Igor Figueiredo wins Pan American Snooker Championship 2019

Igor who recently won the Seniors World Championship Q6 Event in Houston, making a 146, has now won the Pan American Snooker Championship 2019, at the same place, earning a new two years Main Tour card starting next season.

Here is the report by the always excellent Michael Day

2019 PAN AMERICAN SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP | FIGUEIREDO’S AMERICAN DREAM

Igor Figueiredo will make a return to the professional circuit after winning the 2019 Pan American Snooker Championship at the Q-Ball Snooker & Pool Club in Houston on Sunday evening.

This tournament is the flagship event for the newly formed Pan American Billiards and Snooker Association (PABSA), a continental federation serving players from both North and South America.

The competition drew a full capacity of 48 entries that featured representatives from Bermuda, Brazil, Canada and the host nation the USA.

Round-robin qualifying took place across the opening three days with the top three in each group advancing to the knockouts.

Brazilian Figueiredo eased through his section; topping Group A without losing a frame. Along with the seven other group winners, he went straight into the last 16 where he awaited the winner of a preliminary tie. For him that would be Saif Ibrahim (USA), whom he dispatched 4-0.

In the quarter-finals he faced current and four-time United States National Champion Ahmed Aly Elsayed. Despite dropping his first frame of the week, he progressed as a 4-1 victor.

Local Houston player Mark White was next to feel the dominance of Figueiredo in the semi-finals, as he went down 5-1.

Figueiredo’s opponent in the final was Chicago’s Renat Denkha who was also undefeated throughout. Denkha booked his final berth after ousting former professional John White (Canada), 5-4, in the other last 4 tie.

However, the final was a step too far for the American, as Figueiredo flexed his muscle to a 5-1 victory to collect the title, trophy and a two-year professional tour card that is active from the 2019/20 campaign.

Given Figueiredo’s class and pedigree it wasn’t a surprise to see him claiming the title in Texas. A recent six-season professional, he only fell off the top tier at the end of 2016/17. During his time on the circuit he reached the last 16 of both the 2017 Welsh and Gibraltar Opens.

Since then the 41-year-old has had success competing as an amateur. In Malta, last Spring, he conquered the inaugural World Snooker Federation Seniors Championship and later in the year he lost to Ken Doherty on TV in the final of the UK Seniors Championship.

​At the same Houston venue the week before the Pan-Am Championship Figueiredo also won a World Seniors Tour World Championship qualifying event where he constructed a break of 146. The effort is believed to be the highest competitive break ever made in the United States.

2019 Pan American Snooker Championship

Results (from the quarter-finals onwards)

​Igor Figueiredo (Brazil) 4-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed (USA)

Mark White (USA) 4-2 Ajeya Prabhakar (USA)

John White (Canada) 4-2 Mark Collier (USA)

​Levi Meiller (Canada) 1-4 Renat Denkha (USA)

Semi-Finals

Figueiredo 5-1 M.White

J.White 4-5 Denkha

Final

Figueiredo 5-1 Denkha

The image above is courtesy of Monique Limbos

Article written and published by Michael Day on the 4th February 2019​​​

Let’s hope that this time, Igor finds sponsors allowing him to compete in most events so that he gets a proper chance to do his huge talent justice.

 

Ken Doherty’s dreams

Ken Doherty is the 2018 World Seniors Snooker UK reigning Champion. As well as competing on the World Seniors Tour, Ken is still playing on the Main Tour, thanks to an invitational tour card. Such invitational cards are rare and reward players who, through their exceptional career, have contributed to the development and popularity of the sport.

In this article by Simon Cromie, Ken remembers the greatest moment of his career – winning the World Championship by beating Stephen Hendry at the Crucible in 1997 – and speaks about his dreams and aspirations for the present and the future.

By Simon Cromie

Ken Doherty can’t help but smile at the memory of it all. The feelings that have eluded many of snooker’s aspiring world champions come flooding back — potting the colours that made up his victory lap, shaking the hand of a bested Stephen Hendry, lifting the famous World Championship trophy aloft — the culmination of a career’s effort and toil.

