I understand Graeme Dott has withdrawn from the Shanghai Masters after suffering an injury playing football.

Details are sketchy to say the least - there's nothing on worldsnooker.com and I can't get it confirmed officially.

I am trying to find out the details and will report back...

EDIT: World Snooker Tournament Director Mike Ganley tells me that Dott has broken his left arm but that he may be fit to play in the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Glagsow in a fortnight's time.

Apparently, he put his hand up to block a shot and it broke a bone in his arm.


Steve Davis will become the first fifty something to appear in a ranking event quarter-final for 14 years if he beats Ding Junhui or Dave Harold in the last 16 of the Shanghai Masters.

Davis defeated defending champion Dominic Dale 5-4 at the Grand Stage earlier today.

Doug Mountjoy was 51 when he featured in the 1994 British Open quarter-finals. Davis is, of course, 51 at the moment.

Steve has earned millions from snooker and could put his cue away and retire safe in the knowledge that his status as a legend is not in doubt.

But why should he?

He can still compete to a high standard and loves snooker, indeed loves competing full stop, whatever the activity.

Gone are the days when he was booed for being too good. Davis is now universally respected as snooker's elder statesman.

There will come a time when he cannot produce the goods any more.

However, that time has not yet arrived.



There could be a major power shift in snooker following the formation of a new players' union.

According to today's Daily Record, Matchroom boss Barry Hearn and Pat Mooney, who runs the World Series, are behind the new body designed to give players a greater say in how their sport is run.

The WPBSA is currently a union of sorts but the problem is that it is also the game's disciplinary body.

For example, forget the rights and wrongs of Ronnie O'Sullivan's behaviour in THAT press conference at last season's China Open for a moment and consider this: the very people who were supposed to be representing him (the WPBSA) were also the people prosecuting him (the WPBSA).

If you've seen Woody Allen's film 'Bananas', think of the courtroom scene where he plays his own prosecuting barrister and you'll have some idea what I mean.

John Higgins has recently been sent a letter ticking him off for comments he made in the press criticising the scheduling of the new Bahrain Championship, which cuts across a Premier League night he is involved in.

The WPBSA clearly didn't like what he said as they sent him the same letter twice.

A new union, provided it is run properly, gives the players a chance for their voice to be heard and represent players such as Higgins if he were called in to face disciplinary action for what is, after all, an opinion.

The question is, will it lead to a major overhaul in the way the sport is run?

Time will tell...


I know you shouldn’t laugh at other people’s problems but I couldn’t help chuckling when I heard that Graeme Dott had missed his connecting flight from Glasgow to Heathrow, where he was due to get another to Shanghai.

Why? Because this has happened to Dotty before and it led to a snooker version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

The 2002 China Open was played in Shanghai. Because there was a tournament straight afterwards in Thailand, the players had to fly in via Bangkok.

Then, as today, Dott’s flight from Glasgow to London was cancelled because of fog. This meant that he was too late into Bangkok to make the flight to Shanghai.

He eventually made it some 40 hours after setting off from Scotland.

Understandably exhausted, he went straight to bed where he managed to sleep through his alarm call.

Dotty woke up some 15 minutes before his first round match with Darren Morgan was due to begin and threw on his snooker gear – though famously not any underwear – and ran down to the hotel reception where he hailed a taxi to the venue.

Unfortunately, the taxi went the wrong way and Graeme ended up getting out and running the last half a mile.

He arrived ten minutes late, was docked two frames and lost 5-3.

Naively believing that he may see the funny side, I asked Dott how he felt in the press conference afterwards.

He looked me in the eye and said, “suicidal.”

Wouldn’t it be easier if all the tournaments were held in Scotland?



Has Ding Junhui just discovered I am tipping him for success in the Shanghai Masters?


Stephen Maguire knows he will have to deal with an enthusiastic crowd as well as snooker's great and good as he attempts to complete a Chinese double at the Shanghai Masters.

Maguire won the China Open in Beijing last season and rose to no.2 in the world rankings behind Ronnie O’Sullivan.

But the 27 year-old from Glasgow admits he will have to shut out the behaviour of the Chinese crowd, who are renowned for taking photographs and using their mobile phones during matches.

“It can be like playing in a pub,” Maguire said. “The crowd are nuts but you have to look at it the right way.

“They are so enthusiastic and just want photos of the players. They’re not trying to put you off but their mobile phones seem to go off every two seconds.

“I would prefer to be playing at home. It’s the journey I don’t like but there are six or seven Chinese players on the tour and they have to come over to the UK to play.

“I certainly wouldn’t complain about going to China. The more tournaments the merrier.”

Maguire starts out against Kent’s Barry Hawkins as the game’s leading players chase a top prize of £52,000.

The first two live TV matches on Eursport on Monday are Jimmy White v Xiao Guodong (8am UK time) and Liang Wenbo v Atthasit Mahitthi (12.45pm UK time).



Paul Newman, who has died at the age of 83, was compelling as ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson in The Hustler and its sequel The Color of Money.

The original is a startling examination of a talented pool player whose self destructive behaviour and obsession with winning leads to great personal pain.

The Color of Money, directed by Martin Scorsese, sees an older, wiser Felson get back in the game and take a young prospect, played by Tom Cruise, under his wing.

Both films are excellent, largely because of Newman’s performances, and illustrate the fact that sportsmen are often selfish, ego-driven and unpleasant but that we still root for them.

Check them out if you haven’t seen them.



Here is the draw for the first round of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix:

Saturday, 11 October
12pm John Higgins v Anthony Hamilton; Joe Perry v Barry Hawkins

Sunday, 12 October
1pm Stephen Hendry v Dave Gilbert; Neil Robertson v Steve Davis
NB 3pm Marco Fu v Jimmy Michie; Mark Allen v Michael Holt
7pm Graeme Dott v Judd Trump; Ryan Day v Ricky Walden

Monday, 13 October
1:30pm Stephen Maguire v Jamie Cope; Ding Junhui v Jamie Burnett
7pm Mark Selby v Andrew Higginson; Peter Ebdon v Simon Bedford

Tuesday, 14 October
1:30pm Ronnie O'Sullivan v Liang Wenbo; Allister Carter v Dave Harold
7pm Shaun Murphy v Adrian Gunnell; Mark King v John Parrott


Four years ago, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy fell out over an incident at the Grand Prix.

Maguire was about to break off in the first frame when he realised he had forgotten his chalk.

He was granted permission by the referee, Johan Oomen, to go and get some chalk from his dressing room.

While he was out of the arena, Murphy approached Oomen to remind him that players should be docked a frame if they are not ready to play at the scheduled time.

The tournament director, Mike Ganley, was called and Maguire was docked a frame on his arrival back at the table.

He won the match but hasn't forgotten the incident.

It doesn't change what he thinks of Murphy as a player but the chances of them forming a doubles partnership appear just as remote now as they were in 2004 when this incident occurred.

“As snooker players, Shaun and myself respect each other. It would be hard not to because he’s a great player," Maguire told me today.

“We’re not best of friends but that adds an extra edge when we play each other because we want to beat each other so much.

“I enjoy that. You can’t be friends with everyone."

I agree that sport needs rivalries and grudge matches.

Why should all the players be friends?

Maguire's 10-9 victory over Murphy in this year's China Open final was probably the best match of last season.

Stephen's right that the additional spice that comes when they play makes their clashes that little bit more special.

The truth is that Maguire and Murphy are different types of people.

