Whilst in Hull for the CRS Seniors UK Championship 2018, I visited the stands of two interesting guests exponents.
Ross McInnes and Michaela Tabb – they are husband and wife – presented this beautiful English Pool table. Ross was PPPO pool World Champion in 1996 and his aim in designing this table was to create a “tool” that would satisfy the most demanding champions, and, at the same time, would be beautifully pleasing to the eye.
The practice bench can be fitted with a smartphone or a tablet so that you can record and asses your cue action.
The Quicktip is screwed, not glued onto the cue. The idea is that, with this technology, you can go to competitions taking a number of bedded tips with you, and, should your tip be damaged during practice or a match, it only takes a minute to fit another one that is ready to use.
The Qbolt contains a chip able to communicate via bluetooth with your smartphone or tablet. When fitted at the rear of your cue, it records the speed you put into the shot. You can then analyse what speed is optimal depending on the result you want to achieve. This device is mainly, but not only, aimed at helping pool players to improve their break-off.
Congratulations to Ken Doherty, CRS 2018 Seniors UK Champion!
Ken Doherty dropped only one frame en route to the title. Both evening sessions attracted huge crowds. The Bonus Arena has a 4000 seats capacity, my estimation is that there were over 2000 people there on both evenings, more than twice what the Crucible can accommodate. This is a huge success for Jason Francis who works tirelessly to grow the Seniors tour.
Some people on social media came arguing that Ken should not be playing in this as he is playing on the main tour. About that there are two things i want to stress:
Ken was allowed to play in this because he’s currently on an invitational tour card, having dropped off the tour end 2017. That he’s now back in the top 64 provisionally is a credit to his work ethics and determination.
The Seniors Tour is still work in progress. The presence of the “Legends” at events is hugely important to attract viewers and sponsors. Without them the tour cannot grow. This may change, and most certainly will, as players like Igor Figuereido, Kwan Poomjang, Aaron Canavan and more make a name for themselves and become recognisable figures for the crowd. Meanwhile the Legends are giving their time and efforts to make this tour a success and should be praised for it. I don’t think that people like Stephen Hendry or John Parrott enjoy being beaten by amateurs in front of a huge crowd, but they are there because they love their sport and want to give back to it.
Big shout as well for Igor Figuereido, the runner up. Larger the life character, and biggest smile on the tour!
Here is how we got there, all in pictures:
Morning session – QF
Igor Figuereido 3-0 Aaron Canavan
Ken Doherty 3-0 Rodney Goggins
Afternoon session – SF
Igor Figuereido 3-0 Leo Fernandez
Ken Doherty 3-0 Kwan Poomjang
The Final :
Ken Doherty 4-1 Igor Figuereido
Credit Risks Solutions World Seniors UK Championship 2018
It was a bad day for the seeded Legends as all of them got beaten on day 1.
Here is the story in pictures.
We had three sessions.
Morning session – Last 12
Leo Fernandez 3-1 John Parrott Kwan Poomjang 3-0 Dennis Taylor
Kwan is Dechawat’s elder brother, and he’s not quite as “exhuberant” as his younger sibling, but extremely he’s capable!
Afternoon session – Last 12
Igor Figuereido 3-0 Joe Johnson Rodney Goggins 3-0 Cliff Thorburn
Igor’s match against Joe Johnson was a lot closer than the scores suggests. Joe potted some cracking long balls. What made the difference was Igor’s scoring power, and the way he was able to clear at the end of frames.
Evening session – QF
Kwan Poomjang 3-0 Jimmy White (defending champion) Leo Fernandez 3-2 Stephen Hendry. Hendry was 2-0 down, came back to force a re-spotted black shootout, but ii’s Leo who won it.
That session was played in front of an impressive rowd – my estimation is that there were over 2000 fans in there (estimation based on the fact that the Arena has a 4000 capacity – the lower part was packed. )
And here are the action imzages:
Some idiots on social media suggested that maybe Jimmy wasn’t fully focused on winning. This is ridiculous. If anything, he wanted it too much. You could see he felt under pressure. His safety wasn’t good enough and Kwan was played well.
