Week-end action report

The Challenge Tour ninth event in Sheffield was won by the local man, Adam Duffy.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Adam Duffy won the ninth event in the 2018-19 Challenge Tour series, beating Matthew Glasby 3-1 in the final at the Star Academy in his home city of Sheffield.

Duffy, who dropped off the pro tour at the end of last season, won six matches to take the £2,000 top prize.

But with just one tournament to go in the series, he is too far behind the top two in the Challenge Tour rankings to have a chance of promotion to the professional tour. Brandon Sargeant reached the semi-finals to extend his lead at the top of the list.

The tenth and final Challenge Tour event of the season is on March 6-7 at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Results

Round 1
1) Joel Walker 3 (5) 2 Joshua Cooper
2) Sydney Wilson 0 (5) 3 Farakh Ajaib
3) Sergey Isaenko 3 (5) 2 Andreas Ploner
4) Rodion Judin 1 (5) 3 Lee Shanker
5) Jake Nicholson 2 (5) 3 David Lilley
6) Peter Devlin 3 (5) 0 Saqib Nasir
7) Sean Maddocks 0 (5) 3 Leo Fernandez
8) On Yee Ng 3 (5) 0 Zsolt Fenyvesi
9) Kevin Van Hove-Speltincx 2 (5) 3 Mark Vincent
10) Jack Bradford 1 (5) 3 Matthew Glasby
11) Jamie O’Neill 3 (5) 0 Patrick Whelan
12) David Grace 2 (5) 3 Steven Hallworth
13) Barry Pinches 0 (5) 3 Mitchell Mann
14) Callum Lloyd 3 (5) 0 Iulian Boiko
15) Ryan Davies 1 (5) 3 Brandon Sargeant
16) Jackson Page 3 (5) 2 Ben Hancorn
17) William Lemons 3 (5) 1 Dylan Emery
18) Andy Marriott 3 (5) 2 Luke Pinches
19) Simon Bedford 1 (5) 3 Adam Duffy
20) Jamie McArdle 3 (5) 0 Reanne Evans
21) Felix Frede 2 (5) 3 Joshua Thomond
22) Oliver Brown 3 (5) 0 James Trump
23) Andy Milliard 2 (5) 3 Christopher Keogan
24) Danny Brindle 3 (5) 0 Heather Clare

Round 2
25) Ka Wai Cheung 3 (5) 1 Joel Walker
26) Joshua Saywell 0 (5) 3 Farakh Ajaib
27) Sergey Isaenko 0 (5) 3 Lee Shanker
28) Ryan Thomerson 0 (5) 3 David Lilley
29) Peter Devlin 2 (5) 3 Leo Fernandez
30) On Yee Ng 0 (5) 3 Mark Vincent
31) Matthew Glasby 3 (5) 2 Jamie O’Neill
32) Labeeb Ahmed 2 (5) 3 Steven Hallworth
33) Mitchell Mann 3 (5) 0 Callum Lloyd
34) Louis Heathcote 2 (5) 3 Brandon Sargeant
35) Simon Blackwell 0 (5) 3 Jackson Page
36) William Lemons 3 (5) 1 Andy Marriott
37) George Pragnell 0 (5) 3 Adam Duffy
38) John Foster 0 (5) 3 Jamie McArdle
39) Joshua Thomond 2 (5) 3 Oliver Brown
40) Christopher Keogan 3 (5) 2 Danny Brindle

Round 3
41) Ka Wai Cheung 3 (5) 0 Farakh Ajaib
42) Lee Shanker 0 (5) 3 David Lilley
43) Leo Fernandez 0 (5) 3 Mark Vincent
44) Matthew Glasby 3 (5) 0 Steven Hallworth
45) Mitchell Mann 1 (5) 3 Brandon Sargeant
46) Jackson Page 3 (5) 2 William Lemons
47) Adam Duffy 3 (5) 1 Jamie McArdle
48) Oliver Brown 3 (5) 0 Christopher Keogan

Quarter Final
49) Ka Wai Cheung 3 (5) 2 David Lilley
50) Mark Vincent 2 (5) 3 Matthew Glasby
51) Brandon Sargeant 3 (5) 2 Jackson Page
52) Adam Duffy 3 (5) 2 Oliver Brown

Semi Final
53) Ka Wai Cheung 2 (5) 3 Matthew Glasby
54) Brandon Sargeant 1 (5) 3 Adam Duffy

Final
55) Matthew Glasby 1 (5) 3 Adam Duffy

 

And the excellent analysis by Michael Day.

adamduffychallenge2019-9

CHALLENGE TOUR EVENT 9 | DUFFY’S HOME COMFORTS

Adam Duffy became the eighth different winner on this season’s Challenge Tour, as he won Event 9 this weekend at the Star Snooker Academy in his home city of Sheffield.

