September 30, 2012

SB Classic Leeds: Lines Makes His Mark

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:20 pm

Oliver with his personalised artwork, courtesy of Zara Daniella.

A cracking first day at the Snookerbacker Classic in Leeds yesterday saw this year’s top UK Amateur event get off with a bang and a hard fought victory for homeboy Oliver Lines, who managed to come through 4 deciding frames to pip Ant Parsons to the first Finals Day qualifying slot.

Myself and Mrs SB arrived in Leeds the previous evening and got ourselves prepared for the event very early yesterday morning. It was quite weird really as we remembered doing exactly the same thing last year, being greeted by the same member of the cleaning staff who again took the opportunity to take piss out of our accents in a purely lighthearted way as she checked all the valuables were secure.

The other weird thing was the way we were feeling. Last year, this being the first ever event we’d run we were both very nervous, me more than Mrs SB who tends to steady the ship better than I do. But this year we were a bit calmer, not complacently calm, but confident that we could give the players a good all round experience and hopeful that we could also draw a bit of a crowd. I think both went according to plan.

The Players Packs again seemed to go down well and this year they contain SB Classic badges, a unique CD for each venue, some sweets and some gifts from sponsors Lake Creative and John Parrott Cuesports.

Mrs SB also set up her ‘antique’ silver cake stand to display her ever popular baked goods which were snapped up in record time by the hungry potters and as a very special guest was expected later in the day we also set up a little tribute to the one and only Neil Robertson, which for want of a better word was described as a veritable ‘shrine’ to the Aussie.

Gavin Lewis was the first player to arrive after SB Classic stalwart ref Matthew Lowson arrived for duty fully blazered-up. Others followed and I had a chance to catch up with my fellow Scouser John Whitty, who I haven’t seen for years, it was great to see him again and we had a good chat and caught up on things. Ben Harrison was the last player to arrive having taken a little too long in hair and make-up, a joke by the way, Ben being what Mrs SB described earlier today as ‘possibly the prettiest man I have ever met’.

Anyway, as play got underway it was clear that everyone was treating the event very seriously and Sanderson Lam started the day with a bang hitting what was to remain the highest break of the day of 93, in the very first frame of his first round match. He went on to beat Martin Ball 4-1, this scoreline quite weirdly being the outcome in 6 of the 8 first round matches, Ant Parsons, Gavin Lewis, Ben Harrison, Gary Wilson and Shaun Murphy Scholar Sean Hopkin all winning by this score. John Whitty scored a 4-0 first round win over Ryan Bailey and Oliver Lines won a hard-fought match against Jamie Barrett, a finalist in the Classic last season in his first decider of the day.

Oliver and Ant with Matthew before the Final

The Quarter Finals followed and a great match was contested between Ben Harrison and pre-tournament favourite Gary Wilson, whilst neither hit top form the tension built and it was Gary in the end that took the match in a decider. Ben will be back in action at event two in Gloucester in two weeks time. Ant Parsons played solidly to knock out Sean Hopkin who was disappointed but for me it was clear that he has improved a lot since last season and he’s a very dedicated young man and one I will be keeping a close eye on. Gavin Lewis played very well indeed to knock out Sanderson, who is another with talent and a very nice lad who got right into the spirit of the event. Meanwhile, Oliver was battling away with John Whitty and again held himself together in a decider that could have gone either way. John will also be playing in Gloucester and it’s clear he still has the game to compete at this level without a doubt.

It was around the time that the semi-finals started that I decided to have my first drink of the day, something which unfortunately could not be said for everyone. Jaykay/killamabob from the blog had been wandering around with two pints in his hand since noon on discovery of the two for a fiver deal, at one point forgetting that both his hands were full and pouring one down his top while attempting an ambitious and ultimately careless head scratch technique. Prior to this unfortunate event, we had been having a perfectly intelligent conversation about a tortoise on a skateboard rolling down a hill so that put an end to that.

The Wizard of Glos turned up and did an excellent job of looking after Snoopie Louise, who despite turning many heads only has eyes for the Wizard. I have offered to pay his train fare for the December leg of the Classic but only on the condition that I can dress him up as a snowman for the Christmas themed leg of the tournament. He’s going to get back to me but I’m sure he’ll see sense. Louise has also promised to put together a Christmas themed outfit for our Leeds return, so having my top Snoopie on the case should guarantee a decent turnout.

Indeed, away from the baize the Classic is turning into something of a social event, even extending to that dreaded cheesy business phrase ‘networking’ yesterday as I seem to have arrived home with a few business cards, which I carelessly don’t have myself, as instead I prefer to offer everyone a pocket-sized massive poster. In fact, there were so many people to talk to I was forced to make a call to a local Lookalike Agency and they sent over a rather dubious doppelganger of me to pose for photos and generally pretend to be me (and also I’d heard Jimmy Michie was coming so I felt I’d let him take the punches), though they carelessly dressed him in a shirt similar to one that I wore to the Classics last year I think he fooled enough people in there and it left me time to watch the snooker.

