November 27, 2015

UK Championship: Round 2 Preview (Well kind of)

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:00 pm
Hazel and the Gang are back.

Stop trying to hog the limelight Hazel. OK, you’re back and the snooker’s on, we get that. But Ronnie’s got something he wants to say about tomatoes. See ya.

The BBC begin their coverage of the UK Championship on Saturday from York. It’s always an occasion these days when we get to see snooker on the BBC so I for one will be tuning in there to be talked down to rather than watch a far more informative and incisive set-up on Eurosport, where Ronnie and Jimmy are joining Colin Murray in the studio, presumably not wearing V-Necks.

Ronnie of course, even when he isn’t playing is never far away from the headlines and today he’s apparently backtracked on his statement last week in Romania that he was coming back to play in The Masters in January. He’s now saying he won’t be playing and that he has set no timetable for a comeback.

He also uses this opportunity to tell us:

  • what he has for breakfast (poached eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and porridge, presumably not all in the same bowl).
  • what he has for his dinner (Laila’s curry, but he likes fish too and chicken, oh and grilled stuff, he likes grilled stuff too, oh yes and salad, he likes that aswell – we all eat too much pasta and bread in the UK he says).
  • what time he gets up (4am apparently, that’s a bit too early in my opinion for a young person. I understand old people getting up that early as they’re running out of days and want to get to the cake shop first but Ron is still only 40. I’d have a lie-in if I was him and get up at 6.30am like I do, though that’s usually because the dogs wake me up for their breakfast and their morning deposit, anyway I digress).
  • what he watches on TV (I’m a Big Celebrity Brother Get Me Out of Dancing on Ice or some such mind-numbing social conditioning twaddle and some sport, as he likes sport, just not snooker).
  • when he has a shower (it’s fucking fascinating stuff this, I promise you).
  • what time he goes to bed (9pm is an early night for him, pretty standard for me but each to their own and this is about him not me).
  • what book he’s reading (it’s about stopping smoking, by someone who I assume has stopped smoking and decided to write a book about it to tell everyone how he did it, if everyone did that every time they gave something up I think the market might become a little saturated so obviously the way this fellow gave it up was a lot better than the way others gave it up, but the results were the same I assume i.e. they all gave up)
  • what he keeps in his ermm ‘handbag’ (‘my pens’ – obvs, who doesn’t? He also keeps everything in there that can lead to identity theft if anyone fancies a crack when they see him next eating grilled stuff in a restaurant).

He stops short of telling us how many times he goes for a shit and at what time this usually occurs, which may of course depend on the porridge to egg/mushroom/tomato ratio of his breakfast or the intensity of the curry he has for his dinner, but hopefully that will form an integral part of the next article. Stay tuned for that, I know I won’t.

But for those who are getting rather weary of Ronald’s insistence that he doesn’t want to be the centre of attention anymore, whilst choosing to say stuff like this when a major championship is on and becoming the centre of attention, there is a major championship on and he shouldn’t be the centre of attention until he decides to start playing again.

Let’s draw a line under this now.


I’m not going to once again go into the devalued status of this great championship as I’m sure that will form a lot of the focus of the TV and social media debates for the next 9 days and I have said more than enough about it already. It’s not as good as it was but it’s still better than 90% of the other tournaments on the calendar so let’s just enjoy it for what it is. 

Nearly added to the unemployment figures.

Nearly added to the unemployment figures.

Bettingwise with regards to Round 1 it was a tale of what might have been. We were 2 deciding frames away from a hugely profitable first round. The 15/2 acca was let down by Mark King, who long-standing readers/sufferers will remember I used to have a saying about. I only wish I’d remembered this phrase when I’d put the bet on.

The other was Andy Hicks, the 14/1 from William Hills still in my book being the most ridiculous price of this or for that matter any season and but for an incredibly unlucky in-off on match ball yellow, the compiler would have been joining the Job Seekers Allowance queue come Monday morning. Bullet – Dodged. Incidentally, it’s worth checking out Barry Hawkins press conference after the match where he mentions his thoughts on the amateurs playing in this, particularly when they are as experienced as Hicks is. 

We did land an acca on Thursday though so that clawed some of it back and I remain confident in the outright picks and still harbour hopes about the 63/1 quarter betting Christmas present to the ever faithful. I’ve seen nothing yet to suggest that this might not go very very close to landing, we can dream, after all, it’s nearly Christmas, the time when Baby Jesus makes all dreams come true, or is that Santa Claus? Anyway, schedule and bets below.


Second Round (Best of 11 frames)


Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Anthony Hamilton (Eng)
Graeme Dott (Sco) v Jack Lisowski (Eng)
Mark Williams (Wal) v Tom Ford (Eng)
Gary Wilson (Eng) v Martin Gould (Eng)
Yu De Lu (Chn) v Marco Fu (HK)
Liang Wenbo (Chn) v Jimmy Robertson (Eng)
Tian Pengfei (Chn) v John Higgins (Sco)
Dark Mavis (Eng) v Ken Doherty (Ire)

Recommended Session Bet: 2 point double on Lisowski (+1.5) and Doherty (+2.5) pays almost 5/2. 2 points on Lisowski at 2/1.


