This tumultuous day for snooker continues...

The Gambling Commission say they will not be taking further action over betting irregularities surrounding the Liang Wenbo v Peter Ebdon match at last season's Northern Ireland Trophy.

Liang won 5-0, a scoreline that had been heavily backed. The Gambling Commission began their investigation following discussions with bookmakers.

A WPBSA statement said: "The WPBSA is pleased that after a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Commission, both players have been absolved from any allegation of involvement in irregular betting matters and can concentrate on the new season ahead without further media speculation that has surrounded this issue.

"Based on the decision reached by the Gambling Commission, the WPBSA will be taking no action."

No suspicion was ever attached to Liang. Ebdon will obviously be relieved that his name has been cleared.

The timing of this announcement on the day snooker is facing questions over its integrity appears to be a coincidence, if you believe in coincidences.


110sport, who manage Stephen Maguire, have issued the following statement:

Stephen Maguire was questioned by officers of Strathclyde Police today over alleged irregular betting patterns relating to a match between Maguire and Jamie Burnett at the Maplin UK Championship on 14 December 2008.

Maguire’s legal representative Peter Forbes said; “Police spoke to Stephen, their questioning and points put to him based upon information given to them during their initial interview with my client in the spring of this year. Having answered those questions, Stephen was released without charge.”

Maguire, 28, added; “I have nothing to say other than I can be doing without this. I wish this was over and done with and that I didn’t have these allegations hanging over me so I could concentrate entirely on playing snooker.

“All I want to do now is forget today and concentrate on preparing for playing in China next week.”

There will be no further comment from Stephen Maguire or 110sport Group on this matter.


The WPBSA has issued the following statement following the news that Strathclyde Police had detained Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett today:

"We are aware that Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett have been detained by Strathclyde Police. This is currently a Police matter and we are awaiting developments. There will be no further comment at this stage."


Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett have now been released by Strathclyde Police having been detained as part of their investigation into betting irregularities.

They had 'helped police with their enquiries' but no charges have been brought against either player.

Both Maguire and Burnett have insisted they played no part in any betting coup.

Strathclyde Police said their investigation was continuing.


Strathclyde Police have detained and are currently questioning Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett as part of their investigation into the betting irregularities that surrounded their match in last season's UK Championship.

The police statement reads: "Strathclyde Police economic crime unit can confirm that two males aged 28 and 33 have been detained and are assisting Strathclyde police with their enquiries into the alleged irregular betting patterns associated with the snooker match involving Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett at the Maplin UK Championship on 14th december 2008.

"A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal's office when enquiries are complete."

The BBC has confirmed that the two men are Maguire and Burnett.

Maguire won the match 9-3, a scoreline heavily backed in the days prior to their Telford meeting.

Burnett missed the final black with a chance to make it 8-4.

More as it breaks...

EDIT: The BBC news channel will be giving more information in a report at 1.45pm.


Strathclyde Police have detained two men over the Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett betting case.

More follows...


The World Professional Billiards Championship will take place next week at the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds.

Billiards is the warning snooker should heed. It used to have its own circuit but is now down to only one tournament.

The three-ball game is one of considerable skill with a long, proud history. But for billiards, snooker may never have been invented.

The event runs from September 2-6. Here are the groups:

Mike Russell, Devendra Joshi, Ian Williamson, Rupesh Shah

Sourav Kothari, Gary Rogers, Martin Goodwill, Balachandra Bhaskar

David Causier, Peter Gilchrist, Mark Hirst, Bernard French

Geet Sethi, Pankaj Advani, Dhruv Sitwala, Michael Kreuziger, Robert Hall



I’ve always liked Graeme Dott. I admire anyone, in any sport, who always gives 100% and Dott’s burning desire to win has been to his great credit and the key factor in the success he has enjoyed.

Without it, he would not have been world champion. Indeed, I remember interviewing him at the Crucible in 2006 in between two of his matches. Our chat was interrupted by a fire alarm which caused the venue to be evacuated.

Out we trooped into the street outside, where he told me he believed he could win the title.

I’m not sure I believed it, even though he had been in the final just two years earlier.

It seemed to me an unlikely triumph but, of course, the entire history of sport is littered with unlikely triumphs.

Coupled with Dott’s determination was his considerable poise under pressure. It saw him through a tense deciding frame finish against Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals and his semi-final against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Much was made of O’Sullivan’s state of mind in that match but little credit was given to Dott for applying the pressure that helped lead to the meltdown.

The tenacious Scot won all eight frames of the third session but it had been the previous afternoon’s session which proved key, in which he kept in touch at 8-8 despite all sorts of distractions, including O’Sullivan’s tip coming loose, resulting in an unexpected delay.

