March Musings

While just a couple of seasons ago it was not uncommon to see months elapse without snooker’s professional players having to lift their cues, this week’s ‘break’ is the first of 2012 as players, bloggers and fans alike have time to take stock and catch breath as the World Championship moves ever closer. Click below for a few thoughts and a look ahead to the big one…

First things first, a heads up for the action currently underway in Bulgaria as while there is not a professional tournament this week, it is a big week for the amateurs as the European Under-21 Championship won in 2011 by Poland’s Kacper Filipiak is played to a conclusion.

With the event concluding on the 10th March, all results, information and latest group tables can be found at Dariusz Goral’s always reliable site here. It may be early days, but already the likes of On Q prodigy Shane Castle, Eden Sharav, Ross Muir and Jamie Clarke have made strong starts to their respective groups.

Also running alongside the event will be the European Team Championships, more information on which can be found here.

Whilst on the subject of the amateur scene, the entry deadline for the 2012 Q School is fast-approaching as players will bid not only for the 12 available main tour slots, but for the best of those not to make it, effectively reserve places for events next season with fewer than 96 professional entrants, via the new Q School ranking list. For all of the details on how to enter, please click here to visit World Snooker.

Turning to the professional scene I would first like to wish all the very best to Leeds’ David Grace who today said via Twitter he is currently in hospital being treated for pneumonia. Hopefully he will be fighting fit by the start of April as he bids to make it to the Crucible for the first time in his career.

Speaking of the Crucible, while there are important events between now and then, for me at least attention is already beginning to shift for what is for me not only the highlight of the snooker calendar, but the best few weeks of the year full stop.

It all begins though with the World Championship qualifiers at the EIS which unusually take place just before the final stages between 4-15 April 2012, which I would urge any readers of the blog to attend if at all possible, particularly for the final round which will see the 16 qualifiers decided. I have attended the qualifiers for the past three years and tension is on another level to all but the biggest of televised tournaments. Please click here to view the draw, while you can book tickets from just £5.00 by clicking here.

Then just six days later we see the start of the 17 day marathon of the mind at the Crucible Theatre as the race to succeed John Higgins as champion begins on 21st April 2012. As you would expect there will be a series of comprehensive articles to preview the event here at PSB (please suggest anything you would like me to cover here regarding the tournament), while you can read my archive articles and look at my photo galleries from previous years by clicking here. Excited yet?

Turning to other loose ends, it wouldn’t be a PSB article without reference to the rankings and while as ever the latest projected seedings list is bang up to date, following Mark Allen’s World Open triumph I have also fully updated the one-year list which makes for interesting reading. Points to note include the slide of Mark Williams following his disappointing run of results in recent months, while the likes of Ding Junhui, Ali Carter and Peter Ebdon are for varying reasons lower than you would expect them to be given their pedigree.

You can access all of my rankings pages for 2011/12 by clicking here.

Meanwhile since my post taking a look at the 2012/13 calendar there have been a number of comments made on the article as the dust has settled and some very valid questions raised, though as this very early stage beyond the initial calendar there are few official answers to offer. More will no doubt become clear in good time, indeed as was the case last year I would expect a few big announcements to come out during the World Championship for maximum effect whilst the world’s media are present.

Indeed we shall see. Next up for the professionals after this week off will be the PTC finals which kick off on 14th March 2012 in Galway, with the final stages of the Championship League and China Open soon to follow as the month draws to a close.

From there however, it’s all about Sheffield…