In this busy week of snooker, the UK Championship qualifiers at the South West Academy in Gloucester take centre stage.

Already putting in the hours has been Ian McCulloch, who has won his first two matches in tight finishes, first edging Luca Brecel 6-5 on the black (after getting a snooker on the pink) and then making an 86 break in the decider yesterday against James Wattana. His reward is a meeting today with Steve Davis.

Ian has always been a grafter, a heavy practiser and it is possibly all this effort that has led him to have neck problems which have seriously affected his form.

He always seemed to play well on TV and reached two ranking finals and the 2005 World Championship semi-finals.

This got him into the top 16 for the first time but Shaun Murphy’s capture of the title wasn’t enough to push Murphy into the elite group and, as the world champion is automatically seeded second in major tournaments, it effectively pushed McCulloch down to 17th.

This was rotten luck as he missed out on the benefits of being a top 16 seed: namely not having to pre-qualify for the final stages.

But he has always been industrious off the table. He does some broadcasting work and playing snooker is no longer everything to him, so although his main tour place is under threat he has other things to fall back on.

Davis of course is back in action just two days after his defeat to Darren Morgan in the World Seniors Championship final.

Steve is playing some good stuff this season. He seems to be really enjoying it again and making a big effort to maintain his pro status. In fact, he said last week he wants to play into his 60s, like his namesake Fred.

Davis won the first of his six UK titles 31 years ago when it was a non-ranking tournament. He was in every UK final bar two in the 1980s.

As a callow youth, I remember being particularly excited by the 1990 final he contested with Stephen Hendry at Preston Guild Hall, which went to a deciding frame.

In those days it was played over two days and 31 frames, so there was plenty of time for the momentum to shift. Davis led 15-14 but Hendry made a typically brave dish in the 30th frame and won the decider.

Hendry was already world champion at this point but the match was in some way symptomatic of the changing of the guard at the top of the game: the Davis years over, the Hendry era beginning.

Of course Hendry himself will be in action tomorrow, against Gerard Greene or Jimmy Robertson.

The only upside for viewers of him not qualifying is that he will be heard on BBC commentary, which he will be doing much more of this season. Of course, this won’t be any consolation to Hendry himself.

Elsewhere in the draw, it seems the Chinese contingent is quietly making progress this season. There is a bunch of them playing today: Tian Pengfei, Cao Yupeng, Li Yan and Xiao Guodong, as well as Liang Wenbo.

The qualifiers are hard, nervy and difficult to enjoy. It’s just about getting through, and the standard of snooker is such that you can play really well and still lose.

For this reason, good luck to all involved.


Eurosprint said...

Ian McCulloch is the best!!! somebody can argue with me?

Anonymous said...

Step up Graeme Dott.

likahokeith said...

Xiao Guodong has swept Dunn out by 6-0.What a result.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave

Sorry for the off topic question, but did TWI reatain the BBC production contract that was up for renewal this year. Can't find an answer anywhere on the web.



Anonymous said...

I see Boring Bond is through again.. flair player sent packing.

Dave H said...

John: yes they did

Anonymous said...


flair player didnt have enough SKILL to win

i know loads of local players who can all play very attacking, lovely to watch snooker.

theyre not good enough to beat someone with great nous and skill in all aspects of the game.

perhaps you should just go watch exhibitions instead of proper snooker matches

Witz78 said...

For the good of the game i hope White, Wooly, Xiao, Yan and Jones all win 2day. Would b a shot in the arm of the sport for some new faces to be seen at the event. At risk of sounding Harrisonesque here, it has to be said that the bulk of todays action is awash with deadwood.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave


Anonymous said...

How does a non-flair player win a 20 second shot-clock event?

Anonymous said...

1225, he played quickly, without flair (im a fan on nigels btw)

jamie brannon said...

I was surprised Bond lost to Taylor at the seniors event.

Anonymous said...

so was i jamie. in fact, so was he, but in best of 3s anyone could lose to someone of dennis' ability (even if he really only plays in exhibitions)

best of 3 is as good as a lottery most of the time

Anonymous said...

Witz78 keep spouting your usual crap, the deadwood are there because there very, very good. It's alright for these young whipper snappers to talk the talk, how about they walk the walk??

Anonymous said...

202, witz is just being controversial for the sake of it

deadwood that are still in the top 48 in the world out of millions who play are obviously very very good.

pity though that some just want new faces every 5 years or players who play as if theyre wearing rollerboots and need to catch the bus.

jamie brannon said...

I'm not sure it is a lottery, as snooker is about skill, mental fortitude and tactical nous no matter the format. However, the format is still a bit of a leveller, and short matches don't allow for players to show their true best form as much.

Think about how many long frame matches when a player has started slack but then hit his stride around the third or fourth frame and delivered a stunning display.

Anonymous said...

How does a non-flair player win a 20 second shot-clock event?

perhaps because it wasn't an event? 1 frame matches? Get real.

Anonymous said...


read my post again

i did not say "it is a lottery"

if youre going to reply, at least read what i typed.