Back to the Michael White story - you'll recall he was not allowed to play in the Shanghai Masterrs because he was still 15 when the qualifiers began (his 16th birthday is next week).

I was privately told yesterday by a WPBSA official that the constitution was changed in 2001 specifically precluding anyone under the age of 16 from competing as a professional. Shaun Murphy, you'll recall, did so at 15 in 1998.

I have no memory of this but have no reason not to believe the person who told me.

An EGM would have been required to change the constitution. I can't find a press release announcing the change and, trawling through the archive on worldsnooker.com, there appears to be no mention there either.

However, if indeed it is enshrined in the WPBSA constitution then another EGM would have been needed for White to play.

I was not told all this when I made an official enquiry last week, which is why there was no mention of it on my post here or in the story we've run in the new issue of Snooker Scene.



Alfie Burden became the first player to win a match in the 2007/08 professional season when he beat Alex Davies 5-1 in the first qualifying round of the Shanghai Masters at Pontin's, Prestatyn today.

To be honest, I'm only mentioning this so I can use the headline.



Has there ever been a more farcical start to a snooker season than this one?

After last week's news that Michael White was being barred from playing in the Shanghai Masters because he is 15 - even though Shaun Murphy had previously been given an exemption at the same age - and that Vincent Muldoon's European place had been given to a Thai, Issara Kachaiwong, comes the revelation that five Asian players have been unable to obtain visas and work permits to play.

Thus, Kachaiwong and Chinese players Liu Song, Tian Pengfei, Xiao Guodong and Liu Chuang will not be able to take their places in the draw.

It means only 11 of the scheduled 16 first round matches will be played at Pontin's in Prestatyn.

I think the Chinese players should now be given wild cards - though not be eligible for prize money or ranking points - to play in the final stages. It seems bizarre that they should have to come from their own country to North Wales to try and qualify for an event in China.

As for Kachaiwong, it was only decided last Thursday that he would be on the tour at all so how on earth could he be expected to organise a permit in time?

And how must Muldoon be feeling now that the person who was given his place isn't even playing?

For many years, Snooker Scene has advocated a reserve system so that players not on the tour can compete if there are withdrawals.

This shambles proves more than ever why this system must be adopted.


The first prize in the new Shanghai Masters will be £48,000, which is £13,000 more than Graeme Dott received for winning last season’s China Open.

The total prize fund is £250,000 - £24,500 more than for the Beijing event.

World Snooker has taken a decision to plough the increase into the business end of the tournament. The runner-up will receive £22,500 (£5,000 more than in Beijing) and the losing semi-finalists £12,000 (£3,250 more than at the China Open). The prize money in the other rounds remains the same as for the previous Chinese event.

I think this is the right thing to do. In sport, excellence should be rewarded. Of course, to most of us £35,000 would be a lot of money for a week’s work but winning a tournament is a great achievement and this should be reflected in how the pot is divvied up.

Also, by increasing the first prize the prestige of the tournament grows as well. To the casual observer, it makes the event appear more worthy of their time and suggests snooker’s fortunes are improving.


As players gear up for the start of the Shanghai Masters qualifiers tomorrow, I’m particularly pleased to see Patrick Wallace back as part of the professional circuit.

He’s a player with a pure love of snooker: he loves playing; he loves watching; he loves being part of the scene.

Patrick defeated Joe Meara 10-5 to win the Northern Ireland Amateur Championship for a third time earlier this month and was thus eligible to return to the pro ranks having been relegated in 2006.

He had a great run to the Crucible quarter-finals six years ago, beating Alan McManus and Mark King before losing 13-11 to his close friend Joe Swail.

It was an emotional occasion for both players, so used to supporting each other and finding it difficult having to meet at such an important juncture in the game’s top event.

Patrick began the following season 21st in the provisional rankings but failed to finish inside the top 32 and began a decline that would eventually cost him his main tour place.

The last time I saw him was in Belfast last August when he came for an evening to watch the Northern Ireland Trophy. Then, he was unsure about whether to put his cue away for good or give the amateur circuit a go.

I could see that he retained a great love for the game and that simply stopping would be very difficult for him. That he would win his national title a few months on shows just how good a player he still is when the pressure of pro competition is off.

I wish Patrick all the best when he cues up tomorrow against Matt Selt.



Martin Gould, the reigning English amateur champion, today defeated David Grace, who won that title in 2005, 6-3 to win the EASB play-off for the final main tour place.

Gould's victory at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds means he can compete on the world ranking event circuit this season.

He doesn't have long to prepare - his first match is against Lee Spick on Tuesday in the first qualifying round of the Shanghai Masters.



A few things that have been happening:

Firstly, Clive Everton, Snooker Scene's editor, is making a remarkable recovery from his hip operation. He's back walking pretty much unaided, back in the office and back in charge of the magazine.

