Seniors snooker news – 18.10.2021

The draw for the 2022 UK Seniors Championship first round has been made.

2021SeniorsUKDrraw

Darren Morgan has won the Seniors 2021 EBSA (European) Championship in Portugal last week. Congratulations Darren.

This EBSA championship carried a spot into the 2022 Seniors World Championship. Because Darren is already in the draw, this spot will be given to the runner-up, Frank Sarsfield.

FrankSarfield

Here is the Press released as shared on World Seniors Snooker Facebook page.

PRESS RELEASE- FRANK SARSFIELD
Following his run to the final in the EBSA European Seniors Championship World Seniors Snooker is delighted to announce that Frank Sarsfield from Ireland gets a place in our 2022 World Seniors Championship which will be played at the Crucible Theatre in May.

With the current EBSA Seniors Champion already qualified, Darren Morgan, the federation has decided to use their nomination for the runner up from that event.
The news was broken to Frank by EBSA Chairman Maxim Cassis who has been overseeing a tremendous event in Portugal of over 500 personnel. With Darren and Frank in the field the EBSA is well represented.

Jason Francis, Chairman of World Seniors, said “To play snooker at the Crucible Theatre is the pinnacle for any snooker player, it’s the dream we all have when we first pick up a cue. We are delighted to accept the EBSA nomination of Frank Sarsfield from Ireland who will join fellow Irishmen Michael Judge and Ken Doherty in the field next May”

Maxime Cassis said “The EBSA is delighted to nominate Frank Sarsfield to take part into this year’s World Seniors Snooker Championship.

The standard of this year’s European Championships was very high with many top senior players competing and Darren Morgan retaining his title.

To play in the Crucible is the dream of all snooker players and I’m sure Frank and Darren will enjoy it”

The World Seniors Championship plays from the 4th to the 8th May 2022.

Good luck and enjoy the Crucible Frank!

And a great interview with Tony Drago

Tony Drago will play in the UK Championship in Hull come January and here is a great interview where he tells us about his childhood in Malta, his career and his advice to aspiring players

50 Shades of Greats: ‘Follow your heart not your head’ – Tony Drago

The Malta Independent on Sunday meets Tony Drago, he speaks about being considered a talent, turning pro, missing Malta, his Snooker and pool career and players for the future

Tony Drago was born in Malta’s capital city on the 27th September, 1965.  

Nicknamed the Tornado, there are few more entertaining sights in snooker than an on-form Tony Drago whose speed around the table can be summed up by the fact that he is the holder of the record for the fast century break in a ranking event tournament, timed at a ridiculous three minutes and 31 seconds back in 1996.  

‘It was a normal upbringing for me in Valletta. We used to play together as kids in the streets especially football which I used to love and still do. It was football and snooker. But from a tender age I think I was born to be a cueist since my orientation drove me always to the green table.’

‘As regards my educational background I attended St Albert College, Valletta and The Lyceum in Hamrun but school was not my forte since I was fully focused on snooker from a very young age.’

How did Tony’s interest in snooker begin? Was it a first love sport? ‘I used to play football because of my friends. But snooker was something different since everyone used to tell me that I will be a great player. My first touch of a cue was at the famous Pawlu Curmi, il-Pampalun who is a Carnival legend. But I also played at Fossa and Mandragg and obviously my childhood club Anglo Maltese in Merchant Street. I was there at the age of eleven but three years later I started competing and the promise was there to see.’

His local competitive career started with success in the Boys Championships. ‘Yes I won against Arthur Cachia way back in 1980. Arthur is still a good friend of mine. When I won the Boys event I was already a promising player. The association decided to put me straight into the Second Division rather than play in the Third since I would have been too superior to my opponents. In the first year I won the Second and thus was promoted to the First Division. When the draws were made I was drawn in the group of Pawlu Mifsud and was so excited about it. Unfortunately Mifsud had an accident which left him away from playing for a number of months. So I won in 1983 against Alfred Micallef and lost the famous final played at De La Salle College against Pawlu Mifsud a year later. In 1985 it was time to turn professional.

‘I was accepted as a pro in 1984 but they wanted me to play in the World Amateur. I didn’t succeed and lost in the quarter-final and then I turned pro the following year.’

