Tony Knowles is most famous – at the table – for inflicting the Crucible curse on Steve Davis in 1982. He beat the defending champion by 10-1 on the first day of the World Championship. He won two ranking events – the 1982 International Open and 1983 Professional Players Tournament – and was ranked as high as number 2 in the World.
At 65, he still loves the game and has regularly been competing on the WSS Tour.
Tony has entered the 2021 Q-School and has been speaking to WST about his expectations and ambitions:
Knowles – Tour Place Is My Goal
Veteran Tony Knowles believes he has a “realistic chance” of making it through Q School and achieving his ambition of regaining a place on the World Snooker Tour at the age of 65.
The former world number two has entered Q School for the first time in four years, having rekindled his enthusiasm for practice. When the event at Ponds Forge in Sheffield starts next week, he’ll line up against some 200 other players, all hoping to land one of 14 golden tickets to the pro circuit. Knowles will face Bradley Cowdroy in the opening round of the first of three events.
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“I played ok against Jimmy White in the recent World Seniors Championship and it made me want to test out what I’m doing in other tournaments, to find out whether I’m good enough now to win matches” said Knowles. “The adrenaline was flowing and I was nervous when I played Jimmy at the Crucible, perhaps because I expected too much. I may have lost 3-0 but I felt I hadn’t made many mistakes, Jimmy just punished my bad shots.
“I have been practising more than at any time in the last 20 years and I have really got the love of the game back. I have a table at home and I’m using some of the practice methods I used many years ago, working on my long potting and cue action. And I haven’t lost the thrill that comes with playing in tournaments.”
Knowles was one of snooker’s biggest stars of the 1980s, winning the International Open, Professional Players Tournament and Australian Masters. He was ranked among the top 16 for most of that decade and reached three Crucible semi-finals. Perhaps his greatest moment was beating defending champion Steve Davis 10-1 in the first round in Sheffield in 1982.
He last played on the tour in 2001 and was unable to progress beyond the last 64 at his most recent attempt at Q School in 2017, but Knowles remains optimistic.
“I’ve got a realistic chance this time because of the time I have put into practice,” he said. “I have still got the knowledge of the game. Snooker changed in my era when the balls and cloth changed. But everything comes full circle and you saw at the World Championship this year a very controlled style of play from the likes of Mark Selby and Stuart Bingham. That knowledge remains very important and that’s why you see a lot of the older players on the circuit still doing well.
“What I need is more matches against other players on the Star tables, if I can get that under my belt then my consistency will improve, I’ll cut out the mistakes and the break-building will come back. My goal is to get back on to the tour and show what can be achieved at my age.”
How well Tony will do remains to be seen of course, and, should he succeed, the hectic Main Tour schedule might prove difficult to cope with for a 65 years old.
One thing however is certain: snooker is in his blood. The Seniors Tour has offered him playing opportunities as well as a renewed appetite for competition. He will give it his best shot.
Tony is one of the many WSS players who will compete in Ponds Forge in the coming weeks. He is the oldest in the draw. Amongst them, David Lilley the reigning Seniors World Champion will also be there, trying to regain his tour card.