And snooker is all the better for it.


Michael Georgiou is...actually, who is Michael Georgiou?

Of all the players chosen for the Hotshots campaign, he is the least known.

Certainly, the BBC website didn’t know much about him when they announced the campaign a couple of weeks ago.

They called him ‘Michael Demetrio.’

Georgiou – and that is his correct name – is actually a fine prospect. Last year, he won the IBSF world under title, previously won by the likes of Ken Doherty, Peter Ebdon and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It got him on to the ranking tournament circuit but he has so far found life as a professional hard.

From the three tournaments played so far he has won four frames.

Georgiou is finding life off the table pretty tough as well. Despite being termed ‘professionals’, players in the first two rounds of ranking events, including the World Championship, do not receive a single penny.

A few weeks ago, Georgiou gave an interview to the Metro newspaper in which he revealed he had taken a part time bar job and was relying on the financial support of his parents.

This is the harsh reality of life on the lowest rung of the pro snooker ladder. Many players have climbed to lucrative heights; however many others have slipped off altogether.

Georgiou, from Forest Hill in London, is 20 and so has time on his side.

But if he does slip off the main tour this season he will have to spend a year working his way back up from the Pontin’s International Open Series, and this secondary circuit is far more competitive than a lot of people realise.

So the danger is that Georgiou, plucked from the game’s supporting cast to play a starring role in this new PR campaign, could slide back into obscurity.

I hope he doesn’t. Snooker needs young talent to come through.

That he’s won the world junior title and finished runner-up in the European Under 19 Championship proves Georgiou has potential.

If he starts to make good on this, nobody will be getting his name wrong in the future.



As far as I’m concerned, Simon Bedford’s 5-4 defeat of Mark Williams in the final qualifying round of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Prestatyn today will be one of the biggest shocks we will see all season.

Be honest, who saw it coming?

It means Williams misses out on the final stages of a ranking event for the first time since the 1996 World Championship.

And taken with Ken Doherty’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of John Parrott it proves how hard it is for top players to adjust to the qualifying set up after many years in the elite top 16.

But what’s interesting is that it isn’t the new faces getting through to venues, more some old stagers.

Parrott and Steve Davis both won this morning, as did experienced campaigners like Bedford, Dave Harold Anthony Hamilton, Jimmy Michie and Michael Holt.

Only Ricky Walden could be classed as an up and comer, and he’s been that for a few years now.


Daniel Wells is a young man with a good attitude. He wants to be a top professional snooker player and is prepared to work hard to achieve his dream.

Wells was chosen in 2007 as the inaugural recipient of World Snooker’s Paul Hunter Scholarship. He received free practice facilities at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield as well as psychology sessions and various other off table benefits.

This was a big responsibility for him. Hunter was a much loved icon of the sport and Wells was required to conduct himself professionally and not let the programme down.

And he didn’t put a foot wrong all year. He was helpful and engaging in interviews, practised hard and earned promotion to the main tour from the Pontin’s International Open Series.

At 20, Wells has embarked on life as a professional. It is, of course, a tough learning curve at the qualifiers and he is not guaranteed to even remain on the circuit at the end of the season.

He has so far won two matches in three tournaments.

One thing in his favour is that, unlike many young players, his game is not based entirely around attack.

I interviewed him for Snooker Scene earlier this year and this is what he told me:

“Shot selection is important. A lot of players my age play the wrong shots but I’ve realised there are times when you have to play safe.

“If you go for everything, you won’t last on the main tour unless you’re an unbelievable player like Jamie Cope, who never misses.

“You need an all round game to compete.”

I think Wells is right and this approach leaves him better equipped him to deal with some of the grinders at Prestatyn than other circuit newcomers.

He started playing at ten but did not make a century until he was 14, which by the prodigious talents of young snooker players makes him something of a slow developer.

This matters little. He is on the professional circuit now and, if his time on the Paul Hunter Scholarship is anything to go by, has the will and determination to keep his place.



Alan McManus was a player many tipped in the early 1990s to be world champion.

He lost in the Crucible semi-finals in 1992 and 1993 and never again threatened to land snooker’s greatest prize.

But it’s easy now to forget how good he was.

He won two ranking titles, the 1994 Dubai Classic and 1995 Thailand Open, but his biggest win came at the 1994 Masters when he ended Stephen Hendry’s remarkable 23-match unbeaten run at Wembley with a 9-8 defeat in the final.

McManus had problems converting good runs in tournaments into silverware. He reached 26 ranking event semi-finals but only ten finals.

Today at Prestatyn he produced a solid performance to beat Paul Davies 5-1 and reach the final qualifying round of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix.

McManus was once as high as sixth in the rankings. Now he is 37th.

“I fancy doing well this season. I fancy doing some damage if I qualify,” he told me after setting up a meeting with Anthony Hamilton tomorrow.

Indeed, he played well at the Northern Ireland Trophy last month, coming close to beating Stephen Maguire in the last 16.

Perhaps slipping down the rankings has been a wake-up call. Some players – Jimmy White is a good example – come to realise that they are simply too good to be where they are on the list.

Can McManus turn things round?

It will be tough, but I don’t believe form completely disappears. It’s up to players to rediscover it.

McManus is the sort of player who could do just that, but he has a lot of work to do if he is to get back to where he was 15 years ago.


Jamie Cope is known as ‘the shotgun’ and anyone who has witnessed, close up, his rapid-fire cue action will understand why.

But it isn’t all show: he has already appeared in two ranking tournament finals and is certainly good enough to start winning titles.

He was a talented junior and remains the only player to have made a 155 break – the maximum possible – in witnessed practice.

Cope is not much of a talker in interviews, whether through shyness or because he’s unsure of what to say.

This is not necessarily a bad thing from his point of view: the less you say, the less you can get yourself into trouble.

But sportsmen and women who are successful outside of merely playing have recognised they need to develop and push their personalities.

Perhaps the Hotshots campaign will help Cope to do this.

Nobody could seriously claim he is lacking when it comes to doing the business on the table.

His long potting is frighteningly good, indeed as good as anyone. He destroyed John Higgins in last season’s Maplin UK Championship, which suggests no fear of reputations.

But a dodgy shot selection cost him victory over Peter Ebdon in the first round of this year’s World Championship and he will have to develop a better safety game to rise the rankings still further.

Cope would be an asset for the top 16. Indeed, it is hard to believe he failed to get in after reaching two ranking tournament finals during the 2006/07 season.

He lost out 9-5 to Neil Robertson in the Grand Prix and 9-5 to Graeme Dott in the China Open. It was defeat to Judd Trump in the World Championship qualifiers that season that cost him promotion to the top 16.

His defeat to Ebdon at the Crucible similarly cost him this year.

Different players do, of course, have different characters.

As a teenager, Ronnie O’Sullivan was gregarious. Stephen Hendry was reserved.

Cope is closer to the latter but it didn’t do Hendry any harm and I get the feeling we’ll be seeing plenty of what Cope can do on the table in the years to come.


The Championship League will be shown on a total of seven betting websites next year - four more than last season.

Perform, the internet company who stream pictures on the web, have signed a deal with Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Sportingbet and Unibet.

They already have an arrangement with Betfair, William Hill and Bet365.

The new deal means that even more people can watch the event and, indeed, bet on it.

The Championship League is promoted by Matchroom and was credited by both Ali Carter and Joe Perry as being key to their great runs through last season's World Championship, affording as it did high quality match practice and the potential to earn pots of money.

