and I’m not the only one).

Here is what it’s about, as reported by Phil Haigh

Shaun Murphy wants change to ‘absolutely ridiculous’ World Snooker Championship format

Phil Haigh Tuesday 13 Sep 2022

Shaun Murphy believes the World Snooker Championship format is ‘absolutely ridiculous’ as he feels that the top 16 in the rankings beginning at the last 32 stage ‘doesn’t make sense’.

Before all the drama at the Crucible every year there is a rigorous qualification competition, to see which 16 players lower down the rankings will join the world’s top 16 on the sport’s most famous stage.

While some would argue that they have earned it, Murphy feels that it is far too big an advantage for the top 16, of which he is one.

Players near the bottom of the rankings need to win four matches just to make the Crucible and Murphy believes the advantage being given to the best players is akin to Usain Bolt starting races 15 metres in front of his rivals.

The 2005 world champ says it is almost scandalous and would have a flat draw for the sport’s biggest tournament.

‘If it were up to me the entire format of the World Championship would change,’ Murphy said on The onefourseven podcast. ‘The top 16 would NEVER start three or four rounds ahead of everyone else on tour.

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous, scandalous almost that the best players in the world start three rounds ahead of everyone else. I think it’s ridiculous and one of those very strange nuances in sport.

Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, the equivalent is saying: “Usain, we know you’re the quickest so you can start 15 metres ahead of everyone else.” Doesn’t make any sense to me at all.’

While he was in the mood for changing things on the World Snooker Tour, the Magician also reckons the Masters should be a ranking event.

While the top 16 play in the London competition, his argument is that it is not invitational, anyone on tour can win their way into the top 16 so prize money should count on the world rankings, which is not currently the case.

The one thing I would change to the Masters tomorrow, because it’s done on the rankings and in my opinion, certainly over the two-year ranking list people have the same opportunities to be in it,’ said the 40-year-old.

If it were up to me all events would count on the money list. That would be the only think I would change about the Masters.

I think it’s very, very strange that what has widely become acknowledged as our second biggest tournament in the game doesn’t count. I think that’s a weird one and I don’t subscribe to the arguments against that.’

Let us first dispatch the thing about the Masters. Murphy himself says “certainly over the two-year ranking list people have the same opportunities to be in it“. What about those in their first year then? Did he forget they exist? They would obviously be put at a disadvantage, wouldn’t they? Contrary to the “Series” events, for which qualification is based on the one year list, qualification for the Masters is based on the lat 2 years and therefore it can’t and shouldn’t be ranking. It’s that simple.

Now about the World Championship … for me, most events should be played in this tiered format, rather in the current dominant flat draw format, provided that

  1. They are played right before the main event
  2. They are played at the same location, and preferably at the same quality venue as the main event, with spectators.
  3. They get the same media coverage as the main event with quality broadcasting and media on site

These are the reasons behind my opinion

The gap between amateurs and pros has widened in recent years. It’s plain for all to see. There are many reasons for that, but that’s not the object of this post. The young pros coming on the tour need more matches, and more winnable first round matches to help their development. The current flat draw is far too brutal. It is soul destroying. It offers no path for development.

They also need to “sample” the atmosphere of the big events. This is why those qualifying rounds should be played at the main venue, with full media coverage.

They need to be played right before the main events. Currently, players beaten in the qualifiers may have weeks without anything to play in. This season there will be players who may have only the shoot-out to play in between mid January 2023 and the World qualifiers early April. That’s not going to help their development and it’s soul destroying. Those players will arrive at the World qualifiers without any “match sharpness”. It’s simply not right. It’s totally counterproductive.

And, finally, but importantly, the tiered format ensures that less players are on zero prize money. To be precise, it would be 32 players in that situation instead of 64. Even with the guaranteed prize money this season, it’s important. It’s important because it’s money they actually won, which matters psychologically, and it’s ranking points.

Would it offer “protection” to the top players? Not really. They will come cold into the latter stages against players who will have at least one match under their belt with money and ranking points already guaranteed. Yes, financially, they will be protected, but not in terms of ranking points. So unless they win, that “protection” won’t last.

The comparison with Usain Bold doesn’t hold. Giving him 15 meters head start would “translate” into giving the snooker top player a one or two frames advantage at the start of a match. BTW, as far as I know, in most track and field competitions even top athletes go through some qualifying rounds.

There… persiste et signe … as we would say in French.

David Hendon thoughts ahead of the 2022/23 season

I know that the season has already started but it’s been a bit low key over the summer. In about a week’s time it will start in earnest, and David Hendon, writing for Eurosport, is sharing his thoughts about what is at stake for various players this season:

The snooker season will soon be fully awake after a few months in which it’s opened its eyes only to close them again.

