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Time for a knockabout…

After days of confusion, and more than three months of patient waiting from 23rd March…

Snooker clubs in England have now got the official green light to re-open – provided they are Covid-19 compliant and secure.

If you’re in another part of the UK, the rules maybe slightly different and you may have to wait slightly longer.

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During lockdown, coaches like Nic Barrow have still been on hand to help players with any issues or questions they have with their game by doing live webinars and Facebook Q&As.

The news comes as it was confirmed in Parliament that snooker clubs were always able to open on the 4th July, but the confusion lay around whether they were classed as indoor sports facilities, or social/entertainment  clubs.

In a statement on the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association website, (WPBSA) it was confirmed.

In clarity, Nigel Huddleston MP (Mid Worcestershire), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage at the Department for the DMCS said: “Sports and physical activity facilities play a crucial role in supporting adults and children to be active. Snooker clubs have been allowed to open since 4 July, as long as they can follow the COVID-secure guidelines.”

It comes as PM Boris Johnson announced the further easing of restrictions on the 23rd June which saw the Independence weekend with a big reopening of pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, campsites, and other venues.

However, other sectors such as the arts have not been allowed to reopen – yet.

Confusion now cleared up…

Some snooker clubs had already decided to re-open (without snooker tables in operation), following advice from their local health and safety executives, whereas others were patiently waiting for clarity from the government before re-opening the entirety of their business.

Section 1.3 0f the guidance for which businesses could re-open on the 4th failed to initially include snooker halls, but are now included under entertainment areas in the guidance. 

Clubs will be expected to undergo rigorous cleaning measures and engage in social distancing measures where appropriate.

For three months or more, fans and players have been finding inventive ways of keeping their cue arms going and some have been lucky enough to be able to isolate in their own snooker rooms. Coaches have been on hand helping players through online facilities such as Zoom calls and Facebook Live Q&As.

It must be said a BIG thank you to all the coaches who have been keeping players occupied and motivated during lockdown and providing much needed help in all aspects of the game.

Enjoy your first knockabout on the table ALL.

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Did Snooker Save Her?…

Elizabeth Caitlin Jones…

Had had a tough life from the start.

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Her mother had died at childbirth, and her father was left holding the baby. It was painful for John Jones, who didn’t have any other children other than Liz.

Things were OK for a while. He got on with it.

But naturally, the death of her mother had taken its toll on the desperate father, whose life descended in a downward spiral into the bottle.

Liz took it upon herself to become the carer.

But, after a while, caring became too much. There’s only so much you can do for someone who won’t help themselves, isn’t there?

She was raised in a small town, but it became obvious to Liz that the opportunities in the compact mining town would not be enough.

She decided to take off and head for the bright lights of a bigger city and try to find the life she had dreamed.

Her father had often told her stories about her mother. She was a spirited woman who never took “no” for an answer. She always fought her own battles. Had the conviction to stick to her principles. And would not take mess off anyone!

It seems Liz had inherited some of these traits.

She was a fighter.

She never gave up, even when she was beaten. And she was always up for a fight.

Heading down to the bright lights of a new town was tough. She had had some rough rides.

One time, she was staying in a hostel outside a big city, and she naturally had doubts.

“Is this the life I dreamed,” she asked? With no money, and surrounded by memories of her father, with people who could only slur the words “beer” and “now” she had to take off again.

City after city and town after town, she traveled trying to find solace. There were a few boyfriends along the way.

More “clients”. To make ends meet, she was forced to live a life of making money for favors. The oldest profession. And she didn’t like it.

It made her sick.

One day, lying in a room, God knows where, she thought,”I need to do something”. She sprang up and went out. She was in a new town. Wandering around her new habitat, she observed the surroundings. There was a tatty car garage on the right. Opposite was a ransacked building that looked like it had been a pub.

On her left, as she wandered yards up, there was a burger joint. “I’m hungry,” she said. She popped in to see what she could pick up for a fiver.

On her way up to the counter, a big bruiser of a woman was writing something down.