Dad looks on next to a dodgy-lookalike of Les Dawson. Random.

Ant Parsons was highly impressive in his semi-final win over Gavin Lewis, the Welshman is another very dangerous player who also turns his attention to Gloucester now. Ant meanwhile faced a long wait as he had won through before Oliver and Gary Wilson had even started their semi-final. With lots of credit to Oliver however, he didn’t at any point hold things up, always keen to just keep on playing. He again used all 7 frames to defeat Gary, who had only entered the one event this time around and will now undoubtedly be looking for other routeways back to the pro-game.

As the Final was about to commence, it was time for Robbo to enter the building. He strode in and Mrs SB immediately introduced herself and asked him if he liked his shrine, he understandably looked rather bemused but more was to come as she forced a cake she had made for him into his hands for a photograph. It then seemed to click with him what was going on and he then asked me if I was Snookerbacker, to which I responded by pointing him to my lookalike who was a few feet away and still doing an excellent job.

Mrs SB was by this time getting a little giddy at the sight of one of her favourite players and gave him his players pack and got a photo with him. The great man said that he liked Mrs SB as she had in the past awarded him a Willie for Best Hair, he then turned his attention to me and asked how he could have also won a Worst Hair Willie in my awards, I again led him to my lookalike to take it up with him and left them to it.

But once Robbo had been introduced to go and do his thing it was time to concentrate on the Final. It was a real ding-dong affair with both players alternating frame leads and Ant at one point looking like the winner. But Oliver again produced in the decider under the watchful eye of his proud dad Peter and his stepmum Sarah, who both seemed over the moon at his win.

In fact, there was happiness in the air all around and even me and Jimmy Michie agreed to bury the hatchet, though if he’d actually had a hatchet I’m not sure where it might have ended up as I reached for his hand and said ‘Hello Jimmy, I’m SB’. Mrs SB by this time had started to worry that Neil Robertson might think she was a crank, to which I lied ‘of course he won’t’, she seemed to be reassured by this and I’ll try and hide the restraining order as the last words she said to him were ‘we’ll be in touch’.

I also got a chance to have a word with Matt Selt who was in fine ‘diamond geezer’ form and was there to keep Robbo company, although the venue by now was absolutely heaving. A nice touch also happened when the MC announced to the packed crowd watching Robbo that Oliver had won the event to rapturous applause and cheers from the locals. I also caught up briefly with David Grace, who had painted a fabulous picture of Neil which fetched a fair bit at auction for the chosen charity.

Oliver looked delighted with his day’s work as he should be, an almost non-stop 28 frames of competitive snooker against top opponents from 10am until around 9pm is something that takes a lot of dedication and stamina, which he shows in droves. He is also a very polite young lad and thanked me a couple of times personally for the event, as did Peter and Sarah. He’ll be up there with the favourites to assume The MO’D’s mantle as SB Classic Champion 2013.

By then, me and Mrs SB were a bit tired and went outside to stand in the cold with blog hardman Ian White who had also by then arrived, we watched loads of taxis go past until one eventually had our name on it and we returned to our hotel, leaving our fellow revellers to revel.

It was a great day and a fine start to the tournament, it belonged to Oliver of course, but I’d like to think that everyone who attended took away a bit of it. Even if it was a hatchet in the back, what did happen to that lookalike anyway?

You can view all the stats from yesterday here and a big thanks to Andy and Steve from My Snooker Stats for coming along and showing me this excellent initiative in action. That was me you were talking to by the way, not the agency guy. You can also read Matt from Pro Snooker Blog’s thoughts on the day here and view his pics here.

The next two legs of the Snookerbacker Classic take place at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester on 12th and 13th of October, click here for details. If you are in the area, please come along. Incidentally, Oliver’s win means there is now a spare slot in the SB Classic in Leeds in December, when the Classic goes Christmas, it’s £50 to enter and will go to the first person that contacts me. It remains the only place left in any UK event.

I’ll leave you with this……

Robbo with his cake from Mrs SB

September 28, 2012

The Snookerbacker Classic 2013 Qualifying Event 1: Leeds

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:35 pm

Tomorrow we start the journey to find the next Snookerbacker Classic Champion at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds. I have previewed the event here and will be updating the scores on here as they happen.

Whilst I don’t have live scoring you can keep up with all the action throughout the day on Twitter by following me here.

It might also be an idea to follow these accounts as I’m sure they will be tweeting from the venue Matt from Pro Snooker BlogRoland from Snooker IslandLong Time Blog Poster Jaykay,  and Snoopie Louise, for more careless tweeting you could also follow The Wizard of Glos who unfortunately will also be attending, in body if not in mind. Don’t worry, you can always unfollow him afterwards.

A lot of the players are also on Twitter and I’ve highlighted those that are with a click through link in the draw below.

I’m hoping that the hashtag #sbc13 will accompany tweets so as you can see them all in one place as the day progresses.

The best of luck to all the players competing in Event One. Check out the prices at Apollobet by clicking here.