Turning from an amateur to a professional meant a cultural shock which needed time to adjust. ‘Yes for the first couple of years I struggled with results. But in the second year I made it to the Quarter Final of the UK Open against Steve Davis losing by a 9-8 score. But there was a mix of results during my career. I did well and have been in the top 10 and been top 16 for five years. But I did reach a couple of massive finals, the Scottish International 1997, losing to Hendry, and I lost in 1991 Mita World Masters which at the time was the biggest tournament ever. I have won small invitations, I beat Steve Davis in a final in China and I did win a ranking event, a Strachan. It was a minor ranking event but there was only 5 or 6 who didn’t enter it and I beat Ken Doherty in the final. But I did underachieve because in the first five or six years as a pro I got homesick after every week. So that affected my game.’

But who is the toughest opponent that Tony has played against? ‘Well the hardest player I have ever played is Steve Davis. But the most talented player I have ever played against is Ronnie O’Sullivan. But the best, the greatest player all round with the pressure, the nitty-gritty and everything is John Higgins.’

Tony also found time to compare his days with today. ‘Today there are better players as a whole crop. But when one looks more into detail you find that when I was number 10, John Higgins was number 1 in the world, Ronnie O’Sullivan was third ranked player and number 5 was Mark Williams. And twenty five years past the line and they are still three of the best players.’

Drago won the Sportsman of the year award twice in 1991 and 1996 but though a much appreciated award he also looks back at his local participation when ranking tournaments were held yearly on the island. ‘For me it was always a nightmare. The pressure of the Maltese was felt not only on the table but even before. People calling me and requesting tickets and all kinds of things which didn’t leave me much time for maximum concentration. Once I made it to the semi-final losing to Jimmy White and I still can’t believe how I made it to the last four. Obviously I wanted to win it in front and for the Maltese public but I wasn’t able to handle the pressure.’

But how did Tony turn his attention to pool and what attracted him to this game? ‘To be honest I always used to watch it on Eurosport and I always used to say I’d try it someday. Then I got a letter from Matchroom and I spoke to Barry Hearn on the phone and asked him about it and he said the invitation is there for you to play in the World Championship in Cardiff. So I started to play and I got to like the game.’

Drago’s first major Pool win was the 2003 World Pool Masters, which came just a few weeks after a run to the semi-finals of that year’s World Pool Championship. ‘I was a member of the winning European team at the 2007 and 2008 Mosconi Cup. In 2007 in Las Vegas, I won all of my single matches which earned me the Most Valuable Player Award. And a year later I also won the Predator International 10-ball Championship, beating Francisco Bustamante 13–10.’

And for Tony what is the difference between snooker and pool. Which is the most difficult to play? In snooker you play a lot of the same types of shots and you have situations occurring frequently such as in and around the black, but in 9 or 10-ball each game is more different. In pool you always play for one ball but in snooker we all play for 2 or 3 reds so if you’re not on this one you’re on this one. In pool you can’t do that, if you’re not on the next ball in pool you’re in trouble.’

And what about billiards? ‘I didn’t play it so much. And to be honest I didn’t play it badly. Once I even made it to the Final losing it to my great friend Guzi Grech who has just passed away in the past days. Some say that it helps to have a good background of Billiards when playing Snooker but let’s face it the top players don’t even know what this game is.’

How does Tony see the future of the game on our island? ‘Alex Borg is still playing and he is now in his fifties. He is not one for the future like me. Duncan Bezzina is now in his forties. There are Aaron Busuttil and Brian Cini. I personally think that Cini is the only present hope for Malta to have a professional player. But if he doesn’t go and live in the UK it’s useless.  He has to train against the best to reach the top. Here it’s difficult since me and Alex don’t play a lot. But the level is good, Brian and Aaron are good. Chris Peplow is also coming up.’

Sport Malta recently invested in a Snooker Academy which is located at the ex-Maria Assunta School, in Hamrun. The Academy boasts 7 professional heated snooker tables as well as 5 small tables for children. ‘Yes surely the Academy is a step in the right direction. It will help in producing more top level players.’

In this last part of this interview with one of the giants both locally and internationally Tony talked about the other side of his life, the personal one. ‘A normal day for me is playing some Pool and Snooker, chatting with my friends and watch sport especially football and tennis. Obviously my love for Valletta which I go and watch them in every game and Juventus is there but I like all kinds of sport.’

His favourite food is by far Chinese but he has also got his chosen chef. ‘My mum Sina is the best. Her food is second to none.’ And what about favourite destination?

