Overseas trips with snooker have always been fun, usually because no sooner has the plane left the tarmac that something goes catastrophically wrong.

China is a country snooker players have had to get used to visiting in the last decade. It has two ranking events with talks underway to convert the Jiangsu Classic, currently an invitation tournament, into a third.

I recall two incidents from the 2002 China Open in Shanghai that sum up the way British snooker players have had to adjust to life playing a long way from home.

The first concerned Mark Selby, then just 18 and so understandably not worldly wise.

Selby had beaten a 14 year-old wildcard by the name of Ding Junhui in the opening round and then Joe Swail and was due to face Stephen Hendry in the last 16.

This was, of course, a big deal for the teenager and you could understand his excitement at the prospect of playing one of his heroes.

That said, it was still a surprise to see him fully dressed in his waistcoat, cue in hand, in the lobby of the tournament hotel at 1am.

I had been enjoying light refreshments with other journalists and officials and as we made our way to the lifts, there was Mark and his mate talking to the concierge.

One of the referees approached him to check all was well. Selby explained he was trying to arrange transport to the venue as he was “playing at half two.”

The ref said something like, “yes, half past two in the afternoon.”

It was here that the penny finally dropped. Selby looked up at the glass atrium of the hotel and saw that it was pitch black outside, a fact that had not previously registered.

After such a bewildering experience, there was only one result possible. Selby beat Hendry 5-1.

Credit to him, he told the whole story in the post match press conference. He then beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-3 in the quarter-finals.

Graeme Dott did not enjoy such a fairytale end to his own embarrassment, which was a sort of snooker version of Trains, Planes and Automobiles.

Dott had been unable to catch his scheduled flight from Glasgow to London because of fog and the delay meant that he also missed the scheduled flight from London to Bangkok (players were flying to here because there was a tournament in Thailand the week after and it made it easier to go home from Bangkok rather than fly back into China).

I’d imagine hanging around various airports didn’t improve Dott’s mood because, yes, by the time he made it to Bangkok, he had missed the intended flight to Shanghai.

It ended up taking him something like 36 hours to reach Shanghai and he immediately collapsed in bed, exhausted.

He was, in fact, so tired that he slept through his alarm call. When he eventually awoke he realised it was something like 15 minutes before his first round match against Darren Morgan was due to start.

Dott bolted out of bed and threw on his snooker gear – not wasting time to put on any underpants.

He ran from the hotel and hailed a taxi. The taxi driver went the wrong way and Dott was reduced to getting out and running the last half a mile.

He arrived around 15 minutes late, was docked two frames and eventually lost 5-3.

In time he came to see the funny side. It would be fair to say, though, that he did not do so in the post match press conference.

When I asked him how he felt he replied, “suicidal.”

The Guardian, for whom I wrote the story, found it so hilarious that they made Graeme their ‘alternative’ sports personality of the year although, to put this into perspective, H’Angus the Monkey (Hartlepool FC’s mascot) was third.

I supposed there was a happy ending of sorts. Dotty used to argue with Michael Holt as to which of them had the worst record of playing in China.

It was a dispute Holt won when Dott captured the 2007 China Open.

Of course, Dott and Selby contested one of the Crucible semi-finals this year.

On balance, they are probably both happy the championship hasn’t moved to China.


Anonymous said...

Great story Dave but having been away for a while I would prefer to see a roundup of snooker news and your views.

Anonymous said...

heard d morgan has dropped out of the seniors and replaced by peter lines. just wondering dave if u know why david roe seems to be the only player not to have been asked who is over 40. was still on tour this season yet players who have not been on tour for years have been included.


Possible 3 rankers in China this year.

I believe they are on the crest of a boom that will dwarf the 80s boom in Britain.

The massive population will enable business to pay ridiculous money for sponsorship, which in turn will attract the best players, and encourage the Chinese youth to play.

Remember there are almost 20 Chinese for every Brit, and their youth, when they want to learn, apply themselves far more diligently than the average brit.

I can envisage local league players becoming celebrities, and amateur tournaments being shown on tv without any recourse to World Snooker.

I wonder, maybe in 10 years or so, will the professional game be dominated by Chinese robots who clear up every time?

Will they eventually kill the game, just like Walter Lindrum killed billiards as a spectator sport all those years ago?

I think they might, but I'm often wrong.

Either way, between the Asian and Romford revolutions, there are exciting times ahead.

We'll just have to wait and see how it pans out.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave Welcome back.
Dear Mr Kildare @ 7:40 PM. Your forecast about snooker and China is so so wrong. The game even in China is full of empty seats.
Wishing and hoping is part of life’s normalities though it is usually applied to “Good Health” “Family Wellbeing” or to the working masses “Winning the Lottery”.

Snookers decline started in the eighties when the game failed to break even financially and was saved by the introduction of Tobacco Advertising.

Snooker got a wonderful twenty plus years of “Loads of Money” to subsidise not only a dieing industry but the many other industries with the prefix ”Snooker” that have lived off the game without ever contributing to the “Mother Game”.

Your “Words of Misplaced Wisdom” will be welcomed mister Kildare by the many within the game that will be “On Pay” for there lifetime whether the professional game lives or dies.

Snooker coaching (with a copyright) is a multi million pound industry that countries worldwide including China that would willing hire the copyright from W/S to control there own coaching industry. Mr hey you


Mr Hey you, who's to say that the gaming industry won't fill the niche once held by tobacco.

Whether it does or not, companies sponsor events that are watched by their customer base.

The amount that they pay is generally proportionate to the number of potential customers that the event reaches.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese tune in every time one of their own are in action.