“It was what I’d dreamt of from the moment I picked up a cue all those years ago,” Doherty reflects on his 1997 triumph at the Crucible. “I watched Alex Higgins win it, I watched Dennis Taylor win it. To lift the trophy myself, beating Stephen who hadn’t lost a match at the Crucible for six years, that was just the icing on the cake.”

Almost 22 years later, Doherty still boasts the same bright eyes and cheery smile which defined that moment of glory. Although he has drifted further away from snooker’s top table in recent years, currently lying 66th in the world rankings, his work as a television pundit still allows him to revel in the thrills of the sport’s majors.

“It’s nice to be involved,” he says. “I’d be sitting at home watching it on TV anyway, so I might as well be here, enjoying the atmosphere and catching up with the rest of the lads. We just love catching up and enjoying the snooker. At the end of the day, we’re all snooker fans as well.”

The ‘lads’ he is referring to are the BBC’s familiar team of pundits and commentators. It’s a group made up of many of the game’s former greats, including seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry and six-time winner Steve Davis. With on-table rivalries long set aside, it’s the TV viewer who benefits from the team’s camaraderie.

In working as an analyst, Doherty has come to fully recognise the wide array of technical intricacies snooker’s different exponents display, an appreciation he wishes he had made in his younger years.

“Going back 20 years, I wish I’d have watched a lot more snooker,” he reflects. “I think it would have helped my game a bit more. When I was involved in tournaments I wouldn’t watch that much of it other than playing in my own matches. I wish now I had.

“If I was giving advice to young players, I’d say watch a lot more snooker. It can help you identify weaknesses of potential opponents, but also how the top players go about making breaks, and the safety shots they play. I think that’s important. You never stop learning, that’s the key.”

Now one of the sport’s senior players at the age of 49, the Dublin-born potter is realistic about his chances. A new wave of players has come along and left past greats like Doherty, Peter Ebdon and Jimmy White trying to stay afloat in the sea of talent which is the modern tour. For Doherty, simply preserving his tour status is his highest priority, although he still allows himself to dream of a return to snooker’s mecca.

“To get in the top 64 is my top target,” he says. “But I’d love to get back to the World Championship at the Crucible. I’m going to put in as much work as I can now and try and get back there for April.”

That is easier said than done. The road to the Crucible is a gruelling one beset by potential potholes. Three best-of-19 qualifiers must be navigated by those outside the top 16 ranked players in order to secure one of those coveted berths in Sheffield. It’s a challenge made all the harder by Doherty’s inconsistent form of late, which he himself admits is “not great.”

However, if there is cause for a kernel of optimism for Doherty, and the loyal Irish fans still willing him on towards further triumphs, it was his display against Ronnie O’Sullivan at this season’s UK Championship. The veteran established a 4-1 lead in their second round clash, before ultimately succumbing to the eventual champion’s resolve in a 6-5 defeat.

“I played a good match against O’Sullivan and could’ve beaten him,” he says with some regret. “I just let it slip, but he came back really strong. I’m hoping that I can get a few results before the end of the season.”

Doherty, nicknamed the Darlin’ of Dublin, takes great pride in his roots, and still remembers vividly the reception he received back home when he became Ireland’s first world champion from south of the border. In a nation often starved of sporting success, the Irish celebrated Doherty’s 1997 triumph with typical vigour.

“It was amazing,” he says, momentarily lost in the reverie. “I remember being on the open-top bus going through the city centre in Dublin, all the cars stopping and beeping the horn. People were waving flags and running by the bus, coming out of their offices and homes, just waiting to catch a glimpse of me and the trophy. In my home village of Ranelagh we had a big party with all my friends and family. It was just amazing.”

He became a man in demand, parading his trophy around the country at different clubs and sporting institutions, and as a lifelong Manchester United fan, fulfilled a  dream of a lap of honour on the Old Trafford turf, trophy in hand.

“That was an incredible experience, to take the trophy out at Old Trafford, as well as Croke Park and Lansdowne Road when Ireland were playing. I was a right tart with the trophy, I took it everywhere!” he jokes.

His celebrations were more than justified. The nature of representing a country for which individual sporting triumphs are few and far between brings its own set of pressures. Doherty, however, saw this as a challenge to relish.