‘The United States is the best place to be.  A lot of people say that they are boasters but they have got all the ingredients to boast of. For me they are a complete country. I also love London a lot, it is like my second home.’

When he has time on his hands Tony enjoys a bus ride since he doesn’t drive. He used to go as far as Mellieha and Bugibba but when Covid took over he didn’t feel that safe anymore.

Tornado Drago wanted to send one final message to the sporting public. ‘Always give your hundred per cent. Follow your heart not your head. Train as much as you can and set a goal in order to succeed.’

Good luck in Hull Tony!

 

A great interview with the reigning Seniors World Champion

This great interview originally appeared in United

Snooker star David Lilley on a memorable 2021 and his Toon support

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The last three or four months has been a bit of a golden time for North East snooker, with Gary Wilson and Elliot Slessor making waves at the British Open in recent weeks and DAVID LILLEY seeing off the likes of Ken Doherty and Jimmy White to win the World Seniors Championship at the Crucible in May. And for 45-year-old Lilley, who spends much of his time across the Tyne at Gateshead Snooker Centre, the best could still be to come…

I started playing snooker when I was 13. I’d been playing pool for a little bit, and one day I said to my dad that I wanted to play on one of the big tables. I was hooked straight away. I won my first major – the European Championship – when I was 19. The same year, I lost the Northern Amateur final to the late Paul Hunter. And then I got a job and I had to grow up, basically; there wasn’t a lot of money around, and I couldn’t get a sponsor. I’d have loved to turn pro but I didn’t have the coin to do it.

After the tobacco sponsors were squished, snooker really suffered – to the point where there were only around six tournaments a year. At that point, I’d won the English Amateur title, I was CIU champ three years in a row, I was one of the top amateurs in the world and I had quite a good job as well, so I didn’t feel it was worth giving that up to play in a handful of tournaments a year. I continued working in the insurance industry for a number of years, and then Barry Hearn took over and took snooker back to what it was like in the Eighties, where there were 16 or 17 tournaments a year again. And I thought: ‘You know, I’m coming up to 40 years old – I need to make a decision and just go for it.’ I was actually at work, at a team-building workshop, when I eventually made the call. There was a guest speaker there called Brendan Hall, who’d taken part in the Round the World Yacht Race, and a lot of the things he said just struck a chord with me. That was it. I thought: ‘These are signs that are telling me I’ve got to leave work and go and play snooker full-time.’ I told my gaffer I was going to leave, and I did.

I got on the tour – the World Snooker Tour – two years ago now. The irony is that, after waiting all of my life to turn pro, I couldn’t have picked a worse time to do it, because Covid kicked in and just about every tournament got cancelled!

However, winning the World Seniors Championship earlier this year has really changed everything for me. After overcoming a shoulder problem (the result of going from spending eight hours a week at the table as an amateur to something like 48 as a pro!), I could feel myself starting to play well again and it all came good that week in May. The experience was second to none. It was at the Crucible – the home of snooker – and it was just unreal. You see it on the TV where there are two tables side by side, but even just playing the one-table arena, the place felt really small. It was intense, and you feel the pressure straight away. You’re being interviewed every two minutes, and it all just builds. I felt I got better with every game I played, all the way through to the final against Jimmy White. To be playing against Jimmy – my hero – was really quite surreal. He’s such a nice guy, too – he couldn’t have been friendlier throughout the week.

David poses with the World Seniors Championship trophy at the Crucible.

Last month, I played in the British Open in Leicester. It was the first time the tournament had been played since 2004, and it’s a little like snooker’s version of the FA Cup – it’s really good for the neutral because two top players can come up against one another in the first round, as was the case with Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy this year. I won my first game and I played really well. I didn’t give my opponent, Craig Steadman, much of a chance, and I got over the line 3-1. The draw for the next round took place and I ended up playing Jordan Brown, but it was one of those where everything I touched went wrong and whatever he touched went right. After the way I’d been playing, it was disappointing to lose, but you have to take your medicine and come back fighting.

While I was there, though, I learned I was going to be playing in snooker’s Champion of Champions later this year. It was a complete surprise; ten seconds before you saw me do an interview for ITV4 on the Tuesday night, that was when I found out! I was stood with Rob Walker, having a bit of craic about the Olympics, and just as the camera was about to start rolling, he said: ‘So, Dave, how do you feel about being in the Champion of Champions?’ I just couldn’t believe it. People will laugh but, in my opinion, it’s the biggest competition there is – all of the players taking part have had to pot match ball to win a tournament. It’s the one I’ve always dreamed of being in. I’m counting down the days ‘til I go and play in it and I’m very thankful to my sponsor, GoSkippy Insurance, for their continued support.

