Congratulations to Mark Allen, who defeated local hero Ding Junhui to win the Jiangsu Classic in Wuxi City.
Allen’s rise has been rapid since he turned professional in 2005 but this is his first title.
It won’t be his last in my opinion. Far from it. He’s got the game, the self belief and time on his side and will be a top player for many years to come.
An advantage for him is that he was used to winning when he turned professional having won everything he conceivably could as an amateur: the Northern Ireland title at all age levels, the world amateur championship, European amateur championship and European under 19 championship.
What a shame the Northern Ireland Trophy has been axed from the schedule. Allen’s involvement would have created a great buzz after his run to the World Championship semi-finals.
Even so, we’ll be seeing plenty more of him in the future.
Congratulations should also go to Mark Selby, who joined snooker’s 147 club during the tournament.
Selby’s break-building has improved considerably over the last three years. Last season, he finished second on the list of century makers behind John Higgins.
He constructed a 141 break at the 2008 Masters and superseded that with a 145 last season.
His maximum was the 69th in snooker history. OK, so they’ve become far more common in recent years but making one is still a landmark worth celebrating.
Credit to the players who went out to play in the Jiangsu Classic, which further enhanced the game’s growing status in China.
One player who would have gone anywhere for snooker was Paul Hunter, who died in 2006.
Every year since a tournament has been organised in his name. The Paul Hunter English Open returns in July and, as the name suggests, it’s open to everyone.
It’s a good way to remember Paul and take part in event that attracts several professionals.
You can do so by downloading the entry form from the EASB website.