The 12bet.com UK Championship is one of snooker’s great events, a glittering jewel in the crown that comprises the sport’s major events.

What’s interesting about it is that, unlike the World Championship, there have been very few shock winners.

Patsy Fagan won the inaugural staging ahead of the likes of John Spencer, Alex Higgins and Ray Reardon. John Virgo was not expected to triumph in 1979. Ronnie O’Sullivan’s 1993 capture of the title was remarkable given that he was still 17, although most already knew what a talent he was.

The biggest surprise came in 1988 when Doug Mountjoy, 46 years old, sliding down the rankings and ten years on from his initial UK victory, stunned Stephen Hendry in the final.

But the trophy usually goes to one of the very top players.

Jimmy White and Matthew Stevens may have failed to find success at the Crucible but are both UK champions.

Steve Davis has six titles to his name, Hendry five and O’Sullivan four.

I welcome innovation. Snooker has stood still for too long. We need different formats and a mix of tournaments.

But the UK Championship’s two session matches are a proper test, hence the cream always rises to the top.

There are no gimmicks, rule changes or assorted messing about: it’s a pure event and long may that continue.

Over best of 17, there is time for things to turn round, time for the momentum to shift and the drama to intensify.

And what great memories over the years: Alex Higgins’s comeback from 7-0 down to Davis in the 1983 final...Willie Thorne’s missed blue in 1985...the Hendry v Davis final in 1990...White’s triumph in 1992...Hendry’s extraordinary seven centuries in the 1994 final...Davis’s run to the final in 2005...

This year the standard is likely to be extremely high because the players are so sharp having played in the PTCs and qualifiers.

Hopefully the players can conjure some snooker magic that befits the tournament’s status.

The weather is terrible in Britain, with snow causing chaos.

What better way to shelter from the cold than to put your feet up, turn on the telly and enjoy another staging of one of snooker’s best events?


Redandblackblog said...

The weather, as you point out Dave, could really benefit the UK Championships. A lot less football on so people's attention will be focused on their tv screens. Having studied the draw it all looks good and I think this is going to be a classic. Only one winner though, and not great value for the gamblers, and that's Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

hendry and white are playing great at home

IQ Electrical said...

Oh I'll drink to that!
The UK still has that special buzz about it and while I appreciate the need to 'spice' other tournament formats, this one is best left as it is!
PS Come on Jimmy!!

kildare cueman said...

Fagan wouldn't have been considered a huge surprise as he was virtually unbeatable in money matches around that time.

Indeed, Willie Thorne, with typical modesty, admits that HE was unbeatable in money matches in his local club, Osbournes, and that the only player who ever beat him there was Patsy.

Thorne himself should be on the list of surprise winners of the UK, only to be thwarted by a simple blue, which would have given him an almost unassailable lead over Davis in the final.

Mountjoy must be the biggest shock of all, especially the fact that his opponent in the final was a hungry young, up and coming Hendry.

He attributed his success to the work of coaching king Frank Callan and went on to win the nevt ranker as well.

There are so many big names slipping down the rankings now that you would nearly have to be ranked outside the top 32 to be considered a shock.

Its unlikely to happen this year but maybe next year onwards, when lower ranked pros have a bit of tv experience, someone will spring from the pack.

Some great first round match ups this year too. Im looking forward to it.

Matt said...

I'm looking forward to the UK Championship this should remain unchanged hopefully Barry Hearn will listen that the format should not be changed and should stay as it is. What you people reckon? Hendry and White bring it on

Anonymous said...


i agree with everything you said but we got to find a way of getting rid of these cubicles matches so that every match is played on a TV Table.

12 out of 24 matches and 24 sessions out of 48 is played in qualifying cubicles in the first 4 days. that can not be right for this tournament surely.

Anonymous said...

I see Hearn, who recently took over bowls, already has live bowls on sky. The mans lethal.

MaximumSnooker.com said...

@Anonymous 10:52 AM

The only problem with getting rid of the cubicles is that the tournament would have to be staged for a longer amount of time which would cost a large amount of money, especially during winter with high fuel bills etc. Only way it would work broadcasting every match is if the frames were shortend to best of 13 or 15 but then it wouldnt be the UK championship any more.

Anonymous said...

It's gonna be like watching the World Open with a revised format or is 12 Bet changing their livery design ?

Reliance on the gambling sector or any one business sector is an unhealthy situation.

Even in the tobacco era you still had other commercial sectors involved in Snooker sponsorship.

By having a number of various sector sponsorships involved it would definetly create greater competition in pushing up prize money and giving the public the impression that Snooker isn't just a onedimensional play thing for the betting firms.

I could name more than a dozen sports that have more flexible sponsorship arrangements than what Snooker does at the moment.

