Today marks the 80th anniversary of the start of the World Professional Snooker Championship.

The very first frame in World Championship history was won 97-23 by Melbourne Inman against Tom Newman on November 29, 1926.

They were in no hurry back then. The match took seven days to complete as it was played in two frame spells after a Billiards session on each day.

Inman eventually won 8-5 but was beaten 8-3 in the quarter-finals by Tom Carpenter, who in turn lost the last two frames of his semi-final against Tom Dennis to be denied a final place 12-10.

Joe Davis was untroubled in defeating Joe Brady 10-5 and Albert Cope 16-7 to reach the final and breezed into a 7-0 lead over Dennis on the first day of their 31 frames final, played on May 9, 1927.

At the end of day two, he was 12-4 ahead and on winning the first four frames of the third day had achieved a winning lead.

The dead frames were nevertheless played out, so the final result was 20-11, misleadingly close for what was effectively a walkover.

The trophy Davis won was bought using half the entry fees and is the same one presented at the Crucible today.

80 years ago, the modern circuit we are so used to today would have been unimaginable – these were the days before a television service had been introduced.

But snooker owes those early pioneers a great debt of gratitude.

Happy birthday to the World Championship!



Dennis Taylor, the 1985 world champion, has become a father for the fourth time.

Taylor, 57, is now the proud father of baby Amber, his first daughter.

The Northern Irishman retired from professional snooker in 2000 but remains a popular member of the circuit as a BBC TV commentator.

He is also much in demand as an after dinner speaker and appeared on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing last year.

Taylor and wife Louise have a two year-old son and he has two sons from a previous marriage.


The WPBSA AGM was held today in Sheffield.

Sir Rodney Walker, the chairman, was re-elected to the board 43-0.

Sir David Richards was re-elected 42-1.

Peter Ebdon survived 27-17.

Lee Doyle, co-opted earlier this year, was elected 34-8.

Hamish McInnes, also co-opted, was elected 29-13.

However, Brandon Parker, seeking election, failed in his bid as he polled 22 votes for and 21 against and there was not a free place on the seven man board, which also includes Jim McMahon and Mike Dunn.


If you live in the UK or parts of Europe that can receive the BBC, here is the TV schedule for the UK Championship. In addition, every ball of the televised phase will be transmitted on the BBC's digital service and there is also extensive coverage on Eurosport.

Nobody wanted to go Christmas shopping anyway, did they?

December 9
BBC One, 1305-1630
BBC Two, 1800-1930, 0000-0200

December 10
BBC Two, 1330-1430, 1645-1900, 2245-2330

December 11
BBC Two, 1330-1715, 2315-0100

December 12
BBC Two 1330-1715, 1900-2000, 2315-0200

December 13
BBC Two, 1400-1715, 1900-2000, 2315-0000

December 14
BBC Two, 1330-1715, 1900-2000, 2315-0000

December 15
BBC Two, 1330-1715, 1900-2000, 2300-2330

December 16
BBC One, 1420-1630
BBC Two, 1630-1730, 2100-2230

December 17
BBC Two, 1430-1730, 2000-2300



How are major sports marketed?

At a big golf event, Tiger Woods can be expected to undertake promotional engagements. Similarly in tennis, Roger Federer is put up for the media.

How is World Snooker to launch the Saga Insurance Masters – the game’s most prestigious invitation event?

The answer is to put a table up at Liverpool Street Station a week on Thursday and have Jimmy White on standby in case anyone fancies a game.

The point is to shift tickets for the tournament, which are presumably not selling very well.

What an embarrassment for the sport that White has been reduced to little more than a Big Issue seller hawking his wares in a public space.

And to launch one event in the middle of another (the UK Championship is on at the time) defies any logic.



There has been no sponsor as yet announced for the UK Championship, which starts on December 4.

It seems unlikely now that there will be one announced at such short notice, which is of course disappointing given the prestige attached to the tournament.

However, sponsorship is a complex area often misunderstood. The truth is this: World Snooker could get someone, anyone, to chuck in a few thousand and have the tournament on the cheap.

They’ve done this in the past but I think they are right to instead look for a backer investing serious money. There is a prize fund for the event in excess of £500,000 to cover, plus ancillary costs. Putting these events on is not an inexpensive affair.

They have already secured a five year deal with 888.com to sponsor the World Championship and three years deals with Saga Insurance for the Masters and Royal London Watches for the Grand Prix.

