September 21, 2011

PTC5 Qualifying

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:02 am

Only a very brief post to say that the qualifying matches being played ahead of the PTC5 which starts on Friday are listed here. Probably the best place to keep up with scores will be here.

I will be putting an outright preview up on the main event including recommended bets later today.  

September 20, 2011

The Woes and Ways of a Wandering Willie

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:41 am

Oh you handsome devil

The Willie Thorne PR wagon has been in full throttle this last week or so, Willie has a new book out called ‘Taking a Punt on My Life’ which seems a far cry from your average snooker autobiography. Tales of attempted suicide and shagging snooker groupies replace the usual standard fayre of frame winning clearances and well-judged cannons.

Excerpts from the book, which I am more than happy to receive a free copy of to review on here, have appeared in a number of UK newspapers and as well as his liking for groupies Willie candidly talks about all the problems he has had in his life. Most of them by the look of it being self-inflicted.

He talks about attempting suicide, which is always a good one to pull out of the bag to get the sales up. First of all, he stood at the top of a hotel in Bangkok and thought about jumping, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. So he then reached for the sleeping pills but didn’t quite complete the job then either. Much like his legendary miss on the blue in the UK final it was another case of close but no cigar.

Willie says he still suffers from bouts of depression and insomnia and reveals that last year he had a mild stroke. Describing the episode, which happened during a speech at a charity event he says “I realised I had started slurring my words and was all over the place. It had been a long week and I just apologised explaining I was tired.” As he returned to his seat, his stepson James, told him: “Do you realise that for 30 seconds you just mumbled, you made no sense at all?”

Sounds a bit like one of his commentaries to me.

He also talks about the death of his brother Malcolm who did a massive amount for snooker and it is clear that he misses him a great deal. I never got to meet him but by all accounts he was a cracking bloke who would do anything for younger players and I know he helped Mark Selby massively during his early days on the baize. Think how proud he would be of him now perched at Number One in the rankings?

Of course, a story about the Great WT would not be complete without some gambling anecdotes and I’m sure the book will be littered with stories of nearly misses and lucky streaks. Anyone who is familiar with the tale of the time he backed Ken Doherty to beat John Parrott after overhearing JP talking about his cue problems (Willie describes having an erection on hearing the exclusive snippit – whatever turns you on I suppose) will know that WT sometimes got it disastrously wrong. You can read more about ‘that bet’ and other stuff about Willie here.

A Snoopie

Perhaps more surprising is Willie’s revelation that being given duff inside information on snooker wasn’t the only thing that gave him a ‘hard on’. He describes his liking for ‘snooker groupies’ in this article in the Daily Mirror. He even talks of a time when he thought he was going to get shot by a jealous husband. But, much like some of his big punts this turns out to be yet another gross misjudgement on Willie’s part. 

When it comes to the chicks however, Willie doesn’t kid himself that he was or is a handsome fella and claims that the ladies were probably seduced by the fact that he was a celebrity and a well-known snooker player who just happened to be wining and dining them aswell.

No shit Sherlock.

Anyway, where have all these snooker groupies or as I prefer to refer to them ‘snoopies’ gone? I didn’t see any when I went to the Crucible or to Wembley, maybe they are still hanging out in Willie’s Love Caravan inside the cordoned off BBC area, you know the one with the bushy moustache on the door? If you reckon you are Snoopie material just let me know, I have an extensive range of contacts in the snooker world who may be interested. That way, you get to do the business with a famous baize boy, he gets to lose his virginity and I get to sell the sordid details to the highest bidder for a stack of cash. Think of it as a business transaction where everyone’s a winner.  

Anyway, oh yes the book, it came out yesterday and like I say if the publishers want to send me a free copy to review I am happy to do so.

September 19, 2011

Another Day, Another Dollar.

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:52 am

Samba Smurf

Our old cocker spaniel was sick yesterday and we were both a bit worried about him, he’s a lot better today and has woken up full of beans. By contrast both myself and Mrs SB woke up a bit gloomy with the thought of another week of work ahead and a dull, miserable morning outside. We both just wanted to stay in bed and not have to bother with earning a living for this week at least, probably much like the majority of waking Brits this cold autumnal morning.

