Podcasts Interlude

The 2021 British Open starts tomorrow and the rig is underway in Leicester.

Interlude etymologically means “between games”, hence the title of this post.

As there was no play yesterday, I listened to some recent  podcasts by David Hendon and he discusses some interesting topics indeed.

In episode 165

David Hendon explains how WST “nicked” Michael McMullan for their own podcast, leaving him alone behind the mike. David is quite bitter about it and I can understand why. David has been working for Snooker Scene for years. He had a blog well before WST got any interest in social media, some 15 years ago, he has this postcast that is now up to episode 167, he’s a ES commentator. He has done A LOT for the promotion of snooker over the years. The minimum WST should have done is to discuss the situation with both David and Michael, rather than brutally disrupt an activity that, for many years, has brought a lot to the sport, and indirectly to them as well.

David also comes to the defence of Ronnie after receiving a scathing email from a fan. Basically what David says is that Ronnie is fundamentally a good person, suffering from serious mental health issues. In particular he is prone to violent mood swings over which he has little to no control. David mentions that this was the case again on the day he played in the CLS: he started the day in a positive mindset, looking forward to his match, but things changed in the four hours he had to wait before his second match. By that time Ronnie was really struggling but still managed to win his group. David admits that Ronnie can be difficult at times, but that actually things are even more difficult for him and that, in that light, what he has achieved and brought to his sport over nearly 30 years is truly remarkable. I can only agree. I have seen it close up. I have seen Ronnie being physically sick with anxiety before a match, I have seen him sobbing uncontrolably after a match he had actually won because ‘he had let the fans down” (he hadn’t played well for the first two frames… ). I have seen him “frozen” in depression in the players room, staring in the void, not moving, not talking for hours.

Finally David explains why, in his opinion, the British Open format is what it is, but he also says that it shouldn’t be named “the British Open” as it has nothing to do with the prestigious past tournament.

I haven’t finished listening to episode 167 yet but there is an interesting and slightly disturbing topic in that one. In this post WST claims that Jamie O’Neill has withdrawn from the British Open and has been replaced by Dylan Emery. This is actually not true. Jamie O’Neill has been suspended and therefore can’t play in the event. He hasn’t withdrawn, he’s been prevented to play. The reasons for his suspension are not clear. WST has said nothing either about the suspension or about the reasons for it. Those who are aware of Jamie’s social media, might have ideas about those reasons, but it’s just speculations. That the governing body is lying about a player’s situation is worrying. It won’t help fans (and players) to trust them. Already doubts have been cast about some of the recent draws outcomes… this is not going to help! Now, if the “speculations” are correct, this is indeed a very delicate situation and WST might be reluctant to explain its reasons, not because they are wrong – quite the opposite – but because of the very emotionally loaded context behind these reasons.

More about Ronnie’s withdrawal and exhibitions

OK, here is why Ronnie has withdrawn:

Screenshot 2021-08-09 at 17.03.33

Actually, Jason had told me this morning, asking me to keep quiet about it. Now, seeing the fans reactions he has himself decided to make it public. Yes, Ronnie did play his exhibitions despite not feeling great, but playing an exhibition is one  thing, playing competitive snooker is something else entirely. Also those exhibitions had been scheduled to be played last year, covid had forced Jason, Ronnie and the clubs to postpone them. Knowing Ronnie he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to disappoint those fans again after such long wait unless he was really unable to hold his cue.

Regarding exhibitions, Jason has made another announcement

Screenshot 2021-08-09 at 17.04.38


Great news that!

Finally, back to Ronnie’s withdrawal and the re-inclusion of Mark Joyce. This triggered a lot of negative reactions. But really? Yes, he was already knocked out, he came second in group 32, the group Ronnie won.

Last season, when similar situations happened, the three remaining players in the impacted groups had played each other twice. Honestly that didn’t work out very well.