Some players decided not to accept invites to it last season but I understand interest is high for next year's event - including from players who would expect to be picked for the Premier League in any case.



Ding Junhui, China's top snooker player, has said he will continue to promote a controversial milk company despite its links to a scandal in which thousands of babies have become seriously ill.

This is entirely his prerogative but may not go down too well with all of his fans back home.

Full story here.


Mark Allen is the best prospect to come out of Northern Ireland since the heady days of Alex Higgins and Dennis Taylor.

They were both world champions and I believe Allen is good enough to be one as well.

As an amateur, he captured the Northern Ireland national title at all age levels. He subsequently won the European Under 19 Championship, European Amateur Championship and World Amateur Championship.

He made his television debut as a wildcard for the 2005 Northern Ireland Trophy. In his first match he beat Steve Davis 4-0. He then beat John Higgins 4-1.

So the signs were there from the off that Allen was not only a fine player but – crucially – able to handle the big occasion.

He has made it into the top 16 after only three seasons on the professional circuit. Stephen Hendry, Peter Ebdon and John Higgins also did this (Ronnie O’Sullivan and Alan McManus managed it after just two).

Off the table, Allen is a nice, easy going sort of bloke. However, on the table he has, at times, appeared to be channelling the spirit of the Hurricane.

Ken Doherty, not one to speak out unless absolutely necessary, complained about his behaviour and attitude during their match at the Grand Prix last year.

Allen, to his credit, immediately accepted he had been in the wrong.

Snooker, like any individual sport, can be very frustrating and many, many players have struggled to keep their emotions in check.

Letting off some steam is sometimes a useful thing but I think back to the heydays of snooker’s two greatest names – Hendry and Steve Davis – and recall the blank, poker faces they held at all times so that their opponents could not detect any sign of weakness.

Allen clearly cares a great deal about his snooker. So do his family: his parents sold their house when he was young to help fund his career.

This gamble has paid off and I don’t think it will be too long before we see him winning titles.

However, one worry of late has been his tendency to lose leads. It happened at the Crucible where he lost 10-9 from 9-7 up to Hendry, a defeat which left him in tears.

It also happened at the Northern Ireland Trophy last month. Allen led Dominic Dale 4-1 but only beat him 5-4; he led Mark Williams 4-0 and beat him 5-3.

Of course, all three players performed very well to come back and these three results hardly constitute a crisis.

Allen is a fast, fiery, exciting prospect and well placed to finish inside the top eight at the end of the season.

He wasn’t even born when Higgins and Taylor won their world titles but has the ability to emulate their achievements.



Mark Selby was, until a few years ago, one of those players who appeared to have plenty of talent but perhaps not the killer instinct to be a great champion.

Nobody would say that about him now. He is the world no.4 and holds the Masters and Welsh Open titles. At 25 he has time on his side.

Selby was accepted into the professional ranks as a 15 year-old in 1999, although he was 16 when he played his first match.

He first came to prominence at the 2002 China Open in Shanghai. In the wild card round he beat a 14 year-old by the name of Ding Junhui. He then defeated Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan to reach the semi-finals where he was denied 6-3 by Anthony Hamilton.

This was a fine performance but most memorable for me was the sight of Mark in full snooker gear standing in the hotel lobby at 1am trying to arrange transport to the venue.

A referee friend I was with asked him why he was doing this and he replied, “I’m playing at two.”

For some reason, he had, in his jetlagged state, failed to notice it was pitch black outside and therefore not the afternoon.

A year later, Selby reached the Scottish Open final where he lost 9-7 to David Gray.

After this, he went backwards for a couple of seasons. He had – as many people do – a few personal problems and there was a question mark as to whether he would ever cut it at the highest level.

The tide began to turn when he teamed up with Mukesh Parmar, his friend and manager who has been good for him on and off the table.

The first signs of an upturn in fortunes came at the Crucible in 2006 when he beat John Higgins in the first round of the World Championship.

In 2007, he faced Higgins again, this time in the world final. Selby recovered from 12-4 down to 12-10 and – though this is mere speculation – I think would have made it 12-12 had the match not been taken off to leave time between sessions.

The closest he got to Higgins was 14-13 before the Scot stepped up a gear to apply a classy finish.

Last season, the confidence Selby gained through his Crucible heroics was plain to see. He certainly doesn’t fear the top players. He shouldn’t. He is a top player.

He’s also become one of snooker’s foremost characters, earning the nickname ‘The Jester from Leicester’ because he is invariably smiling about something.

This is one of the reasons that he is a good choice for any promotional campaign.

Selby has also developed into a good all round player. In the disappointment of losing their Welsh Open final last season, O’Sullivan openly questioned whether he was talented.

Perhaps he hadn’t watched Selby win the Masters making four centuries in the final.

The Newport final was different. Here we saw a more grinding approach and it worked – Selby came from 8-5 down to beat O’Sullivan 9-8.

The only low note last season was Selby’s first round defeat in the World Championship but he has plenty more to look forward to in a career that has many more years to run.

He is one of snooker’s prime assets and his ability to accept victory and defeat with equal grace reminds me – and I don’t say this lightly – of another great player, Paul Hunter.

Every day this week I shall be taking a look at one of the five players chosen for World Snooker's new Hotshots programme.


Sir Rodney Walker, the chairman of World Snooker, has told the Guardian newspaper that the game’s governing body will sign a memorandum of understanding with Betfair in the next few days following reports that the Gambling Commission is investigating unusual betting patterns on the Peter Ebdon v Liang Wenbo at last month’s Northern Ireland Trophy.

Most British sports governing bodies have already signed this. It allows them to share information with Betfair and therefore follow an audit trail to see who is putting bets on which matches.

World Snooker had discussions with Betfair as far back as 2004. Had they signed the MOU then, the various accusations of match fixing that have occurred since may have been easily dismissed.

I do not believe that snooker has a match fixing problem. However, it has had a problem with the perception that not all matches are honest over the last couple of years.

In the main, this has resulted in the tournaments played using a round robin format where inequality of motivation between players has led to some suspicions.

Walker is doing the right thing by signing a MOU with Betfair.

The obvious question, though, is why his organisation didn’t do so much earlier.

Guardian story here.


Jimmy White, who has struggled badly at the qualifying school in Prestatyn over the last two years, returns to Pontin’s today for the preliminary rounds of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix.

And White does so having won all six matches he has played in the qualifiers so far this season.

The 46 year-old made it through to the final stages of both the Northern Ireland Trophy and Shanghai Masters.

Can White make it three in a row? He faces Michael Georgiou in the first round today.

EDIT: White beat Georgiou 5-1!



The Gambling Commission, a government regulatory body, are investigating reports of unusual betting patterns on the Peter Ebdon v Liang Wenbo match at last month's Northern Ireland Trophy.

Several bookmakers reported that punters had wagered, or attempted to wager, large amounts on Ebdon to lose 5-0. This was indeed the final score.

There are full details in The Guardian.



Snooker Scene is considering starting a monthly podcast and I was interested in the views of snooker fans.

Is there any interest in such a thing?

More to the point, would you listen to myself, Clive Everton and Phil Yates talking about snooker and what sort of topics would you like to be covered?

Feel free to reply below or by email, snookersceneblog@aol.com.



Until this year, Joe Perry appeared to be one of those players destined to spend every season either just inside the top 16 or just missing out on a place in the elite group.

