The official opening ceremony for the Bank of Communications Shanghai Masters, featuring the traditional red-carpet treatment for the players and welcome banquet, was the usual lavish affair. Ding Junhui, Ronnie O’Sullivan and the rest were presented to the fans like film stars and handed out gifts as well as signing photos and programmes.
Then it was inside for speeches and a meal, where John Higgins was probably the busiest – called on to stage three times (for one of those a tournament official had to fetch him from the toilet, with the roving camera focusing on an empty chair) plus a TV appearance on the big screen where the four-time world champion showed a natural flair for the Chinese language.
WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson issued a rousing address, including a pointed reference to hoping to see future events in Shanghai given this week’s renewal negotiations.
And the players showed off their official gift, believed to be worth around £1,000, of two pieces of polished and treated wood that when burnt produce incense with ‘calming properties’. The kind of thing for which customs occasionally need a clear explanation.
Tournament director Mike Ganley was also in receipt of a present, in his case some chopsticks and a silver noodle spoon. Expect to see him proudly showing these off at a tournament near you soon.