There is to be a tournament in Hong Kong next month to mark ten years since Britain handed the colony back to China. It will feature four world champions and four Asians: John Higgins, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, Ding Junhui, Marco Fu, James Wattana and the new Asian champion Supoj Saenla.

The Euro-Asia Challenge, which features two groups of four, with the top two in each progressing to the quarter-finals, runs from July 12-15.

Two Iranian women officiated at the recent Asian Championship in Pakistan. Further details here: http://www.worldsnooker.com/news_editorial-18761.htm

Pot Black will be staged at Sheffield City Hall next season. The eight man, one frame tournament, takes place on October 6.

The World Billiards Championship will be staged at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds from July 18-22.


Mark Selby tells me he will defend his World 8-ball Pool title in Blackpool next month.

He can expect plenty of attention. Indeed, his profile has grown almosty overnight following his run to the final of the 888.com World Championship last month.

Mark said that in Poland last week he was inundated for autograph requests. He has also been undertaking exhibitions and making personal appearances here in the UK.

One bit of bad news though - he's been given footage of his Crucible matches on VHS but does not possess a video recorder so will need to find a way of transferring them to DVD.



The sheer incompetence of the WPBSA never ceases to amaze me.

Today, they released the draw for the Shanghai Masters. It did not include the name of Michael White, who won the world amateur title in March 2006.

White is 15. The age at which players can turn professional is set at 16 but there have been exemptions in the past, most notably Shaun Murphy in 1998.

When I asked the governing body why White had been overlooked, I was told categorically: 'We've checked the records. Nobody has ever played professionally under the age of 16.'

Really? I have a WPBSA press release in my possession dated July 30, 1998. It begins:

"Shaun Murphy, snooker's youngest professional, lost his opening match in the summer qualifiers at Plymouth Pavilions last night.

"The 15 year-old from Irthlingborough, Northants, was beaten 5-2 by Northern Ireland's Dermot McGlinchey in the first round of the Grand Prix.

"Murphy was allowed to play as a professional after qualifying for the world ranking tournament circuit through the Riley UK Tour last season. The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) decided that, as his 16th birthday comes just a few days into the qualifiers, he should be permitted to compete."

So there it is, in black and white on the WPBSA's own headed paper. So much for 'checking the records.'

There are mistakes and there are mistakes. Some are mere errors that can be corrected, others are more serious.

This is an appalling one because we are talking about a young man's career here. If White is not allowed to play in the first qualifying event then he will spend the rest of the season playing catch up.

In my view, he should be reinstated into the draw immediately.



On June 20, 1992, a 16 year-old by the name of Ronnie O’Sullivan began his professional career at a sweltering hot Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool.

O’Sullivan beat Jason Scott 5-3 in the second qualifying round of the UK Championship, having had a walkover in the first. It was the first of 38 successive victories, which remains a record.

He spent the summer dismissing opponent after opponent, ended it by qualifying for the Crucible and has, of course, gone on to enjoy a brilliant career.

Back in 1992, snooker was open to whoever wanted to play. All you had to do was pay your money and show up.

It ushered in a new era, with players such as John Higgins, Mark Williams, Stephen Lee, Matthew Stevens and Paul Hunter emerging as major forces among some 700 professionals.

Today, it’s much more of a closed shop with only 96 places available on the main tour.

It’s also much more stop-start: rather than a summer of qualifying, it’s a few days here, a few days there.

Would O’Sullivan have come through the current system? Absolutely, he’s too good not to have done.

Even so, the open system had much going for it, not least the revenue raised which, in these post-tobacco days, would surely come in handy again.


Further to my post of yesterday, good news for Joe Johnson who is now in possession on video footage of the 1986 World Championship.

BBC Look North contacted the BBC's sport library in London, who have put together a DVD for Joe.

And Bernard Thorpe, who played alongside Joe as captain of Dudley Hill Social Club in the 1970s, also came forward.

He said: "I taped the match and had it on Betamax. I worked as a caretaker at City Hall and the boilerman put it on VHS for me. It is a really good picture, but there's the sound of the boiler in the background."

Despite this extraneous addition to the footage, Joe is naturally delighted. He said: "I can't believe it. I haven't seen the match for 21 years - not since I won it - and now I can watch it again."



Joe Johnson, the 1986 world champion, as appealing for anyone with footage of his greatest moment to come forward - after his kids wiped the tape of his 18-12 victory over Steve Davis.

Johnson, his wife, Terryl, and some friends decided to watch the video recently. He said: “I put the tape in and we found ourselves watching He Man - Master of the Universe.

“I would really like to have it again. I wouldn't know how to get hold of one, though.

“Two of my sons, Jonathan and Daniel, were only seven and five when it happened, so they wouldn’t have known. It’s just one of those things, but it was terrible to lose it.

“I really would love to have a copy. The tape contained highlights of the whole tournament.”

Johnson was a 150-1 outsider when he beat Davis to win the title. He finished runner-up to Davis a year later.

Anyone who can help should leave a comment here and I'll get in touch.



