Interview with snooker referee Michaela Tabb about her career ahead of becoming the first woman to referee a world ranking event at the 2007 Welsh Open.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Michaela Tabb has created snooker history by becoming the first woman to referee at the world championships.
The Dunfermline official took charge as 11th seed Mark King unexepectedly lost to Scotland's Drew Henry 10-5 at the Crucible in Sheffield.
Tabb said: "I was nervous before I walked out. When the MC was introducing me, his words went right over my head.
"Towards the end of the first frame, I settled down and it just felt like any other match.
"It was a brilliant experience."
The 35-year-old mother-of-one moved from pool to snooker two years ago and is married to Scottish international Ross McInnes.
"Ross was playing in a pool tournament at the weekend and got as far as Carlisle to watch the first session but turned round because he needed to get back to play," Tabb added.
Posted by Expert at 9:29 AM
This short video was found on youtube.com. Michaela Tabb as a referee on Pool 9 Ball World Pool Masters 2006.
Find video there: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qL8vRK3lJs
Posted by Expert at 8:19 AM
Friday, March 23, 2007
by Stuart Bathgate
THE change was overdue. While snooker’s players had become younger and more flamboyant, the referees remained middle-aged, dowdy and male. For a sport eager to present a youthful image, something had to be done.
The solution, or at least a part of it, was Michaela Tabb. Already well known on the pool circuit as both player and referee, the Dunfermline woman was as far removed as possible from the snooker stereotype. She was not middle-aged, she was far from dowdy and she was certainly not male.
The decision was made by Jim McKenzie, then the chief executive of World Snooker, now the holder of the equivalent post at Edinburgh Rugby. Dispensing with the customary five- year apprenticeship, McKenzie decreed that Tabb and three others should be fast-tracked on to the professional refereeing circuit.
That was two years ago. Now, the rapid rise is almost complete, and on Saturday Tabb will become the first woman to referee at the world championship in Sheffield, when she takes charge of the first-round match between Mark King and Drew Henry.
"Jim wanted to change the profile of the referees and bring in some younger ones, including women," recalls Tabb, who is now 35. "I was asked if I’d be interested. Obviously I knew the refereeing side of things, and I knew the rules, but I didn’t know the intricacies of snooker.
"To begin with there was a bit of opposition to me, but it was never held against me personally. There were a few who said they didn’t agree with what had happened, but they wouldn’t take it out on me. And they haven’t. They’ve all been very good."
Calm and articulate when in the confines of a Fife snooker club, she is, she says, usually just as much at ease taking charge of a match. She admits, however, that the feeling will be different in three days’ time, as she prepares to enter the Crucible. "When you’re out there you’re fine normally. In the build-up, when the players are tense, you might feel it a bit, but on the whole it’s all right, because no matter where you are it’s the same thing.
"But Sheffield’s different. There’s such a presence at the Crucible, and I think that’s what’s making me nervous now. That and the fact it’s my debut, and it’s such a huge tournament. I’ve followed it since I was about 12 years old, and now I’m going there."
It took some time, however, for Tabb to go from TV spectator to actual player. She was in her early 20s by the time she took up pool, in a local pub.
"It was a hobby at first. I started going with my then boyfriend to a pub with two pool tables, and you could either join in or sit on your own. Then within a year I was playing for Scotland, so it became more serious. Then I met my husband through that, and things just went on from there."
When she and the said spouse, Ross McInnes, moved from British eight-ball pool to the American nine-ball game, they found out there was no-one to referee the tournaments they were trying to organise. As McInnes was the professional player, it made sense for Tabb to turn to refereeing herself.
That was in 1997, and although she became European women’s champion the following year, she knew her playing was unlikely to remain at such a high level. The refereeing made it more difficult to find enough practice time, as did the arrival of a son, Morgan.
"My standard isn’t as high as it was, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that back - unless we move and get a pool room again. We’ve got a little boy, and the problem now is getting the time to practise. When I won the European Championships in 1998, that was probably the highest standard I’ve had."
As a player, that is. As a referee, she may just be starting out, even if she is at present content to have just a part-time contract. "I’m quite happy with what I’m doing, because I’ve got pool as well, that takes up a lot of time too. So between that and Ross being a professional, we just juggle everything really.
"It would be more stressful if I did more days on the snooker circuit, because it’s longer away from home. Last year I was away in Blackpool doing qualifying and that was for four weeks: Ross and Morgan came down twice, but it’s still hard to be away for so long."
It can also be hard to find oneself the centre of antipathetic attention, as Tabb did last month at the Irish Masters in Dublin. When Peter Ebdon, the defending world champion, was called for a push by her, he did not agree; his opponent, Quinten Hann, concurred with Ebdon, and played a safety with his next shot so as to gain no advantage from the ruling.
But Tabb is not easily awed, either by players or TV commentators. She is, she insists, on the spot, the best-placed to see what is going on. Rather than backing down in the face of excitable players, she is, she explains, a touch more likely to take pre-emptive action.