The final against Peter Ebdon was not a classic in terms of the quality of play but was absorbing and kept around 3m viewers gripped at gone midnight.

Even after winning the game’s ultimate prize, Dott had to endure the carping of ignorant people who decided that, no, it didn’t really count, it hadn’t really happened.

Well, check the trophy and you’ll find his name on it.

Dott also won the China Open the following season and indeed had improved considerably, quickening his pace and showing tremendous self confidence. He reached the Shanghai Masters semi-finals at the start of the 2007/08 campaign but then entered a slump.

This happens to most players at one time or another but Dott’s decline included a bout of depression that left him unwilling, almost unable, to play snooker.

He sought treatment and with trademark grit pulled himself out of the mire.

A broken wrist ruled him out of two tournaments last season and he is now out of the top 16 but Dott is just the sort worth backing to return.

He’s currently 22nd in the provisional rankings but is actually only 750 points behind Steve Davis in 13th place.

In the Shanghai Masters qualifiers, Dott trailed Jimmy Robertson 4-1 but fought back to win 5-4.

If he comes through the wildcard round he will face O’Sullivan, who he has now beaten in each of their last three ranking event meetings.

Many will doubtless say that, now he is out of the top 16, he will never return. These are the same people who said he would never be world champion.

Not for the first time, Graeme Dott may be about to prove them all wrong.



I was watching the film ‘Sleuth’ the other day in which Laurence Olivier plays a sociopath determined to terrorise Michael Caine’s character through a series of games.

It was inevitable, then, that they would find themselves playing snooker.

Sir Larry appeared at first glance to display great proficiency on the green baize although, on closer inspection, you can’t be certain it is him actually playing the shots. This begs the question of which player was brought in to act as his double (the film was made in 1972).

I can't quite picture Jim Meadowcroft as a celluloid star but stranger things have happened.

This character nominates each ball before potting them, including when he gets to the colours. Perhaps this is to help the American market understand the rules, or indeed the British market considering TV coverage of snooker was at this time confined pretty much to Pot Black.

Lord Olivier completes his break with an exhibition shot on the black that Jimmy White would have been proud of.

It is showboating of this sort that marks his character out as a wrong ‘un.

(He later calls Caine a 'jumped up pantry boy who never knew his place', so Morrissey probably owes him a few quid).

Martin Scorsese’s film Gangs of New York also features a snooker heavy scene in which David Hemmings pots a blue, screws back for the pink and is unable to finish his break due to his house being invaded by a marauding horde of rioters determined to drag him out by his very guts.

And people complain about Newport.

Actually, Gangs of New York is set in the 1860s but snooker is not commonly believed to have been invented until 1875, so this appears to be dramatic licence on the part of Hollywood.

Then again, this sort of trouble seems relatively minor when set against the various civil wars that have so damaged the sport over the last couple of decades.

Maybe someone should make a film about them.

The Bourne Altium, anyone?



"I would like to learn some Chinese because it would be nice to be able to say more during press conferences and interviews. All I can say is 'hello', 'thank you' and 'watermelon.'" - Mark Selby answering fan questions on his website.



Ten years ago, around this time, I went to Croydon for the inaugural Champions Cup.

Those were the days. There were nine ranking events plus six televised invitation tournaments. Snooker was ending the decade as it had begun it: as one of television sport's great success stories.

And it was ending it with Stephen Hendry as world champion.

It’s all too easy for people to forget now just what an extraordinary impact Hendry had on snooker from a very young age.

He remains the youngest player ever to compete at the Crucible. He is still the youngest world champion.

Like the Beatles, he did it all by the time he was 30. His record seventh world title triumph in 1999 came just a few months after this milestone.

When he was 19, Hendry said he would retire by 30. He could have done, as well, as he had nothing left to prove, but like all great champions he wanted more...and more...and more.

Hendry won that first Champions Cup and the British Open that followed. He remained a leading force for several more years and was world no.1 for the 2006/07 season.

Yet, in the last couple of years he has found results harder to come by and starts the new campaign outside the top eight for the first time in 21 years.

At 40, is this decline irreversible?

What does the future hold for the game’s greatest ever player?

Well, logic suggests that his slide down the rankings will continue. However, the evidence of other great players proves that it is possible to stem the tide.

Alex Higgins did it in the late 1980s/early 90s. He would have been back in the top 16 in 1990 had he not been banned for a year for a litany of indefensible incidents.

Jimmy White did it as well. In 2004 he reached two ranking finals, winning the Players Championship, and rose to eighth in the rankings, even if he then declined again.