Anyway, if you missed the action, you can watch here now:
And yesterday it was launched with a Gala dinner at the Bonus Arena. The Mayor of Hull was present. Other than good food and lots of laughs, there was a mini pot black played by the Legends and Steve Davis Trick Shot Cabaret.
The mini pot black competition saw the Legends try to pot as many reds as possible in 30 seconds. Stephen Hendry and Dennis Taylor came out of this with 5 reds each. So it was decided on a re-spotted black. I don’t even need to tell you who won it: Dennis ended up doubling the black into the yellow pocket. Who would have thought?
Anyway, here are the pictures I took on the evening …
In a couple of hours the Seniors UK Championship 2018 will start, and once again, Stephen Hendry will pick up his cue and try to win. I thought that this is a good time to share my thoughts about his biography “Me and the table”
The first thing I’ll say about Stephen Hendry’s biography is what it is not: you won’t find any detailed analysis of any match played by the great man, neither will you find much about the most significant shots he played. If this is what you are after, this book isn’t for you.
What this book IS though, is a recollection of Stephen Hendry’s psychological and emotional journey from the carefree debuts on the small table he got as a Christmas present, to winning everything, to no winning anything and, eventually to retiring, and going to promote and play 8-balls Chinese Pool in China. Stephen Hendry takes us with him through the kaleidoscope of his emotions: excitement, hope, realisation of his own talent, reaching his goals, the years of invincibility, the first doubts, the denial, the pain, the depression, and finally a sort of acceptance. It’s quite engrossing and certainly portrays a man very different from the “Iceman” image he carried around for most of his career. Reading this book you won’t learn much new about his matches, but you will certainly come to know and understand the human person behind the cue much better.
Stephen Hendry also opens up about some aspects of his private life, and his relationship with his manager and some of his fellow players.
The seven-times world champion on his duels with Davis, Higgins, White and O’Sullivan and how his famed mental strength disintegrated leaving him no choice but to quit
“It was a mixture of embarrassment, anger, frustration, sadness, everything,” Stephen Hendry says as he remembers how his dominance of snooker unravelled into, in his mind, a shambling wreck of a game. When the end came, in the quarter-finals of the 2012 world championships, Hendry was so besieged by psychological demons “there was nothing positive left”.
Hendry’s favourite sportsmen are Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Nick Faldo and AP McCoy and he was once as imperious as they had been. He holds the record for the most world titles, with all seven being won in the 1990s, and he was world No 1 for eight successive seasons. But the great champions feel it most when vulnerability takes over.
“It started about 12 years before the end,” Hendry says of his slow decline. “Of course it’s psychological and, when you strike a cue ball, you’re supposed to accelerate through the ball. But as you tighten up you end up decelerating. By 2012 my game was shot. You’re sitting on your chair watching players leagues below you play shots you can’t. That destroyed me.”
In his new book, which provides graphic insight into this implosion, Hendry accepts that people compare his condition to a golfer’s ‘yips’. He scrunches up his face. “That trivialises it. I hate the word because it’s much more than that.”
It resulted in humiliation for Hendry. He had to qualify for his final world championship by playing at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield instead of his beloved Crucible. “It felt degrading. That’s no disrespect to other players but I had owned the Crucible for a decade with seven wins and two finals.”
Hendry ground his way through qualifying and in the first round against Stuart Bingham at the Crucible he sank a 147 maximum. Hendry had already decided to retire and become an ambassador for 8-ball pool in China. “I got to the Crucible having flown to China and back, with one day there to meet my new employers. Somehow the 147 came about. It was amazing because, of the 36 shots, only six were played properly. My game had debilitated so far it was mostly shots I wasn’t hitting properly. I’d given every shot a pint of blood to get it in the pocket. The outsider was probably saying, ‘That’s amazing.’ Inside, it felt horrible.”
He beat John Higgins in the second round but, 3-0 down to Stephen Maguire in the quarters, it was over. “Clearing up in the fourth frame, I knew if I didn’t get perfectly on the blue I’d leave myself this pink. So consequently, on the brown, you’re thinking about two shots later and ‘I can’t play it.’ I was finished.”
He lost 13-2 to Maguire and retired but Hendry had suffered worse moments. “The lowest was losing [to Robert Milkins] in China. It was such an embarrassment. In China they called me the emperor of snooker but I kept losing in the first round. I broke down. It’s the only time I’ve cried from losing. Milkins is a journeyman, someone you should never lose to.”
