January 30, 2011

The German Masters Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:18 pm

The German Girls are Back! But hang on, haven't I seen that pretzel somewhere before?

After all the madness and hullaballoo of Blackpool, this Wednesday sees the start of the first completely new ranking event since Bazza came to power, if you discount the PTC’s. The players are heading to Berlin; the Tempodrum in Berlin to be precise, to compete for the German Masters. This tournament will also give an excuse for gratuitous pictures of German ladies which I know are very popular with the regulars and have even led to calls from some quarters for the World Championship to be shipped over there.

I’m delighted that Germany has an event like this in such a rich and vibrant city, I love Berlin. The level of interest in snooker over there is evidenced by the amount of traffic the blog gets from that region. Nearly 10% of visitors to this particular blogger are from Germany.

The event itself looks like it’s a multi-table format which means that as well as the coverage we will get to see on Eurosport it will doubtless involve a few days glued to the World Snooker scoreboard, which now seems to be working perfectly.

Wednesday sees a wildcard round where we have German players, Luca Brecel from over the border and the top amateur from the PTC list in Welshman Daniel Wells, who was the only amateur ahead of our own Allan Taylor, who might have got to wear his snookerbacker waistcoat over there had things turned out differently. There will be more news next week about the man they call ‘The Pretzel Liking Albino Assassin’ and any of you that may have a few quid spare might be quite interested.

Anyway, the full draw can be viewed by clicking here.

After a Masters to forget, I hope we can steady the ship a little here and get back to the winning ways of previous tournaments. After all, there won’t have been many that came out of Wembley in good shape. Snooker is undoubtedly getting a lot harder to read now that there is an event almost every week, but that won’t stop me trying. So here goes:

Quarter 1: Banana Skin City.

As with all the quarters there are any order of permutations and possibilities here. This quarter is headed by World Champion and number one seed Neil Robertson who is likely to face the Sheriff of Pottingham, Anthony Hamilton in the first round. Also involved are World Championship runner up Graeme Dott, the dangerous Ricky Walden and Jack Lisowski, the potential banana skins of Luca Brecel, Liu Song and the superbly named Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon and to top all that off, waiting at the bottom of the quarter is Stephen Maguire. Whilst there are trip wires a plenty for the more established players here, in particular Lisowski, I would be surprised if any of the lesser lights made it through to the semi-finals. On balance I favour Robbo as to me he looks in decent shape lately, he has a good record against Dotty, who he will probably face in round two assuming he takes care of Hamilton and I’d back him every time against Walden or Maguire, whose attacking instincts can play right into the Aussie’s hands.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win Neil Robertson to win the German Masters at 7/1 with Boylesports.

Partial to a Sausage.

Quarter 2: A Euro Specialist to Prevail?

Mark Selby and Ding Junhui are the headline names in this quarter and Selby will be eager to get his season back on track after his disastrous Masters defence. The winner Ding will be attempting to do something that is becoming increasingly rare these days and win two events on the spin. But Ding is capable of shutting this type of thing out and is not someone that I would advise taking on lightly. He has a tough opener in Matthew Stevens who will be desperately scrambling around for sufficient ranking points to lift him into an automatic Crucible spot. That could be a tight match although in four attempts, the Welshman is yet to beat Ding. At the top of the quarter Selby should secure a place in the last 16 safely enough to play either Judd Trump or Stephen Hendry. Lots has been written about Hendry’s form and I don’t want to kick a man when he’s down, Judd will be hoping to do that. Trump has won two events in this neck of the woods in the past year so obviously enjoys the travel and playing to a European audience. I’m a big believer in horses for courses and if someone shows improved form when on the road I think it’s silly to ignore it so I’ll be having a small interest on young Juddly Von Trumpton at huge odds.

Recommended Bets: 1 point win Judd Trump to win Quarter 2 at 9/1 with Boylesports and 0.5 points each way Judd Trump to win the German Masters at 66/1 with Betfred.

Partial to a Sausage Roll

Quarter 3: Will he stay or will he go?

