Bingham suffered a narrow 13-11 loss to eventual runner-up John Higgins at the World Championship.
Stuart Bingham secured wins at the English Open and the Gibraltar Open in an impressive campaign last season, now the 2015 World Champion is hoping to add further titles to his silverware collection.
We spoke with 43-year-old Bingham to find out what he has been up to over the summer and discuss his ambitions for the season ahead…
Stuart, the recent qualifiers saw you get a win over Tian Pengfei to qualify for the International Championship. However, before that you lost out to Li Hang at Riga Masters qualifying. How would you assess your game currently?
“There were a few nerves and maybe a bit of rustiness in my match with Li Hang. It felt like I was playing alright going into that game, but I was found out really. I wasn’t looking forward to my next game after that. Tian Pengfei got unlucky a few times and just kept sticking me up. I managed to score well from there and got the win, so I was pleased to get through that one.
“I’ve been practising a bit, but I probably could have given myself a bit more of a look in. Next season I may well not even put my cue down after the World Championship and just keep going. I just felt a little bit out of it. Even if I just start playing an hour a day to keep things ticking over. It is important to make sure you get a good start to the season.”
You are now up to six ranking titles. Only ten players have ever reached double figures, do you have aspirations to try and reach ten before the end of your career?
“Definitely, that is actually my target now. I think when I reached six last season I started looking at it and I believe I can get to ten. That’s a target that I really want to go for and is the one keeping me hungry and keeping me practising. If it doesn’t happen I have still had a great career, but I feel I have more tournament victories in me. When that belief starts to go and things start dropping off, then I will begin to look at different avenues. However, for now I’m still hungry and still really enjoying it.”
You have worked with Terry Griffiths as your coach over the last couple of seasons. He recently announced that he won’t be travelling to events anymore. What is your current coaching situation?
“We parted ways after the World Championship. We both spoke at the Welsh Open about changing things and him not travelling anymore, so it worked out both ways. The last two years working with him have been great. He is such a character and has been there and got the t-shirt himself. I am on my own at the moment and looking at a few different options. For the time being, I will work on my own and see what happens. I think both of us had reasons to stop. I didn’t use him enough and I probably should have got more out of him. We only really met up at venues and I’m the sort of person who really needs to meet week in week out.”
There was a time when the general perception of the public was that a snooker player’s best years were behind them when they reached the age of 40. Your generation has categorically shown that not to be the case. What do you think has changed?
“I think our age group has an all round game that allows us to still compete. The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and John Higgins have managed to develop a combination of styles between both the Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry eras. You obviously have the Judd Trump generation coming through now as well now who just pot balls off the lampshades and play good snooker. The safety and tactical element is why the 40-year-olds are still winning.
“The overall standard is so high now. I think only three or four years ago you could turn up at a qualifying event and be guaranteed 90 percent of your wins. Now, if you have an off day then you will get beat. I think that keeps everyone on their toes.”
You’ve recently finished a snooker themed tattoo on your back. What inspired you to go for it?
“I already had the World Championship trophy on my back. A little bit of me regretted it in a way, but I thought that I would then put all of the other trophies I had won in the background. Literally a week before getting it done I changed my mind and decided to do something different. I went for animals representing the countries where I have won. The tattooist put some pictures together and it worked out perfectly. I am now already talking about getting a sleeve done. I think it will probably be a family theme down the left arm. We will see.”