July 31, 2011

Shanghai Masters Qualifying Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:13 pm

Shanghai: Sheffield it ain't.

Monday sees the beginning of four days of qualifying for the Shanghai Masters which takes place in just over a month’s time over in China.

The event is being played at the Sheffield Academy behind closed doors and features all bar the current top 16 players. Players entering proceedings tomorrow are those at the tail end of the rankings as they stand, but early performances this season may mean that one or two of them will be starting the qualifying a day later in future events after the first revision of the ranking list, provided they win a couple of matches in this. Amongst them are strong season starters James Wattana, Ben Woollaston (who faces Dave Gilbert, another that has started well) and Liam Highfield.

There is a strong Chinese contingent in this first crop of matches and it has paid recently to side with them in early matches. Also in amongst the field tomorrow are friend of the blog and World Snooker’s current player of the month David Grace, young Pole Kacper Filipiak, Crucible qualifier and worst dressed Willie winner Andrew Pagett and Norwegian Cockney and century machine Kurt Maflin.

I’m writing this preview in the absence of any prices and I can’t hang on any longer without it going into tomorrow so I’ll simply say any that I think I might have a bet on if the bookies ever eventually price them up. If prices materialise and I have time I’ll flag up recommended bets if I fancy anything strongly at the odds.

Please if any regulars spot prices before I do, can you add this to the comments section. Thanks.


3. Dechawat Poomjaeng v Tian Pengfei
4. Michael White v Simon Bedford
5. Matthew Couch v James Wattana (H2H 2-1)
6. Bjorn Haneveer v David Hogan
7. Paul Davison v Li Yan
8. Aditya Mehta v Stuart Carrington

I can’t pretend that I’m that excited about this first crop of matches I have to say. Thai player Dechawat Poomjaeng started his professional season with a highly unexpected win over John Higgins in the first PTC, making people sit up and take note. But given that all outings for the World Champion since then has seen him largely unable to hit a barn door with a shovel, one can only assume he was a little unprepared for this match. Poomy has since been beaten by much lower ranked players and didn’t look particularly great in the World Cup. He faces Tian Pengfei, who regulars will know I rate very highly, I can’t see the Chinese player being troubled here. Welshman Michael White is an improving player and usually holds his own in this type of company, he faces Simon Bedford who is another that wins some and loses some in this company. I’d have that one as a coin toss but suspect that the bookies might price White up as favourite so could be tempted into a bet on his opponent depending on the price. Matthew Couch has beaten James Watanna in two of their three previous meetings and this includes a deciding frame victory in the recent Australian qualifiers. James was little short of woeful in the World Cup and it did make you wonder how he gets the results he does in the qualifiers so often. Again, if Couch is a price here I’ll probably back him. Bjorn Haneveer should beat whoever comes through tonights clash between Ireland’s David Hogan and the man that just can’t seem to get to grips with his Visa application form Lucky Vatnani. Li Yan has started his professional career well, beating Mark Williams in the PTC and winning two matches very comfortably to reach the third qualifying round of the Aussie Open, including a thumping of Alan McManus, I’d suggest he’s the bet against Paul Davison who tends to win and lose in patches, his last outing being a comfortable defeat at the hands of Jimmy White. Stuart Carrington arguably has his best chance yet to record his maiden win as a professional after surprising some by coming through the Q-School in May. He faces India’s Aditya Mehta, who does throw in the odd decent performance. I’ll confess to knowing very little about Stuart and that will be one I’ll simply be keeping an eye on for future events.

Recommended Bet:

1 point win Couch at 13/8 with Sportingbet

1 point win Bedford at 11/8 with Sportingbet

3 points win Li Yan at 4/6 with Paddy Power



9. Daniel Wells v David Grace
10. Scott MacKenzie v Adam Wicheard
11. Andrew Pagett v Robin Hull
12. Kacper Filipiak v Andrew Norman
13. Passakorn Suwannwat v Adam Duffy