In fact, he began the new season at a career best of 12th and is now 7th in the provisional standings.

His rapid rise up the rankings is mainly attributable to his run to the World Championship semi-finals last season.

At the Crucible, he won an excellent match against Graeme Dott, beat Stuart Bingham and then won a 13-12 thriller against Stephen Maguire.

Perry was 15-15 with Ali Carter before an ill-timed (when is there ever a good time?) mobile phone call in the audience.

I’m not saying he would have beaten Carter if not for this but there’s no doubt it affected his concentration.

Perry tonight makes his debut in the Partypoker.com Premier League in Basingstoke.

This is a very big deal for him. It’s a tournament he has always watched but never expected to be playing in.

He’s in it because he won the Championship League last season, the qualifying tournament for the Premier League.

This new event was key to Perry’s – and Carter’s – sudden upturn in form.

Players have justifiably complained in recent years that there haven’t been enough playing opportunities.

The Championship League provided tough match practice against top players. And it was well paid.

You can’t ask for more than that.

Now 34, Perry has long been a fine prospect.

He first broke through in big way by beating Steve Davis 10-9 in the first round of the World Championship.

In 2001, he reached the European Open final in Malta, beating Matthew Stevens, Jimmy White and Mark Williams en route.

Only a vintage Stephen Hendry performance denied him. The 9-2 defeat was comprehensive but at least his Malta run provided a huge boost of confidence.

At the 2004 World Championship he played very well to beat the then defending champion, Williams, on the way to reaching the quarter-finals.

Perry should have reached the 2004 UK Championship final but somehow lost 9-8 to David Gray having led 8-7 and by 45 with 43 on in frame 16.

A year later he was beaten in the semis again by Ding Junhui.

Perry’s beaten a number of top players but never Ronnie O’Sullivan, his opponent in the Premier League tonight.

But I get the feeling he’s going to enjoy himself whatever happens.

After years as a member of snooker’s supporting cast, Perry now finds himself playing a leading role.


Some sports seem to appeal to readers. Cricket is certainly one. Golf is another.

The dearth of snooker books suggests our sport is not one, although this may reflect the tastes of publishers rather than the general public.

Anyway there have, over the years, been a number of interesting snooker books.

I know I’m biased but the best recent one in my opinion is Black Farce and Cueball Wizards by Snooker Scene editor Clive Everton.

This is an extraordinary account of the game’s rise to popularity and how it fell into the hands of the self-interested, dishonest and, at times, downright corrupt.

I had the pleasure of reading a much longer version in manuscript form. The book could have been a lot longer and there were many scandals there was simply no room for.

Prior to this, my favourite snooker book was Pocket Money by Gordon Burn. This is a riveting account of one season (1985/86) at the time of the 1980s snooker boom in Britain.

It details Barry Hearn’s entrepreneurship and the various characters – Steve Davis, Alex Higgins and Terry Griffiths among them – who dominated the game.

Autobiographies, by their very nature, tend to be self serving and not always reliable.

That said, I enjoyed Jimmy White’s book Behind the White Ball, although its literary style owed far more to its ghostwriter, Rosemary Kingsland, than Jimmy himself.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s story is told in Ronnie, which captures the ups and downs of his life with reasonable accuracy, even if he glosses over some incidents which would have merited more space.

Alex Higgins told his story last year in From the Eye of the Hurricane. Again, it’s all from his point of view but it’s an entertaining and at times poignant read.

I’d be interested (no pun intended) to read Steve Davis’s life story and that of Stephen Hendry.

Indeed, there are many fascinating snooker stories to be told. Perhaps I’ll write a book myself.

In the meantime, I have collated a list of books worth reading and linked them to Amazon. There are also DVDs and computer games listed there.



It looks like the Malta Cup will be on as a ranking event this season which, if confirmed, represents good news for snooker.

It will mean there will be nine ranking events this season.

Let’s not get carried away. I remember when there were ten.

However, with the Bahrain Championship added to the calendar it means there will be two more ranking tournaments this season than last and the most there have been in any single campaign in seven years.

In the tough economic position all sports find themselves in, this is a cause for celebration.

What everyone involved in snooker will hope is that these events can all be confirmed for next season as well.

And then the next priority must be in creating new events.

I think it’s quite likely there will be a third ranking event in China next season. I hope Germany – that other great growth area – also features in the governing body’s plans.

With a sprinkling of independently promoted tournaments, not least the World Series, as well it looks as if snooker is, slowly but surely, beginning to sort itself out.

Sponsors are still badly needed but the game has three key broadcasting contracts with the BBC, Eurosport and CCTV in China, which are helping to spread the snooker word to millions around the world.

More can be done.

I return to my point of a couple of weeks ago: the qualifiers need to be streamed on the web in some capacity. This would also increase interest.

Also, World Snooker really need to flag up good news a little more.

The main story on their website for nearly a week has been Ryan Day’s wedding – which happened three months ago!

There is a perception that snooker is on the rocks. It isn’t.

But people need to know this and also to be given the impression that there are actually things happening in the sport – between tournaments as well as during them.

That is one reason why I write this blog. It may not be a hard news week but there's always something to say about snooker if you put your mind to it.


Thanks to all those who entered our competition to win one of five free passes to watch the Belgian Open, we received close to 100 entries.

The winners, drawn out of the Snooker Scene hat, are:
Thomas Lavery (England)
Darryl Croft (England)
Samuel Hinton (Wales)
Vadim Ingerov (Russia)
Patryk Kubek (Germany)

The answers were:
1) Jimmy White won the first ranking event staged in Belgium, the 1992 European Open
2) Bjorn Haneveer was Belgium's highest ranked player
3) Mark Selby is 25

Don't forget, you can watch the Belgian Open from September 19-21 at CueSport TV.

We will be running a new competition to win tickets to the Royal London Watches Grand Prix at the weekend!



In an idle moment yesterday, I worked out that Ronnie O’Sullivan has constructed an average of 33 centuries per season since turning professional in 1992.

Stephen Hendry has compiled an average of 31 since he joined the pro ranks in 1985.

With the seven year start, Hendry is ahead on 718 with O’Sullivan on 535.

John Higgins is comfortably in third place but yet to reach 400.

Ronnie may catch the game’s greatest ever player one day but this depends on several factors, not least how long both players continue to play for and how many tournaments there will be to play in.

There were more tournaments when Hendry was at his peak but not as many as people like to remember.

Nevertheless, when he made a record 52 centuries in the 1995/96 season he did so playing in 15 different events.

O’Sullivan made 50 last season playing in only nine.

Included in this was his remarkable achievement of making a ton in each of the five frames he won in beating Ali Carter 5-2 at the Northern Ireland Trophy.

He is now as proficient at banging in centuries as Hendry was in his pomp.

The Scot made seven when he beat Ken Doherty 10-5 in the 1994 UK Championship final.

Hendry also holds the record for the most centuries in a single tournament. He made 16 in the 2002 World Championship.

Hendry, along with Jimmy White, pioneered the attacking game that is common place in professional snooker today.

Players of 30 years ago could make centuries of course but there tended to be far more tactical play.

Perrie Mans won the 1980 Masters without making a half century break, never mind a century.

It is very rare a match in the final stages of a ranking tournament is won without the aid of a 50 these days.

The old adage states that ‘a century only wins you one frame’ but, by the same token, many centuries win you many frames.

Will O’Sullivan ever overtake Hendry in the all time centuries list?