I love the Toon. The last 18 months, not being able to come to St. James’ Park, has been complete torture. I was planning on coming to the Burnley game and the Southampton game as well, but they’ve just revamped the snooker calendar and I had to play in a qualifier! But I’ll definitely be coming to a few games as the season goes on. I just hope we can finish about where we did last season, and we’ll see what happens with this takeover.

Thank you to Andy Chubb for providing the two pictures of David and the World Seniors Championship trophy.

This article originally appeared in UNITED – the Magpies’ official matchday programme – ahead of the Carabao Cup game against Burnley last week. To order a copy of the programme, as well as upcoming issues and programmes from the 2020/21 season, please visit Curtis Sport’s website here.

 

Enjoy!

Tony Drago withdraws from the WSS World Championship and is replaced by Wayne Cooper

Unfortunately, Tony Drago, following his doctor advice, had to withdraw from the WSS ROKiT Phones.com World Championship. He is replaced by Sheffield’s very own Wayne Cooper.

Here is the announcement that was published on social media by Jason Francis:

YORKSHIRES WAYNE COOPER GET CRUCIBLE CHANCE…
Following a consultation in Malta with his doctor, and with the current COVID situation, the Tornado Tony Drago has made the heartbreaking decision to withdraw from the ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship.
Former Professional Wayne Cooper who is next highest placed on the World Seniors Ranking list will replace him. Cooper was due to attend the testing next Tuesday in case any positive tests were returned, he will now take Tony’s place in the event and plays Gary Filtness next Thursday at 1pm in the Last 16 of the Event
Wayne Cooper
Wayne said “I feel terribly sorry for Tony but one phone call last night has changed my life, its up to me now to make the most of it”
Tony said “Nobody is more disappointed than me. I love playing seniors events but my health have to come first. I’m healthy again thank god but because of Covid 19 I decide to pull out thank you all for your understanding”
The ROKiT World Seniors Snooker Championship begins on Wednesday 19th and will be shown across the BBC Digital Platforms.

 

The reigning WSS World Champion, Jimmy White reaches round 3 at the Main Tour 2020 World Championship Qualifiers

The WSS reigning World Champion, Jimmy White, is playing in his 40th professional snooker World Championship. He needs to win four matches to reach the Crucible stage. The last time he reached that stage was in 2006.

Here are the reports by Eurosport on those two matches:

Round 1: Jimmy White 6-3 Ivan Kakovskii

World Snooker Championship: Jimmy White makes winning start to qualifying

Jimmy White - R1 of the 2020 WC quals

Jimmy White made a highest break of only 58, but was still good enough to complete a 6-3 win over Russian amateur Ivan Kakovskii in his opening qualifier in Sheffield.

The six-times world finalist – runner-up in 1984, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 – last played at the Crucible Theatre in 2006, but has not given up hope of returning to the sport’s biggest stage by coming through four qualifying rounds.

“My focus was in and out. I was expecting great things, but it didn’t happen. I’ve been practising hard and producing good stuff, but when you come to a tournament you want to win so bad and make so many unforced errors, it’s mind-blowing sometimes.

“But that’s why the game is so exciting. I’ve got a bit of conjunctivitis and I think that’s because I’m revved up and ready to go.”

White’s 21-year-old opponent was not even born when he lost 18-17 to Stephen Hendry in his last world final appearance 26 years ago, but he still had too much for his young rival at the English Institute of Sport.

Kakovskii made a break of 60 to level at 1-1 and a 76 to close to 4-3 behind, but the 1992 UK champion finished strongly with runs of 54 and 58 seeing him progress to a match with former Shoot-Out champion Michael Georgiou on Thursday afternoon.

“From 4-2 up, I stole a couple of frames, but when it went 4-3 I felt okay then and it is nice to know I have it in the armoury when I’m under pressure to feel okay,” added White.

“I’ve got to stay focused against Michael and can’t get too ahead of myself. Everybody wants to get to the World Championship and show your class over the longer distance.”