The afternoon sees our pal David Grace taking on Daniel Wells. It has to be said that this year’s ‘One to Watch’ Willie winner Wells will have to start getting some results for this coveted title to be proved prophetic again this year. He has lost both outings so far this season yet will probably carry favouritism into this one against our Gracey, who will have to hope that the World Snooker Player of the Month tag isn’t the same as that old soccerball Manager of the Month award urban whisper when the winners apparently then go on a downward spiral without any exceptions, funny that as I’m sure that rednosed bloke in charge of the Uniteds of Manchester has a few and they always seem to be winning things too. Anyway, that’s another I’ll wait for the prices on I think as there may be some value in taking Wells on. Scotland’s fittingly and imaginatively christened ‘Scott’ MacKenzie, has it’s fair to say started his return to the professional ranks in great style, narrowly missing out on a plane journey to Australia when losing in the final qualifying round to eventual semi-finalist Ken Doherty. He faces Adam Wicheard who is a reportedly temperamental soul on the baize who is gaining experience all the time and I know is a valued member of the Paul Mount Pink Army. But Scott is a player I’m going to side with for a bit given his great start to the season, he is vastly more experienced than his opponent and he might be one to keep an eye on at this stage of events. Another member of the Pink Brigade Andrew Pagett starts out against another experienced returner to the tour; Finland’s Robin Hull. Jack Lisowski said after beating Robin in the Aussie qualifiers that he looked very sharp and will beat a few this season, sometimes there is nothing like renewed vigour and a second bite at the cherry to focus the mind so if the price appeals I’ll probably back him here and if he loses I’ll just ring Jack and ask for my stake back, seems fair enough. Poland’s Kacper Filipiak who impressed a few at the World Cup including Ronnie in what may prove one of his last ever tweets, takes on Andrew ‘Stormin’ Norman. I’m not sure about the hype that was generated around young Kacper in Thailand, he’s one I’ll probably be backing against more than for at this stage of events this season as he’s still very young and will lose a lot more than he’ll win I reckon. I can’t really say anything about the bottom match until we know who is in it.

Recommended Bet:

3 points treble pays just over 11/8 on Pengfei, Norman and Mackenzie at Sportingbet and Paddies.

1 point win David Grace at 7/4 with Sportingbet.


14. Sam Baird v Yu De Lu
15. Sam Craigie v Kurt Maflin
16. Joe Meara v Cao Yu Peng
17. Ben Woollaston v David Gilbert (H2H 1-0)
18. Liam Highfield v David Morris (H2H 1-0)

The evening sees a few interesting matches and we kick off with Sam Baird and Yu De Lu. Yu of course had a great run in the Aussie Open Qualifiers and was another to make it to the final round, before in fairness being hammered by Ryan Day. But he showed enough in the earlier rounds to suggest Baaird has his hands full here. Kurt Maflin returns to play another player I rate in Sam Craigie. Sam has started his professional career with 3 wins from 5 and I wouldn’t be rushing in to back Kurt at restrictive odds for this as he’ll have to bring his potting boots with him to get safely through. I’ll leave that one alone. Northern Ireland’s Joe Meara might be worth a punt at odds against against Cao Yu Peng, who is a player I don’t rate that highly just yet but that’s a bit of a battle of the unknowns and probably again best left alone. Ben Woollaston and Dave Gilbert have both made good starts to the season and Dave seems to have been playing now non-stop for months. Ben is a tough proposition here and again the odds against is tempting but on balance I think you have to stick with Gilbert at this early stage. Liam Highfield has started the season well too and is much higher up the rankings than he was when we started, I’d probably make him my bet of the evening against Davy Morris who loses a lot more than he wins lately.

Recommended Bet: 3 points double on Highfield and Yu De Lu pays 5/4 at Sportingbet 

Interest Daily Acca: 1 point accumulator on Pengfei, Norman, Mackenzie, Hull, Highfield, De Lu and Gilbert pays almost 13.5/1 over at Paddies.

The Best of Luck if you are having a bet. 

No Good Advice?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:22 am

Judd wants a pizza the action

One piece of advice I was given when I was younger was to never dismiss advice from someone trying to help you out. Actually that is completely untrue but is a way to lead into a story about Judd Trump, Jimmy White and a man with an interesting take on levelling off a snooker table.

In reality, the main piece of advice given to me by my dear departed old man in my formative years was sound financial guidance that has helped get me where I am today, amongst these snippits of passed down knowledge was his approach to paying bills, namely, always wait until the red one.