This is the quarter that Ronnie is supposed to play in. If he decides to turn up he will play Dominic Dale (who has never beaten him) in the first round before a possible tie with Mark Williams who should face another potential banana skin in Ginger Scot Anthony McGill first up. It’s the first time in a while that Ronnie isn’t stand out favourite for an event but you have to factor in too many things with him these days before backing him with any confidence and as you know I am always happy to take him on. There are also four strong players below the top four in this quarter in Masters semi-finalist Jamie Cope, Gentleman and part time Nookie Bear impersonator Joe Perry, The Captain Ali Carter and the in-form Stephen Lee. It’s wide open with any one of 5 or 6 that could secure a semi-final spot. I’m going to plump for Williams as he is another who travels well and wins abroad, but I’m also going to have a small interest on Lee as he’s in tremendous form and comes to this having won an event over in India. He is also a player teetering on the brink of a return to the top 16 just in time for Sheffield so has the incentive to do well here, but on the minus side he doesn’t have a great record against either Williams or O’Sullivan, so he’d need to put that right to progress further in this.

Recommended Bets: 2.5 points win Mark Williams to win German Masters at 14/1 with Betfred and 0.5 points each way Stephen Lee to win German Masters at 66/1 with Betfred. 0.5 point win Stephen Lee to win Quarter 3 at 12/1 with Boylesports.

Never won a Sausage.

Quarter 4: Can Mark lose the monkey?

It doesn’t get any easier with Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, John Higgins and Masters Runner up Marco Fu all involved in the bottom quarter. Smurf faces Ryan Day in the first round and the pair seem to exchange blows and beat each other so that one could go either way. It may be worth giving the match prices a look when more firms have priced them up to see if there is any value in backing Ryan. The winner should face Mark Allen who is still awaiting that elusive first big title after being clawed back from a commanding semi-final lead by Marco in the Masters. That monkey is still on his back and until he gets rid of it is likely to get heavier and heavier. Fu himself faces the player previously known as Mark King, who has turned into a regular century break maker having spent years trying to make more than one a season, the winner of that may face Higgins, who will have to account for Rob Milkins or the second best name in the tournament in Lasse Munstermann in the first round. I’m going to take another chance on young Ketchuphead here, it can’t be long until he wins something. He has everything in his armoury to suggest it could be before the end of the season and when he finally does, it might just take him up that final notch in his career and more will follow.

Recommended Bet: 2 points win Mark Allen to win German Masters at 16/1 with Betfred.

If you are having a punt on this the very best of luck. I will be previewing matches as the tournament commences with head to head statistics and the odd recommended bet.

Anyone that fancies any of the prices or bets at Betfred but doesn’t have an account there should click the banner below to take advantage of the £50 matched bet introductory offer.

Russ Scoops Prediction Prize

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:00 pm

Well done to Russ, who merely by doubling his 50 points with a wager on Tom Ford to beat Stephen Maguire in the Shootout managed to beat everyone else with a final pot of 100 points!

It just goes to show that a little caution can work wonders and Russ wins a free £50 bet from sponsors Betfred. It did come down to the last match though and maryusg would have run away with the prize with a whopping 810 points had Rob Milkins won the event. But sadly for maryusg it was not to be.

There will be another Prediction Contest sponsored again by Betfred for the German Masters. I’ll be posting this up later on. 

Sky Shootout Finals Day In Running

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:58 pm

Good afternoon everyone, after an exciting night’s action we are now entering Final’s Day in Blackpool.

(adopts stupid fake American accent)


Please feel free to have a chatter below and I’ll put the draw up on here when it’s been made.


Bond beat Milkins

Well done to Bondy, another of the crop of those that were initially against Barry Hearn to benefit from his involvement in the sport!!

Semi Final Draw

Licensed to Pot beat Rab C Campbell

Ronnie lost to The Milkman

Quarter Final Draw

Robert Milkins beat Judd Trump

Nigel Bond beat Mark King

Marcus Campbell beat Neil Robertson

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Mike Dunn

Last 16 Draw

Mark King beat Fergal O’Brien

Nigel Bond beat Rory McLeod

Mike Dunn beat Stuart Bingham

Judd Trump beat Peter Lines

Rob Milkins beat Ryan Day

Neil Robertson beat Ken Doherty

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Mark Selby

Marcus Campbell beat Anthony Hamilton

Blackpool Rocks as Smurf Awakes

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:51 am

A mysterious bald-headed slightly rounded customer calling himself 'Micky' has bought Fred out of rock.

I’d say that yesterday saw a phenomenon that our sport hasn’t seen in quite a while. Yes, at last, almost everyone agreed on something. The Sky Shootout seems to have won over the vast majority of people after a pulsating night’s action in Blackpool.

It is clear that the venue should be used for a ranking event, everyone has commented on how good it is. It would seem a logical step for the World Open next year if that is to remain in the format we saw in September, to be staged there.