Some argue that there were other players, in other groups who finished second with more points than Joyce. OK, but they were in different groups, with a different opposition, so how do you compare their performances? If Joyce manages to do well here, despite needing to dash to the venue on short notice, all credits to him. As it stands, he has lost his first match against Steadman and still needs to play Gilbert, so it doesn’t look very likely.

A first look at the coming season rankings with snooker.org

The unsung snooker hero that is Hermund Ardalen has started to work on the various ranking lists for this season.

The first one is the provisional Crucible rankings

This shows the top of this list

2021:22 start - Top Prov Crucible Rankings

Mark Selby, who, no matter what happens this season, will be number one seed at the Crucible as defending champion, is well ahead of everyone.

I was surprised to see Ronnie as number 2, with a 140000 points cushion ahead of Judd Trump. But of course, Ronnie had an indifferent 2019/20 season until he won the 2020 World Championship, whilst Judd won six titles that season but lost in the QFs at the Crucible.

I was also surprised to find Martin Gould in the top 16 and as high as 13th. He is however only 18500 points ahead of Jordan Brown who is 17th.

As it currently stands Ding and Mark Allen would need to qualify. Ding is only China’s number 3 in that list, behind Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong who are respectively 15th and 16th.

The biggest “shock” for me though was to find Stephen Maguire as low as number 58 in that list. Stephen is currently ranked 9th !!! That’s a serious “free fall”. He got 180000 points from the Coral Cup during the 2019/20 season and will need a good start this season to make sure that he gets the opportunity to defend them. To a lesser extend, the same is true for Mark Allen.

The second one is the provisional end-of-season rankings

This is the top of that list:

2021:22 start - Top Prov End-of-Season Rankings

Ronnie of course loses his 500000 points from the 2020 World Championship but is still fourth in the list, with a 174000 cushion on the number 16th, Martin Gould.

Again finding both Gould and Day in the top 16 surprised me. Even more surprising is to find Jordan Brown as high as 13th and that comes from winning just one tournament. Remove the points from 2021 Welsh Open and he would be ranked around the 48th spot.

WST has recently spoken to Peter Devlin who needs to do really well this season to stay on tour. Here is a significant exerpt:

Do you feel you can turn your ranking around in the second season and retain your place on the World Snooker Tour?

A lot of my experiences have taught me that it isn’t really about consistency, it isn’t about even having a good season. In order to stay on the tour, you need to win big money and in order to win big money you need to do really well in one tournament.

Ultimately the goal is to have a deep run. I want to get to a quarter, semi or a final and experience that buzz. I want to have a crack at winning something like Jordan Brown did at the Welsh Open. I know it is difficult, but it is possible.

The old point system was favouring consistency too much, especially when losing seeds still got ranking points. But I feel it has gone too far the other way around now, and the prize money is too top-heavy.

BTW there is a lot of other interesting stuff in that Peter Delin interview.

But I digress … back to the ranking discussion and to what matters even more than the top 16, the middle part of that list:

2021:22 start - Mid Prov End-of-Season Rankings

Again it came to surprise to me to see players like Gary Wilson, Mark King, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh , Sunny Akani and Michael Holt in the danger zone, whilst Jimmy Robertson, Matthew Stevens and Noppon Saengkham are currently in the relegation zone.

It paints a very bleak picture for the Thai players and Thai snooker. We could have no player from Thailand next season on the tour, despite the enthusiasm for snooker and a rather strong amateur scene in the country.

Veterans Ken Doherty, Anthony Hamilton and Fergal O’Brien are also in the relegation zone. Anthony has been fighting health issues and injuries for a long time and it might well be his last season. I trust Fergal to make a fight of it though. Anyone playing him this season better be ready for long gruelling battles; having sandwiches, thermos and some energy bars at the ready might be a good idea.


Wayne Griffith about snooker in Hong Kong and On Yee Ng in particular

On Yee Ng will be playing on the main tour this season. Wayne Griffith, the HKSI – Hong Kong Snooker Institute – Head Coach has been woorking with her for years and has been speaking to World Women Snooker, about women snooker and On Yee in particular.

