2009 in Review: Part Two

Part two of my review of 2009 covers April-June as the 2008/9 season came to a thrilling climax at the Crucibe Theatre in Sheffield…


My favourite month of the snooker calendar bar none, April began with the continuation of the China Open which was eventually won by 2002 world champion Peter Ebdon. Having shown little form for the previous 12 months few would have predicted that he would come out on top but by overcoming John Higgins in the final to win his first major title since the 2004 Irish Masters, he gained 5,000 crucial ranking points that would secure his top 16 status for another season.

With the attention turning to the World Championship it was announced that snooker’s showpiece event would be sponsored by the first time by Betfred.com who would replace previous sponsor 888.com. This was soon followed by the news that the event will remain at the Crucible Theatre until at least 2014, brilliant news for snooker fans everywhere.

It was quite a month for news in fact as it was also revealed that the 2009 World Championship would be officiated by Michaela Tabb, marking the first time that a woman would referee snooker’s biggest match.

The tournament itself was a strange one, the first round seeing just two members of the top 16 defeated as a lack of close matches left some disappointed. What this also meant however is that snooker’s finest players were through to the last 16 stage and this set up some fabulous second week matches. Notably Northern Ireland’s Mark Allen managed to send defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan crashing out while John Higgins came back from behind to win a thriller against Jamie Cope, Stephen Hendry won his 1000th frame at the Crucible against Ding Junhui with a 140 break and Mark Selby won a tense battle with Graeme Dott.

The standard continued to improve in the quarter-finals and was highlighted by a brilliant 147 break by Stephen Hendry, his second at the Crucible and his ninth in all. It was not enough to see him through against an on-form Shaun Murphy however as the 2005 champion marched ominously on. The match of the tournament however was possibly the quarter-final between Mark Selby and John Higgins which Mark began in absolutely sensational form, but still could not win as Higgins used all his experience to come through again.

Away from the World Championship, Anda Zhang captured the 2009 Asian U21 Championship to secure a place on the main tour for 2009/10 while Jack Lisowski was awarded the Paul Hunter Scholarship for the new season. In addition the police were called in to investigate the ongoing row concerning the UK Championship match between Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett while former top 16 player Dean Reynolds suffered a stroke, though I now understand that he is recovering well.


The start of May saw the climax of the World Championship and a third title for Scotland’s John Higgins as he brushed aside 2005 champion Shaun Murphy with a near-perfect tactical display in the final. Though Murphy was to gain a measure of revenge as he defeated Higgins in the subsequent World Series events in Portugal and Killarney, it was Higgins who took home the big one.

Otherwise the month was highlighted by the amateur tournaments which would see the confirmation of the 96 players who would make up the professional circuit in 2009/10. Former star James Wattana secured his place with victory in the Asian Championship, Scotland’s Mark Boyle took the Scottish national title to earn a recall while Brendan O’Donoghue secured the Irish nomination. Jordan Brown joined them with by topping the Northern Irish national rankings and Sam Baird took victory in the EASB play-off to win his place.

The month was however to end in tragedy as popular snooker coach Steve Prest died suddenly at the age of 43.


A traditionally quiet month on the snooker front, this June was surprisingly busy as the final main tour places were decided. A popular returnee was Tony Drago who defeated Roy Stolk to win the European Play-Off before David Hogan won the main event to join him among the 96.

In addition the World Snooker wildcards were confirmed as being Andrew Norman, David Gray, Ian Preece and Joe Jogia, much to the disappointment of some snooker fans who would have rather seen some younger players given an opportunity to shine. One of these was Jack Lisowski who showed that he was not disheartened by the snub as he took victory in the first event of the PIOS season to give himself an excellent chance of promotion heading into 2010/11.

Not that the professionals were doing nothing as Mark Allen took his first senior title by defeating Ding Junhui 6-0 to win the Jiangsu Classic, while Mark Selby made his first competitive maximum against Joe Perry during the same event.

There were a couple of announcements from World Snooker too as first Star were unveiled as the new supplier of the official tournament tables, while the creation of the Pro Challenge Series was also announced.