The Guild Hall in Preston was once synonymous with top level snooker. It was the home of the Coral UK Championship in the golden years and has hosted some of snooker’s most epic matches. Unfortunately since those days it’s been mothballed by the snooker world and the ghosts of those great matches left to hang in the air. But this week, after a brief revisit over the last couple of seasons, snooker is back at its old stomping ground for a cluster of three qualifying events.
We won’t be seeing quite the level of excitement of those bygone days, indeed it is unfortunate for me to report that unless you sign up for a bookies account, you won’t be able to see anything at all given that Livesport is no more and we’re yet to be given a replacement, which is what I thought all the champagne flowing at The Crucible was all about when Barry reeled out Eurosport? Maybe I missed the point on that one.
Anyway, the three events that are playing their first round matches from Saturday onwards are the Indian Open (Best of 7’s – boooo) which has a large number of Q-School top-ups making up the first round, The World Open (Best of 9’s – yay) and The Riga Masters (Best of 7’s – boooboooboooo).
It’s a novel approach to the qualifiers lumping them together like this but I think it makes perfect sense and really makes it quite an exciting start to the season. Those who win all their three qualifying matches will feel a lot better about the weeks ahead than those who lose all three. Just bear this in mind, if anyone does lose all three, which I am sure some will, they will not be playing competitively again until the end of August – 3 months from their last match, that’s some gap in their season and perhaps the dawn of a new era without the EPTC’s which used to provide such an effective filler – are we missing them already? I know the amateurs are.
Preston is also a chance for the new professionals to test themselves for the first time, among them the SB Classic Champion Sam Craigie, who I think will ruffle a few feathers this season, he starts out against David Grace in the Indian qualifier.
It’s just a shame that a lot of people won’t be able to watch these.
If you are in the area you can always pop over with your fiver and go in and watch it live of course. There are plenty of reasons to, as almost every session will have a top player in action somewhere or other. I’m popping over there on Sunday for a watch so will report back with my view of how it is all set up. It will be a far cry from when I used to go to the UK Finals as Nipperbacker I would think, the place was electrifying then and clouded in smoke, I think Sunday will be a little more sedate than that, but not too much more I hope.
The draw for the Indian Open is here.
The draw for the World Open is here.
The draw for the Riga Masters is here.
The format of the matches including the ones that you can watch on the bookie sites is here.
There are so many matches I don’t really know where to start with a bet but might post up a few as the week goes on.