This is Jimmy speaking to WST after his first round win:

Round 2: Jimmy White 6-4 Michael Georgiou

World Snooker Championship: Jimmy White keeps dream alive with tense win over Michael Georgiou.

Jimmy White - R2 of the 2020 WC Quals

Jimmy White fought back from trailing 3-1 to complete a 6-4 qualifying victory over world number 62 Michael Georgiou, who is set to lose his tour card after a tense defeat.

The six-times world finalist – runner-up in 1984, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994 – used all his matchplay skills to progress to the third qualifying round despite struggling for any fluency in a nervy and often scrappy encounter at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

At the age of 58, White, the oldest player on the professional tour who competes via an invitational tour card, dominated the final frame of the match to secure a meeting with Robert Milkins in the penultimate round of qualifying, but will know he will have to score heavier with a 54 in the fifth frame his best contribution of the day.

“I was in out and out of focus. At 3-1 behind, I was dead and buried the way I played,” said White.

“In the fifth frame, Michael let me off a couple of times. I thought, ‘I’m going to have to make him win this’ and when it went to 3-3 I really fancied the job.

“During lockdown, it’s been really strange times, but about 10 weeks ago I was lucky enough to get into my club and I just practised solid.

“The last two weeks, I’ve played some good players and was competing against them so my game is there.

“Hopefully, I can gain a bit of confidence and get out the traps quickly against Rob Milkins because the standard is getting better and you have to win a lot more frames at one visit.

“I’m very confident in my game. I know it’s there, it is just finding it. When you are younger, it is easy to switch into the zone. I’ve got through today so I’ll kick on from there.”

‘The Whirlwind’ is only two wins away from his first visit to the Crucible Theatre for the first round of the sport’s biggest tournament since 2006 in what is astonishingly his 40th appearance at the World Championship.

It is a bitter pill to swallow for former Shoot Out winner Georgiou, who enjoyed breaks of 70, 53 and 121 yet still fell to defeat as he faces up returning to qualifying school to win back his tour card a year after himself reaching the Crucible.

Here is Jimmy’s interview after beating Michael Georgiou:

Tomorrow, next up for Jimmy is Robert Milkins.

 

Farewell Willie…

The snooker family lost one oh their great characters today: Willie Thorne has left us, he lost his battle against leukaemia in the early hours of this morning.

Willie was a great player, an excellent commentator and a lovely man. No matter his personal issues and concerns, he was always friendly.

He was a prolific breakbuilder, whose style was well ahead of his time.

Willie and his brother Malcolm were well respected and loved by all involved in the amateur game. They helped and supported countless budding players, amongst them, the young Mark Selby.

Here is the BBC tribute to the man nicknamed “Mr Maximum”

Willie Thorne: From Mr Maximum to Snooker Loopy – remembering one of the game’s great characters

By Frank Keogh

BBC Sport

Willie Thorne (left) with Chas and Dave (centre) and his Matchroom Mob colleagues Tony Meo, Terry Griffiths, Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis

Mr Maximum. Snooker Loopy. The Great Willie Thorne.

He was all of these. One of snooker’s most popular players, a respected television commentator and a much-loved figure, although he had a gambling addiction which left him heavily in debt.

Thorne, who has died aged 66, was perhaps recognised for his premature bald head and manicured moustache as much as his break-building prowess.

His soothing tones endeared him to a generation of TV viewers, and he was a popular contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.

In a career that spanned snooker’s boom in the 1980s, he was part of the Matchroom Mob that featured in the surprise 1986 chart hit Snooker Loopy.

Thorne went from top of the pots to Top of the Pops as he played up to Chas and Dave’s line of “Old Willie Thorne, his hair’s all gorn” with the reply: “Perhaps I ought to chalk it!”

Born in Leicester, where he later formed a close friendship with football star and snooker fan Gary Lineker, he was a talented player who reached number seven in the world, although a major title eluded him.

Thorne was haunted by his error in the 1985 UK Championship final against Steve Davis, when 13-8 ahead and on the verge of extending his lead to within two of victory, he missed the simplest of blues off its spot.

He later admitted: “I went back to my seat and the doubts kicked in straight away. I was still 13-9 in front, but all I could think about was the way I’d failed in big games in the past.”

Archive interview: I’d much rather play the attractive game – Willie Thorne

His rise through the snooker ranks was rapid. Having only started playing the game aged 14, within two years he was crowned national under-16 champion.

