February 29, 2012

World Open Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:20 pm

'Number 69 for Allen' - 'Yes Chef'

Another day has passed at the World Open and this time most of the attention has been focused away from the table as Mark Allen’s comments are dissected, pieced together, dissected again and pieced together again by all and sundry.

On the table we again witnessed just what a funny old game this is and now just 8 of the 16 top players in the world remain in the event. I can’t remember a tournament for a long time with such a high quota of the big guns no longer with us at this early stage. It has been helped of course by a few factors, Ronnie and Ali are on the sick register, Mark Williams decided to wear a glove to play and Stephen Maguire conspired to once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

What we are left with is a smattering of big names and a few lower down the list that will fancy their chances of going deep in a ranker. This morning saw MJW losing to Mark King, King coping much better with the conditions which if we believe what we are being told are smelly, humid, uneven and full of ignorant people who have personal hygiene issues oh, and dead cats of course. But all that won’t bother our Kingy who now lines up against Tom Ford.

Mark Selby, whose fragrant manfume will surely drown out any undesirable smells such as rotting cat remains and stale B.O. struggled over the line against wildcard Lu Ning and remains on target to stay World Number 1 for at least the next 20 years. Joe Perry managed to win the final frame decider against Matthew Stevens, who I have to admit I thought had a chance in this. On the table, Mark Allen seemed to score well to send his fellow pinkster Jimmy Robertson home, he sets up another match against Judd Trump.

For all Mark’s patter I would not for one minute think this will affect the way he plays or his determination to win. Having witnessed a similar reaction to comments made by him in York, I get the feeling that the Northern Irishman thrives off it. As for the comments themselves, I think they should be taken with a pinch of salt. I mean, who has he really upset? Over-sensitive sponsors or tournament officials? The entire Chinese nation? Possibly the first yes, but not the second. Anyone who thought his comment related to every single Chinese person on the planet really needs to put things into perspective. Let’s move on, it was a bit of a laugh and Mark has probably learned yet another lesson.

In the afternoon/evening session Mill Hopkins came back from 3-1 down to defeat Mags, Mill obviously inspired by a meeting with myself and Mrs SB the other day and the cake he stole from the cake stand (I saw you Mill, I see EVERYTHING). He is rewarded with a game against the only remaining Chinese player in the event Jin Long, the wildcard that sounds like a drink a lady of a certain age has when she is watching Emmerdale. In the final match of the day, another rarity came along and I actually struck a winning bet by backing Jamie Cope to beat Martin Gould, scant consolation for a first round that is one to forget from a punting perspective.

The quarter final line up is decided on day four and here is the order of play.

2.30pm (6.30am UK)

29 Mark King 5-4 Tom Ford
32 Michael Holt 3-5 Mark Selby
30 Mark Allen 5-4 Judd Trump
31 Shaun Murphy 5-3 Joe Perry

7.30pm (11.30am UK)

26 Jin Long 2-5 Robert Milkins
25 John Higgins 5-0 Jamie Cope
27 Graeme Dott 5-3 Marcus Campbell
28 Stephen Lee 5-2 Neil Robertson

Kingy - Scrapper.

To me what is becoming clear in this event is that it is favouring hard-hitters. Mark King looked totally at ease as he very rarely gives balls the chance to roll off, same with Judd and probably, although his match wasn’t streamed, the same with Mark Allen. That might be why are seeing so many surprise results. Jamie Cope is another that tends to strike the ball solidly as is John Higgins. Stephen Lee is the exception that proves the rule perhaps but I would argue that as well as being a floater sometimes he can also play an alternative game where he takes advantage of his effortless cue power. Shaun Murphy is another that can mix it up but on the whole is a player with enough cue power in reserve to play his natural game hitting the balls that bit harder.

The head to heads in all these matches don’t really tell us a great deal. I was surprised by the fact that in three meetings Graeme Dott has never beaten Marcus Campbell but I have decided to let this pass. Mark King (I know what regulars are about to say) for me is the best bet of the day, he has more experience of the venues than Tom Ford and looked to be cueing very well earlier, I think the 10/11 available on him is a very good bet.

I would not be surprised to see Michael Holt cause an upset against Selby but would expect Murphy to win against Joe Perry. The match between Judd and Mark Allen may well decide the winner of the tournament. Recent results suggest that Judd will win but it’s not one I will touch personally.