These deals run into the millions and help to underpin the financial stability of the sport. It means three of the BBC’s four tournaments have some kind of identity and security.

The agreements only came about after much negotiation. Snooker isn’t regarded as a trendy sport or one blue chip firms want to get involved with, despite its high profile on television and viewing figures most other sports look at with envy.

Snooker suffers from an unbelievably patronising cultural snobbery. It’s looked down on because working class people like it.

Actually, the demographic of people who come to snooker and watch it on TV is wide ranging. This is a sport enjoyed by Ronnie Wood and Martin Amis alike. Footballers have tables in their houses but so does Tony Blair at Chequers.

However, chief executives and managing directors tend to prefer the middle class atmosphere of golf tournaments and rugby union matches, where corporate hospitality often takes preference over the actual sporting event.

Also, snooker is no longer enjoying the honeymoon it did with the British TV public it did in the 1980s. This is natural: nobody is on honeymoon forever.

Against this backdrop, and considering snooker was tainted for some by its long association with tobacco companies, World Snooker can only be commended for attracting three significant sponsors.

IMG/TWI is the governing body’s agents in this, though Nicky Fuller of World Snooker also played a very important role.

The challenge now is to secure sponsors for the smaller events and build the circuit back up again.

Everyone wishes the UK Championship had a sponsor but the fact that it doesn’t – as of yet – shouldn’t be taken as a sign the game is in some sort of crisis.



I was pleased to read on worldsnooker.com that two new referees will be used at the UK Championship in York next month and that they are non-British.

Refereeing, like any aspect of the circuit, needs constant renewal and it’s a positive sign that the WPBSA have looked beyond British shores for this.

Thus, Oliver Martel of Belgium and Jean-Pierre van Vlerken of Holland will don their white gloves at the Barbican Centre.

In fact, 12 new referees are being used on the world ranking event circuit this season. Good luck to them all. It’s a tough job demanding many hours of constant concentration.

It also tends to be the case that referees are only noticed if they make a mistake.

Mercifully, snooker isn’t like football. The players don’t ritually abuse the officials and generally have complete confidence in the game’s leading refs.

The top two at the moment are Eirian Williams and Jan Verhaas – both excellent referees with the full respect of the sport’s stars.

The next tier includes the likes of Johan Oomen, Alan Chamberlain, Michaela Tabb, Pete Williamson and Colin Humphries.

Again, they each have experience and are respected by snooker players from one end of the ranking list to the other.

Of course, the telegenic Tabb was fast-tracked through the ranks a few years ago. There was much talk about this at the time but very few would question her credentials now.

Snooker needs new refs to augment all of the above, not least because a number of top officials have departed in recent years.

Lawrie Annandale was rightly considered as one of the very best but did not accept what was a relatively low financial offer to continue.

Paul Collier, who refereed the 2004 world final, also quit because it was not financially viable to carry on, though he still takes charge of the Betfred Premier League.

Stuart Bennett, another safe pair of hands, similarly gave up refereeing for financial reasons.

Colin Brinded, one of the most experienced and well regarded officials on the circuit, sadly died a year ago.

John Williams, who has refereed more world finals than anyone else, retired in 2002.

John Newton, another referee with a lifelong love of, and commitment to, snooker retired after taking charge of the 2000 Crucible final.

Going further back, Len Ganley and John Street, two stalwarts of the 1980s and 90s, have also left the scene.

That’s why the WPBSA have been working to find new refs, a number of whom were blooded at the recent Saga Masters qualifying event in Sheffield.

“It’s imperative that we get more referees coming through the ranks,” said Mike Ganley, the WPBSA’s tournament director.

“These guys have been in the system and assessed for about two years now. They’ve officiated at PIOS events and the next stage was the Masters which obviously featured Main Tour players.

“The next level is to elevate them to the main tour and Oliver and Jean-Pierre will get their opportunity in York.”

Of course, some may say that had the WPBSA treated some of their more experienced referees better there wouldn’t be such a need for new faces but that isn’t the fault of the newcomers and they deserve support.



The BBC's Culture Show is inviting people to vote for their leading living icon: people who have enriched the cultural landscape of Britain.

Among those nominated are Paul McCartney, Alan Bennett and David Bowie.

Another nominee is Sir David Attenborough, who has, through his various natural history programmes, brought the natural world into our living rooms.

