The Crucible is quiet tonight save for last minute preparations for the Betfred.com World Championship.

This is merely the calm before a 17-day storm of snooker.

There will be shocks and surprises, great shots and amazing misses, pressure and tension, tears of joy and of despair, controversy and drama before the 2010 world champion is crowned on May 3.

This is the ultimate test of a snooker player and the sport's annual shop window. Let us hope the game puts on a show worthy of this great tournament's status.

John Higgins starts the defence of his title against Barry Hawkins at 10am. He will be nervous, especially if he is aware of a quote from Steve Davis, who once said: "The opening day is always difficult. The first shock hasn't happened yet and it could be you."

Stephen Hendry, an inspiration to a generation of snooker players and fans through his remarkable record of achievement in Sheffield, will face Zhang Anda, just 18, at 2.30pm.

Hopefully all the players have made it. I'm told referees Jan Verhaas and Terry Camilleri are struggling to get to Britain due to the volcanic ash situation that has closed most UK airspace.

They are part of a team of officials who work hard - often unseen - to make sure the snooker marathon runs as smoothly as possible. Led by Mike Ganley and Martin Clark, World Snooker's tournament directors, the officials are first in line if anything goes wrong...and rarely get any thanks when things go right.

People will watch this tournament in far off places. They will cheer their favourites from living rooms in Beijing and Moscow, Berlin and Bucharest.

They will travel to this provincial theatre - an unlikely sporting Mecca - having booked annual holiday.

Don't be fooled by people sniping at the game in newspapers. The World Championship still means a great deal to a great many people.

The Crucible, where all roads lead, is the venue where memories have been made that are hardwired into the DNA of snooker itself.

More memories will be made this year. The build-up, the talk and the predictions are about to end.

In the words of someone else preparing for the highlight of the snooker year, let's get the boys on the baize.


CHRISK5 said...

Let's get the boys on the baize .... but first they have to do strutting,jiving,breakdancing & crack some grooves - even before battle commences!

We should have a Best Intro Title for the World Championships.

Mark King's boombastic intro was the most humorous at the Masters - closely followed by Selby's 'waving goodbye' before he had entered the arena!

I imagine they've been 'practising'
as much on the intros - as they have on tight cueball control!

Anonymous said...

"I imagine they've been 'practising'
as much on the intros - as they have on tight cueball control!"

well the idiots if they have.

Janie Watkins said...

We have another WSA casualty too. The hard working Media Director Ivan Hirschowitz is confined to barracks back in London, having had an operation yesterday on his back.

I'm sure all my fellow journos will join me to wish Ivan a speedy recovery and extend our sympathies to Caven O'Hara who is now having to shoulder the work of two people.

Dave H said...

Indeed. Get well soon, Ivan.

SupremeSnooker.com said...

I’d really, really like to make the players the centre of attention during the next 17 days, but I fear that with such a crucial vote on snooker’s future less than a month away, that will be a luxury we cannot afford.
I won’t be able to attend The Crucible at all this year- I’d love nothing more than to spend the entire tournament in the press room, but unfortunately I have other commitments and frankly my website doesn’t make enough money to justify me being there for that long!
I expect there’ll be plenty of rumours and whispers doing the rounds during the days ahead. My only advice to ALL players is not to believe the rubbish they’re told by people with their own agendas, sometimes disguised as managers. If you have any questions or concerns, email Barry Hearn or call him on his mobile.
This really is snooker’s last big chance to save itself. If Mr Hearn resigns, that’s it. You will not get another chairman of his calibre, or with his charisma and ability to make a sport like snooker appeal to bigger and wider audiences. That is a fact.
Mr Hearn is guaranteeing prize money of £4.5 million next season, which is a 30% increase on the current level. If he fails, the rights effectively revert back to the players. You cannot lose. Think about it logically. The most likely scenario by far is that yes Mr Hearn will make a load of money from you, but you too will be far wealthier and busier than you are at present.
Before anybody starts accusing me of being some sort of agent again, the truth is this: My only direct contact EVER with Barry Hearn has been via email. My only direct contact EVER with David Hendon has been via email. I have had ONE conversation with Clive Everton in my life, and that was several years before I became a journalist. My only agenda is to save snooker from pressing the self-destruct button, and to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I love the game, and have seen it tear itself apart for my entire life (I’m 26, in case it matters).
I, too, would like to pay tribute to the hard work of the referees and other officials. They are only ever really in the spotlight when they make very rare mistakes. It is a pretty thankless role that requires years of dedication to perfect, for low pay and long hours. I have written a feature on it here: http://www.supremesnooker.com/features/
The players deserve to be the centre of attention in the next 17 days, and it looks on paper to be the most mouth-watering championship in years. I dare not predict what will happen beyond the first round.
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Liang Wenbo looks to be the pick of the first round matches, but I’m also really looking forward to seeing Ali Carter taking on Jamie Cope.
Let’s have a bit of fun and see if I’m better at predicting results than Mr Hendon:. My tip for the title is another compatriot of mine, Mark Williams, but I’m also predicting very strong performances from Mark Allen, Neil Robertson, reigning champion John Higgins, and of course Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if John Parrott has officially retired?