On Yee is a very hard worker and she will give it 100% in the coming two years. She is determined to learn as much as she can from the experience. She is tactically sound. If anything she might not score as heavily as she would need to by professional standards just yet. But she will improve.

Good luck On Yee!

This was shared by WWS:

Griffiths Reflects on Decade of Success in Hong Kong

In recent years, the World Women’s Snooker Tour has become one of the most cosmopolitan series of events in our sport with players from across the globe regularly competing in our tournaments.

One region in particular that has played a significant role in the internationalisation of the tour has been Hong Kong, with several players based at its Sports Institute (HKSI) including our three-time world champion Ng On Yee having competed in tournaments over the past decade.

A driving force behind providing opportunities for female players in Hong Kong has been Wayne Griffiths – son of former world champion Terry Griffiths and qualified WPBSA Snooker Coach – who this September will celebrate his tenth anniversary since becoming HKSI Head Coach.

Laying the Foundations

Together with his team, including Alan Wong and David Roe who will be familiar to all on the women’s circuit, Griffiths has helped shape the infrastructure that has enabled players at the HKSI to achieve their potential during the past decade.

“I joined HKSI as Head Coach just before the 2010 Asian Games,” said Griffiths. “Billiard Sports joined HKSI in 2009 when the sport scored enough points to be considered for elite funding as a Tier A sport. This allowed an enhanced budget, a training grant for each player, travel expenses and a Head Coach. Unfortunately for them – that Head Coach turned out to be me!

“I wanted to employ a coach to work with me and I had known Alan Wong from a previous WPBSA coaching course. I knew he was native to Hong Kong and was well respected and liked as a junior coach. I felt Alan’s experience, coupled with his cultural knowledge and language skills made him a perfect addition for the team. Luckily for me, and for everyone else, he decided to take up our offer and join us in April 2011. We have been the core of the coaching team ever since and I couldn’t do without him!

“Michele Nip joined us as a full-time pool coach in 2016 (she had been part-time since 2012) and David Roe joined in the summer of the same year. Michele had brought up the junior pool team from a very young age and has developed them into Asian and World junior champions. David Roe, as a former top 16 professional player, was brought into to give us some high level ‘playing’ and international coaching experience, which I felt brought a good balance to the team overall. Both Michele and David have contributed massively to our achievements here in recent years.

“We also get around three visits per year from Lee Walker and Kelly Fisher as we seek to give the players as many different opportunities to grow and learn from the best. Their experience and input have also proved to be invaluable for us.”

World Women’s Snooker

Jaique Ip Wan In would be the first player from Hong Kong to compete on the World Women’s Snooker Tour, reaching the quarter-finals of the World Championship in both 2008 and 2009. In 2012 she became the first player from Hong Kong to win a ranking event at the Agnes Davies Memorial, defeating compatriot So Man Yan in the final.

At this time the Tour was based exclusively within the UK prior to becoming a subsidiary organisation of the WPBSA in 2015, providing an additional logistical challenge for Jaique and the other players who would join her in subsequent years.

“HKSI started with just four women players (the ‘golden girls’ as I believe they were known) of Ng On Yee, Ip Wan In Jaique, So Man Yan and Yu Ching Ching in 2010,” said Griffiths. “Three of these ladies were gold medal winners at the 2010 Asian Games.

“These four ladies were very keen to travel to international events to test themselves against the best players in the world. To do this we knew we had to come to the UK and enter WWS events.

“Obviously, the travel was an issue for us. It is generally 24 hours door to door for a UK trip from Hong Kong and a 7-8 hour time difference to get over. Fortunately for us however, we were well funded and supported by the HKBSCC, HKSI and the HKSAR Government. This allowed us to travel a few days early to get over the long trip and get some practice at the venue. We learned a lot of lessons along the way and this meant we felt we were getting stronger, on and off the table, with every trip we made.

