Snookerbacker

October 31, 2012

International Championship Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:20 pm

As I write Selby and Walden are entering their sixth hour.

Thursday in Chengdu sees the Quarter Finals of the International Championship and today’s matches just passed me by as I didn’t see any of them, not one bloody, sodding solitary ball. I am a little peeved at that.

It’s probably a good job though as I’d have just sat there swearing as the betting side of things is a write-off this week unless Judd wins it, he’s the main outright pick and only the naughtiest of snooker from him can salvage anything from the wreckage of this particular event on that score. I’m closing the satchel now and hoping that he can do just that.

I can’t really write any sort of preview based on the matches today as I didn’t see them so I will simply list the matches and the head to heads and leave it at that.

If anyone would like to have a stab at writing a couple of paragraphs in the comments section describing today either in a serious, slightly amusing or laugh out loud kinda way then please be my guest, it would be nice to have someone that could take over when I’m a bit busy and today I’m afraid was one of those days when that thoroughly inconvenient and overrated thing called ‘a life’ totally got in the way of my snooker duties.

In fact the next person that tells me to ‘get a life’ will feel the sharp end of my wrath as these tend to be people that think they have one because they go out getting shitfaced and talk about football all night with their no-mark mates and then go home alone with a kebab before going to their dead-end job next day and doing the same thing the night after. If that’s a life you can keep it because mine’s a lot better.

I told you I was narky today, I think I’ve got the baize equivalent of cold turkey, I’ll be ok tomorrow as I should get to see almost all of Judd and Mark Allen, always a treat to watch these two lock horns.

OK, as I write Walden and Selby are still playing, coming up to the 6 hour mark, what’s that all about then? So I’ll have to fill in the blanks when the result of that particular borefest is known.

6.30am

Peter Ebdon v Ricky Walden

Peter Ebdon Ricky Walden British Open 2003 Round 2 5-2

Judd Trump v Mark Allen

Judd Trump Mark Allen Bank of Communication Shanghai Masters 2012 Round 2 5-2
Mark Allen Judd Trump World Open 2012 Round 2 5-4
Judd Trump Mark Allen German Masters 2012 Round 2 5-2
Judd Trump Mark Allen UK Championship 2011 Final 10-8
Judd Trump Mark Allen Players Tour Championship 2 2011 Round 2 4-2
Mark Allen Judd Trump SAGA Insurance Masters 2009 Round 1 6-4
Mark Allen Judd Trump World Snooker Bahrain Championship 2008 Round 1 5-1

11.30am

Shaun Murphy v Marco Fu

Marco Fu Shaun Murphy UK PTC3 2012 Semi-final 4-0
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu Premier League 2010 Semi-final 5-2
Marco Fu Shaun Murphy Premier League 2010 Robin round 4-2
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu Premier League 2009 Robin round 5-1
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu Wuzhoo International Jiangsu Classic 2009 Robin round 2-0
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu World Snooker Championship 2009 Round 2 13-3
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu Maplin UK Championship 2008 Final 10-9
Marco Fu Shaun Murphy Royal London Watches Grand Prix 2007 Robin round 4-3
Marco Fu Shaun Murphy Citywest Irish Masters 2004 q-Round 5 5-3
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu Embassy World Championship 2002 q-Round 6 10-4
Shaun Murphy Marco Fu Benson & Hedges Masters 2001 Round 1 6-1

Lu Haotian v Neil Robertson

Never met. #banthewildcards

October 30, 2012

International Championship Day 4

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:24 pm

Tales of the Unexpected: Don’t mess with Mavis

Wednesday sees eight more matches completed at the International Championship in Chengdu as the tournament heads towards deciding the final eight.

Day three started with another shock, not quite of the magnitude of John Higgins exit as MJW succumbed to the power of Dark Mavis. In short, he was ‘Mavised’ © (lesson learnt). Our Mave played very well it has to be said but was given a lot of chances by a clearly under the weather Williams who coughed and spluttered his way through the match and at one point nearly knocked himself out by slipping on a carelessly laid piece of carpet while stretching for a shot.

Williams still might have nicked it had Mavis not fell fortunately on the black in the final frame off an opening launch at a red, but a classy tournament highest 138 total clearance followed and all in all it was the right result.

