Players – pros and amateurs – are taking the blue ball challenge

Jason Francis came up with the idea. Here is WPBSA explaining what it’s all about:

Snooker Stars Potting for the NHS

3rd April 2020

Snooker German Masters

 

Leading snooker stars including 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham have taken part in the Blue Ball Snooker Challenge during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to raise money for the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom.

The initiative was the brainchild of World Seniors Snooker Chairman Jason Francis who challenged any players with snooker tables at home to try and pot ten difficult blue balls with people predicting how many they would get and donating to the NHS.

“It started as a bit of fun but its gone viral now with players having a go and raising money for our national health service in the UK,” said Francis. “This week alone we have had Stuart Bingham, Joe Perry and Kyren Wilson take part and our regular Facebook live videos have proved very popular with the snooker community.”

The initial goal was to raise £1,470 for a local NHS trust as a reference to snooker’s maximum 147 break – a target which was soon met within four days. Further targets have since been met for bodies including the London North West NHS Trust and Barts NHS Trust, with a Sheffield-based Trust set to be the next beneficiary in recognition of the city’s status as the home of snooker having hosted the professional World Snooker Championship since 1977.

Overseas players in Ireland have also taken up the challenge with €1,000 having been raised for its Health Service Executive.

“For as long as we remain in isolation, and players want to continue supporting this, we will continue,” added Francis. “It would be incredible if we could top £10,000 by the time we finish.”

For more information and to view the attempts so far visit the ROKit Phones World Seniors Snooker Facebook page.

This is a great initiative and players have really embraced it.

Gary Filtness, the Super Seniors n°1, was first to take it and made it ten out of ten! Stuart Bingham made nine. Kyren Wilson involved his whole family. Emma Parker, the women under-21 n°1, potted eight out of ten…

Far too many players took it already to name them all, with a lot more already committed to trying their best and they come from all corners: professionals, seniors, juniors, disability players, all united to support their national health system.

Well done everyone!

Do you love a snooker quiz?

Both to keep himself busy and provide snooker players and fans with some distraction, John Hunter from Cuestars created ‘The Big Fat Snooker Quiz’.

John started this a few days ago and each coming day a set of ten questions will be added. John has  made a commitment to keep this going until snooker’s back!

Here’s the link to the quiz: The Big Fat Snooker Quiz

Email addresses are not shown and players can enter anonymously.

The quizzes are “timed”, you won’t be able to start looking up for answers on the Internet and complete them.

Also, once you have taken a quiz, that’s it, you can’t retake it. But each quizz has a theme, so you can do some reading before taking them and get prepared. In this lockdown, there is the opportunity for a topic to be researched before the questions are taken.

There is an order of merit for each quiz. The idea is to make a competition of it.

After some time – probably a couple of weeks – quizzes will be closed, the answers revealed and new quizzes will become available.

Enjoy! Thank you John!

Blast from the past … Tenball

Although I’m far from being young, I’m quite “young” when it comes to snooker. I only “discovered” it in 2004/2005. Until recently, I never realised that, during the 90th, quite a lot of “variant” events were tried and shown on television.

One of those variant games was Tenball. You will find more about this variant, and the 1995 event on wikipedia.

One lover of the game has uploaded footages (VHS rips) from this event… quality is what it is, but it is nice to see those big names of the game in action 25 years ago! They were so young!

Something to savour in this time of snooker starvation!

Quarter finals

Steve Davis v Tony Drago

Stephen Hendry v Peter Ebdon

Ronnie O’Sullivan v John Parrott

Jimmy White v Alex Higgins

Semi Finals

Jimmy White v Tony Drago

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stephen Hendry

The Final

Jimmy White v Ronnie O’Sullivan (highlights)

 

 

 

Antony Hamilton’s cue and heart break…

In these times of “no live sports” , WST published this:

“It was one of those stomach-dropping moments which you only experience a few times in your life.”

Anthony Hamilton remembers the anguish he felt when he arrived in Spain for the recent BetVictor Gibraltar Open to find that the cue he had used for 34 years had been snapped. He remains hopeful that it can be fixed but realises the incident could affect the rest of his career.

The cue was broken in transit despite the fact that snooker players use robust ski tubes to carry their cue cases. Since 2001 they have not been allowed to take cues into the cabin on aeroplanes.

Hamilton flew to Malaga airport the day before the Gibraltar tournament started, but when he got to baggage collection, things took a turn for the worse

“When I picked up my ski tube I could see that it had a bit of damage on the outside, but nothing major,” he explains. “I was going to head outside to get  a taxi but I thought I’d better check the cue. I opened the tube and found the case and cue snapped and bent about 30 degrees.