Time will tell but what is clear is that, in this department, these two are head and shoulders above the rest.



Our competition to win one of five FREE passes to watch the forthcoming Belgian Open on Cue Sport TV closes at 6pm today, UK time.

Among the players confirmed for the tournament are Stephen Maguire, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen, Mark Williams, Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens and John Parrott.

It costs £8 for the three days but, thanks to CueSport TV, this blog is giving away five passes for snooker fans to watch the action for free.

To stand a chance of winning, you will need to correctly answer the following three questions:
1) Which player won the first ranking tournament to be staged in Belgium, the 1992 European Open?
2) Which Belgian player once achieved a highest ranking of 53rd, the best of anyone from this country?
3) How old is Mark Selby?

DO NOT post your answers below. Send them instead to snookersceneblog@aol.com.



I enjoyed watching Ronnie O’Sullivan play John Higgins in the Premier League the other night.

I enjoy any good snooker but especially so when a match features two of the sport’s all time greats.

Snooker doesn’t have an official Hall of Fame. If it did, Ronnie and John would be members.

Their rivalry began long before they turned professional as teenagers in 1992.

They each benefited from having parents who nurtured their talent and interest in snooker, driving them to junior pro-ams and festivals.

At the 1991 World Masters in Birmingham there was a junior competition. O’Sullivan was favourite. Then, as now, there was much hype surrounding him. Most of it was justified. He had, after all, been making centuries for fun since he was ten and just won the IBSF world under 21 champion.

However, Higgins beat him on his way to the final where he would beat another future world champion, Mark Williams, to land the title.

O’Sullivan made an explosive start to his professional career. In only his second season he won the UK Championship and joined the top 16 at the end of that campaign.

This is some achievement in any era.

But Higgins was also making rapid progress and, in the 1994/95 season, became the first player to win three ranking titles as a teenager. Only Ding Junhui has since emulated this.

Unencumbered by the sort of emotional distress O’Sullivan was going through, Higgins emerged as the leading challenger to the supremacy of Stephen Hendry.

His position as the game’s top player was confirmed when he won the 1998 world title and took over at the top of the rankings.

He could have won the title two years earlier but lost to O’Sullivan in the quarter-finals. Higgins could be forgiven for thinking he had been hard done by: the night before their match began he did not even know if there would be a match. O’Sullivan had physically assaulted a tournament official and the WPBSA top brass were meeting to decide if he should be thrown out of the event.

This was far from ideal preparation for O’Sullivan but neither was it for Higgins, who had done nothing wrong.

It is often said O’Sullivan has had a controversial career. Compared to most it has been but Higgins has been no stranger to controversy either.

He did, after all, walk out of a tournament after reaching the quarter-finals and was thrown off a plane for being drunk.

As is often the case, though, the truth behind the headlines is depressingly banal. In the first case he had been given wrong information and was not going to miss his brother’s wedding; the second case was comical – he had been drinking but was not being abusive to anyone. Had he been allowed to sit down he would have been asleep in seconds.

Some of O'Sullivan's various 'controversies' have also been over hyped and not representative of what actually happened, but both players know that this is what you get for being famous.

I thought Higgins could dominate in the way Steve Davis and Hendry had but he suffered a very disappointing defeat to Williams in the 2000 Crucible semi-finals and after his first son, Pierce, was born in 2001 he took his foot off the gas.

The truth is that John is not like Davis and Hendry when it comes to the relentless pursuit of titles. He recently said that, on his death bed, he would probably not say he wished he had spent more time on a snooker table.

As Higgins went into a slight decline, Williams took over at the top.

O’Sullivan at this time was in turmoil or, to be exact, in the Priory Clinic.

When he came out he appeared to be transformed. He was humble, he was charming and he seemed grateful to have received some meaningful help at long last.

Sadly, this didn’t last and his depressions returned but he was able to produce enough top quality snooker to win a succession of titles, including the 2001 World Championship.

His final against Higgins was, in terms of quality, one of the very best. O’Sullivan’s victory was sweeter for beating Higgins – not because of any unfriendliness between them but because of the long time respect each feels for the other.

Higgins told O’Sullivan afterwards he was happy for him and happy for his father, Ronnie Senior, who was serving time for murder.

This meant a lot to O’Sullivan. At the reception later that night he said that, while there are many great players, “John is a proper man.”

They’ve played many times since and it’s always a great occasion when they do.

Higgins made a record four straight centuries during his 9-2 drubbing of O’Sullivan in the 2005 Grand Prix final.

They contested one of the best finals ever seen at the 2006 Wembley Masters in which Higgins cleared up with 64 in the decider to win 10-9 on the black.

He had gravity to thank at the start of the break: a red hovered over a middle pocket before dropping in. There was, though, nothing fortunate about the clearance.

O’Sullivan won a similarly thrilling final at the 2003 Irish Masters in which he potted a great brown early in the break that would bring him a 10-9 victory.

O’Sullivan is ahead on wins and on overall titles. Indeed, almost all of the stats are in his favour.

But arguing about who is the better player is a bit like arguing about which is the best chocolate: you should just enjoy them both.

Many players feel Higgins has a better all round game but nobody would dispute O’Sullivan’s great natural genius.

O’Sullivan and Higgins are gifts to the game: two great players who have helped take snooker to new heights.

The good news for snooker fans is that, with O’Sullivan the current world no.1 and Higgins stationed fifth, their friendly rivalry at the top level is far from finished yet.

O'Sullivan: 26
Higgins: 16

Total titles
O’Sullivan: 40
Higgins: 28

Ranking titles
O’Sullivan: 21
Higgins: 18

Ranking finals
O’Sullivan: 30
Higgins: 30

Ranking semi-finals
O’Sullivan: 49
Higgins: 44

Ranking quarter-finals
O’Sullivan: 76
Higgins: 73

World titles
O’Sullivan: 3
Higgins: 2

UK Championship titles
O’Sullivan: 4
Higgins: 2

Masters titles
O’Sullivan: 3
Higgins: 2

Career centuries
O’Sullivan: 535
Higgins: 375

Maximum breaks
O’Sullivan: 9
Higgins: 5



It appears one of the places you can't watch the Premier League on Betfair is in the UK!

Apologies to anyone whose hopes have been dashed by this.


Tonight's two Partypoker.com Premier League matches from Grimsby will be streamed live on the Betfair website.

That means snooker fans can watch Ronnie O'Sullivan v John Higgins and Mark Selby v Ding Junhui even if they don't have access to Sky Sports.

However, three things to bear in mind:

- you will have to register with Betfair first
- you will have to be 18 or over
- access may be blocked in some countries

The matches start at 7.30pm UK time.


The Partypoker.com Premier League gets underway for a new season tonight with seven of the game’s top players involved in what is now one of the longest running events on the snooker calendar.

The League has been promoted by Barry Hearn’s Matchroom since 1987 and is broadcast in the UK by Sky Sports.

Uniquely, it has been using a 25 second per shot time limit for the last few years.

Ronnie O’Sullivan has won every time under this format and is a big favourite to do so again this year.

This is the perfect event for O’Sullivan. He has a very low boredom threshold and so likes just coming for one night, playing and then going home.

The shot clock doesn’t bother him because he is so naturally fast and the £1,000 per frame and per century, as well as the £50,000 top prize, understandably appeals.

Ding Junhui usually plays well in the Premier League as well. Last year, he set a new world record of 495 unanswered points when he blew away Stephen Hendry 6-0.