“Even though we did not manage a win over Reanne Evans early on, we did start to score some positive results against other top players. This gave us all some encouragement and showed that we were moving in the right direction.

“However, Reanne was still the ‘Queen’ and Maria Catalano and Emma Bonney were the other business end players who always were tough to beat. It was around this time we felt things were becoming a little comfortable for the four ladies and we went in search of a ‘Sigmoid Leap’!

“To intensify competition, in 2013 we added another player, Wan Ka Kai, who was selected through a local TID event and went on to be Hong Kong’s second highest WWS ranked player not long after. Since then we have followed this strategy of increasing the members of the team to keep levels of motivation high.”

‘Respect but no fear’

Of course while many players from Hong Kong have gone on to establish themselves on the circuit, the most successful player to date has been our current world number two Ng On Yee, who famously ended the 10-year reign of Reanne Evans at the World Championship in 2015, going on to win the biggest tournament on the calendar three times over a four-year period from 2015-2018 and becoming world number one.

Her WWS debut came four years prior to her first world title when as a 20-year-old she crossed cues with Evans for the first time, losing 4-1 in a match that would launch a healthy rivalry that continues to this day.

“I think this was my first major overseas event with the ladies and I remember it quite vividly,” recalled Griffiths. “Regarding On Yee specifically, she was still developing on the table at that time. However, what encouraged me about her at that event was her attitude. Two things I remember in particular.

“The first was a round robin match against Revanna Umadevi from India. On Yee looked like losing the match at 1-1 and 45+ behind with three reds left. She then fluked a red and cleared with a 50 break to win on the black. This was not a massive break or a critical victory maybe, but it did show me a little about the mental make up of this young player.

“The second thing I remember was the knockout match with Reanne. On Yee did well but was still roundly beaten. However, it was On Yee’s positive attitude before, during and after the match that told me that here we had someone who mentally could mix it with the best.

“There was respect but no fear and a dogged determination to beat Reanne in the future – who at that time was pretty much seen as unbeatable. We set about breaking down what was needed to close the gap and On Yee worked diligently to achieve this. We knew there was some way to go, but that first event showed me that Hong Kong had a special player with the attitude and belief of a champion.”

Ng claimed her first WWS title at the 2012 Northern Championship, before defeating Evans for the first time on her way to winning the 2013 UK Championship. Two years later she would deliver her biggest performance to date as she defeated Evans in the semi-finals of the World Championship in Leeds, before claiming the trophy with a 6-2 success against Emma Bonney in the final.

“During the 2015 World Championship I was actually working down the road with Marco Fu in Sheffield and it was Alan Wong who guided On Yee to what was her biggest win to date. It was a great achievement. To end the reign of a dominant world champion is never easy and we all know what a great competitor Reanne is.

“This victory made sure that On Yee would be seen as one of the top female players in the world. The win made a lot of noise back in Hong Kong and was a massive boost for the sport – and for On Yee personally. In 2016 she received the coveted ‘Best of the Best’ sports award for Hong Kong for her results in 2015 and this launched her as a well-known personality in the region. For a female snooker player to win this award it was a significant step in the sport’s history in Hong Kong.

“We are all so happy to see a player with a great attitude and work ethic, who has listened and acted on the advice she has been given (rather than paying it lip service) to make the most of her talent. On Yee works hard and, maybe more importantly, she works smart. It is not an accident that the best players will be the players who are striving to improve and are never satisfied.

“This desire to get better however, has to be balanced for it not to become negative. On Yee has got this balance just about right now and it has been an honour and a pleasure for us all to be part of her journey to date.”

‘A Journey not a destination’

Since becoming world champion Ng has increasingly had the opportunity to compete against the world’s best male players at events including Q School, Challenge Tour and the 6-Red World Championship in Thailand.

“On Yee has improved considerably in the last 2 – 3 years and her game is getting closer to the men’s level – as the performance against Alan McManus in the 2019 World Championship showed,” said Griffiths. “However, she is a realist and she knows she has some way to go to consistently be at the level she needs to qualify for the men’s game through Q School or other accepted avenues.

