UK Championship 2003



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UK Championship 2003
What a Grand Day Out

Visiting the UK Championships in York this week has been a very great pleasure, not only did my friend Dominic Dale win his first match but I also saw a number of good players in action.

Such names as John Parrott, Nigel Bond, Tony Drago, Mark King, Gerard Greene and Alain Robidoux were involved in two session matches giving the audience the opportunity to really settle into the action.

The event has been tremendous value for money and has already produced some sparkling entertainment, close finishes and a shock or two, I must say that the departure of Marco Fu and Ken Doherty within hours of each other was amazing,

Marco’s game was something of an added shock as he had been playing really well of late. From an international point of view, Marco is extremely good for the game so I hope that his lapse is not a symptom of something serious and that he will return to form in the near future.

I was also pleased to see Fergal O’Brien winning again and respected his tenacity and resolve. Fergal would not look out of place if he were seen on an old photograph from the late nineteenth century, perhaps Fergal needs a nickname that reflects this such as “the fountain of youth” O’Brien, perhaps too long for a nickname but you get the gist.

The miss rule still occasionally causes minor irritation amongst the top players as it is occasionally applied differently by some of the referees, I saw one shot, a shot out of a snooker of course, when a player quite clearly gained an advantage from missing a yellow ball and due to leaving his opponent a good distance away from it, the referee had called the previous attempt a miss but probably due to how closely the cue ball had passed the object ball and due also to the fact that it had passed the yellow, no second miss was called. The player queried the decision but was told “I’ve made my decision”. As a neutral observer in this particular match, I felt that the referee was wrong but that under no circumstances would he be prepared to change his mind. What surprised me was the fact that the shot that the player had played was a variation of the two cushion clip shot that Cliff Thorburn popularised some years ago and was just the type of shot that the miss rule was strengthened and clarified to counteract, who’d be a referee?

Overall the standard of refereeing, sportsmanship and professionalism of the top players referees and event organisers is something to be very proud of, in fact I recommend that should you get the opportunity, you should go and see some live Snooker.

I have been lucky enough to attend quite a few events over the years but enjoy the longer session matches the best. I think that many of the more seasoned players would benefit from a larger audience in attendance at their matches as it would no doubt enhance the atmosphere and thus the apparent significance of the match, this might then assist some of them to recapture some of the form that they had when they were appearing in front of packed houses.

Perhaps a case in point was the John Parrott match, he had lost two frames on the trot to trail eight-seven, the gallery was full and most of the vocal support was for him, he eventually ran out the winner, taking the last two frames. I’ll leave you to make up your own minds about the significance of support from a crowd of hopeful and positive thinkers in an audience but urge you to remember some of Alex Higgins’s performances in the twilight of his career at venues such as Wembley.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Nigel Bond on his play thus far, especially as he, like me, uses a Sheridan cue to play with. In my case I alternate with a Tom Newman Facsimile cue but Nigel has used his for approximately fifteen years and to a somewhat higher standard than I, it has to be said.

Who’s your money on for the championship? Well who knows perhaps a player from a few short years ago might have a renaissance? A Bond or a Dale might go all the way? The winner in the end will be Snooker and the army of fans who quietly queue for tickets even before the television cameras arrive, this band of loyal followers who enjoy nothing better than star spotting in the foyer and watching the game that they love played to a standard that they can only dream of. Long may it continue. 

David Smith