The penultimate leg of this second-tier campaign drew in 56 entries from 11 different countries, but it was a native of the ‘Steel City’ who emerged victorious. Duffy began his bid with a 3-1 win over fellow ex-professional Simon Bedford, the player who claimed the previous event in Budapest, Hungary during November. He then eliminated George Pragnall (3-0) and Jamie McArdle (3-1) in the last 32 and 16 respectively.

​Returning Sunday, Duffy defeated Oliver Brown (3-2), order of merit leader Brandon Sargeant (3-1) and then Matthew Glasby (3-1) in the final to take the trophy, title and £2,000. 

Whilst the result rockets Duffy up into ninth on the Challenge Tour ranking list, he is out of contention in regards the top two promotion picture. This was however only his fourth stop on the circuit this season.

THE PROMOTION PICTURE

Despite his loss to Duffy in the semi-finals, it was a very satisfying weekend for Sargeant who now has one hand and several fingers on one of the two professional tour cards on offer.

The £700 he banked strengthened his position at the top of the order of merit. Sargeant’s running total is currently £6,625; he has a healthy advantage over second placed David Grace (£5,775) and third-placed Mitchell Mann (£5,725) – the only two players who could dislodge him.

​It is an attractive lead, but not mathematically unassailable. At March’s tenth and final event, Sargeant would miss out if he lost in the last 64 (or if there is a prelim) and both Grace and Mann reached the final. However, this is the only way he could be denied, and with no seeding involved his closest rivals may be drawn in the same half, therefore he would be safe regardless of the outcome.

​The draw of Event 10 will be pivotal. It would seem that if Grace could equal, or better, Mann’s result he would qualify back onto the top tier. Although fourth-placed David Lilley (£4,200), who reached the quarters in Sheffield, can gatecrash and swipe the second ticket if he were to win Event 10 and both Grace and Mann lost before the quarter-finals there.

For the full results from Challenge Tour Event 9 please visit the snooker.org tournament page here.

To see the latest provisional Challenge Tour ranking list, please visit snooker.org here.

The picture above is courtesy of the Star Snooker Academy, Sheffield.

Article written and published by Michael Day on the 27th January 2019​​

If you are interested in grassroot snooker, and the amateur scene you should definitely follow Michael. He’s on twitter and on Facebook

Michael also supports and follows the WDBS, disability snooker tour. 

Meanwhile, in Houston, Texas … Igor Figueiredo booked his spot in the WSS World Championship 2019. 

Igor Figueiredo from Brazil wins the WSS World Championship 2019 – Q6 in Houston, Texas.

The Seniors Tour is in Houston Texas for the sixth 2019 World Championship qualifying event of this season. It’s happening this week-end!

Here is the draw:

houston 2019 draw

And the format:

houston 2019 format

And here is the Last 32 draw in a slightly easier-to-read presentation

Match 1: Lee Richardson (Eng) (1) 3-0 Christiano Galeses (Bra)
Match 2: Robert Bell  (Ire) 1-3 Laslo Kovacs (USA)
Match 3: Steven Bremar (Ber) 3-0 Januario De Souza (Bra)
Match 4: Paul Fedden (Ber) 2-3 Majid Randhawa (USA)
Match 5: Levi Meiller (Can) (5) 3-0 Adel Guindi (USA)
Match 6: Jesus De Olivera (Bra) 3-0 Ricardo e Silva (Bra)
Match 7: William Hoenig (USA) 0-3 Daren Taylor (USA)
Match 8: Osni Xavier Kuss (Bra) 0-3 John White (Can) (4)
———————————————————
Match 9: Richard Emery (Eng) (2) 3-0 Khan Laheeq (Pak)
Match 10: John Hoenig  (USA) 0-3 Pedro Luiz Poli (Bra)
Match 11: Pravin Patel (USA) 0-3 Mark White (USA)
Match 12: Firmiano De Souza Neto (Bra) 2-3 Mihai Visovan (USA)
Match 13: Hans Blanckaert (Bel) (6) 1-3 Aleya Prabhakar (USA)
Match 14: Anita Chan (Can) 0-3 Charlie Brown (Can)
Match 15: Ernst Bezemer (USA) 3-2 Dayron Azevedo (Bra)
Match 16: Bernard Frerotte 0-3 (101, 71, 50) Igor Figueiredo (Bra) (3)