However, not many people realise the debt snooker owes to Attenborough. As the first controller of BBC2 in the 1960s he wanted programmes that would showcase a new invention, colour television.

Snooker, with its many colours, fitted the bill and Attenborough commissioned Pot Black in 1969, which introduced the viewing public to the game and its players and paved the way for regular televised snooker and the professional circuit as we know it today.

In his autobiography, Life on Air, Attenborough says he "is as proud of Pot Black as I am of Civilisation" - a reference to the groundbreaking history programme presented by Kenneth Clark.

Reason enough, surely, to vote for him by following the link below.




It looks as if Liu Song and Marco Fu will not be part of the 48-man line-up for next month’s UK Championship as both players are already committed to playing in the Asian games in Doha, Qatar.

Fu was seeded through to York but Liu won three matches to qualify, coming from 8-6 down to beat Drew Henry 9-8 in the last round.

The Chinese authorities are forcing Ding Jun Hui to miss the Betfred Premier League play-offs for the Games so are unlikely to show leniency towards his compatriot.

Should Liu receive ranking points and prize money if he doesn’t take his part in the final stages draw?

And should Henry feel miffed that he has been beaten in the final qualifying round by a player who was never going to go to York?



Play in the final qualifying round of the UK Championship began today at 9am – surely the earliest ever start for ranking event matches – because the Pontin’s holiday camp in Prestatyn was hosting a huge dance event.

It was feared that noise from the Ultimate After Party – a 52-hour rave for some 1,500 young people – was putting players off.

Matches were taken off at 12pm and the second session started half an hour late at 4.30pm to accommodate the final afternoon’s dance events.

A WPBSA spokesman told me: “We’d been told we’d be OK but the bass was coming through the building.

“We had a meeting with the organisers and decided to start at 9am and finish at 12pm, which was when their finale started.”

Talk about a clash of cultures. In one part of the camp, a live set by DJ Sammy; in another, Fergal O’Brien and Joe Delaney playing a best of 17.

According to the BCA website, dance organisers had “hired the entire Pontin’s complex and is turning it into the largest entertainment site in the UK.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened. The WPBSA once scheduled the World Billiards Championship over four days at the same North Wales venue but had to hastily cram it all into three days when they realised the Tidy Weekender rave was taking place there.

This was billed as “dirty smut action with lustful ladies and super studs” – the rave that is, not the billiards.

The irony is that the WPBSA chose to take the Saga Masters qualifying tournament to the new World Snooker Academy in Sheffield the day after the Malta Cup qualifiers – causing a trek up north for all and sundry.

Had they played the UK Championship in Prestatyn after the Malta qualifiers and then gone to Sheffield for the Masters this week – rather than make everyone go to Yorkshire and then come back – there wouldn’t have been a problem.

Still, the players would then have had to miss the “craziest party in the UK” – not my words, but the words of Fatman Scoop.

What he thinks about the York line-up is as yet unclear.



All is right with the world again: Michael Holt's diary has returned after an all too long absence to worldsnooker.com.

Holty is a much liked member of the game's playing cast and gets on well with the journalists because he doesn't take himself too seriously.

He's also a very good player and dedicated to the game, hence his participation in various smaller events, including August's German Open pro-am, which he ended up winning.

I'm pleased to read he is off to Dubai this week to coach some of their up-and-coming players.

However, I found this paragraph somewhat amusing:

"They want their players to improve by practising with us. One of the main differences is that over there if a player is 40 or 50 points down in a frame, you can see he virtually gives up. In the professional game, you know that if you are that far behind you are still in the frame, and they can learn from us in how to recover those kind of situations."

This, you'll recall, from a player who conceded the deciding frame of his China Open encounter with Joe Perry last season despite trailing only 19-0.

You can read the full entry here http://www.worldsnooker.com/news_editorial-18292.htm



Judd Trump, a 9-0 winner over Patrick Einsle in the first qualifying round of the UK Championship, again expended minimal mental energy in cruising to a 9-2 second round victory today over David Roe, who thus lost his opening match in a ranking event for the first time since the 2005 World Championship.

A 39 clearance gave Trump the opening frame and one of 67 made it 2-0 but the match was still very much in the balance at 3-2 to this prodigiously talented Bristol teenager.

However, Trump’s 137 total clearance in the sixth was the catalyst for his run of six successive frames which carried him to victory and a final qualifying round tussle with Rod Lawler.

