Professional Ambitions – 23 May 2023

Bai Yulu has impressed many in recent weeks. She played on the WWS tour for the first time during the 2023 Women’s Snooker World Championship and reached the final. Weeks later she entered only her second event on the WWS tour – the 2023 Women’s British Open – and won it. Now she’s preparing for the 2023 Q-School.

She was interviewed by WST:

Bai Determined To Earn Tour Card

Fresh from her victory at the recent women’s British Open, Bai Yulu is full of confidence as she looks ahead to her first appearance in Q School, which starts on Friday this week.

China’s 19-year-old Bai has quickly established herself as a promising talent, reaching the final of the World Women’s Championship in March as well as making the highest break in the history of that event with a 127. She finished runner-up to Baipat Siripaporn, but then went one step further at the British Open this month, beating Reanne Evans in the final to capture her first silverware. Bai has also impressed at mixed-gender amateur events in China, notably making a 142 total clearance during victory over former pro Gao Yang at a CBSA tournament in April.

Bai, who has been based in Sheffield for the past few weeks where she has been practising to sharpen her game, now looks ahead to Q School which runs from May 26 to June 6 in Leicester.

Click here for event one draw

Click here for event two draw

Click here for the match schedule

She faces England’s Muhammad Aurangzaib in her opening match on Saturday, with the winner of that tie to face Craig Steadman in the second round on Monday.

Bai said: “I want to get a tour card and play as a professional as soon as possible. I watch a lot of WST matches and I want to compete in the same arena badly. I think I will improve a lot if I get to play some of the professional events.

I’m not thinking about making it all the way at Q School, I’m not making it a goal anyway, because I know it will be very tough. However I will be competing with confidence, and I won’t put too much pressure to myself.

I’m very glad to have played in the women’s ranking events. I’ve been practising in Sheffield for a while now. It’s a superb place and I am surrounded by proper players who are all dedicated. It helps me to concentrate.”

In all there will be 208 players at Q School, battling for eight tour cards. There will be two tournaments, with the four semi-finalists in each to receive a spot on the pro circuit for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.

Bai, who is only 19, comes across as very mature. She’s ambitious but realistic. She knows that she will need to work hard and improve. She’s not all “I’ll show them” like some other promising juniors… who were given the harshest reality check when they got on the main tour. I like that. She has an incredibly hard draw in both events. Should she win her first round matches, she would meet Craig Steadman in event 1, Andrew Pagett in event 2, both professionals for many years and only just relegated from the main tour.

I would particularly love it if Bai managed to beat Pagett who once again showed an incredible level of ignorance and/or stupidity today on social media by claiming that he would like to call himself Andrea, enter the women’s tour and get £25000 guaranteed. He is the tweet … thanks Snookerpro

… First, I’m not sure where this amount comes from, next all pros get £20000 as it is, and it’s not just a matter of changing your name either. Jamie Hunter has spoken about the strict conditions she had, and still has, to meet to be allowed on the women’s tour. I’m not sure Paggy would like to get himself through what a transition requires… nor that his wife would be overjoyed. Anyway…

The same Paggy also took exception to the fact that On Yee entered the Asian Q-School, arguing that there should be just one Q-School … in the UK of course. Obviously the UK centric nature of the WORLD tour (*) is no problem for him because he’s living in the UK, he’s been privileged because of that situation for years and that’s all that matters to him. Also, he wasn’t happy that he can’t enter the “easier” Asian Q-School whilst Asian based players can enter the UK Q-School. Would he fancy his chances and fork the huge amount of money needed for visas and travel, considering that he will probably play jet-lagged? Does he believe that the opposition over there will be that weak? If so, he might be in for a surprise.

One man who will be at the Asian Q-School is Thor from Malaysia who just won the gold medal at the SEA games

SEA Games: Thor dedicates snooker gold to Malaysia

PHNOM PENH, May 15 — National cueist Thor Chuan Leong has dedicated his 2023 SEA Games gold medal to Malaysia for giving him a second chance to compete in the biennial Games.

The 35-year-old former professional player said that although his form had suffered a dip, the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Malaysian Snooker and Billiards Federation (MSBF) still had faith in him to bring glory to the country.

He explained that he faced really difficult times when he turned professional and played in the United Kingdom (UK), which saw his performance suddenly take a nosedive, adding that it took him a long time to regain his touch.

My game was horrible when I played in the UK. In Asia, I can be considered a great player, but in the UK I was playing like a novice.