On the other TV table, Stephen Maguire basically won his match against Jamie Burnett in the opening session by racing to a 4-0 lead, eventually completing a comfortable if in the end rather laboured 6-3 win. Two centuries from Maguire showing that he’s looking like a contender this week.

Expectedly, Mark Allen and Rob Milkins looked to be going through their match at a blinding pace but from 2-2 it was all Allen and he rode out a 6-2 winner, Milkins with a 132 and Allen with a 124 in a high quality encounter. The last match of the session to finish saw Marco Fu clinch a decider against Martin Gould, who despite winning his first PTC recently falls out of the top 16 and will not play in the Masters in January.

The second session saw a cosy win for Ding against his young opponent who at times looked like a rabbit in the headlights but at least avoided the whitewash, something that looked to be headed the way of Stuart Bingham who went 4-0 down to Aditya Mehta before staging a fine comeback to level, only for the cool-headed Indian to regain the initiative and bounce back to take the match 6-4. This is another notable feather in the cap of this vastly improved player and big prospect who is rising faster in the game than his peers, with a game that I can only say is a bit of a mix of Steve Davis and Cliff Thorburn, what’s not to love about that? Ricky Walden came through to see off Lu Ning who battled but ultimately could not match the scoring power of the Wuxi Classic champion.

Finally it was Judd’s turn to stop doing PR work for Ronnie and do what he does best on the baize. He looked sharp enough at times to suggest he will improve as the week goes on and beat Fergal O’Brien 6-3. Fergal’s shot selection sparked outrageous scenes on Twitter with Andrew Pagett and Mike Dunn having a right old go at poor old Fergs, it appears his style of play is not popular with some and such was Andrew’s vex he even prepared (with a little prompting from a tweeter who wishes to remain anonymous) a top 8 ‘Snail List’ which brought Matt Selt out of his ermmm shell, as he was in it (the list not his shell – allegedly). All hell broke loose, so much so that I think I’ll invite Andrew to share his thoughts in more depth on here for all to see….coming soon.

In betting terms it was a day to forget, even given MJW not being well Bingham’s loss would have scuppered things anyway, silly really of me to bet against Mehta as I’ve been banging on about him for a bit and I never take PL stuff into account. Weirdly, I tweeted a daft correct score combo bet prior to the afternoon matches, two of which came in (Judd and Ricky’s matches), both at 6/1 to save the day, the £28 or so left in a certain account now looking more like £200, one more and I’d have been looking at a very nice sum, two more and I wouldn’t be writing the tripe below for a few weeks as Mrs SB and I would be off on our hols with our dogs to escape people who scare our rescued racing greyhound with fireworks, the poor girl.

Bet on horses if you like. But if you own a dog that you love don’t support dog racing, it’s cruel, Google it.

To tomorrow now….

Wednesday October 31

He only sings when he’s winning (fortunately)

6.30am

Lu Haotian v Dominic Dale
Matthew Stevens v Neil Robertson
Marco Fu v Dark Mavis
Stephen Maguire v Peter Ebdon

I was impressed with Dominic Dale against Graeme Dott, he looked assured in the balls and missed very little, Lu Haotian completed a comeback in round one against a hobbling Michael White, who to be fair really should have taken more care in preparation for his big event and laid off the football for a bit, another lesson learned. Dale might just be a dark horse this week, he’s capable of causing upsets and is clearly enjoying his time over there with all the pandas and fellow nutter Rob Walker, but in the same token, the Chinese need their young star. You can’t fancy Matthew Stevens against Neil Robertson on both their first round showings though he does hold a 4-2 head to head lead over the Aussie. Perhaps Matthew may approach this in a ‘devil may care’ kind of way and start flowing like we know he can, I hope so, because if he does this could be a cracker. It’s difficult to know how Marco Fu is playing but we do know that Mavis is in fine fettle, interestingly all their three meetings to date have gone to deciders, all best of nine with Mavis winning the last two after Marco pinched the first, this is another that could be very close. Stephen Maguire and Peter Ebdon renew their Oriental rivalry with their third meeting in China in six months, it’s one apiece. It’s always hard to second guess Ebdon and what he’ll do and of course this is his first match, but Maguire looks like he means business this week and you have to side with the heavier scorer, provided he doesn’t let Peter dictate the match and start cuebanging, which is what Ebbo will be trying his hardest to make him do.