Hearn said that every event would look different and that was just afew months ago.

It's unprecedented that 2 BBC majors are sponsored by the same front company.

Anonymous said...

The Murphy/Fu Final in 2008 was a tense affair partly due to both players not getting to major finals that often which actually made the match more exciting from a spectators view point.
Shame Murphy fluked the pink to get over the line but he deserved the title anyway.

The Higgins/Ding Final last year was also interesting in that Higgins wilted near the end partly due to his deciding frame Semi with Ronnie which took some of the stuffing out of him.

Probably not the classics of UK finals from yesteryear but both were intriguing in their own way.

Iv'e gone each way on Robertson or Higgins or Murphy for this years title so hedging my bets.

jamie brannon said...

Hearn has not taken over bowls, he runs the Premier League event, but it is only recorded coverage on Sky Sports.

John Higgins is my tip for the title, but Stephen Maguire represents excellent value at 22-1, he has an excellent record in this event and his A-game is just as proficient as Mark Selby's who is 10-1, they may meet in round two.

The best matches in the first round are Higgins v Lee, White V Hendry and Cope v Trump, also Ding v Stevens, which will hopefully set the tone for a great nine days of snooker - Bring it on!!

Betty Logan said...

The majors have had six different winners over the last two season, so if that trend continues my money would be on Maguire or Carter.

No-one has defended a ranking title since Ron at the 2005 Welsh Open so the odds are against Ding, and no-one has won back-to-back "proper" ranking titles since Williams in 2003 so the odds are against Robertson too. Selby hasn't reached a "proper" ranking final in nearly three years so I'd think twice about backing him here.

The smart money is probably on Higgins and Murphy who have both had good runs in the PTC recently and have good track records in the longer events; Ronnie is the joker in the pack as always.

Anonymous said...

Matt,shorten the earlier rounds and make the Final a bit longer again.

Anonymous said...

Cards on the table Dave.
Whose your pick or selection of likely winners ?

Or are you doing a yellow ball to black ball preview on tommorows blog ?

Anonymous said...

1218:) 12bet got carried away because the final is on the 12th of the 12th.

A bit of a gaffe by Uncle Barry though he has made many deals outside the nongambling sector in his other sports.

I think his Matchroom brand could be fair game as a potential sponsor

Bryan said...

With the gambling cartel running the show it creates oppurtunities for profit on both sides of the spectrum.
But you already knew that.

Betty Logan said...

The problem with reducing the UK is that it would have to go down to 1 session, and then it becomes just another event. If single session tournaments were thriving then it would be worth doing but I'm not convinced that reducing match length would do anything to enhance the tournament — it would just end up with the same problems as the rest with nothing to distinguish it.

The scheduling is atrocious though and that should be the first thing to be improved: both sessions of a match should be played on the same day and be closer together, perhaps play the first session at 2pm, and then the second session at 6pm with a 45 minute tea break inbetween the sessions. They could alleviate some of the scheduling pressure by making the last 16 qualify, but hold over 8 of the matches to essentially make it last 24 at the venue.

As it is it's not exactly live audience friendly for people who actually want to go and watch a match – if you have to travel you might not want to do two journeys and an overnight stay is an unnecessary expense. As for TV viewers, the three matches I most want to watch all clash with each other because of the hectic schedule. Snooker has enough problems with people not wanting the product, but the awful scheduling is making it difficult for people who do want it...

Dave H said...

8.06 - I think it'll be won by one of the usual suspects, Shaun Murphy or Mark Williams would be my prediction

kildare cueman said...

I can't believe the pettiness of 12.18 and 9.48.

We have had so few tournaments and so many unsponsored events over the last few years, that you would think snooker fans would be grateful for any cash that enters the game.

I dont care if 12bet.com sponsor every event, although thats clearly not the case.

They sponsored the world open, which turned out to be a one off, as far as BBC are concerned anyway, and were so pleased that they upgraded to the second biggest tournament on the tour.

Should this years UK have remained unsponsored in order to appease the two anonymous whiners above?

Of course not.

Anyway its not a precedent for a sponsor to patronise more than one event. I know Rothmans did and Im sure there are others too.

I hope 12bet.com sponsor many events in the future and I hope several are in the same season.

Anonymous said...

Is there any footage of Doug Mountjoy's 1988 win? I've been trying to find some but to no avail


Anonymous said...

9:07 is spot on. What is with the snobbish attitude towards the sponsors?

Since the politically correct establishment decided to play parents to their servants we can't even enjoy the tobacco money. Now gambling has to wear the yellow star as well?

Let the market support snooker. If it isn't to the public's liking the events will not receive the public's backing. Simple as that.