WSS ROKiT 2019 World Championship Build-up – Tony Knowles v Chen Gang

This is the first of a series of posts, in the build-up of the 2019 WSS ROKiT World Championship, starting at the Crucible on August 15.

The opening match of the competition, played at 10 am on August 15, 2019 will see Tony Knowles do battle with Chen Gang.

Tony Knowles came to fame when he beat Steve Davis by 10-1 in the first round of the 1982 World Championship at the Crucible. Steve Davis was the defending champion, and the pre-tournament favourite for the title. Tony Knowles was an un-heralded outsider. That he beat Steve was a huge surprise, that he beat him by 10-1 was a seismic shock. He went on to reach the quarter-finals in the tournament. In the next two seasons he managed to win two ranking tournaments.

If you speak to Tony nowadays, he will probbably tell you how himself and his contemporaries traveled Europe and the world promoting snooker everywhere. Those memories are dear to him. And he’s right. How many remember that snooker was popular outside the UK/Ireland at the time? Yes, it was. Eurosport started covering snooker as early as the late 1980 th and lots clubs opened in western mainland Europe.

You can read Tony’s profile on this blog here

And Tony’s profile by Elliott West here

Chen Gang is a bit of an unknown quantity, to us Europeans at least. He’s 42 and from Anhui, a Chinese Province, west of Shanghai. He runs a club there, and is a respected coach. He also regularly competes, with success, in China national competitions. Chen Gang was considered to be the best player in Anhui – “Anhui first cue” – until recently, when Niu Zhuang, a 25 years old former professional raised the bar. Chen Gang was runner-up in the Chinese Qualifying Event and was afterwards chosen to be CBSA nominee for the 2019 WSS ROKiT World Championship.

Match mini preview

I would have liked to find some footage of Chen Gang in action in order to know a bit more about his game … but I failed. Therefore I have no idea about the type of player he is. However he’s relatively young, 42, and, more importantly, he is an active player who still competes regularly, as opposed to Tony Knowles who is retired and will probably lack any form of match sharpness. Therefore I make him favourite to win this match, despite the possibly intimidating surroundings and the China-UK  time difference.

Prediction: Chen Gang to win.

Happy Birthday Joe Johnson



Happy Birthday Joe Johnson!

Our reigning WSS ROKiT Masters Champion turn 67 today.

Joe became famous by winning the 1886 World Championship, beating Steve Davis by 18-12 in the Final. He was a 150-1 outsider and had never won a match at the Crucible before. He came as close as possible to beat the Crucible Curse the next year, reaching the final, but this time losing by 18-14 … to Steve Davis.

Joe will play at the Cucible again on August 15, 2019 in the evening. He is amongst the twenty players who will do battle to be the 2019 WSS ROKiT World Champion. His opponent will be either Wael Talaat from Egypt or James Wattana from Thailand. Can he lift the trophy again?

If you wish to know more about Joe …

Here you’ll find his profile on this blog

and here you will find his profile by Elliott West


Alex Crisan’s Crucible Dream comes true

Alrex Crisan

This was shared on Facebook three days ago . I’m late but, hey, I was a bit busy in Gloucester …

The number of countries involved in the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship has just grown with the news today that Alex Crisan will become the first Romanian to officiate at the home of snooker.

Alex, 34 and from Bucharest, became a qualified referee in 2006 and has played a major role in the training of officials for the EBSA since 2014.

He started with World Snooker in 2011 at the Paul Hunter Classic in Furth. Last year he officiated the Romanian Masters Final between Ryan Day and Stuart Bingham.

He said “I like to dream big and Crucible is definitely the place to be for snooker. For me to get there, to have a chance to be the man in the middle, to be the first Romanian referee in the “Theatre of Dreams” and all that alongside snooker legends I’ve grown up with…it’s like living that dream!

Outside of Snooker Alex works as a sales agent for construction materials (bricks, concrete, cement etc), something completely opposite to the white gloves.

Alex will join Michaela Tabb and Leo Scullion. Tickets for the event can be found here…

Alex is a great addition to the WSS ROKiT Tour. His success as a snooker referee has been a major booster for snooker in Romania. Good luck and enjoy Alex!

50 years of Pot Black

Two days ago, it was exactly 50 years that BBC first aired the iconic Pot Black.

Here is Ray Reardon recalling that “legendary” program

Reardon recalls ‘Pot Black’ – 50 years on (BBC)

Next January the WSS ROKiT Tour will remember it, and somehow recreate it in Liverpool, at St Georges Hall, the venue where John Pullman became World Champion in 1966.

St George Hall

The picture above dates back from 1952, and features a match between Fred and Joe Davis.

WSS ROKiT World Championship 2019 – The Schedule


Session 1
10am Thursday 15th Aug
Tony Knowles v Chen Gang
Tony Drago v Dene O’Kane

Session 2
2pm Thursday 15th Aug
James Wattana v Wael Talaat
Willie Thorne v Darren Morgan

Session 3
7pm Thursday 15th Aug
Joe Johnson v Wattana/Talaat
Cliff Thorburn v Knowles/Gang

Session 4
10am Friday 16th Aug
Aaron Canavan v Au Chi Wai
John Parrott v Thorne/Morgan

Session 5
2pm Friday 16th Aug
Leo Fernandez v Joris Maas
Stephen Hendry v Drago/O’Kane

Session 6
7pm Friday 16th Aug
Dennis Taylor v Stuart Watson
Jimmy White v Rhydian Richards

Session 8
2pm Saturday 17th Aug
Quarter Final 1 Canavan/Wai v Fernandez/Maas
Quarter Final 2 White/Richards v Taylor/Watson

Session 9
7pm Saturday 17th Aug
Quarter Final 3 Parrott/Thorne/Morgan v Hendry/Drago/O’Kane
Quarter Final 4 Johnson/Wattana/Talaat v Thorburn/Knowles/Gang

Session 11
2pm Sunday 18th August
Semi Final 1 Winner QF1 V Winner QF 3
Semi Final 2 Winner QF 2 V Winner QF 4

Session 12
7pm Sunday 18th August
The Final
Ticket link here.

