As the Embassy World Snooker Championship trickles on, the dear green baize is wearing thin. TV overkill, the Hurricane‘s gibberish, and the players’ playboy lifestyles, however, have not knocked the numbers ﬂocking to pot. Mike Wilson reports . . .
Snooker -— a game dominated by men with nerves ofsteel. and personalities to match. Loved by mathematicians and TV producers alike. it only crept from behind the shadow of billiards when colour television sets became widely available. Before. exasperated commentators were reduced to commenting. ‘and for those watching in black and white. the red ball is behind the green.‘ Nowadays. television audiences have to be counted in their millions. like the top players‘ salaries. As the
Embassy World Snooker
Championship rolls towards its final stages, the remaining players will each be casting an envious eye not only towards the trophy but a first prize of£120,000. In contrast. a ‘major‘ tournament for women, taking place in Edinburgh at the end of this month, will elevate the winner’s income by less than £100. However, it is expected that the women‘s game will follow a relatively similar evolution to the men‘s. Only sexism, apparently, inhibits its development.
‘Women have no problems with
' the physical side of snooker,‘ says
Gino Rigitano. professional at the Davis Club in Edinburgh‘s Annandale Street. ‘In fact, once you‘ve reached a certain calibre of play, everything revolves around concentration, and there is no reason why women cannot develop that side oftheir game.’ Illustrating the importance ofconcentration. he cites a seventeen-year-old Scot Craig McGillvray, ‘who already has the physical game to match the top sixteen in the world, but is a long way off making it because of his mental game.‘ He asserts that most top snooker players will have sought professional advice, perhaps from a hypnotist, to improve their concentration.
‘Craig is a bit like Willie Thorne (the walrus-moustached Leicester pro). When practising, Craig can score five or six centuries per day. Practising, Willie Thorne scores maximum after maximum. But when Thorne gets up to the table in competition, he just can‘t do it. His excuse is that he can‘t get motivated against lesser players. But to me. when you play snooker, you don‘t compete against the opponent, you are meant to be competing against the table and the balls.‘
As far as the highly-rated Louise Hillman is concerned, practice has to be fitted into her schedule as manager of the Princes Snooker Club in Dundee. ‘1 don‘t see why women will not become as good players as men.’ she says, balking at the suggestion that women are physically less capable at playing the game than men. ‘unless you are extremely well—endowed.‘ The essential prerequisite is to work hard at perfecting the game. Commercial
sponsorship would of course help encourage more women to take snooker seriously. though she warns that women will have to show willing before potential sponsors decide to back women‘s tournaments. ‘It's a slow uphill task.‘ she feels. ‘though it wasn‘t very long ago that snooker was considered purely male-dominated. associated with smoky snooker halls where only men visited.‘
For most players, having to endure the pressures of televised competition is as likely as snooker commentary becoming popular on radio. For them. it is more a question of consistently scoring breaks of double figures. After that it is simply a matter ofpractising three or four a day and accumulating a large collection of bow-ties and waistcoats. A perm and a good line in self-promotion will not go amiss either. Fortunately. Gino missed getting a perm. Not by design. however. he missed out on reaching the pre-qualifying tournament for this year‘s world championship. But he maintains that he makes a sufficient living out ofthe game. Pressing him fora figure elicits no response, though he argues that there is little money to be made from hustling.
‘In this country. it is impossible to hustle because there are too many good players around and the public knows about hustling. lfa player enters a club. pretends he is intoxicated and wants to play fora couple of pounds. people are wary.‘
Neither does he make money teaching. since it frustrates him to charge £15 an hour yet see little progress in his adult pupils. Frankenstein-like. he would rather take a class of youngsters and mould their game. instilling them with the knowledge he claims to possess but cannot translate into his own play. The thought of a dozen Terry Griffiths clones sends shudders down the spine.
‘If. out ofsixteen youngsters. one is outstanding. then I will have done it. Wouldn‘t you like to make a stamp on the world like that‘.", he asks. Personally. I‘d rather have the 10 per cent from coaching someone who is worth a couple of million.
SNOOKER FAX CLUBS
Yellow Pages give details of a lot ofclubs. but not all can be recommended as hassle-free and comfortable. Phone to confirm information. since for reasons to do with poor organisation and PR. a few clubs have been closing in recent weeks. The following are worth checkingout. EDINBURGH
I Davis Club 24
Annandale Street. 557 4579. £2.60per hour. Membership not necessary unless it is busy (at night). Membership: £28 pa. Tuition available: £15 per hour.
I Marco's Leisure Centres
51 Grove Street. 2282141 :
14o Slateford Road. 443 221 1 ; and 3 Jordan Lane. Morningside. 447 8700. At Grove Street. it costs £2.40 per hour before 5pm. £2.70 afterwards. Membership is £30pa (which entitles access to all ofthe centre‘s facilities). Day
76 The List 20 April — 3 May 1990
membership is available: £10deposit. £1 per person. At Slateford. it is £2.40 per hour at any time duringthe day. Membership: £20 pa. though like Grove Street. day membership is available. Tuition is occasionally available. At Morningside. the day price is £2. 10 per hour. £2.40in the evening. Membership: £20 pa. though. like (irove Street. day membership is available.
I JP'S 25. Jock's Lodge. (mi 1011. £2.64 per hour.
Annual membership is available at £15; day membership is £1. GLASGOW
I Marco's Leisure Centre Templeton Street. Bridgeton. 554 7184.
£1 .90 per hour until 5pm. £3 per hour thereafter. Membership is required. at £40 pa.
I Premier Snooker Hall 339 Sauchiehall Street. 332 (>052. The only remaining public snooker halls in Glasgow. £2.20 per hour. I Roberta's 34 Argyle Street. 204 0216. £2.40 per hour. Membership: £28
pa. Day membership: £1. Tuition is available; price on request.
I Ambassadeur Club Victoria Road. 265 483. £2.50 per hour. Membership not necessary on the off-chance that a table will be free. To book, membership is required. at £15 pa. Tuition available at weekends: £5
per hour. Said to be one of f
the most comfortable clubs in the country.
I Cues ('ues cost between £15 and £400. The more expensive have probably been ‘matured‘ to prevent warping. Care must be taken when purchasing a cue from a sports shop. since the ability to play a straight shot can only be tested at a table.
I Bow-ties and Waistcoats Moss Bros. in Renfield Street. Glasgow, says that their most expensive silk bow-tie and waistcoat retail at £24.95 and£125 respectively.