The place was a bit of a dive. In the corner were two men who looked like they were truckers.

A woman was sat in the corner doing nothing. It looked like she was in a trance. Liz was shaking a little. This place hadn’t seen life for a while. Tired. Rundown. Lifeless.

“Excuse me,” do you know if there’re any jobs around here, she asked in a timid voice.

The woman brusquely replied. “Only job round here girl is for a cleaner. There ain’t many jobs around here.”

Liz replied: “I’ll take it.”

The woman then said: “Don’t you wanna know the pay, girl? It ain’t that great chuck.”

“A job is a job,” retorted Liz. I ain’t fussy. I need the rent. “I’m Liz, by the way. ”

“Brenda.” Said the curvaceous waitress.

“So when do ya want me to start cleaning”? Liz piped.

Brenda looked her up and down for a second. And rolled her eyes. “You seem sad, girl.”

“You running from something?”

“I ain’t running from anything. Just need a job. And I’d kill for one of them burgers there too.

“It’s on the house,” duck. And you can start right after you’ve eaten. There’s cleaning gear over there and a bucket.

“Ta,” said Liz.

She sat down eating her burger. Brenda wobbled over and sat down. “So, where you from, duck?”

“Long story, ” replied Liz. She gobbled the burger. Some of the onions dropped onto the plate. The sauce was dark brown and looked like thick sugar.

“Anything to do round ‘ere,” asked Liz, as she wiped her mouth with a serviette.

Brenda had this thing of rolling her eyes. “There ain’t a lot to do round ‘ere, chuck. Unless you’re a trucker and ya want a game down the club.

“Game, what game?”

“The truckers and roadies generally stop off for a pint in the local snooker club. But it ain’t for you, dear.

Liz loved a challenge. She had been around a while now to know that she could hold her own against the meanest and toughest of blokes.

She had, after all, been fighting them off for the last year or so. The game had made her tough.

“Yeah , I know snooker,” Liz said. “But I never got to play it back home.” She told Brenda a brief life history as Brenda had half her attention on Liz, and the other on the trucker just about to pay the bill.

“It’s rough there gal. Ain’t for a pretty duck like you. There’s known to be fights. You watch yourself, chick.”

Before her old man became hooked on the booze, he used to play snooker down the club. He didn’t want Liz there, though. Naturally, a father wants to protect his daughter as far as possible, doesn’t he?.

Liz always had an inquisitive nature. But she had to do what her father told her to when she was young. Things were OK for a time until the demon drink took over.

It became too much.

A week passed.

And Liz had been cleaning in the burger restaurant. But her craving was to check out the snooker club, “Nets.”

One day at 4PM, after a shift at the burger joint. She decided to go down to Nets.

This was the first time she had stepped foot in a snooker club.

But it wasn’t to be the last.

 

 

 

 

 

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‘We’re Closed’ – For Now…

Snooker clubs are to remain shut – for now.

The news comes as the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) confirmed in a statement that snooker was classed as an indoor sport and not a social club game.

It means fans won’t be enjoying a knock from this weekend as clubs were hoping to celebrate their own Independence weekend from the 4th.

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The snooker table will remain empty for the moment.

Confusion over the status of snooker clubs…

Confusion  erupted last week as PM Boris Johnson announced on the 23rd June that pubs, bars, restaurants and social clubs as well as other sectors could reopen their doors since the 23rd March when the UK government announced a nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 taking a stranglehold on the UK..

Response by some clubs…

Some snooker clubs took the news on the chin as others had already been gearing up for a big reopening from the 4th July (Independence Day).

But there was huge disappointment all around.

It means social clubs can open their bars or food facilities but not the snooker tables.

One club wrote on Facebook regarding the news.

The Portland Snooker club said:

VERY IMPORTANT !!!!!!!!

Unfortunately we will NOT be able to open on Saturday or the near future as it has just been confirmed today that no indoor sports are allowed to be played. This is very disappointing and frustrating but out of our hands!

