November 20, 2011

Proper Snooker: The German Masters Qualifying Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:57 pm

A Familiar Sight

After two preliminary ties tomorrow, Tuesday sees the start of my personal favourite addition to the calendar as the German Masters qualifying rounds are played in Sheffield to see which lucky 16 players get to board the plane to the fantastic city of Berlin in February. They will join the top 16 players who have been doing something else this weekend. 

It also means that we get to enjoy the delights of German girls that accompany the event on blog posts for a bit. Regular readers will know that this is something which is compulsory and that failure to comply with this baize law would mean that I myself would be forced to explain everything, under oath, to the Integrity Unit, who as we all know randomly hand out ruthless, arbitrary punishments to anyone that dare disobey the rules without a care.

I know my place. I must obey.

The structure of the qualifiers is a little different to the norm, in that all the players aside from those ranked between 17-32 who play on Friday, play in this from the very first round. With the man ranked at number 33 (some bloke named Rory McLeod) starting at the same point as the one ranked 95, Polish paperboy Kacper Filipiak. So for this event at least, it’s only the top 32 that get any preferential treatment and reward for their ranking. Remember that this also counts toward the Tipster Contest scores, the latest standings of which can be found here.

I have listed the first two days matches below together with the sessions they are being played in. I will now attempt to preview the lot of them and pick a few winners.

Those snooker folk at Apollobet have an extensive array of prices and you can find all of them right here.



Mark Joyce [50] 4-5 David Grace [89] h2h 1-0
Jack Lisowski [39] 1-5 Sam Craigie [83]
Joe Jogia [48] 4-5 Stuart Carrington [94] h2h 1-0
Jimmy White [54] 5-2 Matthew Couch [76] h2h 2-0
Jimmy Robertson [57] W/O Bjorn Haneveer [75]
Adrian Gunnell [61] 5-1 Sam Baird [88] h2h 1-0

There isn’t a great deal to get too excited about in this first batch of matches. I’d hope that the tie featuring two of the brightest prospects in the game might be given top billing as Jack Lisowski meets Sam Craigie. I’d marginally fancy Jack to come through but his heavily odds on price doesn’t appeal too much in what could be a close one. To me Sam has a good all round game and has the ability to slow things down if need be, Jack is a fantastic potter and this wins him matches, it remains to be seen how he copes with the great tacticians in the future. Last season’s UK quarter finalist Mark Joyce will fancy his chances against friend of the blog David Grace who is struggling to get to grips with life in the pro ranks at the minute and the 8/15 available on Joyce might be a bit of a steal. Joe Jogia comes fresh from his UK qualification and to me is a player who for whatever reason is improving and consequently is starting to get some impressive results, he faces Stuart Carrington who is another that is struggling in this company, I’d expect a comfortable win for Joe there. Jimmy White plays Matthew Couch who since making a PTC final last year has barely done anything, I’d expect the Whirlwind to take care of business there given his form in the early qualifying rounds of late. Adrian Gunnell is another that is York bound and he faces Sam Baird, as Gunnell seems to have found a bit of form you’d have to take him against a player that for all his promise doesn’t beat players ranked higher than him all that often, but it’s not a bet as The Butcher of Telford himself is not the player he once was.

Recommended Morning Bet: 2 points double on Joyce and Jogia pays just under 5/4 at Apollobet


Alfie Burden [60] 5-2 Scott Mackenzie [82]
Barry Pinches [49] 4-5 Yu Delu [72]
Robert Milkins [36] 5-0 Tian Pengfei [81]
Steve Davis [43] 5-3 Joe Meara [97]
Ben Woollaston [55] 5-1 Rod Lawler [66] h2h 1-1

Probably the match up of this session sees another York qualifier Robert Milkins aka Mill Hopkins taking on the promising Chinese player Tian Pengfei, I’d marginally favour Milkins simply because Tian seems to struggle to get past players ranked as highly as Mill at this stage in his career. Alfie Burden is having a terrible run of results of late and needs to start winning a few now-ish, he has a decent chance of ending his recent losing run against Scottish Scot Scott Mackenzie who is another that struggles at this level. The Legend that is Steve Davis has to be backed against Joe Meara and the Nugget’s recent form may even see him have another good week here, Meara is out of his depth in this company and is yet to win a match this season, it would also be great to see Steve play in Berlin as well as York and hopefully Sheffield again. Barry Pinches has lost his last ten matches so you’d have to fancy his Chinese opponent Yu Delu to make it eleven. Ben Woollaston’s form this season makes me suspect that qualification to a venue is just a matter of time, for me he is a bet against the struggling Scouser Rod Lawler.

