Snookerbacker

May 20, 2015

Back To (Q) School

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:50 am

flcQ-School Event 2 starts today in Burton after the first event gave us our first 4 qualifiers yesterday. SB Classic Grand Finalists Daniel Wells, Syd Wilson and Eden Sharav all making the step up to the pro game, as well as some other bloke.

The fallout from the match between Eden Sharav and Adam Duffy was somewhat eyebrow raising.

The defeated and clearly disappointed Duffy decided to make his views on his opponent public on Twitter (he’s since locked his account) and it’s fair to say he didn’t congratulate the Gloucester-based Scot on an excellent season in the style of a certain Mr O’Sullivan, quite the opposite in fact.

The phrase he used when reflecting on the match and in particular his opponent rhymed with ‘Cat Plucky Munt’, poor old Adam’s particular chimp was not so much out of the box as escaped from the zoo, running rampage and shitting all over the streets. I fear Dr Peters may have some work on his hands to tame this maverick beast.

Anyway, away from all that, Ronnie himself has blogged for the first time since the World Championship and tells us that he’s gutted about not performing well in Sheffield, telling us that he can’t tell us why he didn’t play well because he’s not ready to tell us yet. The little tease.

He also talks about the tiresome shoe incident, the chalk on the table scandal and the fact that he’s not all that keen on the current crop of referees.

He also says that he has to play more if he wants to compete at the top again but that he’s probably not going to, which kind of goes against the evidence of the season when he lost one match in a PTC to Simon Bedford, had the season off and then romped the World Championship, but he seems to have forgotten about that as well as understating the number of matches he played last season. In short, this is very much a Ronnie’s eye view of things so should be taken with a very large pinch of salt, or should that be selt?

Anyway, back to Burton it is and you can keep up with all the scores from the second event here.

May 18, 2015

Q-School 1: Three Down and Three To Go

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:42 am
Riding high or Gone for a Burton?

Riding high or Gone for a Burton?

This morning sees the Last 32 of the first Q School event get underway with each player having come through 3 rounds already with 3 more standing in the way of them and professional status.

It’s a tough old gig over in Burton and much is always made of the cut-throat format. The draw can be a cruel animal and there are bound to be a number of players who have forked out the £600 plus associated expenses only to see their dreams be extinguised at the first hurdle in both events, possibly without even winning a single frame.

But all talk of fairness and formats will mean little to the 8 players who emerge out of this snooker cesspit clutching (well not literally) a main tour card at the end of it. They will have done it the hard way, that’s for sure.

I’m pleased to say that of the 32 survivors in this first event, no fewer than 19 of them have been involved at some time or another in the Snookerbacker Classic. This includes the current champion Brett Miller, the man he beat in the final Daniel Wells as well as multiple Grand Finalists Syd Wilson and Ben Harrison.

A lot of the professionals over on Twitter are singing the praises of Zhao Xintong and many believe that he’s a banker to come through, even in this short and lottery like format, so we’ll wait and see if these shrewd judges are proved right.

No doubt all eyes will also be on Reanne Evans, who faces a tricky hurdle this morning in the form of Ashley Hugill, who beat another Ashley, Mr Carty, in the last round. Carty being a player that a lot of people fancied to have a good run in this.

Other names to look out for include Andy Hicks, the 1995 World Championship semi-finalist who is returning after a break from competitive snooker, ‘fallen-off professionals’ Alexander Ursenbacher, Chen Zhe and Alex Davies as well as former professional Adam Duffy who very nearly became the first amateur ever to qualify for The Crucible just a few weeks ago.

So it’s all to play for from 10am this morning, it’s just a shame that they haven’t set up a camera or two so we can watch it. There are plenty of ties in amongst this lot that would draw a decent online audience I reckon. It would also be great to see a final qualifying match or two, when the twitching is likely to reach untold levels.

In the absence of any cameras, you can keep up with Live Scoring here.    

