March 18, 2018

The Players Championship

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:16 pm

It’s off to Wales this week for the Players Championship, a tournament which brings together the top 16 players from the most recent tournaments. Coverage is again on the excellent ITV4 and the fact that this is played over a longer format than last year makes it a decent event on the calendar and well worth watching.

Judd Trump defends the title he won 12 months ago and will be hoping to find a bit of form ahead of the World Championship, he’s not been firing at all lately and his army of fans must be getting a bit worried ahead of the big one again. But it’s nothing a win here can’t put right.

The first round matches are listed below in draw order, coverage starts on Monday evening from Llandudno. If you click on the match it will redirect you to the head to head statistics.

All matches up to the final are played over the best of eleven frames. I’ll post up bets on Twitter, but predictions are listed below each match.

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Graeme Dott (Tuesday 7pm)

Ronnie comes into this as the player sitting way clear at the top of the one year ranking list with almost double the earnings of his nearest rival Mark Williams, with John Higgins just a few quid back in third. You’d be forgiven for thinking when looking at this list that you’d accidentally stepped into a De Lorean and ended up 10 years ago, but it’s clear as day that the Class of ’92 are still proving they are the best in the business. Even former world champion Dotty is getting a slice of the action and his recent upturn in form has got him into this in 16th place. Dotty is still more than capable of mixing it with the best and his main problem in recent years has not been producing against the big boys but maintaining that level for the chance to do it more often. I wouldn’t say he’s without a chance here but only a brave soul would back against O’Sullivan the way he’s been hitting the ball recently, the last two times they’ve met Ronnie hasn’t lost a frame so Graeme can’t really do any worse this time.

Prediction: O’Sullivan 6-2

Ding Junhui v Mark Allen (Monday 7pm)

Ding seems to be getting over his recent spell of bad form, which can be largely attributed to problems he’s been having with his vision, which is kind of important if you make a living playing snooker. Allen of course comes into this in a very odd position, he’s Masters Champion but he’s really up against it in terms of maintaining his top 16 place in the race to The Crucible and that means a good run in this is pretty important for him. Ding holds the aces in the head to head stats but a lot of their matches have come in minor events, actually it’s surprising how few times they have met given they are two top players. While there is still a slight question mark about Ding’s form and his tendency to just drift off into Dingland in longer matches, I’ll take Allen to progress and set up another meeting with Ronnie later in the week following his win over him at Ally Pally.

Prediction: Allen 6-4   

Luca Brecel v Neil Robertson (Tuesday 7pm)

Anyone know who kidnapped Luca Brecel? The olive loving Belgian was looking like a world beater 6 months ago when he blasted his way into the top 16 and since then he’s been nothing short of woeful on the table. He’s developing a very nice tan which is never a good sign in a snooker player, he seems to go on holiday alot but he’s got plenty of time on his hands as he keeps getting beat so he needs something to occupy his time I suppose. The tip of the iceberg was him coming out at The Masters with two cues, if there was ever a way to fill an opponent with confidence that did the trick. Well, he’s sorted his cue issues out now apparently so I wonder if he’ll get back to winning ways? Neil Robertson is another who has struggled with his form now for a while but signs are there that it’s coming back, he’s more or less assured of his Crucible spot having spent a bit of time outside the top 16 but a couple of wins here would set his mind at ease completely, on current form, he has the best draw of the round.

Prediction: Robertson 6-1 

Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire (Wednesday 1pm)

Stephen Maguire is another with one eye on the Crucible going into this. He’s on the brink of the top 16 and he’s playing well, so a run in this will increase his chances of getting back into the game’s elite markedly. Apparently he’s now into a strict regime of practice after a period where he was struggling to motivate himself to put the hours in. He’s ‘going to work’ every day routinely and you do often wonder why someone with such immense talent doesn’t always seem to make the most of it. Another hardcore practice player is Judd, though he seems to have fooled a lot of people into thinking he spends all his time being a playboi, when quite the opposite is actually true. But he is struggling at the moment and would badly love to get his hands on a trophy before the season is out. Judd has the upper hand in recent ties between the two and Mags hasn’t beaten him in anything for 3 years, but I think the extra motivation of that Crucible place might just reverse that this week.

