WORLD number one Mark Selby knows what it takes to win at York and, as he tells STEVE CARROLL, it's now that the snooker season really gets into gear

"It's a great venue and a great city - a great city for a great tournament," Mark Selby opines as York once again prepares to go snooker loopy for 12 glorious days on the baize from Tuesday.

It's a place that has certainly been kind to the Leicester potter in the past.

Selby beat Shaun Murphy 10-6 to lift the title in a packed York Barbican in 2012 and then struck snooker's 100th maximum break 12 months later as he embarked on another run to the final.

On that occasion, Neil Robertson proved too strong - recovering from a 5-1 deficit to claim the last leg of the game's triple crown with a 10-7 victory - but the arrival of the UK heralds a special time for Selby.

As far as he is concerned, it is when the snooker campaign really starts to get going.

He explained: "I am looking forward to it. It's that time in the season to kick start with the UK, the Masters after Christmas and, before you know it, the Worlds are round the corner. It is a big part of the season."

Selby's form peaks when the competitions really start to mean something. Of his six career ranking event victories, five have come either at or following the UK Championship - including the 2014 World crown.

So that's why the 32-year-old is relatively unconcerned at a start to the year that has brought only a semi-final spot at the International Championship, in China, where he lost to eventual winner John Higgins.

The world number one believes he is playing well enough, and is relishing getting into the longer format matches that will break up months of best-of-seven frame encounters on the European Tour.

"Obviously I have not won anything this year but I played quite well out in China and John Higgins played the best of anyone throughout that competition," Selby said. "It's quite hard nowadays. A lot of tournaments are the best of seven and you don't have to do that much wrong and not win.

"When you come off the table on the back of a defeat it is hard to judge where your game is. It's not just me. All the top players prefer the longer format. It gives you more time to get into the match - you feel like you are getting involved.

"In a best-of-seven, within an hour you can lose and you don't feel like you have played a game. In the longer matches, an interval comes after four frames and that's a great thing in snooker. It can turn a match.

"A player can be dominating and the interval comes and they won't do as well afterwards.

"It's not that I am playing badly. The last three or four tournaments I have played I have lost to a player who was outstanding. John Higgins is playing great, Mark Williams (in the Ruhr Open in October) was as well and Ryan Day (at the Bulgarian Open) should have had three centuries on the trot against me.

"I am not being too hard on myself. The standard now is as good as it has ever been and I am staying positive. I am putting in the hard work and it will turn around."

Selby's UK challenge 12 months ago ended quickly. After beating amateur Oliver Brown 6-0, he was shocked 6-4 by David Morris, ranked 62 places below him, in the second round.

But having been just two weeks removed from becoming a father, following the birth of baby Sofia, he gave himself a free pass as he made his way back home.

"I was going there without too much expectation," he explained. "I didn't go thinking 'I am going to play there and get out'. I was still trying. I didn't play fantastically and David Morris played really well and thoroughly deserved to win.

"But it is one of the few times I have lost and it has not hurt as much. I knew what I was going back to. She was a year old on November 11. She is doing great. She is really forward. At her birthday, people kept asking me if she was two."

And while it is a cliche for top 16 players to say they take every game as it comes - even when facing the minnows in the first round of a flat 128 draw structure like the UK - it is a saying Selby takes to heart.

He found himself in a dog fight with the amateur Shane Castle in the opening round at York two years ago, trailing 3-1 to the then 15-year-old at the mid-session interval before battling through 6-4.

Selby takes on Joe O'Connor - beaten 6-0 by Robertson at the Barbican 12 months ago - in the first round on Thursday afternoon and will not be resting on his laurels despite the odds being stacked so heavily in his favour.

"It's the same for everyone," he explained. "Before the game, Joe has got as much chance of winning as I have. I will probably go there as favourite but that doesn't put any more pressure on myself. It doesn't matter whether you are playing Ronnie O'Sullivan or Joe it is still the same."

Reflecting on his scare against Castle, Selby added: "I don't think he is playing any more. That year he showed great potential. It was his first time on TV and he stood up to the occasion.

"If you take anything for granted you will come a cropper. Everyone in the tournament - all 128 players - can play the game. One of the things about snooker is that if you start taking liberties it will bite you on the bum."