But contrast this with the winner of the Brazilian Masters last night Shaun Murphy, who wakes up this morning a cool £25,000 or so richer courtesy of a few days ‘work’ in a sunny beach resort far far away, this all in between the taxing chore of having to play tennis, sorry Shaun but by all accounts rather badly, against the slightly less awful Bingo Tennis-Ballrun Bingham.

I know which I’d rather be doing….

Typically, Shaun himself said afterwards that he would have fond memories of Brazil and that he couldn’t believe that he gets to do what he does as a job. For me, that sums his attitude up in terms of the changes happening in the sport at the moment, he will go anywhere to play and you can always rely on him to give it his best shot, even when he’s not at his best. He is also happy to make comments that could be seen by some as fuelling the flames when it comes to the disagreements amongst the players as to the way snooker is heading under the good ship Bazza, but Shaun is a clever lad and is obviously in the ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds’ camp.

Contrast Smurf’s attitude with that displayed once more by Mark Allen on his Facebook pages. The young Belfast Firecracker has been having a swipe left, right and centre at World Snooker, mocking their choice of venue this week as well as describing the PTC events as ‘crappy’ and calling for an end to the endless travel the players have to do. Hang on, he didn’t even go to Brazil…

Of course, he is entitled to his opinion and I’m sure he isn’t alone and at least has the courage to express it. He has also been fighting his own demons of late of course and this may just be a symptom of that, very much in the way that Ronnie sometimes uses Twitter to let off steam, much to the delight of tabloid hacks and his adoring and forever forgiving fans everywhere.

Marky - Not Happy.

Now I don’t think that this event has been a great success whichever way you dress it up and it took Bazza to get over there to give the promoters what I’m sure was ‘the benefit of his opinion’ and leave them in doubt as to their shortcomings. But I do find it strange that he left it in their incapable hands in the first place and wasn’t a little more hands on (if he needs a representative to do this, I AM available). But despite the obvious failings that were there for all to see, the event did improve and at least the people who did watch seemed to be enthusiastic. I’m sure lessons will be learned if they venture to such parts again, though I’d guess that this is the last time they’ll be swapping smart shoes for flip flops straight after the match.

In terms of the global growth of the sport, I’m not going to go over old ground but it is obvious that this is the only way to ensure snooker’s bright future and if there are players with Mark’s attitude, no matter how good they are, they should probably consider a change of career. Keeping the sport land-locked in the UK is not an option and if this were to happen and the travelling did stop, it would not be the player’s choice to change careers as this decision would have been forced upon them. Sometimes you just have to knuckle down even when conditions don’t suit you, just like almost everyone else in life. 

That said, I still believe the balance may have been tipped a little too much in the other direction and that changes to the calendar are necessary to avoid player burnout as early as October and risk the showpiece events later in the season turning into a slog and being won by the player who is simply the least knackered. But we are in a transition phase of the sport and for now at least, the players should be embracing these new opportunities when they can and just look a little further beyond their metaphorical four walls.

I know that money is an issue too, but in the words of Del Trotter ‘You’ve got to speculate to accumulate, je ne sais pas por quoi, Rodders’.

(Photos courtesy of World Snooker)

September 18, 2011

Brazilian Masters Finals Day: A Day for Champions

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:46 am

I'm ashamed of myself, I really am.

Four world champions will contest the semi-finals and final of the Brazilian Masters later today as King of the Crucible Stephen Hendry takes on 2005 champ Shaun Murphy and Peter Ebdon who won the big one back in 2002 takes on the man who beat him to the world crown in 2006, Graeme Dott.

I’ll admit that I didn’t watch much of it yesterday after sitting through the entire Ebdon and Selby encounter I felt I had punished myself enough. Though I did end up having that handicap bet on Igor that I wrote about yesterday so all in all this has been a fairly good week bettingwise, but it’s now time to close the satchel and run.

The nostalgists amongst us will be hoping that Hendry can make the final and go on and win it, seeing him holding a trophy these days is becoming something of a rarity and it would go some way to giving him a bit of confidence going into the qualifying matches he will surely be playing to get into the remaining televised ranking events this season. It will be sad not to see him at the Masters but all good things as they say, must come to an end eventually.