Last 16

Lee Richardson (84) 3-0 Laslo Kovacs
Steven Bremar 2-3 Majid Randhawa
Levi Meiller 3-0 Jesus De Olivera
Daren Taylor 3-0 John White
———————————————————
Richard Emery 3-0 Pedro Luis Poli
Mark White 3-0 Mihai Visovan
Aleya Prabhakar 2-3 Charlie Brown
Ernst Bezemer 0-3 (146Igor Figueiredo

QF

Lee Richardson 3-0 Majid Randhawa
Levi Meiller 2-3 Daren Taylor
———————————————————
Richard Emery 3-0 Mark White
Charlie Brown 1-3 Igor Figueiredo

SF

Lee Richarson 2-3 Daren Taylor
———————————————————
Richard Emery 0-3 Igor Figueiredo

The Final

Daren Taylor 0-3 (58,60,63) Igor Figueiredo

The trophies were presented by the President of the U. S. Snooker Association, Ajeya Prabhakar.

Well done to all involved! 

Congratulations Igor!

Igor had a 146 during the event, and it is believed to be the highest break ever made in tournament snooker in the USA

 

Snooker news and week-end action

Yesterday evening saw Martin Gould win the Championship League Snooker Group 6. He joins Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski, Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham and Mark Selby in the Winners Group.

Detailed results are available on snooker.org and Worlsnooker report is here.

This week-end, the Challenge Tour Event 9 will be played at the Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

Star Snooker Academy

Yesterday Worldsnooker has published the draw and format.

The ninth event in the Challenge Tour series will run on January 26-27 at the Star Academy in Sheffield. You will be able to follow results on our Twitter feed here

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The top two players on the Challenge Tour rankings after ten events will be promoted to the World Snooker Tour.

This is how the rankings stand at the moment (snooker.org)

And this is the detailed schedule (snooker.org)

It’s also the page where you will be able to find the matches results as the event unfolds.

With £2000 to the winner, £1000 to the runner-up and only one event to be played after this one, you feel that it will be between David Grace, Brandon Sargeant and Mitchell Mann although, strictly speaking, players up to n°12 are not mathematically out of it. In the context the first round match between Barry Pinches and Mitchell Mann is massive.

The World Seniors Tour is in Houston, Texas, for the 2019 World Championship Qualifying Event 6. You can follow that one on my WSS blog.

Finally Worldsnooker has published the draw and format for the Indian Open 2018 … now Indian Open 2019.

Here’s the draw and format for the final stages of the 2019 Indian Open.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The world ranking event takes place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in Kochi, Kerala, from February 27 to March 3.

Mark Allen has withdrawn. No big surprise there. Fair to say that this event has a particularly depleted field, with John Higgins (defending champion), Stuart Bingham and Jack Lisowski the only members of the top 16 in the field.

 

Oh, and, yes, if you really want to know, the draw and format for the Shootout are also available. 

The draw and format for the 2019 BetVictor Shoot Out is now available.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

….

With over 20 amateurs in the field, including a 12 years old boy (Liam Davies), a 14 years old boy (Ben Mertens), two ladies players (Reanne Evans and Emma Parker) and a few seniors … would it not be funny if this “world ranking event” was won by an amateur? Only 4 of the top 16 are in it: Kyren Wilson, Stuart Bingham, Luca Brecel and Shaun Murphy.

 

Ronnie, Eurosport, a poll and a message

During the Masters, Eurosport UK ran a poll, asking the fans which 147, in their opinion, is the greatest in snooker history.

Unsurprisingly, the iconic 5’20” 147 that Ronnie made at the Crucible in 1997 came out the winner and by a huge margin as well.

Ronnie has often said that it wasn’t actually a good break, because he didn’t have the white under control and that he only played that fast because he felt that if he stopped to think he would miss. But, hey, it was and remains nevertheless quite an extraordinary feat.

