John Higgins won the first title of the new season last night, pocketing €25,000 at the European Tour event in Bulgaria for his 4-1 defeat of Neil Robertson.

Higgins played poorly by his high standards at the end of last season but the difference seems to be a new cue.

It was obvious to anyone watching that Higgins has been practising with the new model. He was sharp in all areas of his game.

Throughout his career he has messed around with cues, having alterations made – bits taken off or put on.

You might think a top snooker player could pick up any old piece of wood and play well with it but it doesn’t necessarily work like that because with a cue, particularly a change of cue, comes all manner of psychological issues.

This is why switching cues is a risk. Peter Ebdon did so last season and struggled badly with it before switching back.

Stephen Hendry’s cue was stolen at the 1990 Grand Prix in Reading and he put up a five figure reward for its safe return. He got it back but it was broken beyond repair by airport baggage handlers in 2003 – an ignominious end for one of snooker history’s most famous pieces of equipment – and he was never quite the same again.

Other players will tell you that Hendry’s cue wasn’t much to look at in the first place but that’s not the point: it was his. He used it so much it was like a part of him.

Alain Robidoux found this when his cue was snapped into several pieces by the man who had originally made it. Robidoux had reached the World Championship semi-finals and a career high of ninth in the rankings. He sent the cue off to have slight alterations made to it but the cue-maker took offence at a sponsor’s logo which had been fixed to it and snapped – or rather snapped the cue.

Robidoux did not win a single match the following season. His confidence had been shattered and his career effectively ended.

Shaun Murphy is another player who has changed cues, apparently because his old one – a lovely old cue, by the way – was damaged. Time will tell how he fares with it.

As for the tournament, the sizeable Sofia crowd were rewarded with a high quality line-up on the final day.

The semi-finals saw Higgins beat Ronnie O’Sullivan and Robertson defeat Barry Hawkins.

Once again, the cream rose to the top and the atmosphere was made by the enthusiastic audience, which included many young people.

Next, it’s the first Asian Tour event in Yixing. Let’s hope all the cues make it to China.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Sunday's televised matches (albeit I had to use the Eurosport Player to get live coverage at 11am and 2pm - I guess Superbikes remains ES biggest draw).

Dave, please can you explain to most of us (and to one of your fellow commentators) exactly how the seeding system is now used to decide who you play in the first round of the flat 128 events.

Ray said...

What's with this recent thing of players changing their cues every 5 minutes? I thought you found a cue when you started and kept it for your whole career, barring accidents.
Snooker is such a cerebral game I can't understand why you would want to put more pressure on yourself by worrying about cues all the time. The game is all about confidence.
The new cue worked yesterday and Higgins won the tournament but what happens next time he loses - does he change it again? The mind boggles.

jamie brannon said...

Don't forget that O'Sullivan won the Masters playing with a brand new cue.

Is that an exception to the rule, or just a reflection of his unique talent?

I was impressed with the crowds. A pity we can't get more major ranking events on in continental Europe?

Also, why no commentary on World Snooker TV? I had none for the bits of action I watched between the tennis and football.

wildey said...

"why no commentary on World Snooker TV?"

my guess cost cutting they cant sustain it without people digging deep in to their pockets and subscribing for it.

Fromsport could kill live streaming.

Anonymous said...

Hendry won the 2003 British Open with a brand new cue too, which was only his second tournament with it, and was runner-up in the next. I would say it is an exception to the rule for players who are an exception to the rule, and epitomizes their "unique talent".

Anonymous said...

"No commentary"... WS could reach an agreement with Eurosport so that a live Eurosport commentary was available for both the World Snooker TV stream & the Eurosport Player, a subset then being used in the scheduled English speaking Eurosport TV programmes.

Hardly rocket science in 2013.

Anonymous said...

"Fromsport could kill live streaming"


It's not just Fromsport that shows live straming though is it, many other streams available, including most leading bookmakers.. All free. Do world snooker just like to line their own pockets?

Anonymous said...

Perform Media provide the streams for liveworldsnooker.tv and they're based in the same building as Eurosport in West London.

I was also surprised there was no commentary as clive Everton and his team of Phil Yates, Neal Foulds and your goodself Dave do an excellent job. Maybe they're cutting back and not providing commentary for PTCs anymore...I hope this was just a one-off case!

Anonymous said...

Stephen lee fans should see today's edition of The Sun page 52, he is allegedly still suspended

Dave H said...

The streaming is a partnership between World Snooker and bookmakers, however as many if not more watch on illegal streams. The commentary has been cut completely for the present time.

Anonymous said...

No need to watch illegal streams, open an account at most bookmakers, deposit a few quid, watch the snooker,withdraw deposit. Keep repeating. Ends up costing you nothing.

Anonymous said...

Neal Foulds said on twitter that Barry Hearn is looking into the matter hopefully he'll get the commentary team back on. Without them its just not as exciting!
Many sports have their own streaming channel these days and the illegal streams dont stop them.

Were the amount of subscribers for liveworldsnooker.tv really that low?

Anonymous said...

No commentary?
Where shall we hear the dulcet tones of Everton & company again?
The pictures ar one thing but the commentaries are like meeting up with old friends.