World Seniors Championship Preview

The 2012 World Seniors Championship takes place this weekend in Portsmouth as 16 of the best old-timers attempt to etch their name on the trophy.

While there have been numerous senior events staged in the past, it wasn’t until 2010 that Joe Johnson helped to bring back the notion of hosting a regular World Championship again for the good and bad of yesteryear.

With its success, helped along in some way by the fact People’s Champion Jimmy White emerged victorious, the event is now quickly establishing itself as a regular on the annual calendar – and why not.

The quality of snooker may not be completely up to the scratch these players boasted in their heyday of the 1970s, 80s and 90s but the two-day competition gives fans, both old and new, the opportunity to witness the characters spoken so frequently of from the past.

At the same time, the players themselves can revel in the heat of battle once again – and a battle I’m sure it will be.

Because even though there will be significantly more interaction with the crowd and jest amongst themselves while on the baize, there’s no doubting that the competitive spirit will return to each of them as they embark on grabbing a slice of the £50,000 total prize fund – and ultimately a piece of silverware at its conclusion on Sunday evening.

As with any event, some players will be more fancied than others and the immediate names that pop up as potential champions are those that are still performing on the professional Main Tour.

That means the likes of White will be bidding to claim back his crown from two years ago, and his bid to do so starts in the last 16 against Mike Hallett – now better known for his commentary on Eurosport and Sky.

Steve Davis, runner-up in both of the last two seasons, will be hoping to make it third-time lucky and his first opponent is a repeat of the 1983 world final at the Crucible as he takes on Cliff Thorburn.

Arguably the most dangerous man in the draw is Nigel Bond, who has failed to embark on a run yet in this competition but with youth on his side, only 46, it’s likely only to be a matter of time.

On the weekend of the new James Bond flick, it would be an opportune moment for 00-147 to gun down his opposition, first one being 1985 Sheffield triumphant Dennis Taylor.

Elsewhere, Defending champion Darren Morgan should not be written off to make it a double delight and he kicks off proceedings in a clash with Joe Johnson while Malta’s Tony Drago takes on his namesake Tony Chappel.

Completing the opening round, former top 16 members Tony Knowles and Alain Robidoux haves ties with Karl Townsend and Barry West respectively while New Zealand’s Dene O’Kane returns to action against Barry West.

While tough enough to pick an overall champion, it is hard to look past the remaining professional players and Morgan.

Canadian Robidoux is somewhat of an unknown quantity having not seen him play for a number of years but it would be a surprise to see any of the others raising the trophy aloft.

That said, the ludicrously short best of three format all the way to the final is indeed a leveler but my money’s still on the ‘Whirlwind’ or the ‘Nugget’.

Live coverage of the event is on Sky Sports 3 and 4 on Saturday and Sunday.

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