Joe Swail (NI) v Adam Duffy (Eng)
Kyren Wilson (Eng) v Mike Dunn (Eng)
Zhou Yuelong (Chn) v Shaun Murphy (Eng)
Gerard Greene (NI) v David Gilbert (Eng)
Li Hang (Chn) v Ricky Walden (Eng)
Ross Muir (Sco) v Ben Woollaston (Eng)
Joe Perry (Eng) v Robbie Williams (Eng)
Jamie Burnett (Sco) v Alan McManus (Sco)

Recommended Session Bet: 2 points on Li Hang at 7/2.

Sunday 29 November

Second Round (Best of 11 frames)


Michael Georgiou (Eng) v Mark Allen (NI)
Chris Wakelin (Eng) v Michael Holt (Eng)
Judd Trump (Eng) v Stuart Carrington (Eng)
Daniel Wells (Wal) v Ali Carter (Eng)
Mark Joyce (Eng) v Sydney Wilson (Eng)
Matthew Selt (Eng) v Sean O’Sullivan (Eng)
Oliver Lines (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)
Dechawat Poomjaeng (Tha) v Ryan Day (Wal)

Recommended Session Bet: 1 point double pays almost dead on 4/1 at Paddy Power on total frames in these two matches being over 9.5 – Holt v Wakelin and Selt v O’Sullivan.


Robert Milkins (Eng) v David Grace (Eng)
Dominic Dale (Wal) v Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Aditya Mehta (Ind)
Fergal O’Brien (Ire) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Tha)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Jamie Cope (Eng)
Anthony McGill (Sco) v Luca Brecel (Bel)
Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Robin Hull (Fin)
Xiao Guodong (Chn) v Jamie Jones (Wal)

Recommended Sunday Bet: 2 point Acca pays over 5/1 at Marathon Bet on Allen, Carter, Day, Hawkins, Maguire and McGill.

Recommended Acca: 3 points acca pays best odds over 5/2 at Marathon Bet on Bingham, Mark Williams, Higgins, Gilbert and Carter. Add Swail and McGill for a 2 point acca pays almost 17/2 at the same firm. 

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  


November 26, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic Derby 28th November: Full Details for Players

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:30 am

SB A4 POSTERAfter the opening two qualifying heats saw Brian Robertson and Marc Davis make their way to the Grand Finals in April, on the 28th of November we head to the Cueball Club in Derby to find qualifier number three.

This heat is again an extremely high class field and very difficult to call. Current holder Brett Miller and the man he succeeded at champion Ant Parsons are both in action, as are joint tournament favourite Elliot Slessor, former professional Lee Page and returning veteran David Roe. 

The full draw can be viewed here where you can also keep track of the results as they happen and all first round matches will commence at 10.30 am on the dot. Players should be aware of the terms and conditions regarding late arrivals.

The dress code is polo or collared shirt, trousers and shoes.

All players should arrive at the venue in plenty of time for their opening match and be prepared for a roll-on, roll-off day. In other words, have a decent breakfast if you are planning on going deep. The winner is guaranteed at least £250 and will be just 4 matches away from the £3000 first prize, which also includes a frame at The Crucible as part of the Snooker Legends Tour a few days after the Grand Finals.

Full details of the Snookerbacker Classic can be viewed here, including those all important terms and conditions.

All matches are the best of seven frames.

The referees for the day will be Rob Spencer and Peter Bennett who will be roaming for the first two rounds before donning their white gloves to referee the semi-finals and final.

Anyone who would like to come and enjoy the snooker is more than welcome at this excellent and very hospitable club.

For reference the post code for the club is DE21 4AW

November 25, 2015

UK Championship Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:34 pm
Dreaming of when this was a decent fucking comp.

Happier Times: Dreaming of when this was a decent fucking comp.

It’s the final day of round one/qualifying matches on Thursday before a rest day on Friday ahead of BBC coverage starting on Saturday in York, with the final 24 matches being played out to decide the Last 64.

The main talking point so far off the table has been the slightly unsporting way Ding decided to express himself after losing to Adam Duffy the other night. Instead of congratulating his opponent on an excellent season, he instead said that it was all fucking crap and the arena is for amateurs, which to be fair Duffy is.

Just read that back, an amateur is what I mean, not crap, definitely not crap. I repeat, Adam Duffy is not crap. (He can be a little sensitive at times).

It’s similar to the way Ding reacted when losing to Ryan Day a couple of years back at the Crucible, though there were a few more fucks that day I seem to recall. I’m not sure he is in a good place emotionally at the moment and perhaps snooker isn’t doing him a lot of good. He could be Terry’s toughest gig to date.

Interestingly, the BBC decided to report that his press conference was ‘littered’ with expletives, but the transcript shows that only one fuck and two craps were offered up; which is rather disappointing given the explosive headline.

Presumably the BBC are now employing sensationalist young journo’s who’ve spent most of their time coasting through university wanking over tabloids and Twitter before falling out with a 2:2 in Journalism straight into their first zero hours contract.

It was also quite an odd decision for them to actually print the word ‘fucking’ on the BBC website, I’m not sure whose bright idea that was but whoever it was is probably fucked themselves when the top brass, the ‘hell bent on ruining the BBC’ government and those self same tabloids bother to look at a snooker story. This is not what Ethel from Dorset pays her license fee for I’ll have you know and she is penning a strongly worded letter as we speak.

Thankfully, the censors aren’t too bothered about this blog so we can carrying on fucking, cunting and twatting (one or two t’s?) to our hearts content.