In the evening session I hope Milkins ends the presence of the wildcard but it could go either way that one. I would not be surprised if Jamie Cope bagged a result against Higgins if he can keep his nerve and fraught temperament in check. Neil Robertson’s dogged determination may carry him through to keep the main outright pick alive against Stephen Lee and I will take Dotty to gain his first win over Marcus, who has been out there from the start and not played yet, maybe it’s him that’s been murdering all the local cats, well, you’ve got to keep busy somehow.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Enhanced Treble of King, Murphy and Dott at 3/1 with Apollobet.

The Pistol Just Can’t Stop Shooting

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:08 am

After his typically forthright assessment of Bazza’s leadership in York in December you’d have thought Mark Allen might have tempered his comments a little. But oh no, after his win over Jimmy Robertson earlier today, the man they call ‘The Pistol’ laid into his new target, this time he’s upped the stakes deciding to take on the mighty People’s Republic of China.

Mark decided to vent his spleen on Twitter this morning, a morning which started badly for him after he found a dead cat, presumably not in his bed left by Godfather Baz but on his way to the arena. He tweeted ‘This place is horrendous! Dead cat found this morning. Any wonder this place stinks! Must be dead cats all round the town!!’

He then toddled off to play his match, which he won 5-1 and came back for more claiming ‘Journey a nightmare, people are ignorant, place stinks, arenas rubbish, tables poor, foods horrendous. Other than that I love China!!!’

He went on to say that he was bored in his press conference, which to be fair to him do tend to drag on there a bit before retracting some of his earlier bile with the tweet ‘Might’ve been a bit harsh a few hours ago in my tweet. Not all Chinese people are ignorant. I stand by everything else though’.

He also claimed that: ‘I’m not spoilt, disrespectful, or ungrateful! Simply telling it how it is. Don’t like it’.

Poor old Mark is obviously not enjoying his new jet-set lifestyle too much and may find himself back in hot water with the governing body when he gets back to the UK. But I reckon the dead cat has obviously had an effect on him so maybe he can use that to demonstrate extenuating circumstances or perhaps find another use for it.

Should this flimsy feline defence fail, then perhaps he’d better just put his tail between his legs and get his cheque book out again.   

The Month Ahead: March

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:22 am

It’s once again time to take a look at what the coming month has in store for us and the striking thing about March is that it is something of a rarity, in that there is not a lot of snooker going on.

Yes, it’s like the good old days of Sir Rodney Effing himself as the baize boys find themselves with very little to occupy their time for most of the month, heaven forbid some of them might even have to spend time with their families!

I printed out a full calendar at the start of the year and for a moment I thought I was going stark raving mad as the original calendar has the qualifiers for the World Championship listed from 1st-11th of March.

Because of the late inclusion of the World Open to the calendar this has now been shifted back to 4th-15th of April, with the draw for the main event itself taking place on the following day, the 16th, just 5 days before it all starts at the Crucible.

What this means is that following the conclusion of the World Open there is nothing on until the 14th, when the PTC Finals are staged over in Galway. The likes of Ronnie, John Higgins, Robbo, Mark Selby, Ding and Judd compete against some of the less familiar names that made it through to the Finals following the 12 qualifying events. The full draw for the PTC Finals can be found here.

Another series of events nearing a conclusion is the Championship League and on the 19th and 20th the final qualifying group takes place to decide who joins Mark Allen, Barry Hawkins, Dark Mavis, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump in the winners group which is played on the 21st and 22nd. The winner of course gets an automatic place in next year’s lucrative Premier League.

It’s then back on the plane over to China for the China Open from Beijing which is played between 26th March and the 1st April before all eyes descend on Sheffield.

So a quiet month all in all and a chance to take stock of what has been a hectic season. I don’t think it’s any bad thing to have this mini-gap in things. By the time the China Open starts we should be really in World Championship mode and this of course remains easily the best event on the calendar.

And that’s March.

PTC Final

Bailey Allen Hall, National University of Ireland, Galway 

Championship League Group 7 and Winners Group
Crondon Park

26 March – 1 April
China Open
Beijing, China

February 28, 2012

World Open Day Three

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:47 pm

In terms of betting this week. It's time for Chevy.