Anyway, back to snooker and my old pal Hector Nunns has been chatting to Jimmy White about the current plight of international playboi and part-time snooker player Judd Trump. It appears Jimmy is a bit worried that young Juddly is letting things go to his head a little after his meteoric rise to public consciousness in May. Jimmy was a right little scamp himself when he was younger of course and knows all too well how quickly a young baize boy with the world at his feet can be led astray.

Jimmy tells the Daily Star here that:

“I never listened to anyone when I was Judd’s age. But if he was listening, my advice would be just to keep practicing. Go and have a look at the nightclubs, by all means, but go easy on the alcohol and don’t step out of your routine and think you can keep coming back.  I had a month off here and two months off there, and you just can’t do that.”

“Judd loves to entertain. You can tell snooker still amazes him, that’s why he plays these incredible shots after he’s won the frame. I was similar, I’d have made a load more centuries if I hadn’t started playing for the crowd after getting to 70. Judd won’t be the biggest century-maker – he’s the same. But there has never been a better time to be a young player coming through, there are more tournaments and they are all over the world. You can pick and choose a bit, which snooker has never had, you just have to play in the ranking events to keep your position. If I was 21 again, I’d play in the lot.”

I’m sure that there are differing opinions on all this. Judd is a young lad and is attracting a big female following which presumably translates into plenty of opportunities for a bit of off the baize frolicking after hours, or indeed on the baize if he takes a few lessons from Knowlsey. I mean who wouldn’t be tempted by that instead of a couple of hours of long blues?

But Jimmy is right and although Judd has done very well these past few months in raising his game to world class standard when it mattered, he now needs to stop his little honeymoon and knuckle down again. If ever he should listen to anyone it should be the man that should have been a multiple world champion but somehow wasn’t.

Another bit of advice that I myself would like to give to anyone that owns a snooker table would be to think twice before taking a saw to it. I think the Dave Harold method of putting beermats under the legs to level it off is a much safer alternative to this.

My Shanghai Qualifiers Day 1 preview will be up later today.

July 30, 2011

Snapshot: Why I entered The Snookerbacker Classic: James Burrett

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:58 am

I thought I’d make a regular feature introducing some of the competitors in the forthcoming Snookerbacker Classic. Here one of the first names in the hat James Burrett tells us why he entered…..

What made you enter the SB Classic James? What attracted you to the event?

When I found out about this event I had just lost in the Q-School and to me it was over for a whole year. But then Ian White (an old mate) told me about the Snookerbacker Classic and it has given me a boost just at the right time. 

Which event or events are you playing in?

I am playing in the Gloucester event but have also entered the Essex event just in case I don’t qualify from Gloucester. 

Tell us a bit about your snooker career to date.

I started off in the Croydon New World Snooker Club where I first met Ian White and many other good players well, I was a beginner so they looked good. I started to get better at the game and then went to Prestatyn to the Pontins Open where I played well but didn’t really do much till later on in life, getting to last 16 at Pontins many times. I also went on what was the Open Tour in 2002 I think it was, but at the time I had a mortgage and couldn’t commit fully to snooker. 

Is the chance to experience real matchplay conditions in top class venues more important to you or are you in it to win it?

I’m in it to win it SB.

Mrs SB will be at venues giving prizes for things like ‘best dressed player’ and ‘nicest haircut’ – think you have a chance in any of those?

Well, I got grey hair at 33 so no probably not!

What are your ambitions in snooker?

I want to make it on to the main tour and see what I can do!

Finally, are you looking forward to the SB Classic?

Really looking forward to it SB. I made it to the final round in the EASB Q School Qualifiers last season where I lost to Rob James. I want to go one better in this.

If you still haven’t entered and are planning to do so, please bear in mind that places are limited at all venues. You can find details of how to enter here.

If you would like to take part in this series of ‘snapshots’ and have entered the event please email me at [email protected]  


July 29, 2011

‘ello ‘ello ‘ello what have we ‘ere then? A New Plod at World Snooker?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:41 am

It's time to flush out the nonces

World Snooker have employed another big hitter from the fraud and crime world to sniff out the baddies as part of Bazza’s drive to cleanse our great sport of underhand goings-on. Nigel Mawer will replace David ‘He Don’t Have a Sense of Humour’ Douglas of the Yard to head up Bazza’s Integrity Unit.