Talking of bloggers, the far more informative Pro Snooker Blog’s founder and author Matt Huart has gone public with the news that he will soon be taking up a post at the WPBSA. It’s great news for him and I offer him hearty congratulations on here as I have in person. There are one or two rather mean-spirited people who believe that this is a cynical attempt by those in power to control media output, but Matt isn’t exactly known for causing trouble however much I try and pin on him and the governing body should be applauded for rewarding all his hard work, particularly in the field of rankings, with a salary and a complimentary anorak. 

There, that last paragraph should help secure my expenses for The Crucible, cheers Matt. Enjoy the dark side.

Anyway, if it’s trouble-making, opinionated ranting, hysterical over-reaction, totally irrational one-sided blind to the facts argument and made-up conjecture you are after, you’ve still got this place. I don’t think I’m next in line to join the stripey tie brigade. This beast can’t be tamed that easily, though I am of course open to negotiation and if the price is right I will happily shelve every principle I pretend to have.

Here’s the running order for tomorrow and don’t forget to check out the head to heads on Ron’s handy page here. There are still bets going from the original preview so hopefully at the end of Round 1 we’ll come out with a profit. 

First Round (Best of 11 frames)


Robert Milkins (Eng) v Vinnie Calabrese (Aus)
Rod Lawler (Eng) v Daniel Wells (Wal)
Graeme Dott (Sco) v Nigel Bond (Eng)
Robin Hull (Fin) v Zhang Anda (Chn)
Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Andy Hicks (Eng)
Robbie Williams (Eng) v Mitchell Mann (Eng)
Mark Allen (NI) v Zhao Xintong (Chn)
Dechawat Poomjaeng (Tha) v Chris Melling (Eng)


Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Jordan Brown (NI)
Anthony Hamilton (Eng) v Peter Lines (Eng)
David Gilbert (Eng) v Jason Weston (Eng)
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Tha) v Darryl Hill (Eng)
Fergal O’Brien (Ire) v Thor Chuan Leong (Mas)
Kurt Maflin (Nor) v Sean O’Sullivan (Eng)
Mark Selby (Eng) v Joe O’Connor (Eng)
Mark Joyce (Eng) v Barry Pinches (Eng)


Kyren Wilson (Eng) v Paul Davison (Eng)
Dominic Dale (Wal) v Michael Wild (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Alex Taubman (Wal)
Luca Brecel (Bel) v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (Irn)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Jimmy White (Eng)
Xiao Guodong (Chn) v Noppon Saengkam (Tha)
Matt Selt (Eng) v Zhang Yong (Chn)
Cao Yupeng (Chn) v Oliver Lines (Eng)

Recommended Bet: 2 points pays almost 5/1 at Betfred on Dott, Allen, Gilbert, O’Brien, Joyce, Dale, Wilson, Selt and Maguire.  

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  


November 24, 2015

UK Championship Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:57 pm
Some bloke with his hands in his pockets, some other bloke and a John Inman impersonator.

(Left to Right) Some bloke with his hands in his pockets, some other bloke having a drink and a John Inman impersonator.

It’s Day 2 in York on Wednesday and this sees another 24 matches completed in Round 1 both in the main arena and the slightly less salubrious back room where they put the lower seeded players.

I know it’s great that we get to watch some of these matches on the stream and but for John Higgins turning a strange shade of purple after the mid-session interval the quality, if not the punctuality, of the World Snooker streaming channel is always pretty good.

I am disappointed however by some of the match choices. There are plenty out there which may be a lot closer than the largely one-sided affairs they have picked to stream and it’s a shame, given the relatively low but dedicated fans that are watching both on the official channel and at the bookies, that more imagination is not put into these choices.

Punters on Bet 365 and the like just want to bet, generally on anything that moves, they don’t usually care one jot as to who is playing if they are doing their conkers in-play as long as they win and we’ll no doubt see the likes of Higgins, Trump, Selby etc. next week enough on the BBC. But I suppose while the venue consists of two rooms that are poles apart in terms of quality, they have to make sure the top players don’t rub shoulders with the plebs in the back. Another reason to consign the flat structure to the baize-lined rubbish bin.

Tomorrow they seem to be going out of the way to tell people what a global sport snooker is by screening players from Pakistan, Brazil, Thailand, Hong Kong, Egypt and some place called Wales. When for me the match of the afternoon features two English players, Ali Carter and Alfie Burden who surely should be given a knock on the match tables ahead of both the other matches that have been chosen? I know I may be a little biased here but can anyone seriously disagree?

But in the great scheme of things it’s not a biggie, I read that World War Three is just about to start so it could be worse, you could be Turkish, apologies obviously if you are.

Here’s the running order for tomorrow and don’t forget to check out the head to heads on Ron’s handy page here.