So, I returned (to Malaysia). It has taken me four to five years to get back to my previous level and that’s why many of you have not heard my name for so long. Now, everything is beginning to look up,” he said when met here.

Yesterday, Chuan Leong, who is more popularly called Thor in the sporting fraternity, clinched the men’s singles snooker gold medal, thus repeating the feat he achieved in the 2015 edition in Singapore.

His victory also ensured that the MSBF’s two-gold target has been achieved.

Thor now has a total of five SEA Games gold medals to his name, having come out tops in the men’s doubles snooker event in the 2011 edition in Palembang, Indonesia; singles and doubles gold medals in Singapore (2015); and the 6-Red individual gold in Myanmar (2013). 

Thor, however, is still determined to turn professional again for the continuity of his career.

Of course, I want to get back to being a professional because, sorry to say, this sport is not very popular in Malaysia… I mean it’s difficult to make a living. So, my plan after this is to go and play in championships in Thailand and join the Q School in June. If I can make the final, I will be able to be a professional cueist again,” he said. — Bernama

Thor, like many, found it difficult to live as an expat in the UK and his level dropped. But he’s a quality player and if he manages to get back on tour and find a “home” in one of the big academies he’s certainly more than capable to do some damage!

(*) Speaking of the UK centric nature of the main tour … I was recently invited to participate in a survey. One question was about the “region” the person taking part in this survey is from. There was a a zillion options… North of England, South of England, East of England, West of England, every corner of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland … and … “Other Region”. I’m from Belgium, like the reigning World Champion , but that’s the option I had to tick... Seriously??? Seriously!!! That’s preposterous for an organism calling itself WORLD Snooker. That’s actually scandalous.

Women’s snooker news – 15 May 2023

It’s not often that I post about Women’s snooker but I feel compelled to do it today. The 2023 Women’s British Open was played over the week-end and its outcome was set to determine who, from Reanne Evans and On Yee Ng was going to regain a two years tour card starting next season. It was also only the second time that Bai Yulu from China was competing in a WWS event, and after coming runner-up to Baipat in the Women’s 2023 World Championship early March, Yu won the last event of this season yesterday, beating Reanne Evans in the final and On Yee Ng in the quarter-finals.

Here is the report shared by WWS

Brilliant Bai Wins British Open

Bai Yulu has defeated Reanne Evans 4-3 following a thrilling final to win her first world ranking event title at the Landywood British Open, held at the Landywood Snooker Club in England.

The 19-year-old was competing in only her second event on the World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour after she sensationally reached the final of the World Championship on her debut just two months ago, and duly added to her growing reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the women’s game with victory at the season finale.

From China, Bai becomes the sixth different player to win a main ranking tournament during the 2022/23 season, following glory for Evans, Mink Nutcharut, Jamie Hunter, Ploychompoo Laokiatphong and Baipat Siripaporn previously.

Having begun her campaign in the group stages, Bai defeated world number 10 Steph Daughtery and debutant Deb Major to reach the knockout rounds, before overcoming Daisy May Oliver, Keerath Bhandaal, Ng On Yee and Ploychompoo Laokiatphong to reach her second consecutive final.

Awaiting her in the title match would be record six-time British Open winner Reanne Evans, after the English star survived a hard-fought last 16 match against Bayarsaikhan Narantuya to win 3-1, before overcoming Maria Catalano and Rebecca Kenna to not only reach the final, but also secure her return to the World Snooker Tour next season. Combined with a surprise last 16 exit for Mink Nutcharut against Jamie Hunter, the result also means that Evans will reclaim the world number one ranking following the tournament.

A repeat of their semi-final at the World Championship in March, the final would prove to be a high-quality encounter as Bai claimed the opening frame before the pair traded breaks of 75 and 66 to see the teenager lead 2-1.

Back came Evans with a top run of 55 as she won two consecutive frames to lead for the first time at 3-2 and move to within a frame of the title, but it was to be Bai’s day as she drew level with a break of 40, before winning a nervy deciding-frame to secure her first major title on the WWS Tour.

Bai also compiled the highest break of the tournament with a run of 105 during her victory against Daisy Oliver on Saturday evening.