And, of course, Steve Davis has proved an immovable object. His run to the final of the 2005 UK Championship was a reminder that the legends are made of different stuff to the rest.

Hendry doesn’t lack for motivation. Sure, he may not like practising as much as he once did but he still relishes competition.

It would be foolish to just write him off. At the last two World Championships he has shown that, on the big stage, he can still deliver strong performances.

Last season he referred to his problem being “the chaos in my head” whenever he came to the table.

I believe this chaos stems from Hendry’s inability to accept that he isn’t as good as he was. However, he doesn’t need to be that good to remain in the top 16. If he can accept that the glory days are over, he can relax and start to enjoy snooker more.

And if that happens, he may find that results start to come more regularly.

There are new challenges to look forward to. Hendry is heavily involved in 110sport’s new internet channel and will take centre stage in a showpiece match against Ding Junhui in China.

There is also the satisfaction, now that he is the oldest member of the top 16, of putting some of the young pretenders to the sword.

The 90s are becoming a distant memory. There is a whole generation of snooker fans who don’t remember Hendry at his best.

But every now and again, as in making his maximum at the Crucible this year, he reminds everyone of what he is capable of.

In Croydon ten years ago, as he looked ahead to the new season and reflected on his seventh world title, Hendry told me: “If I never win another match, it won’t bother me.”

I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.

Winning is what drives any great champion. The quest to prove everyone wrong and be a winner again still drives Stephen Hendry.



Shaun Murphy's preparation for the Paul Hunter Classic could not have been worse. Sick with swine flu, he was holed up in his Sale apartment and had to rely on neighbours bringing round supplies.

But Murphy has never been the sort to let setbacks bother him and he duly bounced back to win the title in Furth, beating Jimmy White 4-0 in the final.

He's now won three titles since losing in the world final in May.

Of course, he'd swap them all for the most famous prize in snooker but the best way to get over disappointment is to get on with the next challenge, however big or small it is.

To quote that well known snooker expert Rocky Balboa: "It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."



Ronnie O'Sullivan endured mixed fortunes as he made his debut as a motor racing driver.

O'Sullivan was at Silverstone this weekend racing in the VW Cup. He qualified at the back of the grid for the first race but spun off into a gravel trap, which he described as "a novice mistake."

He fared better in the second race, finishing 14th, which was creditable considering this was his first taste of action.

"At least I got a whole race in. It was a good experience, I enjoyed it very much and now I'm looking forward to having another crack at Brands Hatch next month," O'Sullivan said.



Killarney in the Republic of Ireland will host snooker's first 6 Reds World Championship in December.

The tournament will feature 160 players and be contested at the INEC Arena, which staged a World Series event in May. Among the organisers is Ken Doherty, the 1997 world champion.

The event runs from December 15-18. Entry is free for the first three days while tickets will cost 10 euros on the last day, which will be televised.

Despite the criticism it has attracted, six reds snooker has been played in clubs for decades.

Last year, a six reds tournament was staged in Thailand and attracted a huge field of top players, so much so that the prize fund for this year's staging of the event was doubled.

Jimmy White won the £18,000 first prize in Bangkok last month.

World Snooker stages its first six reds event at the end of the month in the Pro Challenge Series.

The governing body giving legitimacy to the short form version of the game meant that a World Championship was almost inevitable.

It will be interesting to see how many of snooker's best known names take their places in the Killarney draw.

If the players embrace six reds then it is, like it or not, here to stay.



The Paul Hunter Classic is a huge event that allows players the chance to compete in a snooker-mad country and honour one of their own.

From a huge field of 180, there will be 34 main tour professionals competing in Furth, Germany over the next four days.

They include world champion John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire, Mark Selby, Ryan Day, Joe Perry, Mark King, Jimmy White, Ken Doherty and Ricky Walden.

There are 45 four man groups so an extraordinary amount of snooker will be played before the knockout phase.

The audience attendance at this tournament puts some of the main tour events to shame. I hope all the German fans enjoy the four days.

There's coverage at global-snooker.com.



A night on the tiles has left Mark Williams with a broken wrist and doubtful for next month's Shanghai Masters.

The tiles in question were on the floor in a room of his house in Ebbw Vale. The twice former world champion slipped on them last night.

Williams was today confirmed to have broken his right wrist. "I'm gutted. I told the doctors that I need to play in Shanghai in less than four weeks time, but right now it looks dodgy," the Welshman told global-snooker.com.

More details here.



The Sun reports that Jimmy White will be a contestant on ITV's jungle-based reality show I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here later in the year.

They reported the same thing last year and it didn't happen.