Blimey, is it only day three? Well, yes it is and day two saw another big talking point as wildcard (boo) Jin Long progressed further in the event at the expense of national hero Ding Junhui in a lacklustre performance by the Sheffield man. 

The way things are going for poor old Ding lately in China it’s only a matter of time before he starts wearing a cloth cap, buying a whippet, eating pasties, saying ‘me duck’ to everyone (or whatever typical people from those parts say) and becomes a fully blown citizen of this great country of ours. He’s clearly more at home on the baize of Blighty than Beijing these days and his demeanour in the match was one of a man who just wanted out of there. He’s obviously pining for the sights of Newport after Dom Dale’s superb tourist board advertisement on the BBC during the Welsh Open.

Earlier in the day John Higgins overcame a late comeback by Marco Fu to book his place in the last 16, Higgins still doesn’t look the unstoppable force of last season and in my opinion has got a lot of work to do between now and the Crucible if he is going to make a decent stab at defending his world crown.

Shaun Murphy described the conditions as humid and very sticky over there but it didn’t stop him donning a baby pink shirt to beat Ricky Walden. I asked the question that was on everyone’s mind when watching the match, namely had Shaun merely left his red Manchester United underpants in with his whites on a hot wash, but his answer assured me that this was not the case and that he was indeed feeling perky and sporting a pinky.

On the back table, that renowned cultured traveller Graeme Dott saw off Barry Hawkins who came into this in decent form but obviously, judging by the pace at which he was scoring at least, left this form behind at customs.

Then came Ding’s capitulation. Jin Long did play very well but was helped by some poor play from the English/Welshman. I think I am right in saying that despite 8 seasons as a professional Jin has now reached further than he ever did in an event as a wildcard.

In the other matches it was whitewashes all round as Judd Trump, Michael Holt and Stephen Lee all completed very easy victories, perhaps underlining that the Chinese events are just more appealing to some players than to others and for whatever reason some players seem to get used to the change in conditions quicker. As someone who has never understood jetlag yet seen people I have travelled with sleep at the oddest time for hours on end I can confirm that there’s nowt quite so queer as folk.

In terms of betting, it is very much a case of playing catch up. It’s my own daft fault for being too ambitious of course on the back of a great recent run and it has tended to be the odd match that has let me down for the last fortnight. But never one to dwell or give up I have decided to go in again tomorrow as I do quite fancy all the top 16 players with the possible exception of Martin Gould to come through. Apollobet have kindly agreed to enhance so it’s quite rude not to try and get the losses back with a cherry on top.

Who was that saying I’m chasing? I resemble that remark.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Enhanced Acca at Apollobet on Selby, Williams, Allen, Stevens, Maguire and Robertson pays 22/5. 

24 Mark Selby 5-3 Lu Ning
17 Mark Williams 1-5 Mark King
19 Mark Allen 5-1 Jimmy Robertson
22 Matthew Stevens 4-5 Joe Perry

12 Stephen Maguire 3-5 Robert Milkins
16 Neil Robertson 5-3 Stephen Hendry
10 Martin Gould 4-5 Jamie Cope

Si-Ting Chi-Lee Returns to the Blog

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:50 am

He's Back!

Regular long-standing readers of the blog will recall that sometimes I hire a certain Chinese ‘journalist’ (I use the term loosely) to be my eyes and ears over there and report all the gossip back to me here in England.

His name is Si-Ting Chi-Lee and we have heard about his various exploits for over two years now and whenever a tournament is taking place over there he always tries his best for me, not that his best is actually ever any good but he tries.

A bit of history for those new to the blog. Si-Ting was recommended to me by a bloke from Glasgow called Jamie. I quickly discovered that he was not affiliated to any press association over there so I snapped him up. It turned out that he was a recovering alcoholic, drug, sex and peanut addict who was just looking for a fifth chance and an outlet for his creativity, so I thought, what have I got to lose?

Several thousand pounds and a shattered reputation in China was the answer to that particular poser but he has a way of talking me round and I have decided, given the limited options I have at my disposal to give him yet another chance to prove that he is now on the straight and narrow.

I think from what he reports below he has been watching Joe Perry, but I cannot be entirely sure. His food references lead me to believe that at least he is eating well, judging by his first expenses claim I’m pretty sure he is. I must talk to him about that but I think he’s having some trouble with his phone.