First Round (Best of 11 frames)


Michael Holt (Eng) v Fraser Patrick (Sco)
Jimmy Robertson (Eng) v Lu Ning (Chn)
Mark Williams (Wal) v Hamza Akbar (Pkn)
Mike Dunn (Eng) v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon (Tha)
Ricky Walden (Eng) v Itaro Santos (Brz)
Gerard Greene (NI) v Michael Leslie (Sco)
Ryan Day (Wal) v Duane Jones (Wal)
Zhou Yuelong (Chn) v Craig Steadman (Eng)


Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Ashley Hugill (Eng)
Peter Ebdon (Eng) v Lyu Chenwei (Chn)
Rory McLeod (Eng) v Jamie Cope (Eng)
Yu Delu (Chn) v Michael Wasley (Eng)
Ali Carter (Eng) v Alfie Burden (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) v Ross Muir (Sco)
Joe Perry (Eng) v James Wattana (Tha)
Jamie Burnett (Sco) v Sanderson Lam (Eng)


Judd Trump (Eng) v Hammad Miah (Eng)
Matthew Stevens (Wal) v Chris Wakelin (Eng)
Marco Fu (HK) v Hatem Yassen (Egy)
Aditya Mehta (Ind) v Sam Baird (Eng)
Ben Woollaston (Eng) v Steven Hallworth (Eng)
Li Hang (Chn ) v Lee Walker (Wal)
Alan McManus (Sco) v Eden Sharav (Sco)
Tian Pengfei (Chn) v Ian Burns (Eng)

Recommended Bets: 1 point on Mark Williams to win 6-0 at 9/2. 2 point treble pays just over 7/1 on Williams (-4.5), Murphy (-4.5) and Hicks (+3.5). 

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  


November 23, 2015

UK Championship Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:01 pm

It’s Day 1 of the UK Championship on Tuesday and this sees 16 of the opening 64 matches in Round 1 taking place in York.

There are two streamed matches in both sessions and these are highlighted in bold below. As usual they have gone with the highest seeds in each session when these might not have been the top four matches on everyone’s list, but I suppose you can’t please everyone, least of all snooker fans.

The stream is available both through the main bookmaker sites and the World Snooker TV streaming channel, which for me is the better option in terms of quality and worth signing up for a month to just for the three days of matches here.

If anyone missed my main preview for the championship including recommended bets it’s here. You can view all the head to heads on one handy page here. I have recommended a small treble below for a bit of interest in the opening session, depending on how that goes I might add a further one for the evening session. 

First Round (Best of 11 frames)


Dark Mavis (Eng) v Rhys Clark (Sco)
Andrew Higginson (Eng) v David Grace (Eng)
John Higgins (Sco) v Leo Fernandez (Ire)
David Morris (Ire) v Michael Georgiou (Eng)
Martin Gould (Eng) v Allan Taylor (Eng)
Stuart Carrington (Eng) v Liam Highfield (Eng)
Jamie Jones (Wal) v Ian Glover (Eng)
Ken Doherty (Ire) v Tony Drago (Mlt)


Ding Junhui (Chn) v Adam Duffy (Eng)
Jack Lisowski (Eng) v Zak Surety (Eng)
Liang Wenbo (Chn) v Gareth Allen (Wal)
Gary Wilson (Eng) v Martin O’Donnell (Eng)
Anthony McGill (Sco) v James Cahill (Eng)
Joe Swail (Eng ) v Joel Walker (Eng)
Michael White (Wal) v Sydney Wilson (Eng)
Tom Ford (Eng) v Scott Donaldson (Sco)

Recommended Afternoon Treble: 1 point on John Higgins (-3.5), Jamie Jones (-3.5) and Allan Taylor (+3.5) pays best price over 11/2 at Marathonbet.

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  


November 20, 2015

My UK Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:18 pm
The 4 table set-up at The Barbican

The 4 table set-up in the main arena at The Barbican

The BBC coverage of the 2015/16 snooker season gets underway next Saturday when Hazel and the V-Necked Posse join the UK Championship from the Barbican in York for the Last 64 onwards. Before this, the previous round will be played at the venue as players descend in their droves like sardines/organic vegetables (delete as appropriate and according to taste), into a rather uncomfortably sized tin/straw bio-degradable weekly delivered box (ditto) from Tuesday onwards.

Before I preview an event which I still look forward to every season, I will say that I’m not alone in the snooker world in thinking that the changes Bazza made to this tournament on his coronation have changed it for the worse.

Hopefully his acknowledgement last week that the changes being made to the way draws are to be done ‘in the future’ or ‘with immediate effect’ (subtle difference usually means no difference in Bazzaland) are being demanded by sponsors and TV, rewarding those higher up the list with easier draws making it more likely that they will qualify to televised stages, is just phase one of us moving away from the ridiculous and fatally flawed flat structure system of which our beloved dictator was so fond and back to a fairer, more competitive tiered one.

Big ranking events and showpieces like this one work so much better when we reward the top seeds with a place at the main event and in doing so, guarantee that sponsors, media and TV audiences as well as the all important ratings chasers whose jobs depend on such things are happy. I’ve nothing against the flat structure for PTC events, they work perfectly well and that is how they were born and long may they survive…*ahem*..but for snooker’s sake let’s give this event the prestige back that it has steadily lost down the line shall we? Protect the crown jewels so to speak.

Now that the undefending champion Ronnie is doing a passable impersonation of Lord Lucan, though he is in the studio with Eurosport with Jimmy for the whole event no doubt grinning away at his inferiors despite having been canned in the last two World Championships, it’s imperative that the big names and ermm, ‘personalities’ are visible in all the main comps. We’ve seen Ding, Judd, Selby and others in the past fall victim to the flat structure in cubicles in and around the chosen venues near the Yorkshire area of England for events held in China and this makes no commercial sense whatsoever.

Furthermore, having the tiered system means that lower ranked players can build confidence by beating those of a similar ranking first before climbing to face those higher ranked; better prepared. Just as Kyren Wilson did in Shanghai, under the old tiered seeding system, building his confidence to a crescendo by the end.