Nigel has joined the board of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association as the new Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee. Nigel left the Metropolitan Police Service in 2010 as a Detective Chief Superintendent in the Specialist Crime Directorate based at New Scotland Yard. He was the head of the Economic and Specialist Crime Command where he devised ‘Sterling’, the MPS strategy to combat economic crime in London. He led the National response to e-crime and planned the operational response against serious and organised crime relating to the 2012 Olympics.

He has led on some of the most sensitive enquiries conducted by Scotland Yard. He ran the recent corruption enquiry into Pakistani Cricketers, working closely with the ICC Anti-Corruption and Security Unit. He led the enquiry into Lords and MPs expenses. So any players found to be claiming for duck-islands or Toffee Crisps on expenses will be for the chop.

He now works as a freelance specialist advisor in the areas of sport regulation, integrity in sport, anti-corruption, economic and e-crime. He is the Chair of the Darts Regulation Authority and is the independent regulator of professional darts. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and replaces David Douglas, who has left the board to focus on other commitments.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “We are delighted to bring Nigel on to the board. He has wealth of experience at the very top level, which will benefit us in dealing with disciplinary issues in snooker. We’ve made real progress in recent months in making snooker a clean sport, especially in setting up the new Integrity Unit. Under Nigel’s guidance we will be able to continue that progress. We would like to thank David Douglas for his exceptional contribution to the governance of our sport and we wish him all the best.”

Press release courtesy of World Snooker

July 28, 2011

Step Back in Time

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:37 am


Only serious news kept snooker off the front pages in the 80's

As we all know, snooker is currently on the upturn. Bazza has fiddled with knobs, rubbed shoulders with the hoipoloi, got his finger into a truckload of pies and reignited the baize these last 12 months.

But there are those of us that are old enough to remember the so called Golden Age of Snooker. It is hard to believe that such a gentlemanly sport as ours dominated sports coverage at times and often off the table antics made front page news in the tabloid press.

Yes, alongside headlines such as ‘Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster’ we had Alex Higgins proclaiming that he hated Steve Davis, we also had front page details of Alex taking a comfort break in some artificial flowers at the Guild Hall in Preston and taking issue with someone that told him to tie a knot in it.

Then of course we had the younger wildboys of the baize, Kirk Stevens and his liking for the white stuff and I’m not just talking about his suits and Tony Knowles, the Bolton Bonker with his liking for anything in a skirt. He certainly brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘soft screw’. These were the guys that ensured the press stayed interested in our otherwise very sedate sport.

But, through accident of birth or pure chance, not everyone was there to witness it. If you weren’t, you might find it hard to believe that snooker really was as big then as football is now. I only hope that the day comes when football suffers a similar fall from grace and every single match that is ever on the TV is not billed as ‘probably the most crucial match of the season’ or ‘a real six pointer’ or some other tiresomely weathered cliche. Surely the masses will soon grow bored of this wall to wall saturation coverage?

Anyway, if you weren’t there and you want to relive, actually that’s not quite right is it? You can’t after all relive something that you haven’t lived through in the first place so I’ll start again.

If you weren’t there and want to experience what it was like all those years ago, or if you were there and you just want to spend a few hours reliving the glory days, you could do a lot worse than taking a look at this You Tube Channel which features rare snooker footage and really brings home exactly how big it was. As well as action on the baize itself it features interviews and novelty programmes, including Steve Davis’s attempt at a snooker based chat show as well as the Nugget’s first ever TV appearance. All in all, it’s great and well worth a visit to pass some time until the real action gets underway again, a snooker anorak’s dream come true.

However, I do wonder why Snooputt never took off?

July 27, 2011

The Baize Month Ahead: August

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:02 am

Misguided Purchase

I’ll begin with a little story from the archives if I may. Many years ago I bought the album pictured on the right. It was one of those albums that you buy because you like one of the songs you have heard, in this case it was called ‘Bad Love’ and I liked the instrumental guitar bit of it from old slow hands or whatever they call him.

But it was one of those purchases that you end up regretting I’m afraid. I took it home and listened to a bit of it and then decided the rest of it was total arsewipe. So I just listened to the song I liked over and over again and forgot about it, keeping it well hidden in the dark depths of my record collection as the years went on.