The British Open, which gets underway later this month, is only the third event since the new campaign began in June. The calendar has been difficult to plan because of ongoing uncertainty over Covid in China, which means the five lucrative competitions previously staged there remain in cold storage for now.

But suggestions of crisis have been overstated. There are 15 ranking events on this season’s schedule, 12 of which are open to the whole tour, plus the usual elite invitation tournaments and the new World Mixed Doubles Championship.

So players at the top end of the game will soon have plenty to play in while those lower down the rankings have recently been offered a £20,000 earnings’ guarantee by World Snooker Tour to ease some of the financial burden. Discussions are meanwhile ongoing for new events in Europe, with the potential for these to be added to the calendar this season.

But which players will come good when the action finally restarts?

Ronnie O’Sullivan begins the season in a stronger position than ever. World champion for a record equalling seventh time and world no.1, this sporting colossus has never enjoyed a higher profile and it will grow even further when the documentary filmed about him over the last 12 months is aired later this year.

t’s been said many times, but what a career he’s had. His first ranking title came in November 1993, his most recent in May 2022. He has had to face an array of formidable challengers in those three decades, sometimes coming up short but always coming back.

Looking down now from the mountaintop, O’Sullivan has nothing left to prove, which makes him especially dangerous to his main rivals, none of whom can approach the new term with the same relaxed attitude.

Perhaps the greatest unknown quantity is Mark Selby. Last season was a write-off for the four times world champion as he faced up to problems he had long kept bottled up. He is in a better place now but, to complicate things, he recently suffered neck pain which has required treatment.

Selby is ranked third in the official two-year list but factoring in the points which will come off his ranking, including the 500,000 he won at the Crucible in 2021, his provisional end of season position is currently a perilous 24th.

There is plenty of time for that to change before May, but Selby needs to start winning matches soon. Otherwise it is not impossible that he could head to Sheffield in the spring in danger of being relegated from the elite top 16.

Judd Trump suffered what was perhaps an inevitable backwards step last season after three extraordinary campaigns from 2018 to 2021 in which he won 14 ranking titles, plus the Masters.

That hit rate was always going to be hard to keep up. Last season he won one ranking title, the new Turkish Masters, plus the prestigious Champion of Champions and reached the world final, not a bad year but not as impressive as what had come before.

By now it may have been expected, not least by Trump himself, that he would have taken over from O’Sullivan as the sport’s preeminent figure, but he was outplayed by him for long sections of their Crucible final. The challenge for Trump this season is to wrest back trophies but also the limelight.

Those perennial warhorses John Higgins and Mark Williams each produced a high standard last season but were left rueing several near misses between them. Higgins reached six finals but won only one. In three where he finished runner-up he had been a frame from victory, most notably 9-4 up to Neil Robertson in the Tour Championship only to lose 10-9.

Williams won the British Open but lost a decider to Robertson in the Masters semi-finals after the Australian needed two snookers, a last frame thriller to O’Sullivan in the Tour Championship quarter-finals and yet another deciding frame in the World Championship semis where Trump beat him 17-16 in a Crucible classic.

Higgins and Williams are the very opposite of underachievers but these close defeats still sting, even 30 years on from turning pro.

Robertson has been on an extended break after a stellar season in which he won four big titles before coming up short again in Sheffield, losing 13-12 to Jack Lisowski in the second round despite making a maximum break in the final session.

The Melbourne left-hander will play in the mixed doubles competition but has not entered the campaign’s first three tournaments and so won’t be seen in a ranking event until the Northern Ireland Open in October – six months after his Crucible defeat.

This may seem odd but Robertson has enough money and ranking points in the bank to take a lengthy break, and there have been so few events in the meantime that, even if he is rusty, it’s not as if anyone else will be particularly sharp.

The main challenge to the established order seems likely to come from China, with Zhao Xintong, 25, and Yan Bingtao, 22, leading the charge.

Zhao sensationally broke through last season by winning the UK Championship and swiftly followed this up with victory at the German Masters. Things unravelled a little at the end of the campaign when he lost 10-9 from 8-4 up to Higgins at the Tour Championship before a second-round exit at the Crucible.

When players suddenly achieve success, expectations change – their own as much as other people’s. But Zhao is an outstanding talent with an apparent ability to just enjoy what he is doing. He doesn’t have the mental scars of the older players and plays an eye-catching game that makes him an obvious crowd favourite.

Yan is younger than his good friend but his game is more layered. He won the longest frame in Crucible history against Selby last April, an 85-minute grind, and was also completely unfazed by a pigeon landing on the table during the same match.