“Our feeling has always been that if On Yee is always striving to improve enough to reach the men’s top tier, then we can be sure she will still be at or very near the top of the women’s game. This approach has worked relatively well to date.

“We are always looking for our own marginal gains as we strive to improve all our players in Hong Kong. We collect a lot of data here at HKSI in terms of skills benchmarking and matchplay ability. This factual and measurable data gives us a very good idea of where our players are in terms of reaching the next level. Through gap analysis, we then set about trying to formulate plans that will hopefully see the player improve in the key areas highlighted.

“We see this as a journey and not a destination, and the best On Yee can hope for is that she realises her full potential. If this means she is one of the first female players to play by right on the main tour, it would be an achievement she, and everyone here at the HKSI and the HKBSCC, would be very proud of. In the meantime, however, to quote our mantra here, she will focus on trying ‘to be a better player tomorrow’.

As Ng has continued to achieve success on the women’s circuit, she has been joined by further players from Hong Kong with seven currently ranked inside of the top 30. For each WWS events the HKSI runs an internal selection policy which as Griffiths explains, helps to create pressure situations to test the players.

“We are fortunate enough to have a strong squad of female players here in Hong Kong and they all get excellent support from HKBSCC, HKSI and the Hong Kong Government,” continues Griffiths. “We have no other player quite at On Yee’s level yet, but her ability and achievements are certainly inspiring them all to keep working hard to improve. So Man Yan, Ip Wan In Jaique, Ho Yee Ki, Fong Mei Mei, Cheung Yee Ting and Chu Pui Ying are all very good female players in their own right, and every one of them has supported HKSI with top results in recent years.”

The last decade has not only been significant for players based at the HKSI, but the circuit as a whole which has become more international since coming under the remit of the WPBSA in 2015. New events in mainland Europe, Asia and Oceania have led to the promotion of new talent and new opportunities for players globally, something that Griffiths is supportive of.

“The work done by the WWS team means that the Ladies’ game is now unrecognisable compared to where it was when I first attended in 2011,” explained Griffiths. “The depth and breadth of standard has improved significantly, numbers have increased (competitors and countries) and the events are now run, reported and marketed in a more professional manner.

“The women’s game now has far more respect and a lot more interest around the world. In terms of getting results however, it is has become a lot harder in recent years. Great players from the UK, mainland Europe, and especially now from China (Bai Yulu) and Thailand (Nutcharut Wongharuthai et al) have pushed the standards higher and higher.

“All these things come together to point to a very bright future for the women’s game, and all of us in Hong Kong look forward to be a part of it for many years to come!”

We would like to thank Wayne for his time and we look forward to seeing his team and all of the players from the HKSI again at upcoming tournaments.

2021 Q-School Event 3 – The End

Yesterday six players got a  professional tour card for 2021/22/23: Duane Jones, Lei Peifan, Dean Young and Ian Burns were Q-School Event 3 laureates, whilst Hammad Miah and Mitchell Mabb topped the order of merit.

Here is the report by WST:

Jones Ensures Immediate Return

Duane Jones booked an immediate return to the World Snooker Tour after defeating China’s Si Jiahui 4-3 in the final round of Q School event three.

All results

Jones, Dean Young, Lei Peifan and Ian Burns all secured tour cards for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons. While Hammad Miah and Mitchell Mann earned spots by virtue of finishing third and fifth respectively in the Order of Merit, which was taken from all three Q School events.

Welshman Jones came into the concluding round assured of an immediate return to the World Snooker Tour, after sealing a place in the top two on the Order of Merit. However, he capped off qualification in style with an good win over talented 18-year-old Si. Jones led 3-2 before being pegged back to a decider, where he got himself over the line.

Jones suffered relegation from the circuit at the end of last season, after recording just nine match wins throughout the campaign. However, the 28-year-old did showcase his ability in 2019, when he went on a run to the semi-finals of the German Masters in Berlin.