Prediction: Maguire 6-5

John Higgins v Anthony McGill (Wednesday 1pm)

Oh what a surprise, an all-Scottish clash. Anthony McGill must be wondering why his ball and John’s are routinely glued together in the hat when this type of event comes around. This is the fourth time this season they have met in the first round of a 16 player event, though it does, in fairness, look like this one at least is based on their one year seeding of 3 and 14 respectively, so no more conspiracy theories from me this time. Higgins comes into this in great form and shows no signs of slowing up as the years advance, though he has admitted himself that he needs to get a bit healthier to give himself a fighting chance in Sheffield after he clearly ran out of steam in the final last time. Recent head to heads make pretty grim reading for Ants and this you feel will be the fourth time not only of them meeting at this stage, but of Higgins coming out on top.

Prediction: Higgins 6-3 

Shaun Murphy v Kyren Wilson (Monday 7pm)

Shaun Murphy was forced to pull out of the last two events with an ongoing back and neck problem, one which he says has been plaguing his career for a number of years. He even recently revealed that his coach walked all over him (literally) just before his 2015 world championship final match. I had a mate once who had one of those in a Thai massage parlour, he came out with a spring in his step so maybe Shaun should try that. Anyway, I digress, if he does make it to the table it’s difficult to gauge how he’ll play if this is as bad as he says it is. Kyren comes into this on the back of a semi-final appearance in Romania following a good win over Judd and is still looking every inch a top 10 player. Just on the off-chance that Murphy is a bit rusty, I’ll take Kyren but I’d advise against a bet in this one.

Prediction: Wilson 6-4  

Mark Selby v Ryan Day (Tuesday 1pm)

Absolute dominance is all you can say really, almost unplayable and absolutely bossing snooker, but that’s enough about Ryan Day, who here takes on the man formerly known as Mark Selby, another who can’t buy a win recently. The man at the top of the ranking list is currently a shadow of his former self whereas back-to-back titles king Day seems to have forgotten how to lose and is definitely THE man in form in the field coming into this. The World Champion famously came good around this time last season winning the China Open before successfully defending in Sheffield and who is to say the same thing won’t happen again? But he has to be concerned at this recent run which is as poor as I can remember him ever having. They met at this stage last year with Selby taking a decider and I’m sure he’d snap your hand off for that same outcome again. He has to come good soon surely? Doesn’t he? Day should be a bit knackered so Selby might at least have the advantage there, but on form alone, you have to back Day at the prices. 

Prediction: Day 6-4 

Mark Williams v Yan Bingtao (Tuesday 1pm)

There is currently a question mark over whether Williams will make it out of his house in time to play. He’s carelessly chosen to live up a hill in the coldest most remote part of Wales and is currently snowed in so his opponent Yan Bingtao will be hoping for more blizzards ahead of their scheduled Tuesday afternoon clash. I wonder if this is a problem whether they might mix the schedule up a bit? MJW was on the wrong end of a 4-0 walloping by Ali Carter last week but before that had looked right back to his best. His Northern Ireland final win over his opponent here was a classic and he followed that up with a German Masters triumph so confidence is as high as the snow outside his front door. Yan is now widely heralded as the next big Chinese star and he’s definitely improving all the time, he’ll be out for revenge here and I can see it going close again, but if it goes to the wire I’d always side with Williams, if he turns up.

Prediction: Williams 6-5 

First Round Bet – Trebles and an Acca

March 16, 2018 Prediction Contest Round 2: The Players Championship

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:14 am

It’s time for the gloves to come off again as the biggest needle match in snooker enters the second round. Team Baize Boys are looking to improve on their earlier performance in Gibraltar and stop the force that is Team Numpty going further clear in the race for the giraffe.

You can see the latest team and individual standings after Round 1 here but it makes sorry reading for Joe Perry’s men and a tough team talk behind the scenes seems to have motivated his band of potters into action. A far more dedicated set of predictions have come forward and it’s clear that their shaky start has given them the kick up the ‘arris they badly needed.

The instructions for this week were:

Pick the winner of each first round match in next week’s Players Championship. For each winner you will receive 1 point.

Pick 2 outright selections. For the champion you will receive 5 points, for the runner up you will receive 3 points.

These points will be added to your current total.

How you can get involved:

If you are keeping your running total, simply follow the instructions above and tweet your selections using the hashtag #playersvfans – keep your own score and if at the end of the whole competition you finish with more points than the eventual individual winner (and the proof!) you will be entered into a draw to win a signed cue.