Now, I have to say that I feel pretty uneasy with the fact that Reanne will get her tour card back for finishing the year as number one, whilst Yu will have to go to Q-School. If by awarding tour cards to female players WPBSA wants to promote the women in the sport and encourage them to embrace the main tour, then it’s the best of them who should be given those tour cards and I don’t feel that, at this moment in time, Reanne is better than Bai. Bai only had the opportunity to play in two WWS events so far and that’s why she isn’t ranked at the top but… she was runner-up in the first event she played in, the 2023 World Championship, having beaten Reanne by 5-3 in the semi-finals, and she won the second, the 2023 British Open, beating Reanne again in the final.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing at all against Reanne who I respect and admire unreservedly. Reanne and Maria Catalano, as players, very much carried the women’s game throughout it worst period whilst Mandy Fisher kept it going against all odds as Chairwoman. They deserve massive credits for that. But, if it’s about giving a professional opportunity to the best female players at this moment in time then probably having Yu and Baipat on tour would be a better choice, especially as both are very young.

More snooker reading … Patsy Houlihan

If you hang around older snooker players “Patsy Houlihan” is a name that will pop into the conversation sooner than later. He is mentioned in Jimmy White’s and Steve Davis’ biographies. They will tell you that he was probably the most gifted player they ever watched or played.

Luke G Williams became fascinated with this character, put a lot of energy and work into researching archives, documents and interviewing contemporaries. The result is a book.

WST has been reviewing it and speaking to the author.

The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw

Luke G. Williams explains what drew him to spend more than two decades researching the life and times of a snooker subculture legend…

Until I read Jimmy White’s autobiography in 1998, I’d never heard of Patsy Houlihan.

When I read that White regarded him as one of the greatest snooker players he’d ever seen, my curiosity to find out more about Houlihan soon became an obsession, which in turn became an unwavering determination to bring his remarkable life to wider attention.

My quest finally ended last month, when my book ‘The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw’ was published.

As ‘The Natural’ hits bookshelves, it is 45 years since Houlihan’s sole appearance at The Crucible. In the 1978 world championship he beat Chris Ross and JIm Meadowcroft in qualifying to seal a place in the last-16 in Sheffield against Cliff Thorburn. Houlihan succumbed 13-8, but not before he had shown glimpses of his formidable talents with a string of fluent breaks.

Boy, was [Patsy] a smooth player,” is Thorburn’s recollection. “I had to be very careful against Patsy because if the balls were open he could get to you. A very dangerous player.” Truth be told, Houlihan – then 48 – was already in decline, fading eyesight and issues with recurrent conjunctivitis having blunted his considerable powers.

Patrick William Houlihan was born on 7 November 1929 in Deptford, south-east London and died 77 years and one day later, having spent his entire existence living within a small radius of the place of his birth.

Deptford was everything to him,” Houlihan’s daughter Patsy Girl told me, and in old-school pubs and snooker halls south of the river, his name is still spoken of in awed tones. Comedian Simon Day recalled: “What a legend Patsy was. He was like the Sasquatch – rarely seen but older snooker hall lags would always say [when they saw someone else play]: ‘he couldn’t beat Patsy!’”

Although his pro career from 1971 until 1993 was modest, Houlihan’s record as an amateur was sensational – comprising seven London titles, the first back in 1954, as well as the coveted English Amateur Championship in 1965.

In that English Amateur triumph, Houlihan thrashed future world professional champion Spencer 11-3 in the final at the Blackpool Tower Circus in front of 1,750 spectators, having already disposed of world amateur champion Gary Owen and future six-time world professional champion Ray Reardon.

Houlihan’s 6-5 victory against Reardon – after trailing 5-1 – was arguably the greatest amateur match ever played. “As we shook hands, Ray said I ought to be locked up,” Houlihan later chuckled. “As he was a policeman then, I thought that was rather good.”

Houlihan’s overall record in the English Amateur Championship was stellar – comprising 64 wins from 77 matches. His peak? Twelve months from mid-1964 until 1965 when he won 20 straight matches and five successive trophies – the London, Southern and English titles, plus the BA&CC ITV Television trophy and the Muswell Hill ‘Green Man’ tournament.

Houlihan’s amateur record was compiled at a time when unpaid snooker possessed far more strength in depth than the stagnant professional ranks, with the likes of Cliff Wilson, Ron Gross and Marcus Owen battling Houlihan for supremacy.

Sadly, none of this richly talented generation were encouraged to turn pro at their peaks by then snooker tsar Joe Davis and the small band of other inward-looking professionals. In Houlihan’s case, Davis disapproved of Patsy’s penchant for hustling and playing for money, often in insalubrious snooker halls.

As former WPBSA chairman Rex Williams told me: “Joe was very particular who came into the professional ranks. He looked into your background and if [it] was even slightly shady there was no chance. [Patsy] applied and was turned down. He came from a very poor working-class background… That shouldn’t have been held against him, but it may have been.

