March 29, 2011

China Open Day Three Match Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:06 pm

Another Day. Another Record.

Day Two of the Bank of Beijing China Open produced thrills and spills aplenty as the tournament was lit up by yet another record book entry. This time by another Welshman but this time for very different reasons.

The match between Mark Williams and Stephen Lee produced an absolutely sensational spectacle with Williams becoming the first player ever in a best of nine match to hit 4 centuries and lose. Stephen Lee produced one of the best clearances I have ever seen to snatch the final frame 72-70 from 63 points behind. I really can’t speak highly enough about the match, it was truly spectacular from start to finish from surely the best two cueists outside of a fully flowing Rocket that the game has. To watch some of it please visit my friend’s blog here and click on the match title. It’s well worth it I promise.

Spookily, given that the match received an immediate nomination for a Willie Award, apparently the closest anyone has got to this is none other than Willie Thorne himself, who produced a top drawer performance to hit three centuries and an eighty odd back in the day when losing 5-4 to Murdo McLeod. The main man Ronnie has topped both these though with a 5-2 victory over the Captain in the 2007 Northern Ireland Trophy which consisted of 5 centuries, with the small matter of a 147 thrown in for good measure. Remember when he used to be good?

Back on earth meanwhile, in the other first session matches, Dark Mavis recovered from a recent slump in form to send Maguire packing and Robert Milkins and Gerard Greene survived their wildcard challenge.

Then in the second session came more drama. Kurt ‘Call me Keith’ Maflin looked to be about to cause the upset of the tournament when 4-1 up on Ding. But the local hero was just toying with his adoring crowd and eventually woke up, got into gear and in truth never really looked like losing from 2-4 down. My man over in China had headlined before the match began that Ding was ‘half dead’ so with this level of insight I have renewed confidence in his opinions and observations. He will be very hard to stop this week, Ding that is, not Chi-Lee.

Then came two more deciding frames with both fancied players on the wrong end of things. Marcus Campbell continued his impressive recent form and beat Mark Allen, who must wait longer for his first ranking event win. I wonder if he can follow in the footsteps of Graeme Dott and Shaun Murphy and make his first one the big one?

Smurf himself recovered from the news that his cat had been run over and his feelings about the local coffee to come back from 3-1 down and beat Joe Perry. Showing glimpses towards the end that his game is in good shape for Sheffield. He now faces Li Hang, who beat Graeme Dott 5-4 and advanced to the last 16 in a tournament he shouldn’t be in. I hope Shaun puts a stop to this wildcard’s run. Just don’t get me started again, right?

Thanks by the way to World Snooker who kindly included the link to my review of Dotty’s book on their website today. To win a copy of it follow the links in this story.

So to tomorrow, can it possibly live up to today?


9. John Higgins v Nigel Bond (H2H 1-1)
14. Marco Fu v Judd Trump (H2H 1-1)
5. Ali Carter v Stuart Bingham (H2H 4-3)
15. Peter Ebdon v Gerard Greene (H2H 1-1)

It’s amazing that two old warhorses like Higgins and Bond have only met twice. In 1996 they contested the Castella Classic British Open Final which Nige won 9-8 and waited over a decade later to meet again in the round robin stages of the Grand Prix, where John gained a revenge of sorts. Higgins is one of my picks in the outrights and while I rate Nigel as a dangerous opponent he doesn’t strike me as one that might end John’s winning run so I’ll take the Wizard to advance with a little to spare.

Marco Fu has been a little out of sorts since he finished runner-up in the Masters and will be looking to have a decent run in this, but he hasn’t had a great deal of success these last few seasons over in China and faces Juddly, who has not really done much there either. This is very much a coin toss match this one and in those circumstances I’m always happy to take the favourite on. Who knows? Judd might be so lifted by his qualification for the Crucible after such a long time he may have a run in this.

The Captain takes on Ballrun Bingham for a place in the last 16 and their head to head record makes interesting reading. They have all been in ranking events or the Masters and Stuart won the first three but since then Ali has had the upper hand and won the last four. This includes a win in his Shanghai Masters triumph back in September. They do like a tussle though and the matches are never one sided, possibly as a result of their practice regimes. Expect another close one here but I have to side with Ali, who you feel needs a run in this to get his game together for Sheffield.

We then come to the enigma that is Peter Ebdon (look out for an exclusive about him in a couple of day’s time by the way) against Gerard Greene, let’s just say I don’t think this will be on a TV table. Greene to me is a scrappy scorer and a grappler and rarely wins frames in one visit, these type of players can become like a small, yet slow and much appreciated snack to Ebbo if he’s in the mood; he came from nowhere to win this two seasons ago of course. I would not have a bet on the result in this one but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ebdon grind a result out in about four hours or so.

Recommended Bet:

1 point win Judd Trump at 5/4 with Boylesports

2 points win Ebdon v Greene (over 7 frames) at 4/5 with Blue Square

I'm a lover not a fighter.


2. Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ryan Day (H2H 4-1)
8. Mark Selby v Tian Pengfei
7. Jamie Cope v Rob Milkins (H2H 1-1)
10. Ricky Walden v Martin Gould (H2H 4-1)

Ronnie’s there then, we have his holiday snaps to prove it and he lines up against Ryan Day after spending two days wrestling for his visa, eating out with the Grove Snooker boys and going on a sightseeing trip. The one thing we don’t have a photo of him doing is practising of course so it remains to be seen how sharp he is against a player who is apparently not missing anything in practice and beat Ronnie just a few short weeks ago quite convincingly. I watched the first ‘Rocky’ film the other night on TV where the champion Apollo Creed spends his preparation time for the fight pleasing the media while Rocky punches raw meat in a freezer. OK, Rocky ended up losing to the classier fighter but he could easily have won had the classy Creed not had some reserves in the tank. That’s a round about way of saying that if Ronnie isn’t on top or very near top form here I think he will lose as Ryan will punish his mistakes should they happen. The key word for this match as ever is ‘trade’, you will probably not lose if you are not too greedy and may even make enough to put away for a small house if things go really close. Seriously though, Ronnie’s matches continue to trade like no other and those with their heads screwed on correctly should not end up out of pocket regardless of the result.

Then comes The Jester Selby against Tian the Danger Man. Tian is a huge price for this match given his pedigree in this event and beyond. I really hope Selby wins as, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, I don’t agree with the wildcards. It would be silly not to have an interest on the home man here at the price, but just an interest, not a bet. That said, he’s a half decent price to win three frames so I’ll have some of that I think.

Jamie Cope for some reason seems to play very well in China and comes into this on the back of a Hainan Classic final where he lost to Higgins. Rob Milkins is a dangerous opponent on his day and the sheer pace he plays the game can frighten opponents, but personally I think Rob is the type of player that Jamie prefers playing and I’d take him to win this one with his superior scoring power and experience over there.

Finally, another potfest beckons between Martin Gould and Ricky Walden, two players that don’t like hanging around. Another coin toss and on the day job this for me but Gould is a terrifying potter in short spells when he’s in form and he is obviously peaking now after a bit of a lean spell which makes him a dangerous opponent. At Evens he’s the bet here I reckon, even if he can’t play position.

Recommended Bets:

Take 5-10 points off to a betting exchange and trade on Day v O’Sullivan and post your genuine profit tomorrow.

2 points win Tian Pengfei (+2.5 frames) at 5/6 with Stan James

1 point double on Cope and Gould at just over 2/1 almost everywhere


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