The professional game has packed up for its summer break but snooker continues in various forms around the world.

Various National Championships have been completed. Here are some of the winners...

England - Martin Gould
Scotland - James McBain
Republic of Ireland - Vincent Muldoon
Finland - Jyri Virtanen
South Africa - Peter Francisco
Belgium - Bjorn Haneveer
USA - Jack Lung
Oceania - Dene O'Kane
Bermuda - Adam Bendall



Clive Everton, Snooker Scene's editor and BBC's senior snooker commentator, is now back at home after breaking his hip on the final day of the recent 888.com World Championship.

He will take a few weeks to recuperate fully but wishes to pass on his sincere thanks to everyone who has sent cards or enquired after him.


John Higgins will play his first match as 888.com world champion in Poland as he takes part in a new eight-man tournament in Warsaw next month.

Higgins, Graeme Dott, six-times world champion Steve Davis and Crucible runner-up Mark Selby will take part against four Polish players - Marcin Nitschke, Rafal Jewtuch, Jaroslaw Kowalski and Krzysztof Wrobel - in the event, which will be held on June 16 and 17.

Snooker has become hugely popular in Poland following extensive coverage of the game's major events on Eurosport.

It is to be hoped further invitation events in other parts of Europe will lead to even greater interest.



Here are the dates for the new snooker season. They are all provisional and subject to change.

Date Event Venue
August 6-12: Shanghai Masters, TBC
October 6: Pot Black Cup, TBC
October 13-21: Royal London Watches Grand Prix, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre
November 4-11: Northern Ireland Trophy, Waterfront Hall, Belfast
December 3-16: Maplin UK Championship, TBC

January 13-20: Saga Insurance Masters, Wembley Arena
February 11-17: Welsh Open, TBC
March 23-30: Beijing Open, TBC
April 19-May 5: 888.com World Championship Crucible Theatre, Sheffield

June 26-29: Shanghai Masters, Pontin’s, Prestatyn
September 7-11: Saga Insurance Masters, World Snooker Academy, Sheffield
September 17-23: Royal London Watches Grand Prix, Pontin’s, Prestatyn
October 23-25: Northern Ireland Trophy, Pontin’s, Prestatyn
November 25-30: Maplin UK Chgampionship, Pontin’s, Prestatyn

January 4-11: 888.com World Championship, Pontin’s, Prestatyn
January 22-25: Beijing Open, Pontin’s, Prestatyn
February 5-7: Welsh Open, Pontin’s, Prestatyn
March 7-10: 888.com World Championship, World Snooker Academy, Sheffield



Now the season is over, it's high time we tipped our hats to those players and performances that stood out.

Here, then, are my awards for the campaign just gone. I should point out that I'm too mean to actually present any actual awards, but see if you agree with my choices.

No one player domnated the snooker year but the Aussie left-hander was the only person to win two ranking events and is now firmly established as one of the game's very best.

He captured the Grand Prix title last October and the Welsh Open in February. He's now a member of the top eight and despite his defeat to Ronnie O'Sullivan in the second round of the World Championship, enjoyed by far his most successful season since turning pro.

MATCH OF THE SEASON - Peter Ebdon v John Higgins, UK Championship semi-finals
We saw some excellent snooker at the Crucible and elsewhere during the campaign but, for me, Ebdon's 9-7 victory over Higgins at York was the perfect example of how good this sport is when played to the highest standard.

Both players were on top form, with Ebdon just finishing the stronger to win 9-7 before going on to land the title.

Mark Allen impressed at the Crucible, as did Judd Trump in qualifying, but Cope's two ranking event final appearances provided more than a mere glimpse of his great potential.

Runner-up to Neil Robertson in the Grand Prix and Graeme Dott in the China Open, it won't be long before Cope wins something, such is his obvious talent and self belief.

PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON - Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Masters final
O'Sullivan's extraordinary demolition of Ding Jun Hui was a bravura display of potting and break building from the most talented player in the game's history.

It was relentless or, as Steve Davis put it, 'unplayable.' Sadly for Ronnie, it wasn't a performance he was subsequently able to repeat in teh rest of the season.

ACHIEVEMENT OF THE SEASON - Andrew Higginson reaching the Welsh Open final
In season previous to the one just gone, Higginson was on the game's secondary tour and nothing he had done in 11 years as a professional suggested he would ever be anything more than a journeyman.

That all changed at Newport where he beat Marco Fu, John Higgins, Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire to reach the final. He came back from 6-2 down to lead Neil Robertson 8-6 before losing 9-8 and also made a televised 147 in the quarter-finals.

Higginson did all of this with great humility and served up one of the most heart warming stories professional snooker has ever seen.

SCANDAL OF THE SEASON - The Masters 'cover up'
Trailing Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-3 in their Masters final, Ding Jun Hui shook hands to concede. I saw it, you saw it, everyone at Wembley saw it. The match should have been stopped there and then.

Ronnie - whose own York walkout was so controversial - having talked Ding round into carrying on, World Snooker officials stated that the Chinese potting star had believed the final was a best of 17. They would say - and many would agree - that they are charged with looking after the players and the image of the game in general, but I don't believe the sport's governing body should be saying things that are palpably untrue.

HIGH POINT OF THE SEASON - Semi-final Saturday at the Crucible
Both World Championship semi-finals provided excitement, drama and snooker of an extremely high standard as John Higgins recovered from 14-10 down to beat Stephen Maguire and Mark Selby rallied from 16-14 adrift to edge Shaun Murphy 17-16.