Anyway, enough of me, this is what he has to report from Haikou….

Unbalanced Game Mentality in Haikou caused fiasco meat fennel celery, four shocks failed in the wild card race.

Night of the end of the first game, meat fennel celery, yasen muhammat 0-5 no match for veteran Joe Perry, Miss match.

Since 2010 become a national champion, meat and fennel celery, Mohammad began to prepare food for participation in the international snooker ranking ㄈ Wei 2010 Shanghai sea games, sea Games 2011 Shanghai, China in 2011 public sairouzi Mohammad participated in the wild card race, but unfortunately no match for Higginson, Mill Hopkins and Lisovschi respectively, not race. The Haikou Open Championship, China billiards Association 4 external card assigned to the young, small, reserved for veteran’s card number only the number two, meat and fennel celery, yasen muhammat this time is especially precious, unfortunately fennel celery, yasen muhammat still couldn’t find the meat, 0-5 out, failed to shock fourth wild card game.

  Four games before the meat of the game of fennel celery, Mohammad is not without opportunities, fennel celery, Mohammad said his two hands before the meat a bit, did not seize the opportunity, opponents play is also very good, and Joe-Perry also think most scores are likely to be 2-2. Behind the game, fennel celery, yasen muhammat mentality is also a problem of the meat, meat fennel celery, Mohammad said he was a kid in the TV play-Joe Perry,-Joe Perry is King-level players in his heart, his back, the more fear, psychological problems, some problems are difficult to believe.

  Although easy to win, but after the game-Joe Perry is also fennel celery, yasen muhammat for meat on the comfort, Joe Perry said they are seen in the games in Beijing and Shanghai meat fennel celery, yasen muhammat, after competition meat and fennel celery, yasen muhammat minor negligence, not very lucky, but he was a very good player. After advancing to the match, Joe Perry’s opponent is a complete recovery of the season on “weiershilong” by Matthew Stevens.

There will be more from Si-Ting as the week unfolds.

February 27, 2012

World Open Day Two

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:41 pm

It's time for the players to take a stand

The World Open continues as we survey the carnage caused by the Wildcard Round, Sam Baird and Nigel Bond this time falling foul of this ridiculous inclusion to ranking events.

The fact that Bond’s defeat also put paid to an accumulator in a decider against the previously unheard of Lu Ning further fuels the fire within that calls on the players to start voicing their opinions on this farcical state of affairs.

Sam Baird is trying to stay on the tour, he qualified for this event, his first ever in China, in some style and was rewarded with a tie against an experienced player who probably hasn’t set foot out of his home country since losing his professional status last season. How anyone can deem this to be fair I don’t know.

OK, give some of the young players a chance by letting them have an exhibition under match conditions against some of the big boys as a kind of opening ceremony to the event, but don’t invite ex-professionals who have already tried and failed to stay on the tour back to gain revenge on those who are seeking to do just that this season. The wildcard has everything to gain and nothing to lose, the professional player who is there on merit has the opposite and it’s about time Barry Hearn put a stop to these rounds.

By presumably agreeing to them the World Snooker chairman is effectively hindering the chances of some players to earn a living by placing unnecessary barriers in their way. It isn’t a level playing field, the conditions are different and that weights the advantage in favour of the Chinese players, which of course not all wildcards are, it’s just a question of whether they are good enough to make that advantage pay and clearly some of them are. It’s time the players spoke up as from what I can see there is almost universal agreement on the matter from within the ranks. It also goes totally against what Bazza keeps telling us about rewarding those that put the work in. With the greatest respect to Jin Long, what exactly has he done to deserve a crack at Ding on live TV? Nothing.

Anyway, Tuesday sees the event get underway properly with three matches at the crack of dawn (2.30pm in Hainan Island) and four as we think about what to have for lunch (7.30pm in Hainan Island).

6.30am UK Time
9 John Higgins 5-3 Marco Fu
21 Shaun Murphy 5-3 Ricky Walden
13 Graeme Dott 5-2 Barry Hawkins

11.30am UK Time
11 Ding Junhui 1-5 Jin Long
20 Judd Trump 5-0 Andrew Higginson
23 Stuart Bingham 0-5 Michael Holt
15 Stephen Lee 5-0 Dominic Dale

I’m just going to go small on these to try and recoup that accumulator so I’ll recommend 2 points on the treble of Murphy, Lee and Hawkins (+2.5 frames) at just over 9/4 with Apollobet.