Jones said: “It’s been a tough six weeks to be honest with you. Losing my place on the tour, I only fell off by one position in the one-year list. To come back and get straight through doesn’t get any better, I’m over the moon with it.

“I think on paper this is the toughest Q School I’ve ever played in. The draw was just a minefield. With it being seeded the way it has, people said it would be easier but it isn’t. There are seeds all over the draw and before you could be in a little spot without them.

“I’m just going to try and keep going and practising, rather than take a break and start again. The iron is hot now so I’ll keep the ball rolling for as long as I can.

“In round three I went for a bit of breakfast before the match and I couldn’t get into my hotel room. The card wouldn’t work. We tried for an hour and a half and I thought I wouldn’t make it. I came over to tell the tournament director I might not make it. Eventually we managed to bust the door open with spanners, crowbars and tools, it was all coming out. The hotel allowed me to do it to make my match. I am very lucky to even be here!”

Scotland’s 19-year-old Young became the only player of this year’s Q School to secure a debut berth on the World Snooker Tour, beating Haydon Pinhey 4-1 in the final round.

The 2018 Scottish Under-21 champion impressed on his televised debut at the 2020 Shoot Out, where he scored wins over David Grace and Liam Highfield, before bowing out at the hands of current Masters champion Yan Bingtao in the last 32.

Young came through a tricky section of the draw to seal his professional status for the first time. He defeated Matthew Roberts, Florian Nuessle, Dylan Emery and Mitchell Mann on his way to the final round. Young top scored with a break of 91 in his defeat of England’s Pinhey.

“I’m speechless at the moment, but it was an unbelievable feeling at the end,” said the Edinburgh cueman. “Practising with Scott Donaldson has brought my game on a lot. He plays at the same club as me so we’ve been practising with each other day in and day out.”

Former Welsh Open quarter-finalist Burns regained his professional status with a 4-1 win over Mark Lloyd.

Despite being highly placed in the order of merit, Burns had to win to have any chance of returning to the circuit he was relegated from earlier this year.

Burns defeated Liam Davies, Yu Kiu Chang, Soheil Vahedi, Simon Blackwell and Lloyd on his way to successfully negotiating event three.

Burns said: “I’m relieved more than anything. After coming so close in the first event, losing out to Peter Lines in the final round. I’m over the moon to get through.

“That last match is horrible. I never expected to get through easily. It is just a case of getting over the line. Duane Jones and Lei Peifan were playing with no pressure, but I am just so relieved to get through.

“My little boy was born back in January, so there is that going on in life as well. I think it spurs you on a little bit to not do it for myself but do it for the family as well. It has been tough coming back and a long three weeks in Sheffield. Especially in your hotel room trying to kill time. You just have to fill your time as best you can and keep yourself focussed.”

Chinese 18-year-old Lei topped the order of merit and was already guaranteed a tour place coming into the final round and ended an impressive three weeks by beating Billy Castle 4-2.

Lei came through Q School at the age of just 15 in 2019, to earn a maiden spell on the tour. However, he lost his professional status at the end of last season. Wins over Jed Mann, Patrick Wallace, Ben Mertens, Sanderson Lam and Castle in event three ensured his immediate return.

Dean Young is the only new player amongst the 14 who came through the 2021 Q-School, the only one who has never been a professional before.

The final “set” of laureates is a reasonable one: Lei Peifan, Yuan Sijun, Dean Young, Jackson Page, Duane Jones, Hammad Miah and Mitchell Mann are all under-30, with Lei, Yuan, Dean and Jackson aged between 18 and 21. I’m glad that there are no under-18 kids graduating this time: most of them are lambs for the slaughter and the long terms effects of a disastrous first two years on tour can be very damaging.