The truth was, hustling and money matches were the only way for a working-class lad like Houlihan to earn a living from snooker – and make a living he did. Indeed, such was his formidable reputation that he had to formulate innovative wagers to persuade people to risk playing him.

Six-time world champion Steve Davis recalled: “[Patsy would] play people and he wouldn’t be allowed to have the cue ball touch a cushion or whatever. People would think they would be able to beat him if he had that type of handicap but he was so skilful that he could still win.” At other times, Houlihan would play for money one-handed, left-handed, or even with the end of a broom rather than a cue.

Houlihan’s chances of turning pro were not aided by a criminal record acquired in 1966 when a spot of drunken high jinx saw him break into a warehouse with a couple of drinking buddies.

This misdemeanour, along with the Indo-Pakistani War, prevented him from participating in a delayed world amateur championship in 1966. It was also probably the reason why an application to turn professional in May 1969 was rejected; by then Spencer and Reardon had been welcomed into an expanded pro circuit but Houlihan was frozen out until 1971.

Heartbreakingly, no video of Houlihan in action has survived save for the briefest of snippets. As such an objective appraisal of his greatness is hard to formulate, although the testimonies of those who saw him play are instructive.

Jimmy White, who spent many hours playing with Houlihan and Tony Meo at the legendary Pot Black club in Vardens Road, Battersea in the 1970s, still rates him as the greatest – or among the greatest – cue men who ever lived.

Some days Patsy struggled because he’d been drinking the night before or gambling or whatever, but when it all connected and he started performing, he was like no one else on earth,” White explained. “There are certain people in this world, certain sports people, like Floyd Mayweather in boxing or Tiger Woods in golf, like Ronnie O’Sullivan at times today, that when they hit their peak they just can’t be beat … Houlihan was like that.

Another Houlihan advocate is Bill King, father of tour veteran Mark, who after decades in and around the snooker circuit remains unswerving in his view that Houlihan was “the best snooker player I’ve ever seen”.

Houlihan’s swiftness around the table was legendary and he is thought to be the first player to complete a century in less than four minutes. The man who now holds the record for the fastest televised century, Tony Drago, only saw Houlihan play when he was past his peak, nevertheless the Maltese flyer admits: “We played the same sort of game, Patsy and I, except he was probably even faster.”

Movingly, a common thread among those I spoke to about Houlihan was that he was a man whose generosity towards others, particularly young players, was considerable. Having missed out on success in the professional ranks, Houlihan had every reason to be bitter, but instead he chose kindness.

Example? Former pro Tony Meo customarily refuses interview requests these days, however he made an exception when it came to Patsy Houlihan, ringing the author and saying: “I’ve been approached to do all sorts of stuff about snooker in the 1980s … and I’m just not interested. But you’re doing something very good by writing about someone who was such a nice man, and that means more to me.

It’s nice that Patsy Houlihan’s being remembered because he was a decent soul… What can I say? We loved him.”

‘The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw’ is published by Pitch. Luke G. Williams has been a writer for more than 25 years and tweets @boxianajournal

Main image: Houlihan (right) with Welsh snooker talent Clifford Wilson outside Burroughes and Watt in London. (Seamus Phelan)
Home page image: A publicity photo taken of Houlihan during his later years on the pro tour. (Patricia Houlihan)

I haven’t read the book … yet. But I will read it, definitely.

If you are interested, but not living in the UK, finding the book might be very difficult. It’s however available on Amazon. Now I’m NOT at all a fan of Amazon business model but sometimes, if you really want a book, you have no other choice. It’s available in kindle version as well.

Snooker News – 18 March 2023

The news yesterday once again brought a mixed bag…

The good … Ross Muir regained his professional status by winning the 2023 EBSA Championship in Malta.

Here is the report by WPBSA

Magnificent Muir is European Champion

Ross Muir is set to return to the World Snooker Tour after he defeated fellow Scot Michael Collumb 5-1 in the final to win the 2023 EBSA European Amateur Snooker Championship. 

Organised by the European Billiards and Snooker Association, over 170 players from 40 different nations took part in the 32nd edition of this prestigious continental event which was this year being held at the Dolmen Hotel in Qawra, Malta.  

Muir had no problem qualifying for the knockout rounds after topping his group with four wins from four. He went on to eliminate Umut Dikme (Germany) 4-2, George Pragnell (England) 4-0, former finalist Heikki Niva (Finland) 4-2, Shachar Ruberg (Israel) 4-3 and then two-time winner Robin Hull (Finland) 4-1 in the semi-finals. 