All that said, the UK still retains some individuality, if only by chance and history rather than design. OK, it’s lost the Best of 17’s throughout, which for me is a great shame and nowadays all matches up to and including the semi-finals are Best of 11, meaning that even the fairly new International Championship in China is a longer match format overall, but at least the Best of 11’s aren’t Best of 9’s and at least they aren’t Best of 7’s which are turning so many fans that used to follow the sport regularly into ‘just a few decent event’ fans (i.e. the ones with longer matches). Is that Joe Davis I hear turning in his grave? (Click it, you will not regret it)

The big plus is the city it is held in, but that doesn’t mean much to someone who can’t get there to watch, you’ll just have to trust me on that one. Another plus is that it’s on the BBC and I for one hope nothing changes there. My ideal would be to take 32 players to the venue, the top 16 seeds and 16 qualifiers and play 2 session matches on 4 tables in the main arena until such a time as you just use 2 and then 1. For that to happen would require a ‘U-Turn from Hearn’, but those who have been watching closely will know that he does often change his vision under external pressures, he just never admits that he has.  

But, it is what it is and it usually still produces a few memorable matches even in this shortened format, Judd’s final against Mark Allen and Ali Carter against Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals spring to mind from recent years. Just imagine how good it could still be? Surely a 32 player week long event with Best of 17 frame matches would pack the Barbican to the rafters and restore this once great championship to it’s former glory?

Anyway, below I have listed the matches in section order with a few observations and bets. 

The actual times of the matches can be found here. Remember, while there are eight tables in operation, 4 will play in the main arena and 4 will play in a less grandiose adjoining room.

NEW! Click here for a very handy Head to Head page for all the first round matches courtesy of CueTracker. 


Stuart Bingham v Jordan Brown
Anthony Hamilton v Peter Lines
Dominic Dale v Michael Wild
Peter Ebdon v Lyu Chenwei
Robert Milkins v Vinnie Calabrese
Andrew Higginson v David Grace
Graeme Dott v Nigel Bond
Jack Lisowski v Zak Surety

Gary Wilson v Martin O’Donnell
Martin Gould v Allan Taylor
David Morris v Michael Georgiou
Mark Allen v Zhao Xintong
Matthew Stevens v Chris Wakelin
Michael Holt v Fraser Patrick
Joe Swail v Joel Walker
Ding Junhui v Adam Duffy

The big two in terms of seedings here are World Champion Bingham and Ding Junhui, but lurking within this quarter is one of the men in form at the moment, Mark Allen. There is little to suggest to me that we won’t see Allen face Ding in the Last 16 and who is to say that the winner of that won’t kick on and lift the trophy? Much is being made of Bingham’s form, though I do think people have overlooked his semi-final appearance in Shanghai and are instead focusing too much on a few defeats in PTC’s in deciders, I’d say he’ll make at least the Last 32 here comfortably but I can see there being perhaps a different name making it into the Quarter Finals to face Ding or Allen. Jack Lisowski is definitely overdue a run in something and he could be a live outsider in this section along with old hands Ebdon and Dott. I think the winner of the probable Allen/Ding clash will win this section and on current form, as well as his liking for the venue, I’ll plump for Allen.


WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Jack Lisowski/Peter Ebdon.


Judd Trump v Hammad Miah
Stuart Carrington v Liam Highfield
Liang Wenbo v Gareth Allen
Jimmy Robertson v Lu Ning
Mark Williams v Hamza Akbar
Tom Ford v Scott Donaldson
Kyren Wilson v Paul Davison
Mike Dunn v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon

Gerard Greene v Michael Leslie
David Gilbert v Jason Weston
Yu De Lu v Michael Wasley
Marco Fu v Hatem Yassen
Mark King v Ross Muir
Ben Woollaston v Steven Hallworth
Zhou Yuelong v Craig Steadman
Shaun Murphy v Ashley Hugill

The main players in this section, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy, like Bingham and Ding in the top section, have been handed draws against amateur players (the draw wasn’t done live this time), though it’s worth noting that Hammad Miah has beaten Judd in their only meeting, quite recently in a PTC where Miah finished the decider with an impressive century. Mark Williams is in this section too and at time of writing he is just about to play in the final of the General Cup in Hong Kong against Marco Fu, another who resides in this quarter. We also have Kyren Wilson who is knocking on the door of a place at the Masters in January, something which would have seemed highly unlikely a few months ago, also Dave Gilbert, finalist in the International Championship recently and another discovering some great form with a new cue and bags of ability. I fancy Judd to come unscathed from his section and reach the Quarter Final and try as I might to find a player other than Gilbert to oppose Murphy with, realistically I can’t. Of the two, I think by then Judd may have the wind in his sails at a venue that will bring back very happy memories for him, to set up a semi-final against the man he beat to become UK champion. But he is no value at all in the outright market.