Swiftly turning professional, he came to be regarded as one of the sport’s finest break builders, earning the nickname Mr Maximum as he became only the third player to secure 100 competitive centuries.

Thorne reached his first of two World Championship quarter-finals in 1982, where he pushed the eventual champion Alex Higgins.

Three years later, just three months before his painful loss to Davis, he won his first and only world ranking title, beating Canadian Cliff Thorburn to lift the Mercantile Credit Classic.

But Thorne was already struggling with a gambling addiction, and journey to the UK semi-finals in 1987 – where he was beaten 9-2 by Davis – represented the last big tournament run.

Thorne revealed the extent of his gambling issues in an interview with the Guardian in 2004,external-link recalling an incident in which he placed a bet of £38,000 on John Parrott losing a game, because he had lost his cue.

He was commentating on the game for the BBC, and said: “I put £38,000 on Parrott to lose because he didn’t have his cue, but he ended up winning the bloody game.

“I’m having to close the commentary by saying it’s unbelievable, spewing up as I say it.”

Thorne twice reached the quarter-finals of the World Championship

Thorne, who worked as a BBC commentator for 30 years, later revealed he lost £1m to gambling in his career. He was declared bankrupt in 2016.

He remained a familiar figure within the sport and competed in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 with partner Erin Boag, being voted out in 12th place.

He was married to ex-Miss Great Britain winner Jill Saxby, but they split up after 24 years as his gambling troubles escalated.

Thorne announced he was beginning treatment for leukaemia in March 2020.

He died on Wednesday at the age of 66, having being placed into an induced coma in hospital in Spain after suffering respiratory failure.

The tributes tell their own story – former world heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno and darts legend Phil Taylor demonstrating how his popularity transcended snooker.

“Willie was one of my favourite people in snooker,” said seven-time world snooker champion Stephen Hendry.”I know he had faults and weaknesses (we all do) but he was one of the game’s greatest ever characters.”

Dennis Taylor, who famously beat Davis to win the world title in 1985, said: “Devastating news about Willie Thorne. We laughed our way around the world for 45 years.

“RIP Great One. That was my name for him. The Great WT.”

There were far too many tributes on social media to cite them all, but here are a few notable ones:

Cliff Thorburn on Twitter:

Very sad to hear of my great friend Willie Thorne’s passing. O the memories, the happiness and the laughter ❤️Condolences and deepest sympathies to his family Cliff and Barbara Thorburn xxx

Ronnie O’Sullivan on Twitter and Facebook:

Just want to say what a beautiful man, big heart great company. Had a week in ireland with him I’ll never forget. Will be missed by a lot of people in the Snooker world. RIP WT

World Seniors Snooker on their official FB page

Everyone at World Seniors Snooker is devastated to learn of the passing of the great WT. After 27 years of not playing Willie Thorne picked up his cue again on the seniors tour and got to walk out at the Crucible Theatre last August which we know meant a lot to him. RIP Mr Maximum.

Farewell Willie … we are missing you already.

Michael Judge is your 2019 WSS ROKiT Phones.com UK Champion … in pictures!

Michael Judge defeated both Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White to become the WSS 2019 UK Champion.

Congratulations Michael!

Here is the report by WPBSA

Judge Victorious at ROKiT UK Seniors Snooker Championship

  • 26th October 2019

Ireland’s Michael Judge has defeated Jimmy White 4-2 to claim the ROKiT Phones.com UK Seniors Snooker Championship title at the Bonus Arena in Hull on Friday evening.

The 44-year-old, who previously reached the semi-finals of the Grand Prix back in 2004, was competing in his first televised final having come through matches against Willie Thorne, James Wattana and notably king of the Crucible Stephen Hendry in a dramatic match earlier in the day.

Awaiting him in the title match was Jimmy White, winner of three of the last four major events staged on the ROKiT World Seniors Tour including the World Seniors Championship at the Crucible Theatre back in August. The Whirlwind had already defeated Rory McLeod and Patrick Wallace earlier in the day, producing one of the shots of the tournament with a do or die pot on the pink during a final frame against McLeod, which paved the way for a match-clinching run of 104.

White continued his scoring streak at the start of the final, notching up a break of 101 to open his account before Judge responded in kind with a knock of 114, equalling his own tournament-high break set earlier in the day.