Predicted Winners: Dale (6-3), Robertson (6-5), Fu (6-5), Maguire (6-4).

11.30am

Shaun Murphy v Ding Junhui
Judd Trump v Aditya Mehta
Mark Allen v Cao Yupeng
Ricky Walden v Mark Selby

Ding leads Shaun Murphy 7-6 in their head to heads and when it comes to main event encounters you would be hard pressed to find two players as evenly matched as these two. Ding is beginning to set a bit of a winning trend however having beaten Smurf on their last 4 meetings, albeit two of those being Premier League, which you should never factor in to form for these events. Shaun played really well in Round 1 but something tells me Ding is a little more relaxed this week, I marginally fancy him but think it will be close. The match between Judd and Aditya will be a fascinating match, two cool heads but two very very different games and playing styles, Judd always looking to attack when he can and Mehta calm, measured and prowling, waiting to expose the weakness. This may be just a hunch but if Judd does attack too much it may just play right into Adi’s hands, he doesn’t miss many easy balls and if he can hold his nerve he might just stand a chance here, I’ve backed Judd in the outrights of course but I’m not that confident in his chances tomorrow I have to say, the 4/1 available on Mehta is barking mad in my opinion and should be taken if only as a ‘just in case’ measure. Mark Allen was beaten by Cao Yupeng in Sheffield and again there are some big prices around on the man who beat John Higgins so calmly in the last round, this is a match I would not touch with any confidence, I’d fancy Marky Boy to do the business but his price is too short. Mark Selby holds a 6-2 head to head lead over Ricky and I’d fancy him to make that 7-2 tomorrow, there is something about the Jester in the early rounds that gives him a certain air of invincibility, he looked workmanlike against Ali in Round 1 and a similar performance here should be enough to see him into the last eight.

Predicted Winners: Ding (6-4), Trump (6-4), Allen (6-4), Selby (6-3)

Recommended Bets: 5 points on Mehta (+3.5 frames) at 4/6 with Blue Square. 3 point double on Maguire and Selby pays nearly 5/4 at Boylesports.  

There are a whole host of correct score and handicap bets on every match at Apollobet here and you can open an account with them and receive a free matched bet by clicking on the banner below, I make nothing from it and Jim might fix it for you.

October 29, 2012

International Championship Day Three

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:51 pm

Time to Float.

Day Three sees eight matches over in Chengdu and amongst those in action are Mark Williams, Mark Allen, Judd Trump and Sheffield’s own Ding Junhui.

Day two saw one of the biggest shocks in a snooker event this season as Shanghai Masters winner John Higgins crashed out to local man (well he’s Chinese, that counts as local to me) Cao Yupeng. Higgins looked to be coasting at 2-0 up but Yupeng then came to life as Higgins started to miss a few.

Those of you who have been following the blog for far longer than is really healthy for your long term wellbeing and ultimate happiness in life will know that I have been banging on about Yupeng for a while now, but I didn’t see this result coming at all with Higgins seemingly in the mood again recently.

Mark Selby produced a clinical rather than brilliant performance against Ali Carter who was another that didn’t look quite with it out there. Selby is clearly cueing well though and flagged his intent for the week with a fairly comfortable 6-3 win.

On the other table the wildcard Lu Ning won an absolute marathon against Barry Pinches in a decider. It started at 6.30am (UK Time) and finished around 12.30pm, they did get booted off the table for half an hour while the second session crowd made their way in but even so, this was a very long drawn out affair. Ning was 5-2 up when both the other matches had finished, but Pinches refused to lie down and even came close to pinching the decider after needing three snookers. The referee is recovering in hospital with two imported buxom blonde nurses at his beck and call, it’s the least the poor bloke deserves.