Mark Allen, beaten 9-8 by Steve Davis in the last 32 of last season’s UK Championship, overturned a 4-2 deficit to beat James Leadbetter 9-5.

Allen’s 90 made it 4-4 but he lost the first on the resumption when Leadbetter cleared green to black.

However, Allen outpointed him 415-36 in the remaining five frames as breaks of 45, 37, 40, 76, 63, and 52 helped him reach the final qualifying round.

It would clearly do the event a lot of good if Trump and Allen made it through to York.


The first two ranking events of the season were won by non-British players. China’s Ding Jun Hui captured the Northern Ireland Trophy and Neil Robertson of Australia the Royal London Watches Grand Prix.

In the current UK Championship qualifiers, all three Chinese players – Liu Song, Liang Wenbo and Tian Pengfei – won their matches in the first qualifying round, as did the two Thais, Issara Kachaiwong and Passakorn Suwannawat.

New Zealand veteran Dene O’Kane won his first match in a ranking event for five years in beating Matthew Couch. The 43 year-old has returned to the main tour this season. He missed the first two ranking events and was a first round loser in the Malta Cup but is now back to winning ways.

Last season, Hong Kong’s Marco Fu became only the second Asian player to reach the Crucible semi-finals.

Tony Drago and Alex Borg (Malta), James Wattana (Thailand), Mohammed Shehab (UAE), Roy Stolk (Holland), Shokat Ali (Pakistan), Patrick Einsle (Germany) and Robin Hull (Finland) are meanwhile flying the flags of their respective countries.

Ken Doherty, Fergal O’Brien, Michael Judge, Joe Delaney and David Morris represent the Republic of Ireland on the main tour.

This is all to the good. It is, after all, the ‘World’ Snooker tour. Despite this, it is so British dominated – not least having all the qualifiers played in the UK – that is has been historically difficult for players from overseas to make an impact.

Only Doherty, who lives less than an hour from the UK, and Canadian Cliff Thorburn have won the World Championship from an otherwise Brit-heavy roll of honour.

Ding, Robertson and the other non-British players have made huge sacrifices to pursue their snooker careers.

Imagine a player from, say, Essex being told they would have to move to China to play professional snooker. How many of them would want to make that step?

Yet Ding and co have said goodbye to their families and moved to a country where, for some, they have an entirely different language to learn and different culture to adjust to.

Credit to them. They all take the game seriously. Ronnie O’Sullivan told me at Aberdeen that Kachaiwong has to be scraped off the table at the World Snooker Academy in Sheffield, such is his love for the game.

Snooker’s future lies in its ability to expand globally. There’s been plenty of ranking events staged outside the UK – Belgium, Holland, France, Malta, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Germany, Dubai, China, Thailand, Hong Kong – but, sadly, almost all of them have fallen by the wayside.

Ding’s success should consolidate China as a permanent stopping off point for the circuit. Perhaps Robertson’s emergence will kick-start interest in Australia.

Eurosport’s extensive coverage of the main tour has seen interest in countries such as Germany, Poland and Romania soar to unprecedented levels. Worldsnooker.com, the governing body’s website, even has 14 registered users in the Vatican City.

Let’s hope that snooker’s non-British stars continue to improve. The more nations represented on the circuit, the more secure snooker’s future appears to be.



Ding Jun Hui will not play in the semi-finals of the Betfred Premier League on December 2-3 because the Chinese Snooker authorities insist he must compete for his country in the Asian Games in Doha.

As a result, the League organisers, Matchroom, have announced that the fifth placed player will take Ding's place and that 50% of the prize money they earn will go to the Hunter Foundation, set up by Paul Hunter's widow, Lindsey.

The Matchroom press release reads:

Following news that Ding Jung-hui of China will not now be able to compete in the Play-Offs of the 2006 Betfred Premier League Snooker, promoters Matchroom Sport and sponsors Betfred have decided to allow the fifth placed player at the conclusion of the League to assume Ding’s place in the semi-finals.

The provisional World No.4 from Shanghai had already qualified for the big money stages of the League following a string of impressive performances but following news that Ding’s home country of China has now insisted that he must represent them in the forthcoming Asian Games in Doha where he will be taking part in the snooker disciplines, the agreed changes have now been put in place.