Hendry does not mean to sound cruel towards Milkins – but he is intent on describing, with crushing honesty, how far he fell. “I loved being the best player in the world. There was no pressure staying there. I’ve heard [current World No 1] Mark Selby say: ‘It’s hard being the target man.’ I loved it.”
He admired the way in which Woods, at his most swaggering, rarely looked surprised or elated when winning. “I really empathise with that. When you get a trophy why go jumping and crying? Winning’s a great feeling but everything else is an anticlimax. I really had to force a smile because winning was my job.”
In his book Hendry details the way in which his manager, Ian Doyle, controlled him. Doyle even made Hendry break up with his girlfriend, Mandy, because he believed the young Scot should be consumed by snooker. Later, when he had finally married Mandy, Hendry horrified Doyle by mixing with other players. But Hendry believes now that losing his Ice Man image undermined him.
“Without a doubt. In the 90s I never socialised with other players. That changed. I wanted to spend more time in the players’ lounge. I became friendly with Mark Williams. There’s no doubt it affected my invincibility. Ronnie O’Sullivan is still the best player in the world on his day now and he doesn’t mix with the players. You need that coldness. But I missed out as a teenager and thought: ‘I want to enjoy being with people and going out for dinner.’ It was to my detriment as a competitive animal.”
During his 26-year career Hendry straddled different eras and faced a range of compelling players from Alex Higgins to O’Sullivan. He describes how drink once ran through the game. “Jimmy White and the others would have half a lager while playing. Bill Werbeniuk had to start drinking four hours before a match. He had this condition where he either took beta blockers, which were banned, or alcohol to calm his heart rate. If he had a match at 10 in the morning, he got up at six to start drinking beer. Alex obviously liked to drink. Sometimes we practised and he used the table to hold himself up. But he still played unbelievable snooker.”
Higgins was initially kind to Hendry but “it turned to resentment. He directed it at Steve Davis and then me because Alex believed he made snooker. In a way he was right. But when he wasn’t as good as us he couldn’t cope.”
Hendry was still disappointed when many younger players failed to travel with him to Belfast for Higgins’s funeral in 2010. He feels even deeper affection for White, his boyhood hero, whom he beat in four of his seven world championship final victories.
“He’d get introduced and 95% of the audience would go mental. I’d walk down the stairs to the odd boo. I liked it – being the bad one, the one who’s going to beat him. But you’d never hear a bad word from Jimmy about anybody. Higgins used to be nasty – but if Jimmy said anything, it was in jest. And he took losing with such grace.”
Hendry was still a teenager when Davis demolished him in every frame of a six-game exhibition. “I hated it, losing to Steve night after night but I would do the same in his position. I’d be willing to kill the young upstart every night.”
Davis did not compliment Hendry when the Scot finally beat him – and Hendry shared that mentality. “I’d practised with John Higgins for years and when he became world champion I couldn’t congratulate him. A normal person says: ‘Well done.’ I couldn’t. It didn’t matter if it was my best friend, my brother, I didn’t want anyone else to win. It still hurts me, watching people win at the Crucible. Steve let it go years ago. That’s why he played longer than me. He treated it as a day out. I could never do that.”
Hendry and O’Sullivan have fallen out occasionally but now “we get on”. Mates is probably too strong a word because Ronnie is complex. There are times you’ll be his best friend and times he’ll virtually not say hello to you.”
There is, instead, respect and rivalry. “Ronnie’s the best player I’ve ever seen and people forget I actually played him. I was obviously on my way down and he gave me some hammerings.”
Hendry responds emphatically when asked what would happen if he and O’Sullivan met each other at their very peak. “I believe I would win. If we had a four-session match, where things change, I would back myself every time. I was stronger mentally. But he’s more talented than me, making shots left-handed and sinking a 147 in 4½ minutes. My fastest maximum would be over nine minutes.”
Flying to China 15 times a year, to promote Chinese pool, and working as a UK snooker pundit, Hendry admits that, “compared to the 1990s life now is dull. Back then you were the world’s best player. Nothing could touch you. I’ve not got a bad life now but I have days where I think: ‘What is there to look forward to? What’s the buzz?’”