Then one night I made the mistake of inviting a really cool musician friend of mine over for a few drinks and a bit of musical entertainment and informed ‘muso’ discussion. I was obviously keen on showing this guru of all things melodic just what great taste I had in music, after all, he had chosen to hang around with me so I needed to up it in the cool stakes. I had to impress him to the point where he accepted me as an equal.

But instead of heading for my rare Happy Mondays recordings, my Inspiral Carpets or Joy Division classics or my full collection of Smiths discs and memorabilia, like a sniffer dog poking around for something iffy in your bag he found August. At that precise moment my cool rating was at the point it remains today, namely zero, a bit like this guy. Why else would I be writing a snooker blog if I wasn’t just that little bit nerdy? 

The only thing that stopped him leaving there and then was the opportunity this gave him to take the piss out of me for the next decade for my musical transgression. I was ridiculed to the point of suicide that night so the next day I wrapped the album up in birthday paper and sent it to him as a present. For the next five years or so we exchanged it as a gift at Easter, Christmas and Birthdays, each time adding our own image to the front cover. I think I added one of the boxer Chris Eubank riding a motorbike into the water at one point.

Anyway, we lost touch at some point as people do, particularly if one of you is ultra cool and the other isn’t but as far as I know he still has it. Who knows one day ‘August’ might be in my possession again?

So now attention turns to August on the baize and this kicks off next week, Monday to be exact with the qualifying for the Shanghai Masters which takes place in early September. Four days of qualifiers at the Academy in Sheffield will see all players bar the top 16 in the world vying for a chance to hop on the plane to China to take part in the event that last year marked the start of the season and was won by the Captain. This year the season is of course already in full flow.

Straight from there we head over to Gloucester, where the South West Snooker Academy will host the second Players Tour Championship event, all the top players in the world will be in attendance and the amateurs will be battling it out over the weekend before 8-10th sees the professionals enter the event. We should be treated to some live streaming I hope from this excellent venue, the hosts of course to the Snookerbacker Classic Finals Day, as well as one of the qualifying events.

It’s really a big month for the PTC’s as the second one is held back in Sheffield from 17-21st with the next weekend seeing the return of the Paul Hunter Classic over in Fuerth, Germany. Which of course can only mean one thing, the return of German girls to the blog, always eagerly awaited by the foam mouthed regulars.

In amongst all this there is a Premier League event over in Graham Cripsey’s home town of Skegness. Unfortunately the event was deemed ‘too popular’ to be staged at his famous snooker bungalow, which is a shame as I might have covered it then. But as regular readers will know, I’m not a great fan of this event so I probably won’t be paying it any more than a cursory look.

So that’s August in a nutshell or in wrapping paper, whichever you prefer.

July 26, 2011

Rank and File?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:35 am

It's not the size of your erection, it's how you got there.

Dave Hendon has posted an article this morning on who, following Stuart Bingham’s maiden ranking event win at the weekend, will be the next first time ranking event winner.

It’s an interesting question and not one that can be easily answered when you look at the current ranking list, so I thought I’d blatantly copy it. From a betting perspective it would be great if we could collectively come up with an answer and back this mystery player at big odds all season until he and we finally landed the spoils.

The first question is will it happen again this season? Or will the more familiar faces begin to dominate as the season goes along? The form of John Higgins will surely improve soon and last time MJW lost in the manner he did at the weekend he came back and won the next ranking event in Germany. I’d say that these two are the big hitters at the moment in terms of finals and tournament wins, with the likes of Ding Junhui, Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Ali Carter usually in the frame to pick up silverware should they flounder. 

Last year of course Judd Trump took his first ranking title over in China and despite the fact that Judd has been on the radar now for many years, this did come somewhat out of the blue. His subsequent run in Sheffield just goes to show what this means to a player in terms of momentum and confidence.

When grizzled hacks and bloggers write about Mark Allen the lack of a ranking success is frequently referred to as a ‘monkey on his back’. Mark usually goes red in the face when this is mentioned to him and hisses back at journalists that this is in their minds and not his, but you have to say that he is now looking rather conspicuous on the ranking list in this regard, with only PTC Grand Finalist Martin Gould in the latest provisional top 16 sharing this torso clinging primate, he can at least claim to have made a final. Even if you extend the ranking wins to the PTC’s the two still draw a blank in terms of a trophy, with the likes of Marcus Campbell, Tom Ford and Michael Holt each having one of those to their names despite being a little further down the rankings.