But last night also produced something that we had been a little short on the previous night and that was drama. Whether a seasoned grizzled old snooker bore like me or someone new to the sport, how could you fail to be entertained by the Drago/McLeod and Robertson/McManus matches?

As I said yesterday afternoon, I think 4 hours is a big ask in one sitting and I would prefer a shorter TV slot, but hey, this is snooker, we’ve gotta take what we can get and eight hours in one day on Sky Sports is something that we might only have dreamed of in the dark years of Sir Rodney Effing Walker and the pre-Bazza era.

As with all new experiments, there will be things people don’t like. That voiceover, which I’m still not sure is meant to be tension-building or comical, is just plain daft. The only times it raises a smile is when it makes a mistake. I think I’d send the person from whence it comes back to whence they came. It adds nothing and as with anything that is over-repetitive it can only be enjoyed by the drunk and the clinically insane.

As for the crowd, they were great in the afternoon and helped to build the tension in the close matches last night. One sour point though was their treatment of Rory McLeod who seemed to be booed more than any other player, I wonder why that might be in cosmopolitan Blackpool? Whatever the reason, one particularly inappropriate comment that was picked up by Mrs Snookerbacker and a few others should have resulted in an immediate ejection of the idiotic bigot that said it. They just need to hurl out the drunks and throw them back out on the streets where they belong, they have no place in our sport.

But despite this, overall my six out of ten from Friday has been raised to eight today and I for one would not be averse to this becoming a permanent fixture on the calendar. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t go now if truth be told, at least I could have got some of the boys to give that racist a good kicking outside. But I like it and along with the vast majority think it has done the sport good.

Something that never does the sport good is betting scandals and a lot of the papers this morning have picked up on the match involving Jimmy Michie and Marcus Campbell on Friday evening, when Michie did a poor impression of a snooker player. To coin an old phrase, on that form he couldn’t have hit a barn door with a shovel (I’ve no idea where that phrase comes from).

In typically eloquent style, big Jimmy has denied any wrongdoing, describing the accusation as ‘Bullshit’ and saying that it wasn’t going to ruin his weekend, speaking from the Champagne Suite of Blackpool’s swankiest hotel surrounded by used £50 notes and screwed up Blackpool Rock wrappers.

Smurf wants Action.

But one person you don’t want to upset is Motormouth Shaun Murphy and today, in typical Smurfspeak our Shauny has called on the authorities to act swiftly in this case. Speaking to that well known crusader for truth and justice The Daily Star Smurf said: “All people are innocent until proven otherwise. But it is important that the sport is seen to be clean and these things are dealt with quickly. My only criticism in the past has been the speed at which these things have progressed.”

“The investigation into the betting at the Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett match in 2009 is still open.We are still waiting to know in that instance if there was anything going on there, for everyone concerned it would be best if it was wrapped up. We have a great team in place with the Integrity Unit, with Lord Stevens and David Douglas. If there is any malpractice about, they will find it and take the appropriate action”.

I didn’t know Kirk Stevens was a Lord.

From what I hear, there was a lot of cash being bandied about on this match, not one of the stand out ties of the first round. The bookies have been guilty in the past of crying foul a little too easily but in this case they seem to be justified in alerting the relevant people to the betting patterns. Obviously, at the moment this is in the hands of the Integrity Unit, not the police like the Maguire/Burnett saga, so it’s not, at least at this stage being seen as anything unlawful, it will be interesting to know what will happen if either party are found guilty by Douglas of the Yard, Bazza’s own personal bloodhound in human form.

I dare say the rozzers up in Strathclyde investigating Mags and Jaybee will be waiting until the day before the World Championship to put out their annual press release to say something like ‘our investigations are continuing’ and that this will again result in Maguire being put under the spotlight and put off his game at the most important time of the year for him. If Burnett qualifies for the Crucible I reckon that police statement is worth a bet, but I suppose by some that might be seen as inappropriate.

Anyway, onwards and upwards for today. The draw for the last 16 takes place before the action starts. Can anyone stop Ronnie and was that 16/1 at the start a bet that we should all have lumped on? Well, one thing’s for sure, whoever wins it, we can be certain that one poster on here will claim to have backed him at big odds at the beginning, you know who you are….

January 29, 2011

Sky Shootout Day 2 In-Running

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:59 am

Just thought I’d update this thread with some thoughts on how things are going.

I found this afternoon a much nicer experience of watching than last night and stayed tuned for the whole 4 hours. Though I do think it’s rather long timewise as a TV slot and can get a little repetitive, overall I thought it was ok.

