There hasn’t been much happening in the last couple of weeks but it’s all systems go for the 2019/20 snooker campaign from this weekend.
Depleting Riga Masters
Friday marks the return of the Riga Masters to the calender for a sixth straight campaign.
However, the early part of the tournament has already turned into somewhat of a farce.
Last-minute flight delays and cancellations on the eve of the event from Luton Airport meant that a number of the contenders failed to reach Latvia in time.
This included reigning champion Neil Robertson, who was bidding to start the 2019/20 snooker campaign in the same manner as four out of the past six terms – when he has lifted the opening ranking event trophy.
Going to be about 15 walkovers tomorrow. Flight delayed 3 hours with us all on the plane and now coming off most likely cancelled. Enjoy the W’s😂
— Neil Robertson🌱 (@nr147) July 25, 2019
The Australian, who has had plenty of deadline dilemmas in the past, and held over qualifying round opponent Robert Milkins both didn’t make it to the arena for their morning fixture, meaning a happy Ben Woollaston advances automatically to the last 32.
Several other competitors, including Kyren Wilson, Joe O’Connor, and tour rookie Louis Heathcote are expected to crash out due to the delays too.
There have been calls as to why World Snooker didn’t try to rearrange the schedule in order to keep everyone in the event.
But, in reality, the onus lies with the player and the fact that so many – eight, according to Heathcote on Twitter – were intending to fly out for a big tournament at the last possible moment is baffling.
Meanwhile, one of the most popular pro-am tournaments on the calendar was completed last weekend.
The Pink Ribbon, staged at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester and held in support of cancer charities, was won by Stuart Bingham.
The former world champion edged Mark Allen 4-3 in the final to add to his previous glory in the competition in 2012.
Ronnie O’Sullivan, Joe Perry, and Michael Holt are among some of the other names who have etched their names onto the trophy in the past.
The Pink Ribbon, run by Paul Mount, has traditionally had a summer slot that acts as an unofficial opening exchange for a new campaign.
Following this year’s edition, the pro-am has now raised more than £100,000 for charity.
Winner winner chicken dinner.
Happy to win the 10th Anniversary Pink Ribbon event at the Capital Venue in Gloucester.
Well done to all involved in the event and especially to Paul Mount who has now raised over… https://t.co/wtTLEbZxMh
— Stuart Bingham (@Stuart__Bingham) July 24, 2019
50 Years since Pot Black
Finally, a lot of attention last weekend surrounded the 50-year anniversary for the first landing on the moon on July 20th, 1969.
But only a few days after that memorable date 50 years ago came the first airing of snooker’s Pot Black.
The short one-frame format was given a wildcard slot on the BBC and it was from then on, coinciding with the expansion of colour television, that the sport substantially grew in popularity.
Snooker has become a multi-million global entity nowadays but back then it was only just in its infancy.
The likes of Ray Reardon, Alex Higgins, John Spencer, and Eddie Charlton would be among the first players to become household names.
Reardon won the inaugural staging in 1969 and spoke earlier in the week about how the event took snooker “into people’s homes”.
Pot Black won’t feature on the 2019/20 snooker campaign but its place in snooker’s rich history is guaranteed.