Having done so, I am undecided between going 'I want to do many more next year' and 'it's just as good on TV'. The Crucible theatre is certainly a remarkable venue for snooker, and when it gets going, the atmosphere is incredible. I had a very good view ten rows back, even if taking along a baseball cap was a good idea (there was one light in particular in my eyes otherwise).
The earpieces you can see people in the audience wearing to listen into the TV commentary cost £6, so I didn't bother. They're a purchase rather than a rental, so I can see them being worthwhile if you're there for several days. Several people were having problems with them though, perhaps because they were set to the channel that wasn't broadcasting (now it's one table, rather than two).
One surprise was how quiet the players and referee are. The score is announced loudly enough for the audience to hear, but things like nominating a colour or being advised of a touching ball were almost inaudible. At least once, a 'miss' was called without most of the audience hearing it.
What's stopping me setting an alarm for the 2013 tickets going on sale is that the two actual sessions weren't that great. As the first of up to four sessions, there is always going to be less tension than a final session of a close game, but in both cases, one person didn't play as well as they can ended up leading another who didn't play badly by 5-3.
The Ali Carter - 'the wrong Stephen' Mcquire match was the afternoon session and it was soon clear that Ali's strategy was to not take risks. Stephen potted some good individual shots and played one excellent snooker in particular, but both players break building wasn't there. 'Scrappy' was the BBC's description of the session and Ali's strategy was enough.
There was more hope for the Ronnie O'Sullivan - Matthew Stevens match, but if I tell you the BBC reckon it was "less than vintage", it won't come a surprise that it was much the same. Ronnie is by far the most talented snooker player ever, but his big weakness is on the mental side of the game. So if he turns up playing well (as he has this year) the way to beat him is to disrupt his natural style, capitalising on his mistakes, and this is what Matthew set out to do.
Frames were taking up to half an hour rather than the ten minutes many were hoping to do. Rather than conceding frames where he was behind, Matthew was going for the snookers. At one point, Ronnie did the same - not, I felt, out of hoping to win, but more out of a 'You did it to me, now I'm doing it to you'. For Ronnie, certainly at this stage in a match, the best thing is to say 'Yeah, you've won this one, now watch me make a century in five minutes'.
I did get to see Stephen Hendry make a shot though...
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