Who is Ian Burns? As the potter tells STEVE CARROLL, he is hoping everyone will know his name by the time the UK Snooker Championship - which starts tomorrow - comes to a conclusion

WHEN Ian Burns wanted his Coral UK Snooker Championship campaign to start with a bang, this was not what he meant.

Away from the lights of the main arena, in the comparative seclusion of the York Barbican’s sports hall, the 29-year-old was deep in battle with James Wattana in the tournament’s first round 12 months ago.

Only they weren’t alone. Besides the smattering of spectators and the sound of balls finding pockets on other tables, there was a white elephant in the room. And a rather noisy one at that.

“I think I lost 6-2,” Burns said. “We were playing our game on an end table. Next to that table was a black curtain and, behind that, they were setting up the stage for the BBC studio.

“There was banging and drilling.

“This is the UK Championship. They just tried to cram too many tables in.

“It was great out front in the main arena but I was in the back. I couldn’t believe they were setting the stage up next to where we were playing. Could you imagine Ronnie O’Sullivan playing in that?”

No, we can’t.

So Burns was an interested observer when, despite some fairly vociferous complaints from the some of the top stars during the event, it was announced the game’s second biggest tournament was returning to the Minster city.

Governing body World Snooker has taken steps to help all 128 players have a more enjoyable experience this time around. Key to that, for some of the game’s lesser lights, is to ensure the rigging of the TV studio is “carefully planned to reduce any noise disruption during play”.

That negative experience 12 months ago has not put Burns off another visit to York and another charge at the UK. With stalwart Rory McLeod awaiting him in the first round, he has a huge carrot in front of him if he can get to the last 64 - the possibility of playing Ali Carter, who has recently returned to action after receiving treatment for lung cancer, in front of the BBC cameras.

Burns explained: “I love York as a place. It’s really good. I am just hoping to go one further and get a win. I know I am capable of doing that. I’ll play the winner of Zhang Anda and Ali Carter. To play in front of the cameras at the Barbican would be unbelievable so I am hoping it will be Carter.

“Everyone wishes Ali good health and he has come back but, once the game starts, you have got to block that out. We are there to win a game. You have got to concentrate on your own game.

“There are three tournaments - UK, Masters and Worlds - that, if you can get results in them, you broadcast (yourself) a lot more and everyone knows about it. It gets your name on the board and people start asking ‘Who’s Ian Burns?’ It’s absolutely massive.”

He comes into the tournament in good heart thanks to a run at the International Championship that saw two-time ranking tournament winner Dominic Dale beaten 6-5 in the first round on the way to the last 32.

“I played really well and I was disappointed not to go further given the way I played,” Burns said. “I ended up losing 6-2 to Michael White but I lost two frames from 60 in front.The scoreline definitely flattered him.

“The International saw the first games I have won at a venue this season and that has given me a lot of confidence. I know I am playing well and know how I can play. I have got to carry that forward to the UK.”