There were just two matches in the second session and they saw wins for Welsh/Englishman Dom Dale and Well Welsh Welshman Matthew Stevens. Dale played very well indeed and missed very little in beating Graeme Dott, who is the first of my outright selections to bite the dust. He’s a funny player is Dale and you never really know what to expect but all credit to him for the win as for me that was among some of the best stuff I have seen him play on TV for many years, in fact it’s as good as I think I ever remember seeing him play on TV at all.

Matthew on the other hand looked to be heading for an early night (or possibly not knowing him) when surging ahead against his young wildcard opponent who doesn’t seem to have been taught the value of a good percentage safety or dump shot just yet, he has time on his side though as he only looks about 7. Somehow Stevens was pegged back but fell over the line 6-5 to take his place in the last sixteen, no doubt mightily relieved to do so. His opponent can now go back to nursery to learn how to spell ‘safty, safetie, sayftey…oh never mind.

In terms of betting, the bet on the wildcard paid up but Higgins was solely responsible for this being a losing day. Thankfully, results of that magnitude in shock value are still relatively few and far between in longer matches and I don’t think anyone, hand on heart and even with the benefit of hindsight saw that coming given John’s recent form and even more so after the way he started the match.

Anyway, let’s see what we have here….

Tuesday October 30 

2.30pm
Mark Williams v Dark Mavis Result: 6-4 Mavis
Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett Result: 6-3 Maguire
Martin Gould v Marco Fu Result: 6-5 Fu
Mark Allen v Robert Milkins Result: 6-2 Allen

We meet again

MJW has met Dark Mavis on four occasions, Mavis won a PTC match between the two but we know that Williams isn’t really that fond of them and rarely seems to give them 100% the three other scorelines are all in full ranking events have been 10-3, 9-3 and 5-1 (24 frames to 6) in favour of the King of the Floaters. Williams is widely recognised as the most successful player ever in China and for me he is a cracking bet tomorrow to land the handicap, the tables seem to be playing very nicely which is often the key with him so it’s time for the first maximum bet of the week. Stephen Maguire renews relations with Jamie Burnett and leads their head to head encounters 2-1, including of course ‘that’ UK Championship match of which we do not speaketh anymore. Maguire has started the season well and to a lesser extent so has Burnett, but between the two there is still a gulf in class and I’d expect Mags to land the spoils again here against an opponent whose game he is very familiar with. Martin Gould holds a 2-1 advantage over Marco Fu, both wins being tight fought first round Crucible affairs. Gould needs a run in this to help him secure a spot at the Masters and with Ali Carter out this now becomes even more important, he recently won his first PTC event after a spell in the doldrums and some coaching that ironed out some problems for him. Fu is also in form and reached the quarters in Antwerp following a runners-up spot in a previous PTC to Rod Lawler, the bookies can’t split them and neither can I. Mark Allen comes fresh from his Belgian triumph and in great form, he faces Rob Milkins aka Mill Hopkins for the first time since the 2007 World Championship, when Allen won 10-4, lots has happened since then. You have to fancy Allen but I think his price is too short against a dangerous player who is capable of causing an upset and also has recent solid form in China, no bet.

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Williams (-1.5 frames) at 4/5 generally.

7.30pm
Ding Junhui v Zhou Yuelong Result: Ding 6-1
Judd Trump v Fergal O’Brien Result: Judd 6-3
Stuart Bingham v Aditya Mehta
Ricky Walden v Lu Ning

Zhou Yuelong is here by virtue of his bye in the first round over the newly crowned World Billiards Champion Pankaj Advani, who qualified for this but elected to play in his first passion’s event instead. Congratulations to him on his triumph in Leeds which was the right decision for him and it turns out, fully justified. Yuelong faces Ding Junhui and I know better than to think about lumping on the main man against a Chinese opponent no matter how much of a certainty he appears to be on paper, don’t touch it gang, it’s just not worth the hassle. Next we have a real clash of styles between Judd and The Ferginator, they are 2-2 on the head to heads but the two most recent encounters have been post-naughty days for Judd and he’s won them both 4-0, suggesting that Fergal hasn’t quite got a handle on him, Judd is my main tip for the title and it’s encouraging that Higgins is no longer a threat in his section, I’d be very surprised if he went the same way as John did. A personal favourite of mine is Aditya Mehta I think that this guy has a big future, he is cool, level-headed and has a great way around the table, he plays moneybags Stuart Bingham who by all accounts was awesome in the Premier League just before he caught his flight and nobody would begrudge one of the hardest working and nicest people in snooker his big payday. I think he’ll have a bit too much in reserve for Aditya although it may be closer than some might think it will be, but I fancy Stuart to come through. Finally, Ricky Walden has to be fancied to end the plight of Lu Ning, Ning was very nearly pegged back today by Pinches and dangerous as the wildcards can be, Walden should simply be too good for him, a level too high, though Ning has beaten Shaun Murphy in the past so that doubt is enough for me to say once again, no bet.

