The Masters at Ally Pally is the highlight of the month.
After the Christmas and New Year break it’s now full steam ahead on the baize as a packed schedule takes us all right back to The Crucible in April, with very little time to catch our breath in between then and now.
Before we know it we’ll be back in Sheffield for what I enjoy probably more than any of the main ranking events apart of course from the World Championship itself; namely the qualifiers for the big one which start on April 6th over at Ponds Forge, but there’s a lot more before that including The Masters which starts next Sunday.
Monday 4th January however sees the rather more sedate oak-beamed mock-Tudor surroundings of Crondon Park play host once again to the Championship League, a tournament which sees the bookies topping up their satchels each year at the expense of those who think they can make a few quid on it and punters who would bet on two flies crawling up a wall.
More interesting to me, no not the size of the chairs or the fabled Crondon breakfasts, will be the form of Ronnie O’Sullivan, who surprisingly perhaps has got involved in the league from the start. He’s had mixed fortunes in the past at Crondon but presumably this year it’s all about his preparation for The Masters, as he can’t be too match sharp as things stand having last been seen being beaten fairly and squarely by Stuart Carrington in the German qualifiers. He’ll need to get a lot sharper quite quickly to compete at Ally Pally in my opinion.
For anyone unfamiliar with the Championship League, you can read up on it to your heart’s content by clicking here.
The Masters remains of course one of the highlights of the seasonal calendar and you can take a look at the draw and the order of play for that by clicking here, the opening match on Sunday sees the holder Shaun Murphy taking on Mark Allen. A full comprehensive preview will be up on here at some point this week.
The Masters is followed by another trip to Crondon and also The World Seniors, won last year by 39 year old geriatric Mark Williams, which this year moves to the Preston Guild Hall. The qualifiers have already been played and those who made it through will join MJW and co for a tournament which I can’t help thinking has lost it’s way a little, being now played out by mostly main tour players rather than the golden faces of the 80’s which launched it in a more nostalgic and to my mind fitting light.
The end of the month also sees the next installment of the Snookerbacker Classic, this time from Chris Norbury’s excellent Elite Snooker Club in Preston, where 16 players will compete to see who can join the Grand Finalists so far, Brian Robertson, Marc Davis, Elliot Slessor and 2014 champion Ant Parsons.
Incidentally anyone who has reserved a place and is yet to pay for any of the remaining events needs to do so now as fees are now due for all qualifiers. If you have reserved a place but not paid or been in touch with me to arrange an extension, or indeed been given an extension and missed it your place is no longer guaranteed.
As things stand, because of late payers there are now places left at all the SWSA dates, these are places that have been previously reserved and are now reverting to first to pay will play. So anyone who wants to nab a place from a late or non-payer, simply make your payment by following the link below. Please note that Preston and Liverpool are both now full.