Following lengthy negotiations, World Snooker today announced a new ranking event in India, to be staged from October 14-18.
This will be the first ranking tournament held in India, where snooker was invented by British army officers in 1875.
Legend has it that British officers at the Ooty club in Jubbulpore, taking shelter during the rainy season, conceived the game of snooker by mucking about with existing cue sports.
Neville Chamberlain (no relation to the prime minister of the same name) has been credited with forming the rules. He went on to become a colonel but at the time was only 19.
A ‘snooker’ was in fact an insult used by seniors officers towards their underlings, which makes you wonder what else the game could have been called.
India is a huge market. For many years, billiards has been popular on the subcontinent and there have also been a few invitation snooker tournaments over the years.
The country has two promising professionals in Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, though they will have to qualify.
There will be six wildcards. In this instance – trying to establish a new tournament in a new market – the use of wildcards can be justified. It follows the precedent of every other new territory.
The first prize is £50,000 and 64 players will take part in the final stages. The pre-qualifying round will be in Doncaster from August 11-12.
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson, who is to air miles what Joe Davis was to world titles, said: “I’ve been in Delhi this week to finalise the agreement for the event and I’ve witnessed first hand the enthusiasm for snooker in India. The people really love our game and I’ve no doubt that this event will be a great success and provide a basis for snooker's growth in India.”
Let’s hope enough top players recognise the importance of supporting a new event in a new market, which certainly has the potential to grow in the years to come.
What India has over most of the circuit’s other non-British calling points is a cue sports heritage.
Snooker, after 138 years, is coming home.