“I knew it was my chance,” he says, offering a flash of the steely determination which has perhaps mellowed slightly with age. “I just thought, I’ve got to grab this with both hands and keep focused. I tried not to worry about what was going on back home, and tried to keep myself away from all the hype. Luckily I did, because I could’ve easily been enveloped by it all. It was an emotional ride, but fantastic in the end.”

Sadly, Ireland has not seen a champion of Doherty’s ilk since his period of success. Fergal O’Brien, another Dublin native, has been a fine player for decades, but there is a notable dearth of young Irish talent breaking through in snooker. The reasons why remain up for debate.

“I wish I could put my finger on it,” Doherty laments. “The property prices got very high in Ireland and for many snooker clubs, to simply stay open was very expensive. Of course, the advent of the internet, video games, and phones have had an effect. Other sports like rugby have become more popular and snooker has sort of fallen down a bit.

“Hopefully that changes. Mark Allen has done very well from Northern Ireland, Fergal O’Brien has done well, but I’d love to see someone else coming through and taking on the mantle.”

One of the big questions facing snooker is what can be done to get young players devoting their time fully to the sport. For Doherty, it requires a marriage of both facilities and familial support.

“They need good competition, good coaches, support from their own families — mams and dads you know? We can’t do any more than we are doing TV-wise because we have so many great matches, and lots of people are watching it. It’s just about getting kids into snooker clubs and getting them started. That’s the first battle.”

The development of a new video game, Snooker 19, for Xbox One and PS4 could be a way of getting the younger, technology-fuelled generation hooked on a sport they may never have given much thought. Doherty is optimistic: “Hopefully the new video game will encourage some kids to give snooker a go, and sort of get them started.”

Doherty’s vested interest in the future of the sport is borne of a love for snooker that transcends mere silverware or legacies of success. He is one of the game’s great champions, both in a literal sense of on-table triumphs, and in his desire to ensure snooker continues to make dreams come true for others as it did for him.

When he does finally hang up his cue, the Ranelagh man will be able to reflect on a career in snooker in which the joyful highs more than outweigh the painful lows.

“I’ll look back with a lot of fondness. I have a lot of great memories, and I’ve made a lot of great friends. I’ve had a great time. Snooker’s taken me all over the world. Being the only man to win the junior, the amateur and the senior World Championships — I’ll be very proud of that,” he said.

For now though, ‘Crafty Ken’ is still determined to make his mark on the modern game. Don’t be surprised if, come April, we see Doherty emerge into the Crucible arena, trotting down those few little steps with that same infectious smile upon his face. It would be another great tribute to the beautiful ideal that class is permanent.

Patrick Wallace is NIBSA nominee for the “fast and furious” battle of Belfast

NIBSA – Northern Ireland Billiard and Snooker Association – has shared this on their Facebook page ysterday:

NIBSA are pleased to announce that they have awarded 8-time Northern Ireland Champion Patrick Wallace NIBSA’s nominated place in the Seniors 6 Red World Championship at the Waterfront Hall on Sunday 3rd March 2019. Patrick, who was runner-up in the 2018 World Seniors Championship and is currently ranked no. 1 on the World Seniors Tour ranking list, will compete against the likes of Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty for the £20,000 winner-takes-all first prize. Tickets are still available for both the gala dinner with all the legends on the evening of Saturday 2nd March and both sessions of the snooker, starting from only £20.
NIBSA have also been granted a place in the qualifying competition for the event, which takes place in Newbury from 8th-10th February 2019, and propose to hold a qualifier for any players currently aged over 40 who are interested in taking part in the Newbury qualifier. The entry fee for the local qualifier is £25 and it will take place on Sunday 3rd February at a venue to be confirmed, subject to a minimum of 8 entries. The revenue generated from the qualifier will go to the winner to help cover travel and accommodation costs. Can any player who is interested in entering this qualifier please post their name on here or contact any member of the NIBSA Committee before 6.00 p.m. on Tuesday 29th January.