In contrast the third frame was to prove a nervy affair, White eventually taking it on the pink to head into the mid-session interval with a narrow lead. Judge again drew level as he comfortably took the next frame, before what proved to be the most crucial frame in the tournament. It was White who raced into what looked to be a decisive lead with a break of 69, only to see former world number 24 Judge respond with a break of 48 and eventually clear from the brown to lead in the match for the first time.

White continued to fight but the momentum was now with Judge, a break of 54 ultimately proving decisive as he added the sixth frame to seal the biggest triumph of his career to date.

“It is fantastic, I can’t believe it,” said Dubliner Judge. “It’s why we play in these qualifying events to get to play at these venues and to become UK champion after a good friend of mine Ken [Doherty] won it here last year to make it two Irish victories in a row is great.”

“I was delighted when I hit the century break in the second frame [of the final] to let him know that I was in the match. I felt pretty good and was a bit disappointed not to win the third frame, but I went and out and did what I wanted to do and won the next to get back into the match. And then then the fifth frame to win it from 69 points was unbelievable. I am so proud of myself that I held myself together in the end.

“When I was growing up Jimmy was my hero so to beat him in the final of the UK Seniors Championship with him playing well too, it couldn’t have been better for me. I have seen so many players at the end of tournaments lifting a trophy on my TV at home and have obviously never done it myself before, so it is just a dream come true. Showing that trophy around to the crowd. Whatever happens after this I have done it so I can finish up proud.

“I would like to give a big shout out to Jason Francis for putting this tour together, without him and all of the team we wouldn’t be here. I would also like to thank everyone at home, my family and friends including my mum, my sister Paula, my wife, my kids and everyone else. Also my good friend and sponsor Anthony Bonner who has helped me out over the last few years – sorry to everyone I have forgotten but I am a bit tired!”

As in 2018, the event was well-supported by the city of Hull with large crowds in attendance on both days, as well as live TV coverage provided by FreeSports TV.

There was a bonus prize of £1,000 offered by the Tradewell Snooker Club, won by Stephen Hendry, while Judge also claimed a special prize on offer of a Chamberlain 1875 watch by virtue of his tournament-high break.

Photos by Matt Huart and Monique Limbos.

Here is – in pictures – how the day unfolded:

QF

Michael Judge 3-1 James Wattana

Jimmy White 3-2 Rory McLeod

SF

Stephen Hendry 2-3 Michael Judge

Jimmy White 3-0 Patrick Wallace

The Final and trophy ceremony

Jimmy White 2-4 Michael Judge

Thank you indeed Jason Francis, thank you to the fantastic Hull crowd … and thank you as well to Leo Sculiion and his team who did a great job from start to finish!

WSSUKChamps2019-9523

 

World Seniors Championship Added To ManBetX Champion Of Champions Qualification Criteria

This is the announcement

The World Seniors Championship has been added to the qualification list for snooker’s ManBetX Champion of Champions, which will take place at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry from November 4-10.

Jimmy White won the Seniors title at The Crucible on Sunday, beating Darren Morgan in the final. The World Seniors Championship will be added to the bottom of the ManBetX Champion of Champions Qualification List, meaning White is not yet assured a place at the Ricoh Arena.

The Qualifying List comprises 28 spots, which are split into seven sections. Tournaments within each of the seven sections are listed chronologically. The first 16 different players on the list will form the line-up for the 2019 ManBetX Champion of Champions. The World Women’s Snooker Championship is listed 27th on the list, with the World Seniors to be listed 28th.

With twelve players having already been assured of their place at the ManBetX Champion of Champions, if the five remaining events yield three repeat winners then White will receive his invite to play at the Ricoh Arena in November, live on ITV4.

Tickets for the 2019 ManBetX Champion of Champions are on sale now. Prices start from just £11 per session with Premium and VIP packages also available. The draw and schedule for the event will be announced during the week prior to the tournament.

Featuring tournament winners from the previous 12 months, the ManBetX Champion of Champions is broadcast live on ITV4 and has become one of snooker’s biggest tournaments since launching at Ricoh Arena in 2013. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Shaun Murphy have all lifted the trophy.

The tournament starts with a quartet of four-man groups played over four days from Monday, November 4 until Thursday, November 7. The winner of each group progresses to the semi-finals, with one played on Friday, November 8 and the other on Saturday, November 9. The final on Sunday, November 10 will be over 19 frames.