Talking of things coming to an end, today sees the last Brazilian girl of the week and this in fact will mark a fairly large gap in the featured girl visuals given that the German Masters isn’t until the other side of Christmas. How will you make it through?

Talking of Germany, I know I have a lot of German regulars on here and Mrs SB and myself are currently looking at our holiday plans for next year and are considering a trip to the Bavaria/Black Forest region. We’re looking at a place called Freiburg as a base at the moment and wondered if anyone had any advice for us?

Anyway, here’s today’s set up with the UK times, if I was having a bet I think I’d take a chance on the two outsiders coming through in Ebdon (5/4) and Hendry (2/1), but like I say, satchel closed on this one for me.


Peter Ebdon 2-5 Graeme Dott


Stephen Hendry 1-5 Shaun Murphy


Graeme Dott 0-5 Shaun Murphy (139) 

September 17, 2011

Brazilian Masters Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:15 am

I apologise, I really do.

We are now down to the Quarter Final stages in Brazil and I am pleased to report that there were actually people, yes, people, there yesterday watching two true legends of the game.

Yes, the appearance of Sobradinho de Dues and Noel Rodrigues certainly drew in the crowds as they took on a couple of ringers in the shape of Shaun Murphy and some bloke called Hendry.

We were certainly treated to a dazzling display by Sobradinho, who looked a little like Joe Pesci particularly when he was conceding frames from his chair, he would wave his arms at Michaela in a ‘I’m finished with this guy, bitch, now rack ’em up’ kind of way. Shaun surprisingly kept his cool under the intense pressure that was put on him and won 4-0, he reportedly found a horse’s head in his bed this morning but at least he’s through.

Hendry also won and nearly made a 147, breaking down on 113. Ricky Walden and Ali Carter, who beat the Nugget are also still in the mix.

Various reports suggest that the crowds were largely due to coercion rather than a baying public wanting to fork out a stack of dosh to watch the action. Maybe Don de Dues got some of his ‘boys’ to call in some ‘favours’. But however they got there, the important thing is that they did and it at least looked a little busier.

As for today, it starts a bit earlier and the UK times are listed below. I notice that Igor is available at 3/1 to beat Dotty and I’ll probably have an interest on that. Indeed the 4/7 on him with a 2.5 frame start available at Betfred is as close to tempting me into having a big bet as I’ll get from now on. I do hope you all picked up on the clues in yesterday’s post as to why some prices being quoted on the Murphy scoreline were barking mad. I hope you all made a bit on it.

Mark Selby 3-4 Peter Ebdon
Igor Figueredo v Graeme Dott
Shaun Murphy v Ricky Walden
Stephen Hendry v Ali Carter

September 16, 2011

Brazilian Masters Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:33 am

I know, I should be locked up.

Well, are we witnessing a rare phenomenon? Has Bazza’s ‘midas touch’ deserted him on this occasion? Is the Brazilian Masters destined to be filed alongside the Sinclair C5 and Betamax video recorders in the ‘Bad Ideas’ cabinet?

Now let’s get one thing clear. I want this tournament to work. I am not one of those people that sees the negatives in everything and if there is a market that can be exploited on the baize then we should do everything in our power to do it.

Having said that, there have clearly been huge mistakes made here. Holding the tournament in a beach resort rather than a city is one and the ticket prices is another. The ironic acknowledgement that Mark Selby gave to the non-crowd last night said it all. It was all a bit of a shambles and hugely embarrassing.

OK, the big names aren’t all there, but given the mistakes made above, would it really matter if they were? My view is that the absolute priority in getting an event off the ground is getting people to attend the venue in person. There will be those that will argue that getting people to watch on TV will generate the crowds, but to me that is, if I may use a Scouseism an ‘arse about face’ way of looking at it. It is seeing people at the venues enjoying themselves in the first place that will get more people to the venues. If people are watching and see that there is nobody there they are unlikely to go along themselves, particularly at the prices they are expecting people to pay here.

I hope the crowds improve and apparently there were a few more there to watch Igor win last night, but a lot of the people who were eventually dragged in to watch the earlier matches were not actually paying customers and were probably told to get in there instead of indulging in the free bar and buffet laid on by the hapless organisers. If this is our idea of getting something off the ground, then I am happy to offer my help and advice for a small fee.