Gould and Allen are the obvious choices for next winners, but the longer their run of not winning goes on the greater the pressure becomes to win. The same can be said for Jamie Cope, who for years has promised to lift some silverware but still hasn’t, again though he can at least claim to have made a final. Perhaps the weight of expectation and the impact of continuing disappointment and frustration at himself has got too much for him as his gradual slide out of the top 16 continues? He wouldn’t be the first that this has happened to. 

So who else is in the frame for a ranking win? Well, I’ll stick my neck out and say I would be surprised if there are any further new ranking winners this season outside of possibly Allen or Gould. We may perhaps see a return to the winners enclosure for former winners, the main boys that fall into this category for me in no particular order would be Marco Fu, Stephen Lee, Matthew Stevens, Graeme Dott, Dominic Dale, Ricky Walden, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Stephen Maguire.

As for new winners, who out there has the game and the temperament to win consistently on TV? The only names that I would say are worth looking at are Barry Hawkins, Ryan Day and possibly a resurgent Liang Wenbo if he gets on a roll. Further down the rankings Matthew Selt will be buoyed by his success in Australia and Jack Lisowski and Anthony McGill are widely regarded as talents for the future, but to win a ranking event this season is surely a bridge too far for players so early in their professional careers.

Or what about a name plucked from the lower echelons, such as Pink Ribbon winner Mark Joyce, the dangerous Tian Pengfei or the young kid on the block and Crucible qualifier Jimmy Robertson? Can you really see this happening? Is the gap between the top 32 players and the rest wider than it has ever been?

So will it be another season dominated by the usual faces? Will Bingo’s win inspire others to greater things? Will you be routinely following anyone this year at a big price to small stakes? Or are you going to be a permanent Higgins, Selby, MJW or Ding backer? Perhaps you are a nostalgist and will steadfastly part with a fiver in the hope that Stephen Hendry will rediscover his killer instinct or perhaps you will simply be backing Ronnie for everything on the premise that he’s likely to be a bigger price for majors than he has been for many years and is bound to win at least one more before he jacks it all in?

Perhaps I will stop asking questions and just let you have your say?

July 25, 2011

JP Coaching Sessions and a Twitter Winner!

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:58 pm

Just read down, there is a reason for this picture. Honest.

As regulars will be aware, I am always working in the background to strike a deal and secure some prizes for the growing baize army of avid followers. I’ll be making an announcement to that effect on the blog in the not too distant future which will secure a steady stream of prizes for readers as the snooker season starts in earnest.

One of the partners of the blog are those crazy guys over at John Parrott Cue Sports and regular readers will know all about the exclusive discounts you can get on all your snooker equipment by using our code at the checkout there. If you don’t know how to do this or you just want to browse around for a snooker wish list just click here.

Anyway, JP himself despite having hung up his waistcoat a couple of seasons back likes to keep his eye in and he’s hosting a series of junior coaching days over at the excellent Star Snooker Academy in Sheffield over the summer. What better way for a young tyke to learn his or her trade than a day of coaching from a former World Champion on top class tables? You even get your dinner on top and a snooker accessory pack worth £20 with a certificate to mark your special day. The downside is that you might have to listen to John’s jokes of course but don’t let that put you off too much.

So parents out there, get your hands in your pockets and stop spending all that money on yourselves. The holiday and widescreen TV’s can wait, your offspring’s career can’t. They didn’t ask to be born. Who knows? This might stop them from hanging around street corners in gangs, terrifying the local community dressed in black from head to toe in the hope of not standing out and having to have their own identity. 

JP himself says  “I’m looking forward to helping junior players of all standards improve their game this summer in the top conditions at the Star Snooker Academy.” The academy itself has tournament standard tables, so they would be able to feel at first hand what it’s like for the boys at the top of the game.

You can find out how to book one of the sessions with John by clicking here. Remember to include the code SBX at the checkout to get your discount.