Hendry and his fellow legend Steve Davis represent the veteran contingent but, for the first time, there is no Jimmy White in the field this season.

Instead, there are places for John Higgins, Mark Selby and Joe Perry.

Higgins was runner-up to O’Sullivan last year and is, of course, well capable of winning any tournament he enters.

Selby was, in my view, quite rightly given a place after his performances last year.

He isn’t the quickest player but has shortened his cue action and I expect him to do very well and at the very least reach the semi-finals.

Perry won the Championship League to qualify and is I know relishing the experience of playing in the Premier League, something he thought he would never do.

Not everyone is a fan of this event. Some argue it is more like an exhibition than a proper tournament but I think it’s a good showcase for snooker and takes the game to parts of the UK that generally don’t get to see live action.

Take tonight’s venue: the Grimsby auditorium. Grimsby has long been a snooker hotbed, producing players such as Ray Edmonds, Mike Hallett, Dean Reynolds and Sean Storey.

I have no doubt at all it will be a packed house, as it tends to be at all the League nights.

The promoters develop links with all the local newspapers around the various venues and a cracking atmosphere is usually guaranteed.

This obviously helps O’Sullivan and co to produce their best snooker.



The draw for the final stages of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix will be made in Princes Square, Glasgow on September 26.

The qualifiers run from September 22-25 at Pontin's, Prestatyn. For the first time, players ranked 17-32 are required to pre-qualify, which means the likes of Ken Doherty, Mark Williams, Steve Davis, Matthew Stevens and Stephen Lee will be in action.

So too will John Parrott and Jimmy White, who starts in the first qualifying round against Michael Georgiou, the reigning IBSF world under 21 champion.

You can view the qualifying draw here.

The final stages draw will see two 'hats': one for the top 16 and one for the qualifiers. However, from the last 16 onwards players will be drawn at random.

The final stages run from October 11-19 at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow and are live on the BBC and Eurosport.

Marco Fu is the defending champion after his 9-6 defeat of Ronnie O'Sullivan in last year's final.


There will be no evening play on the opening day of the Royal London Watches Grand Prix – because of a Queen concert at the same venue.

It is feared the noise from the concert, in which Paul Rodgers takes the place of the late Freddie Mercury, will bleed through to the snooker arena at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow.

Therefore, there will be only two matches played. They start at 12pm and feature John Higgins on one table and Joe Perry on the other.

The SECC say the soundcheck for the concert will start between 4-5pm so if the matches drag on the players may be forced to demand ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.'

(I’m sure there are many, many more puns available)



According to the BBC, World Snooker is launching a new ‘Hotshots’ programme featuring five young players chosen to appeal to a younger audience.

The players are Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Jamie Cope, Daniel Wells and Michael Georgiou.

Actually, the BBC story makes an odd reference to ‘Michael Demetriou’ which could, for all we know, be Georgiou’s Equity name.

A PR firm, Capitalize, has been employed to handle the campaign. It seems strange that they should give an exclusive to BBC London rather than announcing this new project to the media at large or inviting anyone else along.

Stranger still is that one of the players (Georgiou) was only last week complaining in the Metro newspaper that he can’t make a living out of the game.

I assume this wasn't part of the PR campaign.

Snooker fans with long memories will recall the Young Player of Distinction scheme that ran between 2000 and 2002.

It featured the likes of Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire and Ali Carter and offered media training, dietary advice and all manner of other assistance.

The scheme was wound up because it was not felt the cost involved was justified.

The idea of Hotshots – according to the BBC – is to ‘promote the game to a younger audience.’ Expect some striking photos in the next couple of weeks.

For the record, I have nothing against the Hotshots campaign at all. It may transpire that it does nothing to increase interest in snooker but it certainly won’t be a negative for the sport (unless any of those involved are found to be getting up to no good).

What concerns me is the way these campaigns are run. If past evidence is anything to go by – World Snooker has employed three previous PR firms for various reasons in the last decade – the regular snooker media will be ignored (indeed they already appear to have been).

This would be a big mistake. Ultimately, only those with a commitment to snooker are genuinely interested in advancing its fortunes.

Still, it will be interesting to see how this campaign pans out.


The Belgian Open is a new pro-am featuring many of snooker’s biggest names and takes place in Duffel from September 19-21.

It will be streamed live on CueSport TV, an excellent site which provides coverage of cue sports from the UK and beyond.

Among the players confirmed for the Belgian Open are Stephen Maguire, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen, Mark Williams, Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens and John Parrott.

It costs £8 for the three days but, thanks to CueSport TV, this blog is giving away five passes for snooker fans to watch the action for FREE.

To stand a chance of winning, you will need to correctly answer the following three questions:

1) Which player won the first ranking tournament to be staged in Belgium, the 1992 European Open?
2) Which Belgian player once achieved a highest ranking of 53rd, the best of anyone from this country?
3) How old is Mark Selby?

DO NOT post your answers below. Send them instead to snookersceneblog@aol.com.

The closing date is next Monday, September 15.

Good luck!


Steve Davis may be 51, a six times world champion and all round snooker legend but he is still searching for improvements.

Therefore, he has slightly altered his technique this season after noticing that he was inadvertently applying side to the cue ball.

With all this on his mind, Davis feared the worst against Gerard Greene in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers last week but came through 5-3.

“I noticed I wasn’t striking the ball in the centre. I was favouring cueing on one side and it was affecting my alignment,” he told me.

“It’s all weird. All the shots seem different. I didn’t expect results overnight. I expected to struggle and miss the balls by miles but actually I didn’t pot too badly.

“I was trying to play quite basically so any win is a good win. I’m not going to criticise myself. I got through.”

Many players have tinkered with and refined their cue actions and techniques over the years.

Mark Selby has shortened his action for the new season. Others have got new cues or are looking for ways to improve.

It makes sense: the professional circuit is so competitive that anything that can give a player an edge is to be embraced.

However, it is also a great risk: if something works, why change it?

In Davis’s case it proves that he is not merely content to slide down the rankings as the game’s elder statesman.

Like all true champions, he wants to compete for as long as possible.



There are still four months to go and plenty of snooker to be played before the Masters at Wembley Arena but thoughts will soon be turning to who should get the wildcard.

As most people know, the tournament is for the elite top 16, plus the winner of a qualifying event, plus a discretionary choice.

The wildcard should reflect two things: achievement by a player outside the top 16 and popularity.

So who are the early runners and riders?

The favourite in my view is Liang Wenbo as he ticks all the relevant boxes.

He became the first Chinese player to reach the World Championship quarter-finals and did so playing entertaining, attacking snooker.

Liang goes for everything. This is not necessarily advisable but it does make for compelling viewing.

He’s only 21 and his presence in the event would raise interest in the Masters in China.

I think World Snooker were right to hold over two of his qualifying matches in the Shanghai Masters to the venue as his popularity back home is rising all the time.

If not Liang then who?

Mark Williams won the title in 1998 and 2003 but has now dropped out of the top 16. He would certainly add to the tournament’s prestige, as would two other relegated players, twice runner-up Ken Doherty and Stephen Lee, who lost to Mark Selby in last year’s final.

Dave Harold reached the Northern Ireland Trophy final while Steve Davis would be the choice of nostalgics.

And then there’s Jimmy White, the darling of the Wembley crowd for 26 years until he was overlooked last season.

White has made a fine start to the new season but will have to keep it going to get a look-in next January.