Here are today’s matches with the UK times, the two wildcards take to the stage and judging by this I think you should perhaps have a good look around at the prices on one of the matches.

Shaun Murphy 4-0 Sobradinho de Dues
Martin Gould 1-4 Ricky Walden
Stephen Hendry 4-1 Noel Rodrigues
Ali Carter 4-2 Steve Davis

Feel free to give your own thoughts on the event below.

Brazilian Masters: Lost in Translation?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:24 am

As you all know, in the relatively short lifetime of this blog I have built up a half-decent contact book. The numbers on my electric portable telephone device are a veritable who’s who of the snooker world and I thought it was about time I used my contacts to get to the truth behind the Brazilian Masters, which started yesterday.

As I always want the biggest and best exclusives to keep you dear readers entertained, I thought I’d start at the top, so I gave Bazza a call and he has very kindly allowed me access to the notes from the planning meeting for the tournament which was held via video link and behind closed doors with only Baz, Jason Ferguson and the planning team over in Rio in attendance. The meeting was conducted via an interpreter, whose name has mysteriously been erased from the meeting minutes.

Anyway, here goes:

Bazza: Good Morning Gentlemen, I trust you are well and I am looking forward to working with you on what should be a great event.

Interpreter: You are all good gentlemen this morning and I trust you all to do the work for this event.

Bazza: I want to create a sense of occasion, a real carnival atmosphere. Think, Circus.

Interpreter: I want to hold the tournament in a tent.

Bazza: I want it all top quality, superfine cloths on the tables and thick luxurious carpets.

Interpreter: I want quality carpets and thick cloth on the tables.

Bazza: I want the tournament to be staged at a venue with a captive audience. I don’t want to have to resort to desperation to get a full crowd. I want to have a real holiday feel.

Interpreter: I am desperate for an audience, please hold the tournament in a holiday resort.

Bazza: One more thing, I don’t want the locals priced out of attending. We want an inclusive event, one that can be attended by everyone, obviously not your local criminals, but we need a real mix of the rich and the poor.

Interpreter: I want no criminals attending, only the rich will be included. Please price the local poor out of attendance. The event must be exclusive.

Bazza: I think that’s it. If you follow my instructions to the letter this will be a great spectacle and very well attended!

Interpreter: I think that’s it. If you follow my instructions to the letter this will be a great spectacle and very well attended!

End of Meeting.

I have been personally assured by Barry this morning that news reports of a bilingual office administator being brutally murdered by a hired hitman on the streets of Rio last night have absolutely no connection with this meeting.

September 15, 2011

Brazil Masters Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:28 pm

I think I have a new favourite country

For anyone that missed my preview of the Brazilian Masters which begins at 6pm UK time tonight with Mark Selby against Stuart Bingham just click here.

This is simply a very brief post to list the matches that we will see later. It seems that when it isn’t on Eurosport the betting sites will be streaming it. I’ll stop short of recommending signing up to the World Snooker streaming channel as I don’t want a barrage of complaints from people that end up being in the wrong territory. But suffice to say that if you are reading this from the Wattutu Plains of Papua New Guinea with little more than bamboo to chew on and no water for at least 50 kilometres then you should be ok to input your credit card details and sign up.

If anyone has any idea how these territories work then please let me know.

Anyway here’s the matches, all best of 7. I will be very impressed with anyone that manages to catch the last one from any European country and posts in the comments to confirm this. You will be immediately upgraded to ‘superfan’ by me as it’s way past my bedtime. 

Thursday September 15 (UK Times) 
Mark Selby 4-3 Stuart Bingham 
Peter Ebdon 4-1 Stephen Lee 
Jamie Cope 2-4 Igor Figueiredo
Graeme Dott 4-1 Mark Davis

In the meantime feel free to post your bets/thoughts on the event in the comments section. One possible topic of interest might be the ticket prices, which apparently start at £45 for the first round and go as high as £350 for the final.


Anybody there?

SB Classic Snapshot Special: Snooker Bingo’s Tom Doggett

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:50 am

A Player

It takes all sorts doesn’t it? In the words of Forrest Gump ‘life is like a box of chocolates’ (I can’t remember the next bit but you know what I mean). So far in these snapshots we have heard from two Q-School hopefuls, a young lad taking his shot at glory and one of our lady competitors. Today we hear from someone that just likes a bit of free publicity that hasn’t yet coughed up the £50.