The Betfred Premier League Snooker Play-Offs, which are already a sell-out, take place on the 2/3 December at the Forum Centre, Wythenshawe, Manchester, will now feature the fifth placed player who will take Ding’s place.

With Ronnie O’Sullivan already qualified, the affected players are Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, Graeme Dott, Ken Doherty and Steve Davis who are all in with a chance of qualifying.

As a tribute to the late Paul Hunter, Betfred and Matchroom Sport and all the players concerned have agreed that 50% of all prize money won by the replacement player in the play-offs will go to the Hunter Foundation, a new charity set up by Paul’s wife Lindsey to help disabled and underprivileged youngsters play snooker.

Commented Fred Done, Chairman of Betfred, “The loss of Paul Hunter was a tragic blow for snooker and Ding’s absence represents a fantastic opportunity to do something positive in Paul’s name.

“The fifth placed player will effectively be playing for Paul and that will be a massive incentive for them to do well in the play-offs.”

Matchroom Sport Chairman Barry Hearn said, “With £50,000 for the champion, £25,000 for the runner-up and £12,500 for the beaten semi-finalists as well as any £1,000 century break bonuses hopefully the charity will get off to a flying start.”

In addition Ding Jun-hui has agreed to make an undisclosed donation to the fund.



Sean Storey tonight made a great comeback to beat Paul Wykes 9-7 and reach the second qualifying round of the UK Championship at Pontin's, Prestatyn.

After falling 6-2 adrift, the Grimsby man was so disgusted with himself that he packed his suitcase and put it in his car ready for the expected drive home at the end of the night.

It spurred him on to win seven of the evening's eight frames and keep his hopes of appearing in the final stages at York next month alive.

“I’ll have to go and unpack the car now,” Storey told me. “I did it out of frustration. I hadn’t given up. In fact, I was desperate to win but I was telling myself that I had a long drive home in prospect if things didn’t improve. It was the kick up the backside I needed.

“I lost a frame early on that really hurt and I couldn’t put it out of my mind. My concentration went and even though Paul wasn’t playing great, he went well ahead.

“But the good thing about these longer matches is that you have time to pull things round and that’s what I was able to do.

“I played well in the second session and am really pleased with the way I came back. I grew up with Paul. We’ve practised together and I know what a tough opponent he is so to beat him like this is a real boost.”


Judd Trump, snooker’s youngest professional, needed only 97 minutes to complete a 9-0 whitewash of Germany's Patrick Einsle in the first qualifying round of the UK Championship at Pontin's in Prestatyn today.

Trump, 17, compiled breaks of 61, 70, 76, 74 and 103 to build an 8-0 first session lead and required only six minutes to win the ninth frame with a run of 78 when they returned.

The Bristol potter, ranked 71st in the world, fell short of the record for the fastest ever best of 17 frames match.

That was set by Malta’s Tony Drago, who beat Joe O’Boye 9-0 in the 1990 UK Championship in just 81 minutes.

Trump needs to beat David Roe and Rod Lawler to qualify for the final stages of the tournament, which will be held at the Barbican Centre, York next month.


Steve Davis played some sublime snooker in reaching the UK Championship final last season.

The sport leans heavily – often too heavily – on nostalgia but Davis’s run to the final captured the imagination. It was 25 years since he won the first of his six UK titles and to beat Stephen Maguire, Ken Doherty and Stephen Hendry was a sterling effort.

Against Maguire, he made a 145 total clearance, his highest break since he constructed the first televised 147 in 1982, in recovering from 8-6 down. It was incredible and set the tone for the week.

In the end, Davis came unstuck 10-6 against Ding Jun Hui – hardly a disgrace but disappointing for the grand old man of snooker and his many fans nonetheless.

“It was a thrill to play such good snooker,” the 49 year-old recalls now. “In getting to the final I played some of the best stuff of my career.

"It doesn’t surprise me when I play well. In fact I find it very frustrating when I don’t but the standard is so high these days that you need a few factors to come together to get to a final.

“I under achieved a bit against Ding. It was a great tournament for me but that was the missing piece in the jigsaw. Perhaps I wanted it a bit too much. It’s been 11 years since I won my last ranking title and I was so close to getting my hands on the trophy.

“It would be wonderful to get a tailwind behind me and have another long run in the tournament.”

Davis’s great run last year – it was his 100th final – was reminiscent of Doug Mountjoy’s heroics in the 1988 UK Championship.