10am

Saqib Nasir v Sydney Wilson
Ross Higgins v Jake Nicholson
Lin Shuai v Chen Zhe
Reanne Evans v Ashley Hugill
Nick Jennings v Luke Simmonds
Bash Maqsood v Daniel Wells
Alexander Ursenbacher v Jamie Barrett
Zhao Xintong v Michael Williams

1pm

Darryn Walker v Andy Hicks
Adam Duffy v Sam Craigie
Eden Sharav v Brett Miller
Callum Downing v Dylan Craig
Brandon Sargeant v Shachar Ruberg
Wayne Townsend v Rhys Clark
Leo Fernandez v Oliver Brown
Alex Davies v Ben Harrison

7pm – Last 16

Tuesday 10am – Final 4 Qualifying Matches.

May 6, 2015

Time for a Break

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:47 pm
Yes, but when did you leave?

Yes, but when did you leave?

It’s been a long old season of snooker although in truth not quite as manic and exhausting as the one that came before it and now is the time to simmer down the blog for a spot of hibernation.

I thought Stuart Bingham’s win on Monday was a fantastic boost for the sport. OK, at the start if you’d have said to someone that it was Stuart’s time they probably would have a) laughed at you and b) said that it would do nothing for the sport’s image, but the manner in which he competed and claimed the title really got the public’s attention, if only for a night, before they swiftly returned to the mind-numbingly, seemingly endless discussions about football.

Stuart is obviously one of those who has most benefited from the changes that have been introduced over the last five years by Bazza and co. He epitomises the hard working professional and on Monday he claimed the ultimate reward for his graft. It’s quite ironic that a 38 year old bloke from Essex with a bald head, a bit of a belly and a grin as wide as a bin lid personifies a sport that’s being run by a man who is all about image and perception to boost the coffers.

The World Championship, including the nail-biting qualifiers again shone head and shoulders above all the other tournaments on the calendar put together. This was due mostly/entirely to the longer match format and all the drama that this creates. I was pleased to hear Bazza’s clear message that it’s going nowhere, he was slightly more determined sounding this time and didn’t put too many caveats in there about the BBC or Sheffield Council.   

Personally, as I may have mentioned once or three hundred times, I detest this move towards Best of 7’s as the norm and with the promise of more to come in the future it can only switch this particular blogger off the sport for extended periods, popping my head back around from behind the sofa for the handful of tournaments that remain outside of this conveyor-belt, repetitive and crashingly dull format. This feeling of watching the same tournament over and over again is exacerbated by Eurosport, who insist on showing any one from Robbo/Selby/Judd/Ding/ Murphy/Higgins or Ronnie if he’s entered, in one-sided contests in the early rounds. But I suppose at least it makes me look forward even more to Sheffield than I already do so that’s something.

The next big event in snooker of course involves amateur players as Q-School gets under way from Burton on 14th May and amongst those competing is Snookerbacker Classic Champion Brett Miller, so the very best of luck to him.

In terms of the professional game, that 2-man team World Cup thing is back, so that’s one to skip, bloody awful that was last time they held it and as far as I can see the format is the same again.

But then we are back in Bendigo with the dulcet tomes of Robby Foldvari at the end of June so realistically that’s when the blog will be back in business as I do enjoy what I get to see of the Aussie Open. The calendar is largely EPTC dominated for the first half of the season but there are a few nice events in there such as the Shanghai Masters, International Championship, Champion of Champions and the UK Championship from York, which I might take a trip to at some point.

So all in all it’s time for a sabbatical for me, though I may pipe up now and again if the mood takes me and I’m bound to be spouting nonsense on Twitter on a far too regular basis in between. Thanks to everyone who continues to tune in, the blog reached 10 million lifetime views during the World Championship, not bad for a novice eh?

See you all again on the other side.

May 5, 2015

VIDEO: The World Champion and Runner-Up Face The Press

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:34 am

While we all let it sink in that Stuart Bingham is the new World Snooker Champion, here is a look back to the finalists immediate reactions to a pulsating final. A huge congratulations to Stuart who must go down as one of the most popular ever winners of this great title. No doubt, BBC punditry awaits, just don’t mention The Curse…..