However, Yan also lost 9-0 to Zhao in their German Masters final, so if anything a lack of consistency seems to be his Achilles’ heel. If he can achieve a more reliable baseline level of performance he could do some real damage.

Kyren Wilson, a top player lacking the titles of those around him in the rankings, made a good start to remedying that by winning the European Masters in Germany last month. Barry Hawkins had played superbly before his form collapsed in the title match, a worrying trend for a player who has now lost six of his nine ranking finals.

Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen have shed so much weight between them this summer that they’ve had to invest in new wardrobes. They remain players who, on any given week, could win any given tournament. What difference will the new healthier approach make? Snooker is not a physical sport but stamina is important, as is mental health, and fitness can do wonders for that.

A familiar question looms over Lisowski: can he finally win a ranking title? Dashingly talented but at times frustratingly erratic, he has done superbly well to bed himself into the elite top 16 without landing a trophy. Lisowski demonstrated genuine steel to beat Robertson at Sheffield and took Higgins to a decider in the quarter-finals, a display which suggested that the next step for him isn’t far away.

A player to watch closely is Hossein Vafaei, Iran’s representative on tour who seems to be improving all the time. He won the Shootout last season and has every chance to end the current campaign as a top 16 player.

Last season we saw unlikely title wins for the little known Chinese player Fan Zhengyi, an out of form Joe Perry and Robert Milkins, whose game seemed to have completely gone before he came good at the Gibraltar Open. There is greater strength in depth through the ranks now than ever, so further success for players down the list often derided as journeymen is entirely possible.

Young talent in Britain is thinner on the ground than it once was but 21 year-old Welshmen Jackson Page and Dylan Emery are both promising prospects. Chinese hopefuls such as Pang Junxu and Wu Yize could also be dangerous.

The problem for everyone is plain: there are only so many tournaments so there can only be so many winners. Plenty of players will produce a high standard but ultimately come away empty-handed.

The snooker season is one long game of thrones, where heart, nerve and luck are all required to weather the various storms a player will face. Some weeks you’re up, some you’re down. Sometimes nothing clicks, and then suddenly it all comes together.

Fans of the sport these days are rewarded with a greater variety of winners, some familiar, some unexpected. These are the players who we now rely on to rebuild snooker’s profile after such a lengthy break. 

I’m a bit surprised that there is no mention of Luca Brecel, Stuart Bingham and Ricky Walden in David’s analysis. Those three are currently in the top 16. Stuart has been a strong presence at the top since he won the World Championship in 2015. Luca is only 27 and has three ranking events to his name. Last season he reached the final of the UK championship and won the Scottish Open. This summer, he has already won the ranking Championship League, the season opener. He could do really well this season. Ricky is also the winner of three ranking events. Back injuries have derailed his career but he is now back in the top 16 and I rate him very high.

Me, I will of course follow the two Belgian rookies: Ben Mertens and Julien Leclercq. Other than those two, I will look at the performances and results of Michael White and Lyu Haotian, two players who showed phenomenal talent as teenagers but whose careers derailed badly because of a combination of external factors and personal issues. I hope that both can finally do their talent justice.

This is how the calendar looks like (without the qualifying rounds except for the World qualifiers)

Championship League – 28 June-29 July, Morningside Arena, Leicester – Winner: Luca Brecel

European Masters – 16-21 August, Stadthalle Fürth, Fuerth, Germany – Winner: Kyren Wilson

World Mixed Doubles – 24-25 September, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes

British Open – 26 September-2 October, Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes  

Hong Kong Masters – 6-9 October, Hong Kong Coliseum, Hong Kong

Northern Ireland Open – 16-23 October, Waterfront Hall, Belfast

Champion of Champions – 31 October-6 November, University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

UK Championship – 12-20 November, Barbican Centre, York

Scottish Open – 28 November-4 December, Meadowbank Sports Centre, Edinburgh  

Championship League – 6 December-9 March

English Open – 12-18 December, Brentwood Centre, Brentwood  

The Masters – 8-15 January, Alexandra Palace, London

World Grand Prix – 16-22 January, The Centaur, Cheltenham

Snooker Shoot Out – 26-29 January, Morningside Arena, Leicester  

German Masters – 1-5 February, Tempodrom, Berlin, Germany

Welsh Open – 13-19 February, Venue Cymru, Llandudno

Players Championship – 20-26 February, Aldersley Leisure Village, Wolverhampton

Turkish Masters – 13-19 March, Antalya, Turkey

Tour Championship – 27 March-2 April, Bonus Arena, Hull

World Championship qualifiers – 3-12 April, English Institute of Sport, Sheffield

World Championship – 15 April-1 May, Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

Events marked in blue have already be played. Events marked in red are non ranking.