Until the government tell us otherwise it is out of our hands ☹️ anyone who has booked will get priority when we eventually get the green light!
Thanks for your patience and we will see you all soo🤞🏻

see the statement below

WPBSA / EPSB Statement: 30th June

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Switch the snooker on…

“Switch the snooker on…”

She ran her hands through her silky soft hair as she then lit up a fag. We both lay flat out naked on the bed. Knackered.

We had just had a marathon session together and as the smell of smoke wafted over; I reached for the controls and switched on the TV.

There it was. The green felt table in all its glory.

“I didn’t know you dug snooker,” I said, as she lay there drawing on her cigarette. God knows why people are addicted to nicotine. I can’t understand it. The smell. Ugh.

But Liz always lit one after our session. And, I must admit, I had gotten used to it.

We had only been seeing each other three months, on and off. Nothing too serious.  But this was the first time she had revealed to me she dug snooker.

So, I piped, “you played before then?”

In Liz’s house, (I had only been in there a handful of times since seeing her), I never once saw a snooker cue, or anything related to it.

“Yeah, actually, I did, she said. She sat up, and I propped up a pillow. “Were you any good”?

Liz, smiling at the question, thought for a moment. “I could have been,” she answered.

“But then, things happened, and it just melted, ya know…”

“What things?”. I asked. “Things,” she said. “I don’t really want to go there”.

It was 7PM in the evening, and it was getting late. Liz lived in a tiny flat and it wasn’t exactly The Ritz. But it did it for me.

“Are you staying for dinner tonight?” I was messing about on my phone, browsing through the news headlines.

Dinner was a big deal. Women make a big deal of dinner. After seeing them for a while, they expect you to stay for dinner, don’t they?!

“What you got this time? ” I cheekily asked. “Not fish and chips again?”

She reached forward and kissed my neck. My heart was pumping. Just the way she did it, was just, ooooooooh…

“I’ve only got Spag Bol tonight,” as she kept wet kissing my bare neck and chest.

The snooker was still going on in the background, as the sound of the balls echoed the room. The referee had just announced the player was on 55. 

I sat up as she came up for air.

“Spag Bol. Nice. So, who do you dig then? ”

“That John guy is hot,” she remarked.

“What, Maples?”I replied.

“Yeah, oooooooooooh. He’s. Hot.

Liz had a way with men. Her accent, yeah, she had a slight Welsh accent, and it drove me crazy.

We met three months ago. The usual thing, really. She was outside a bar, just about to go in, I was just coming out a wee bit drunk. And, we, err, sort of bumped into each other.

We shared a bacon roll in the local cafe straight away as I was trying to sober up. The rest is history as they say.

She worked in a local restaurant as a waitress. Nothing special, but on the second date she took me there. She got a discount off the boss.

But, when she mentioned snooker just now, I just froze. Christmas had come early. She. Loves. Snooker.

Result.

“We’ll have to go for a game, sometime,” I said.

Liz was getting dressed now. Slipping into a pink silk shirt and some skinny jeans. I dug her.

“Maybe,” she replied. “We’ll see.”

She wandered into the kitchen as I lay on the bed. The snooker was still going.

He had now made a century.

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He socked it big…

Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen met in the final at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.

Both came through the earlier rounds of the Coral Tour Championship, full of beans.

7 years since he won a ranking event in 2013 at the Welsh Open…

Previously, 39-year-old Maguire had racked up six of the best.

As Mark Allen had passed his flying colours beating the Mark Selby test.

The final started tentative and nervy as they went in even stevens at four all.

it was Maguire who set out the evening stall.

He came out all guns blazing in the evening with a high break of 139.

The next frame he won took a bit more time.

His six tons record in a best of 17 was equalled by Shaun Murphy.

But ol’ Stevie didn’t care because he was sitting in one of the two final chairs.

StephenMaguire

in frame 11 Maguire was going well but fouled a red off a blue on 38

As Allen stole the frame with a 64, to the anger of Maguire’s rage.

The Glaswegian went into the mid-session two frames up 7 – 5.

Leaving Allen a bit to chew over in the snooker bubble player’s hive.