Recommended Bet: 3 point treble on Maguire, Trump and Bingham pays just on 11/8 with Ladbrokes. Add Williams for a 2 point acca that pays just over 9/4 at Corals.   

October 28, 2012

International Championship Day Two

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:29 pm

Mehta – Impressive Debut

It’s Day Two in Chengdu at the International Championship, a day when the likes of Shanghai Masters winner John Higgins and World Number 1 Mark Selby get their campaigns to scoop the jackpot winners cheque underway.

Sunday saw eight matches conclude whereas there are only five on Day Two owing to withdrawals and a suspension. Shaun Murphy scored an emphatic win over Andrew Higginson and as he does so often, really impressed at the start of the tournament looking like he means business.

My only real issue with backing Smurf with any confidence is whether he can keep it up, too often he looks like the winner of the event only to be beaten with a whimper at the business end. But today he was as good as he’s looked for a while, Higginson barely getting any chances and Shaun’s long potting continuing to be a thing of great authority, his piston-like cue action really is his primary weapon.

On the other tables, Cao Yupeng made really hard work of beating his wildcard opponent, who in truth was not really all that good. Funny how the weakest player got to play Cao isn’t it? We’re never told of course how these matches are drawn, I’m sure it’s done fairly….

On the outside tables it was a huge disappointment to see Lu Haotian end Michael White’s excellent progress in the competition. The wildcard, despite his tender years has more experience of venues than White who won through fair and square to take his place in the event and now finds himself going home. Lu is into the last 16 and there are those who say good luck to him, but not me, he shouldn’t be there and I hope he loses next round and that’s that.

Another casualty was Ken Doherty who lost to another promising youngster, even a trademark comeback from Kendo from 2-5 down to draw level wasn’t enough to pull him through, again for me this is a great loss to the event and a player who I’d much rather be watching in the next round than his opponent.

In the second session, the good news is that all the wildcards lost. India’s Aditya Mehta coming through in a decider against a player who sulked and banged his cue and went on long toilet breaks after every frame, he needs to grow up. The rock-steady Aditya again impressed and is very good when put under pressure and is another with a great cue action, I am very pleased to see him progress on his venue debut. Jamie Burnett whitewashed his opponent and now lines up against his best mate Stephen Maguire and the Ferginator, Fergal O’Brien came through a marathon nine-framer in his wildcard round, gaining revenge over his opponent for their match in Shanghai last month and saying ‘You’ve been Ferginated’ at the end to the quivering youngster.

On the main table there was more evidence that the really classy players are bang up for this, Neil Robertson, despite looking half-asleep at the start (which he probably was) came through 6-3 against Ryan Day who must have been a bit confused with all those pandas around the venue. Robbo was superb at times and three centuries were enough to prove that he’s a big contender this week, maybe it’s his time to break his Chinese hoodoo. Ryan, despite starting brilliantly just lost his way a bit in the match.

It wasn’t Ryan’s (left) Day

Dom Dale was watching Ryan and Neil and just the previous day he had joined Rob Walker to go and look at the pandas and talk about them. You can watch the two wildlife experts here. Unfortunately, I am sad to report that such was the confusion and mayhem when these two maniacs arrived unannounced, there are now at least seven pandas in rehab and a further ten in therapy, Rob and Dom have now been barred from all such places and are under house arrest until they step on the plane home.

On the betting front it was a good day with a 100% strike rate to start the week, let’s hope that this is a sign of things to come.

Now to Day 2….