May 3, 2015

World Championship Final: Murphy v Bingham

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:23 am

The final match of a busy season for the top players is fittingly also the biggest match of the season, in terms of prestige, money at stake and distance and it’s Stuart Bingham, fresh from a thrilling win last night over Judd Trump, who faces Shaun Murphy in this season’s World Championship Final at The Crucible.

Last night provided a much-needed epic match, notching the tournament for me up from a 5 out of 10 to a 6. Trump’s incredible fightback was littered with centuries and Stuart rolled with the punches and came out the other end battered, bruised and tear-soakingly victorious in undoubtedly the match of the championship, if not the season.

There are already people out there claiming that this final is a bit of a letdown, in terms of who is contesting it and protesting that they won’t bother watching it (they will). But these two are there as of right and are two of the best and most consistent players of the season. We usually end up with the best player over the two and a bit weeks lifting the trophy at the end and there is no reason why either of these two can’t fit that mugshot profile come Monday night.

So before posting what can only really be a token prediction, you know the drill by now in terms of bets, back the overs on the centuries as these pockets are generous, here’s what the two protagonists had to say after their wins.

Murphy for me has looked almost unbeatable in his last two matches and is cueing better than anyone else here and probably the best he has ever done, so for me I think it’s his to lose. I’ll say now that I’d like Stuart to win, primarily because it’s clear how much it would mean to him and how he would react if he did, I don’t think there is enough Kleenex in the UK to mop up his tears.

But the heart cannot rule the head when it comes to the serious business of punting and if you are looking for an interest in this I’d go somewhere along the lines of 18-13 to Murphy which is best priced 11/1. You can grab the overs on the centuries (+5.5) at 5/4 so that’s probably worth a punt too.

In terms of a novelty bet, Murphy is playing so well that I’d risk a couple of quid on him to make 5 centuries at 15/2 or 6 at 18/1. You can also get 25/1 on there being a 147 in the match if you are feeling really adventurous, though I’d say that’s unlikely.

So there is enough in there to keep any small, medium or large punter interested and watching.

Let’s hope it’s a classic, a black ball decider would be good, just like 30 years ago.

April 30, 2015

World Championship Semi Finals: The One-Table Situation

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:09 am
I hope she likes snooker.

I hope she likes snooker.

While we have all been in the Land of Nod, dishing out the Z’s and dreaming hazy baizey dreams, the table pixies under the watchful eye of The Snooker Gods, have been hard at work at the Crucible with fluffy spanners, spiritual levels and magical fairy dust to transform the most cramped arena in snooker into the vast gladiatorial epicentre that is, ladies and gentlemen, the legendary one-table situation. 

The four warriors left to fight to the death are a former champion, two former runners up and a 39 year old newbie, perhaps not, when we all looked at the quarter final line-up, the four that we expected to be the last ones standing, but all there as of merit and all in fine fettle.

The action kicks off at 1pm this afternoon when Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins take to the baize, which means Shaun will be able to assess and tell us all about the kickage levels before anyone else now that the tables have been turned. Nature loving Barry is straight back out there following his win last night over, it has to be said, a rather sour loser in Neil Robertson in another decider, he’s making quite a habit of these.

Tonight sees Judd and Ballrun start out their best of 33 frame marathon with the feverish Judd perhaps having expected to be facing Ronnie, but Ballrun overcame the fragile Rocket last night in very assertive style, the most watchful fanatics having long since detected that Ronnie was not ‘at the races’ either during this match or any of his others. Once more, the favourite tag proved too much for him and perhaps his winning days here are over, just like John Higgins.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at how these might pan out.

