Probably many of you don’t like snooker, so you won’t be tuning in to one of the most exciting world finals in many years. I have been into snooker – as I am into most sports – since I can remember, and this seems a good opportunity to spread my enthusiasm. The final will spread over today and tomorrow (Monday), so you have quite a bit of time to get on board. Here are some reasons why you might enjoy snooker, if you’ve never paid it any attention before.
1. The final this year is between a seasoned player who’s had problems (John Higgins, who was banned for a bit for allegedly agreeing to cheat, though he totally denies it) and a young wunderkind called Judd Trump who is only 21 and seems to be one of the most naturally gifted players ever to emerge. And is from Bristol. Trump is a fearless youth who believes he’s invincible. Higgins is an old campaigner with something to prove. It’s set up a bit like some sort of film. You don’t need to be a snooker or even sports fan to enjoy that.
2. There’s quite a lot of maths involved. Ideal for those who like to combine sport with calculations.
3. It’s a colourful spectacle. Each coloured ball has a different points value. Even if you don’t understand what’s going on, this automatically makes it nicer to look at than, say, chess.
4. If you don’t like the aggression of most sports crowds, this is an ideal antidote: you can be thrown out even for rustling a bag and will get a nasty look for so much as coughing. Crowds sit respectfully and clap from time to time. You might get a whoop for something truly spectacular.
5. Although it seems a pub game, snooker is incredibly skilful. Much harder than pool. If you ever get the chance to play, you’ll see it is quite an achievement even to pot a single ball. To get to the ability level shown by the top players is almost inconceivably difficult. Got to respect that.
6. A match goes on for ages. You can go for a cup of tea, pick up kids from school,.lapse into brief coma etc without missing too much. At the same time, it’s quicker than – say – cricket.
7. Indoors. No worries with cold and so on.
8. The world’s premier competition takes place in Sheffield. You won’t find too many things reaching a global peak in Sheffield.
9. As well as being easy on the eye, it sounds soothing. The clicks and clacks of balls colliding. The solemn intonations of the referees. It has something of the therapeutic atmosphere of the library or station waiting room in the old days.
10. I like it. And I’m always right. Admit it.