Mountjoy won the title in 1978 but, ten years on, his best days were presumed to be behind him.

Down to 24th in the rankings, he wasn’t given any real chance in Preston but ended up beating Hendry 16-12 in the final. Mountjoy even knocked in three successive centuries in the process.

In case anyone mistakenly assumed this was some sort of fluke he then went and won the next ranking tournament, the Mercantile Classic.

Davis still has the class to perform at the highest level and a Mountjoy-style performance at York next month would be universally popular.



When snooker isn't on the TV, people assume there is nothing happening.

Actually, there's plenty going on this month, not least in Jordan where the IBSF World Amateur Championship continues until Wednesday.

It features players from countries as diverse as France, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Libya, none of which are usually noted as being snooker hot spots.

Sport, of course, brings people and cultures together like nothing else and it is proof of snooker's global appeal that so many nations are being represented.

Meanwhile, Matthew Couch, the world no.69 from Scunthorpe, has won the Swiss Open, beating Dave Harold 4-3 in the final.

Switzerland is another emerging snooker nation and an example of how Eurosport's blanket coverage has helped to popularise the game in Europe.

Couch has a good record on the continent. Seven years ago he won the German Open and was runner-up in the Austrian Open in 2000.

He'll certainly be match fit for the UK Championship qualifiers, which start at Pontin's, Prestatyn tomorrow (Nov 14).

It's a big week for the 64 players involved, particularly Jimmy White who currently occupies 51st place on the provisional rankings and is already out of the Malta Cup.

He may yet qualify for the final stages of the Betfred Premier League, which pitches up in Glasgow on Thursday.

There is a major question mark here as to whether Ding Jun Hui will play in the semi-finals or travel to Doha for the Asian Games.

It would be a huge disappointment for everyone involved if he missed out on the semis but if the Chinese authorities order their citizens to do something there isn't usually any discussion.


PAT HOULIHAN: 1929-2006

Pat Houlihan, a professional from 1971 to 1993, has died at the age of 77.

Houlihan beat John Spencer 11-3 to win the 1965 English Amateur Championship but was blocked from turning professional for several more years.

By the time he did, he was well past his best but won a match at the Crucible in 1978, beating Jim Meadowcroft 9-6, and played at Sheffield again in 1979, reaching a career highest ranking of 18th.

Among the players Houlihan beat during his professional career were John Virgo, Joe Johnson, Tony Meo and David Taylor.

His great friend Jimmy White today paid tribute, saying: "He was one of the greatest who ever played.

"He didn't fulfill his potential and it's hard to say why but he had such an influence on my game.

"If anyone has any footage of him playing I would like to buy it and show it, because the way he played was phenomenal."



The November issue of Snooker Scene is out now and includes:

- a tribute to Paul Hunter
- full report of Neil Roberton's capture of the Grand Prix
- report of the Irish Professional Championship
- 80 years of the World Championship
- all the other news, reports, results and comment from the last month



I spent a couple of hours today watching highlights of the 1985 world final.

This wasn't for fun: I'm reviewing a new DVD featuring the entire final frame between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis.

It's not great stuff: Taylor's highest break is 22, Davis's 25.

By this decider they were each so desperate not to lose that they became engaged in a lengthy safety battle on the reds that seemed to go on forever.

However, once it came down to the colours it was absolutely gripping, even though I obviously knew who was going to win.

Much has been written about the black ball finish but the brown, blue and pink Taylor potted to take the Championship down to the very last ball were all unbelievable pots given the circumstances.



Jimmy White's miserable season has gone from bad to worse at Pontin's in Prestatyn today after he was beaten 5-3 from 3-1 up by Andrew Higginson in the third qualifying round of the Malta Cup.

White failed to reach the final stages of the Northern Ireland Trophy and Royal London Watches Grand Prix earlier this season and has slipped to 51st in the provisional rankings.

He stated before the start of the season that his aim was to return to the elite top 16. If he drops just 14 more places he will be off the tour.



Congratulations to Neil Robertson for becoming the first ever Australian to win a ranking title at the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Aberdeen.

Well done also to Jamie Cope for his run in the tournament. There wasn't a great deal of finesse in the way they went about the final but it was entertaining and there were many high quality moments.

Robertson's a fine player, a fearless potter and engagingly sportsmanlike as well. I was pleased for him and pleased as well for Brandon Parker, who is now managing Neil having previously looked after Paul Hunter.