First Round (Roaming Referees)

10.00 am 

1. Chris Keogan 1-4 Sean Hopkin
2. Ant Parsons 4-1 Gareth Allen
3. Gavin Lewis 4-1 Jack Bradford
4. Sanderson Lam 4-1 Martin Ball
5. Gary Wilson 4-1 Elliot Slessor
6. Alex Taubman 1-4 Ben Harrison
7. John Whitty 4-0 Ryan Bailey
8. Oliver Lines 4-3 Jamie Barrett

Quarter Finals (Roaming Referees)

Approx 12 noon

9. Sean Hopkin 1-4 Ant Parsons
10. Gavin Lewis 4-1 Sanderson Lam
11. Gary Wilson 4-3 Ben Harrison
12. John Whitty 3-4 Oliver Lines

Semi Finals (Refereed)

Approx 2pm

SF1. Ant Parsons 4-0 Gavin Lewis
SF2. Gary Wilson 3-4 Oliver Lines

Final (Refereed)

Approx 4pm 

Ant Parsons 3-4 Oliver Lines

Qualifier: Oliver Lines

Highest Break of the Day: Sanderson Lam, 93.

Snookerbacker Classic Leeds Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

The Northern and Two Legends of Snooker.

This Saturday sees the start of the Snookerbacker Classic at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, the venue which ultimately will see the second winner of the event crowned in February, following Martin O’Donnell’s success last year that saw him win his Q-School entry and make the most of it by winning through to turn professional.

I won’t go on about the organisational side of it too much but suffice to say that myself and Mrs SB are hugely looking forward to a few months on the road again as we travel to Gloucester, London and Dublin as well as Leeds to find the next SB Classic champion and runner-up, both of whom will have their Q-School entries paid in full, or have the cash prize alternatives on offer. The winner also getting a £500 cash bonus and the full support of the blog from thereon in.

We both found Leeds a hugely enjoyable experience last season when Allan Taylor and Jamie Barrett qualified to Finals Day, Jamie is here again this year but Allan isn’t in action until Gloucester this time around. The man Allan beat to get to the Finals Day Elliot Slessor is however competing on Saturday.

You can find everything you need to know about this year’s event here including the terms and conditions and how to get up to the minute updates on that Facebook thing for plebs. I will say that we are both very excited about the Players Packs this time around, even if I say so myself, the gifts we have this year to all participants screams quality and the generous sponsorship of these guys has not gone unnoticed. Mrs SB is also baking away and is making a special cake for Neil Robertson who is doing an exhibition at the venue after the event has finished and the first qualifier to Finals Day is known. Anyone is welcome to come along and attend and it’s all for free.

You can view the draw for the Leeds heat here and download a drawsheet here. It would not be appropriate for me as the Tournament Director (wow how shit does that sound?) to comment on the matches from a betting perspective, I will give some background on the runners and riders for anyone that wants a bet and Apollobet have priced up the event here.

The Top Half

The first match sees the Shaun Murphy Scholar for this year Nottingham’s Sean Hopkin in action against Chris Keogan. Sean won his first junior event at the weekend and is thrilled to be competing. He also entered last season and won a couple of matches and has had a year to build on this experience. Chris is a first time entrant and has been competing in PTC’s, he took a frame off John Higgins in EPTC2 most recently. Next up are two players that have SB Classic experience Gareth ‘The Bat’ Allen and Ant Parsons from the North East who I got drunk with in Gloucester last season. Ant became a dad recently and is now back on the baize after a lay off from the PTC’s, where most notably he whitewashed Jamie Cope last season. Gareth is returning from Home Internationals action with Wales and is a regular at the PTC’s, scalps have included Nigel Bond and Alfie Burden and a recent cue change appears to have sparked some confidence in the Welshman, he narrowly lost out at Q-School last time to Paul Davison. Next up are Gavin Lewis and Jack Bradford, who also entered last season. Gavin is another Welshman who (I’m not jealous honest) has just put a full sized table in his house and has been competing in PTC’s while Jack is another who has been playing in PTC’s and ran Jamie Barrett close in this event last season. Finally we have Sanderson Lam against Martin Ball, Sandi is a regular at the Northern who was at the event last season but didn’t play, instead preferring to hover around the tournament desk and hoover up Mrs SB’s cakes, he was part of the recent England Junior team that triumphed at Pontins in the Home Internationals and has also appeared on the live stream for the PTC against none other than MJW. Martin didn’t enter last year but has also been playing in PTC’s and has played the likes of Stephen Hendry, Martin Gould and Ricky Walden, taking two frames from top 16 player Ricky.