He takes solace in his belief that, as arguably the greatest snooker player in history, his world championship record of victories remains safe. “I can’t see anyone beating it. O’Sullivan’s got five. He can do it if he keeps playing. But there are four others playing at that level. At his absolute best Ronnie wins. But he’s getting to that age where he’s not doing it often. He’ll talk all sorts of bullshit, saying he doesn’t care about the record. But deep down he wants to beat me while, of course, I want to hold on to the record.”
Hendry sounds, briefly, like a perennial winner again. But he is too likeable now not to give in to honesty as, considering his involvement in a new senior circuit, he admits his game is still ruined. “I’ve played it a few times and in practice I’m fine because no one’s watching. But once it starts I’m totally embarrassed by my shots. It’s horrible.”
The 49-year-old former world champion laughs ruefully. He then shakes his head when asked if he will ever free himself of these demons. “There’re probably people out there who think they can cure me but it’s a mental thing. At exhibitions I have a couple of drinks before I play to relax. It works sometimes but that’s not a way out. I have to live with it now.”
I really liked the book, but can’t help wondering whether Stephen Hendry would have been able to re-invent himself the way Ronnie has done with the help of Steve Peters. In his biography, he tells us that he turned to various people in order to get help. But the help he was looking for was mainly aimed at changing his game in order to recapture his confidence and invincibility feeling. He wasn’t ready , or able, to try to change his own mentality nor his own expectations. “I didn’t want to go there” is a sentence that comes around a few times in this book.
I certainly recommend every snooker fan to read this book.
Creators of *Hustle Kings and Pure Pool become official tour partner to the WPBSA World Seniors Snooker Tour, 2018/19
Birmingham, United Kingdom – 18th October, 2018– VooFoo Studios, the independent development and publishing team currently working on the highly anticipated cue-sports simulation, This Is Pool, is excited to announce that they will be an official tour partner to The WPBSA World Seniors Snooker Tour for 2018/19.
The partnership will see VooFoo Studios and the World Seniors Tour team-up across all qualifying and ranking events on the tour, where This Is Pool will benefit from over 6-months of promotional activity throughout the duration of the 2018/19 World Seniors Snooker Tour calendar.
On the partnership, Jason Francis, Chairman of World Seniors Snooker said “As someone who grew up playing Jimmy White’s snooker on the Atari, I’m really excited to welcome VooFoo Studios as tour partner. This is Pool is an incredibly realistic video game that can even improve your real-life game, fans of the World Seniors Tour will be amazed by just how close to the real world sport it is. You really can play like ‘Whirlwind’ White or ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, and if you’re good enough, you may just prove to be the next Stephen Hendry!”
Commenting on the announcement, VooFoo Studios’ Marketing and PR Manager, Sean Walsh said “We’re really proud to be partnering with the World Seniors Tour and some of the most iconic and legendary names in the history of World Snooker. This is a fantastic partnership that aligns us with a dedicated and highly enthusiastic cue sports fan base. We’re looking forward to showcasing This Is Pool’s stunning visuals and hyper-authentic gameplay over the course of the next 6-months on the World Seniors Tour calendar”.
This Is Pool builds on VooFoo Studios’ decade of development expertise making best-in-class cue-sports games to deliver the most expansive and immersive game to date.
This Is Pool is being developed and published by VooFoo Studios and will be available on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch™ and Steam® (for Windows PC), in early 2019. A teaser trailer can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2RTrCHk
The Seniors UK Championship is upon us. Action starts on Wednesday next week, but you can already meet the legends at the golf day, and the dinner an Tuesday.
Now there is even more coming for the fans.
The event will be shown on TV, at least in the UK.
Indeed Freesport.tv will be broadcasting it. I’m not sure if viewers outside the UK will be able to watch it though. TVPlayer should allow fans to view it online, but it’s only available in the UK.
You have an opportunity the Legends at the VIP reception before the final, provided you have a ticket to the final.
And finally …
Visitors to the CRS UK Seniors Championship will be able to enjoy a free game of pool in between matches. This new Blackball table is the creation of multiple 8 Ball World Champion Ross McInnes and Michaela Tabb. Pop by and have a look.