SUCH has been the breakneck pace of the schedule the Players Tour Championship Finals have perhaps not registered as much as they might have outside Bangkok.

It is another tournament among so many – but for certain players, and for sure the four reaching the semi-finals, it is a very important one and worth a none-too-shabby £100,000 to the winner.

Other arrived in Thailand with the World Championships on their mind, and specifically the race to be in the top 16 and earn an automatic place at the Crucible without having to qualify.

In that respect things could have gone a lot worse for Stephen Maguire. The importance of his exit was lessened by early departures for Michael White and Rob Milkins.

The outside chance of a Mark Davis, Martin Gould or Michael Holt making a huge move with the title in Thailand disappeared at the quarter-final stage as Judd Trump, Mark Williams, Stuart Bingham and Joe Perry came through.

So Maguire, twice a former Crucible semi-finalist, will carry a small advantage into the China Open in Beijing, the final ranking event of the season before the cut-off. It is advantage to the Scot, and White may need to reach at least the semi-finals in China to oust him.

But back in Bangkok Trump remains the man to beat, although in a best-of-seven frame format no one would be surprised if he lost to a rejuvenated Mark Williams.

It is great to see Williams, into a fourth ranking semi-final of the season, back playing to his ability again and he recovered superbly from 3-1 down to Matt Selt to win 4-3 and reach the last four.

He has lost a couple of stone with an exercise regime this season, insists it is helping him with concentration in long ad late matches, and it is hard to argue with the results. If Williams can get past Trump he will fancy a first ranking title for more than four years.

Trump repeated his World Grand Prix semi-final win over Gould, this time with a more straightforward 4-2 victory.

The other semi-final will feature Shanghai Masters champion Stuart Bingham, who beat close pal Mark Davis 4-1, against Joe Perry – who saw off Michael Holt by the same score.

Perry of course has never won a ranking title and would dearly love to lose the tag given him by many of best player never to do so, having just lost the Wuxi final to Neil Robertson last summer.

Trump is not alone in enjoying the Bangkok snooker experience.

He said: "It was a tough game against Martin, and I had to make a good clearance in the end.

"I enjoy playing in China and Thailand because I get a lot of support and it makes me want to play well. There have been excellent crowds all week, especially for my first match when there were not enough seats.

“Bangkok is one of my favourite places and hopefully there will be more tournaments here. I have slept well since I've been here and played every game at night, so jet-lag hasn't been a problem.

“Tomorrow I play in the afternoon so it might be a bit harder. I'm playing good snooker and full of confidence."


Photograph by Monique Limbos