It’s funny how even when the crowd are encouraged to make noise they still remain quiet for the most part, that is until tonight, when I will probably change the image below as the evening wears on and the undesirables take over having got tanked up during the interval on Stella Artois (free advertising there, I’ll expect a case in the post), actually scrub that, they have probably been drinking the finest Chateauneuf Du Pape that Blackpool has to offer (you can send me a case of that instead).

Michie v Campbell to be passed to PC Douglas

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:51 am


Every Loser Wins?

Hello, hello, hello. What have we here then? The Integrity Unit, headed by David Douglas have been alerted to suspicious betting patterns in last night’s match between Marcus Campbell and Joker Jimmy Michie, which Campbell won.

The full statement on the World Snooker website reads:

The WPBSA has been made aware, by bookmakers, of suspicious betting patterns on the match between Jimmy Michie and Marcus Campbell at the Snooker Shoot-Out on Friday evening.

The match in the one-frame knockout tournament in Blackpool was won by Campbell, 32 points to 21. An usually high number of bets had been placed on Campbell to win the match.

The matter has been passed on to David Douglas, head of the WPBSA’s Integrity Unit, for a thorough and immediate investigation.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “We take the threat of corrupt activity very seriously and we are treating this matter with the utmost urgency. Having set up the Integrity Unit last year, we have the mechanisms in place to make a full investigation.”

There were a few comments on Twitter when the match finished which questioned the authenticity of the result. Not sure what figures we are talking about at the bookies here, but I’m sure we’ll hear more about this as the weeks go on.

UPDATE: Jimmy Michie has retired 

Sky Shootout Day 2: So what do we think of it so far?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:21 am


Well, the images on the previous posts changed last night from one of hope, to one of uncertainty to one of deflation. I enjoyed bits of it but as the evening wore on and crowd grew more vocal, much like Power Snooker, it turned me off a bit.

I’ll watch it again, much to the dismay of Mrs Snookerbacker who I’m sure would rather be watching the latest instalment of ‘Come Dine with Me’ of Gok Wan’s latest programme. But being one that doesn’t like to rock the boat she realises that when the snooker is on, the TV has to do it’s duty. Though we are on the verge of purchasing one of those big flat screen ones that go on the wall. If anyone has any advice in which one we should go for with around a £500 budget please let me know.

Anyway, I really liked the set. The ‘bear pit’ feel is something that they should bring to ranking events. Much like the old ‘Goffs’ set in Ireland, the amphitheatre really creates atmosphere and this should be seriously considered for bigger and better events than this.

I enjoyed most of the snooker, unlike Power Snooker which I was bored with after five minutes, at least this resembled the game and to me was more exciting to watch, though the ball in hand from anywhere rule is unnecessary and will usually result in a match being over at this standard. Ronnie was magnificent, you just wonder why he doesn’t or can’t produce this kind of performance in a major event anymore.

I also like that we get to see players that only fleetingly, if ever, get to see on the television. There are some big personalities out there, but unfortunately two of the biggest, Michael Holt and Jimmy Michie both lost. That voice at the end is obviously ridiculous but didn’t bother me to the extent that the moronic repetitive chants of ‘power zone’ did during the other nonsense.

The negatives? Again, it has to be the crowd. I’m all for a bit of background chatter and the myth that snooker players demand silence is just that. What snooker players don’t like is sudden noise. I firmly believe that in at least one major event they should encourage the crowd to ‘talk amongst themselves’ as play is going on. I don’t know about you but I’ve never been to a snooker club that was hushed in deathly silence, a well-behaved, constant chatter will not put anyone off. Unlike shouting, which does.

The drink was flowing last night and although we didn’t pick a lot of the shouts up, to me it is clear that sometimes the pissed up louts can overstep the mark a bit. Tonight they will potentially have been there for the afternoon too so god knows what it will be like by 10 o’clock.

But overall, I thought it went ok. I wasn’t wowed and I wasn’t bored, just somewhere in between. Let’s see what today brings.

Oh and what happened to the bouncers?

12pm-4pm on Sky Sports 2

Barry Pinches v Neil Robertson
Peter Lines v Barry Hawkins
Shaun Murphy v Rory McLeod
Alfie Burden v Matt Selt
Ricky Walden v Joe Perry
Judd Trump v Dave Harold
Graeme Dott v Matthew Couch
Jamie Cope v Ken Doherty
Adrian Gunnell v David Morris
Gerard Greene v Rod Lawler
Matthew Stevens v Mike Dunn
Stuart Pettman v Bjorn Haneveer
Joe Swail v Mark Davis
Andy Hicks v Mark Selby
Anthony Hamilton v Anthony McGill
Stuart Bingham v Ian McCulloch

Click for Betfred Prices

January 28, 2011

Sky Shootout In Running

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:17 pm

Ok here goes. I’m going to watch it. If anyone else is too please feel free to chat below. I ended up backing 8 players to a stake of £50.