The full preview to the event is here

OK – seeing as Hawkins decided not to win enough frames let’s try a 2 point acca on the later morning matches on Ding, Judd, Bingham and Lee which pays an Enhanced 31/10 with Apollobet.

February 26, 2012

World Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:24 pm

Maybe I dreamt it?

Another week and another snooker tournament, this time we head over to China for The Star Xing Pai Haikou World Open, a full ranking event covered by Eurosport which runs from tomorrow to March 4 on Hainan Island, which apparently is known to locals as ‘Coconut City’.

It appears that World Snooker are suffering from ‘Bobby Ewing Syndrome’ as they appear to have completely ignored the fact that Neil Robertson won this very same tournament last season in Glasgow (known locally as Special Brew City). Perhaps it’s me that is mistaken and World Snooker are indeed correct in labeling this as one of the ermm ‘new events’ on Big Bad Bazza’s ever expanding calendar. Why let the truth get in the way of a good sound bite anyway? Good old Uncle Baz has delivered again just like he promised to so let’s all just pretend that Robbo’s win last year was a dream and this is a completely new event.

I notice that Dave Hendon had a right old go at the tournament schedulers who have decided to play the totally unfair wildcard round for the duration of day one tomorrow. To a lesser extent he had a swipe at the wildcard round too, which as regulars will be sick to death of hearing I think is a joke.

There are two or three extremely dangerous players there tomorrow, not least the wonderfully named Thai player Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon (shake, shake, shake the room) who knocked in a maximum in a PTC as a professional last season. Gloucester’s Mill Hopkins will have to be on his mettle from the off tomorrow in that one or he could be on his way back home faster than Gary Glitter.

It also contains Iranian Hossein Vafaei who at 17 became the youngest ever IBSF World Amateur Champion and may be lining up in the professional ranks himself next season, Mark King is another that will need to be on high alert tomorrow to avoid the quick Chinese turnaround. The Chinese player who sounds like a cocktail Jin Long is another dangerous player and faces young Sam Baird in a match that could easily go the way of the wildcard. I’d say of the three Jin would have the best chance of winning given that this is Sam’s first trip to China and at a widely available 2/1, he might be worth a bet. But I’d feel dirty doing so and I hope Sam batters him and all the players that deserve to be in the last 32 get there with the minimum of fuss.

That’s the extent to which I will preview this horrible, needless round and I’d rather it went away, I don’t know what the players think of it but I’d assume they aren’t in favour. If this is the case I wonder why this hasn’t been tackled by the players association or union or whatever they are called who seem to be largely invisible when it comes to challenging such things. But what do I know?

All you need to know about the tournament is here.

Wildcard Round (with results)

Sam Baird [80] 3-5 Jin Long (a)
Robert Milkins [38] 5-3 Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon (a)
Mark King [30] 5-2 Hossein Vafaei (a)
Tom Ford [27] 5-4 Lu Haotian (a)
Jimmy Robertson [52] 5-2 Zhou Yuelong (a)
Joe Perry [26] 5-0 Rouzi Maimaiti (a)
Michael Holt [35] 5-4 Zhu Yinghui (a)
Nigel Bond [37] 4-5 Lu Ning (a)

Now for the tournament proper:

Quarter One

John Higgins [1] v Marco Fu [24]
Martin Gould [12] v Jamie Cope [21]
Ding Junhui [9] v Jin Long [a]
Stephen Maguire [8] v Rob Milkins [38] 

A real tough quarter this with John Higgins still trying to find his form ahead of the World Championship. In terms of tournaments he is winless this season and that’s something that he will be very keen to put right as that constitutes a very bad season for him given his high standards. He faces Marco Fu first up who has quite a good record against John so that’s not one he will relish, Marco isn’t in the best of form but perhaps this might be a week which sees him click, a win over Higgins would certainly make the 66/1 at Boylesports seem very big indeed as he is more than capable of winning events of this magnitude on a good week and doesn’t lack bottle. Martin Gould faces Jamie Cope and surprisingly this is the first time the two have met, it will depend who gets used to the venue quickest but Cope does have some form in China and might be worth an interest to cause an upset in that one. Ding is a bit hit and miss in his own country but goes there on the back of his win in Wales, he’ll either bomb out tamely or win the thing in style. Stephen Maguire is in excellent form lately and has a decent record against Ding assuming they both win through, it’s a really tough quarter to call this and for me it’s probably worth just backing a bit of value to small stakes.