Recommended Afternoon Bet: 2 points treble on Steve Davis (-1.5 frames), Ben Woollaston and Alfie Burden pays over 3/1 at Apollobet


Jamie Jones [45] 5-2 Andrew Norman [74] h2h 0-1
Tony Drago [51] 2-5 Adam Wicheard [93] h2h 0-1
Mike Dunn [41] 5-0 Kurt Maflin [78] h2h 1-0 Mike Dunn hits a 147
Jamie Burnett [42] 5-2 Dechawat Poomjaeng [87]
Peter Lines [53] 5-2 Simon Bedford [85] h2h 0-1

I’m not that excited about a bet in any of these matches and it will probably depend on how the day develops as to whether I will bother or not, but if you are coming at it cold it’s worth taking a look. I would not discount the chances of outsider Adam Wicheard in this session, even though he loses more than he wins he will know Drago’s game and has beaten him before, the 6/4 on Wicheard at Apollobet makes a bit of appeal as Maltese Tony doesn’t look to be cueing all that well at the moment to me and may be more interested in the increasingly lucrative opportunities that his back catalogue affords him. I’d expect the improving Jamie Jones to take care of Andrew ‘Stormin’ Norman, Jones is a player on the up and has beaten the likes of Graeme Dott and Ricky Walden this season so the 1/2 available at Apollobet should be taken. I can’t call Mike Dunn against Kurt Maflin and neither can the bookies who have them at 5/6 the pair, the poor showing from Dunny in the UK qualifiers after a period of poor health was quickly forgotten with wins over MJW, Jimmy Robertson and Jamie Cope over in Belgium last week and breakbuilder Maffers can be frustratingly inconsistent, I’d marginally side with Dunny if he is coming back to top form and over the worst, but this is one to leave alone in my opinion. Simon Bedford is struggling a bit lately whereas Peter Lines continues to get results here and there, I’d expect this battle of the elder stagers to go to the man in form Lines. As for the match between Jamie Burnett and premliminary winner Dechawat Poomjaeng, I’d expect Burnett to take care of that one pretty cosily.

Recommended Evening Bet: 1 point Adam Wicheard to beat Drago at 6/4 with Apollobet and a 1 point double on Lines and Jones at just over 11/8 with Apollobet. 5 points on Jones to beat Norman at 1/2 with the same firm. 

Recommended Daily Accumulator: 3 points accumulator on Joe Jogia, Steve Davis, Alfie Burden and Jamie Jones pays just under 7/2 at Apollobet. Add Mark Joyce for a 2 point accumulator at dead on 11/2 with the same firm.

Wednesday (preview to follow)


Rory McLeod [33] 5-2 Kacper Filipiak [95]
Liu Song [62] 5-3 Liam Highfield [68]
Nigel Bond [44] 1-5 Andrew Pagett [71] h2h 0-1
James Wattana [58] 5-3 Passakorn Suwannawat [69]
Liu Chuang [59] 5-3 Ian McCulloch [67] h2h 0-1
Liang Wenbo [35] 5-3 Aditya Mehta [84]

From what I can see there are no prices on Rory’s match against Kacper Filipiak, this is probably a wise move by the bookies as it would be simply a case of placing your bet and going straight to the payment window. I just hope Rory goes easy on the young fellow as he’s probably not used to the dentist’s chair just yet at his tender age. If prices do materialise and you feel so inclined, take out a second mortgage and try and get it on McLeod, this is about as uneven a match up as you are likely to see these days in the qualifiers. There are three really tough calls in this session, the matches involving Bond and the two Liu’s (not quite the same ring to it at Ronnies) Song and Chuang are too me all too tight to consider a bet on, particularly seeing as on Twitter last week Ian McCulloch seemed to think that this was a qualifier for an event in China. While Bond is arguably one that you might plump for with a bit of confidence that head to head statistic relates to a particularly painful match for him when Pagett knocked him out of the World Championship last March in the qualifiers in a decider on his way to his pinked-up Crucible appearance. At a push, I’d take James Wattana to come through the battle of the Thai players on experience alone, despite the improving form of his opponent Passakorn. But for me the only bet worth striking in this session is the 6/4 about the improving Indian player Aditya Mehta against the struggling Liang Wenbo. Mehta is a player that I think might surprise a few as the season wears on and despite his lowly ranking he has the feel of a player that is on the up and finding his feet in this company, at the price and considering how in and out Liang is at the moment, he’s worth a small punt.