"There’s a few temperamental people out there, and, though it doesn’t make any difference to your preparation, you are on edge a little bit more, ready for something. Like at the Regal Scottish Masters last week, when I refereed Quinten and Ken Doherty: Ken’s great, but Quinten can be a bit temperamental, and there were a few toys that came out.
"I was getting ready to say something to him, but as it happened I didn’t have to. There’s no difference to what you do as a referee, you just have to be aware of the situation."
And Tabb is very aware. Aware that her progress has not exactly been impeded by her glamorous image - yet aware, too, that she is every bit as competent as any of the old boys who used to rule snooker’s refereeing roost.
Posted by Expert at 7:36 AM
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
...The tournament will also see Michaela Tabb become the first female referee to take charge at the Masters.
Tabb will add another chapter to her refereeing CV
Tabb, who caused a stir at last year's World Championship, will referee two matches, including the meeting between Steve Davis and Ken Doherty on Tuesday.
"I'm really looking forward to refereeing at the Masters for the first time," said Tabb.
"I know the atmosphere at Wembley is electric and it will be great to experience that."
Posted by Expert at 6:33 AM
Michaela Tabb is one of the most recognized faces in 9-ball for fans across the world who are able to watch the Matchroom Sport presentations of events like the World Pool Championship and Mosconi Cup competition. She is one of the top referees of professional 9-ball and recently refereed her first Snooker World Championship. Michaela took time from preparing for this year's World Pool Championship to answer a few questions for us.
AZB: Can you start by telling us about your refereeing career? How long have you been a ref and how many events have you refereed?
Michaela: I started refereeing Professionally in September 1997, at the St Andrews Cup - a 9 ball event run by Matchroom. I have since refereed nearly 30 major events including events in Europe, Canada, UK and I am going to Dubai later this year!AZB: What would you say is the biggest event you have refereed?
Michaela: The biggest would be the World Championships Finals, but the hardest would be the Mosconi Cup!AZB: What got you started refereeing?
Michaela: My husband and I run our own tournaments which are English 8 Ball and American 9 Ball amateur events. As funding is tight, I used to referee when it was required and so learned the basics that way. Matchroom were running their one day event in Glasgow in 1997 and Ross, my husband, phoned Sharron Tokley and advised her that I could referee for her, if she would like, and it would be financially better as she wouldn't have to pay accommodation and travel as I was on hand. I sent down a CV (Resume) and the rest is history...AZB: Some of the fans over here in the states may not know this, but you are also a very accomplished player. Can you tell us about that?
Michaela: I play English 8 Ball pool with the reds and yellows on a 7 x 4 table. I started in a local pub because everyone else played and joined the Scottish Ladies International Team in 1992. I still play with them now and will in fact be travelling to play in my own World Championships the day after Cardiff's final! My biggest individual achievement was European Ladies Champion in 1998 in Gibraltar. It has to be said that refereeing has now taken my time up more so I have less time to practice...AZB: Which do you enjoy more?
Michaela: I prefer refereeing now because my standard is not as high as it used to be as a player. In saying that, they are two very different things and both bring levels of satisfaction in different ways.AZB: You don't have the benefit of going to instant replay on a call. Have you ever watched a match on tape later and saw that you had blown a call?
Michaela: Yes, I have made wrong calls and realized afterwards or due to someone advising me who had seen it - Sid or one of the commentary team. It for me is one of the hardest things about our job, we have to make a decision in a split second and we can't always be right... All we ask for is not to be considered a cheat, which unfortunately some people think you are. They are too small minded to realize that this is a career, not something we do for a hobby and that our reputations would be irrevocably tarnished for something like that...AZB: Do you get nervous before a big match?
Michaela: At the Mosconi Cup, always... Also, the latter stages of the World Championships when it really starts to get exciting! You feel the pressure building up around you at these matches and you naturally get caught up in it.AZB: Pool players are not known as the most even tempered people in the world. How do you keep them in line?
Michaela: We have the advantage of Matchroom and the WPA behind us really, which makes this one easy... All the players know that if they step out of line they will either be reprimanded by the WPA or not invited back by Matchroom and that's a pretty strong incentive. During a match if needs be, we would speak to a player in whatever shape or form we feel necessary, some it's a quiet word others it's a dirty look lol... The good thing is they all know that Nigel and I will not put with any of their c**p, so they don't tend to try it on...AZB: Most of the fans in the states will only be familiar with your 9-ball events, but didn't you just ref a major Snooker event?
Michaela: Yes, I just made history by being the first lady referee to ever referee at The World Snooker Championships final stages and also at The Crucible! That was one of the greatest moments of my live because I have been a snooker fan since I was little girl.AZB: How did that all transpire? You are not the image I have of the average snooker ref.