On the other side of the draw, current Scottish national champion Collumb – who also enjoyed a 100% record in the groups phase – denied recent Q Tour Playoff winner Ashley Carty (England) on his way to the last four where he ended the challenge of Irish youngster Ross Bulman, 4-1.

The first all-Scottish final in the tournament’s history, Muir started strong as breaks of 55 and 88 helped him establish a 2-0 lead. 

Collumb got on the board with frame three, but Muir clinched a tight fourth frame from behind to go into the mid-session interval two up before reaching the target of five on resumption. 

After agonisingly finishing second on this season’s Q Tour and just missing out on automatic promotion, this triumph in the Mediterranean for the 27-year-old means he will be back in the big time as he secures a two-year professional tour card for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons. The Edinburgh cueist last appeared on the sport’s top tier in 2019.

Muir becomes the fourth player from Scotland to win the title, and the victory caps an incredible championships for his nation after under-16 and under-21 glories at the same venue for Jack Borwick and Liam Graham, respectively. 

Congratulations Ross Muir!

I’m very happy for Ross who has somehow been forced out of the professional game because of health issues. He’s obviously been working very hard to regain his tour card and has got a lot of good results in recent months. I’m wishing him the best as he return where he belongs to, the Main Tour.

The bad … Mark Kings suspended on suspicion of match fixing

Here is WPBSA statement

WPBSA Statement | Mark King

Saturday 18 Mar 2023 01:00PM

WPBSA Statement | Mark King

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson has today taken the decision to suspend Mark King from attending or competing on the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect.

This follows an initial investigation of irregular betting patterns reported to the WPBSA on the match between Mark King and Joe Perry at the Welsh Open on 13th February 2023.

The suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the investigation or any subsequent charges that may or may not be brought. Mark King has the right to appeal this decision.

This is another blow hitting the sport we love. This particular match had been discussed on social media indeed and there are call for Jason Ferguson to quit because, allegedly, he didn’t act swiftly enough in this case, and indeed the 10 Chinese players case. I’m not sure about that. It’s one thing to suspect or even know something, and another thing to have enough solid proof to take actions that are bound to be legally challenged if not supported by substantiated evidence.

Acquiring such evidence might take some time. In some cases it might even prove impossible. We have had cases in the past, in snooker, of situations where everyone was convinced that results had been manipulated but actual solid proof could never be sufficiently established. You can’t break someone career, and life, on suspicions no matter how strong they are.

Mark King is a former betting addict. My first thought reading the news was: “Did he have a relapse? Did he put himself is such dire financial situation that he saw no other way out of his problems?”. Hopefully answers will come soon. No matter how bad the answers they can’t more damaging than being in a limbo that only feeds speculations and conspiracy theories.

Farewell Vera Selby …

This sad news was shared today by WWS

Vera Selby MBE Passes Away

Vera Selby, the first winner of the World Women’s Snooker Championship back in 1976, has died at the age of 93.

Selby, from Yorkshire, was an early pioneer in women’s cue sports, as a player, referee and TV commentator. In 2016 she was awarded the MBE for services to sport.

After landing her first world title in 1976 by beating Muriel Hazeldine 4–0 in the final, she won the event again in 1981 at the age of 51 with a 3-0 defeat of Mandy Fisher. She also won the World Women’s Billiards Championship eight times between 1970 and 1978.

In 1982 she was part of the BBC commentary team at the World Championship. Selby continued to play and coach well into her 80s. In 2016 she took part in Women’s Day at the Crucible.

Shaun Murphy wrote on social media: “I didn’t get to meet Vera Selby, but she was one of the pioneers of Women’s Snooker and an early trail-blazer for girls and women who followed. May she rest in peace.

Reanne Evans added: “I’ve just been told that Vera Selby passed away last night age 93, so sad. I had the pleasure meeting Vera in Sheffield, doing a few interviews together. God bless Vera.”

WST and the WPBSA thank Vera for her tremendous contribution to our sport and send condolences to her friends and family.

Article by WST.

I had the pleasure to meet Vera in Sheffield, in 2016, during that year “Women’s Day”. The Women’s Day traditionally happens during the World Championship and that year was held in the Winter Garden. Vera was a truly remarkable women, she loved her sport, In 2016, she was still very active and… she still could play! She claimed that snooker was what kept her in good health: walking around and bending over the table kept her physically fit and flexible she said.

Here are some pictures I took on that day

As you may have noticed, the picture used by WST is a crop of one I took on that day … (no credits though)

My thoughts are with Vera’s family and friends in these difficult moments. Rest in peace, Vera.

