Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher, Malta’s Alex Borg and England’s Barry Pinches and Andy Hicks all reached the semi-finals of Q School event three to earn two-year cards to the World Snooker Tour.
Four other players earned cards as the next highest on the Q School Order of Merit: Si Jiahui, Billy Castle, Peter Lines and Peifan Lei.
Ursenbacher, age 23, has shown his potential in recent seasons notably reaching the semi-finals of the 2017 English Open and knocking Ronnie O’Sullivan out of last season’s Welsh Open. He was relegated from the tour at the end of the 2018-19 campaign but has secured an immediate return.
In today’s quarter-finals in Wigan he edged out Peter Lines 4-3, taking a 37-minute deciding frame on the colours.
Hicks, who reached the semi-finals of the World Championship, the UK Championship and the Masters back in the 1990s, earned a return to the tour for the first time since 2013. The 45-year-old Devonian beat Qingtian Yang 4-0 with a top run of 51.
“I’m looking forward to having a good go at it for two years to see what happens,” said Hicks. “It’s tough at Q School because everyone has to fight to qualify. I have come close before and missed out. I have played solid snooker this time and I feel I deserved to get through.
“About six months ago I really questioned whether I should carry on playing, but my friend Paul Williams convinced me to keep going and try to get back on the tour. I can’t wait, I am going to play in every event.”
Borg, who turns 50 tomorrow, has had several previous spells as a pro, most recently from 2016-2018. He beat Billy Castle 4-1 in the final round today with a top break of 54.
It was a good day for the veterans as Norwich’s 48-year-old Pinches edged out Long Zehuang 4-3 thanks to a break of 75 in the deciding frame. Pinches’ career highlights include reaching the last 16 at the Crucible in 2004 and beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final of a Players Tour Championship event in 2010.