Embassy 2002 Preview




Embassy World Snooker Championships 2002 Preview

Here we are virtually on the eve of the 2002 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield England.

Of the old guard of professional players, both John Parrott and Jimmy White will be in the televised competition, but sadly for the second year in succession Steve Davis will not be there as a competitor.

I was glad to see that his mental attitude was still positive and that at least for the time being, he has no immediate plans to retire. In my opinion he is still good for the game as a kind of front man for the sport and a player who still possesses the skills to cause the odd upset from time to time.

We are coming to the end of an era in the next couple of years, as tobacco sponsorship will be banned soon.

It seems strange to me to envisage the championship as anything other than the Embassy. Even though I associate the name more as an epithet that relates to the premier and showcase status of the event rather than a cigarette brand. I am a non-smoker, so this seems logical to me, and even though I enjoy the seventeen days at the Crucible, I have not yet found myself craving an Embassy Number One to get me through the snooker feast.

I wonder whether the event will retain it’s special character over the coming years and whether the WSA will be able to replace the long standing sponsor with a suitable and professional replacement. As a snooker fan I can only hope so, and further hope that the tournament continues in the same style in the coming seasons.

I have been a regular visitor to the Crucible for the past eight or nine years and have always enjoyed my visits to the famous venue. One year I was making my way back to the theatre, after going out between sessions for a meal, having previously bought the Video subtitled “a great Day for the Irish”. Who should my companion spot coming in the other direction but Ken Doherty and a small group of friends? I wished him well for his forthcoming match and asked him to sign the inner sleeve of my video, he was very pleasant and obliging, yet another good ambassador for our sport and a two times finalist at the Crucible.

In recent years I have always visited the heritage room and re-acquainted myself with Roger Lee. The Heritage Room is a great feature of the tournament for me, and really helps the historical past of billiards and snooker come to life. I plan to visit the room again this year in the hope of learning something new or making a new friend with a similar historical interest to myself.

At this time of year, in my local club, the discussions at the bar often revolve around which outsider is a good bet for the tournament. I feel that Peter Ebdon, Paul Hunter and Mathew Stevens have a good chance of going the distance in the tournament, but believe that the winner will come from the four recent champions of Mark J Williams, Stephen Hendry, John Higgins or Ronnie O`Sullivan.

I suspect that much will be made over the coming weeks about the fact that no first time winner has retained the title at the Crucible. The effects of this scenario will either help Ronnie O`Sullivan, the defending champion, to focus on the job at hand, or the weight of history will distract him and reduce his competitive edge. I am looking forward to seeing how he handles this latest challenge as the tournament progresses.

Another player who on his day can make headlines for either all the wrong reasons or all the right reasons is Quinten Hann from Australia, he is now a seasoned professional, so a shock or two might be in the offing. For the international sake of the sport at least, I hope that he manages a good run, this year.

I intend to write more as the tournament gets under way so watch the site closely for future stories, if you want to tell us about your Crucible experiences, you know the address. I look forward to hearing from you.

David Smith