The Bottom Half

Local rivalry is at stake in the top match between favourite to qualify Gary Wilson and Elliot Slessor, who are practice partners. Former professional Gary is a worthy favourite and can count a string of big names amongst his conquests but Elliot is no pushover and was highly impressive at this venue 12 months ago, he has recently run Marcus Campbell to a decider in the PTC’s and Gary, who has only entered one of the heats will be well aware of how good he is. Next up is last year’s Pamper Hamper winner Ben ‘Pure Pulse’ Harrison who faces Wales’ Alex Taubman. Ben was beaten last year by the eventual winner Martin O’Donnell and has posted a 147 at this very venue in the past, he’s a regular at the PTC’s and can count Judd Trump amongst his practice partners. Alex or ‘Taubs’ as everyone calls him is another PTC regular and has faced the likes of Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham in those, recently beating Elliot Slessor in EPTC2 before losing to Robbo. John Whitty against Ryan Bailey is next up, I haven’t seen my fellow Scouser John for years and we did cross swords over the baize many moons ago (most notably in the Bootle Open Semi Final when he walloped me and then won it). But where I turned to blogging he carried on with the baize, he turned over Dominic Dale in a PTC last season so is obviously still a nice player, it will be good to see him again. Ryan is someone I don’t know, he’s very excited about competing though and that is what the event is all about. The bottom match promises to be a real cracker as last year’s Quarter Finalist, Grimsby’s Jamie Barrett takes on Oliver Lines. Jamie made the highest break of the entire event here last season, a 128 and is very much ‘the quiet man’ when it comes to the baize, Oliver has been receiving much praise of late and I’m looking forward to seeing him play for the first time, he beat the bang in form Joe Perry 4-3 just three weeks ago in a PTC so is obviously a player to be respected.

So that’s it. I can’t pick a winner even if I wanted to, but if you fancy a bet then be my guest. Myself and Mrs SB are just looking forward to meeting all the players, some for the first time and one for me, for the first time in a long time. Let’s hope for another great year for UK and Irish amateur snooker.

All opinions on the betting side of things are welcome of course, but you will understand that I can’t and won’t comment.

September 26, 2012

This is the Word of MOD

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:42 pm

He Talks. I Listen. That’s How it Works.

Today sees the first of a regular feature on the blog as the reigning Snookerbacker Classic Champion Martin O’Donnell aka The M’OD takes us through his first season as a professional player on the tour.

We’ve been keeping in touch ever since he won the 2012 Classic and had a good natter last night on the old dog and bone and here is what he had to say.

SB: So my good man, how do you feel the first few months as a pro have gone?

MO’D: I really don’t think I have played that bad at all especially in the main ranking events, I had one stinker the first time I played Alfie Burden but all in all I have been happy with my first few performances. I keep seem to be playing the same players though so it would be good to get a bit of variety in there, I’ve played David Grace twice, Alfie twice and I’m playing Robbie Williams again soon. But it’s all good, the form is there, I just need that bit of luck to get going.

SB: What’s different about being a pro? Does it feel like a step up?

MO’D: Definitely it does, it just feels, I don’t know ‘professional’. I feel like it’s more of a job. When you go to the qualifiers there aren’t as many players and everyone who is there is just there to do a job. It’s little things too, sounds weird but just having wet and dry towels supplied for you at your table…odd I know, but it’s different from being an amateur. The negatives I suppose are the PTC’s, which take a bit of getting used to as a pro because you are there to be shot at now. When I was an amateur I thought ‘just give it a go’ as it felt just like a big Pro-Am and because of that you are a bit more fearless, as a pro the boot is on the other foot! There is so much more at stake in them as a professional than as an amateur in terms of your ranking position, so there is a lot more pressure, but it’s all a learning curve for me and still a buzz.

SB: Talking of the PTC’s, you know what I’m going to ask, Gloucester or Sheffield?

MO’D: I prefer Sheffield. Gloucester is a great venue don’t get me wrong, but for an event as important as the PTC’s they need to have partitions, people are getting up and walking around and it’s just very easy to get distracted, you don’t get that in Sheffield.

SB: But the venues are moving more and more towards open plan aren’t they?

MO’D: I know SB, it’s something I will have to work on I know. I do feel I am capable of making a venue this year and with the flatter structures of the Welsh and German that gives me even more of a chance.

SB: You’re a fan of the flatter structure then?

MO’D: Definitely SB, it just makes more sense. There will be less expenses needed as there will be fewer qualifying matches to play which means more tournaments, which means more chances to make money. If the rankings are going to be based on a money list it’s essential that flat structures are adopted, otherwise the current system where you can win two matches and earn nothing but if you are higher up the list you can win £3k just for turning up will make the whole thing very unfair.

SB: I think it’s very unfair that professional players can win matches and leave tournaments pennyless, even out of pocket.

MO’D: It’s a profession and we are professionals, in what other job can you turn up, do a job and not get paid? It makes no sense. It’s such a high standard that you should be rewarded, even if it just covers your expenses.

SB: How’s the practice regime going?

MO’D: I now have a Star table of my own at a club in Watford thanks to one of my long term sponsors, I just need to get there a bit more often! I still work to pay the bills but hoping that very soon I can free up a bit more time to put more hours in. That said, my game is in good shape, if I look after that side of things the money side looks after itself. I have self-belief and I think I’m due a run in something, there are a lot of big comps coming up so I’m going to be giving them my all.