Monday October 29 

6.30am
Mark Selby v Ali Carter Result: 6-3 Selby
John Higgins v Cao Yupeng Result: 6-3 Yupeng
Barry Pinches v Lu Ning Result: 6-5 Ning

Ali Carter lines up against Mark Selby following on from a comprehensive whitewash by the Jester in their PTC semi-final over in Antwerp, Selby looked absolutely dominant in that match and I wouldn’t take any notice of what happened a few days later in the Premier League as this usually has no bearing on the proper events. Selby leads the head to heads between the two 5-4, but The Captain beat him 6-2 in Shanghai in 2010 on his way to that particular title, their only meeting over this distance. They are both in decent form however for me that match in Antwerp sticks in the mind as it may do in Ali’s, who calls Selby ‘a machine’ and I think Selby will prevail again here. Bet of the day has to be John Higgins but the prices reflect this, he should beat Yupeng with plenty to spare on the Chinese players’ display today and it might be worth looking at the handicap markets on that one. Lu Ning is a wildcard in the last match of that particular round and he faces Barry Pinches, Ning has beaten Matt Selt, Shaun Murphy, Jamie Jones and Nigel Bond before but has lost his last two wildcard matches. I hope Barry wins as he is another that worked very hard to get to the venue but since then he has lost 4-0 three times on the spin to Joel Walker, Robbie Williams and Alan McManus in PTC’s. With Barry also being a long time away from main venues (Grand Prix 2009 being the last time he played at one) I’d have to side with Ning I’m afraid, hope I’m wrong.

11.30am
Matthew Stevens v Zhao Xintong Result: Stevens 6-5
Graeme Dott v Dominic Dale Result: 6-3 Dale

Welsh Dragon and all round good egg Matthew Stevens has proclaimed himself ready for this event after by his own admission not really being up for any of the events so far this season, one might even say he has been careless in his season preparation to date, but not to his face of course, that would be even more careless. His opponent proved himself today against Ken Doherty, but if Matthew is true to his word I expect him to win this one with a bit to spare, once he gets into rhythm he is different class and he should prove that here. Graeme Dott has now been reunited with his cue and luggage and he faces Dom Dale for the right to play Haotian in the last 16. I have backed Dott at 50’s in the outrights and although Dale leads the head to heads 4-2, I do of course, think he’ll come through here. I have a feeling that the world champions/major winners and those that have been very close to big crowns will be contesting the end of this event and it would be no surprise to me to see the continually underrated Dott in amongst them, hopefully fighting like a terrier.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Higgins -3.5 frames at Evens with Betfred. 2 point treble on Higgins, Selby and Stevens pays just on 11/8 at Apollobet. 2 points win on Lu Ning at 5/4 with Stan James.

October 27, 2012

International Championship Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:17 pm

That should do it.

Set your alarm clocks early for the morning (and remember the clocks go back in the UK tonight) if you want to catch the start of the International Championship from Chengdu, it’s a 6.30am start here as we are 8 hours behind this particular part of the world.

I am not once again going to fall into the trap of banging on endlessly about how unfair and totally unnecessary the wildcard round is. I do it every time there is a tournament in China and you will be relieved to hear that I flatly refuse to go down that road again.

OK, so what if they are completely unfair on the players that have earned their right to be in this tournament and earn their crust as a professional in the sport? Why should I go on about this all the time?

So what if they now have APTC’s to compete in over there to get the experience they need? I don’t have to mention that AGAIN do I?

So what if this is just giving the future Chinese players an advantage over all future generations in other countries? It’s not as if I am achieving anything by going on about it.

Who cares but a jot that these players are fully acclimatised to the playing conditions and they are facing someone who has just stepped off a plane that might or might not have their cue on it? What is the point of boring everyone senseless going on about it all the time?

Oh.

Anyway, tomorrow sees six of these (spits into a metal bucket with a loud *ping*) players that have no right to be playing up against six that do and I hope all results go the right and just way and the main tour players progress easily. Also there are two first rounders, Shaun Murphy takes on Andrew Higginson and Neil Robertson takes on Ryan Day.

Oh by the way, Chengdu is famous for giant pandas.

Enough now, to the day one preview….blog partners Apollobet have match betting including handicap and correct scores here for anyone that would like a punt with them.