We asked … you voted … we have a winner 😬 ‘s sensational maximum at the 1997 World Championship is the greatest 147 in snooker history 🙌👏🚀

Ronnie retweeted this, adding

Hard to believe this was the first of my 15 competitive maximums and over 20 years ago 🙄

And, currently, although there is still snooker being played in Coventry, with nobody watching, most sports fans attention is on the tennis, and particularly on one young Greek, Stefanos Tsitsipas who ousted Roger Federer in the L16 at the Australian Open in Melbourne. He will face Rafa Nadal in the SF in about an hour.
It transpired that Stefanos is a snooker fan too, and his snooker hero is Ronnie. And Ronnie in turn sent the young man this message ahead of today’s match:

. has called his ‘snooker idol’ And the 🚀 will be cheering on Tsitsipas when he takes on Rafa Nadal at the !

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s good luck message for Stefanos Tsitsipas
Watch the Australian Open live on Eurosport and the Eurosport Player

Of course, Ronnie retweeted this one too, adding

Good luck 😎

Those who know me, know that my husband id Greek, so I’ll be routing for Stefanos this morning. And, should he win, I may have a bit of a case of split loyalties if he faces Novak Djokovic in the final.

And again… more snooker news.

As you know, I was at Goffs, in Ireland, last week-end for the World Seniors Irish Masters 2019. The tournament was won by Jimmy White who beat Rodney Goggins, a qualifier, by 4-1, in the final. It was a tremendous event in one of the most iconic venues ever to welcome snooker.

You can read everything about Jimmy’s win, and Rodney’s remarkable run here, on the World Seniors Tour blog. And there’s load of pictures as well!

Meanwhile, the Championship League Snooker continues, and it’s Judd Trump who won Group 3. All results and some footages are on Snooker.org as usual.

Quite remarkably, all groups have been won by “Grove” players so far: Neil Robertson, Jack Lisowski and Judd Trump. They are all managed by Django Fung.

Finally, I’m on the road again tomorrow, heading to Lincoln, for this:

JimmyExho11.01.2018

Tickets are still available, and the money raised will go to help disability snooker. So if you are in the area, come along and support. It will be fun and it’s for a good cause!

More Snooker News …

Jack Lisowski has won the second Championship League Snooker event, beating Luca Brecel by 3-0 in the Final. Jack has really dominated this group and joins Neil Robertson in the Winners Group.

All the Group 2 results are on snooker.org

Jack and Luca look both in pretty good form ahead of the Masters.

As for me, I’m in Ireland to take pictures of the World Seniors Irish Masters 2019.

irishmasters2019-poster-2

There was a gala dinner yesterday evening and the pictures are available here.

The event will be live on Free Sport, for those of you who are in the UK or Ireland. The Final will be live on Irish Television too. Jason Francis will stream some of the event on Facebook for those in countries not covered by Free Sport.

To follow the action and more images, other than in my Facebook albums, you can go to https://seniorsnooker.com where I will post the results and pictures. This is likely to be done in the evening, after the last match. During the day, my priority is to take the pictures obviously.

If you have the opportunity, come and watch live. Goffs is some venue!

Goffs2016-7989

To conclude the year

Worldsnooker has published this feature about what was certainly the best match of 2018:

As 2018 draws to a close we reflect on the best match of the year: the Betfred World Championship final.

Two giants of the baize clashed in the first ever Crucible final to be contested between two players over the age of 40. Mark Williams defeated John Higgins 18-16 in what turned out to be a true classic. In terms of the drama and the standard of play, it stands alongside the all-time great Crucible finals.

The snooker public were captivated by a match which saw Williams aiming for his first world crown since 2003 and Higgins searching for an illusive fifth world title.

Welshman Williams had enjoyed a dramatic resurgence across the season as a whole, winning a ranking title for the first time since 2011 at the Northern Ireland Open and adding further ranking silverware to his collection at the German Masters.

Scotland’s Higgins was appearing in his second consecutive world final, having suffered a heart-breaking 18-15 defeat at the hands of Mark Selby a year earlier.

Williams could have been forgiven for coming into the final somewhat jaded as he only just overcame Barry Hawkins in a nerve-shredding semi-final 17-15, which ended in the small hours of the morning. After completing his media obligations, the down to earth Welshman re-fuelled with a 2:30am pit stop at a city centre kebab shop.

That seemed to do the trick as when play got underway, just a matter of hours later, he showed no signs of tiredness. After moving 4-0 ahead and being pegged back to 7-7, Williams went on to win seven consecutive frames to lead 14-7.