Shaun Murphy v Barry Hawkins

Shaun has looked very sharp on the table this year and even picked up a ‘Best Dressed Player’ award from the sponsors yesterday now that he has returned that ridiculous clowns outfit he turned out in the other day for a bet to the fancy dress shop on Sheffield High Street. Barry in the meantime is again proving the old adage that The Crucible is very much a ‘horses for courses’ venue, lining up in his 3rd consecutive year at the one table situation. He’s generally very underrated is Baz and I’ve been guilty of this myself for too long, he’s a player that flies so under the radar that even if he arrived today wired up with a backpack the US Intelligence Agencies would decide he’s not worth the bother, but something tells me this underdog tag suits him just fine. Murphy on the other hand is a player that most of us believe to be firmly planted in the world’s top 5 (5 or 6 if you are Willie Thorne) and having achieved the ‘Grand Slam'; an accolade hastily made up by the BBC, this season by winning the Masters, he’s now up there with an elite bunch of the game’s greatest and most good. Their form coming into this championship could not really have been more different, Murphy has had a very good season and Barry has been pretty awful since December, but having survived three ‘too close for comfort’ encounters he’s somehow made it here and given that he’s not been used to being at this end of a tournament for quite a while he seems fresh enough and unlikely to use burn-out as an excuse. Maybe it’s the great British country air at his cottage that’s doing the trick. So who wins? Well I think it will be Murphy. At this stage you have to side with the player who you believe is in the better form and the way he closed out the match against McGill leads me to believe that if this gets close he can do the same here, he’s also not had the inconsistency that Barry has shown at times during his matches. But he’ll have to be right on his game, if he isn’t, prepare for another grappling win from The Hawk, who given everything I have said I do think is a pretty generous price to win for value hunters.

Prediction: Murphy to win 17-14

Recommended Bet: 3 points on over 3.5 centuries at 10/11.       

Judd (right)

Judd (right)

Judd Trump v Stuart Bingham

Judd was nothing short of awesome against Ding and anyone that watched the first six frames and nothing else this week and is about to jet off on holiday will return expecting to read that he is the new champion of the world. He’s been threatening to perform like this here for the last couple of seasons but this time it all seems to be clicking into place and he now finds himself odds-on favourite to get his hands on the famous old trophy and read all the names of the traditionalist anoraks and old farts that have won it before him. He’ll also get the chance to give Burger King some much needed publicity in the press afterwards; such a noble cause. Stuart will be many people’s idea of a party pooper having knocked out the narky, unstable and frankly childish Rocket in clinical fashion. I for one don’t want to watch Ronnie if he’s not on his game and I’m glad he lost, his behaviour at times to me was bordering on gamesmanship and he’s lucky that he’s still being allowed to get away with it by some, though not all, of the referees. I think this match could be a cracker in terms of the standard and I expect Bluebell Wood to be the main beneficiaries. Both of them are approaching the match right at the top of their game so there is very little to split them. But I, like a lot of others now, think this is Judd’s time to shine and I can see him having a session in amongst these four where he takes a stranglehold on the match. As I said in the original preview a couple of weeks ago, he will be world champion, it’s just a question of when rather than if. He won’t get many better chances than this and all he has to do is to play the way he did in the last round and he’ll be covered in confetti on Monday night. He just has to keep his focus and not let the thought of winning put him off.

Prediction: Trump to win 17-11.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on over 3.5 centuries at 4/5.

Recommended Double: 2 points on Murphy/Hawkins +3.5 centuries and Trump/Bingham +4.5 centuries pays just on 3/1. 

April 29, 2015

VIDEO: Hawkins and Robbo Pressers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:54 pm

I think you need to watch Robbo’s first….

Stuart Bingham and Ronnie O’Sullivan Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:13 pm

Murphy and McGill Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:10 pm

He’s lit up the championship, but he’s on his way home. Anthony McGill has been beaten by Shaun Murphy and this is what they both had to say afterwards…

Barry Hearn Press Conference in Full

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:19 pm

Bazza’s been spouting again, announcing some welcome new events in the UK for 2016/17, as well as the gradual phasing out of the European Tour to be replaced by a bigger ranking event, some increases to prize money and the globalisation of Q-School, listen to the man who reckons he could sell sand to the Saudi’s below:

 

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