Happy New Year to everybody.
When you’re watching the final of the 888.com World Championship four months from now spare a thought for Donald Newcombe and Phil Seaton who have today kicked snooker’s biggest event off in the chilly confines of Pontin’s at Prestatyn.
Their match is the only one in the first qualifying round. It’s perhaps a little unkind to liken it to two bald men fighting over a comb but it’s a long, long way to the Crucible from here. Newcombe or Seaton would have to win a total of eight matches to make it to Sheffield.
Next week, Jimmy White enters the fray in what could conceivably be his last ever World Championship.
Jimmy is currently 78th in the provisional rankings. If he drops off the tour he may get a wildcard but this isn’t the certainly many seem to assume.
The six times runner-up starts out against Matt Selt or Fraser Patrick and will then have to beat Andrew Higginson and Mark King to qualify for the Crucible.
It’s by no means beyond him but, bearing in mind his form this season, is somehow hard to see.
By the way, it’s well worth going to Prestatyn because there are several other established names in action, including 1991 champion John Parrott, former semi-finalists Alan McManus, Andy Hicks and James Wattana and rising stars like Judd Trump, Michael White and the five-strong Chinese contingent.
And if a qualifier follows in the footsteps of Terry Griffiths and Shaun Murphy by actually winning the title you can always boast that you were there to see them as they set off on the long journey towards snooker’s greatest prize.