Higgins was on the brink of a potential defeat with a session to spare, but summoned an epic fightback to level at 15-15, making some astonishing clearances along the way.

Williams regained the upper hand and led 17-15 and looked set to get over the line in the 33rd frame until he missed a match-ball pink. Higgins produced another nerveless clearance of 68 to keep his hopes alive.

Williams was typically undeterred and knocked in a break of 69, initiated by a sensational red to the middle pocket. That secured a glorious 18-16 victory and his third world title. He then stoically fulfilled a mid-tournament pledge to do his post-match press conference naked if he won the title.

Hector Nunns is one of snooker’s most prominent journalists and is author of the 2017 book ‘The Crucible’s Greatest Matches’. This year’s final came too late to make the book, but Nunns rates the 2018 final as one of the all-time best.

He said: “Sport conjures up moments when the hype proves to be fully justified, and the classic ‘Class of 1992’ final in 2018 was just such an occasion. Mark Williams saw his phlegmatic character tested to the limit as John Higgins came back to 15-15 from 15-10 down with so much at stake, and perhaps only a player as laid-back as the Welshman could have shrugged that off and kicked on once again, also overcoming that missed pink to close it out at 17-15.

“A battling and proud Higgins dug so deep to make a fight of it, and by his own admission that huge effort and the subsequent disappointment carried over the summer into the start of the season. The enduring rivalry between two players who have sparred since junior days was the backdrop narrative to this final, and Williams honouring a rash pledge to do his winner’s press conference in the nude spoke volumes for his integrity and gave us in the media headlines and back page pictures to die for.”

The famous 1985 black ball final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor may never be beaten in terms of its edge-of the-seat conclusion, but today’s standard of play is light years ahead. There wasn’t a single century break in the 1985 final, while this year there were six tons and 24 more breaks over 50.

Six-time Crucible king Davis believes that the level of performance in the modern game is so high, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to push barriers in terms of the standard at the top level.

Davis said: “The new brigade can’t really improve on the standard the top guys are already producing. There was a time when you go back to my era and Stephen Hendry’s period, when the ceiling of achievement had not yet been reached. The current era are getting to the point where they are close to the level that humans are physically capable of reaching on a snooker table. Therefore, the new guys aren’t leapfrogging over the top like we did in the 80s and Hendry did in the 90s. To do the same with John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan is near on impossible.”

A World Championship final isn’t just special for the two players doing battle on the baize. It is the highlight of any referee’s career too. Overseeing snooker’s biggest match holds special significance for Brendan Moore as he is born and bred in Sheffield. He took charge of his second World Championship final in May, having already donned the white gloves for Mark Selby’s 18-14 win over Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2014.

“This year’s final goes down as the best I’ve ever refereed,” said Moore. “My first world final with Ronnie and Mark was fantastic. However, the atmosphere this year combined with the way this match went made it extra special. The comeback from John on that final night session was just awesome. The fact that other than the opponent I was the next person to shake hands with the winner was a great feeling in itself. It’s the only game I have refereed which I have watched back from first ball to last just to witness the actual match again.”

Defeat hit Higgins hard. Despite reaching September’s China Championship final, which he lost 10-9 to Mark Selby, he has openly admitted to suffering a lack of motivation to get back on the baize.

“It still hurts,” reflected the Wizard of Wishaw, several months after the result. “I’ve lost two finals in a row. It has been heart-breaking to pick the cue back out of the case. I was well behind. I was basically looking as if I was out of it. I just didn’t want to lose with a session to spare. Before you know it you are right back in the thick of it. Mark did really well to clear up in the last frame. I suppose it was good, the comeback was on. But I started really badly and he put me under pressure as well.”

For Williams it was a moment which he thought he may never enjoy again, having had to wait since 2003 to appear in another Crucible final. However, the unflappable Williams managed to remain calm in the crucial closing stages.

“Even when I missed the pink at 17-15, there was no tension going through my body,” he recalls. “I knew that if I got a chance in the next frame I would make a decent break. Even if it went 17-17 I would have felt totally calm. I wish I knew why. If you put a heart monitor on me, it wouldn’t be going any faster than as if I was playing in the club.

“I think from the quarter-finals onwards myself against John Higgins was the final that 95 percent of people would have chosen, because we are two of the older players. The younger guys will get their chance. But everyone wanted to see this clash and I don’t think they were disappointed. I don’t think John can play much better than that and I can’t play better than that.”

