JOHN Virgo's winter of discontent continued at Blackpool yesterday as

he became the fourteenth player in the world's top 16 to go out of the

#300,000 Mercantile Credit Snooker Classic.

Virgo, 43, deposed as chairman of snooker's governing body over

Christmas, hopes to rediscover his identity as a player this year. But

in the top half of the draw, where no seeds survive, he slumped to a 5-1

defeat against Australian Warren King.

Voted off the board of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker

Association and replaced as chairman by John Spencer, Virgo said the

trials and tribulations of the job had weighed heavily on his shoulders.

''I'm very pleased to be out of it,'' revealed the world No.13.

''I was obliged to lend an ear to people when they were complaining

about things. They won't need to bend my ear any more. I don't owe them

any favours now.

''Of course it was a thankless task. Unfortunately, that's the way the

politics of the game work. I'm not interested in the politics any more.

I will do my talking on the snooker table. It's a pity I had a gag on


His disillusionment is in contrast to his observation many months ago:

''I think I am a better player since becoming chairman of the WPBSA. It

has given me a fuller life.''

King, 34, ranked No.55 in the world, is in only his second major

quarter-final and, with #9000 thus guaranteed, has earned the best

pay-day of his eight-year professional career. Yet his wife, Leanne, had

to talk him out of quitting the game.

King now plays Welshman Steve Newbury, who beat Peter Francisco of

South Africa 5-3 last night. Today's order of play:

12pm -- D Morgan (Wales) v B Morgan (England). 7.15pm -- W Jones

(Wales) v G Wilkinson (England).