The way snooker is at the moment, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if someone outside the top 16 – perhaps Jamie Cope or Judd Trump – did something dramatic, possibly even win a tournament, to stake their claim for the wildcard.

The announcement will be made in November after the Shanghai Masters, Royal London Watches Grand Prix and Bahrain Championship.

So there’s plenty that can happen to alter the above list of runners and riders.


So what’s happening in the snooker world?

Pot Black is no more. Having been revived in 2005 it has been axed from the calendar.

Viewing figures on the BBC fell to just 700,000 for last year’s event but this was largely because England were playing Australia in the rugby World Cup quarter-finals live on ITV at the same time.

Pot Black was a bit of fun and a chance to observe the players in a more relaxed setting than normal.

It was held twice in the plush surroundings of the snooker room at the RAC Club in London. Last year it relocated last year to the soulless Sheffield City Hall.

There was no reason given for this but there has long been a maxim in the snooker world that appears to have applied here: if it ain’t broke, break it.

I don’t know if World Snooker offered the Pot Black format to another broadcaster but it could be slightly expanded to include more players playing one frame matches over the course of a day. Perfect for Sky Sports or Setanta I would have thought.

There was such an event – though non-televised – in 1991. It was called the One Frame Knockout and was won by Darren Morgan.

However, for some bizarre reason the final was made into a best of three.

Again: if it ain’t broke, break it.

The World Series is to include a qualification process – open to anyone – from next year.

This will give lower ranked professionals and interested amateurs the chance to play in the 2009 events.

Organisers are also considering what many may feel are controversial changes to playing formats and the dress code. John Higgins is answering questions directly on their forum every day this week.

Whatever you think of the proposals, every credit to John and Pat Mooney for actually engaging with snooker fans in this direct way.

I forgot to mention the Paul Hunter Classic in Furth last week as it was unfortunately overshadowed by the Northern Ireland Trophy.

It was won by Shaun Murphy, who beat Mark Selby in the final, and included a top class field. It was also brilliantly supported by German snooker fans.

Steve Davis, who played in the event, said last week that “China and Germany are the two biggest growth areas for snooker.”

I still don’t understand why there isn’t a fully fledged professional tournament in the country.

The Home Internationals are underway at Pontin’s, Prestatyn. These are traditionally a breeding ground for young talent although there are also some well known old stagers in action in the seniors event.

Speaking of which, watch this space for news of a brand new tournament featuring some very well known names of yesteryear.

Details are still being finalised and, when they are, I shall reveal more.



Steve Davis joined his fellow veteran Jimmy White in the draw for the final stages of the Shanghai Masters after a typically dogged effort to put away Gerard Greene 5-3.

The Pontin's holiday centre here in Prestatyn holds great memories for Steve. He played here as an amateur in the 1970s and made his name as one to watch in the pro ranks.

“The room I played in had very special memories for me as an amateur,” he told me.

“I watched all the legends play here in the 1970s and made a bit of a reputation for myself here so it was nice to come back.

"I remember the excitement I felt coming here for a week of snooker and I had a bit of that before I set off yesterday.

"You approach it differently as a professional but it's still got the same feel to the place. Only the road signs have changed."

Steve signed loads of autographs after his match. Like Jimmy, he is still one of snooker's biggest names and, regardless of form, will remain so as long as he plays the game.


Jimmy White beat Ken Doherty 5-1 and, in the end, played very well to do so.

The highlight was an 82 break in the third frame but what impressed me most was Jimmy's keenness and competitive spirit.

It was clear that qualifying for the final stages of a second successive ranking tournament meant a lot to him.

“It’s so difficult here but I knew I had a slight edge because I’d won matches and Ken was coming in cold,” White said.

“I’m just building on confidence. I’ve come through well after some tough games and played well today.

“I’ve been working really hard and know my game is there. It’s all about the mental side and I’ve got some confidence now which makes all the difference.”


My word it's tense in there.

Jimmy leads 2-0 and looks the stronger of the two at the moment. Neither players has hit top form but Ken apopears a little rusty.

White potted to last red along the top cushion to win the first frame and did enough to take the second after Doherty played a calamitious safety shot and left a free ball.

You can see how much it means to Jimmy. He was up out of his chair like Usain Bolt after Ken's mistake.

But there's still a long way to go...


I am today in Prestatyn for the final day of the Shanghai Masters qualifiers where I am hoping to watch Jimmy White against Ken Doherty.

They are two of snooker’s greatest ever players, as are Steve Davis and Mark Williams, also in action today.

Matthew Stevens is playing here, as is Stephen Lee and a host of recognisable names and players capable of great performances.

But unless you are here in North Wales you will not be able to see a ball of any of it, and even if you are it may well be sold out.

Is it just me who finds it odd that, in 2008, the governing body cannot stream at least one match per session on their website?

A single webcam would do the trick. The excellent Global Cue Sports Centre has done this for the PIOS and other tournaments and CueSportTV do it for pool and will be streaming the upcoming Belgian Open.

I was there at the start of the great snooker/internet revolution when I worked for TSN (now 110sport) on what was a genuinely innovative, comprehensive website. It’s only fault was that it was several years ahead of its time.

We showed the Scottish Masters live and would have shown much more had TSN’s offer for internet rights been accepted by the then World Snooker administration.

Except they were not interested and the great revolution failed to materialise.

More recently, a company who specialise in webcasting approached World Snooker but were again rebuffed. They went to Barry Hearn’s Matchroom instead and thus the Championship League was born.

World Snooker is currently revamping their website. The best thing about it is its live scoring feature.

It is easy to be complacent about this. It’s not so long ago that the only way you could find out the scores if you weren’t at the qualifiers was to phone up the tournament director.

So live scoring is a great innovation but surely the next step is to stream matches? If you charged snooker fans a small fee I’m sure many would cough up to watch (the same could apply at tournaments with only one TV table).

There is cost involved but it is not fortunes. White v Doherty is a match that will be far more interesting to many, many people than some of those played in the final stages.

At the very least, World Snooker should sort something out for the final qualifying round of the World Championship next March.

This will again feature Doherty, Williams, Davis, Stevens, Lee and, possibly, White, John Parrott, Liang Wenbo and many other players people are interested in watching.

Sir Rodney Walker, World Snooker’s chairman, recently told BBC Radio 5 Live that the governing body has £4m in reserves.

This would be a good area in which to spend some of it.



Here’s a hardy perennial: should snooker’s dress code change?

This argument comes up every so often and most people have an opinion, even though it seems, on the surface, to be an entirely pointless debate.


Because does anyone really think snooker’s fortunes would pick up if we ditched the waistcoats?

And does anyone really think millions of TV viewers would turn off if players wore T-shirts instead of bowties?

I suppose I’m a traditionalist of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school of thought.

Waistcoats and bowties have been around forever, since the age of Joe Davis and are the identifiable dress of professional snooker players.

Young kids in junior tournaments wear them to emulate their heroes.

Changing the dress code may look like a desperate bit of cosmetic tinkering when there are bigger problems to face.

However, this doesn’t not mean it should not be considered.

All sports evolve in all sorts of ways. In cricket Test matches, whites are still worn but in one day and 20/20 all manner of colours are favoured.

I was in something of a minority in approving of World Snooker’s experiment at the 2002 British Open where they had one player wearing a red shirt and one a blue shirt.

It gave the event some identity but nobody could accuse them of trampling over snooker’s traditions.