 

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Stephen Hendry’s autobiography longlisted for a coveted award

Stephen Hendry, seven times world Champion, Legend of the game and a competitor on the Seniors World Tour published his autobiography earlier this year and now his book has been longlisted for the Best Autobiography of the Year Award at the 2019 Sports Book Awards. Congratulations Stephen! And good luck!

Here is the account on Worldsnooker website:

Stephen Hendry’s book Me and the Table is among the list of nominees for the Best Autobiography of the Year Award at the 2019 Sports Book Awards.

The Sports Book Awards are judged by a group of sports celebrities, broadcasters and journalists. The Autobiography of the Year judging panel for 2019 includes: Dame Katherine Grainger, Alison Kervin, Christine Ohuruogu, Simon Halliday, Bob Willis, Sir Tim Rice, The Rugby Writers, Clare Tomlinson, Jacquie Beltrao, David Millar, Jill Douglas, Simon Brotherton, Andrew Cotter, The Football Writers, Rishi Persad, Seema Jaswal and Di Doherty.

David Willis, Chairman of the Sports Book Awards said: “Our 2019 longlist is once again packed with sporting greats and legendary sports stars from the UK. Any of these fantastic new books would make perfect Christmas gifts and I don’t envy the task of the judging panel to select the best sports Autobiography of the Year.”

The winner of the Autobiography of the year will be announced at the 17th Sports Book Awards, held in early June, which has taken place at Lord’s Cricket Ground for the last 3 years. The ceremony features 10 award categories and is filmed for a highlights programme shown on Sky Sports channels 1, 2 and 3.

Autobiography of the Year Longlist 2019
Kevin Keegan – My Life In Football
Geraint Thomas – The Tour According to G
Michael Carrick – Between The Lines
Peter Crouch – How to Be a Footballer
Stephen Hendry – Me and The Table
Moeen Ali – Moeen
Sam Quek – Hope and a Hockey Stick
Doddie Weir – My Name’5 Doddie: The Autobiography
Charlotte Dujardin – The Girl on the Dancing Horse
Jonathan Rea – Dream. Believe. Achieve. My Autobiography
Alan Smith – Heads Up: My Life Story
Paul Ferris – The Boy On The Shed

The 2019 event is the 17th annual awards campaign, previous winners of the Autobiography award include:

2018 – Martine Wright
2017 – Joey Barton
2016 – Max Mosley
2015 – Gareth Thomas
2014 – Jimmy Connors
2013 – David Walsh (combined with biography award)
2012 – Matt Hampson (combined with biography award)
2011 – Brian Moore
2010 – Andre Agassi
2009 – Paul Canoville
2008 – Bobby Charlton
2007 – Paul McGrath
2006 – Frank Bruno
2005 – Nasser Hussain
2004 – Gareth Southgate & Andy Woodman
2003 – Niall Quinn

For more information about the 2019 Sports Book Awards  visit http://sportsbookawards.com

CRS Seniors UK Championship 2018 – Ken Doherty is your Champion!

Congratulations to Ken Doherty, CRS 2018 Seniors UK Champion!

HullSeniorsUK2018-5138

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Me and the Table by Stephen Hendry – a review

HendryBook

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.

Here is a good interview Stephen did about his biography

Stephen Hendry: ‘Yips trivialises it. It was much more than that’

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
Stephen Hendry has not lost his competitive streak. ‘Steve Davis let it go years ago but it still hurts me, watching people win at the Crucible.’
Stephen Hendry has not lost his competitive streak. ‘Steve Davis let it go years ago but it still hurts me, watching people win at the Crucible.’ Photograph: Tom Jenkins/Guardian

“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.”

Stephen Hendry after beating Jimmy White 18-17 to win his fourth world crown in 1994. ‘I really had to force a smile because winning was my job.’
Pinterest
Stephen Hendry after beating Jimmy White 18-17 to win his fourth world crown in 1994. ‘I really had to force a smile because winning was my job.’ Photograph: Michael Cooper/Getty Images

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.”

He smiles with nostalgia rather than in judgment. “Kenny Dalglish said: ‘Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.’ Jimmy was an amazing loser. I’m sure inside he was devastated but he never showed it. If I’d had lost that final, I would be inconsolable.”

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.