WSS ROKiT World Championship 2019 – The Draw

The draw was made this morning for the WSS ROKiT World Championship 2019.

It was live on Facebook:

The press was invited at the Crucible Corner at 11 am for the draw, and a media launch.

This is the report in the local press – The Star

Former greats of snooker to battle it out as Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre hosts second tournament of the year

Sheffield will cement its place as the home of snooker when former greats of the game take to the baize at the Crucible Theatre next month.

By Sam Cooper
Tuesday, 09 July, 2019, 16:05

The city will play host to the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker as 20 players including Yorkshire’s only-ever world champion Joe Johnson and seven-time winner Stephen Hendry battle out between August 15 and 18.

The event will take place at the Crucible Theatre, which has been home to the World Championship since 1977 and will also include dedicated women’s and disability snooker sessions.

The draw was made for the 2019 ROKiT Seniors World Snooker Championship at Crucible Corner

Jason Francis, chairman of ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Tour, said: “I think there are certain places in certain sport that become hallowed ground. In football you’ve got Wembley and with snooker it’s always been the Crucible Theatre.

“Anyone who has grown up liking the sport, the ultimate place to watch or play snooker is the Crucible. The Seniors Tour is now in its second year so it feels right to bring the championships here.”

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association; Simon Berrisford, vice chairman of World Disability Billiards and Snooker; joined Reanne Evans, ladies’ world champion and Daniel Blunn, who competes in the World Disability Billiards and Snooker competitions and Mr Francis and Mr Johnson for the tournament draw at Crucible Corner on Tuesday.

Competitors will also include Willie Thorne, Tony Knowles, 1980 world champion Cliff Thorburn and Dennis Taylor.

Joe Johnson was crowned World Snooker champion in 1986.

Mr Francis said: “We have to thank Sheffield Council for showing a vision and for making it happen. It’s important for our championships to be played there but it’s equally important for us to give the opportunity for the women’s and disability game to play at the Crucible.”

Mr Johnson, who was a surprise winner of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in 1986 before reaching the final again in 1987, said he was looking forward to playing at the famous venue once again.

He was also victorious in the World Senior Masters in Sheffield in April.

He said: “It’s a really special place for me. The people come from across Yorkshire to support me and it was a great day when I won the Masters here.

Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry pictured after the World Snooker Championship in 1990. Both will take part in the tournament.

“Sheffield is great because it’s a vibrant city and I really enjoy coming here. The Seniors game can only go from strength to strength and having the Crucible behind us and having the tournament played here along with the World Championship gives it real credibility.”

Richard Eyre, Sheffield Council’s head of city centre and major events, said the tournament offered the city the chance to ‘shout’ about its snooker links.

He said: “Obviously we have had the World Snooker Championship for many years and have secured it for many more years but we have been saying for some time that we have got to shout about it.

“Inwardly we are very proud but we don’t shout about it and this is part of that.”


For more information or to buy tickets visit

Some images taken today …

This is the draw:

Last 32

Willie Thorne vs Darren Morgan
Tony Drago vs Dene O’Kane
James Wattana vs Wael Talaat
Tony Knowles vs Chen Gang

Last 16

Aaron Canavan vs Au Chi Wai
Leo Fernandez vs Joris Maas
John Parrott vs WillieThorne / Darren Morgan
Stephen Hendry vs Tony Drago / Dene O’Kane
Joe Johnson vs James Wattana / Wael Talaat
Cliff Thorburn vs Tony Knowles / Chen Gang
Dennis Taylor vs Stuart Watson
Jimmy White vs Rhydian Richards

You will be able to follow the scores and find the detailed results on

The mzatches times and schedule will be announced later.

Dene O’Kane will represent Oceania at the WSS ROKiT World Championship 2019

Deane O'Kane

This was announced today by Jason Francis on social media:

The Continent of Oceania will provide the final player in tomorrow’s draw for the 2019 ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship with the announcement today that Former Professional Dene O’Kane from New Zealand is coming back to the Crucible.
Dene is no stranger to the hallowed home of snooker having reached the quarter-finals of the World Professional Championships in 1987 and 1992. He appeared in the world championships six times, but never in consecutive years. He first reached the top 32 in the world rankings for the 1985/1986 season, returning 3 years later. In 1991/1992 he reached his career high of 18. He remained in the top 32 until 1996/1997.
He said “I am delighted to be a part of the new ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Tour. I must say a tour like this is long overdue and will be the perfect platform for many ex-professional players to compete again together with new opportunities for amateur players in participating countries. To be going back to the Crucible in little over a month is a dream come true”
Dene completes a field of 20 players from 13 countries across 5 continents and goes into tomorrow’s draw which is coming live from the Crucible Theatre at 11am. Matches start at 10am on Thursday 15th August with the Champion be crowned on the evening of Sunday 18th.

To watch tomorrow draw live from 11am click on to

For tickets to see Dene play alongside legends such as Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, Dennis Taylor and many more go to


The draw will indeed be made tomorrow in Sheffield at 11 am. People who want to attend it life can come to the Crucible Corner on Tudor Square. There will be a press conference and opportunities for photographs. Amongst those present will be Joe Johnson (1986 World Champion), Reanne Evans (12 times and reigning Women World Champion and Daniel Blunn (winner of multiple WDBS events).