Recommended Bets:

0.5 points win on Marco Fu to win the World Open at 66/1 with Boylesports.

1 point win on Fu to beat Higgins at 21/10 with Boylesports and 2 point win on Cope to beat Gould at 13/8 with Apollobet.  

Barry: In good form.

Quarter Two

Graeme Dott [7] v Barry Hawkins [23]
Marcus Campbell [22] w/o Ali Carter [11]
Stephen Lee [15] v Dominic Dale [25]
Neil Robertson [4] v Stephen Hendry [20]

Barry Hawkins was very unlucky to come up against a superb Matthew Stevens in Wales and would have probably beaten the vast majority of players on the form he showed, he was fresh from his big money win at the Shootout of course and is a player that might fancy his chances here, I shouldn’t imagine he’d be low on confidence. Graeme Dott is not the best traveller and should Barry safely negotiate him Marcus Campbell awaits, given Ali Carter’s withdrawal from the event on health grounds. Hawkins is another that I think I will play to very small stakes in the outrights just in case it is ‘one of those weeks’. Stephen Lee comes here straight from Hong Kong in fine form and will be looking to progress at the expense of Dom Dale who lost to Sam Baird in his most recent outing in Wales, the winner would face Neil Robertson or Stephen Hendry who meet again after Stephen’s superb performance in Wales to trounce Robbo 4-1. I fancy the Aussie to gain revenge here and have a decent week. He has been poor overall in China in terms of results in the past but on his last trip here improved and only lost in a decider in Shanghai to MJW in the semi-finals, he has said that he wants to win an event there and I reckon this could be the week he does it. Who knows he might even successfully defend the title that he did or didn’t win last year?

Recommended Bets:

0.5 points win Barry Hawkins to win World Open at 66/1 with Boylesports

3 points win Neil Robertson to win the World Open at 15/2 with Boylesports 

Quarter Three

Mark J Williams [3] v Mark King [30]
Tom Ford [27] w/o Ronnie O’Sullivan [16]
Mark Allen [10] v Jimmy Robertson [52]
Judd Trump [5] v Andrew Higginson [19]

It’s a big match tomorrow for Tom Ford who is playing for a last 16 place given Ronnie’s withdrawal last week, there he may face Mark Williams who seems to sometimes play his best in China. Mark Allen still awaits his first ranking event but has made it clear that he’s not the biggest fan of travelling over to exotic far flung luxury islands to pick up cheques for knocking a few balls around a table for a living, he faces the prospect of a mouthwatering tie with Judd should the chosen one overcome Andrew Higginson who may still be smarting from his defeat to Jimmy White in the China qualifiers on Friday. Judd reaffirmed his hold over Mark with a German Masters win to follow up from the UK final and there isn’t really any reason to suspect anything other than a similar result happening here, my best guess in this quarter would be a Williams/Trump quarter final, which given they both seem to play well here could go either way.

Used to Flying

Quarter Four

Shaun Murphy [6] v Ricky Walden [18]
Matthew Stevens [13] v Joe Perry [26] 
Stuart Bingham [14] v Michael Holt [35] 
Mark Selby [2] v Lu Ning (a)

Another difficult quarter to call this. The top match between Shaun Murphy and Ricky Walden pairs these two up for the third time in as many months with the score currently standing at 1-1. I marginally fancy Shaun to progress there where I would expect him to be facing the bang in form Matthew Stevens who I think will view this week as an excellent chance to capitalise on his recent form and get back into the winners enclosure. Aussie Champ Stuart Bingham will face a tricky opener against Michael Holt but I’d expect him to come through that and line up against the Jester Mark Selby in the last 16. Selby has had a few months in the doldrums but looks to be coming back into form in time for the World Championship. It’s understandable that he has suffered a bit of a dip given that he seems to play in absolutely everything and always looks like death warmed up anyway. I think he’ll probably make the semi-finals from this quarter as he is another that plays well in China and from there could well kick on and win it, but I think a saver on Stevens to turn back the clock is also the order of the day.