Now, why is there a seemingly gratuitous picture of a lady that some of you might recognise from the telly accompanying this piece? Is it just a childish ploy by the blog author to encourage multiple hits from teenagers that spend hours looking at this kind of thing? Well no it isn’t, well it’s not just that anyway as JP’s offered up one of these sessions recently for me to give away and this being a contest all about parrots, I decided to throw it out to my followers on Twitter. Parrott/Twitter get it…? Oh never mind.  

Anyway, you know me, I’m never one to over-publicise and I like to think the blog speaks for itself in it’s classy approach to all things snookery, you won’t catch me over-promoting something, oh no, in fact I consider it rather vulgar.

Incidentally, anyone that hasn’t yet entered the Snookerbacker Classic can do so by clicking here.

Anyway where was I? Oh yes the competition. Like I say the last thing I’m sure I could ever be accused of is over-self-promotion or self-indulgence. So, the shrinking violet that I am, what I did was set my followers the task of getting a famous person to retweet the randomly selected at random by someone else phrase ‘I think Snookerbacker is ace’ to their followers, like I say, I don’t like to self-promote. The only stipulation was that the person should not be famous for snooker and that the person getting the most followed tweeter to say it won the prize.

I then didn’t give it another thought as I browsed through the tweets of Stephen Fry, Barack Obama and Lady Gaga for a few days and nights, only about three or four I think, I fell asleep in the end.

But anyway when I finally woke up, it turned out that none other than regular poster Ian White had managed to persuade the lady in the picture Lisa Rogers, who turns out to be a bit of a snooker fan herself, as well as a lot of a fox to tweet the phrase that pays.

Lisa is an actress and TV presenter with a wide range of credits to her name and you can read all about her on Wikipedia, some of which will be true and some of which will not be here and you can follow her on Twitter here.

Ian is the forum hardman and sorts out those who don’t behave themselves in the comments section. He can be periodically read about in the ‘Look who’s in Court?’ section of the Barnsley Gazette. He’s not allowed on Twitter under the Health and Safety Act Regulations 1998.

Anyway, Ian won the prize and he’s currently deciding who should have it.

July 24, 2011

Exclusive Interview with Bingo’s Bendigo Dingo

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:01 pm

Stuart and Mandy (right)

Stuart Bingham produced a stunning comeback earlier today to claim his first ever ranking title with a 9-8 win over Mark Williams, making him the 2011 Australian Open Champion.

After the match Stuart revealed the secret weapon that has produced this transformation in form. No, it wasn’t the coaching of Stephen Feeney and his Sight Right method, nor was it the presence of the man he called his ‘lucky charm’ Mike Ganley, nor was it the motivational training he has been getting from Mark Allen or the support of the Australian people or even his friends and family back home.

No, the real heroine in this tale is Mandy, to whom Stuart emotionally dedicated his win in his after-match speech. Mandy is a dog that Stuart has been patting on the way into his matches and it is clearly her positive vibes that have made the crucial difference to Bingo.

Now as you know I will travel to the ends of the earth for a scoop and this time I have managed to track down the pooch in question. In this exclusive interview Mandy gives us all the inside story.

SB: So Mandy, how did you and Stuart first meet?

Mandy: He was going in to his match against Ding Junhui and he came over and patted me on the head. I often hang around here as there’s a kebab shop over the road and the owner sometimes throws scraps out to me as a treat. He asked me my name and said I was his lucky charm.

SB: Have you been keeping in touch during the event?

Mandy: Yes, every day Stuart has been patting me on the head, making funny faces at me and occasionally singing me a little song when nobody else is listening, he’s a very good singer you know.

SB: Is he really? Can you tell us what song it was he sang to you?

Mandy: Yes it was this one.

SB: You must be delighted that he won?

Mandy: Yes, but I knew he would as he told me after he beat that Mark Allen kid.

SB: What did he say?

Mandy: He said ‘right now I’ve beaten that little shit I’m going to win this for you Mandy’

SB: Will you be keeping in touch with Stuart?

Mandy: Yes, he has promised to send me over some home made dog biscuits and he is going to buy me a pink fluffy coat with his winnings. He is a very nice man, much nicer than some of the others, I met Shaun Murphy the other day and he was very nice to me too, I think he likes all dogs though not just me. But some of the others, I couldn’t repeat what one of them said to me, it upset me so much I pissed on his leg when he wasn’t looking. But I’ve said far too much already and it’s time for my dinner.