stuartfanning said...

Which ref has the final this year?

kildare cueman said...


Parrott has applied for the wildcard for inclusion on next years tour.

In the event of an unfavourable decision, I believe he intends to retire

Anonymous said...

marcus your young and clueless....

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Marcus @1:04 AM, Hello Dave
First Dave thanks for the many posts and showing courage for all blog members though Barry and Steve have a new Board member and a copper at the WPBSA door.

That was a very nice rallying cry Marcus but sadly no apparent reason why the lifelong “Commercial Rights” up front. Why again “Up Front” Marcus not tomorrow or next year?

Why not give to Matchroom Enterprizes! Plus a bonus to Barry and Steve if professional snooker is still a viable business in four or five year’s time?
The Target offered by Matchroom will be easily met to allow Barry and Steve full control after a minimum time.

Why not put the Matchroom offer up for grabs. There are sure to be great interest from many combines like the BBC, SKY and EUROSPORT to mention just three.

The game is in its infancy Dave and is really a multi million pound industry. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

Good blog Dave, unfortunately idiots are using your hard work to advertise their own mediocrity.

What the game needs is some excitement, getting back to its working man's club roots. There were great characters in those days, we had one boy in our club, Smokin' Joe Thornton-Wiggs, he only had one eye after his other one got shot out during the war, but he could play with both hands, and he could give most of the top 16 today a good game.

JohnH said...

lets stop this nonsense of calling mature men like steve davis and stephen hendry 'boys' on the baize.
Instead lets get the 'greats on the green'


Dont think the music works at the WC. Its too important an occasion and you could see the tension in the players as they entered the arena.

The music seemed like an unnecessary distraction and should be dropped after the first round.

Felt sorry for Ford. I think hes a very good player who was understandedly nervy in his first crucible encounter.

I hope he wins a few frames in the next session.

Hawkins, as usual, looks scared stiff and should have a healthy lead over an out of sorts Higgins.

I would expect the Scot to raise his game and run out a comfortable winner now.

On a completely different note, why does the sun always shine for the duration of the championship.

Rest assured, the day after the final, it will teem rain for the rest of the summer

SupremeSnooker.com said...

@ Anonymous 10:34am

Anyone can make silly accusations from behind a pseudonym. Why don’t you reveal your identity? Stand up and be counted! This isn’t Nazi Germany. Your life isn’t any danger by expressing an opinion. Who are you? What have you ever done for snooker? What is your experience in life and business?
Instead of calling me ‘young and clueless’, why don’t you bother to find out a bit about me? My CV to date suggests I’m anything but clueless!
From now on, I won’t enter into a debate with anyone who doesn’t reveal their identity.

Anonymous said...

ss.com i wasnt the anonymous that posted at you

lets assume his name is craig davison from chester

does that make you feel any better?

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon @ 1.38pm

Great blog this...well done to the originator.

Wild-eye was a star!!

The Eurosport is better than BBC. Better commentators!

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Marcus, Hi there Dave
Please don’t try and change “The Dave Den” blog by demanding signatures. After a while Marcus the punters get a chance to talk back; unlike being at home.
The serious ritual you wrote lad seemed well prepared and rehearsed as if under orders. It almost sounded at times like your own opinion lad.

I really think you are a snooker lover Marcus and you would willingly help the game without first asking “What is in it for me first”.
This is exactly the Steve and Barry’s conditions if you will sack that old timer in the chair we will introduce “Matchroom World Snooker” or request the “Commercial Rights” to the game.

Remember Marcus that Sir Rodney was ousted on the election pledge of “Transparency” and quote; “Complete Honesty”. If people are going to tell me blatant lies today Marcus they are going to tell me lies tomorrow. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

it wasnt about the fine fart method but it was equally as much nonsense.
ta for the input tho, DM.

