The tournament that immediately precedes the World Championship is traditionally overshadowed by it, for no other reason than its slot in the calendar.

Inescapably, everyone is talking about the Crucible and the players are thinking about it, at least those who have qualified are. It is 13 years since the player who won the last title before Sheffield triumphed in the World Championship itself.

It's better now than is used to be when first the British Open, then the Scottish Open took place just a week before the Crucible.

And the Bank of Beijing China Open has grown in prestige, now offering a first prize of £60,000.

This tournament went into abeyance for three years until 2005 when World Snooker staged it again on a one-year deal. To their great relief it was won by Ding Junhui and has since been fully funded by the Chinese organisers.

The one downside to this is that they still insist on Chinese wildcards, whose continued presence in the event is unfair on those who have battled through qualifying.

For instance, Kurt Maflin won four matches in Sheffield to secure his TV debut but now has to play Cao Yupeng before he can take on Ding.

At least the organisers have seen sense this year by putting on two first round matches on the opening day. Stephen Hendry faces the in form Matthew Stevens while world champion Neil Robertson faces Barry Hawkins.

There will be no Jimmy White, though. Apparently White travelled to China on a single entry visa but then went to Thailand for exhibition work which meant he was not allowed back into the country.

This gives wildcard Tian Pengfei a walkover to play Mark Selby in the last 32.

Eurosport - who don't select which matches appear on the two main TV tables, just to head off that annual moan - will be showing live action on both its channels all week, although this varies depending which country you live in, so check local listings.

It's an interesting line-up and, despite its proximity to the World Championship, will doubtless be won by one of the usual suspects.

John Higgins, who won the recent Hainan Classic, has to start favourite again as he hunts down a fifth title of the season.

It looks like Ronnie O'Sullivan will be playing, but he is in a brutal quarter of the draw and starts out against Ryan Day, who beat him at the Welsh Open.

Local support will be for Ding, who finished runner-up to Mark Williams last year.


wild said...


this visa rubish needs sorting never have there been so much said about visa issues than theres been the last season or 2.

Regarding Jimmy hes been in china so let him back in what they think hes going to do on the second visit he wasent the first.

Beurocracy Red Tape makes my blood boil and this is a prime example of it going Bonkers.

Dave H said...

If you've been to China you'll know that they aren't big on leniency in cases such as this

wild said...

no ive never been to china and i dont look at it from a perspective of someone who has. however common sense is common sense in whichever culture you are and this is nonsence.

Anonymous said...

he got a single entry visa to a place he was going to, leaving, then going back to? well played....

wild said...

never bben to china and wouldn't go for all the coffee in china either..

Anonymous said...

Unlucky for Jimmy. Usually you get it sorted out with a bit of "extra cash". But I can understand if somebody doesn't like to support this corruptive system.

Anonymous said...

7 12 .u seem to think china give a toss about j whites visa . i would imagine snooker players are quite low on their priorities on who they let in their country. wsa always make sure visas are correct so i gaurantee its jimmys fault and i bet hes earning enough in thailand and probably knew it and just got the free flight to china courtesy of the tournamant to be near bangkok.

Anonymous said...

that sounds like a plan, 11.50

Anonymous said...

i bet he's also spending a lot of money in thailand ;-)

Betty Logan said...

I find it slightly curious why they didn't hold over Wenbo's match to the venue considering he comes in at the final qualifying round. They do it with Welsh players at the Welsh Open, so why not with China? I'm sure the Chinese would have preferred to watch their number 2 player over the wildcards.

jamie brannon said...

White must be gutted, particularly with no World Championship to look forward too.

At least he it won't cost him his main tour place!!

Redandblackblog said...

It still seems a bit mad in this day and age that something couldn't be done to allow White back into China.

On a different subject didn't the Irish Masters used to precede the Worlds?

Anonymous said...

To 11.50 - if you really do want to bet that Jimmy was never intending to play in China, I'll gladly take that bet, at whatever stake you like.

Are the flights even free anyway?

Anonymous said...

Scrap the wildcards or scrap the tournament. Maybe China Open needs the snooker circuit but the snooker curcuit doesn't need China Open. Make it a non-ranker if the cheaters who stage it won't give up their wildcard players.

Enough!! Why are we licking the boots of these people? Over greed, money or just the old 'snooker must be a world sport' fetish?
Who knows. It's time for the madness to end. I won't miss seeing the rows upon rows of empty chinese seats on my tv. Snooker will do fine without organizers like this.

kimball said...

Yep, common sense rules, just ask
Joe Swail about his trip to India
A one entry visa is a one entry visa
On the wildcard subject, you just don't turn your back to such an im-
portant Player as Asia.
Ken Doherty didn't really shine today,
White botched his ticket, players are under survailence, Higgins su-
spended, O'Sullivan no show and
Quinten Hann banned!
Stuff to make the chinese think
twice. So let them have their wild-
cards, there are enough injustice
for the overseas players as it is.

Of course some geezers like it the
S&B CC way, one county one vote, all manufacturers one vote each and so forth, but it won't be on the telly any more.
Ask yourself why snooker is big in
the Asian games, recognised of the
IOK, but not in the commonwealth?!

MarkTheShark said...

Cmon guys, it was Jimmys fault, he said it himself!! Its very very unfortunate, as im sure millions were lookin forward to seein him on TV. Anyway, it should be an interesting tournament with a lot of players on top form..

Dave H said...

Personally I think if they packed the arenas for the wildcard matches then you could say they are justified.

However, they don't. The audience want to watch the top players, just as they do anywhere else in the world. Ken Doherty wouldn't have beaten anyone playing as badly as he did, though.

jamie brannon said...

Dave, I can understand it to some degree for the German Masters, where they have no top players in the elite.

However, there are several Chinese players on tour, in fact they could have held over Liang final qualifier if they were keen for extra him interest. Plus Ding and Marco Fu are in the top 16.

Dave H said...

They asked Liang to play his match in China but he didn't want to

Anonymous said...

If it is Liang Wenbo's decision, then it prove him wrong now.

MarkTheShark said...

Dave, what do you think about the wildcard round being picked from the last 32 and not just the qualifiers?

Anonymous said...

5 59 yes the flights are paid. buisiness class. dave ,as regards asking wenbo if he would play his match in china. he should have been made to if it was thought to be better for the event . i remember a lot of uk players didnt really want to go all the way to china to play the wildcard matches but had to . they used to offer an extra £500 to players who had to do this but scrapped it. even though flights and hotel are paid u still incur exs and could lose that match with no gain in points or money. wengbo should do his bit for snooker . everyone keeps saying players need to put something back into the game,so why was he not made to play over there.

Anonymous said...


have a think b4 you post

random players from a whole draw pre arrange to play in qualifiers.

you CANT single out one person as he is from a country and TELL him where to play a match. that is not right

also, to the idiotic post that said wenbo was proved wrong in his decision, well, i wasnt going to reply, but what a stupid thing to say. he could lose that match anywhere. the fact he played where he was meant to and lost instead of over there doesnt mean the outcome was any different that it would have been elsewhere

some folk on here just auto typ drivel !

Anonymous said...

8 11 moron .yes u can .there was no reason wengbo match could not have been held over and played in china.in malta 3 rounds which drago should have played in uk were taken there .meaning 3 players had to travel as drago was on the back row of the draw. think before u post your drivel. arrogant fool.

Anonymous said...

hi 127

thanks for calling me a moron, arrogant and a fool

thanks to dave for letting the insults through.

i never said there was no reason why it couldnt. i gave an opinion on why it shouldnt.

if you disagree, fair enough. doesnt mean you should take the high ground and dish out insults.