Neil Robertson v Alex Taubman
Aditya Mehta v Sam Baird
Fergal O’Brien v Thor Chuan Leong
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Darryl Hill
Stephen Maguire v Jimmy White
Rory McLeod v Jamie Cope
Dark Mavis v Rhys Clark
Ken Doherty v Tony Drago

Jamie Burnett v Sanderson Lam
Alan McManus v Eden Sharav
Li Hang v Lee Walker
Ricky Walden v Itaro Santos
Rod Lawler v Daniel Wells
Ali Carter v Alfie Burden
Tian Pengfei v Ian Burns
John Higgins v Leo Fernandez

Once again, the two main seeds in this section have drawn amateur players from the *ahem* ‘hat’, nothing untoward going on here then. This section however I’d say is a little tougher for the newly crowned COC Neil Robertson and International Championship Champ John Higgins. The presence of Stephen Maguire and Dark Mavis in the top section and the likes of Ricky Walden and Ali Carter in the bottom one, mean that it’s quite likely that the seeded quarter final between the two recent winners will not happen. Walden has struggled of late, he did make the final of a recent Asian PTC but when you look at who he beat to get there, with the exception of Rob Milkins it wasn’t exactly a signal that he was returning to form, so I couldn’t back him here. Ali has a tough opener against Alfie Burden and knowing Ali as I do, I think his performance in that match as well as the result, will dictate if he can go deep in the championship. I keep being drawn back to Robertson here, I needed convincing that the changes he has made to his lifestyle hadn’t had a detrimental effect on his game and last week he proved it hadn’t, though the general feel was that the COC was a little limp in terms of quality. If he goes up against Higgins in the Quarter Finals, which is a medium sized ‘if’, I think that’s where he’ll fall in this. But this is a section which I think could throw up a semi-finalist against the odds.


WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Ali Carter/Dark Mavis/Rory McLeod.


Barry Hawkins v Andy Hicks
Robin Hull v Zhang Anda
Anthony McGill v James Cahill
Luca Brecel v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
Joe Perry v James Wattana
Robbie Williams v Mitchell Mann
Matt Selt v Zhang Yong
Kurt Maflin v Sean O’Sullivan

Dechawat Poomjaeng v Chris Melling
Ryan Day v Duane Jones
Mark Joyce v Barry Pinches
Michael White v Sydney Wilson
Xiao Guodong v Noppon Saengkham
Jamie Jones v Ian Glover
Cao Yupeng v Oli Lines
Mark Selby v Joe O’Connor

Guess what? The main two seeds in this section, namely Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby have both drawn amateurs! Here’s me thinking the seeded structure came in after the UK Championship! Wadda mistakea to makea! That darned *ahem* hat. Anyway, at this point I must say that the 14/1 on Andy Hicks to beat Barry Hawkins that is available is worth backing just to say you were there if it lands. It probably won’t but Hicks is no mug and won’t be phased by a big audience or arena and Barry isn’t exactly setting the world alight at the moment. As for Selby, I will eat the said hat if he doesn’t win either this, the Masters or the World this season. For me, when he is on song he is the best player currently active and he tends to start gargling and loosening up the vocal chords around this time of year, so suffice to say he’d be my pick for this section and indeed, the main event, I think the draw could have been a lot more difficult for him. In terms of the top bit, it would be against the current form book for Hawkins to come through, as fine a player as he is. I’d say there are better value options in Joe Perry and Marmite Matt Selt and perhaps a quarter final for Selt is very much on the cards in this section, but in terms of who will be playing in the semi finals, for me it has to be Selby.


WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Joe Perry/Matt Selt.

RECOMMENDED OUTRIGHT BETS: 3 Points on Mark Selby to win the UK Championship at 8/1. 1 Point Each Way on Mark Allen 22/1 and John Higgins 16/1. 1 point treble pays over 63/1 on all three to win their respective quarters.

RECOMMENDED BIG MATCH ACCA: 3 Points on a First Round Acca at Marathonbet that pays over 15/2 (Best Odds) on: Dark Mavis, Ken Doherty, John Higgins, Jamie Jones, Mark Williams, Mike Dunn, Mark King, Alan McManus, Mark Allen, Matt Selt and Mark Joyce.

RECOMMENDED SILLY PUNT: 1 Point on Andy Hicks to beat Barry Hawkins at 14/1.

RECOMMENDED SINGLES: 2 Points on each: Mitchell Mann (7/4), Chris Melling (11/4), Sanderson Lam (5/2) Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (9/4).

RECOMMENDED PUNTING DOUBLE: 2 Point Double on Rory McLeod and Sam Baird pays almost 3/1 at Marathonbet.   

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  


P.S. I know it’s a seeded draw, a bit weighted for the top boys isn’t it?

November 18, 2015

BBC Snooker: The Beginning of the End?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:26 am
Ozzy: Should be in charge.

Ozzy: Should be in charge.

With news today in the Telegraph about the various cuts that the BBC in the UK are being forced to make and news that the Red Button option is about to be phased out, the inevitable question of where these cuts will be made is being asked, with snooker very much in the rumour mill firing line.

As I tweeted these articles and was retweeted by a comedian called Mark who I profess to never having heard of but who has a hundred zillion followers so I guess he’s a big deal and then retweeted again by Mrs SB’s celebrity dreamboat and snooker fan Richard Osman, I figured it was time to break my recent self-imposed blog silence, as this is clearly an issue which arouses great passion amongst the anorak and thermos flask brigade, who I could almost feel shaking their train timetables in rage and disgust at these latest developments.

The first thing to say is that the coverage on the BBC, albeit probably without the Red Button, which let’s face it has not really served snooker well in recent years anyway, is safe for the next two years and the 2016 and 2017 World Championship coverage will not be affected. Beyond that, the future is still unclear.

Barry Hearn tends to think long term when it comes to TV contracts and it isn’t that long ago that he negotiated the extension that we are currently enjoying with the BBC. This leads me to believe that today’s news will probably prompt him to explore the options he has open to him.  After all, he has always maintained that the future of the World Championship at The Crucible, it’s spiritual home and 17 day residence of the Snooker Gods, rests on two things, those being the support of Sheffield Council and the BBC.