Top pros are treated like royalty in China and the progress the country has made in recent years has been phenomenal.

In 2006 there were no majors and no top pros in China.

Now there are two[possibly 3] ranking tournaments. Ding is no.1 on the one year list, which by definition is the most reliable guide to current and future form.
Wenbo is closing in on a top 8 spot and several young Chinese are working their way up the rankings.

There are many lucrative local tournaments, and as many schools have tables installed, an army of kids approaching adulthood with a reasonable snooker standard.

Im sure they also have a decent coaching system in place, possibly spearheaded by a coaching guru called Mr Hi Yaa.

Anonymous said...

To KILDADE CUEMAN & Mr hey you.

You both have my attention, and you both have some substance to your arguments.

Please continue....

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kildare—Hi Dave
I am afraid sir that we are not on the same subject. Advertising commodities on snooker programmes is a positive “No Go” commercial concept whether in China, India or here in Blighty the home of snooker.

As for the population being ten times more people! It equates to ten times more people being bored with the same repetitiveness’ seen in all professional snooker.
Even in Sheffield where only top class snooker is played, the game as a commercial spectacle is dead and in a few years Sheffield will try and unload this annual event.

The game will never die but the pro’ game already needs attention. The break-a-way groups will survive for a few years until they need new faces that will be very hard to find.
The game will have to be “Self-supporting” and out side of taking in each others washing, the players must pay an annual permit for the “Right” to coach”

Sport will soon loose the “Gambling and Alcohol” money to the “Do-Gooders” and will be forced to accept Lady Members to attract the “Female Gear” and the cosmetic industry. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

not on the same subject?

mr a u, you are not on the same wavelength as normal snooker fans

ive a bit of a soft spot for that story dave, considering what happened to dotty in the last couple of years or so

Anonymous said...

mr hey u must be nick barrow hes always on about coaching.as for saying genius doesnt exist r u telling me ronnie cant be classed as genius.peter lines in the seniors what a joke .never even been a top 32 player .one result in 15 years.must have got the yorkshire vote off joe johnson.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Mr X @ 8:12 Hi Dave
Thanks for the plug ole chap! It’s sad Mr X that you never venture a single reason for your dislike of the “Fine Art” method.
As snooker players Mr X aren’t you proud that here in GB we (collectively) are the only country in the world holding a copyright in the art of “Snooker Coaching”. In fact the only country that has the sole copyright of a “Sport” if you choose to call the beautiful game a sport.

While on the subject Sir “The Fine Art” method is not just wrapped in playing snooker but the original and different use of the CUE, the cue ball, object balls applies equally to the various pool games also.

The “Mechanics of the Balls” and the awareness of Physics in Snooker applies to all “Board Ball games” Mr X. Your ridicule does not diminish the value of a copyright. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

ive not got much of a grudge against the fine fart method....

i do not like it when you post utter tripe, like balls cant roll, and such like gems

you talk utter rubbish 99% of the time, and the 1% you do talk thats worth reading is swallowed up by all the garbage!

there you go Mr a u, theres part of the reason.

Anonymous said...

oh, and it must be the most pointless copyright, sport related, that i have ever heard of.

its only use it to say "*I* have copyright...."

which on here and in real life the majority of people and players laugh at you. and rightly so.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared.
Dear Mr X @ 8:05 PM Hello Dave!
How are you my dear friend! Like 99% of snooker buffs Mr X your are of limited “Schooling” but please remember Sir the school did not withhold your quota of intelligence when sent out at an early age to the wonderful world of snooker and snooker clubs.

A person doesn’t require a “Physics Degree” to understand that a ball cannot “Roll”! It (The cue ball) will spin also if struck off centre but “Skids” always with “Trust Force” of the cue tip and only “Rolls” the length of its own circumference (only sometimes) when the balls motion is exhausted.

If you still don’t believe the “Fine Art” copyright method Mr X please ask Jimmy White, Ronnie O Sullivan, Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry as your opinion of “Snooker Know How” seems to be wrapped in century break players or World Champions. Mr hey you

PS For the record Mr X when I left school at twelve the teacher in Scotland forgot to mention that balls can’t roll and he (the teacher) was a great billiard player. DM

Anonymous said...

yet more rubbish

youre not getting any cleverer....

and thankfully 99% of the people who read this blog know you talk nonsense. :)

Anonymous said...

mr hey u . a failed paid in pro from years ago i almost garantee it. failing yourself doesnt give u the right to call yourself a coach.i pity anyone u teach this bullshit they will be having a nervous breakdown and quiting the game within weeks.if u are getting paid to teach then u should be done for fraud.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Xx @ 2:53 P M. Hi Dave
The “Fine Art” takes no pleasure Sir in proving you wrong again. I am and never have been a “Failed paid up member” to the professional circuit. Nor am I sir a “Self Appointed” snooker coach.

As you are fully aware Mr Xx there is no such “Animiloy” as a “Fully Qualified Snooker Coach” as Joe Davis didn’t appoint any players as coaches during his life time.

The ABC coach, the Doe Ray Me coach and the Xyz coach are all self appointed little people striving for a kind of recognition.
Joe was the games original snooker coach but was declared “Null and Void”. The “Fine Art” book Sir was written over twenty years ago as an alternative to the then Joe Davis books.

For the record Sir, Mr hey you has never charged nor advertised coaching lessons. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

mr hey u . "i am and never have been" that doesnt sound right for a man of your intelligance.balls dont roll lol. is it true dave reanne evans given wild card for main tour. stupid decision if so.allison fisher was miles better and she couldnt handle it. the gap in abbility is too vast.should go to an overseas player from a country that may look to hold a ranking event.