And with that Mandy was gone, heading in the direction of the swanky restaurant that Stuart had booked for after his win.

July 23, 2011

The Aussie Open Final: Bendigo Bingo v The Floater

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:48 pm

I'm a Floater not a Fighter

Tomorrow sees the conclusion of the Goldfields Australian Open over in Bendigo and I must say, after what I thought was rather a flat experience in the World Cup, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this event.

There are a number of reasons for this, firstly, it’s great to be watching snooker players who were more or less odd-job men 18 months ago plying their trade on the other side of the world to packed houses of appreciative Aussies. It’s a shame for them that Neil Robertson didn’t do a bit better or that the game’s current main draw Ronnie O’Sullivan, didn’t go. But this has been more than made up for by some great matches and in particular the performances of Mark Williams, who to me has looked unplayable at times.

It’s also great that through the power of Twitter we are able to chat with the players and fellow enthusiasts over there. It’s great to feel close to the action even though some of us are thousands of miles away over here in Europe.

I’ve also been watching a lot of it over at Bet 365 and what a good set-up that is. Live coverage with Robbie Foldvari and Clive Everton with very few interruptions in the coverage has been a highlight of the event for me. Though of course those watching the excellent Eurosport coverage (except when Smiffy’s on) will I dare say also have enjoyed their snooker just as much as me.

The aggro involving one of the finalists Stuart Bingham and the firecracker Mark Allen has been another particular highpoint for me. Whether this is a very genuine dislike, which to some extent I am almost certain it is, or whether young Marky just likes to mix it up a bit, it has grabbed attention back here. The comments of Matthew Stevens about players being ‘babies’ also raised a smile from yours truly. A refreshing change to the mutual backslapping that usually goes on.

But possibly the main reason I have enjoyed it is because it’s a ‘proper’ ranking event and for me the first of those since Sheffield. I do detect that the short format is now becoming the norm and I am concerned as a fan and a supporter of snooker with the changes already being made to the format of UK Championship (wasn’t that one of the untouchables?), though that said, at least it’s back in York, but this isn’t the time to dwell on that.

Loves Short Matches

My point is that I don’t want to see quickfire snooker all the time and I don’t actually believe that there is the demand for it out there from anyone other than the type of shaved chimps that attended Power Snooker. We really don’t want to be pandering to them now do we?

Anyway, back to the tournament and Stuart contests his first ever ranking final in a 16 year long career. He played solidly rather than brilliantly to beat Smurf and benefitted from a very poor display from his usually rock solid opponent. You can read his reaction to the match and the thoughts of Smurf who appears to still believe there is such a thing as ‘the snooker gods’ here.

Then came MJW and Ken with a rare appearance at this stage of an event for the Darling from Dublin. A poor display from him if we’re honest resulted in a float in the park for Mark. Only two centuries in this match, he’s crap isn’t he? You can read all about the match here. I hope it’s the start of a resurgence for our Kendo, perhaps inspired by the man that beat him today.

So what about the final then?

Well I am not going to pull any silly predictions out of the hat that MJW won’t win as you have to think he will. In fact the quotes of 4/11 I would suggest might still attract big punters if they can get on. I had Williams as a 2/9 shot for this personally. They have met 4 times and the head to head stands at 2-2, two of them being round robin meetings which can more or less be discounted. The last time they faced each other was in 2009, when on his way to winning the China Open, the tournament that kick-started Mark’s ascent to World Number 1, he beat Stuart 5-0. Whilst I don’t expect it to be a total demolition job tomorrow I would have to say that the 5/6 available at Boylesports on Mark to win by more than 2 frames is very tempting. But not as tempting as the centuries bet over at Paddy Power. Between the two of them they have made 9 so far this week, with Mark making 5 in his last two matches in effortless fashion. This makes the 5/6 over there on there being more than one in a best of 17 between the two of them a bet that I must have a slice of.

Recommended Bet: 4 points win: Over 1.5 centuries @ 5/6 with Paddy Power   

The Best of Luck if you are having a go.

MID-SESSION INTERVAL LATEST: Williams 7-5 Bingham (1 century in the morning session from Bingham in Frame 1) 

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