Here are the selections for this round from both teams:

If you missed this and want to know what it’s all about click here.

Our kind sponsors are offering up a host of prizes and if you’d like to own something from them simply fill in the code ‘TEAMNUMPTY’ with any order at the checkout and receive a whopping 15% discount at their website.


March 14, 2018

World Seniors Championship – The Lowdown

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:10 am

The Snooker Legends Tour has come a long way since its introduction around the same time as this blog began, so much so that now it’s morphed into an official World Seniors Tour. So as well as the exhibition nights with the legends of yesteryear there is now a fiercely competitive and professionally run tour which gives all players in their 40’s and above the chance to compete on a regular basis, an initiative which is definitely a welcome addition to the snooker world and something that tireless creator Jason Francis, deserves a lot of credit for.

It’s been a busy old season for the Seniors. Already we’ve seen Steve Davis crowned Irish Masters Champion at Goffs and almost every week of the season there has been a qualifier somewhere or other going on. The qualifiers for the World Seniors Championship, which culminates in the main event next week in Baths Hall, Scunthorpe, have spanned the UK and even reached China. The qualifier in China, a certain Cao Kashieng, who looks like he must have had a very easy paper round a couple of years back, lines up first against former World Champion John Parrott in Scunthorpe and it will be interesting to gauge how good he is, given the whole set up I assume will be extremely new to him. In the words of most BBC commentators and the lesser clued up Eurosport ones ‘he’s not a player I am too familiar with’.

There are, as you’d expect, big names aplenty competing. The number one seed is the seven times World Champion Stephen Hendry, who has been putting in the hours for this on his travels and might quietly fancy his chances in this field, though his first round opponent Jonathan Bagley is a potential banana skin and the Canary Cueist Barry Pinches may await in the second round, he can still play a bit and must have an outside chance of upsetting the more illustrious names in the hat. Hendry will definitely need all his old battling qualities to proceed against players who are arguably a little more match fit than he is.   

Other former world champions include Joe Johnson, Cliff and Dennis, with Tony’s Drago and Bolton Stud Knowles making up the seeded seven EDIT – Drago has withdrawn and Simon Dent now replaces him. The 8th seed Willie Thorne has had to pull out and his place has gone to London’s Gary ‘The Blade’ Filtness, a staunch supporter of this tour from the off who qualifies as nearest miss. Poor old Willie has a bad back and in the absence of a qualified snooker coach to walk all over him he’s had to pull out (little snooker in-joke there).

As ever Jason is making this both a competitive event but with that slant of his trademark entertainment thrown in and his unique idea of all deciding ‘frames’ being nothing more than a black ball fight adds that bit of drama and makes the event unique. All this alongside JV’s on-stage commentary and Michaela Tabb’s return to competitive snooker makes this a spectacle that I’m sure will draw a crowd both at the venue and online.

An extra added bit of spice here is the place for the winner in the World Championship Qualifiers in April and the prospect of Hendry possibly un-retiring from the main tour will be enough for nostalgic fans of the 90’s legend to tune into this.

There’s also the small matter of £10,000 for the winner and decent prize money all the way down so this isn’t one to be sniffed at. All the details you need to know including the draw, full prize money breakdown and how you can watch it online or attend in person are below.

FULL DETAILS – FINAL STAGES DRAW – Event runs from 20th-24th March in Scunthorpe

PRIZE MONEY – Winner receives £10,000 plus 10,000 assetereum crypto coins.

Runner up receives £3,000 + 5000 assetereum crypto coins.

Losing semi-finalists receive £1500

Losing quarter finalists receive £500

High break (final stages) £500 plus 5 x the break in assetereum crypto coins

147 Maximum Break – A Kia Sportege Car

COVERAGE – The whole event will be live on the Snooker Legends You Tube Channel.

FANCY GOING ALONG? – BOOK YOUR TICKETS BY CLICKING HERE (includes match schedule and times) or call the venue directly on 0844 854 2776

You can find out a lot more about the World Seniors Snooker Tour at their main website here.   

March 13, 2018

The Snooker Prediction Contest – Standings after Round 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:47 am

After a turbulent start to the big prediction contest in Gibraltar, the early running after Round 1 is being made by Team Numpty, with the team of fans holding a 14 point lead over the team of players after the opening gambit.