The other seven – Peter Lines, Fraser Patrick, Craig Steadman,  Barry Pinches, Mick Judge, Alfie Burden and Ian Burns – are all over 35. Experience matters and, of course, several of them had the opportunity to play in WSS events and stressed how important the Seniors Tour had been for them this season.

The above results triggered a number of rather negative discussions on social media yesterday, ranging from the “death” of the amateur game to calls to exclude older players from  Q-School or to exclude older professionals from WSS competitions, as well as the adequacy of the Q-School system itself.

There is no doubt that the amateur game isn’t in the best of shapes and I have already shared my thoughts about the reasons why young players struggle to get and stay on the tour, but this season there is the additional “corona virus” factor. Whilst the pro tour essentially went on as normal behind closed doors, the amateur game came to a complete halt and amateurs had very little opportunities to play competitively, practice and prepare. It was even worse for the overseae’s players who had to face additional hurdles related to travel restrictions, tests, administrative paper work and quarantine. It’s a shame but no surprise under those circumstances that none of them managed to get through this year.

Anyway … Well done and good luck to all of this year’s laureates!



2021 Q-School Event 3 – into the last day

Today is the last day of the 2020/21 season and by tonight six more guys will have earned a fresh two years tour card.

This is WST report on what happened yesterday:

Pinches Junior Into Last 16

Luke Pinches is just two wins away from following in the footsteps of father Barry and earning a tour card through Q School.

All results

Luke Pinches

Norwich potter Pinches, age 19, is through to the last 16 of Q School for the first time and will face Mark Lloyd next. The four quarter-final winners on Sunday in Sheffield earn a two-year tour card, as do the next two highest players on the Order of Merit.

Luke’s father Barry, age 50, came through event two earlier this week. If Luke successfully follows him, they will join Peter and Oliver Lines as father-and-son duos on the pro circuit. In the last 32, Pinches beat Callum Beresford 4-1.

Lloyd ended the hopes of Tony Knowles with a 4-2 success. From 2-0 down, Lloyd took four in a row with a top run of 56.

Ian Burns came from 3-1 down to beat Soheil Vahedi 4-3, taking the last three frames with breaks of 56, 63 and 106.

Veteran David Finbow, who reached number 28 in the world during his 1990s peak, could return to the tour for the first time since 2004. The 53-year-old came from 3-1 down to beat Dylan Mitchell 4-3.

Joshua Cooper – nephew of Shaun Murphy – beat Robbie McGuigan 4-1, setting up a match with China’s Si Jiahui. Duane Jones saw off Michael Georgiou 4-1 and will now face a Welsh derby against Michael White. Two-time ranking event winner White let slip a 3-0 lead against Hammad Miah 4-3, but made a 74 in the decider to win 4-3.

Also through to the last 16 are Simon Blackwell, Lei Peifan, Sanderson Lam, Billy Castle, Ross Bulman, Haydon Pinhey, Mitchel Mann and Dean Young.

There are only two non British/Irish players amongst the remaining 16, two young Chinese, both relegated pros, Lei Peifan and Si Jiahui. Other than those two, we a have some young talents still in this draw: Mark Loyd, Luke Pinches, Haydon Pinhey, Dean Young, Ross Bulman and Josuah Cooper are all under-25. The way the draw pans out at least three of them will be in the quarter-finals.

Hammad Miah is currently on top of the order of merit. He’s not mathematically “safe” but would need a lot of results to go against him today to miss out on a fresh two years tour card. Lei Peifan, who is still in the tournament, is second and the same is true for him should he lose to day.

Michael White is still in the draw and I hope that he makes it through because his chances to get a fresh tour card via the order of merit are extremely thin: he would need Sanderson Lam to lose by 4-0 in the last 16, Ian Burns to lose in the last 16, and Lei Peifan, Duane Jones and Mitchell Mann to be amongst today’s laureates.

Amongst those who bowed out yesterday are Michael Giorgiou, Soheil Vahedi, Ross Muir, Bai Langning and Luo Honghao.