That’s a great recognition for the WSS Tour. Of course, the 2019 Seniors World Champion is not certain to be in Coventry just yet, but he’s in with a chance.

WSS ROKiT Phones.com 2019 World Championship – Jimmy White is your Champion!

After six heatbreaking defeats in finals at the Crucible, Jimmy White’s dream finally came true! Yesterday evening he became World Seniors Snooker Champion in the iconic venue! He beat Darren Morgan by 5-3 in an excellent final.

Here is the report by WPBSA:

White Wins at the Crucible

19th August 2019

Jimmy ‘Whirlwind’ White has defeated Darren Morgan 5-3 to win his second ROKiT Phones.com World Seniors Snooker Championship title at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

View all tournament results

Held at the undisputed home of snooker for the first time, the four-day event saw both White and Morgan come through a field of 20 players comprised of former greats champions and amateur qualifiers from across the globe to contest the title match.

The final would prove to be a tightly contested affair during which the players were never separated by more than a single frame until the final ball was potted.

Former world number eight Morgan drew first blood with a clearance to the pink from the last red to take the opening frame, before White countered a break of 55 with a dish of his own to level the scores.

The following two frames were also shared as the pair headed to the interval locked at 2-2, before 10-time ranking event winner White hit the front for the first time with a break of 53.

It was Morgan’s turn to respond positively as he claimed the sixth frame for 3-3, before White hit a match-high break of 86 to move one away from finally breaking his Crucible duck, having famously lost in the final on six occasions at the professional World Championship.

As the tension grew, it appeared as though the final was destined to head for a deciding-frame as Morgan established a useful advantage with the remaining reds awkwardly placed.

White, however, had other ideas as he fought back to within five points with two reds remaining, before eventually earning what would prove to be a match-clinching chance to seal an emotional victory at the Crucible Theatre.

The success comes an incredible 38 years after White made his Crucible debut back in 1981 and earns him the top prize of £25,000. The success caps a fantastic season which has already seen the 57-year-old claim victories at the Irish Seniors Masters and the 6-Red World Seniors Championship tournaments.

“It sounds strange to be world champion at the Crucible,” said White. “I have been playing really well, I lost the form on Thursday coming here and today I managed to get my game together and I felt very strong. I am delighted to win because [Darren] Morgan plays all of the time, he is a top amateur, so he is very sharp. I knew I had a tough match, it looked like it was going to go 4-4 so it could have been anybody’s and sometimes you have got to take these opportunities.

“On Thursday I was playing fantastic stuff and I went to Barnsley [for the China Championship qualifiers] and lost 5-4 after I should have won and everything just went out of the window.

“Tony Knowles [former world number two] said to me that I wasn’t standing right and that my back leg needed to lock like years ago. I actually looked at a couple of videos last night and he was right, my back leg used to be straight. It gave me a lot of confidence today and I potted some real good long balls. A great example was the red to get in to win the match, you are even money to get them anyway but it was a great cueing shot.”

And the full story in pictures!

WSS ROKiT 2019 World Championship Build-up – Jimmy White v Rhydian Richards

The last match at the ROKit 2019 World Championship on August 16, 2019 will oppose Jimmy White to Rhydian Richards.

Jimmy White of course doesn’t need any introduction. He’s won everything – or about – as a professional except the World Championship and he has been a prolific winner on the WSS tour as well. He is extremely popular with the fans and his love for the game is immense.

I’m not going to repeat all I wrote in his profile on this blog, you will find it here.

You will also find his profile by Elliott West here.

Rhydian Richard, on the other hand, has never been a professional. He qualified for the WSS ROKiT 2019 World Championship by winning the first qualifying event.  He had already qualified for the Seniors World Championship in the previous season, and had beaten Joe Johnson in the first round. Rhydian has also beaten Darren Morgan in the 2018 Welsh Open – a main Tour event – and in the Final of the 2017 Welsh Amateur Championship. In 2016 he reached the semi-finals of the European Men Championship. All this is telling you one thing for certain: he’s a very capable player!

This is the last frame of the match between Darren Morgan and Rhydian at the Welsh Open 2018

For what I have been able to find, Rhydian and Jimmy have never played each other.

Mini Preview. I have to make Jimmy favourite, not just because of his record, but also because Rhydian has never before played at the Crucible. It’s a very special experiance and it can be intimidating. However, I expect a hard fought match.
Prediction: Jimmy White to win.