The total of 60 points and solid early showing from the Numpties was at odds with the inconsistency shown by the careless Baize Boys. Whilst the potters had a couple of impressive scorers, the level of consistency suggests early burn out and if they are going to make a concerted effort to prove they know best you feel Captain Perry needs to up his game and if necessary ring a few early changes.

No doubt the poor early showing from Michael Holt, who props up the leaderboard will be attributed to Mrs Hitman just popping out Baby Hitman, but this won’t wash with the rest of the team and early crisis talks are already underway to gauge the Nottingham man’s commitment to the cause.

The next challenge is The Players Championship next week and predictions for that will follow shortly. Meanwhile below are the current team and individual standings in the race for the giraffe. Currently Dani Martinez heads the field but just 4 points seperate the top ten so this could all change very quickly next week.

If you missed this and want to know what it’s all about click here.

Our kind sponsors are offering up a host of prizes and if you’d like to own something from them simply fill in the code ‘TEAMNUMPTY’ with any order at the checkout and receive a whopping 15% discount at their website.

March 8, 2018

Gibraltar Open – Time for a New Kid on the Rock?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:03 am

I hope they’ve packed the spirit level

With withdrawals and non-entries left, right and centre and only a smattering of big names left, The Gibraltar Open presents a decent chance this weekend for a player outside of the usual suspects to really make a name for themselves and nab a piece of silverware and a ranking title.

The holder Shaun Murphy this morning became the latest casualty of The Curse of the Rock, citing a recurring neck and back problem which purely coincidentally occurred when he woke up and saw it was snowing outside and glanced back towards his cosy bed, injuring said neck in the process. What terrible luck.

There are still a few familiar names left, notably Ding Junhui who would usually be one player you’d expect to swerve this but he’s there with the rest of a strong Chinese contingent and it might be that this one ends up having a distinctly Far Eastern feel this weekend.

For me, this makes the event a bit more interesting and probably worth tuning in to Eurosport for. It’s basically a throwback to the old PTC format and the amateurs have been battling it out on the rock now for a couple of days to earn the right to make the depleted starting line up.

It’s also the last year of the current three year contract and you’d have to think that the signs that it will be renewed aren’t great, poor relative prize money compared to newer events when there are countries queuing up to host in the packed calendar and surely only a major injection of bunce is likely to save it. This just shows how far snooker has come in terms of getting big money for new tournaments in the last three seasons.

This event isn’t only of interest to the casual watcher of course as it marks the start of the Players v Fans Prediction League, which can be read about here. It’s an event which will see the 12 likely lads and those who have had a go on Twitter try and make the early running, so stay tuned on Monday for the first leaderboard update in this fierce and bad tempered needle match.

In terms of the outrights, I’ve gone with Joe Perry and Liang Wenbo as my selections in the competition and I’d not put you off backing either of them at the current 28/1 and 33/1 odds respectively, I know I have.

In terms of matches, I’ll probably tweet a few bets as it goes on. I’ve been on a bit of a run lately so hopefully it will continue this week, I’m even beginning to warm to best of sevens, it’s amazing what winning a few quid can do to your mood.

Anyway, keep up with the live scores here and the matches here and tune into Eurosport for the live table action.

March 5, 2018

The Players v Fans Snooker Prediction League: ROUND 1 – The Gibraltar Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:09 am

Last week I announced the teams for the first ever snooker players versus fans prediction league. This week, battle commences between the 6 main tour professionals, captained by Joe Perry and the 6 shrewdies, captained by Alec Peace. If you missed the full line ups you can catch up with them here.

The aim of the game is to find out who knows more, the players close to the action or the fans glued to it from further afield. Who can judge the wheat from the chaff? The conkers from the peanuts? The mustard from the mayo? The talent from the numpty? Will one team consistently out-perform the other or will honours be more or less even?

All these burning questions will be answered over the coming weeks as #teambaizeboys take on #teamnumpty for the rest of the season. Starting this week with the Gibraltar Open, when the team and individual leagues will begin. 

Both teams have been asked to predict the outcomes of ten matches individually and been given the following instructions:

Pick the winner of each of these matches. You will receive one point for every winner you predict. Walkovers do not count.