Without the BBC, what will become of snooker on TV? ITV would seem the obvious choice with whom to dangle the World Championship carrot given their recent renewed interest in the baize. But as excellent a job that they do covering novelty events like the Champion of Champions and that god-awful Shootout rubbish, it is a long way from getting involved at Sheffield, York and Ally Pally, both in terms of scope and budget.

Eurosport of course carry the baton of snooker all over Europe and are mostly responsible for it’s increased popularity further afield, so a move to Europe, most likely Germany, for snooker’s most precious possession would surely be up for debate if the BBC decide to pull the plug.

Sky seem to show no interest in snooker these days and for me it would be a dark day indeed if they were to grab the spoils. It’s bad enough they’ve nicked the Open Golf with their soiled used notes, but my guess is they see snooker as small-fry in the great scheme of things and I’d be very surprised if it ended up there.

I’d say the best option for the future of the sport in the UK is the status quo and I’d be sorry to see the BBC give up on something which, like Wimbledon and the Open, it has a long and proud association with.

Sure there are those who would like to see a lot change in terms of the coverage itself, personally I think at least one of the current commentators is now not so much past his sell-by date as languishing under the fruit stinking of ammonia.

I greatly dislike the way that the features often assume that their average viewer has just hatched, although they do have to look at the nerds who hang around the venues every day so you can see why they tend to reduce the syllable count now and again. But all in all, we’d miss it, you might not like to admit it to yourself but sometimes like that mouldy old pair of toasty winter socks you cling to for dear life, you just don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

November 9, 2015

Who’s the COC of snooker? Champion of Champions Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:47 pm

COCIt’s that time of year again when everyone except the employees at World Snooker use the best hashtag in snooker to describe the Champion of Champions event in Coventry. Televised again this week by the excellent ITV4.

We’ve reached the point of the season where the snooker roadshow heads home to the UK after recent adventures in China and Mainland Europe. Not only with this event but just over a week after its conclusion to York for the UK Championship before the other side of new year sees The Masters played out in London. This is what winter’s all about.

The Champion of Champions is an event that I quite like, though I’d prefer the opening matches to be best of 9 with no interval. But at least from the Quarter Finals onwards it’s at least best of 11, so what’s not to like?

OK, it’s a bit of a daft novelty playing it in groups, when effectively it’s a 16 man knockout event in a very traditional format, but it’s probably a welcome change for players who will only need to be there for their group day and hopefully then back for the weekend when the group winners fight it out for the main prizes, rather than hanging around for days on end.

Mark Allen’s win in Sofia bumped Ding Junhui out of Group 2 and it is quite staggering really that Ding isn’t playing in this given that he has been such a prolific winner in the recent past. It’s a bit of a fall from grace for China’s finest and it might give him the wake up call he clearly needs to start competing in a few more events. He did win the recent Asian PTC of course but that wasn’t considered important enough to merit a place in this.

Another absentee, this time through choice rather than chance is the reigning champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who has never lost a match in this event. I like others was surprised that he didn’t want to defend his title in an event and venue that he has professed in the past to like a lot, even if he did call it the Champions Cup. He’s also of course ducking the UK and it remains to be seen if he’ll bother with the Masters. If he doesn’t, I’d suggest that his World Championship participation is in serious doubt.

But it’s more of a novelty these days if Ronnie does play so let’s just all move on to the post-Ronnie era and enjoy this event for what it is. It does seem odd that from 16 champions we also don’t see Ding or the bang-in-form MJW who might have got in by virtue of his Seniors win had the criteria been different but they are the rules and if your name’s not down as they say, you’re not coming in.  

Click here to view the draw and match times for the Champion of Champions. Click on the match below for the head to head stats courtesy of the exquisite Cue Tracker.

I’ve listed a few bets below but I have to say there isn’t a lot of value out there, my only punt as far as value is concerned is on Ali Carter, simply because if he beats John Higgins he’ll look outstanding value at 25/1, he’ll also come to this a bit fresher than Higgins which might help. 

Group Three – Tuesday 10th November 2015

Stuart Bingham (3) v Zhou Yuelong
Judd Trump (6) v Kyren Wilson

Predicted Finalists: Bingham and Trump. Predicted Group Winner: Trump.

Group One – Wednesday 11th November 2015

John Higgins (1) v Ali Carter
Joe Perry (8) v Michael White

Predicted Finalists: Carter and Perry. Predicted Group Winner: Carter.

Group Four – Thursday 12th November 2015

Neil Robertson (4) v Rory McLeod
Shaun Murphy (5) v Yan Bingtao

Predicted Finalists: Robertson and Murphy. Predicted Group Winner: Murphy.

Group Two – Friday 13th November 2015

Mark Selby (2) v Stephen Maguire
Barry Hawkins (7) v Mark Allen

Predicted Finalists: Selby and Allen. Predicted Group Winner: Selby.

Predicted Outright Winner: Shaun Murphy. 

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Murphy at 13/2. 1 point each way on Carter at 25/1. 2 point first round acca on Bingham, Trump, Perry, Selby and Allen pays just on 17/2 at Boyles.   

November 5, 2015

European Tour 4: The Bulgarian Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:09 am
The Dentist is seeded number 1 for Sofia.

