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?