More Great Crucible Finals

1985 – Dennis Taylor 18-17 Steve Davis
Snooker’s most famous match saw 18.5 million people tune in on television and witness Dennis Taylor complete a fightback of epic proportions in the most dramatic of conclusions. Steve Davis had already won three of his six world titles and had looked nailed on for a fourth when he cruised into an 8-0 lead. However, popular Northern Irishman Taylor clawed his way back into the tie and went on to win a thrilling black ball battle in the decider.

1994 – Stephen Hendry 18-17 Jimmy White
Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White met for the fourth time in a Crucible final in 1994 and it looked as if the Whirlwind was set to land snooker’s biggest prize for the first time when he had the balls at his mercy in the decider. However, with a 37-24 lead, he missed a routine black off the spot and Hendry ruthlessly pounced with a break of 58 to inflict another heart-breaking defeat on his opponent.

2005 – Shaun Murphy 18-16 Matthew Stevens
Shaun Murphy and Matthew Stevens produced a blistering standard of snooker in an enthralling final, which saw the Magician fire in 16 breaks over 50 on his way to winning the title. Murphy, age 22, was a 150/1 outsider coming into the event and became the first qualifier since Terry Griffiths in 1979 to lift the trophy.

2011 – John Higgins 18-15 Judd Trump
There was an electrifying atmosphere when one of the sport’s greats met a precociously talented 21-year-old for the world title.  John Higgins carried a 13-12 lead over Judd Trump into the final session, where a raucous crowd greeted the two players. Scotland’s Higgins won four of the last five frames to surge to the line and broke down in tears after clinching the title for the fourth time.

The standard set by the Class of 92, throughout their career will indeed be very hard to beat. But i still find it worrying that there isn’t one player under 25, outside Asia, who seems to even get close to the standard the Ronnie, Mark Willams, John Higgins, Stephen Lee, Matthew Stevens, Paul Hunter and more showed well before reaching their 25th birthday. Of course, in part, the decline of the amateur game is to blame, but I’m also convinced that the current system isn’t helping them either. It’s extremely brutal. Yes, players can learn from defeats, but if the gap is too big, this is unlikely to happen, and it’s dispiriting.

As for the 2011 final, I was on the floor when the players got down the steps ahead of the final session. I’ve never experienced anything like that, before or since. The tension and excitement were extreme. Higgins who had served a ban at the start of the season, and lost his father only recently was indeed in tears. But there will always be a question: what if Judd Trump hadn’t gone for that incredibly difficult blue in the fifth frame of the third session? He was leading by three frames. Had he got it, his advantage would have been five frames. BUT he missed it, and Higgins went on to win the next three frames as well … it felt like a turning point, right when it happened and it really proved to be exactly that.

Women in snooker …

Another “end of year break” feature by Worldsnooker 

By Shabnam Younus-Jewell

This is the year the Doctor regenerated as a woman for the first time, landing in Sheffield and declaring: “Half an hour ago I was a white-haired Scotsman.”

Well, the city’s very own Tardis that is the Crucible Theatre has seen plenty of steely Scottish men playing indomitable snooker over the years, one of them holding a record seven world titles. But is it an alien thought to imagine a woman joining the cast at the World Championship one day soon?

The eleven-time World Women’s champion Reanne Evans has come the closest. She has competed on the professional circuit and became the first woman to qualify for the venue stages of a full-ranking event at the 2013 Wuxi Classic. In 2017 she was just two wins away from making more history, after beating Robin Hull 10-8 in World Championship qualifying at Pond’s Forge. She called it her “best win.”

Evans remains the greatest player the women’s game has seen but she’s had to relinquish her number one status to a new, worthy rival, Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee. Could she now be the one to break through the snooker stratosphere and go where no woman has gone before?

The petite potter has won three world women’s titles and four UK championships. She’s also been recognised in her country by being named ‘Best of the Best’ at the Samsung Hong Kong Sports Star awards twice. However she hasn’t yet managed to beat a male player during any of her three opportunities to qualify for the World Championship in Sheffield.

One of the game’s greats, six-time world champion Steve Davis once commented that women may not be as “obsessive” as men, which could be why they are not reaching the higher levels of the game yet. On Yee believes men and women are not on different planets mentally, they just need to play against each other more. “We need experience at the same venues and environment, everything,” she said. “The first time I went to the World Championship qualifiers everything was new to me. The audience, the big venue, cameras. If we can have more experience and practice, then we can be the same.”