In the aftermath of the 2023 Six-Reds World Snooker Championship

About the event

I really like the 6-reds format and if the shoot-out is ranking I can’t see why an event under this format can’t be. It presents the players with different challenges to what they face in 15 reds snooker. The frames are quick – most of them anyway – and that makes this format suitable for events with an initial round-robin phase. This could help new and young players as they would be guaranteed to play several matches against opponents of different strength and various “styles” and it wouldn’t drag as much as the ranking Championship League or the forgettable “Pro Series”.

In this particular event, most matches were streamed one way or another: on ES/Discover+, on YouTube and on Facebook. It can be done. It should be done for all events, on all tables.

A massive effort was made by the Thai organisers to ensure that all players felt welcome and valued. Although the main focus was on table one, all the tables were in the same arena, in the central space, with seats all around the “playing area”. Such setup contributes to a good atmosphere. It also ensures that no player feels “relegated” on that “last table”, far away from the limelights, where only a man and his dog sit watching … if you are lucky”.

About Ronnie’s performance

Ronnie came to play in the 2023 six-reds World Snooker Championship, having never played under that format before. He really wanted to do well but lost in the last 16 to Ding Junhui, the eventual Champion and a player who has lot of experience with the 6-reds format and had a lot of success in this event before as well. Ding has been in the final three times, winning it twice. Basically, up to and included the semi-final, he bossed everyone.

Hereafter are excerpts of an article by Eurosport. It contains quotes from Ronnie, about the event, about snooker in Asia, about his friend James Wattana, and about the way he currently sees his future. The latter of course may change over time, as, for him and all of us, life and new experiences constantly shape our dreams, expectations, hopes and capabilities.


Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed he would like to finish his playing career in Asia after reaching the last 16 of the Six Red World Championship in Bangkok with a 5-2 victory over Stan Moody on Wednesday. He also praised former world No. 3 James Wattana for his “massive” contribution to the growth of the sport in Thailand. Stream the Six Red World Championship.


The six reds is scary, the frames are over so quick,” he told reporters. “One mistake and it is game over. You get someone in a snooker with the reds open and they are bang in trouble if they don’t get it right.

I wanted to experience it and I am very glad I came. I plan my year well in advance, there can be priorities, and everyone has the chance to invite me to their tournaments.

I can’t go to them all, but I am happy to be here this year. I’d like to finish my career off in Asia, snooker is more popular here than anywhere, Thailand and China, Hong Kong.

In Covid it was impossible but my sponsors like to see me in Asia – they are the No. 1 events they want me to play in. So in the future I may skip events in the UK to play the majority here.”

O’Sullivan also praised three-time ranking event winner Wattana for raising the profile of snooker in his home country.

I played James out here in his peak,” he said on WST. “I played him in a match and we had to stop for the adverts and he was on every advert, Nescafe, Thai Airways, and I was sitting there thinking this geezer is unbelievable.

I’ve never ever hung out with anyone so famous. When he was in his prime, he couldn’t go anywhere and needed a security police escort to go everywhere.

He’s been massive for Thai snooker. Thailand snooker is very strong. They’ve got some fantastic players and that is because of James and what he has done in the game.

Not everything is great in Asia, far from it, but I can understand why Ronnie likes it so much over there. The life is very different from what it is in Britain. The smells, the colours, the food … everything stimulates the senses, for good and sometimes, truth to be said, for not so good. It’s much closer to the mediterranean way of life than to what people experience in the north of Europe. As Laila, gently teasing Ronnie, once put it: “He’s so Italian!”.

You only need to watch the first minutes of this video shared by Jason Ferguson to understand what I mean. I starts with a stroll through the local open market.

The first minutes of this video show the open market near the venue

The reception players get in Asia, the hospitality, the decorum around the events … all of it make the experience very special. The players are made to feel valued. I’m certain that Ronnie was extremely disappointed to lose early.

Here are some more snippets – quotes and images – shared by Jason Francis:

Jason is already thinking about a series of exhibitions with Ronnie around Asia…

Baipat is the 2023 Women Snooker World Champion!

Congratulations Baipat!

Here is the report on Women Snooker official site

Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan is World Champion!

Thailand’s Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan has defeated Bai Yulu of China 6-3 to win the World Women’s Snooker Championship for the first time at the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkok.

The victory ensures that Nuanthakhamjan will join the professional World Snooker Tour from the start of the 2023/24 season.