Michael, Ross, Bai and Soheil are high in the order of merit and will probably  get opportunities to play via the top-up system if they so wish and if it’s actually possible.

Of course, for Soheil who is Iranian, there are additional questions about his status in the UK and how he can support himself and his family. He must be able to stay and work in the country for this to be a realistic option. I hope that it will possible if that’s what he wants.

As for Michael Giorgiou, if his FB page is anything yo go by, he hates the game … for now at least.

For Luo, who is only 21, was rookie of the year in 2018, qualified fot the Crucible on his maiden season, I fear that this could be the end of the road and it’s a real shame. Lewis and myself were there, at the EIS, when Luo qualified for the Crucible. He had so much battling spirit and passion in him back then. What happened that turned him into the anxious bag of nerves we have seen over the last couple of years? It’s very sad.

This was shared by James and relayed by Michael Day on twitter (*):


It’s an order of merit of the English juniors in 2009/10. Mot many have made it and been able to stay on the main tour. Only two have been really succesful: Jack Lisowski and Kyren Wilson: they were both 18 years old at the time, and both turned professional in 2010. Stephen Craigie, who topped that list by some distance, completely disappeared from the snooker map.

(*) Michael observed that “the rivalry between Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson going back to their juniors days” is not credible, unless by “juniors” people mean “children”. Judd, who is nearly two and a half years older than Kyren, turned pro in 2005. Kyren was only 13 at the time and never competed against Judd on the amateur circuit after that.



2021 Q-School Event 3 – Round 2

Round 2 of the third and last 2021 Q-School concluded yesterday.

Here is what WST reported about it:

Wells Sunk By In-Form Muir

Former Scottish Open semi-finalist Daniel Wells faces a year away from professional snooker as he lost 4-2 to Ross Muir in the last 128 of the third and final Q School event.

All results

Welshman Wells has been on the pro tour since 2015 but was relegated at the end of last season and has won just one match in the three Q School events.

Scotland’s Muir has made five centuries over the three events and impressed again today as a top break of 103 helped him set up a last-64 tie with Saqib Nasir. He needs four more wins to guarantee a tour card by reaching the semi-finals, and Muir is also in contention for the two cards available for the next two highest ranked players on the Order of Merit.

Women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna came from 2-0 down to 2-2 against Ross Bulman but eventually lost 4-2. Bulman now meets Lewis Gillen.

James Cahill made a 112 in a 4-0 win over Labeed Ahmed while Sanderson Lam, who lost narrowly to Barry Pinches in the final round of event two, got back on track with a 4-1 defeat of Jack Bradford.

France’s top player Brian Ochoiski top scored with 74 in a 4-1 victory over Carl Mottershaw, while Belgium’s Ben Mertens made breaks of 55, 58, 56 and 118 as he beat Evan Munro 4-0.

Mitchell Mann top scored with 111 in a 4-1 defeat of Umut Dikme, while Kishan Hirani came from 3-1 down to beat Michael Collumb 4-3.

There were also victories for non UK/Irish players Niel Vincent (France), Rodion Judin (Latvia), Mateusz Baranowski (Poland), Yu Kiu Chang (Hong Kong), Soheil Vahedi (Iran), Lei Peifan, Luo Honghao, Bai Langning, Si Jiahui (China), Florian Nüßle (Austria) and Brian Cini (Malta).

Unfortunately a number of them are set to face each other in round three. At the time of writing, Ben Mertens has beaten Niel Vincent and Soheil Vahedi has beaten Rodion Judin, whilst today, Luo Honghao is set to face Bai Langning and Si Jiahui will play Daan Leyssen (Belgium) who had a bye through round two.

Lei Peifan won his third round match and is currently on top of the Orfer of Merit list. In round four he will face Ben Mertens…

If you wonder what happened to Tony Knowles … as for once WST failed to report on him … fear not. He’s through to round four and the main feature of WST report on round three. Seriously, it’s quite remarkable what Tony achieves, and all credits to him, but he’s hardly the future of the game.