The aggressive determination in Stevie’s eyes were menacing, said Stephen Hendry.

‘He wants it’ does Stevie rubbing his hands with glee.

Stevie got in after the interval and made a cool 79.

Allen wondering if it just wasn’t his time.

Stevie was a replacement for Chinaman Junhui Ding

And getting all the way to the final he would earn some serious bling.

He only needed one more at 9 – 5.

Allen got in in the next to make a ton but was on for a 140 to beat the high break but missed to the pleasure of Stevie.

They both had a chuckle but pocketing an extra 10K for the high break isn’t a jokey.

Just under 50 mins and it was a sweaty 16th frame, and it came down to the colours.

Tension in the air.

Who would dare?

Both were snookering for England, trying to outwit the other.

As the finish line came near for Maguire, he needed pink and black to take 260K.

He ended up too close to the black but coolly potted it to make it his biggest payday.

Modest Stephen said after to Rob Walker he had flipped his way to the title.

Don’t be so modest Stephen, now performing in Sheffield is even more vital.

He’s looking forward to the cauldron at the Crucible.

For him, a win there is now very doable.

He said he needed a new pair of socks now he’s bagged some dough.

As he lifted the trophy above his head, with an almighty glow.

Congratulations Stephen Maguire, Coral Tour Championship winner 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

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Snooker’s Big Re-opening: Fuzzy Messages…

On the 23rd June…

It was announced some parts of the leisure and tourism sectors could reopen from next month – months after the dramatic UK wide lockdown on 23rd March 2020.

WPBSA

PM Boris Johnson announced that pubs, social clubs, and other facilities could reopen from Saturday July 4th (US Independence Day) provided they were Covid-19 compliant and secure.

What now for snooker clubs?

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Amateurs may have to wait a bit longer before they can start potting balls. But it seems the decision now lies with individual clubs as to whether they reopen snooker or not…

However, snooker clubs were left dangling with owners not knowing exactly if they could reopen or not on the specified date and the WPBSA had to seek clarification on the status of snooker clubs and whether they came under the banner of social clubs, or indoor sports facilities.

Some snooker clubs posted messages on Facebook jubilant in the news they might be re-opening.

Some were already putting strict cleaning measures in place for the re-opening.

No clear clarification has yet come from ministers…

However, in a further statement from the WPBSA, it seems there are still fuzzy messages coming from the government regarding whether snooker can be played again in social clubs following the date of July 4th.

The statement reads: “Having carefully studied the wording of the announcements made by the UK government earlier this week, it is clear that social clubs, including licensed premises, are able to re-open from 4th July 2020.

“However, what is not clear is whether the snooker facilities in these clubs can be used or not from this date. We are therefore continuing to seek urgent clarity on this point as we understand that clubs are reliant upon activity on the snooker tables in order to be sustainable.

Seek clarification from your local Health and Safety Executive, urge WPBSA…

The WPBSA are urging individual clubs to seek clarity from their local health and safety authorities who will be able to assess the risk and they then say it is up to individual clubs to decide if they open based on the guidance they have.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “It is therefore extremely disappointing that we have not received clarity from the government to be able to advise clubs in England and the UK to be able to open safely at this stage.”

He added: “Every snooker club provides a vital community social hub and a place to engage in non-contact activity. We therefore would urge each individual club to seek local authority guidance prior to re-opening and in the meantime, we will continue to push for further information from the government to provide certainty during this time.”

So, the message is still unclear from top-down – for now. But it now lies in the hands of the clubs.

Seek clarification locally and then decide. It’s up to you.

 

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In the firing line…

He’s known as the Pistol…

Because when he gets going he can fire off frame after frame quickly and leave you with a mountain to climb in the match.

And that’s what Mark Allen did today To three times World Champion Mark Selby.

The 34-year-old Pistol hammered Selby 9 – 2 needing only two frames in the evening session to book his place into the last two.

Mark Allen was unbeatable in the first four frames of the semi-final.