SB: I’m hoping you make Germany as I’m going with the Mrs and she wants to give you a cuddle.

MO’D: Me too SB! The German Masters looks an amazing event to be involved in and I also love the beer over there. A cuddle from Mrs SB gives me even more incentive!

Winner Winner Chicken Jalfrezi

SB: So your hopes for the season M’O?

MO’D: Big One. Make a venue. Once I do that I think I can kick on. It’s still very early in the season.

SB: Turning back the old Dickory Dock. Lots of people on here will know you best for winning the SB Classic and it’s coming around again this weekend so I can’t leave without asking you about it, as I am a shameless self promotionalist, any advice for this year’s players?

MO’D: You know what SB? I didn’t realise how important the SB Classic was until I got through to the Finals. I then said to myself ‘Jeez, I’ve got a chance of winning this’. Winning the whole thing was the best feeling, it really helped me mentally at Q-School knowing that I had earned my place there and I wasn’t thinking about the financial side of things at all and I think that helped me win through. I’d just say to players to relax and enjoy it, it’s an event that is run like no other and for me easily the best amateur event in the UK. It’s just an enjoyable experience being there. But my only two regrets are that I should have had more of Mrs SB’s cakes than I did and that I chose to celebrate my win with a Wizard Tour, that curryhouse was rank and your burnt onion salad was the pits, why did you order that SB?

SB: Long story….Anyway, I’m looking for someone to present the trophy to the next winner?

MO’D: Count me in SB, if I’m free I’ll be there.

SB: Good man, I’m sure I speak for all readers when I wish you luck for the rest of the season, come and tell us how you’re doing throughout the season.

MO’D: Will do mate, usual fee?

SB: Yep, that’s right, I’m a man of my word. A packet of Pickled Onion Monster Munch (Family Size) and half a litre bottle of Dr Pepper (unopened this time, sorry about that).

MO’D: Thought so, speak soon and all the best to the blog readers and thanks for all support!

The MO’D is available for coaching and exhibitions. Why not take the MO’D challenge at you club? Click here for details of how to book a night with The MO’D at your local or arrange some coaching from a World Snooker qualified coach and an all round good egg. If I’m free at the same time I might even come along and recount hilarious anecdotes for my adoring public.  

September 25, 2012

The Month Ahead: October

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:49 pm

My mate Mike with Joey P

Time again for a look ahead to what’s coming up on the baize over the next few weeks. October being once again dominated by PTC’s and Premier League fixtures after the excitement of a full ranker in Shanghai.

After a Premier League date on the South Coast it’s off to Gdynia in Poland which according to official sources all the players love or ‘heart’. The EPTC2 benefits, or possibly not, from one of the strangest and possibly stingiest promotional campaigns seen for any sporting event for some years. Players stand in front of the camera holding up a tatty old piece of paper which probably has an important drawsheet on the back of it extolling the virtues of this Polish city through the medium of mime, you can watch this highly uninspiring piece of marketing here.

The Premier League then returns for a night before me, Mrs SB and 36 players head over to the South West Snooker Academy for heats 2 and 3 of the Snookerbacker Classic 2013. I have heard today that I can live stream the main arena table for both days so that should give those missing the baize something to watch.

After another Premier League trip to Penzance and assuming the players don’t come across any pirates it’s over to Belgium for the third European PTC from Antwerp.

Another Premier League date follows and then it’s the turn of the old geezers to show us how it’s done at the World Seniors in Portsmouth which last year was won by Darren Morgan and to be fair was quite entertaining.

Finally, we have a full ranker to look forward to. The International Championship is the biggest prize money fund ever competed for in China and this kicks off in Chengdu on the 28th, taking us into November.

And that’s October.

Premier League

October 4, Guildhall, Southampton 

Betfair European Tour 2

October 5-7, Gdynia, Poland 

Premier League

October 11, Malvern Theatre

Snookerbacker Classic

October 12-13, South West Snooker Academy  

Premier League

October 18, Penzance Leisure Centre 

Betfair European Tour 3

October 18-21, Antwerp, Belgium 

SEEDING CUT OFF FOR PTC4 / ET4-Bulgaria(PTC Order of Merit) 

Premier League

October 25, Guildford Spectrum 

Seniors World Championship

October 27-28, Mountbatton Centre, Portsmouth 

International Championship

October 28 to November 4, Chengdu, China 


September 24, 2012

Shanghai Masters Prediction Contest Winner

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:07 am

The winner of the Shanghai Masters Tipster Contest was Jürgen Kesseler who scored a whopping 120 points to scoop the free £100 bet at Apollobet.

His team consisted of:

Group 1: Day and Milkins (19 points)
Group 2: Higgins and Robertson (61 points)
Group 3: Bingham and Dott (25 points)
Group 4: Perry and Davis (15 points)

A very well done to him and commiserations to Deep Dwarf Beserker who came second with a score of 113. Thanks to Apollobet for donating the prize.

