One of the undoubted positives of the new UK Championship format is that there are more faces to see and, for the media, more to write about.
Already this week there’s been a big feature in the Daily Mail on Shane Castle, who played his part in a really exciting match last night against Mark Selby, with the defending champion having to dig deep to come from 3-1 down and win 6-4.
Today another new face, Chris Wakelin, returns to action a few days after his dramatic 6-5 defeat of Ryan Day.
Wakelin was a full time delivery driver for Asda but has gone part time to concentrate on his snooker after qualifying through the Q School, having battled depression and debilitating attack of the snooker ‘yips.’
There’s also John Astley, who edged three times UK Championship runner-up Ken Doherty in the first round. He faces Stuart Carrington, from the snooker stronghold of Grimsby, who had a good 6-2 win over Ben Woollaston in the opening round.
And Chris Norbury, who knocked out Martin Gould, takes on Scotland’s Anthony McGill, himself a 6-5 black ball winner over Kyren Wilson.
The big names quite rightly get the TV tables, though, and Judd Trump is centre stage this afternoon. Winner in York two years ago, he comes to the Barbican Centre having failed to get past the last 32 of a major ranking event all season, although he did reach a European Tour final.
Trump was one of the players to complain about the format after his first round win but he may be better off focusing on his game. I think it’ll turn around for him soon but there’s no guarantee it’ll be this week.
Jimmy White won the UK title in 1992 and reached two other finals. His win 21 years ago stands as his greatest success and it’s a credit to his pure love of snooker that he is still prepared to work hard, and that so many people still will him on.
There was a large crowd in York for his first round win over Michael Wasley, in which White played really well, making the 300th century of his career, the 12th player to reach this milestone.
White has a foot injury which means he half limps around the table, but you feel that as long as he can stand up or even hold a cue, he will still be out there doing his best, whatever the format, whatever the system.