The sport’s governing body, The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, continues to encourage women to play the sport and insists there is nothing stopping them from going to the top.

Chairman Jason Ferguson said at this year’s Ladies’ Day at the Crucible in May: “There is no reason why a woman can’t achieve the same as a man in snooker. There are no physical barriers. We’re trying to remove any barriers. We just want more women to play.

“This is an amazing sport, a mixed gender sport, our World Snooker Tour is open to anyone, it’s all about being good enough. We’ve had progress, the players have been around for many years, it’s just clubs and facilities haven’t been attractive for women to take up the sport.”

The World Women’s Snooker Championship started running in 1976. For six of those years, around the turn of the century, the final stages were held alongside its professional equivalent, at the Crucible Theatre. The name Selby is a familiar one in today’s game and funnily enough, it was one Vera Selby MBE who lifted the first World Women’s trophy. She did it again in 1981, beating Mandy Fisher, who went on to win her title three years later.

Fisher has been instrumental in creating World Ladies Billiards and Snooker and is now President of the body.  “Back in the 80s, I would go to challenge matches and exhibitions all around the country and very often I’d go to clubs where it said no women allowed in the snooker room,” she said. “Thankfully the world has moved on a lot since then.”

If the sport is now more welcoming to women, what is preventing them from turning professional and reaching the top of the game? Fisher said: “We need to see more women playing on the television so they are role models for other girls. It will also attract more sponsorship.”

So how soon could we see a female player in the first round of the World Championship? She added: “I’ve been involved in women’s snooker and running it for the past 40 years. I just hope in my lifetime I will see that happen.”

The chance to perform on the game’s biggest stage is earned only by the most consistent and resilient of players. They all want to play under the spotlight at the Crucible Theatre, where stars can shine. But the majority admit it’s the most intimidating of spaces, where they feel like they’re doing battle in a parallel universe.

On Yee touches the goosebumps on her arms as soon as the iconic venue is mentioned and her eyes light up brighter than her eccentric yellow-framed glasses. Does she want to be the next Time Lord, with her cue a formidable weapon in the snooker galaxy? “Of course my ultimate goal will be playing at the Crucible, with the live broadcast, so my family and fans can watch me back home,” she says, with her endearing giggle. “I don’t know if I can be the first woman to do that, but I’m working on it. I also have a slogan. If you believe it you can achieve it.”

On Yee will be defending her world title as part of the World Snooker Federation Championships at the Dubai World Trade Centre in the UAE from 28-31 March 2019. The winner will earn a place at the Betfred World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield in April.

Nine years ago I was writing this on Matt Huart’s blog

Some thoughts about the Ladies in snooker…

Reanne Evans, the dominant force in the ladie's game

First … I want to thank Matt for inviting me to post on his blog and offering the opportunity to share some of my views on a not so well known area of snooker, the Ladies’ game.

I’ve been following the ladies for a while now and I have been in three ranking events already this season. There is no denial that the level of the ladies’ game is way behind the men’s. Reanne Evans, 24, is the current WLBSA World Champion; she’s won it five times, she’s also the current IBSF World Champion. She’s undefeated for 49 matches in WLBSA ranking events, and counting. Her high break in competition is 140. That’s pretty impressive and yet she hasn’t been able to qualify for the main tour, despite taking part of the PIOS in the past. Also she will certainly lose her IBSF crown in the coming days because she hasn’t been able to travel to India to defend her title, by lack of a sponsor. So what’s wrong? Will we one day see a female amongst the game elite, or not?

“No, because girls are inferior …”

Yes, I’ve read that, literally, on forums. I’m hugely interested in neuroscience and I’m the first to accept that, on average, there are significant differences between “women’s brain” and “men’s brain”. While girls are usually better at verbal and social skills, boys have a better eye-hand coordination and spatial perception, both characteristics that would make them more apt to a game like snooker. They are also more competitive, again on average.

I wrote “on average”… because that does not mean anything when considering the individual. So you would expect that, given snooker does not require real physical strength, provided enough girls play the game, and proper coaching, at least some of them would be able to compete with the top boys. Today this isn’t the case. So why?

The answer is: because not many girls take on the game… although according to some coaches their number is increasing. There are several reasons for that situation to happen.