Ian Preece v Rory McLeod

Gerard Greene v Lee Walker

Oliver Lines v Elliot Slessor

John Astley v Jimmy Robertson

Michael Georgiou v Liam Highfield

Peter Ebdon v Craig Steadman

Chen Zhe v Tian Pengfei

Jimmy White v Chris Keogan

Scott Donaldson v Duane Jones

Daniel Wells v Ian Burns

Select any two players in the draw to progress in the tournament, you will receive 1 point for every match they win and a bonus 5 points if they win the tournament. Team Baize Boys members may select themselves or other team members if they’d like to.

This has now been completed and at the foot of this post you will see how each team has seen these matches and the players that they have selected in the outrights.

Want to get involved? Here’s how.

Follow the instructions above.

Tweet your selections using the hashtag #playersvfans

Here you can view the draw for the Gibraltar Open.

If anyone finishes the competition with a (fully evidenced) higher score than the winner of the individual league then they will be entered into a draw to win a signed snooker cue.


Our kind sponsors are offering up a host of prizes and if you’d like to own something from them simply fill in the code ‘TEAMNUMPTY’ with any order at the checkout and receive a whopping 15% discount at their website.  


March 1, 2018

INTRODUCING: The Players v Fans Snooker Prediction Championship

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:22 am

A Real Giraffe

In an increasingly rare moment of genius yesterday I had a light bulb moment. It’s long been leveled at us mere mortals that we don’t know what we are on about when it comes to snooker and only the players themselves can truly know the ins and outs of all things baizey. Well, I thought, why don’t we put that theory to the test?

So, I quickly sought permission from Barry Hearn to run a snooker prediction contest, pitting the wits of self-proclaimed shrewdies against some of the sharpest cuemen in the world. I had to check with our beloved chairman that this was not going to land any of the potters in lumber before I approached them to see if they were interested.

It’s a fun contest, it’s not at all linked to betting or the bookies, but what it will do is confirm once and for all who knows best, us numpties or the baize boys. The format will be announced in due course but in the meantime I’ve managed to secure a championship sponsor and (drum roll………) IT’S NOT A BOOKIE!!!

Yes, I am delighted to announce that the whole caboodle will be sponsored by – purveyors of the finest hand carved wooden animal sculptures this side of Indonesia. The winning team captain will receive a 2 metre wooden giraffe with the other team members each receiving a smaller replica. An added spice is that the individual competitor who finishes top of the prediction table will also receive their very own giraffe to show off to their friends (not a real one).

I bought my mum one of their cats for Christmas and I can vouch for the quality, furthermore, as a special gift to blog followers you can simply fill in the code ‘TEAMNUMPTY’ with any order and receive a whopping 15% discount at their website.

The competition itself will begin next week with the Gibraltar Open when we’ll have the first glimpse at the picks from the shrewdies and the potters. So without further ado, let’s meet the teams…..


Mark Allen (@pistol147) – Northern Ireland’s finest steps up to the plate to put his money where his taped-up mouth is and hopes to follow up his recent Masters triumph with a two metre giraffe to sit proudly next to it on his mantelpiece (I hope he has high ceilings). The Pistol is known for his fiesty character, which will surely give his teammates all the lift they’ll need if the numpties get too close for comfort on the leaderboard.

Barry Hawkins (@TheHawk147) – Like chalk and cheese, the quietly spoken Hawk has also taken on the challenge alongside the Ulsterman. His calm exterior hides the heart of a lion and we all know who lions like to hang out with in The Serengetti, yes that’s right, Giraffes. The former world championship runner-up will be hoping to go one better here and make the numpties rue the day they crossed The Hawk.

Michael Holt (@hitmanholt) – Now our Holty is a sensitive soul as we all know. He’s never short of an opinion or ten on anything you get him started on and when it comes to committing to something, the Hitman is your man. He’ll need to commit to as many winners as he can here or risk the wrath of his other half, Mrs Amy Hitman, who will no doubt be motivating him with her unique brand of encouragement from the sidelines.

Robert Milkins (@robmilkins147) – Gloucesterman Rob is nicknamed The Milkman and he’ll be hoping that the cream rises to the top of the table here. His quickfire style on the table is at odds with his relaxed demeanour off it but don’t go upsetting him or you’ll not be getting any gold top. So can the Milkman deliver the winners for his team here?