Recommended Bets:

0.5 points win Matthew Stevens to win World Open at 40/1

2 points win Mark Selby to win World Open at 15/2 generally.  

OK at nearly 2/1 with Stan James I would be utterly stupid not to recommend a 5 point accumulator on Ford, Robertson, Perry, Holt and Bond in the Wildcard Round. If it wins I’ll give some to charity, honest.    

February 25, 2012

O’Donnell is Classic King

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:43 pm

Runner Up John Sutton, Referee Matthew Lowson and Winner Martin O’Donnell AKA The M’OD

Congratulations to Martin O’Donnell who yesterday became the first ever Snookerbacker Classic Champion after a 4-0 victory in the final against Ireland’s John Sutton at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Martin walked away with a prize fund totaling £1400 including free entrance to this year’s World Snooker Q-School where he will attempt to join the main snooker tour for at least the next two seasons and hopefully many more.

He also left with the Snookerbacker Trophy and a bottle of vintage fizz from the vineyards of Halewood Village in Liverpool, just a stone’s throw away from the famous Orange Groves of Belle Vale.

His opponent John will be joining him and despite losing in a good-natured final left with the second free Q-School entry slot worth £1000. Well worth the trip over from Dublin and a dodgy night in a Travelodge.

The day began with Martin facing Essex qualifier Sydney Wilson in the Quarter-Finals, Sydney took the opener and had his chances but ultimately it was Martin who came through. On the non-streamed table the other qualifier from Dublin Johnny ‘The Sniper’ Williams overcame the tenacious Jamie Barrett, Johnny living up to his nickname with some fast attacking play to simply outscore the Grimsby man.

The second set of Quarter Finals produced what in my opinion was the match of the tournament between former World Number 12 David Gray and Sutton. The bookies had David as favourite to take the title but it was clear from the off that this was not going to be one way traffic. Gray took a tight opener before John edged ahead 2-1 with a 108 break in frame three, David however responded with his own contribution of 108 to level and then went ahead in a frame that John should possibly have won. But the man from Ireland produced some solid form under pressure to take the final two frames and edge into the semi-finals in a match that he was later to describe as ‘his final’.

The other quarter final saw the Assassin, Allan Taylor taking on Zak Surety, who had just two weeks earlier qualified from the Essex leg on the final black against Ryan Causton. Allan never really showed the kind of form that he produced in Leeds and Zak eventually ended up a convincing 4-1 winner.

The semi-finals were the matches that decided who would receive the Q-School entries and both ended up being rather one-sided affairs. They actually followed an almost identical pattern as O’Donnell beat Johnny Williams and Sutton beat Zak Surety, both eventual winners losing the opening frames to their more attacking opponents but eventually playing the better matchplay to win 4-1.

The Final itself saw smiles all round as the players could relax safe in the knowledge that the main prize they had come to win was in the bag. As it happened, Martin turned out a fairly comfortable winner and was visibly more relaxed than he had been in his previous two matches, John was gracious in defeat and it was jokes and congratulations all round at the end.

From a personal point of view it was a fantastic day to cap off a thoroughly enjoyable tournament, John and Martin are great guys and the afterparty (The Wizard Tour) was attended by them both, as well as Allan Taylor and the referee for the final Matthew Lowson, who himself achieved his own milestone by refereeing his first ever century break, two in fact as it was him that was picking the balls out for Sutton and Gray earlier in the day.

Yeehaa!! The M’OD with the Trophy

The messages of good luck and congratulations that myself and Mrs Snookerbacker have received have been genuinely appreciated and I’m glad that the players got the chance to compete for the prize and thoroughly welcomed us into the amateur game as ‘rookie’ tournament organisers. I’d like to think that the tournament offered something a little bit different for the players and hopefully next year we’ll make it even bigger and even better.

There are far too many people to thank for the success of the event as a whole, the hospitable venues, the officials, the generous sponsors, those who helped to ‘spread the word’ and of course the players themselves. We could not have done it without you.

It’s the tournament however that nobody wants to come back and defend and let’s hope that Martin and John do the business at the Q-School, they will have the support of the blog behind them and I’m sure they will take this the right way when I say I hope not to see their names in the draw for the Snookerbacker Classic next season.