Sunday October 28 

6.30am
6) Cao Yupeng v Wang Yuchen – Result 6-5 Yupeng
13) Shaun Murphy v Andrew Higginson – Result 6-0 Murphy
1) Michael White v Lu Haotian – Result 6-5 Haotian
2) Ken Doherty v Zhao Xintong – Result 6-5 Xintong

Shaun Murphy has a 3-0 head to head lead over Andrew Higginson and will start a hefty favourite with most for their first round match tomorrow. Shaun claimed in Shanghai that he was ‘feeling like a snooker player again’ after a rocky start to the season and has travelled over to Chengdu proclaiming this to be the first big event of the season. As ever, a focused Smurf is a dangerous Smurf and I can’t see Higginson turning him over here. Wang Yuchen has played two professional matches, he is yet to win a frame so it would be a major shock if Cao Yupeng were to not progress, despite a recent hand injury that forced him out of EPTC2, assuming he’s recovered he should be a shoo-in. Lu Haotian is a player that a lot of people are talking about as a future star and a win over Marco Fu in Shanghai confirmed that this is a kid who can handle the big occasion, he faces Michael White who himself is making giant strides of late, particularly when it comes to the ranking list, with Ronnie out of it this becomes a huge match for the Welshman with a last 16 place up for grabs, I think he’ll grab it with both hands and sincerely hope he does. Zhao Xintong is another that is very highly rated in China and he has given Stephen Lee and Mark King scares in his short career to date, he has also beaten Yu Delu and Xiao Guodong in an APTC, he faces the experience of Ken Doherty and it would be a shock if he were to outwit one of the cleverest snooker brains in the game.

11.30am
12) Neil Robertson v Ryan Day Result: 6-3 Robertson
5) Aditya Mehta v Zhu Yinghui
4) Fergal O’Brien v Chen Feilong
7) Jamie Burnett v Niu Zhuang Result: 6-0 Burnett 

Neil Robertson and Ryan Day have not met in professional competition for over 4 years, in which time Neil has become World Champion and Ryan has slipped down the rankings, making a mini-recovery in Sheffield in April by reaching the quarter finals. Neither of the two seem to play their best in China so you must simply side with the player who is showing the best form of late and that of course is Robertson, it remains to be seen if he can start producing the stuff we know he can over there any time soon. Zhu Yinghui is a dangerous opponent for India’s Aditya Mehta, who worked so hard to get to his first venue in the qualifiers, his opponent has beaten Michael Holt and Dom Dale in wildcard rounds before but lost his latest to Steve Davis, whilst I think this might be close I do fancy Mehta to go through. Chen Feilong beat his opponent tomorrow Fergal O’Brien 5-2 just last month in Shanghai and the Ferginator now returns to try and get revenge, I hope he wins but I think that might be the one that I’ll be swearing about on Twitter at the end of the day. The only form guide we have to Jamie Burnett’s opponent Niu Zhuang is a win over Stuart Bingham 4-3 in APTC2, I know nothing about him so that’s a match best left alone if he can produce a result like that, but Burnett is experienced and in good form, a tie with Stephen Maguire awaits.

Recommended Bets: 3 points on Murphy at 7/15 with Pinnacle. 2 point treble on Murphy, Yupeng and Mehta pays just on 6/4 at Apollobet.

October 26, 2012

Ronnie Pulls Out of International Championship

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:59 pm

Withdrawal Symptoms

Ronnie O’Sullivan has pulled out of the lucrative International Championship in Chengdu which starts on Sunday with the following statement posted on the Grove Snooker website.

‘I’m very sorry that I had to officially withdraw from the International Championship, due to ongoing health problems’

‘I would have loved to be fit to compete in Chengdu but I have been advised by my doctor not to travel. I want to sincerely apologise to Worldsnooker (sic) the sponsors and the fans for the disappointment caused. I look forward to see you all soon’

This follows his announcement yesterday that he was regretting entering any of the tournaments that he has, which include the UK Championship and the Masters. He did of course last night complete his Legends in Liverpool with Jimmy White.

It remains to be seen whether we will see his smiling face at either of the big UK events either side of Christmas.