The Dentist is seeded number 1 for Sofia.

The latest stop in the final year of the European Tour, or as Stephen Hendry likes to refer to it ‘The Tour That Nobody Gives A Shit About’ is already underway in Sofia but will start on Eurosport on Friday and run through to the conclusion on Sunday.

Whilst it has been confirmed that the Paul Hunter Classic and the European event in Riga will continue next season and with the addition of the three year contracted Gibraltar Open which gets under way in December, it is still unclear as to how the European events will be structured in the future.

Presumably they will still maintain the same format, relying on amateurs entering the early stages to make the entries sufficient enough to keep them afloat. But without the promise of professional places at the end of them, will it really be worth the amateur’s bothering? Will World Snooker announce an incentive other than a chance to get walloped on telly by a big name that will make them enter in their droves? It remains to be seen. Just to note that from the three EPTC events so far the amateurs combined have won less than £8000 in total, with only one, Hammad Miah winning over £1000.

You can find the latest EPTC Order of Merit here. It’s interesting to note that the top two on the list Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter, safe in the knowledge that they will be in the Grand Finals anyway, have chosen not to enter meaning that the unlikely Number 1 seed in this is Rory McLeod, who has a great chance of moving to the top of the list with a good show this weekend.

For now though it’s business as usual and sandwiched in between the International Championship and next week’s Champion of Champions is this event with just Gibraltar and the annual trip to Gdynia in Poland in February to go in the race for places at the EPTC Grand Finals, the venue for which is yet to be confirmed.

The first round matches are listed below and a couple of speculative bets are included at the foot of this post, remember if you are backing each way, boycott the bookies who only pay on the finalists and go for those who give you more value on the last four, namely Paddies, Hills and Boyles.

Rory McLeod v Sam Baird
Zhang Anda v Qualifier
Chris Wakelin v Chris Melling
Ian Burns v Paul Davison
Jimmy Robertson v Allan Taylor
Michael Leslie v Qualifier
Rod Lawler v Liam Highfield
Matt Selt v Hamza Akbar
Judd Trump v Qualifier
Gerard Greene v Gareth Allen
Rhys Clark v Qualifier
Andrew Higginson v Craig Steadman
Peter Ebdon v Qualifier
Fergal O’Brien v Michael Georgiou
Anthony McGill v Barry Pinches
Mark King v Qualifier
Alan McManus v Qualifier
Jack Lisowski v Qualifier
Mitchell Mann v Tony Drago
Dominic Dale v Qualifier
Mark Selby v Sydney Wilson
Alfie Burden v Anthony Hamilton
Jamie Cope v Eden Sharav
Luca Brecel v Lu Ning
Ryan Day v Qualifier
Joel Walker v Hatem Yassin
Kurt Maflin v Steven Hallworth
Kyren Wilson v Qualifier
Scott Donaldson v Mark Joyce
Martin O’Donnell v Qualifier
James Cahill v Zak Surety
Tom Ford v Michael Wasley

Tian Pengfei v Qualifier
Sanderson Lam v Nigel Bond
Stuart Bingham v Qualifier
Mark Allen v Ross Muir
Sean O’Sullivan v Joe Swail
Joe Perry v Qualifier
Martin Gould v Qualifier
Michael Holt v Qualifier
Mike Dunn v Qualifier
Aditya Mehta v Qualifier
Robert Milkins v Qualifier
Liang Wenbo v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Thor Chuan Leong v Qualifier
Gary Wilson v David Grace
Daniel Wells v Ian Glover
Ben Woollaston v Xiao Guodong
Mark Williams v Qualifier
Jamie Jones v Noppon Saengkham
Ken Doherty W/O Jimmy White
Oli Lines v Qualifier
Lee Walker v Qualifier
Lu Chenwei v Zhou Yuelong
John Higgins v Qualifier
David Gilbert W/O Jamie Burnett
Stuart Carrington v Qualifier
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Qualifier
Ricky Walden v Fraser Patrick
Michael White v Qualifier
Robbie Williams v Qualifier
Peter Lines v Darryl Hill
Jason Weston v Qualifier
Shaun Murphy v Qualifier

Recommended Outrights: 2 points win on Mark Selby at 13/2. 1 point each way (at bookies paying each-way 1234) on Anthony McGill at 66/1, Dave Gilbert at 80/1 and Ben Woollaston at 80/1.    

Recommended Match Acca: 2 points acca pays over 5/1 at Boyles on Ian Burns, Anthony McGill, Luca Brecel, Daniel Wells and Jamie Jones. 

November 2, 2015

SB Classic Glasgow: Davis Progresses to Grand Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:49 am

The Snookerbacker Classic made its Scottish debut on Sunday and the 16 man event saw the promising Marc Davis progress to Grand Finals Day in Gloucester on April 3rd.

Marc with prize

Marc becomes the first winner of a Scottish Qualifier

It’s great that the event enjoyed the support of the Scottish players and I have to say a huge thank you to Stevie Baillie who organised things at that end and also ensured that the upbeat spirit of the tournament was carried through by providing free refreshments for the players and officials on duty. Not quite Mrs SB cake standard but excellent nonetheless.

Marc now heads to Gloucester for the Grand Finals with a guaranteed £250 in the bag. He is just 4 wins away from the top prize of £3000. You can see all yesterday’s results here and you can find out more about this year’s tournament here. Next stop is Derby on 28th November and the draw for that will be made this week. 

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