This was top drawer snooker at its best in the arena that has become the spiritual home of the sport. It proved what a thrilling game snooker can be when it really matters.

LOW POINT OF THE SEASON - The death of Paul Hunter
Paul was only 27 when he died of cancer last October, leaving behind his wife, Lindsey, and baby daughter, Evie Rose.

There wasn't anyone in the sport who wasn't deeply saddened by his passing.

QUOTE OF THE SEASON - 'I want to be the Billy the Kid of snooker' - Ronnie O'Sullivan
He said this at last October's Grand Prix and, no, I've still got no idea what he meant.

BREAK OF THE SEASON - Stephen Hendry's 127 at the Malta Cup
It wasn't especially memorable as a break but, for what it represented, Hendry's 127 in the first round against Robert Milkins must take this prize.

This is because it was his 700th career century, a quite remarkable statisitic bearing in mind nobody else has even got to 500.

The following deserve mentions:
- John Higgins for winning the world title
- Mark Selby for his run to, and fightback in, the final
- Steve Davis for ensuring a top 16 place at the age of 50
- Ding Jun Hui for becoming only the secoind teenager to win three ranking titles
- Graeme Dott for shutting his doubters up for good by winning the China Open
- Kurt Maflin for winning the world amateur title and finishing top of the PIOS rankings



Thank you to everyone who has phoned or emailed our office to ask after Clive Everton, who broke his hip on Monday, thus ending a run of 509 days of attendance at the Crucible since the World Championship first moved there in 1977.

Clive had an operation yesterday and is recuperating. He'll hopefully be up and about in due course.

In the meantime, the magazine will come out as usual.



John Higgins, on top form, is as good as anyone who has ever played professional snooker at the highest level and so the only surprise about the capture of his second world title was that it came nine years after he won his first.

I salute his performance. He's always conducted himself with class and good humour and will be a good world champion for the sport in the next 12 months.

However, his 18-13 victory over Mark Selby won't have been seen by many youngsters wishing to follow in his footsteps in future years.

The BBC2 peak viewing audience of 5.2m came at 11.15pm - an hour and a half before the final ended. People were tired, needed to sleep for work and simply couldn't stay with it to the end.

The main problem is not so much the 8pm start as the 3pm afternoon start. A couple of long frames and all of a sudden they were only playing six, with a possible 13 to play at night.

Had the final gone the distance it may have threatened the latest ever Crucible finish of 3.51am set by those arch grinders Cliff Thorburn and Terry Griffiths in 1983.

It's asking a lot for the public to stay with any match, even the world final, until such a late hour.



Can Mark Selby complete the third unexpected triumph at the Crucible in as many years and upset the odds against John Higgins in the 888.com World Championship final?

I think he can. Selby’s played the best snooker of the tournament and if he was feeling nervous at the end of his semi-final against Shaun Murphy last night, he didn’t show it.

MC Richard Beare has dubbed him the ‘Jester from Leicester’ and his looks to camera and various antics have enlivened this Championship.

But John Higgins is a real class act and, when he’s playing well, he’s as good as anyone who’s ever played at the home of snooker.

The 1998 champion had his own great escape against Stephen Maguire and will be very, very difficult to beat.

It would seem wrong if Higgins were to end his career only having won snooker’s greatest prize on one occasion. He has the chance to rectify that over the next two days but I have a funny feeling the Jester may have the last laugh.



Mark Selby has won the inaugural 888.com 'Silver Chip' award for his outstanding achievement in reaching the Crucible semi-finals.

The award was voted for by the Snooker Writers Association and will be an annual occurence at the World Championship.

Selby is much improved in recent years, despite his curious cueing style in which he rocks from side to side, like a marksman taking aim, before striking the cue ball.

But it works for him and I wish him all the best this weekend.



A disciplinary hearing into Ronnie O'Sullivan's mid-match walkout at last December's Maplin UK Championship will finally be held this month. World Snooker have declined to reveal the date but I understand it is May 31.

Sir Rodney Walker, the World Snooker chairman, has pledged to make the result of the hearing public.

O'Sullivan could be in line for a heavy fine or the docking of ranking points, but Walker has written to Jim McMahon, the chairman of the disciplinary committee, pleading leniency on O'Sullivan's behalf.

O'Sullivan was trailing Stephen Hendry 4-1 in their quarter-final when he conceded the match.



You may recall I made the following prediction for the semi-finals:

Mark Williams v Neil Robertson
Shaun Murphy v Stephen Hendry

That went well, then.

One plus point, I did also say the following: "Who could be this year’s Murphy or Dott? Possibly Mark Selby who has a reasonably favourable draw."



I'm delighted to see Mark Selby doing so well in the 888.com World Championship.

He's a fantastic player to watch when he hits top form, as he proved when he demolished the usually indestructible Peter Ebdon in the second round, making five centuries, including three in a row.

Oddly, Mark moves on the shot and resembles a marksman taking aim. This isn't in the coaching manuals but is effective enough for him to have reached the Crucible quarter-finals.

I well remember being in a hotel lobby at 1am in Shanghai in 2002 when one of the referees spotted Mark trying to book a cab to the China Open venue.

Despite it being pitch black, the Leicester pro thought it was the afternoon and that he should be playing.

Thankfully, his timing on the table is better than it is off it.