The damage had been done in the afternoon session when Allen jumped out of the blocks winning four frames on the bounce with a barrage of breaks over 50.

After the mid session, Allen took the foot off the pedal just slightly but still raced into a 6 – 1 lead.

Selby won the first of the evening but too many unforced errors led to Allen closing out in just over an hour.

One of them will be red hot for the Crucible…

After, former World number three Neal Foulds said that whoever wins this event will be red hot for the Crucible next month.

He added on Allen: ‘He’s dangerous.’

And Alan McManus said Allen is a powerhouse scorer, a quick scorer.

Mark Allen said: I think the reason Mark didn’t get going was because he didn’t pot a ball in the first four frames.’

‘That’s something that’s difficult to do against anyone especially someone like Mark,’he added.

He was just cold.’

Both Allen and his opponent Stephen Maguire,who made six tons in a best of 17 as a joint record with Shaun Murphy will be playing for a chance to get into the Champion of Champions event later on in the year.

 

 

 

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Just awful?…

Back in March…

Stephen Maguire’s name wasn’t even on the qualifications list for the Coral Tour Championship.

StephenMaguire
Maguire battled hard and got his rewards…

But since the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, one of the qualifiers Ding Junhui decided to withdraw from the event on safety grounds.

The next name on the list was Stephen Maguire.

And what a week for the 39-year-old it’s turned out to be.

He started the week without any real expectation as he hadn’t played he said properly for three months, and then, knocked in six tons, a record in a best of 17.

He said that was a one-off fluke.

Within three days, that record was matched by Shaun Murphy.

And now, the Scot finds himself in the final after having battled hard against the current World Champion and World no 1 Judd Trump, who was vying for a seventh ranking title in Milton Keynes.

A grind…

Maguire told ITV after: “I’m over the over the moon.”

He added: “It wasn”t that pretty to watch or play but it’s a fight out there sometimes.”

It was a grind early on as they went into the evening session 4 – 4 and the evening session went much like the first with nip and tuck snooker.

Judd Trump
Feeling the heat: Judd Trump

Both men weren’t at their best but at the final mid-session interval, Maguire upped his game and won the last three frames from 6 – 6 to book his place in line to win 250K in the final.

Big paydays…

That would be Maguire’s biggest payday since winning a ranking major in 2004 where he pocketed 70K.

Maguire earlier won the World Six Reds and bagged 105K in the 2019 edition. He stands to win 150K in the TC, and, on top, 100K bonus for the Coral Cup.

Judd Trump, 30, was kicking himself after, and, clearly disappointed, he lashed out over the playing conditions.

He added: “It’s too hot to play snooker.”

“I struggled the whole tournament really. The conditions were poor, that’s why the standard was so bad.”

Stephen Hendry is known for pulling no punches in his assessments of matches. He loves players knocking in tons.

During the break, seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry pulled no punches about the standard in the match, considering previous matches had seen record tons.

He said: “It was just awful.”

The other semi-final between Mark Allen, who knocked out Shaun Murphy, who made six tons and still lost, will play Mark Selby.

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The Big Re-opening: Snooker’s Own Independence Day?…

Will snooker clubs get to celebrate their own independence day on July 4th and beyond?…

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that some parts of the hospitality and leisure sectors can start to re-open from next month as some snooker clubs are planning soon for the big re-opening – right now.

Over the last few days, there’s been much speculation as to what the Tory PM would announce about the next phase of the government’s re-opening plans.

Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers can all re-open, provided they are Covid secure and safe.

The 2 metres social distance rule is to be relaxed to 1 metre although the PM said that people should try to keep up to 2 metres if possible.

Snooker clubs were excited about the government nod to re-open in early July…But will they? A new statement from the WPBSA means they may have to wait a few days more for clarification.

Some snooker clubs on Facebook were clapping about the news that they are able to re-open next month as one club said from next week it would engage in a deep cleaning process straight away.

The Lincoln Snooker Club update read: “Looks like we will be opening on the 4th July. Next week will be spent deep cleaning and preparing the club for re-opening. New procedures will be in place. Allocated rests and regular sanitising of tables and equipment being one.

