STUART BINGHAM warmed up for his latest challenge in China with a week of exhibitions in England.
The world champion entertained fans at the opening of a new private snooker room in Harlow on Thursday (Oct 15) before playing ex-pro John Astley in a swanky-do at the Marriott Hotel in Newcastle on Saturday evening.
Ball-run says he is now looking forward to jetting off for China on Monday on route to face 19-year-old Steven Hallworth in the opening round of the International Championship in Daqing on Sunday, November 1.
Hallworth, from Skellingthorpe, only turned pro last year and had to qualify but world No 2 Bingham says he will not be taking the teenager lightly at the third ranking tournament of the season where the winner will take home £125,000.
He said: “I’ve never played Steven before but he has had some good results lately so I will have to be on my game to progress.
“And he has had to qualify to get here – just like I have usually had to do in the past – so that will make him sharp and ready for this.
“But I am feeling good about my game and I always enjoy a trip to China and the welcome the players receive there.
“The match is likely to be televised on ITV4 and is should get underway at 12.30pm so I hope I can get off to a good start for those who are watching back home.
“And I understand Daqing is on the boarder with Russia and it is pretty cold there at the moment, so I am just packing my gloves and woolly hat!”
Bingham was in Harlow for the opening of Darren Edmondson’s new snooker room in an event organised by ex-pro Jason Pegram (the group from the evening is pictured above).
He said: “I was going to play Jason but he said he ‘forgot his cue’ – but he was clearly running a bit scared!
“But seriously, it was a great evening and the drinks were flowing.
“And I was on a maximum at one stage but I missed a cut on a black after clearing the reds. Hopefully I can finish one off in China.”
Bingham also enjoyed a competitive match with Astley at the Marriott Hotel in Newcastle in an event organised by his opponent’s Dad, Gary Astley.
He said: “I’ve met Gary on the tour a few times and it got arranged then and I am always happy to go to these events because it is a way of giving something back to the sport.”