Yes, today it is the turn of Tom Doggett, a giant from Cornwall, who also happens to be the (I use the term loosely) ‘brains’ behind Snooker Bingo, the website that, very much like the Rubik’s Cube, gripped the nation for a few weeks before disappearing. But you never know, these things have a habit of coming around in cycles and who knows? Like Tai-Dai T-Shirts or wearing your jeans inside out, there may be life in the old Doggett yet.

Below, a delusional snooker hopeful tells us all why he has taken the decision to enter the tournament…….more money than sense this one.   

Hello Tom, mind your head on the ceiling. First of all, what made you enter the Snookerbacker Classic? 

I received several threatening phone calls from someone with a Scouse accent warning me that if I didn’t enter I would wake up one morning to find find a curly black wig in my bed. I also want to say “I’ve tried” – although I have no real chance of winning, it will be nice to be able to say that I gave it a crack. I can picture myself as an old man in a pub, mumbling that “I almost became a professional snooker player y’know” – although probably without mentioning that I was about 15 rounds short.

What attracted you to the event? 

Well, all of my family, friends, colleagues and enemies died, and I lost my house and my job and all my pets in one week. Wait, does this work like X Factor or not?

Which event or events are you playing in?

Gloucester, the SWSA. I’ve been there to watch a PTC and was really impressed so it will be great to go back and actually play there.

Tell us a bit about your snooker career to date.

I have always enjoyed playing and watching, taking it more seriously at certain times than others. I’m not a top player by any stretch – not even in the local leagues that I play in, although I could probably claim to be above average. I did have the honour of being one of the better players in my local club… until Andy bloody Hicks joined and knocked us all down a level. I never quite play as well as I can in the league – I’m normally at my best after a couple of pints so that may have to be a strategy in Gloucester.

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 just want to be able to say that I tried. We’re lucky to have a really good table at my local club because the aforementioned Mr Hicks uses it for practice, so I’ve got a bit of experience with good cloths and championship pockets. I want to see if I crack under pressure or not. 

He's just not her type at all....

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?

I’m pretty sure I will win both of those – I have attached a photo to whet your appetite.

What are your ambitions in snooker?

My main ambition is not to bash my head on the lights. 

Finally, are you looking forward to the SB Classic?

Yes. Mainly because I can meet Mrs SB for a second time. I think she fancies me.

Thanks Tom and the very best of luck in the tournament, now can I have my £50 please?

I would just like to quash the rumour that Mrs SB has a secret crush on this overly tall, slightly geeky, a bit posh, four-eyed nerdy type bloke who ok, I’ll admit is a bit witty. That is quite simply not her type at all, she likes people like Stephen Merchant, Louis Theroux and that bloke Richard from the quiz show ‘Pointless’…..hang on a minute…………   

Anyway, if you still haven’t entered the Snookerbacker Classic then click here for details, there are now only 5 places left for Gloucester so anyone wanting a shot at that will need to contact me immediately to reserve a place. There is an advert being placed in Snooker Scene next month so it’s your chance to get in before the non-internet brigade start entering. The first event kicks off in Leeds on December 2nd.   

Anyone interested in entering the Dublin event at the Crossguns can read an interview with Fin Ruane here where he talks about his club which is steeped in history. He also looks forward to holding the Dublin leg of the tournament there. 

September 14, 2011

Michie v Campbell: WPBSA Statement

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:50 am

At least try and look disappointed....

The latest investigation into betting irregularities in snooker has concluded that the one frame match involving Jimmy Michie and Marcus Campbell, which Marcus won, was subject to irregular betting patterns but that these cannot be linked to either player.

Michie retired from the professional game shortly after the match and did not play again on the pro tour.

WPBSA Statement

The WPBSA, working alongside the Gambling Commission, have completed a full investigation into suspicious betting patterns on a match at the World Snooker Shoot-Out between Jimmy Michie and Marcus Campbell on January 28th, 2011.

The investigation has concluded that while there were irregular betting patterns on the match, there is currently no evidence to link the betting to either of the players involved. Therefore no regulatory action will be taken by the governing body against the players.

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