Jurgen, please contact me at [email protected] to claim your prize.

Asian PTC2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:53 am

The schedule of play for the second Asian Players Tour Championship which is already underway at the Yixing Sports Centre in Yixing City courtesy of Snooker Island is listed below. 

Click the Snooker Island link above for updates throughout the day.

Zhou Hanwen 4-2 Wang Yuchen
Ou Zhiwei 0-4 Cui Ming
Xie Bin 1-4 Guan Zhen
Ju Reti 4-2 Lin Shuai
Oliver Brown 4-0 Zhong Weihao
Pa Ruke 4-2 Liang Minkai
Zhao Xintong 4-0 Zhang Dongtao
Xiao Guodong 4-0 Wang Zepeng

Mark King 0-4 Niu Zhuang
Hu Hao 4-2 Ryan Day
Michael Holt 4-0 A Bulajiang
Chen Bo 2-4 Hossein Vafaei Ayouri

Cao Yupeng v Jeya Selvan
Huang Hooyong v Ricky Walden
Aditya Mehta scr Li Junwei w/o
Wen Shanwen v Liang Wenbo
Matthew Stevens v Chen Feilong
Zhou Yuelong v Lian Tenghao
Liu Fan v Wang Hen

Shi Hanqing v Luo Guangsheng
Li Yinjin v Ben Judge
Yuan Siyun v Barry Hawkins
Rory McLeod v Ma Tingpeng
Zhang Ning v Paul Davison
Li Hang v Sun Hongrui
Zhang Zhoo v Lu Ning
Wang Yqi v Lv Haotian

Ma Bing v Wamg Bo
Lei Zhen v Liu Chuang
Daniel Wells v Fong Xiangman
Pu Gingsong v Jamie Jones
Joe Perry v Wang Long
Chen Ruifu v Long Yun
Li Wen v Da Hailin
Zhou Jun v Zhang Yi

The format of the event can be found here. Image used courtesy of World Snooker.

September 22, 2012

The Shanghai Masters Final: Time for Revenge?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:12 pm

Judd’s Looking for the Chinese Double. Only Ronnie has done this before.

It’s been a really enjoyable tournament this and the culmination of it sees a re-run of the 2011 World Championship Final between John Higgins and Judd Trump. In other news, this is the first post I have ever written from the garden as it is my favourite type of evening, summer is over and autumn sunshine prevails, marvellous.

Anyway, yes the snooker. What a match we saw this morning between Judd and MJW? At times Judd looked very much the new King of the Floats and his mature approach to the game, in stark contrast to how he played against Ali Carter at the Crucible must surely have convinced any remaining doubters that at his best this kid is something special.

MJW hardly put a foot wrong and found himself 5-1 down as quick as a flash after some breathtaking stuff from young Judders. The comeback seemed on at 4-5 with Trump looking a bit edgy, but he regained his composure and held himself together to win a classic encounter which may at the end of the season be up there with the Willie contenders for Match of the Season and may well end up giving the lovely Mrs MJW, whom I was keeping entertained in a purely professional manner while her husband was off floating a nice shiny erection to polish with her duster.

Higgins and Murphy also served up some quality fayre and it was very much business as usual where John was concerned and it’s clear now that he is approaching his best form, even if he isn’t quite there yet. Smurf battled hard but in the end John was just too good and Shaun again leaves a big ranker trophyless.

Bettingwise, the strategy of going for the 9 frames in the Higgins match with the insurance worked a treat and the week has been pretty good from a punting perspective after a rocky start. Lessons have been learned and I hope, like Higgins, it’s business as usual from here on in on our quest to bash the bookies into submission.

One big disappointment for me is that the Final isn’t live on Eurosport, but where they fail the bookies sites and (which I’m sure wasn’t the plan) the highly illegal streams profit. Phil Yates has been on duty today so it may well be Hendry’s biggest fan himself that takes us through the action.

The Final: Judd Trump versus John Higgins

Head to Heads

Judd Trump John Higgins Players Tour Championship 9 2011 Quarter-final 4-2
John Higgins Judd Trump World Snooker Championship 2011 Final 18-15
John Higgins Judd Trump Premier League 2009 Robin round 4-2
John Higgins Judd Trump Matchroom Championship League 2009 Robin round 2-2
John Higgins Judd Trump Royal London Watches Grand Prix 2008 Semi-final 6-4

The first thing to say is that I hope this is a great final, as in the World Championship Final I will say now that I want Judd to win. I’m not a great fan of Higgins for one reason or another but he’s a great great player and there is no doubting that, I just don’t find him that enthralling to watch. It will be a massive test this for Judd, if he can beat the best match player currently in the game in a long final it will give him the belief that he may need that he can lift the world crown very soon. The satchel however is closed from a betting perspective on what has been a good week, but if I were to plump for a winner I’m afraid it has to be Higgins, for a score I’d go for 10-7.

