Snooker stars to play exhibition in Budapest

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Leading snooker professionals Neil Robertson and Ali Carter will take to the green baize for an exhibition in Budapest on March 18, in what local enthusiasts of the fast-growing sport hope will finally put Hungary on the European snooker map, according to a press release sent to the BBJ today.

The First Hungarian Snooker Gala will take place on Saturday, March 18, providing an opportunity for Hungarian fans to watch professional snooker live in the country for the first time, either at the venue or watching a three-hour highlights package to be broadcast the next day on sports channel Sport TV.

The exhibition features Australian ace Neil Robertson, the 2010 World Champion and winner of a dozen ranking events, currently ranked 8th in the world, and 12th ranked Ali Carter, two times a World Championship runner-up, whose victory in this seasonʼs World Open was his fourth ranking event win.

The players will lock horns in two separately ticketed exhibitions in the afternoon and evening at the Aladár Gerevich National Sports Hall at Istvánmezei út 3-5, in Budapestʼs District 14. The afternoon session runs from 3.30 pm until 6.30 pm, while the evening session lasts from 8 pm to 11 pm.

Officiating the battle between the two snooker gladiators will be the pioneering Michaela Tabb, the first woman referee to oversee professional ranking tournaments, including two world finals.

In addition, three talented young Hungarian players have been invited to try their hands on the baize with the visiting pros. Five-time Hungarian national champion Zsolt Fenyvesi will doubtless present a stout challenge, as may U21 Hungarian champ Attila Horváth and 10-year-old Bulcsú Révész, the latest prodigy tearing up the Hungarian rankings despite needing to stand on a special box to reach the balls on the table. Interviews with the players and trick shots complete the entertainment.

According to the organizers, snooker is an increasingly popular sport in Hungary, with coverage on Eurosport with Hungarian commentary watched regularly by 50,000-100,000 viewers. In addition, a growing number of enthusiastic amateurs play in competitions in clubs in Budapest and other cities. This past weekend, a record field of 62 players contested the third of 12 official ranking tournaments organized annually in Hungary.

Surpassing all expectations, the tickets were 95% sold out at time of writing, but extra moveable seating has been added to bring the audience numbers to around 1,100 for each session.

The event employs a unique method of financing, with the organizers opting to raise money to pay for the gala via crowdfunding site Generosity by Indiegogo, without spending a penny on advertising. Places can be booked by making a “donation” to the newly formed Hungarian Snooker Foundation through the site and leaving an email address to which the tickets can be sent. (Note: Those wishing to only make a donation need not supply an email address, meaning they will not receive tickets.)

According to the organizers, the most important goals of the foundation are to support up-and-coming Hungarian talents in the sport and boost the local snooker scene. The Hungarian Snooker Gala is the first important step towards achieving these goals, with all proceeds above the organizing costs going to the foundation.

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