However, the later decision to dispense with bowties was a mistake. Because players still wore waistcoats and shirts it merely made most of them look scruffy.

In the Premier League, players have in the past worn T-shirts and it helped give this unique event its own identity.

But do we really want to see a player holding the World Championship trophy aloft at the Crucible in a T-shirt?

The current Premier League and new Championship League may have it about right if you are looking for a compromise. Here, players wear smart shirts and trousers. No waistcoats, no bowties.

Of course, it is a fact of life that some people look good in just about any attire and some do not. There are very few ugly models and this is obviously no accident.

Could a change in clothing freshen up snooker’s appeal?

Possibly. But at the end of the day, the sport’s success rests on the game itself.

Snooker fans ultimately care only for what happens on the table. Ensuring there is plenty of this for them to watch should be the main priority.


I describe this site, in my self-congratulatory way, as ‘snooker’s no.1 blog’ however there are, of course, many others and I would like to list and link to them here.

Therefore, if you write a snooker blog - in whatever language - and would like it included, either post the url as a comment or email it to snookersceneblog@aol.com.

I shall then compile a blogroll to be included in the near future.



It is 25 years to the day since John Parrott played his first match as a professional.

As a 19 year-old he beat Paul Watchorn 5-0 on September 3, 1983 in the qualifiers for the Professional Players Tournament – which became the Grand Prix – at Stockport (thank you to Chris Turner for this information).

JP has, of course, come a long way since then. He won’t mark the anniversary by playing in this week’s Shanghai Masters qualifiers as he is honouring a pre-arranged charity golf day.

As his manager, Phil Miller, told Snooker Scene: “You can’t very well have the John Parrott Golf Classic without John Parrott.”

Truth be told, Parrott could put his cue away for good. He doesn’t play for the money and doesn’t really have huge ambitions of rising back up the rankings.

But he continues to play because he enjoys it. His chirpy persona has always belied a competitive heart and, once on the table, he still has an iron will to win.

As a boy, Parrott would accompany his father to Preston Guild Hall to watch the UK Championship.

He rose to prominence when selected to compete in Junior Pot Black, sporting a chocolate brown suit that has caused much amusement and embarrassment since.

Studious and determined, it was apparent that he had huge potential. In his first season, after only a few months on the circuit, he reached the semi-finals of the Lada Classic in Warrington, losing out 5-4 to Steve Davis.

He then qualified for the Crucible where victory over Tony Knowles – at the time the world no.4 – was followed by a narrow 13-11 defeat to Dennis Taylor.

A year later he reached the quarter-finals at Sheffield where he lost a 13-12 thriller to Ray Reardon.

It took three more years for him to reach his first ranking final, the Mercantile Classic, and a further year for him to capture his first title, the 1989 European Open.

This was, in many ways, a farcical tournament. It was played in Deauville, France where snooker was as alien as cricket would be in Minnesota.

One player, Eugene Hughes, was mistaken for a waiter after coming off the table in one of his matches.

Parrott, though, showed good form, especially in beating Terry Griffiths 9-8 in the final.

He had truly arrived as a contender for the game's biggest title but was to suffer a humiliating defeat to Steve Davis on reaching the Crucible final later the same season.

Davis handed out an 18-3 drubbing to his future BBC colleague. This was dispiriting enough but, as the match had finished a session early, the players were told they would have to play an exhibition in the evening to keep ticket buyers happy.

Even Parrott’s legendary scouse wit wavered a little at the prospect of that.

In truth, he had been emotionally spent by the time of the final. On the first day of the tournament, the appalling horror of the Hillsborough stadium disaster was unfolding a few miles from the Crucible.

Parrott, an Everton fan who enjoyed a friendly rival with Liverpool supporters, wore a black armband during his first round victory over Steve James.

Hendry beat him in the 1990 Crucible semis but, a year later, he arrived in the steel city full of confidence. “I walked in the Crucible the first day and just fancied winning it,” he would later recall.

A 16-10 defeat of Davis in the semis was a real morale boost and he took the final by the throat by winning the first session against Jimmy White 7-0.

John Spencer, three times world champion, described it as “the finest single session performance I have ever seen.”

White could not claw it back and Parrott won 18-11.

This was some achievement in an era where Davis, Hendry and White were all at the top of their games.

It was also a win which endeared this popular player to the public. Parrott explained afterwards that he had been nervous heading into the last day with a big lead.

“I was never going to sleep. I’d have had more luck nailing a blancmange to the ceiling,” he said.

He beat White again to complete the World and UK Championship double later in 1991 and was only denied the prestigious Wembley Masters by Hendry, who beat him in three finals.

For a family man who disliked being away from home it was strange that JP enjoyed so much success outside Britain: all but three of his ranking titles were won away from the UK and he has won tournaments in nine different countries.

It’s been some career. Nine ranking titles, a total of 18 finals, 39 semi-finals and 73 quarter-finals.

Parrott spent three years as world no.2 and won several invitation titles, including two in China long before the current boom.

He belongs in anyone’s all time top 10.

Of course, top flight careers do not go on forever but JP shrewdly branched out into other areas, notably the media where he spent several years as an amusing team captain on the BBC’s A Question of Sport.

He has since become a regular BBC pundit alongside Davis and worked on the BBC’s Grand National coverage.

He was awarded the MBE for his achievements and joked it stood for ‘missed balls everywhere.’

Parrott has not won a title since the 1998 German Masters and is no longer a member of the top 32 but, when he plays, he wants to win – as he proved by beating Davis and running Shaun Murphy close at the World Championship last year.

At 44 and now 39th in the rankings he is under no illusions that, as a player, his best days are behind him.

But what days they have been.



In case anyone doubts just what a dominant force Ronnie O'Sullivan is at the moment, here are some stats...

He has appeared in five of the last seven ranking tournament finals, winning three and finishing runner-up in two.

Last season he compiled 50 century breaks. His closest challenger on this list was Marco Fu with 30.

During last season O'Sullivan constructed 204 breaks of 50 or more. Second on the list was Shaun Murphy with 128.

This sort of relentless heavy scoring of which O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry (in his prime) have been the two leading exponents guarantees a certain level of success.

What is also required is a resolute temperament.

Hendry certainly had that when he dominated the game.

O'Sullivan also has it at the moment and that is why he is so dangerous right now.


The prize funds for the Shanghai Masters and China Open have been increased after I pointed out the losing semi-finalists were receiving LESS money than last season.

It was orginally stated by World Snooker that semi-final losers in the two China events would pocket £9,000, which would have been £3,000 less than during the 2007/08 campaign.

It has now risen to £12,500 and each prize fund is thus £7,000 more (£282,000) than previously stated. World Snooker cited an 'administrative error' which has now been corrected.

If any of the players who will benefit want to buy me a drink I will, if pushed, accept.



Since a proper ranking tournament circuit was established, no player has ever won all the titles on offer in a single season.

Stephen Hendry came closest in the 1990/91 campaign when he captured five of the eight titles on offer.

Could Ronnie O’Sullivan complete a grand slam this season?

It’s unlikely but not impossible.


Because he is not playing at his very best all the time but still winning titles. Even at 80% of his game he is still the best around at the moment as he proved in winning the Northern Ireland Trophy last night.

Whether this amuses, embarrasses or doesn’t interest him at all I don’t know but he's untouchable at the moment and the challenge for the other top players is to raise their games and stop him running away with most of the silverware this season.