Mark Selby gained a small measure of revenge over John Higgins by beating the world champion 5-3 to win an invitation event in Warsaw, Poland today.

Selby, newly installed in the elite top 16 for the new season, was beaten 18-13 by Higgins in their Crucible final last month.

The ‘Jester from Leicester’ defeated the 2006 world champion, Graeme Dott, 5-1 in the semi-finals in Warsaw while Higgins beat veteran Steve Davis 5-3.

The tournament, which was broadcast live on Polish television, also featured four local players.

The sport is hugely popular in Poland after extensive coverage of the major events on Eurosport.

QUARTER-FINALS: John Higgins beat Rafal Jewtuch 4-2; Steve Davis beat Marcin Nitschke 4-2; Graeme Dott beat Jaroslaw Kowalski 4-2; Mark Selby beat Krzysztof Wrobel 4-0
SEMI-FINALS: Higgins beat Davis 5-3; Selby beat Dott 5-1
FINAL: Selby beat Higgins 5-3



Terry Griffiths, the 1979 world champion, has been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

"I'm very proud to get an OBE and my family is proud too," he said. "It was very much a surprise when, about a month ago, I got a letter telling me.

"I stopped playing in 1997 so I feel this has come for my coaching work rather than my playing career.

"Coaching is so rewarding for me. It gives me the adrenalin rush I miss from playing. When the player I'm coaching loses I feel the same as they do. When they win I feel a part of that."

Griffiths, a former postman and bus conductor, turned professional in 1978 after twice winning the English amateur title and became the only player to win the Crucible event at his first attempt.

On beating Eddie Charlton in the semi-finals, he famously told BBC viewers: 'I'm in the final now, you know.'

Throughout the 1980s, the Welshman was one of snooker's top stars but, like everyone else, was in the shadow of Steve Davis, who beat him all seven times they played at the Crucible, including in the 1988 final.

Despite Davis's dominance, Griffiths won several titles, the most dramatic of which was his 16-15 defeat of Alex Higgins in the 1982 UK Championship final.

Griffiths also won the 1980 Wembley Masters and captured three successive Irish Masters titles from 1980 to 1982.

He spent 17 successive seasons in the top 16 and continued to play until 1997, retiring at the age of 49.

Griffiths, by now suffering from a back complaint, had dropped out of the top 16 and only entered the World Championship in his final season. He qualified and led his compatriot Mark Williams 9-7 at Sheffield before losing 10-9.

Since retiring, he has taken a leading role in developing grass roots snooker through coaching programmes for young players and has also coached Stephen Hendry, Williams and Stephen Maguire among several others.

Griffiths, one of the great stars of the 1980s snooker boom, is widely respected within the game. This award recognises his continuing contribution to the sport.



The EBSA European Championship in Carlow, Ireland is down to the knockout phase and matches are being streamed live on the web.

To watch the action, go to http://www.globalsnookercentre.co.uk and click on Live Streaming.


Those who complain that there is no tradition left in snooker these days will doubtless be buoyed by the news that the game's no.1 hellraiser is again mired in controversy.

Alex Higgins is reported to have punched a referee during an exhibition in the North East of England last night.

The twice world champion, who has just released his autobiography, hasn't played on the pro circuit for ten years but remains a huge figure. His career was dogged by various bouts of bad behaviour of which this appears to be the latest.

Still, can't see this incident harming book sales somehow.

Story here: http://www.sportinglife.com/snooker/news/story_get.cgi?STORY_NAME=snooker/07/06/12/manual_121905.html



I was on holiday last week when the Ronnie O’Sullivan disciplinary hearing was held so I apologise for not posting my thoughts at the time.

I think the WPBSA have got it about right with their punishment. £20,800 is a great deal of money to most people. It isn’t to Ronnie but he still won’t enjoy paying it.

The 900 ranking points he loses doesn’t effect his position in the list but the important thing is that he has actually been punished for what was an aberration on his part that I’m sure he regrets. The sport has been seen to take such an incident seriously.

There are two interesting aspects of this to me:

Firstly, the disciplinary committee completely disregarded the opinion of the WPBSA chairman, Sir Rodney Walker, who submitted a plea on Ronnie’s behalf not to punish him. This at least proves they are independent of the main WPBSA board – which also includes Ronnie’s manager, Lee Doyle.

Secondly, why on earth did this take nearly six months to sort out? Last Saturday, the Denmark v Sweden Euro 2008 qualifier was abandoned late on after a Danish fan ran onto the pitch with the intention to assault the match referee.

FIFA’s disciplinary committee are meeting on Friday to decide what to do about it.

How could it take so long for snooker’s authorities to reach a decision on what happened in York? As far as I know, Ronnie’s management submitted medical evidence as to his specific condition pretty soon after the incident.

I don’t see what good it did snooker by dragging out the process like this. The lawyers involved might disagree, though – Ronnie had to pay legal costs of £5,000 towards the hearing, which strikes me as far too high.