Joe Perry (@joegentlemanjoe) – The Gentleman brings that touch of class to proceedings. The aire of calm around Joe will surely add much needed stability to the mix of the team and stop Mark, Michael and Rob arguing over who gets the big giraffe after their certain triumph under Joe’s watchful eyebrows. I think Team Baize Boys would do a lot worse than let this particular gentleman guide them as captain.

Mike Dunn (@mikedunn147) – Dunny takes time away from calling Mark Williams a fat ape to engage in the competition. Often seen as the joker in the pack it’s down to serious business for him here, any predictions that may go wayward will surely be pounced upon by arch nemesis Williams, but Dunny will be determined to show his Welsh counterpart the sharp end of the giraffe where the sun don’t shine come summertime.


Dani (@esnukero) – The greatest tipster in all of Spain is the first of the hard hitters in Team Numpty. Back in the early days of the blog Dani won so many prizes in Tipster contests I was considering moving to Spain to save on the postage. Can his form hold up under the pressure again here?

One Step (@onestepsnooker)  Trusted wingman One Step is another with an undoubted tipping pedigree. His knowledge of snooker is second only to his encyclopedic knowledge of the Eurovision Song Contest, so if things start going astray in Team Numpty on the snooker predictions we’ll just throw in a Eurovision round to level things up again.

Deco (Deco800_) – The man who can spend value. Deco specialises in finding the winners that other tipsters cannot reach, his long odds outright pokes are the stuff of legend and if you’re looking for someone to build a house out of a pile of horse (or giraffe) shit, Deco with his long priced winners is your man. This numpty is here for the win, make no mistake.

Alec Peace (@alecpeace) This guy can match any of the dudes on the opposing team when it comes to opinions. His mouth is so big he could probably wedge it open with the 2 metre giraffe and he’s already making bullish noises about his credentials to top the individual table, despite us trying to tell him this is a team game. But this Shaun Murphy fanboy doesn’t listen to anyone, it’s his way, or the highway.

Matthew Lowson (@PLtheLegend) – If an anorak could walk and talk, it would be Matthew. His knowledge of snooker is enough to send an entire continent to sleep and he’ll be using all this wisdom to help guide his teammates through the murky waters. He’ll also bring a thermos flask of soup and a bag of mint imperials and he’ll be able to tell us without looking what time the train home is due and where to change.

Snookerbacker (@snookerbacker) – They’ve blown the budget to get this fella. Snooker’s biggest crowd puller is surely the difference between success and failure here. A masterful tipster, handsome, articulate, clever and funny, how can the opposing team possibly have the audacity to think they can win? Give me that giraffe now, it’ll go nice in the East Wing.


February 26, 2018

Welsh Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:39 am

The Welsh Open gets underway today in Cardiff, it’s the fourth and final leg of the Home Nations events and that means a return to the best of sevens. Consequently it’s not an event that I’ll be getting too involved in from a match betting point of view but having had a look at the draw I’ll take three against the field in the outrights.

It’s covered on BBC Wales, Eurosport and Quest all week.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the order of play

Click here for the TV schedules

Recommended Bets: John Higgins at 12/1, Mark Allen at 28/1, Stuart Bingham at 30/1.

February 23, 2018

Sean Maddocks – Record Breaker

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:50 am

Sean with the Merseyside Open Trophy.

It might not be a name that snooker fans are familiar with yet, but Liverpool junior Sean Maddocks recently wrote himself into the Guinness Book of Records, usurping none other than Ronnie O’Sullivan in becoming the youngest player ever to make a 147 maximum break in competitive tournament play. 

Sean is a player that I know from the Snookerbacker Classic. He was awarded two free places in the event a couple of years back when he was just 13, even then it was clear that he had a good eye for the game but I’d never have guessed that a matter of 18 months later he’d be beating hardened Merseyside players of all ages to become the Merseyside Open Champion.

The Merseyside Open is a very prestigious event around these parts and has a list of winners which include John Parrott, Rod Lawler and other Merseyside professionals of the past like John Whitty and Ian Brumby. In fact Sean beat John Whitty in the final in December, compiling a break of 129 (he missed the final black for a total clearance) in the process.

