March 8, 2010

The Final Day of Qualifiers: Tuesday 10am

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:17 pm

Pettman and Roe aka 'Black Waistcoat' are playing Bolton Civic Hall on Saturday.

In what has been a mixed bag betting wise for me, the increasingly tense and shaky and therefore unpredictable qualifiers draw to a close with the final six matches.

The pressure on those lying lower down the ranks must be really severe these days with precious little way of supplementing their income, it won’t be long before we see the likes of Barry Pinches opening up a hot dog stand ‘mustard with that? and why not may I ask?’ or maybe ‘Harold & Gunnell, Purveyors of Fine Meats’ has a certain ring to it and they could both pass for butchers, though Dave would much rather get into fruit and veg given his passion for the yellow-uns. Something has got to give in these harsh economic times. I even saw Stuart Pettman and David Roe’s names in the line up of a Black Lace tribute band the other day, times are really getting tough for those lower down the rankings.

No doubt that the whispers will be abound for one man in particular, Stephen Lee, whose recent tabloid revelations have brought him some unwanted attention. But rumour has it that he has seriously cut down on the vodka lately, only having 9 doubles every night rather than the usual 10, such is his level of commitment to this task in hand.

Seriously though, poor old Stevie does take a lot of flak from people who ‘seem’ to know something about him is or has been a bit dodgy, but until something is proved we should really not judge too harshly. To me, that would be like saying Jamie Burnett fluked that pink by accident and then missed the black on purpose to lose 3-9 to Maguire in the UK, I mean, come on, it’s a career and he’s trying to earn a living here. Cut him some slack.

Others in action today include the (other nickname stealer) Stoke Potter Jamie Cope, who to me is a player that if he puts his mind to it can really start challenging for the big events in a couple of years time, maybe sooner. His performance against John Higgins at the Crucible last year was magnificent and he’ll be itching to get back there again this time. Former Champion Graeme Dott also starts out today looking to reckindle some of his former glories and break back into the world’s top 16.

The head to heads are in brackets where applicable:

Anda Zhang - Last remaining of the first rounders

Ricky Walden v Anda Zhang (1-0)

You have to hand it to Anda, he started out here in Round 1 with a win against Craig Steadman and is the only one of that initial crop of 32 remaining in the tournament having since accounted for John Parrott and Ricky’s mate Andrew Higginson. Already, this is a major achievement for the Chinese player that one Swedish poster on here in particular seemed to be in the know about, the world truly is a small place these days. Ricky Walden beat him 5-0 on the way to his one and only ranking title to date the Shanghai Masters of 2008, but he has not really set the world on fire since then, though he does have a slight chance to get into the top 16 next season despite being booted out of the last two ranking events by Tom Ford and Rod Lawler. Ricky also cut a forelorn figure in the recent Championship League and didn’t fair much better in the recent Pro-Challenge trip to Liverpool, losing 4-1 to Daniel Wells. If Ricky is back to form he will win, no doubt about that but the momentum is with Anda who has made a century break in each of his first three matches and has not really been challenged thus far. I recommend you have a small punt on him to cause a major upset here.

Recommended: Anda Zhang 7/2 @ Skybet. Result: Anda wins 10-8.

Rory regularly keeps the players entertained with his Marvin Gaye impressions

Gerard Greene v Rory McLeod (1-0)

Regular readers will know that I am a massive fan of Rory in the qualifiers, he is very very reliable and is one that I know hardly any of them want to play at this stage. Which is quite the opposite of what will happen on Thursday should he make it through to the Crucible. Players in need of ranking points can be seen entering their local churches/synagogues/mosques/off-licenses etc. praying that they will draw Rory on the telly. Mark King is actually even thinking of becoming a monk for a month in order to have his wish granted. Gerard Greene regularly likes to take a nap in these long games, usually when he wakes up he has lost three frames on the trot, but against Rory he might just have fallen 20 or so points behind as our man McLeod takes life at a different pace. Greene recently qualified for China as did Rory and their respective provisional rankings are 30 and 34. It’s an even match up, if it was at the Crucible I’d probably back Greene, but as it isn’t it has to be Rory.