Recommended Morning Bet: 1 point on Aditya Mehta to beat Liang Wenbo at 6/4 with Apollobet.      

One for the Roll-up


Alan McManus [46] W/O Robin Hull [92]
Andy Hicks [64] 5-2 Cao Yupeng [86]
Gerard Greene [37] 2-5 David Morris [80] h2h 1-0
Matthew Selt [40] 4-5 Paul S Davison [79]
Anthony Hamilton [34] 5-3 David Hogan [90]

I think this session is all about finding players for your accumulator. The two that obviously stand out are Matt Selt and Anthony Hamilton and I would be very surprised if either of them were overly troubled in their matches. Angles McManus is showing some excellent form in the PTC’s lately and faces Finland’s Robin Hull. On paper and looking at the form book this looks like a straightforward match for old Angles but every time I have seen Hull play I have been impressed with him, rumours are that he’s been beset by off the table problems both with his physical health and with addictions, which is a shame as he is clearly a player with a lot of talent, but we all have our weaknesses. McManus will probably win but if Finland’s finest can find his game that one could produce a turn-up. I’m surprised that Gerard Greene is as short as 4/11 to beat Davy Morris, Mozza has had recent wins over none other than John Higgins and Barry Hawkins and whilst Greene is a capable player and way up the rankings from his opponent, I’m not sure that this is quite the one-sided affair that the bookies seem to think it is. I’m also sensing that Chinese player Cao Yupeng is finding his feet at this level and he faces Andy Hicks who despite a recent run in a PTC is pretty mediocre these days, relatively of course, he’d still give me two blacks…. , again the odds against on Cao appeals in this match.

Recommended Afternoon Bet: 1 point win on each and a 1 point double Morris 2/1 and Yupeng at 6/5 with Apollobet.  


Joe Swail [63] 5-1 Luca Brecel [91]
Dave Harold [47] 3-5 Adam Duffy [77]
Anthony McGill [56] 5-3 Li Yan [70]
Michael Holt [38] 2-5 Michael White [65] h2h 1-0
Xiao Guodong [52] 5-3 David Gilbert [73] h2h 0-1

Another really tough session to find a bet this one in what to me is a really tough day that may well see a lot of close finishes. Outsiders again may be the order of the day as the highly impressive Welsh hope Michael White takes on the unpredictable and thoroughly barmy Michael Holt. You never know what to expect with Holt and he is a fine player on his day, but more than once he has criticised this venue and just that niggle is enough to set him off if he starts badly, I’d be prepared to take a chance on young White again at the odds. Adam Duffy is showing enough to suggest that he might give Big Dave Harold a game. Dave of course is a right old battler and even though he’s not having a great run at the moment can still fight for his life on the baize and can sometimes only be removed from the table with a trowl. If Duffy were around 6/4 for this I’d back him but he isn’t so I won’t. Anthony McGill and Li Yan can’t be split by the bookies that have them at 5/6 the pair. Yan has qualified for the UK and is showing signs of being a climber in the rankings, I would take him to come through against Ants, who judging by his comments is getting a bit frustrated with his results of late. In the other match I can see another Chinese player coming through in Xiao Guodong, who’s results are really picking up and make better reading than Dave Gilbert, who while consistent in the opening rounds tends to struggle a bit the higher up the rankings his opponents are. Depending on how it’s priced up, it may be worth taking a small interest on preliminary qualifier Luca Brecel who is growing in confidence and beginning to win a few matches, he faces Joe Swail who has been very poor lately and is looking like a player very low on confidence.

Recommended Evening Bet: 2 points win on Li Yan at 5/6 and a 2 point double with Xiao Guodong at just under 9/4 with Apollobet.

Recommended First Round Acca: 3 points on Steve Davis, Mark Joyce, Jamie Jones, Matt Selt and Anthony Hamilton pays an enhanced 21/5 at Apollobet in the ‘Snooker Specials’ Section.     