It’s now time to take stock and for me and Mrs SB to have a think about next year’s event. We’d welcome feedback from players and anyone that has an interest in the event, we know that it wasn’t perfect but hopefully we covered any cracks with just enough cakes and goody bags so as they weren’t too noticeable. All in all it’s been a blast.

Snooker Scene have asked me to give my own personal take on the event as a whole for a forthcoming edition, so for anyone interested in what it’s been like behind the scenes getting an event off the ground from scratch, that might be worth a read.

You will all be relieved to hear that I will now stop banging on about this incessantly for a few months, but if anyone wants to give any feedback please feel free, either in the comments section on here or via email at [email protected]

You can see some photos from yesterday here and I might also soon be able to post an audio file with some Scouse bloke asking Martin and John some searching questions ahead of a visit to a dodgy boozer and even more dodgy curry house in Gloucester last night courtesy of Wizard Tours……memorable if nothing else.

Photos courtesy of Monique Limbos.

February 24, 2012

Snookerbacker Classic Finals Day

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:50 am

Today is a day I have been looking forward to since embarking on my madcap venture for this year. The Finals Day of the first ever Snookerbacker Classic features eight of the top amateur players in the game and it promises to be a great day’s snooker which you can watch for free and without fear of prosecution on the live stream here.

I will be updating the scores below as often as I can during the day and if you want updates live from the venue from myself, Mrs SB, people watching or I’d venture the players themselves you can do so by following me on Twitter or following the hashtag #sbclassic – please feel free to contribute.

(All matches Best of 7 frames)

Quarter Finals

(Losers receive £100 – Prize Sponsor Lake Creative)

Martin O’Donnell 4-2 Sydney Wilson (10am LIVE STREAMED) Referee Jeff Fox

Johnny Williams 4-1 Jamie Barrett (10am) Referee Matthew Lowson

Allan Taylor 1-4 Zak Surety (NB 11.30am LIVE STREAMED) Referee Jeff Fox

David Gray (108) 3-4 John Sutton (108(NB 11.30am) Referee Matthew Lowson

Semi Finals

(Losers receive £150 – Prize Sponsor John Parrott Cuesports)

Martin O’Donnell 4-1 Johnny Williams (NB 1pm LIVE STREAMED) Referee Jeff Fox
Zak Surety 1-4 John Sutton (NB 2.30pm LIVE STREAMED) Referee Matthew Lowson


(NB 5pm LIVE STREAMED) Referee Matthew Lowson

Martin O’Donnell beat John Sutton 4-0

(Runner up receives free Q-School Entry and a gift from Mrs SB. Winner receives free Q-School Entry plus 4 PTC entries to a value of £400 and the Snookerbacker Classic trophy oh, and a special gift from Mrs SB – Prize Sponsor

Boylesports have priced up the matches here and the outrights here

Apollobet now also have their prices up here.

Finally a huge thanks to the £1 per point highest break sponsors from the Qualifying stages 

February 23, 2012

China Open Qualifiers Final Day

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:37 pm

As I am sure you will understand I’m a little busy tomorrow with a silly little tournament of my own so please use this excellent site with recent head to head records included for your reference point on tomorrow’s final round of qualifiers. 

That said there is a treble here that for me sticks out and I’ll recommend at 3 point treble on Andrew Higginson, Marcus Campbell and Ricky Walden at a shade over 11/4 with Paddy Power.

Anyone watching Steve Davis take on Rory McLeod, you have my deepest sympathy….


43) Andrew Higginson v Jimmy White
45) Tom Ford v David Grace
46) Mark King v Adrian Gunnell
47) Barry Hawkins v Liu Chuang
53) Dominic Dale v Jack Lisowski
58) Rory McLeod v Steve Davis


44) Joe Perry v Anthony Hamilton
48) Ricky Walden v Sam Craigie
49) Marcus Campbell v Ken Doherty
51) Mark Davis v Michael Holt
52) Ryan Day v Ben Woollaston
56) Stephen Hendry v Yu Delu


50) Fergal O’Brien v Li Yan
54) Marco Fu v Jamie Jones
55) Jamie Cope v Alan McManus
57) Peter Ebdon v Liang Wenbo

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