WST and WPBSA tribute to Clive Everton

After yesterday’s announcement about Clive Everton’s “retirement”, WST paid him a well deserved tribute:

Snooker Scene: End Of An Era

Clive Everton MBE, founder and editor of Snooker Scene magazine since 1971, has stepped down after more than 50 years at the helm.

Clive hopes to find a buyer to take the magazine forward, otherwise September’s issue will be the last.

An amalgamation of previous publications called Billiards and Snooker and World Snooker, the first edition of Snooker Scene was published in 1972, costing 12p.

Originally intended as a monthly record of results and reports from tournaments, over time the magazine became a much more significant influence across the sport.

Clive, a leading commentator for BBC from 1978, was also the sharpest journalist of the sport’s 1980s boom years. Unafraid to challenge authority, he would regularly scrutinise the actions of the sport’s decision-makers in Snooker Scene’s pages.

During the late 2000s, Clive played a vital role in the revolution which led to the WPBSA and WST coming under the wing of Matchroom Sport and Barry Hearn taking control. As declared on the front cover, the magazine told fans what was really going on in the corridors of power.

At its peak in 1989, Snooker Scene had 21,850 subscribers. Up until today it still has a loyal following. It has introduced many new fans to snooker, and has been a constant companion to those who follow the sport month by month.

Clive joins the Hall of Fame in 2017

Clive, who was inducted into the Snooker Hall of Fame in 2017 and awarded an MBE in 2019, told us: “It’s the end of a very long era and I feel a great sense of pride. The magazine has been a reliable record. It has had an impact on the politics of snooker because I wanted to keep the readership informed. Barry Hearn’s transformation of the sport might never have happened otherwise.

I am glad to have made a contribution and to have left snooker in a better state than I found it. Billiards and snooker has always been my passion and I am fortunate that I have been able to make a living out of that.

His final editorial began: “This is an editorial I have dreaded ever having to write but a combination of factors has led me, with the utmost sadness and regret, to decide that this issue of Snooker Scene will be the last under my ownership/editorship.

It has been a key part of my life for the last 51 years, appearing monthly since January 1971 apart from two months during the first Coronavirus lockdown. I shall miss it dreadfully. Although I will be 85 this month, I was fully intending until very recently to continue to at least until the end of the season but conversations with doctors, accountants and colleagues have led me to conclude that this, our 619th issue, should be my last.

In a joint statement, WST Chairman Steve Dawson and WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “We congratulate Clive for the incredible feat of editing Snooker Scene for over 50 years. This must be a unique achievement in the sporting world. For many years, particularly in the pre-digital age, it was the most important source of information on snooker. Countless fans would have relished that moment every month when the magazine dropped through the letterbox.

Clive has been a remarkable servant to our sport, through his playing days, his times as a commentator and journalist, and as a friend and mentor to many people throughout snooker. We wish him all the best for his retirement and hope our fans worldwide will join us in saluting his contribution.

Ken Doherty added on Twitter: “So sorry to see the end of the ever popular Snooker Scene magazine. I grew up through the early 80s reading about pro comps, pro-ams and young players coming through, hoping my name would be in there one day. Clive Everton has been an outstanding journalist for snooker, a pioneer.

It’s hard to describe my feelings at this time. I have been one of the “loyal followers” and have kept every single issue I received since I subscribed. I also have been a contributor, providing pictures for most issues between 2012 and 2018. It really feels like the end of something I cherished.

I also met Clive countless times at events, notably at Premier League fixtures as early as 2007. He has a remarkably preceptive mind and immense knowledge of the game.

We were both present when Stephen Lee played his last ever match as a professional, on 11th of October 2012. Clive was commentating, I was taking pictures. Clive immediately understood what was going on and he was quite baffled too as it had only been nine days since the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) had released a statement confirming that the Crown Prosecution Service would not be taking further action against Lee over claims of match fixing relative to a 2009 UK Championship match. Clive’s deep concerns however were not about Lee, they were about the negative impact this incident could possibly have on snooker as a sport, a sport he loves with a passion.

Happy retirement Clive, and take good care of yourself. Snooker Scene will be missed.

Magazines like Snooker Scene don’t sell easily nowadays as they have largely been “overthrown” by digital media: blogs, podcasts, youtube videos and more. This is a concern to me however because proper and honest “paper” magazines and books, if kept in libraries, are our faithful “memories” of past events. They report on the context around them, and contain in-depth analysis . Current digital media can of course be released much more quickly after the events and at a lower cost, but rarely go very deep into their analysis. And also there is the important question of their integral conservation without alterations over time.