Hazel Irving, Steve Davis, Dannis Taylor and Ray Stubbs. Just some of the BBC's team of presenters, pundits, and players!
BBC coverage of World Snooker Championships starts at 2pm today!
As the final of the World Snooker Championship unfolds today at Sheffield's famous Crucible Theatre, the two protagonists won't be the only people trying to give a good performance in front of the cameras.
Pro9 takes a moment to give credit to the high quality of programming provided by the team of pundits and commentators, culled from the ranks of snooker's celebrity players - the BBC really do push the boat out when it comes to their coverage of the snooker championships.
After their thoroughly successful first 9 ball event, the Sunderland Premier Pool League are now running something a little bit bigger... A lot bigger in fact.
The Sunderland Festival of Pool will cover all the main cue sports, with the main 9 ball pool event on Saturday 27 June, and they are hoping the increased prize money will help to "bring out the big fish" according to organiser Brian Watson.
They are accepting sign-ups already, it's £20 entry and cheques should be made payable to B&L WATSON and sent to: 12 Oaklands Crescent, Southwick, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR5 5AP.
With the 2009 PartyPoker.net World Pool Masters just around the corner, American hopes for the $66,000 tournament will be focused on veteran Johnny Archer and a young man who has taken American pool by storm over the past two years.
25 year-old Shane Van Boening, the clean-cut ‘South Dakota Kid’, heads to the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas next week, as one of the betting favourites for this prestigious title. In fact, Van Boening will be aiming to be the first American to lift the Masters crown since Earl Strickland was victorious at Lakeside, England in the summer of 1997.
Since he burst onto the scene in 2007 with wins at the Predator World Tenball and the super-tough US Open, the soft spoken Van Boening has been the man to beat.
He followed that up in 2008 with victory at the Super Billiards Expo and then in September with a win for the United States, in partnership with Rodney Morris, at the PartyPoker.net World Cup of Pool.
As the Masters approaches, Van Boening is confident that he is fully prepared; “I am playing well at the moment,” he said.
“I spent a lot of time at home in South Dakota over the past month and haven't played any big tournaments since the Super Billiards Expo in Valley Forge.
Sheffield's famous Crucible Theatre, synonymous internationally with the Betfred.com World Snooker Championship, will continue to stage the event for at least another five years, until 2014.
World Snooker and Sheffield City Council have secured the deal that ensures the 'blue riband' event of the snooker season will be hosted by the city until 2014, with an option to extend the contract to 2015.
Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of World Snooker, said: "Sheffield has, over the years, consistently demonstrated a genuine desire to retain and develop further its status as the UK's Snooker City. We acknowledge openly the enthusiasm and ongoing support Sheffield provides for the development and promotion of the sport, and are delighted to have reached this new agreement."
Jasmin Ouschan notched up yet another Gold Medal in the final and most prestigious event of the European Pool Championships, and earned herself Pro9's unofficial "Most Valuable Player" accoldae, as she pocketed the European 9 Ball title in Austria, competing under the added pressure of playing in front of a home crowd.
There was a clearly dominant player in the wheelchair events this year too. Earning Pro9's recognition as "Most Valuable Player" is Finland's Jouni Tahti who took the Gold Medal for both 8 Ball and 9 Ball, despite fierce competition from a raft of the top European players including England and Ireland.
Nick van den Berg won the event with the largest field in Austria and was presented with the Men's 9 Ball Gold Medal after a hard fought battle with Ruslan Chinakov from Russia. Pro9's MVP award is a tougher affair to determine as it is split between Andreas Roschkowsky from Germany, and Switzerland's Dimitri Jungo as both earned one Gold and one Bronze medal each.
Looking at the top countries, Austria, Germany, and Great Britain go home with 5 medals a-piece, whilst on 2 medals are the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Sweden and Ireland. Players from Greece, Russia, and the Czech Republic will be returning home with one medal each.
