Tabb refereeing a 2013 German Masters match in Berlin
11 December 1967|
Bath, Somerset, England
She began refereeing professionally on the pool circuit in 1997, and has officiated at top pool tournaments such as the WPA World Nine-ball Championship and the Mosconi Cup. After qualifying in 2001 to referee on the professional snooker tour, she went on to become the sport's highest profile female referee. During her 14 years on the tour, she became the first woman to officiate at a professional ranking snooker tournament (2002), the first woman to referee a ranking tournament final (2007), and the only woman ever to have refereed the World Snooker Championship final (2009 and 2012).
Her professional snooker refereeing career came to an end when she abruptly left the tour in March 2015. She subsequently brought a court case against the sport's governing body, alleging sex discrimination, unfair dismissal, and breach of contract. An out-of-court settlement was reached in September 2015, under which Tabb was paid an undisclosed sum.
She is also a former player on the women's eight-ball pool circuit, where she won a number of titles as a solo competitor and as a member, and later captain, of the Scottish Ladies' Pool Team.
Tabb started playing competitive pool in 1991, at the age of 23. Selected the following year to play on the Scottish Ladies' Pool Team, she went on to captain the team to two consecutive "Grand Slams" in 1997 and 1998 by winning the Nations Cup, European Championships, and World Championships in the same season. She remained on the team until 2003. Her sister Juliette Tabb also played on the Scottish ladies' team between 1996 and 2008.
Tabb became involved in pool refereeing in the mid-1990s when she and her husband, professional pool player Ross McInnes, began running amateur eight-ball and nine-ball pool tournaments. McInnes subsequently encouraged her to pursue refereeing at a professional level.
She made her professional refereeing debut at the St. Andrew's Cup nine-ball pool tournament in September 1997. She refereed on television for the first time the following year, when the 1998 St. Andrew's Cup, sponsored by Barry Hearn's Matchroom Sport, was broadcast on Sky. She went on to become one of pool's top officials; she has refereed at the WPA World Nine-ball Championship, the Mosconi Cup, and the sport's other premiere events. In 2017 Tabb became the head referee on the World Pool Series.
Stating that he wanted to change the dowdy, all-male image of snooker referees, Jim McKenzie, then chief executive of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, recruited Tabb to the sport in 2001. Exempted from the customary five-year refereeing apprenticeship and placed on a fast-track toward officiating at professional ranking tournaments, she qualified as a Class 3 snooker referee in September 2001. She conceded that this fast-tracking generated resentment among her fellow officials and referees.
On 23 January 2002, she became the first woman ever to referee at a professional ranking snooker tournament when she took charge of a first-round match between Ken Doherty and James Wattana at the Welsh Open in Newport. On 19 April 2003, she made her World Snooker Championship debut at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, refereeing a first-round match between Mark King and Drew Henry.
In July 2003, dwindling sponsorship revenue forced the WPBSA to cut its number of tournament referees from ten to eight. Tabb's contract, along with that of Dutch referee Johan Oomen, was terminated on a last in, first out basis, threatening her future in the sport. However, the WPBSA soon reversed its decision to dismiss Tabb; she signed a new contract in September 2003.
On 18 February 2007, Tabb became the first woman to officiate at a world-ranking snooker final as Neil Robertson defeated Andrew Higginson 9–8 in the Welsh Open. On 20 January 2008, she refereed her first Masters final at Wembley Arena in London, as Mark Selby defeated Stephen Lee 10–3. On 5 April 2009, she took charge of the 2009 China Open final in Beijing, where Peter Ebdon beat John Higgins 10–8.
On 3 and 4 May 2009, Tabb became the first woman to referee a World Snooker Championship final, as John Higgins defeated Shaun Murphy by 18 frames to 9 to capture his third world title. During the interval of the final's third session, the BBC broadcast a profile of Tabb, in which she discussed the pressures of juggling her family life with her busy refereeing and travel schedule.
On the evening of 24 April 2012, during the first round of the 2012 World Championships, Tabb and female Chinese referee Zhu Ying simultaneously officiated on the Crucible's two tables. This marked the first time at the Crucible that two matches were simultaneously refereed by women. As the referees walked out to officiate, they were accompanied by the song "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves".
On 19 March 2015, World Snooker announced that Tabb had left the professional refereeing circuit. The organization stated: "World Snooker would like to take the opportunity to thank Michaela for her contribution to World Snooker over the last 14 years, and wish her all the best with her future refereeing endeavours."
In September 2015, appearing under her married name of McInnes, Tabb brought a court case in Bristol Employment Tribunal against World Snooker, claiming sex discrimination, unfair dismissal and breach of contract. World Snooker made an undisclosed out-of-court financial settlement, stating that "Michaela McInnes (Tabb) and World Snooker Limited have come to a confidential accommodation regarding the claims brought by Mrs McInnes in the employment tribunal.” Since leaving Tabb has continued to referee legends events.
Although Tabb was born in the south-west of England, her family moved to Scotland when she was three years old.
Tabb studied chemistry, biology, and sociology at the University of Glasgow, although she dropped out before receiving her degree. Before becoming a full-time professional referee, she worked as an advertising salesperson and as a job recruitment agent. She was also a sales representative for the Ann Summers lingerie retailer.
- Official WPBSA profile Retrieved 28 April 2009
- Swarbrick, Susan (3 July 2004). "Having cut her teeth playing pool, she dived into the deep end and made history. Meet Michaela Tabb". Glasgow Herald.
- Patterson, Roz (5 April 1999). "Can Women Beat Blokes at Their Own Game?". Daily Record.
- Official team statistics available at http://www.scottishladiespool.com, retrieved 1 May 2009. Tabb is often credited as "Michaela McInnes."
- Pitt, Nick (26 April 2009). "Tabb Rules the World". Sunday Times.
- Patterson, Roz (25 August 1998). "Scots Girl in Debut as Pool Referee". Daily Record.
- "Tabb to Referee Final". The Times (London). 13 April 2009.
- Lerner, Ted (April 23, 2017). "Michaela Tabb Joins The World Pool Series". worldpoolseries.com. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
- Potter, Sarah (22 April 2005). "Tabb Bringing Extra Spice to Table". Times (London).
- Blackhurst, Owen (5 April 1999). "Woman's Touch at Crucible". Times (London).
- Hendon, David (20 January 2008). "Tabb Set to Make History at Wembley". Sunday Herald.
- "Tabb named Crucible final referee". BBC Sport. 14 April 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2010.
- BBC2, World Snooker, 4 May 2009, 1400–1700
- "Tabb To Referee World Final". worldsnooker.com. World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
- "Betfred.com World Championship (2012)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
- Hazel Irvine, BBC TV, 1 May 2012
- "Michaela Tabb, snooker's highest-profile female referee, leaves circuit". The Guardian. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
- Shamoon Hafez. "BBC Sport – Michaela Tabb court case against World Snooker begins in Bristol". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 September 2015.
- "Michaela Tabb reaches out-of-court settlement with World Snooker". The Guardian. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
- "Michaela Tabb Joins The World Pool Series – World Pool Series". www.worldpoolseries.com.
- "Scots snooker ref Michaela Tabb: I won't do sexy photoshoots while I'm still doing this job". Daily Record. Glasgow. 13 April 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
- Everton, Clive (23 April 2009). "Michaela Tabb looking forward to her big break". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
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