The historic 40th staging of the World Women’s Snooker Championship saw the event return to the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkok for the first time since 2019, with an all-star field which featured 17 of the world’s top 20 ranked players.

Following a dramatic four days which saw a shock last 16 defeat for three-time world champion Ng On Yee at ther last 16 stage, as well as semi-final exits for the world’s top two ranked players Mink Nutcharut and Reanne Evans, it was Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan and Bai Yulu who progressed to only the second ever all-Asian final in the history of the tournament (2017).

Competing in her debut World Women’s Snooker (WWS) Tour event, 19-year-old Bai had already made headlines following her record-breaking 127 in the group stage, before she came back from 3-1 down to defeat 12-time champion Evans in what had been an eagerly anticipated semi-final clash.

For Nuanthakhamjan, having defeated five-time finalist Maria Catalano to top her group, she overcame world number five Jamie Hunter, Bayarsaikhan Narantuya of Mongolia and defending champion Nutcharut 5-2 to reach the title match.

It was Bai who made the early running as she led 2-0 and then 3-2 at the mid-session interval. Crucially, however, it was the Thai star Nuanthakhamjan who claimed frames three and six – both with pressure pots on the final black – to remain in contention.

After she took the seventh frame to lead the best of 11 frame contest for the first time, the momentum was in her favour and she finished strongly by adding the following two frames to seal a career-best victory and a place on the professional circuit for the first time.

The victory sees Nuanthakhamjan become only the 14th different winner of the tournament during its history, the third from Asia and only the second from Thailand following Mink Nutcharut’s success a year ago.

Having played snooker since the age of 14, Nuanthakhamjan made her WWS Tour debut at the 2017 World Championship in Singapore where she reached the quarter-finals, before reaching the semi-finals two years later at Hi-End. She is also a former Women’s Snooker World Cup winner and finalist at the mixed-gender Thai national championships.

It was not until April 2022 that she began to compete on the WWS Tour full-time and her victory in Bangkok will now see her enter the world’s top 10 for the first time at number nine.

Victories for Ramachandran and Talbot-Deegan

Alongside the main World Championship, the five-day event also saw the latest staging of the World Women’s Under-21 and Seniors Championships, with a new winner crowned in each competition.

India’s Anupama Ramachanran capped a week to remember as just days on from her victory at the Women’s Snooker World Cup, the Chennai cueist ended the reign of two-time defending champion Ploychompoo Laokiatphong with a 3-2 victory in the Under-21 competition.

The 20-year-old had already accounted for Sophie Nix, Saravalee Songsermsawad and Bai Yulu to reach the final, before she came back from 1-2 down to end Laokiatphong’s bid for a hat-trick of junior world titles.

There was also a maiden victory for England’s Mary Talbot-Deegan in the Seniors Championship as she defeated 2017 World Championship finalist Vidya Pillai 3-1 in the final.

Competing in the event for the first time, 42-year-old Talbot-Deegan reached the final with victories against Altangerel Bolortuya of Mongolia and India’s Pooja Galundia, while Pillai accounted for defending champion Tessa Davidson and former world number one Maria Catalano to reach the title match.

The opening frames were shared as Pillai top scored with a run of 59 in the second frame, but it was to be Talbot-Deegan who would not be denied as she won the following two frames to claim her maiden world title and second Seniors crown in total.

Finally, there was also victory for India’s Amee Kamani in the final of the Challenge Cup, for players who did not reach the last 16 of the main competition. She defeated Waratthanun Sukritthanes of Thailand 3-2 in the final and also compiled the highest break of the Challenge with a run of 71.

World Women’s Snooker would like to thank all of our partners who helped to make the tournament possible, including the Billiard Sports Association of Thailand and Hi-End Snooker Club.

There is one event remaining of the 2022/23 season as the Tour returns to the UK for the staging of the British Open at the Landywood Snooker Club from 13-14 May. 

Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan, like many Thai players, uses a shorter name and she wants to be named Baipat.

From what I was able to watch, the final itself was not the highest quality. It was a very long match and both players were clearly under pressure. The tactical play was quite good, but their break-building deserted them a bit…

This event was probably the most talked about Women Snooker event ever. The fans were able to watch a lot of matches and discover very interesting players they very rarely get the opportunity to see and appreciate.

Snooker is very big in Mongolia, but their players rarely have the means to travel far. This event allowed a number of their female players to show their talent.