September 21, 2012

All Star Semi-Final Saturday in Shanghai

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:48 pm

He’s a Floater not a Fighter

Try saying that after a few beers…..It’s a quality line-up to grace what is most people’s idea of the first main established ranking event of the season in Shanghai with three World Champions and many people’s idea of the next one battling it out over Finals weekend.

The first session today saw wins for John Higgins and Mark Williams. Higgins survived a late rally from Ali Carter and saw the match out 5-3 as only he can. I’m yet to be convinced of his form as he’s still missing the odd unexpected one but that is often the case with him, if he’s up for it and has that will to win he’s hard to beat no matter how he’s playing, what is it Sir Clive of Everton says again, it’s not how good your best is sometimes it’s how bad your worst is, very true, John’s worst is better than some players best when it comes to matchplay.

MJW had a great match against Joe Perry who sportingly owned up to a foul in the decider which it appeared he was the only person in the huge arena to be aware of, even on the replay it wasn’t obvious but Joe was up straight away and after that MJW pressed the float button and that was that. He seems to play his best in China these days does MJ, I remember hearing from someone once that he treats the time exactly as he would in the UK and practices in the middle of the night over there and goes to bed in the morning, not allowing his body to realise that he’s somewhere else. Judging by some tweets this week he seems to have convinced Mark Allen to do the same as they appeared to be meeting for breakfast at the same time I was getting up. Unless I’m just getting confused again, it wouldn;t be the first time.

In the afternoon there were wins for Shaun Murphy and Judd Trump to complete the quality line-up. Shaun went for dinner with Stuart Bingham and having demolished that he then demolished his dining partner and promptly demanded that poor old Ballrun pay for his dessert, winning 5-1 in a canter. Judd looked like beating Graeme Dott easily at 4-1 up but Dotty then played like a man possessed and his century to level the match at 4-4 is up there with one of the best breaks I have ever seen, he was rarely in position and potted himself out of trouble almost every other shot, had O’Sullivan made it this would probably be eulogised about at length by commentators for hours on end. But he couldn’t sustain it to the end and Judd held himself together well to win the decider with ease before being mobbed by autograph hunters who seemed prepared to risk possible death to get a moniker from the great man.

Bettingwise, the old 75% hit rate again with 3 out of 4 and had Bingham won a couple more frames it would have been a great rather than a good day. But overall the week has balanced out well, not sure if there is much out there for the semi’s but we’ll have a look.

Semi Finals – Best of 11 frames

7am UK Time

Judd Trump v Mark Williams

Head to Head:

Judd Trump Mark Williams Premier League 2011 Semi-final 3-1
Mark Williams Judd Trump Players Tour Championship 1 2010 Round 4 4-0
Judd Trump Mark Williams World Snooker Bahrain Championship 2008 q-Round 4 5-2

This is the type of match to sit and watch in your pyjamas with tea and a nice bit of crumpet without worrying yourself too much about having a bet on it. I can’t split them, either could win easily or it could be a blow by blow affair that goes down to the wire which I hope it is. I honestly can’t find a bet that I’d recommend with any great conviction. If I was going to predict a score I would go for a Williams win of 6-4 which is 7/1 at Apollobet, but it’s the equivalent of flipping a coin. Just watch it and enjoy it and let’s hope it’s a cracker, if you’ve got shrapnel in your bookies account have a go on that score and hope for the best.

1.30pm UK Time

John Higgins v Shaun Murphy

Head to Head:

Shaun Murphy John Higgins The Masters 2012 Semi-final 6-4
Shaun Murphy John Higgins China Open 2011 Quarter-final 5-2
John Higgins Shaun Murphy Euro Players Tour Championship 5 2010 Final 4-2
Shaun Murphy John Higgins Premier League 2009 Semi-final 5-3
John Higgins Shaun Murphy Premier League 2009 Robin round 4-2
Shaun Murphy John Higgins World Series of Snooker 2009/10 – Killarney Semi-final 5-3
Shaun Murphy John Higgins 2008/2009 World Series Grand Finals – Portugal Final 6-2
John Higgins Shaun Murphy World Snooker Championship 2009 Final 18-9
John Higgins Shaun Murphy 2008 World Series – St Helier, Jersey Semi-final 5-2
John Higgins Shaun Murphy The Masters 2006 Quarter-final 6-4
Shaun Murphy John Higgins Pot Black Cup 2005 Semi-final 1-0
Shaun Murphy John Higgins Embassy World Championship 2005 Round 2 13-8
John Higgins Shaun Murphy British Open 2004 Semi-final 6-0
John Higgins Shaun Murphy LG Cup 2003 Round 3 5-2

Having not taken a strong view on the first semi-final I will say that I think this one won’t see a runaway winner. It starts an hour later than the matches in the evening have been doing all week so if it is close the winner may be at a slight disadvantage for the 19 frame final the following day. If you think that the match will be won by either player at a margin of 6-3 or above, the bets below are the ones to be on. If it’s 6-3 either way you’ll have a decent profit and if it’s over that you’ll earn a modest profit at the prices recommended and will just be able to sit back and enjoy it. As for a winner, I’ll side with Murphy as I believe he’s playing the better of the two and if he does win I think it might just be 6-3.