Meanwhile, there's an interesting Q&A with Jack Lisowski, this year's Paul Hunter scholar, on the Eurosport website where he talks about his career so far and, somewhat unusually for a snooker player, gives an analysis of the global economic downturn.


The final part of my look ahead to the new season is an assessment of the world’s top eight, in reverse order...

Fu seems to suffer from inconsistency but generally comes good against the top players. He is ahead against Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, which is some boast, but only tends to play his best stuff in one or two tournaments a year.

He’s a better player than his one career ranking title suggests. Indeed, his metronomic style can often be deadly but there are times when he can look rather average – as when he lost 13-3 to Shaun Murphy at the Crucible last season.

He’s already second favourite for the world title next May and there are plenty of people who say he’s the second best player in the world. Well, actually, he’s the seventh best player in the world according to the world rankings and failed to follow up his excellent 2007/08 season in the campaign just gone.

Despite this, I rate Selby very highly. A number of the matches he lost last season were extremely close and he has the potential to be one of snooker’s top three or four players going into the next decade. I predict he will move back up the rankings this season.

Day is now the highest ranked player not to have won a ranking title. It becomes more of a psychological barrier with each final he loses but I think he can get there. He’s certainly got the ability and I think he can remain a top eight player for a number of years to come.

Also, one win could open the floodgates. In a sport where a number of established names are now on the back nines of their careers, Day is one of those who could take over their respective mantles.

Carter came of age in 2008 when he reached the world final and played superbly in the concluding session of the Welsh Open final to beat Joe Swail and land his first ranking title.

It was a fine performance and about time. Now that he’s won one, he could certainly win a number more titles, although his life will change when he becomes a father next month and he also has a new pressure to deal with this season: he starts it second in the provisional rankings.

Higgins was simply superb in winning a third world title last season and has reached that point in his career where he no longer has anything to prove. This makes him extremely dangerous.

I think he finds it hard to get himself up for some tournaments but when he’s on his game he’s as good as he ever was, and as good as anyone has ever been.

Murphy was Mr. Consistency in the 2007/08 season and then went right off the boil at the start of the last campaign before recovering to win the UK title and reach the final at the Crucible.

He had well documented off table problems and now those have receded I would expect him to return to become a regular again at the business end of tournaments.

Maguire’s best form tends to come in spurts lasting a couple of months. It didn’t really spurt forth last season but I’d expect it to resurface at some point.

He’s had his eyes lasered and has already been in two finals before hitting a ball in a ranking event. Maguire’s one desire is to win the world title. His problem may be putting too much pressure on himself to accomplish this feat.

If you look back through O’Sullivan’s career, he has tended to land roughly three titles a season. This hit rate will start to slow up at some point but I’d be surprised if he didn’t find success somewhere on the circuit this coming snooker year.

He is still, at times, spellbindingly brilliant while at other times, as they always have, the dark clouds descend. Predicting what he will do where is tricky, but if he doesn’t win the Premier League it will count as a major shock.



Jordan Ullah, a promising junior from Burnley, has died a few days before his 16th birthday.

Jordan, a regular in junior events, passed away last Monday two days after being admitted to the Royal Preston Hospital.

This is obviously devastating for his family and friends. We here at Snooker Scene send them our sympathies.


The WPBSA has fined Ronnie O'Sullivan £300 plus £1,000 costs for conceding a frame early against Joe Perry in their UK Championship match last December.

He trailed Perry 23-0 at the time.


It turns out Graeme Dott's cue was not damaged in an airport after all, although it was damaged somehow and he is now using a new one.

"I don't know where people get these stories from," Graeme told global-snooker.com.

Well, in my case I got it out of a newspaper. I know it's hard to believe, but very occasionally even journalists get the wrong end of the stick, or in this case the cue.

I would like to apologise for impuning the integrity of baggage handlers everywhere.



Oh dear. There's been a problem at our printers so the August issue of Snooker Scene is going out later than intended.

We've had a number of calls to the office today asking where they are. The answer is that they should land either tomorrow or Saturday.

Apologies for this. It's out of our hands.


Has anyone been watching 110sporttv's coverage of the qualifiers and, if so, what did you think?

I thought the quality of the production was excellent. I know a few people had trouble getting the streaming to work but I was among the lucky ones who didn't have any at all.

The camerawork and direction was good and it's about time snooker fans got a chance to see action from the qualifiers, so even if there were teething problems I believe this venture should be given a chance.

I think the main priority for 110sport should be getting on screen graphics because it's hard to follow matches without this.

Any thoughts?


Like old man river, Steve Davis just keeps rolling along.

