Mark Davis admits he is playing for his very future at the Brighton Centre this week.

A shake-up in the structure of professional snooker at the end of the season means Davis needs to pocket a healthy cheque in the British Open to protect his place on the main tour.

Davis, from St Leonards, slipped for 35 to 40 on the world rankings last season and knows he must stop the slide if he is to continue playing at the highest level.

Only the top 56 in the world will automatically qualify for the main tour next season with the rest having to scrap it out at a new Tour School for the eight remaining places.

With Davis' provisional ranking for next season down to 46 the 32-year-old admits he must start to produce the goods or face the consequences.

Davis said: "Everyone is battling for their lives this season because if you slip outside the top 56 the implications are massive.

"If you miss out on the main tour it means you can't get into the big tournaments to win good money. Instead you play in the Challenge Tour events where it is difficult to earn enough to keep you going.

"It is a big change and the cut off point of 56 seems pretty ruthless but I feel confident enough in my game at the moment to ensure I don't get sucked into it.

"My ranking of 40 means I've got a bit of a cushion but I still need to do a bit to be comfortable and hopefully I can set the tone for the season at Brighton.

"Although it is obviously a concern that there is this cut-off point I'm trying not to think about it because my aim for the season is to break into the top 32. I want to look up, not down."

Davis takes on world No. 27 Drew Hendry in the first round at the Brighton Centre tonight, hoping to repeat the success he enjoyed 12 months ago.

Last season he beat Robert Milkins and Alan McManus to reach the last 16 where he eventually lost 5-2 to current world No. 5 John Higgins.

Davis is scheduled to meet Higgins again tomorrow evening if he beats Hendry and is relishing the opportunity of gaining some revenge.

He said: "The only person I have lost to this season is Ronnie O'Sullivan so I have got to be happy with the way things have gone so far.

"To get Ronnie in the first round of the Grand Prix was a pretty tough draw. I didn't play too badly but he is on a different level to everyone else at the moment and I lost 5-2.

"Apart from that I have won all three of my qualifying games this year and I hope to carry that form into Brighton to give my supporters something to cheer.

"It is great playing so close to home and there is no doubt it helped me in the opening two rounds last year but I feel I could have done better against John.

"It will be nice to play him again but I can't look that far ahead as I have to concentrate on beating Drew first because he is a very tough opponent."

Tickets for the British Open cost between £7 and £20 and can be booked by calling the box office on 0870 9009100.

l Australian snooker legend Eddie Charlton has died in a New Zealand hospital at the age of 75.

Charlton was in New Zealand for a series of exhibitions and engagements and fell ill. He was beaten in three World Championship finals by England's John Pulman in 1968 and Welshman Ray Reardon in 1973 and 1975.

Charlton won Pot Black three times, was Australian champion 20 times and won the World Matchplay Championship and World Open Championship.