“I have spoken to the airline but I can’t find out how it happened. It takes a huge amount of force to bend those ski tubes so it can’t have just been someone dropping it. Maybe it got trapped between a wall and the car that takes the baggage to the planes – something like that. Kacper Filipiak was there and his tube was also damaged though his cue was fine.

“I decided to pull out of the tournament straight away and fly home the next day. There are only two other players whose cues I could have borrowed  and had any chance of winning – Martin O’Donnell and Alfie Burden – but they were playing on the Saturday so not arriving until the Friday which was too late. So there was no point in me trying to play.

Hamilton

“I will get a bit of money from my insurance company but obviously the cue itself is irreplaceable. I bought it when I was 14, six months after I started playing, for about £60. It has never been the best cue in the world, but it was my cue, and it’s the only one I’ve used since.

“I think it’s harder for players of my generation to change because the older cues are slimmer and less robust. The modern cues all tend to have a butt diameter of 30mm while mine is 27.5mm. You could scour the planet and you’d never find another the same as mine.”

Fortunately for the Sheriff of Pottingham, he can count ace cue maker John Parris among his band of merry men.  “John was actually on holiday at the time but he saw the picture I posted on Facebook and he texted me straight away,” said Hamilton, who turned pro in 1991. “He is trying to fix my cue and he has a few others for me to try. I am massively grateful to him for what he has done to help me.

“When it first happened I thought there was no chance of fixing it because it wasn’t a clean break and there is a lot of splintering. But cue makers like John are miracle workers. Ali Carter’s cue had a similar break a few years ago and it was fixed and he was able to play with it afterwards. So I’ll have to wait and see if mine is ok, if not I’ll try to find one that suits me, but getting used to it will take time.”

This is not the first time Hamilton has had to face a serious challenge to his career. He has a chronic neck condition which often leaves him unable to play or practise, and last summer he had eye lens replacement surgery to improve his vision.

The world number 48, whose highest ranking is tenth in 1999, accepts that his best years are behind him. “If I was 30 years old now and a dangerous player I’d be distraught, in turmoil. But the fact is I’m 48 and not very good any more, so it’s not as if I have a great standard to get back to,” he said.

“I haven’t had a bad season but these days I win matches through experience and graft – there is more than one way to skin a cat. Every now and then I have a good week where things come together, but most of the time it’s like pulling teeth. I seem to play better on the TV tables because the lighting suits my eyes but you need to win matches on the outside tables to get there. I still enjoy the game and I will keep going.”

All snooker players are taking an enforced hiatus from competitive action due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Betfred World Championship qualifiers would have started on April 8, but dates have yet to be rescheduled. Hamilton is confined to his home in North London and is prepared to hunker down.

“I am a film geek but I have seen so many movies I’m struggling to find new ones to watch,” he added. “I’ll try to catch up on some classics. I don’t have a particular favourite genre or era – I just like anything good. Manchester By The Sea is one from recent years that I really admired, and Leviathan is another.

“I have a Playstation and a few games like World Rally Championship. And I’ll do some indoor cycling and yoga to keep fit. Everyone has to be sensible and stay inside as much as possible until the time comes when we can move on. “

For reasons that I never understood, Anthony isn’t liked by some fans. I like him and he’s certainly well liked on the circuit.  He’s a no-nonsense type of guy, and a very, very good break-builder. What happened to his cue is hard to explain, and certainly a big challenge for him to overcome. Some players change cues easily, some struggle with a change. Hendry was a prime example.

All the best Anthony! Stay safe and see you soon(ish) on the baize!

 

 

Snooker News – March, 21, 2020 – Taking stock of last week

On this first day of the spring in 2020, very few of us will be thinking about budding flowers, ducklings in the ponds and lambs in the fields. We are going through difficult times, most of us are in lockdown and worrying about relatives and friends, hoping to find them all well and healthy on the other side of this outbreak. Those who are still at work, are either risking their own  health and possibly life to save others, or making sure that the essentials are still available to us all: food, medications, and emergency services. We should be grateful to all of them, and make sure not to make things even worse . Please respect the strict social distancing advices and be considerate to others, especially the most vulnerable.

It was still an eventful week on the baize, maybe the last in many months…

The Main Tour

At the start of the week, we were still promised that the 2020 Tour Championship would go ahead “as planned” in Landudno. It was first announced that it would be played behind closed doors and only hours  later we were told that is postponed with new provisional dates of July 21st to 26th this year at the same venue.