But it is the 147 maximum break that grabbed the headlines yesterday once the record was verified. Sean beat Ronnie’s record by just 8 days, compiling his break in a Lite Task tour event in Leeds at the Northern Snooker Centre against Jake Nicholson.

With Sean being a Liverpool lad I’ll take a keen interest in his progress, I’ve known his coach Neil Johnson since we were kids and he’s keeping Sean’s feet firmly on the ground and focusing on his potential to rise through the sport, I know he rates him as a really exciting prospect and he told me yesterday that he’s recently made his 100th century break, which is quite astonishing for someone so young.

So watch this space, Sean has entered Q-School this year and whether he progresses from there or not, the experience should stand him in good stead for a crack at the new Challenge Tour next season, assuming he makes one of the top 64 slots. 

Who knows? He might be the start of the fightback against the Chinese youngsters coming through?

February 18, 2018

World Grand Prix

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:14 pm

Bit careless putting the holder Hawkins on the poster. He ain’t qualified this year.

After all the hullabaloo last week in Watford, it’s time for the return of real snooker as we head up north to Preston for this season’s World Grand Prix. This is the event which rewards the 32 top players of the season with a chance to further raise their ranking status and improve on what already for some has been a very successful season.

Without doubt, the man of the moment in snooker just now is Mark Williams. His triumphant return to the champion’s table just before Christmas continued with that win over in Berlin where he looked as close to unbeatable than anyone has all season. This of course, MJW attributes to the benefits of the Sight Right coaching technique and the new lease of life this has afforded him on the baize.

Similarly to the world championship triumph of Stuart Bingham, who Williams faces in the first round here, MJW has seen immediate results with his new technique, he’s even embraced it so much as to do his coaching course and become one of the disciples, there to spread the gospel according to Sight Right to anyone that will listen.

Now a lot of stick has been levelled towards this coaching method, some particularly unsavoury stuff from a few no-marks over on Twitter which went far beyond the banter threshold. To be more specific, the vemon seems to be aimed more at the man behind the myth that is Steve Feeney. Steve isn’t really one for engaging on social media and instead chooses to ignore anyone that disagrees with him or questions his techniques or motives. Whilst I am all for ignoring people who get personal I think he takes it to the extreme and seems to alienate people as a result, but each to their own I suppose.

Whether Sight Right is the long term answer to every struggling snooker player’s prayers is yet to be seen. Certainly it appears to have an immediate ‘correction’ (some might say placebo) effect, but the benefits long term are harder to gauge, which to me suggests that it is simply a technique which corrects mistakes and sloppiness that may have crept into already gifted players games. I very much doubt that it is something that can improve players to a level they were incapable of before, only practice and matchplay, I’d argue, can do that.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the World Grand Prix. Williams joins the likes of Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and most of the usual suspects for a straight 32 man knockout comp this week, all covered over on ITV with I dare say regular updates from the happiest place on earth, yes, the Johnstone Decorating Centres, where not only does life revolve around cups of tea and saucy innuendo, but the sun always shines and everyone is always smiling, it must be the paint fumes I reckon.

The first two rounds unfortunately are the best of seven, before the matches get a bit longer and it starts getting interesting. I really don’t see why these can’t be best of nine from the off, it would make this a much better event and make it quite unique and one to really look forward to, but I really struggle to get enthused with these lottery matches at the beginning. But the flip side of this is of course the excellent ITV coverage (and the decorators obvs). It means that once again we’ll be able to sit there not suffering cringeworthy ‘features’ and be treated like we actually know what snooker is all about by the panel of experts.

I’ll leave the matches alone in terms of recommended bets but I may post the odd flutter on Twitter. With a classy field this size though it’s worth having a good look at the draw and having a bash at the outrights. Traditionally you’d not say that this is a tournament that Ronnie O’Sullivan will enjoy, it’s a few days between matches more than 20 miles from his house and he doesn’t tend to perform as well in this type of event as some others. Mark Selby will be keen to get back on track, the snooker world is holding it’s breath as I think we all know a win is coming, but I’d not touch him until there are some real signs that he’s getting back in the groove, so that means it might be worth looking at a few big prices this week.

These are the ones I’m backing. 

Recommended Outright Bets: Neil Robertson (16/1), Yan Bingtao (40/1), Kyren Wilson (40/1), Stephen Maguire (50/1).

You can see the draw below and the format is here.  

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