  • Only too often, clubs are not very welcoming to females, if they are allowed to play at all. Certainly in the UK, many clubs are “men only”. I must say that for a mainland Europe citizen this is shocking but there we go. Even Reanne confirmed to me that she’s not allowed to play in some clubs near her home, and that in clubs where she is accepted some men don’t want to play her because she’s a female. Hannah Jones (13 years old and currently ranked 12) and her father also complained about the patronizing attitude they were facing in clubs. Girls tend to be ridiculed or hassled. This is hard to take especially for teenagers. Another consequence of this is that girls find it hard to make progress because they are not allowed or encouraged to play against tougher male opposition. This is particularly problematic when they reach a good level as having challenges is essential to motivation and improvement.

 

  • Girls are not encouraged to play snooker. Rarely will you see a father introducing his daughter to the game and to the club. From a parent’s point of view this is understandable. Not only because of the unwelcoming cultural/societal context but mainly because there is not much hope for a girl to make a living out of snooker in the present state of the game. Prize money is so low that even the world champion can’t make a living of it. It wasn’t always that bad though. In the eighties and nineties there was a much stronger ladies field, not only in UK but worldwide, with the likes of Allison, Mandy and Kelly Fisher to name only a few. In the fall of 1997, just after the Grand Prix, the WLBSA joined the WPBSA. Snooker was still huge and the ladies had big expectations. It turned out that actually WPBSA did very little to support the ladies and when the tobacco ban entered into force they pleaded poverty and just dropped WLBSA penniless. That was early 2004 and since then the ladies game has been in a real slump. The most prominent UK players at the time fled to the US to make a living out of pool, very successfully, Allison Fisher being the prime example. The Asian players didn’t have the means anymore, or the interest to come and play in WLBSA events. It hasn’t changed unfortunately. I learned very recently that Hannah is making her debuts in 9-balls as well. There at least she has a professional future.
  • Girls are not shown and not sponsored. Both things go hand in hand of course, sponsors typically want exposure. The girls are never shown on television, very rarely on streaming. If you search for Allison Fisher on YouTube you will find plenty of pool and just one example of her playing snooker, a frame in a match of doubles with Steve Davis. Knowing that Allison is most probably the greatest ever lady in the game, that says it all … When WPBSA was in charge of the Ladies’ game the finals were played in Sheffield at the Crucible. All the necessary equipment was available to record at least some of the games. It could have been shown during the men’s matches mid session intervals, or during the various diversions BBC always offers during the World Championship. No, preference was always given to snippets about the male players … playing golf or fishing or whatever. The situation hasn’t improved. This year the World Championship will be played in Cambridge in a club where the ladies are very welcome. But it’s not an actual arena, so only a very limited audience, mainly friends and families will fit in the available space. And it’s not equipped even to allow for streaming. As a consequence, not only are the girls actually paying from their own money to compete but the whole WLBSA is largely relying on people, like Mandy Fisher, Tim Dunkley and Mark Jones who do it for the love of the game, on their spare time and at their own expense. And that’s also why the IBSF defending champion is not currently in India to defend her title.
  • Women find it hard to put the hours into practice. Obviously when you have to earn a living and you can’t live on your sport, you need another job. When kids come around, it’s mainly the women who take care of them, especially when they are young. This not only limits the time they can devote to practice, it also limits their freedom to travel around to venues. Simple facts of life but they add up to the other difficulties.

Having been to several ladies events over the last year, I’m convinced their snooker is every bit as interesting and enthralling as the men’s. Not so many big breaks but, partially because of that, a lot of twists and turns, drama and tension. Bringing the ladies in the media could attract a different type of audience and sponsors. After all it’s mainly the women doing the shopping. So it’s well worth to try and improve the situation. But how?

The floor is yours for comments and suggestions…

I want to thank Chris Turner, Mandy Fisher, Janie Watkins, Mark and Hannah Jones, Tim Dunkley, Marianne Williams, Dan Lewis, Simon Markham and Reanne Evans for taking the time to discuss this subject with me and providing me factual information that contributed to the “birth” of this article.

I’m happy to say that there has been improvement since then. In particular we have seen more  young women entering events, and the standard is definitely getting better. But there is also still a lot of room for further improvement. Prejudices are still very much alive. Events like the WSF Championships are important because the women there are playing under the same conditions  than the men, they get the same exposure and the main Championship is mixed genders.