Michaela: That's exactly why that transpired! lol I was approached by the Chief Executive of World Snooker after the 2001 World Championships and asked if I would be interested in refereeing snooker. They wanted to change the referees profile by introducing ladies, younger referees and foreign referees. I was lucky to be headhunted following my involvement in 9 ball which is covered on Sky television.AZB: When they showed the US Open on Pay Per View last year, there was a female referee that bore a striking resemblance to you. How did that make you feel?
Michaela: Luke, from Matchroom, actually emailed me about it because he had been there and he couldn't believe it! Apparently, she was even wearing a black and white top like mine? It has to be positive though, doesn't it? It's great that they like the job I do enough to want to copy it ... but why didn't they just ask me if I was available? lolAZB: The men's pool scene is a mess in the states. How is it on your side of the ocean?
Michaela: In the UK, it is very structured now in the form of UKAPA in England and SAPPA in Scotland, they work together to promote the game in the UK. The UKAPA also have regular tournaments which are attended by a number of European players as well. In Europe they have a very structured set up with ranking tournaments, European Championships and also a Wheelchair division.AZB: You have an internet site now at www.michaelatabb.com. How did that come about? When you started as a referee, did you ever think you would have fans like you have now?
Michaela: My website came about by accident actually! I was posting on the Matchroom forum during last years World Champs and some Philippine fans said I should have a website. I acknowledged that I would love one, but didn't know that much about it - three of them offered their services for free! It is unbelievable really what has happened through Sky's coverage, and I would never have dreamt it, but I also won't take it for granted because it could end at anytime...AZB: I understand you recently got married. And married a very well know pool player. Can you tell us about that?
Michaela: My husband, Ross McInnes, is one of the top english 8 ball pool professionals that the UK has known. We met when I started playing pool in 1991 and started 'dating' in 1993. We were married on 3rd May last year after nearly 9 years together - I wanted to make sure I could live with him first... :-) and we have a 6 year old, Morgan who is someone you should definitely look out for the coming years!AZB: So, you are reffing the WPC in July. What is on your schedule after that?
Michaela: I am travelling to play in my own World Championships the very next day, I will have my cue with me in Cardiff to try and catch some practice when it's quiet... After that, the World 9 ball Masters is in Amsterdam which I am looking forward to! And then the snooker season starts again at the beginning of September, so it's all go... Refereeing is now my full time career, but I can't imagine a better way of earning a living - getting paid to do a job that I would do for nothing... :-))
Posted by Expert at 2:24 AM
Michaela Tabb is snooker’s leading female referee. A former nine-ball pool player and referee, she swapped the blue baize for the green in 2001 and is now a regular on the Tour.
The mother-of-two from Dunfermline in Scotland became the first female to referee at the World Championship when she took charge of the match between Mark King and Drew Henry at the Crucible in 2003. She has also refereed at the Masters.
Date of birth: December 11, 1967
Highest break: 26
Qualified as Referee: Class 3 in September 2001.
First Pro match: Main Tour, it was Ken Doherty against James Wattana at 2002 Welsh Open.
Most memorable match: Got to be my first match at the Crucible – Drew Henry v Mark King in 2003 – though last season’s Grand Prix semi-final between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Paul Hunter was up there as well.
Most embarrassing moment: Cleaning the cue ball for Ken Doherty at the UK Championship in York, walking away from table and leaving ball marker on it.
If you weren’t a referee what would you do: Anything to do with sales.
Which is the toughest rule to apply: Replacing the balls correctly after a foul. I’m all for using television replays if it helps speed up the game and gives confidence to the players everything has been replaced correctly. But it must be at the referee’s discretion.
Which Rule would you scrap: Push shot.
What do you carry in your pockets: Hankie, two ball markers and a coin – the largest I have in my purse at the time!
Where do you get your gloves: Sudbury’s of Torrington – have to have them made because of my smaller fingers.
Interests: Most things to do with Pool, the family and playing poker.
Posted by Expert at 1:42 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Photo by: Rey Nocum
Her first ever competitive snooker match saw her refereeing at the 2002 Welsh Open in a match between Ken Doherty and James Wattana. Michaela now resides in Dunfermline, Fife with her two children.
Prior to making her snooker debut, Michaela Tabb had already become one of the world's most respected referees in nine-ball, and has been head referee at every world championship since 1999. On numerous occasions, she has garnered respect from players and fans alike for making controversial decisions which, after television replays and slow motion analysis, have proven to be correct.
Her no-nonsense attitude has seen her become involved in several notable controversies, such as with American Earl Strickland. The two were at loggerheads for much of the America's 2003 World Nine-ball Championship match against Steve Davis to the extent that when the two met for Strickland's next round the American presented Tabb with a bunch of flowers as an apology for his behaviour the previous evening.
On 18 February 2007, Tabb made history by becoming the first female ever to preside over a world ranking event final at the Welsh Open in Newport between Andrew Higginson and Neil Robertson.
Posted by Expert at 10:10 AM