It didn’t stop Barry Hearn to say that the World Championship would still go ahead as planned, not did it stop the Crucible Theatre to send tickets and messages to fans along the same line before, as was to be expected,  WST had to announce that the 2020 World Championship is postponed and that the intention is to play it end July or early August.

This schedule is unrealistic in my opinion as currently UK scientists expect the current situation to last for most of this year.

Barry Hearn is now talking about holding some tournaments behind closed doors in order to help lower ranked players; they are self-employed and badly need some opportunities to earn a living. Most have a family to support, and many, are now already looking for another job, offering their services on social media. How that’s gonna work, and when, and how players will be selected/invited has not been disclosed. I’m not sure that this is anything but a project for now.

I’m not impressed by how WST has been handling the situation.

In contrast, WPBSA has to be commanded for taking concrete measures to support their players. All credits to them!

The Challenge Tour

As was to be expected, the Challenge Tour Play-offs have been postponed

WST and the WPBSA have today taken the decision to postpone this season’s Challenge Tour Play-offs until further notice following recent government advice regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

Scheduled to take place on 29 March at Pot Black in Clacton-on-Sea with eight players bidding to claim a coveted two-year professional tour card, the event will now be rescheduled in due course as the situation develops.

The Seniors Tour

Most of the Seniors Tour events were scheduled to be played over le late spring and the summer, the time of the year when the Main Tour slows down. They are badly hit by this crisis, with nearly all events either postponed or cancelled.

You will find the details here

wssstatement.jpg

The Amateur Game

One set of events that DID go ahead are the 2020 European Championships played over the last couple of weeks in Portugal. There were a lot of withdrawals reducing the field of the last, and main, event, the Mixed Championship, but there were still about 60 players in it.

Aaron Hill from Ireland won both the Under-18 and the Under-21 Championsips. The Under-21 title earned him a Tour card. Worth noting that Aaron beat Ben Mertens from Belgium, and only 15 years old, in the semi finals in both competitions.

Iulian Boiko, from Ukraine, won the 6-reds World Championship. Iulian is only 14.

Finally, former professional Andrew Pagett, from Wales won the main event. That earned him a tour card. He beat Heikki Niva from Finland in the final. Andrew Pagett was supposed to play in the Challenge Tour Play-offs. Hopefully, when that event is finally played, Jake Nicholson will  now be offered the spot.

You will find all results and some footages here

It’s good news for snooker that some really good young players are emerging from Ireland and mainland Europe.

WPBSA takes action to help their players

WPBSA just publised this 

WPBSA Support Packages Announced for Main Tour Players

  • 20th March 2020

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has today stepped in to provide player support for its members affected by the ongoing COVIV-19 outbreak and the subsequent effect that this has had on the World Snooker Tour.

To include both immediate financial, travel and practical help, all current main tour players have today been emailed with full information as to what this entails and how they can access this support. Further measures will be taken over the coming weeks.

If any tour player has not seen this email, please contact us as soon as possible through this website, or by emailing Player Relations Manager Neil Tomkins directly.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “All of us at the WPBSA care about our players and will do everything in our power to help everybody through at this difficult time. If any player has any questions or we can provide any assistance I would encourage them to contact a member of our team at any time.”

This is an excellent move by WPBSA and one that is really appreciated by the players. Several of them have already expressed their gratitude on social media. 

This is all the more welcome – and necessary – because the doubts myself and many others have about the actual feasibility of Barry Hearn plans to have the World Championship played in July/August and resume the season from there have been confirmed by the UK Scientists advising the UK Prime Minister (even if he doesn’t seem too keen to listen).

Here what they say:

UK scientists say social distancing needs to last ‘most of a year’

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) who provides scientific and technical advice to the British government have said social distancing must be in place for “at least most of a year.”

SAGE who are advising the government on what the UK’s response must be have on Friday published their worrying report.

On Thursday Boris Johnson gave advice to Britons in a live televised briefing that the UK could “turn the tide” against coronavirus and “we must stop the disease spreading.”

He added, “This is a disease that is so dangerous and so infectious that without drastic measures to check its progress it would overwhelm any health system in the world.”

Almost the whole of the world is now in lockdown and have applied drastic measures to protect people’s lives and health, but London remains open as does most of the UK.

The SAGE report written on Monday and published on Friday, suggests that for every one death across London there could be thousands of infected Londoners.

This latest scientific report has evidence that allegedly dismisses the governments advice.

SAGE provides scientific and technical advice to the British government, ministers, England’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance and to other medical chiefs.

But, evidence from SAGE is most different to what the British Prime Minister has said.