The best of the best will compete in this fierce battle over money and the title. Europe's best and the World's most feared players will compete against each other, but also local heroes from Benelux, Germany, France and the UK will have their shot at the title and the big money, as everyone can enter the qualification rounds. Let's play pool!
Home favourite Jasmin Ouschan looked ecstatic today as she collected the much sought after Gold Medal in Austria today for a sterling effort in the Women's European 8 Ball Championships.
Ouschan was odds on to win at least one medal at this event, and it's not inconceivable that the will win one from each of the three events, and after collecting Silver in the Straight Pool it was gratifying to see her collect the Gold today.
The Brits had a much better time in the Men's 8 Ball and Wheelchair Championships - Darren Appleton once again did well, but this time it was Imran Majid that made the biggest impression, collecting yet another European Championships Bronze Medal.
It was the local crop of Wheelchair players who really took the biscuit though, as Ireland's Fred Dinmore took a Bronze after his semifinal loss to Britain's Tony Southern, and Karl Read collected the other Bronze after his match with Finland's Jouni Tahti, who proved too strong for Southern in the final, forcing him to accept the Silver.
Phil Burford in action at the Chesterfield 9 Ball Open.
More pocket money for Burford as he cleans up at Chesterfield
Despite some very stiff competition, Phil Burford seems to sweep up at every event he attends lately, and is definitely the man you need to beat if you want to do well in these regional tournaments.
Many congratulations to the Organiser and Tournament Director, Kev Simpson, who was very happy with the turn-out and facilities at Chesterfield, and proclaimed, "This, I believe, was the best event I have run."
Hofstatter beats Jasmine Ouschan by narrowest of margins
An all Austrian final in the Women's Straight Pool event kept the home crowds happy in the Alps this weekend, as Gerda Hofstatter scored the requisite 75 points to take the gold medal and the prestigious title, beating fellow Austrian, Jasmin Ouschan by a thrilling 5 points margin. Unlike Ouschan, Hofstatter's victory came the hard way, battling though the one-loss side of the draw. Germany's Janine Schwan and Louise Furberg from Sweden filled out the bronze medal positions.
In the men's 14.1 event Switzerland's Dimitri Jungo had a narrow escape in the very first preliminary round with a marginal 125-121 win over Poland's Radoslaw Babica, but from then on it was plain sailing, as he appeared to cruise through the opposition, finally beating Niels Feijen from the Netherlands by a more comfortable 125-74 score in the final, despite a strong performance from Feijen throughout.
In fact, it was the Dutchman who actually looked good for the title as he was rarely pushed in the whole event. From his premature victory in the prelims with only 57 points on the scoreboard, a result of Drago's match forfeit, through to the semi-finals, none of his opponents managed to threaten the second half of the scoreboard - until Jungo of course!
As for the Brit's, it was World 10 Ball Champion Darren Appleton who had high hopes for this event, and he was the one who got deepest into this event, but the dreaded early morning matches put paid to his ambitions, eventually bowing out to Poland's Thomasz Kaplan in the Last 16 stage.
GB9 supremo Imran Majid fell to another Pole, Mateusz Sniegocki in the round before the single elimination, and London resident Tony Drago lost out by a slim 125-111 margin in the same round to Swede, Jan Lundell.
With the 2009 PartyPoker.net World Pool Masters a little more than three weeks away, former Champion Raj Hundal insists he is hungry for more success.
Hundal, 27, enjoyed the finest moment of his career to date in 2005 when he recovered from a 6-0 and 7-1 deficit against Rodney Morris in the final to lift the Masters trophy.
He has not been in the event though for the last two seasons and Hundal is desperate to win the prestigious invitational tournament again.
"In my mind, I'm going there to win this title," said Hundal, who is in intensive training for the competition which takes place from 8-10 May at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. "It would show I'm back and prove that the first victory I hadn't just got lucky.
"But you make your own luck when you play this game and if you watch back the videos from 2005 you will see I outplayed my opponents.
"I beat Thomas Engert, the defending champion, and against Rodney I was 6-0 and 7-1 down so you can't get lucky to win from there - I played lights out pool."
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