Play in the final qualifying round of the UK Championship began today at 9am – surely the earliest ever start for ranking event matches – because the Pontin’s holiday camp in Prestatyn was hosting a huge dance event.
It was feared that noise from the Ultimate After Party – a 52-hour rave for some 1,500 young people – was putting players off.
Matches were taken off at 12pm and the second session started half an hour late at 4.30pm to accommodate the final afternoon’s dance events.
A WPBSA spokesman told me: “We’d been told we’d be OK but the bass was coming through the building.
“We had a meeting with the organisers and decided to start at 9am and finish at 12pm, which was when their finale started.”
Talk about a clash of cultures. In one part of the camp, a live set by DJ Sammy; in another, Fergal O’Brien and Joe Delaney playing a best of 17.
According to the BCA website, dance organisers had “hired the entire Pontin’s complex and is turning it into the largest entertainment site in the UK.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened. The WPBSA once scheduled the World Billiards Championship over four days at the same North Wales venue but had to hastily cram it all into three days when they realised the Tidy Weekender rave was taking place there.
This was billed as “dirty smut action with lustful ladies and super studs” – the rave that is, not the billiards.
The irony is that the WPBSA chose to take the Saga Masters qualifying tournament to the new World Snooker Academy in Sheffield the day after the Malta Cup qualifiers – causing a trek up north for all and sundry.
Had they played the UK Championship in Prestatyn after the Malta qualifiers and then gone to Sheffield for the Masters this week – rather than make everyone go to Yorkshire and then come back – there wouldn’t have been a problem.
Still, the players would then have had to miss the “craziest party in the UK” – not my words, but the words of Fatman Scoop.
What he thinks about the York line-up is as yet unclear.