This afternoon he begins his 32nd season as a professional. Players have come and players have gone in the last three decades but Davis, 52 this month, remains a steadfastly stubborn presence.

The root of his stickability is his pure love of snooker and of competition. He is fascinated by the psychology of sport, be it snooker, pool, chess or poker.

He will have his work cut out against Matt Selt, who seems to be finding his feet on the professional circuit.

I doubt Steve will have practised much over the summer, but his tactical game remains first class and he may be able to grind Selt down.

It's now 20 years since Davis last won the World Championship and 14 years since his last ranking tournament victory.

He isn't kidding himself that he will be a world beater again but there's something to be admired in his refusal to roll over.

Every now and again, he is capable of performances that reveal to younger audiences and snooker newcomers why he was the best thing the game had ever seen until Stephen Hendry came along.

The match is live on 110sporttv from 4pm UK time.



I watched most of John Parrott's match against Michael White in the Shanghai Masters qualifiers yesterday and it's clear that the former world and UK champion is now merely going through the motions.

John doesn't need to be going to Prestatyn and I feel pretty certain that his professional career is now not far off being at an end.

I was impressed, though, by White. OK, so he was given plenty of chances but he has a very nice cue action and, at 18, represents the future of the sport.

Parrott was young once. In the early 1980s he wore a chocolate brown suit on Junior Pot Black and went on to become one of the game's leading players for the best part of a decade.

He won the World Championship at the time Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Jimmy White were all playing terrific stuff.

But he didn't look like he'd practised much for yesterday's match. Lack of motivation coupled with lack of preparation means that the end is surely in sight.




Liang Wenbo's match in the final qualifying round of the Shanghai Masters, which was due to be played in Prestatyn on Thursday, will now be held at the venue in China.

Liang has been unable to get his work permit.

I have sympathy for the Chinese players - Mei Xiwen and Li Hang also failed to get visas. It seems ridiculous really that Chinese professionals have to travel to the UK to try and qualify for a tournament in China.

It's all very well saying, 'tough, that's the system' but how many British players would fancy flying to China to try and qualify for the UK Championship?

However, the other side of this is that whoever comes through to eventually face Liang could reasonably claim they should receive a walkover. They may even have a legal case (although it's unlikely to come to that).

If a British player had, say, broken down on the way to Prestatyn would they have been able to go to Shanghai and play the match? Unlikely.

Of course, having Liang playing in Shanghai can be defended on commercial grounds. Having him there is good for box office and TV.

But as this is the case, why was his match scheduled for Prestatyn in the first place?

So on the one hand this decision is common sense, on the other it's an unlevelling of the playing field.

As I said earlier, hmmm...



Lindsey Hunter, widow of the late Paul Hunter, has given birth to a baby girl.

Freya will be a sister for Evie Rose, born in 2005.

Paul died in 2006. Lindsey is now in a relationship with Johnny McDonald.


And so it begins.

80 players join battle for the 16 qualifying places in next month’s Shanghai Masters. Among them are new faces, old faces, legendary faces and faces even diehard snooker fans would struggle to recognise.

The qualifiers take place in virtual obscurity. Alas, there won’t be much in the papers about the events at Pontin’s in Prestatyn over the next four days but, for the first time, there will be some streaming of matches through the new 110sport.tv venture.

Old snooker players don’t die, they go to the qualifiers.

They all have done in their time: Ray Reardon, Fred Davis, John Spencer, Alex Higgins, Joe Johnson, Dennis Taylor and now Jimmy White, John Parrott, Ken Doherty and Steve Davis.

It’s hard to give up when snooker has been your life, even when you know your best days are behind you.

In the back of your mind is the thought that maybe, just maybe, you will rediscover some of that golden form.

It’s the mindset that sees James Wattana and Tony Drago return this season to give the professional circuit another go.

The only legend who called it a day when he dropped out of the top 16 was Terry Griffiths so there’s a certain irony that he will be 110sport’s lead commentator today.

But Terry, of course, carried on in the game through coaching when he finally hung his cue up and, in some ways, his playing career has been extended through following the fortunes of those he coaches.

All the players starting out this week will be flush full of hope that, whatever has happened in the past, this will be their season.

That hope will be eroded for many by close defeats, disappointing performances and the realities of life on tour in a sport not in the best of health, with two ranking events axed and sponsorship hard to come by.

Players in the first two rounds will not earn a single penny, despite being professional sportsmen.

There will be plenty of time during the season to become disenchanted, frustrated and plain fed up. But, today, hope is in the ascendancy.

Good luck to all those involved.



To watch the qualifiers live on 110sporttv, you can go to their website here.