Recommended Bets: 3 points on there being exactly 9 frames at 3/1 with Bet 365. 3 points on there being over 9.5 frames at 11/10 with Paddy Power. 


September 20, 2012

Shanghai Masters Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:58 pm

Both beginning to show some form.

We are down to the last eight in the Shanghai Masters with five Englishmen, two Jocks and a Taff left in it. What do you mean I can’t say that anymore? Sorry, I meant English ‘people’, bloody political correctness gone mad that’s what it is. 

After all my waffling on yesterday about final framers we didn’t see any in the last 16, the closest being Mark Kings’s defeat to Shaun Murphy. The first session even saw two whitewashes, the first saw Joe Perry inflict the first best of 9 unanswered drubbing on Neil Robertson since 2007 when Matthew Stevens did that to him here aswell, these being the only two times in the Aussie’s professional career that he has been out for a duck in a main ranker.

The other whitewash of the session saw The Captain, Ali Carter dish out a thrashing to Stephen Maguire, who only potted one ball in the first four frames and not many more than that in the last one. This being only Maguire’s second best of nine whitewash in a decade, the other being inflicted on him again in China by Big Dave Harold in 2009.

The other matches in this session saw comfortable wins for Mark Williams over Ricky Walden and Stuart Bingham who beat Jamie Cope 5-1, continuing his good early season form and representing those that admire the work ethic everywhere.

The afternoon session saw a rather disappointing match if truth be told between Allen and Trump, it never really got going and once Judd drew level at 2-2 Marky uncharacteristically went a bit flat. It’s Judd that marches on.

Another coming back to form is obviously John Higgins, who can still unbelievably be backed at 14/1 to win the World Championship, get on it while you can, I took 12’s some weeks ago and Bet Victor have pushed him out so I have gone in again. There is no way he will be double figures for it come April in my opinion. Anyway, he whitewashed Ryan Day to get to this stage.

On the other tables, Mr Invisible Graeme Dott gave Stephen Lee a pasting. Dotty is yet to appear on our screens but is obviously playing a bit better than he did at the Crucible, when by his own admission he couldn’t ‘care less’. Shaun Murphy is the last name in the hat and he eventually saw off Mark King 5-3, meaning that any outright bets struck with Apollobet that have already ducked have that insurance back-up of Smurf winning it to get your money back.

In terms of betting it was another very good day with the two big handicap bets landing as well as the recommended double, so we’re right back on track again after a very rocky period. It’s strange how these things tend to go in peaks and troughs, but enjoy it while you can if you are following.

To the Quarter-Finals:

Ali when he won here and before he carelessly dropped the trophy and put a big dent in it.

7.30am (UK Time)

Ali Carter v John Higgins
Mark Williams v Joe Perry

John Higgins leads Ali Carter 8-1 in the head to heads with The Captain’s sole win coming in a PTC last season. Ali is in great spirits and also in great form and I’m sure has a close eye on the ranking list at the moment, both dished whitewashes out but you could argue that Ali’s over Maguire was the more dominant of the two. John’s highest break in his was just 57 while Ali hit a 120. I think The Cap might just upset the odds in this as he’s a proven winner here, his health is good and when he gets on a roll he’s very determined, but this is Higgins so I’ll stick with the handicap. Looking at the scoring in this event I’d say that Joe Perry is right up there at the top and is obviously in fine form, he has a 4-4 head to head with MJW but looking at the match make up it means very little. Joe delivered a maximum bet on the handicaps today and I think he might do so again tomorrow, but I’m going to be a little more cautious.

12.30pm (UK time) 

Stuart Bingham v Shaun Murphy
Graeme Dott v Judd Trump

Shaun Murphy leads Stuart Bingham 3-2 on the head to heads but their most recent meeting saw Stuart a 6-2 winner in the semi-finals on his way to his first ranking title in Australia last season. This is a match that I can see going down to the wire between two players that on current form are very evenly matched, I actually marginally favour Ballrun to cause an upset here as he seems to be snatching frames this week that he looks like losing and Shaun isn’t killing frames off as he can at his best. Graeme Dott is getting through on the back tables but he isn’t scoring that heavily, in fact none of them are really and the number of centuries in the tournament so far shows that, I can’t see him beating Judd to be honest even if the terrier in him comes out tomorrow. I think he will try and outpot Judd but I can’t see that happening. Judd is the one favourite that I think will win with a bit to spare and book his place in the semi-finals, Trump v Carter final anyone?

Predicted Winners: Carter, MJW, Bingham, Trump (nap).

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Carter (+2.5 frames) at 2/5 with Apollobet. 3 points on Perry (+2.5 frames) at 8/15 with Apollobet. 2 points on Bingham (+2.5) at 2/5 with Apollobet. 3 points on Trump at 2/5 with Apollobet. 2 points on the Acca which pays almost 10/3 with Apollobet. BACK THEM HERE

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