Bai Yulu impressed, as I expected. She didn’t perform at her best in the final. Maybe pressure got at her, or maybe a bit of fatigue (she also played in the Junior event). She’s only 19. I hope that she will be allowed to travel to Europe if she gets invitations in events. She is certainly a very promising talent. She had finished top of her group, ahead of Mink who she beat at that stage, and she beat Reanne Evans by 5-3 in the semi-finals of the main event. Reanne had only lost two frames in the previous rounds.

Prior to the main individual event, a number of teams competed in the World Cup. That event also brought a big surprise as “Team India” beat “Team England A”. Team England A was Reanne Evans and Rebecca Kenna, both main tour players.

Here is the official report.

Incredible India Are World Cup Winners

Team India A have defeated England A 4-3 following a thrilling match to win the 2023 Women’s Snooker World Cup at the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkok, Thailand.

Represented by Amee Kamani and Anupama Ramachandran, the leading team from India emerged successful from a knockout draw which saw them overcome Thailand C and Thailand A to reach the final, before they toppled the team that featured two of the world’s top four players to claim a famous victory. All three knockout wins were earned following deciding-frames as they succeeded Waratthanun Sukritthanes and Siripaporn Nuanthakhamjan as champions.

Both unranked on the Tour coming into the tournament, Kamani and Ramachandran exhibited both skill and determinaton as they overcame established players on the World Women’s Snooker Tour including world champion Mink Nutcharut, 12-time world champion Reanne Evans and current world number four Rebecca Kenna to lift the title.

In the final it was India who claimed the opening two frames against Evans and Kenna to earn the early advantage, before the English duo claimed the doubles frames and subsequently drew level at 2-2.

The following two frames were again shared with a telling snooker from Evans enough to earn the opportunity for Kenna to pot blue and pink and force what would prove to be a nail-biting deciding frame.

With Kenna up against Kamani in the decisive battle, it was Kamani who would gain the upper hand for Team India, only for a valiant effort from Kenna to chase – and in many cases lay – successful snookers, meaning that the outcome remained in doubt until the final moments.

Ultimately, it was Kamani who would pot the final balls required to earn what was to prove an emotional victory for the India as the pair revealed after the match.

It feels amazing because I started playing snooker back in 2011 and this is my first world title,” said Kamani. “It feels like magic and all the hard work that I have done has paid off today and this is just the start. I just want to keep winning every world title, that is what I look up to, but for now I am super happy and proud because I have made my nation India proud.

I think the biggest thrill for a sportsperson is the tricolour, the national flag going high and the national anthem in the background, I think that is the biggest thrill that we play for in India and I have made my nation proud by winning this world title. It feels amazing, I can’t even express it in words, but I think it is a prestigious world title for my country.

Teammate Ramachandran added: “I am really happy because this has been my first tournament with World Women’s Snooker and the first couple of days I was finding it really hard to adjust to the tables, it was like a completely new environment for me but I just wanted to enjoy what I was doing on the table and not thinking too much about whether I win or lose. I was going shot by shot and that really helped. I have no words!

Kamani also revealed that the feat was to be even more remarkable as the pair only decided to enter the team event shortly before the entry deadline, looking to gain valuable match practice ahead of the start of the upcoming World Championship at the same venue.

I think it’s an irony that we decided to pair up at the last moment. Just before we booked our tickets, she [Ramachandran] called me and said let’s play!

We do not play on XingPai tables, this is our first time and I think we have done amazingly well. Beating Thailand and England one by one makes it more important for us and special to win because we have beaten the top players of the world and then reached the number one place.”

This of course is a reminder that snooker is also big in India and the country has very talented players. I met and spoke to the likes of Pankaj Adjani, Lucky Vatnani and Aditya Mehta when taking pictures on tour. One aspect that was rarely talked about is how homesick they all were. Living as expats, away from their family, in a completely different culture – with a completely different food culture – is something they found difficult. That was the main reason for Pankaj Advani to quit the main tour. Some fans branded him “a quitter” but the man had nothing to prove and he was extremely unhappy. Why should he put himself through it?

Baipat has been offered a tour card. Should she take it, one other tour card remains for the grabs and will go to the highest Women Snooker ranked player, not already on tour at the end of the season. That is currently Reanne Evans, but she is not safe yet as there is still one event counting and On Yee could still get ahead of her. Again, I question the UK centric organisation of the sport here. With most events played in the UK, many of the very talented Asian players that we have seen over the last week have no chance to get high enough in the rankings because they simply can’t afford to travel to the UK each time, nor to live in the UK as ex-pats.

And finally a big bravo to the the Hi-End Snooker Club in Bangkok and to Gappa Gappa for being fantastic hosts!