The post added: “Cannot wait to get started.”

New measures to be rigorously in place…

Many of the snooker club owners who said they were planning on re-opening before the announcement said they would plan to run a reduced capacity and would have full social distancing measures in place. Some also have urged customers to avoid paying in cash and to use contactless systems for payment.

Levels snooker club in Huddersfield, owned by Kevin Ellis, whom we’ve already featured on SnookerZone, said this of the news on the Levels social media page.

It wrote: “It’s official. Levels will re-open on the 4th July. Absolutely delighted that we will see you all again and get back to doing what we do best.”

Back with a Bang…

One snooker club, Dunstable will be holding a 32 Pro-Am on the 6th July as part of their weekend celebrations from the 4th, which is a Saturday.

Already signed up are players such as former World Champions Stuart Bingham, Mark Selby, and six times World finalist Jimmy White.

The owner Suny Singh said this: “The club will be completely disinfected with a fogging service every inch of it. Tables will have sanitiser sprays next to them.

Clubs have been shut for next to three months since the coronavirus pandemic took hold on the UK and the national government was forced to shut down a large part of the country to help stop the spread of the virus.

The economy went into hibernation.

During that time amateurs have been either practicing snooker on kitchen or dining room tables, or those lucky enough to have home tables have been self-isolating in their own snooker rooms!

Many of the clubs will be taking bookings online and are advising customers to be patient as they get to grips with the new measures and rules needed to be implemented to help keep staff and customers safe to enjoy their experience on the premises.

One club added they were looking forward to reopening their junior club scheme as soon as possible.

Those who can or will be back straight away – enjoy it!

UPDATE: Seeking clarification on the “status of snooker clubs”

Issued a day later, the WPBSA has made a statement regarding snooker clubs re-opening.

The WPBSA and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for snooker are working flat out to seek clarification on the exact guidelines and process for re-opening.

The short statement reads: “We are now seeking clarity as to the application of the announcements to snooker clubs and in the first instance will continue to liase directly with affiliated clubs through the 147 club scheme.”

It adds: “We understand the desire from fans and players of our sport to return to the baize as soon as possible. However, we will only be able to issue guidelines for the re-opening of clubs once it is safe to do so and with clear advice directly from the government.”

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An Ace Day – Again

It was billed as a cracker…

But ended in a one horse race in the end.

Judd Trump

Judd Trump ran out a 9 – 4 winner against the four-times World Champion John Higgins at the Coral Tour Championship in Milton Keynes at the weekend.

After a rusty first four frames from both in an afternoon session, Judd took an early 3 – 1 lead and ended up going into the evening 5 – 3.

But the 30-year-old Ace in the pack only managed a high break of 60 in a frame where he needed a clearance from 53 points down to land a blow on the Wizard of Wishaw, who looked out of sorts like many players returning from the confines of lockdown the past three months.

The Juddernaut  started to motor…

in the evening session Judd soon started motoring into gear and a made a 128 to go 8 – 3 up before Higgins compiled an amazing clearance himself to keep his hopes alive.

Unfortunately, too many missed opportunities meant Higgins let Trump off the hook and Trump sealed the deal in the thirteenth frame to book a place in the semi-finals.

Seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry said John Higgins was making too many unforced errors. Whether it was through not practicing during lockdown, or, worse still, a lack of confidence.

Trump said of his win and of his clash with Maguire: ‘I can only get better from that, he (Maguire) can only get worse…’

Talking after, Judd said he was happy with his performance and on his semi-final with the in form Stephen Maguire, he said that every match is different and it would be difficult to play like that again.

‘Hopefully we can meet somewhere in the middle,’ as Judd cheekily smiled after.

Trump is two away from being the second player to make a 100 centuries in a season as he is hunting to beat Neil Robertson’s 103 made a few years ago.

In command now over the class of 92

Judd Trump is starting to dominate over the class of 92 players such as Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins, whom he had comprehensively beat in the World Championship final last year.

TourChampiosnhip