Recommended: McLeod 5/6 Boylesports

RESULT: A rare qualifying defeat for Rory, losing 10-9.

Stuart Bingham v Stuart Pettman (1-1)

You don’t see many of these, I don’t know many people called Stuart and then all of a sudden two turn up to play each other. Pettman may well have been the last man ever to play David Roe as a professional, I can’t see Dave gracing our tables again and he may have to make do with his sideline after being beaten by his cabaret partner, who now faces Bingham, who is the better player here and if in form he should put his recent China disappointment to bed and win this one. Recommended Bingham @ 1/2 Extrabet. RESULT: As if to demonstrate what a barking mad qualifying this has been in parts Pettman wins 10-2.

Jamie Cope v Mark Joyce (1-0)

By all accounts Joyce is cueing very well and narrow wins over Jimmy Robertson and Michael Judge have secured him a match against Jamie Cope here. He has to be congratulated on making it this far and on securing his tour place for next season, the sports psychology route must clearly work for him. Jamie is provisionally ranked 16 and has additional points to possibly come from China and from this. I think he’ll be in the top 16 next season and deservedly so. I hope he wins this one as the Crucible needs players of his quality in the final stages and he is one all the top 16 will want to avoid, except perhaps Ronnie who Jamie is a bit in awe of. But at 1/3 with the self-imposed rules on recommended bets, I’ll just say I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t win.  RESULT: Cope wins 10-5.

The gossips all have front row seats for Stephen Lee's game to check for any dodgy goings-on. The one on the extreme right is an undercover copper.

Stephen Lee v Mike Dunn (1-0)

The head to head win dates back to 2001 so can probably be discounted. Lee is under immense pressure at the moment and I think he’ll have that to cope with here as well as if he reaches the Crucible, with the inevitable questions that will be asked there to fill up the BBC chit-chats. I’m not sure he has the skin thick enough to just shake this off as idle tittle-tattle and get on with his game. One fears that he might be tarred with this particular brush for the rest of his career. With his very capable in-form opponent just behind him in the rankings, a win under his belt and no similar demons to exorcise, I think you could do worse than take a chance that all these factors will impact on this match in this cauldron of pressure, Fergal O’Brien yesterday said that the whole place had the ‘stench of death’ about it, but he was standing next to Adrian Gunnell at the urinals at the time. At the price Dunn could be worth a look here.

Recommended: Dunn 11/8 with Skybet

UPDATE: Please read comments box below if considering a large bet on Dunn.

RESULT: Fair play to Lee, shrugs off the pressure with ease to win 10-2.

Graeme Dott v Jimmy Michie (1-0)

The 2006 champion and 2004 runner-up Graeme Dott begins his assault on the title against journeyman Jimmy Michie here. Michie had a very comfortable win over David ‘White Pants’ Gray to get here so his tail will be up (oh, what a terrible vision I’ve just had). Wee Graeme is showing some snippets of form lately and can hardly be held to account for a 5-1 defeat to John Higgins in the Welsh Open recently after wins over Joe Perry and Ken Doherty. He has beaten Ken again recently to qualify for China and by virtue of the fact that we know Ken is in form and he’d almost certainly beat Michie, you have to say Dott at a just recommendable price is a good thing here.

Recommended: Dott 4/11 with Totesport

RESULT: Dott 10-5.

Thanks to everyone for your views and comments this past week and a half, it continues to be extremely flattering how popular this load of nonsense seems to be. I hope at the very least you have been entertained and will come back. Hopefully, you have made a profit too and substantially more than I have as I’ve found this volume of matches quite overwhelming really and sometimes very tough to call. The draw is on Thursday so I’ll post that up as close to it being known as I possibly can. Then the road to the more concentrated tipping pace of the Crucible via Beijing begins in earnest. All the Best SB.

As for today’s musical tribute, I couldn’t do it to you, I couldn’t, could I? Well it’s up to you, there is an off button….

As an apology, Rory is pretty good at this you have to acknowledge, if ever the snooker scene dries up in Qatar (unlikely, obviously) at least he’ll be able to pay the bills:

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