Sports Listings: Plan Ahead

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The Independent Online
STEPHEN HENDRY, the world No 1, has a monopoly of the Benson and Hedges Masters at the Wembley Conference Centre. His win last year over John Parrott in the most important invitation tournament on the snooker circuit was his fourth in succession. Should he do it again at this year's event from 7 to 14 February, the sponsors will let him keep the trophy.

However, Parrott, the world No 2 with his eye on the pounds 110,000 first prize, will aim to lose the nearly man tag in this competition, having been beaten by Hendry in the finals of 1989 and 1990.

The tournament features the top 16 players in the world plus two wild card entrants. Wild cards were introduced three years ago to include players outside the top 16, but in top form. Chris Small, from Edinburgh and ranked 75th in the world, qualified for the Masters by winning the Benson and Hedges Tournament in Glasgow last November. Ken Doherty, from Ireland, was invited as the second wild card because of his consistency over the season. In the first round, Small plays Willie Thorne and Doherty meets Darren Morgan. The winners, however, go on to play Hendry and Jimmy White, the world No 3, respectively.

Private viewing boxes are also available, overlooking the table from the third level at the centre. The four- or eight-seat boxes are relatively sound- proofed, allowing freedom to talk during play, something that is not possible in the auditorium. Each box has its own television monitor for closer viewing. The boxes are sold by the day and a four-seater for the first round costs pounds 130, the eight-seater pounds 260. This fee increases at every round, rising to pounds 250 and pounds 500 for the final. Catering is an optional extra and several menus are offered from the buffet at pounds 6.50 per head to the champagne five-course meal at pounds 52 per head.

The Wembley Restaurant will be open from Wednesday to Sunday, 5 to 8pm, during the tournament and tables can be booked in advance.

Personal application for tickets can be made to the Wembley Box Office, which is open from 9.30am to 9pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 6pm on Sunday or from the Virgin Megastore in London's West End, open 9.30am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and from noon to 7pm on Sunday.

Benson and Hedges Masters, 7-14 February, Wembley Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Admission prices: Sunday, 7 February to Wednesday, 10 February (First and second rounds): 10am and 2.30pm sessions pounds 6.50 and pounds 5; 7 or 7.30pm session pounds 7, pounds 5.50. Thursday and Friday, 11 and 12 February (Quarter- finals): 2pm pounds 7.50, pounds 6; 7pm pounds 8.50, pounds 7. Saturday, 13 February (Semi-finals): 1pm pounds 12, pounds 10.50; 7pm pounds 13, pounds 11.50. Sunday, 14 February (Final): 2pm (seven frames) pounds 15, pounds 12; 7.30pm (10 frames) pounds 16, pounds 13.

Postal bookings (administration fee of 50p per ticket): Benson and Hedges Masters Snooker Tournament Box Office, Wembley Stadium Limited, Wembley HA9 0DW. Credit card bookings: 081-900 1234 (50p adminstration charge per ticket). Virgin Megastore, 14-16 Oxford Street, London W1 (opposite Tottenham Court Road tube station).

Private viewing boxes: 071-243 0064. Banqueting Department (for Wembley restaurant): 081- 902 8833 Ext 2273.

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