There was an awkward moment during the exhibition match between Stephen Hendry and Ken Doherty, laid on for fans after early finishes on the Monday night of the second week in the matches featuring Ronnie O’Sullivan and Matthew Stevens, and Neil Robertson and Ali Carter.
Near the start someone shouted out from the crowd “Where’s Michaela?”, an obvious reference to the former leading and popular tour referee who resigned earlier this year for reasons that have still not been fully explained, but is believed to have involved an initial dispute over an unpaid bonus that was argued to be discretionary by her former employers World Snooker.
These exhibitions, this one refereed by Marcel Eckardt, are normally wise-cracking affairs, but the moment very briefly triggered an uncomfortable silence even from MC Dennis Taylor with leading World Snooker figures in the audience. Until the Scot decides to tell her side, people will be left guessing to some extent as to the precise nature of the split. It could be that she will sell her story for big money exclusively to a Scottish newspaper, or there may even be further developments in the pipeline. Equally there may be some confidentiality agreement in place and what is clear is that it is almost a taboo subject, and the circumstances surrounding Tabb's departure are a cause for awkwardness for officials.
Whichever is the case, Tabb has been a miss at this year’s World Championship, and did a huge amount promoting snooker in her time refereeing on the main tour, as well as serving as an inspiration to many of the women referees now coming through.