Amateur players in Yorkshire have been handed the chance to play snooker legend Stephen Hendry and win a coveted place in this year’s World Championship in Sheffield.
The seven-time Crucible champion, 48, is coming out of retirement after five years to compete in the World Seniors Championship in Scunthorpe in March.
The winner at The Baths Hall will pocket £10,000, but more importantly, earn a place in qualifying for April’s World Championship.
The World Seniors format sees four qualifying tournaments at Leeds’s Northern Snooker Centre (February 22-25), Newbury. Dublin and Germany. Entry is open to any player aged 40 or over on January 1 2017, and not currently on the tour.
The winner from each of the four venues will then join eight invited snooker legends in Scunthorpe, in what organiser Jason Francis has called “snooker’s equivalent to the Road to Wembley”.
For Hendry, it’s a chance to return to competitive action although the Scot has no plans to return full-time.
"It is certainly not a foray back into the full-time arena," said Hendry, who will be joined by the likes of Bradford’s former world champion Joe Johnson, Cliff Thorburn, John Parrott, Dennis Taylor and Willie Thorne.
"I am looking forward to it, it will be fun. It can be a fantastic story for someone because anyone who is an amateur over 40 could qualify and beat one of us.
"I have to win the thing before I can even start to think about playing at the Crucible. I miss playing because it is what I am best at.”
The World Seniors Championship will run in Scunthorpe from March 21-24, but there will be no Steve Davis.
The six-time Crucible champion declined an invitation, along with Ray Reardon, Terry Griffiths, Tony Meo and Doug Mountjoy.
Organiser Francis said: “It’s never too late to dream, win a qualifier and you could be just seven matches from facing Ronnie O’Sullivan or Mark Selby in the Crucible Theatre.
“This is snooker’s equivalent to the Road to Wembley and the ‘King of the Crucible’, Stephen Hendry, is back to give it another go.”
Entries for the qualifiers open Monday January 23. Details on www.snookerlegends.co.uk