Betty Logan said...

That's a load of poppycock SupremeSnooker. As far as I am aware Barry Hearn is paid for the chairman's job and being chairman doesn't automatically entitle him to a 50% stake in the game.

Let's consider the true commercial value of snooker for the moment: The financial value for a plc is usually put at 8 year's dividends plus the value of its assets. Now, the player's are effectively shareholders and the prize money is equivalent to dividend payouts: 8 years multiplied by the prize money for this season (roughly £3.5m) is £28m. World Snooker has property assets worth about £3m, so the real commercial value of World Snooker is about £30m. That means a 50% stake equates to £15m.

I honestly believe in Barry Hearn, and I think he's the best man to take the game forward but are you really going to give him half of a £30m operation? If he were to purchase 50% of the game then World Snooker would cost him £15m if it were a plc.

Now if you expect the man to build it up into a successful financial operation then it's natural to assume he would want to own a stake in the game, but like any other share dealer he should pay the going rate for what it's worth now! No-one gets given multi-million pound companies.

All this guff about it being snooker's last chance is essentially blackmail, worrying players into signing over their assets. Altium offered £2.5m against World Snooker's assets and guaranteed prize money of £6.4m per season i.e. they were willing to capitalise the game in exchange for control of all commercial rights and holdings.

Barry Hearn essentially wants the same thing, but isn't willing to capitalise the sport. The sport shouldn't be held by a gun to its head. If Barry Hearn is committed to restoring snooker's fortunes then he should pay the going rate for his stake. If he guarantees a 30% rise in prize money that only equates to an £8m cash injection over eight years which is £7m short of what he should pay for a 50% stake. And if he wants 50% of all the assetts he should pay about £1.5m for his share.

I'm sorry but it's not a good deal. If the sport turns down his proposal and he walks then he was never really comitted anyway, because he can revamp the sport in his salaried position as chairman. If he wants more than that he can buy a stake in the game at the going rate and he will benefit financially along with everyone else, but the deal as it stands is daylight robbery.

Anonymous said...

The players have shown themselves to be unworthy of controlling the assets of the game

Hearn should get 100% control for nothing

Anonymous said...

906, wake up.

you are sleep-typing!

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Dave
How are you! Thanks for the posts lad and congratulations on the new punters.
The “Matchroom Takeover” by Steve and Barry will make a good in-depth discussions till there is a vote.

It was nice Dave to get a glance into the games “Business Know How” The Mechanics of business may have remained a well kept secret to Barry and his “Hand Picked” board members. The WPBSA should be grateful to Betty Logan @ 11:59 AM no matter what way the vote goes.

The least that the Players union (WPBSA) should have done is allow funds for open and fair legal argument. W/S has also the John Higgins inspired union (SPA) both of which are tongue tied.
John’s representative for the SPA union’s President is a Barry Hearn hand picked board member.

The “Fine Art” copyright on coaching snooker will not be a part of the “Commercial Rights” take over by Barry and Steve or John nor Jack and Jill!
The copyright of snooker is a multi million pound industry. Mr hey you

PS Any trade union if asked will fight the corner of fellow members.DM


Betty Logan;

How can you call prize money a dividend?

If thats the case, in the event of a Hearn takeover, he would be allowed to trouser 51 percent of prizemoney annually.

Obviously this is not the case. Its up to Hearn to grow the sport and thereby grow his percentage to however many millions he can.

As it stands, he buys a business that makes a loss. 51 percent of nothing is nothing.

Im tired of all these wise old sages saying "wait and see".

Snooker has been waiting for 30 years now for somebody competent, and now that one has arrived, people expect him to work for nothing.

If you pay peanuts.......

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kildare, Hello Dave
Waiting for 30 years for a Messiah is a lie and a gross exaggeration Sir. The honourable gentleman was only in the job about five years, plus the fact that Sir Rodney not once received a Tobacco hand out and was wary of Gambling outlets for the games image.

Please remember The WPBSA never once broke even without tobacco money. Some players boasted that they could actually “Afford” to loose money while gambling.
Sir Rodney acting without cheer leaders made a marginal profit each year while in charge.

If Matchroom wants a bonus up front it should be granted, but only with the condition that professional snooker will show an annual profit and prize money for three successive years after his (Barry's)chosen fare-ye-well to the job as Chairman. Mr hey you

PS .For the record! Professional Snooker will die if not subsides by the many thousands of coaches that milk the game daily. DM