|Born||11 December 1967|
Michaela Tabb (born 11 December 1967) is a professional snooker and pool referee. A former eight-ball pool player, she began refereeing professional pool tournaments in 1997 and professional snooker tournaments in 2002. In May 2009 she became the first woman ever to referee a World Snooker Championship final.
Introduced to the game by a boyfriend, Tabb started playing pool competitively in 1991, at the age of 23. Selected for the Scottish Ladies' Pool Team in 1992, she captained the team to two consecutive "Grand Slams" in 1997 and 1998, accomplished 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.
As an individual competitor, Tabb won the UK women's singles title in 1997. The following year, she won the European Women's Pool Championship in Gibraltar.
Tabb became involved in amateur tournament refereeing in the mid-1990s, when she and her husband, professional pool player Ross McInnes, began running eight-ball and nine-ball pool tournaments. McInnes subsequently encouraged Tabb to pursue refereeing at a professional level.
Tabb 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 TV. 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 2001, openly acknowledging that he wanted to transform the dowdy image of snooker referees, Jim McKenzie, then chief executive of the World Snooker Association, recruited Tabb to the sport. He exempted her from the customary five-year refereeing apprenticeship and placed her on a fast-track toward refereeing professional ranking tournaments, a move that generated resentment among her fellow officials and referees.
Tabb qualified as a Class 3 snooker referee in September 2001. She made her ranking tournament debut on 23 January 2002 at the Welsh Open, where she refereed a first-round match between Ken Doherty and James Wattana. On 19 April 2003, she made her World Snooker Championship debut at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, when she took charge of a first-round match between Mark King and Drew Henry.
In July 2003, stating that dwindling sponsorship revenue had forced them to cut the number of tournament referees from ten to eight, the World Snooker Association terminated the contracts of Tabb and Dutch referee Johan Oomen on a "last in, first out" basis. However, the WSA 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 referee a world-ranking snooker final when she presided over Neil Robertson's 9–8 defeat of Andrew Higginson at the Welsh Open in Newport, Monmouthshire. On 20 January 2008, she refereed the final of the Masters at Wembley Arena in London, as Mark Selby defeated Stephen Lee by 10 frames to 3. On 5 April 2009, Tabb took charge of the China Open final in Beijing, where Peter Ebdon beat John Higgins by 10 frames to 8.
On 3 and 4 May 2009, Tabb became the first woman to referee a World Snooker Championship final, officiating 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.
During a second round match, between Graeme Dott and Stephen Maguire at the 2010 World Snooker Championships, she prompted some amusement when she absent-mindedly picked up the white ball, instead of retrieving the green ball from a pocket, and went to place it on the green spot.
Tabb attended the University of Glasgow, where she studied chemistry, biology, and sociology, but left before receiving her degree.
She resides in Dunfermline, Scotland, with her husband Ross McInnes and their two sons, Morgan (born 1997) and Preston (born 2007).