I don’t know what to expect and have spent the afternoon boring Mrs SB at this place about it. If you ever come to Liverpool and someone tells you where the best place to eat is, they either haven’t been here or are devoid of taste and/or taste buds.

The image below may change as the evening goes on to reflect my mood.

The Captain’s Log: An Update from the Flightdeck

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:50 am

After a couple of years chilling out at Crondon, the odd round of golf, he's finally off Ali's back.

After his Championship League win last night and the long road to Blackpool, the Captain has found some time spare to log this morning. Below you can hear his thoughts on back-residing monkeys, his adventure in Blackpool where he faces Jimmy tonight and why he has been having some domestic problems…..over to the Captain.

Hello again everyone

Well after a bit of a barren spell and some not particularly impressive results recently from me I’m delighted to be writing this as now having that ‘monkey off my back’ that is winning one of the groups in the Championship League.  So congratulations to me! he he.  As I’ve said before, I do love this event for many different reasons but the fact that I’d had never managed to get to the final play off group before was kind of getting on my nerves a bit.  But this time round it couldn’t really have worked out much better as I’ve had some great match practice over the last few weeks, earned a few ‘bags’ and its great to know I’m coming back for the winners group in March as we head up north on Friday for the Shoot Out Extravaganza in Blackpool.  On a personal note as well, I certainly feel so much better in my game after feeling a bit rusty and not quite there with my game for a little while now and overall I feel I’m getting back to playing some decent stuff again, and churning it out fairly consistently.  But I’m not sitting back – still plenty of room for improvement too.

I’m certainly looking forward to this weekend in Blackpool and having spoken to a few of the other boys I think everyone pretty much feels the same too.  I think we are all going to treat it as a bit of fun but I for one will certainly not take my eye off the fact that there’s a title and a whole bunch of cash of for grabs!  Yeah, so its a bit different and not really snooker as we are used to it but I think there is room in our game for something like this every now and then and in my opinion, anything that gets Snooker out there and raises the profile of the Sport and us players can’t be a bad thing.  Accepted, it won’t be to everyone’s taste but I say lets give it a chance and enjoy it for what it is.  The core major tournaments still remain and we love those too of course and would not want to see them changed too drastically, if at all.  Anyway, I’ll be up for it and can’t wait to get out there amongst it and I’m lucky that my game will be a high profile affair being against the legend that is the Whirlwind – hopefully it will be buzzing out there!

Ali let Max choose the colour scheme, not sure Mrs Carter will approve.

So the really busy schedule continues but I’m not complaining.  Off to Berlin on Wednesday, then the Welsh Open. I have an exhibition in the beginning of March up north, followed by a weekend break in Madrid with the boys the week after, before the Championship League play offs, then off to China…and so it goes on – busy busy.  Away from the table I’ve found a bit of time to attend to some painting and decorating a few rooms in my house with a friend of mine helping me out.  Max has been keen to lend a hand too in his own way.  When I’ve splashed a few sample colours on the walls he’s tended to point to one and laugh and smile – so I’m guessing that’s his way of telling me which one he likes.  However, I’m happy with that being the extent of his involvement – I would not want to think of what would happen if he got hold of a paint brush and paint!  Oh, and after having my new kitchen fitted a year ago, the replacement cupboard door finally turned up. When the kitchen was fitted last year, one door arrived in the wrong colour.  So when the replacement turned up finally in the right colour after a year or so I thought ‘at last!’ – only to discover that the handle had been attached in the wrong place! GRRRRRR!!! It will have to wait now……

Okay, preparing for take off so until the next time….

All the best

The Captain’s Table

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:26 am

Friend of the Blog Captain Ali Carter finally managed to win through to the Winners Group at the Championship League last night with a 3-1 final win over Mark Allen.  It was seventh time lucky for the Captain after losing in six previous finals and on the evidence of his performance you have to say that he seems to be coming back into some form after a couple of dodgy months.

I am currently situated in the Air Traffic Control Tower and am expecting a log from the Captain before 1200 hours ahead of his match with Jimmy tonight live on Sky. Once I hear from him you will be the first to know. Roger. Over and Out.

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