The SAGE scientists said in the report, “It was agreed that a policy of alternating between periods of more and less strict social distancing measures could plausibly be effective at keeping the number of critical care cases within capacity.

“These would need to be in place for at least most of a year.

“Under such a policy, at least half of the year would be spent under the stricter social distancing measures.”

A report by the scientific pandemic influenza group on modelling says, “It was agreed that the addition of both general social distancing and school closures to case isolation, household isolation and social distancing of vulnerable groups would be likely to control the epidemic when kept in place for a long period.

“It was agreed that a policy of alternating between periods of more and less strict social distancing measures could plausibly be effective at keeping the number of critical care cases within capacity.

“These would need to be in place for at least most of a year.

“Under such as policy, at least half of the year would be spent under the stricter social distancing measures.”

Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London has warned all Londoners to stop using “public transport now” to halt the rapid spread of coronavirus across the capital.

A well-known Italian doctor and politician has warned why London will be hardest hit area in the UK.

In an interview with Express.co.uk, Maurizio Brucchi, a renowned Italian doctor who also served as Mayor of Teramo, gave a stark warning to Londoners, the worst is yet to come.

Brucchi said, “In a press conference yesterday, the doctors who have arrived from Wuhan [China] to help us out have told us that our measures are not enough – that we need to be more restrictive.

“The numbers are growing, but what is concerning is that there have been more than 475 deaths in a day.

Adding, “Boris Johnson has to stop with these half-measures. They simply do not work. The Chinese have told us.”

Top Dr warns UK is “weeks behind Italy” which has over “41,000 cases in a month”

Italy has now reported more than 41,000 cases of coronavirus as of Friday, the first patient was recorded on 21 February in the country.

The death toll in Italy currently stands at 3,405 or 8% and has now exceeded that of China which stands at 3,253 despite having just under half the number of confirmed cases.

Italy has 41,035 compared to China’s 81,250 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

 

Hector Nunns interviews Ronnie over corona virus and how the Chinese players feel being stuck in the UK

Ronnie was interviewed by Hector Nunns. He explains that the Chinese players are longing to go back home and don’t trust the UK government over the way they handle the situation. He also explains why he started doing fist bumps.

Here is the interview:

Ronnie O’Sullivan warns Chinese players could snub UK over ‘crazy’ Boris Johnson

O’Sullivan says Chinese players ‘don’t feel safe’ in the UK amid coronavirus pandemic, telling him Prime Minister ‘doesn’t know what he’s doing’

Ronnie O’Sullivan fears snooker’s Chinese stars are set to black-ball the UK over the coronavirus.

The game’s superstar could have played his last match this season with the chances of next month’s World Championship taking place increasingly bleak.

Five-time world champion O’Sullivan, 44, is a hero to many of the UK-based contingent from the Far East – where the outbreak started in Wuhan.

While China’s drastic lockdown, quarantine and travel measures were highly controversial, the number of new cases there has started to fall.

O’Sullivan said: “A lot of the Chinese players have gone back to China or are itching to go back – they don’t feel safe here.

0_betway-uk-championship

Ronnie O’Sullivan said he knows UK-based Chinese players who are desperate to go back to the Far East (Image: Getty Images)

“I have been in contact with a lot of my Chinese friends out there to see how they are and they were on total lockdown.

“And I have had Chinese players say to me ‘Your prime minister doesn’t know what he’s doing, he’s crazy’. I don’t know myself and can’t really comment, but this is what I am hearing.

“They have all got a bit scared and some have gone and others are desperate to, because that’s where they feel safe, and feel like their country is doing what it should be doing.

“And it’s hard to see how players like that will be playing in the World Championship.”

O’Sullivan was mocked in many quarters for refusing to shake hands with opponents and referees at tournaments on health grounds last year before the coronavirus outbreak.

But recent events have shown his actions in a different light, with such behaviour now very much the new norm.

He added: “People were all saying I was mad and this and that, but maybe you look now and think ‘he’s not so mad or crazy after all’.

“I have always been a bit OCD with germs, I don’t open door handles either and use hand tissues as well as starting doing the fist-bumps instead of handshakes last year.

“It was another player Jack Lisowski who got me thinking about that. He beat cancer as a teenager, and had to be very careful with his immune system compromised, avoiding picking up germs.

“I was always getting colds and so I started doing some of the things he was doing and haven’t really had a cold or germs since, so maybe there is something in it.”

Hector today on twitter was insisting that WST should take a decision very quicly regarding the World Championship and announce it now, so that the Chinese players can make their decision knowingly.

For the reasons I developped yesterday, the only sensible decision at this stage would be to cancel it completely.