Power Snooker: Is it Over Yet?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:59 am

The Best Bit

Yesterday we were once again treated to a bit of Power Snooker on ITV4. I watched most of it and although I was told on three seperate occasions to switch it off I felt that in order for my opinion on it to have any credibility whatsoever I had to persevere. What I am about to write is my own opinion and you should bear in mind that I am not the type of person that Power Snooker are seeking to attract with their game.

The set, in my opinion is an improvement on last year and Dennis provided some evidence that when he stops blatantly plugging the Legends and talking about Cliff and all his sick and dead friends he is actually a half decent commentator. It was also interesting to hear Ronnie behind the mic for Selby’s match. He provided us with proof that he thinks in a completely different dimension to the more pedestrian Jester. I should also give an honorary mention to the wonderfully named Power Girl Lacey Banghard, a girl who I’m sure takes after her name after a few Tropical Reefs.

Now for the negatives. Where do I start? I think I’ll go with the Power Band. There is a pub in Liverpool city centre just opposite Central Station called Coopers, people who are familiar with Liverpool will probably know it, not because they have ever been in there but because whenever you pass it there is somebody singing an absolutely god awful version of a god awful song. The karaoke in there is seemingly never ending and always reminds me of Vic Reeves singing ‘in the club style’. Well, I have actually heard more talent coming from this place than was on display from the collection of third rate wedding band musicians that heralded the appearance of snooker’s finest yesterday. The fact that they sang that fucking awful Black Eyed Peas song that was actually written exclusively for pissed up chavs further cemented my belief that this was where musicians go when they die. Hideous.

Secondly, the production. The host Matt whatshisname tried in vain to drum up enthusiasm and at one point could even be heard asking for divine intervention to make this turgid spectacle appeal. The blonde eye candy was exactly what it said on the tin, absolutely zero knowledge of snooker, let alone the bastardized version of the great sport that she was there to actually present. She looked great, but that was about it. Frequent descriptions from both of them of the event being ‘brilliant’, ‘amazing’ and ‘the future’ couldn’t have looked more forced and only served to further alienate me from this dreadful concept. The ‘technical’ issues that were encountered as the evening session was getting underway provided the highlight of the day, a totally black screen for around 10 minutes which created much mirth over on Twitter. The only genuine treat of the day for snooker fans.

Thirdly the crowd, who grew steadily more obnoxious as the evening went on. I’m sure some of the worst stuff that was shouted from the troglodytes at the back was blotted out by the sound department, who should be commended for their efforts.

It's all about the money

But I must reserve my real contempt for the game itself which quite frankly it is just rather dull. A table like an ice rink, rules which some hadn’t even bothered to learn and a scoring system that doesn’t exactly tailor itself to close finishes in an overly long half hour game all served to make this about as thrilling as an Alan Yentob documentary about concrete.

There are those that argue that if this gets young people interested in snooker it has to be a good thing, but this doesn’t wash with me. Nothing could be further from the minds of those that came up with this tripe. If for one minute you think that this is what the endgame is all about I suggest you think again. This is simply a marketing exercise for the game of Power Snooker itself and has nothing at all to do with promoting it’s distant cousin. Bundles of cash have been launched at this by businessmen with about as much creative flair as a plank of wood. It’s about selling the tables, the sets of balls and the weird rest and all the other paraphernalia to a mass market.

The promotion of the far superior game of snooker is nothing more than an afterthought to make us all think that the deluded fat cats with more money than sense actually give a shit about something other than lining their own pockets. If they really cared about snooker they would direct their suitcases of cash at it and not at this rubbish. What makes it funnier is that they don’t actually seem to yet understand that the old phrase ‘you can’t polish a turd’ has never been more applicable than it is here. My advice would be to get out while you can and redirect your efforts at a real sport, why not get ITV to consider a six red event or something like that, anything, just not this.

So there it is. It isn’t over yet but I’m not going to bother with it today. There is ‘proper’ snooker on tomorrow when the qualifiers for the best new event of last season the German Masters get under way. I will be previewing the 16 matches that play tomorrow later on today. Apollobet have prices up on all of them here.

If Power Snooker is the future, then I’m saving up for a DeLorean to get me back here.  

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