The 2011 World Seniors Championship takes place over Saturday and Sunday at the East of England Showground in Peterborough.
Crowd favourite Jimmy White will attempt to defend the title he won almost twelve months ago to add to a glittering trophy cabinet that only required the World Championship itself to be complete.
However, ‘The Whirlwind’ didn’t make light of his achievement in claiming the revised tournament in 2010 and the impressive field this year has proven that the event has the ability to grow substantially in the future.
Sixteen former World Snooker tour members over the age of 45 will compete for the main prize of £18,000 next weekend over a very short format.
Indeed, the best of three frames format that will be in operation for each round, including the final, has been ridiculed by many quarters and unsurprisingly so.
Yes, most of the contenders are not as fluent around the baize as they once were but such a short system is hardly the required battle to determine a world title.
Whatever about the qualifiers that were held last month and the early rounds in the event proper, the semis and final should have been increased – even if it was simply to a best of 7 encounter as was the case for the final between White and Steve Davis last year.
54 year-old Davis will be among the favourites along with his old English rival but has the unique experience of not being the elder statesman in the competition – something ‘The Nugget’ has grown accustomed to on the Main Tour over the last decade.
Former world champions Dennis Taylor, Cliff Thorburn and Joe Johnson are in action but it will be 1988 UK Championship victor Doug Mountjoy that will lead the line in terms of experience at the ripened age of 69.
The tie of the first round is arguably Davis’ clash with fellow current professional Tony Drago – the winner of which will undoubtedly fancy their chances of reaching the final.
Similarly, 1995 Crucible runner-up Nigel Bond will believe he has a good opportunity to follow in White’s footsteps and takes on Northern Irishman Taylor in the opener.
Yet, other accomplished former pros like John Parrott, Tony Knowles, Neal Foulds, Darren Morgan, Gary Wilkinson and Dene O’Kane are also all in contention – neither of whom can be written off having been major contenders in their heyday.
The rank outsiders will more than likely be Karl Townsend and Steve Ventham, both of whom came through the qualifying rounds and play each other for a place in the quarter-finals.
A 30-second shot clock has been added for this year’s event which, by all accounts, was really unnecessary.
Although it shouldn’t detract from the play, or the expected little bit of banter in that case, there is really no need to have placed any time restrictions on an event that will include hardly any frames in the first place.
Nevertheless, it is a fantastic addition to the calendar and one that older fans, in particular, would enjoy if they are able to attend the championship in person.
If not, the event will be shown live on Sky Sports 4 over the course of the two days which is another promising commitment by the giant broadcaster to the sport.
First Round Draw
Tony Drago vs Steve Davis
Dene O’Kane vs Neal Foulds
Karl Townsend vs Steve Ventham
John Parrott vs Joe Johnson
Jimmy White vs Tony Knowles
Nigel Bond vs Dennis Taylor
Gary Wilkinson vs Darren Morgan
Cliff Thorburn vs Doug Mountjoy