Reanne Evans has become the first woman to qualify for the final stages of a world ranking tournament by beating Thepchaiya Un Nooh 5-4 in the first round of the Wuxi Classic in Gloucester today.

This was a very good win. The Thai is a former world amateur champion and led 3-0 before Evans made a 52 clearance in the fourth frame that turned the match.

Her reward is a meeting with Neil Robertson, the world no.2, who in his 5-0 victory over Mohammed Khairy became the 18th player to compile more than one competitive maximum break. It was the 98th 147 in snooker history.

Women’s snooker is in desperate need of a boost. Entry levels have fallen in the past couple of years and money is distinctly tight – Evans won just £450 for capturing her ninth world title last month.

Allison Fisher is widely regarded as the best female player there ever was. She beat a few top male stars in her time – Mike Hallett, Neal Foulds and Tony Drago – in invitation tournaments but made little impact on the pro ranks in the days when there were 700 professionals.

Evans herself was on the tour a couple of years ago but did not win a match. She seemed to be stuck in a kind of snooker limbo: too good for the women but not good enough for the men.

Her win today is significant. It is a huge confidence boost not just to Evans herself but to women and girls also aspiring to play top level snooker.

It’s already been an incident packed start to the new season as the new ‘flat’ system comes into play.

World champion Ronnie O’Sullivan withdrew before play began due to a family bereavement. World no.1 Mark Selby played but lost, 5-3 to Andrew Pagett.

Most other big names have – so far – been successful, although defending Wuxi Classic champion Ricky Walden lost a 4-1 lead over Pankaj Advani before scrambling home 5-4 on the final black.

Barry Hearn was right to state on Twitter that the new format has already created plenty of interest but he knows better than most that the true test of the system will be the effect it has on viewing figures and, to a lesser extent, ticket sales (although these aren’t great in China anyway).

As I write this Ding Junhui – Wuxi’s hometown hero – is 2-1 down to Aditya Mehta. If he fails to qualify it will be a disaster for the tournament.

Finally, a word for Steve Davis. Starting his 36th – 36th! – season as a professional, he made a break of 131 in beating James Cahill 5-2.

Davis may no longer be seriously threatening for titles but as a model of professionalism he remains the gold standard.


Monique said...

This is an excellent win for Reanne and indeed a good incentive for the ladies to take on snooker. It comes not long after the Ladies Day at the Crucible and everyone interested in promoting the game to the girls appreciated this initiative by WSA, thanks to Jason Ferguson. Tonight, in a totally different setup, Hannah Jones, 16, will play in a Snooker Legends exhibition in Derby. Hannah is very capable and good to watch.
Hopefully things are moving …
There is a lot still to do though. An important one being to make the girls feel welcome in the clubs and not just as a decorative presence "behind the bar". Believe it or not, prejudices die hard.

Terry Oblong said...

Good effort from Evans, watched earlier she can compete, on par with some of the lower ranked overseas guys. I suppose she along with the few other higher ranked Q school non-pro's will be invited to most of the open tournaments given that there doesn't seem like there's gonna be maximum entrants for most of these events with all the absent players and visa issues. Good on her, 3 grand not a bad pay day.

I tuned in with 1 red left thinking this is a big break..... max on here! but the pink was in an impossible position, played some great shots. What was that Trump was saying a while back about Robo's ability!? 2 maxes for Robo now, great stuff.

New Tour setup is better, no doubt about it, I think we will see some old boys having some runs in these tournaments as well as fresh faces, its all good.

Anonymous said...

Where is Steve Davis' Knighthood - surely long overdue?!

kildare cueman said...

I watched the Nugget's match- he played to a pretty decent standard, and was nipping around the table like a youngster at times.

I like the new format. Takes a bit of the sameness out of the event. You'd still expect the big boys to be lining out for the semis but the next trench of big boys can arrive a lot quicker than before.

Ding almost went out today. Do'nt know why WS have stopped holding back matches. You'll get an odd tournament where the top players will get knocked out early. It'll look a bit strange at the venue.

Surely WS could throw 10k to the womens game towards a couple of decent events plus a couple of grand for womens juniors. They wouldn't miss it but it would encourage the cash strapped ladies to keep playing. Might be a good investment for the future.

NewsfoxSport said...

It is ludicrous to suggest the Wuxi Classic would be a disaster if Ding did not qualify.

He normally goes out in the first round. If he was so important they'd just have Ding exhibitions rather than a ranker.

Hearn proved right again. It's May and who really cares about snooker and yet there's been more stories from these qualifiers than some days of the Worlds.

Mediocre bed blockers are finally getting their commuppance.

Dave H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave H said...

No, it's fact. The Wuxi Classic is a ranking event because of the Jiangsu Classic, which was originated because Ding comes from Wuxi City. That's the only reason it exists at all. Without him there wouldn't a tournament - the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association would not have backed it or promoted it.

They were very lucky he qualified.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think the game is getting a bit too caught up in what is "fair" to the players? It is suppose to be spectator sport, after all. What about the broadcasters, or sponsors, or the audiences for that matter? If I were a Chinese broadcaster I would definitely want Ding in there given that he gets huge TV numbers. Flatten it out by all means if you can get all the players at the venue (I haven't heard anyone criticise the flat format for the UK) but making the top players qualify is a bit much. Why are they even having a qualifying round for the German Masters when they don't even have them for some of the European PTCs?? That is pretty insane it has to be said.

Eric said...

"Her reward is a meeting with Neil Robertson, the world no.2"

What about the wildcard round? A real shame if Reanne Evans had to play a local wildcard first and got beaten.

Anonymous said...

Given recent legal rulings, are anonymous comments still allowed on this forum?


Anonymous said...

If Ding was so important to the tournament, why wasn't his last 128 match held over to Wuxi?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous posts on here are somewhat cowardly wouldnt you say?

Anonymous said...

What legal ruling is that?

Don't think it applies to Dave's blog though, because he retains editorial control: from a legal perspective he has posted all the comments on this page i.e. if I submit something libelous, it's Dave that gets sued if he puts it up!

Anonymous said...

A lot written about this - but no-one has mentioned that in her year on the tour the closest Reanne came to a win was against... Neil Robinson (taking him to a decider in a PTC IIRC?). In these early season events there are plenty of precedents for upsets, hope that Reanne gets at lease a couple more invites this year.

I hope that the Wildcards draw is kind - given that there are 10 Chinese players in the draw for Wuxi I'm not sure why they need wildcards for people like Rouzi Mamati and (probably) players from other random countries in the Asian confederation?

ollie said...

Who's Neil Robinson?

Neil Robinson said...

Who's Ollie?

Anonymous said...

We need mixed tournaments. Women are deficient in spacial awareness and hand-eye coordination, among other things needed to be the best at most sports. There is extremely little chance a woman is going to win a proper rank event, or a major. So give them exposure elsewhere, and stop trying to hope the differences in the sexes is an illusion that is going to go away.