So the UK Championship is here with six matches to kick off day one at the Barbican Centre in York.

The last time Ding Junhui played Ryan Day, earlier this year, he lost his 9-5 lead and was beaten 10-9 by the Welshman in the first round of the World Championship.

Ding then proved his English was improving by letting slip some choice Anglo Saxon at the post match press conference, for which he was fined.

Stephen Hendry said in his BBC preview that Ding was a much better player than his ranking, which I think most people would agree with. He’s won this title twice before but does seem to be very inconsistent. Day, though, is coming to York off the back of a long and ultimately disappointing 5-4 defeat to Dave Harold in the German Masters qualifiers yesterday.

John Higgins, a three times winner, starts things off against Michael Holt, who yesterday did qualify for Berlin.

I was in Bournemouth in 1998 when Higgins won his first UK title amid a backstage atmosphere so politically poisonous that wearing a gas mask was advisable. What golden days they were.

John was a young man then, just 22 but already world champion. It was before marriage or fatherhood.

In fact, he got married just after he won the UK in 2000 and it took him ten more years to win it again but he heads to York in great form and as one of the handful of favourites.

Holt has beaten him twice, including in a PTC final, but Higgins has won their TV meetings.

Liang Wenbo impressed me in qualifying and played well yesterday but was beaten 5-3 by Graeme Dott in the German prelims.

Liang was a quarter-finalist in the UK Championship three years ago before his form collapsed. He faces Barry Hawkins, back in the top 16 at last, today and has every reason to feel confident of causing an upset.

Fergal O’Brien is appearing in the final stages of the UK Championship for the first time in nine years. In that 2003 event he ended the remarkable record of Mark Williams, who had successfully negotiated his opening round match in 48 consecutive ranking tournaments.

Fergal endured a late and ultimately disappointing evening last night when he lost in the German Masters. He has never beaten Stephen Maguire, who played so brilliantly to sweep to the title in York in 2004.

Tonight, young Michael White plays what must rank as the biggest match of his career against Mark Selby.

White has been very impressive this season, qualifying for the final stages of three of the first five ranking events. However, the TV set up is new to him and he can be forgiven for being nervous.

Selby, whose best effort in this tournament was a semi-final place in 2007, is usually pretty reliable in early round matches but a shock can’t be completely discounted.

Today’s other match sees Dott face Martin Gould, who may feel less pressure now he is out of the top 16 than he clearly did while he was part of the elite.

The BBC’s network coverage starts at 1pm, with one table on the red button from 11. Eurosport begin at 11.30 (all times UK) and there is online coverage too.

However you are watching, particularly if travelling to York, then enjoy the week. The UK Championship remains one of the jewels in the snooker crown and whoever wins this year will be joining an illustrious roll of honour.


Anonymous said...

It just won't be the same without Hendry and O'Sullivan. These two icons have taken snooker to where it is and a can't see who will fill the void. I fear for the future of our beautiful game.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the first posting here. There simply no characters in the sport anymore.
Where the hell is the next big Bill Werbenuik gonna come from?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Big Bill, any news on the Stephen Lee case?

Anonymous said...

Folks are simply fooling themselves if the think that snooker will go from strength to strength without such pivotal characters such as Hendry and O'Sullivan. Those two attracted sponsors and brought charisma to the sport.

While Judd Trump might be a worthy No: 1 - I don't foresee a raft of new backers queueing up to pump much needed money into the sport. Any new money will be from China - but then again, isn't the game migrating to there anyway?

Anonymous said...

Bad luck trolls - full house in York today. Cracking atmosphere too for snooker fans.

Anonymous said...

well said 254.
as ive said b4 on here, even without you know who the big wheel keeps on turning.

Anonymous said...

The game nearly died 3 years ago when it was all Ron and Hendo.
Now theyre gone and theres tournaments every week. Discuss.

Anonymous said...

Good item as usual Dave.
With this being the first BBC event since the world championship,I'm sure that I'm not the only one who found out today that the BBCi channels on satellite have been axed.
Looks like they went on 15th October.