The Deep Heat Is On: It’s the World Seniors

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:47 am

The crowd are looking forward to this

It’s that time of year again, the time when all the elder statesmen of snooker get together to exchange stories about the increasing price of fish, dead and terminally ill golf buddies, why the youth of today have no respect for their elders and why national service should come back. Yes, it’s time for the World Seniors Championship from Portsmouth, by the sea.

I have to say that I quite enjoyed this last year, mostly from an entertainment perspective although I seem to remember landing the odd match bet or two and despite the fact that there are main tour players competing again, Licensed to Pot Nigel Bond, The Nugget, The Whirlwind and Tornado Tony Drago it may again prove to be enjoyable to watch some of the old faces renewing old rivalries on tables with pockets the size of dustbin lids.

Darren Morgan won it last year of course and he was by far the best player on show, he’ll fancy his chances of retaining the title as he opens up against good old Joe Johnson, who is taking a break from his Eurosport duties to take to the baize again. It would be something of a shock if Welshman Dazza, who used to have a red sports car with the registration H1 BAB5 (Hi Babe) came unstuck against Uncle Joe.

Nigel Bond had to qualify for this which is a bit weird but he takes on Dennis first up. Den can still play a bit but given his lack of Legends preparation this time you’d expect Nigel to wipe the floor with old four eyes.

A follower on Twitter has told me that Barry West quite fancies his chances in this. All I can remember of Barry from his heyday was how tediously slow he was but it did get him results, he plays Kiwi Dene O’Kane, who used to have awful hair which resembled a ferret with it’s paw stuck in a electric plug socket. If West is prepared for this and the shot clock doesn’t put him off his policeman-like stride he might be worth a bet.

Steve Davis v Cliff Thorburn was one of the first matches I remember watching as a kid, the 1981 World Championship semi-final I recall when the Nugget still had ginger hair and lots of it and was about to start his domination of the sport for a decade, making untold fortunes with his gaffer Bazza along the way. Cliff was the Rhett Butler of Snooker and had ladies swooning at his feet, a real class act, the Grinder used all his trickery to get results, that one will bring back memories but you’d expect Steve to come through.

In the evening Tony Drago opens up against Tony Chappel, now then, now then, none other Mark J Williams has told me to ‘get on’ Chappel at 80’s to win it. As ever, I have no idea if he’s winding me up but there you have it. Karl Townsend (who?) very nearly stole the show last year and this time takes on the Bolton Stud and best shagger the baize has ever known, Tony Knowles. It’s great to see Knowlsey back on our screens and doubtless after the match he’ll be indulging in a bit of off-screen entertainment which has always been on tap for him at a mere click of his fingers, get in there Tony lad.

Jimmy Hill lookalike Alain (or Elaine) Robidoux is also coming over from Canada to play Les Dodd from Southport, a former slimmer of the year who hasn’t really kept up the regime after winning this coveted title. Les is a jovial chap who usually plays in the World Championship and is a familiar face around the circuit who obviously still loves the game, I beat him 3-1 at Pontins once when he was a decent pro by the way, just thought I’d get that in.

Alain Robidoux (I think)

Finally, Jimmy heads down South fresh from his Legends cash register tour with Ronnie, assuming of course his car didn’t get nicked last night, I asked the boys to look after it for him. He plays Mike Hallett who will doubtless be playing cross-doubles and calling Jimmy careless when he misses, surely Jimbo is a shoo-in for that one.

Anyway, it’s probably worth a bet on a few of these, despite the fact that they are best of 3 with a shot clock and pockets the size of Surrey, the prize money alone should be enough to ensure they are all trying so here goes:

Recommended Bets: 3 point treble on Morgan, Bond and White pays over 5/4 at Totesport. Add Townsend for a 2 point 4 fold that pays nearly 3/1 at the same firm. Add Davis for a 1 point 5 fold that pays over 4/1 at the same firm.

2 points on Jimmy White to win the World Seniors at 4/1 with Ladbrokes. 

Match schedule

Saturday October 27  

1.00 pm
Darren Morgan 2-0 Joe Johnson
Dennis Taylor 0-2 Nigel Bond
Dene O’Kane 2-0 Barry West
Steve Davis 2-1 Cliff Thorburn

7.00 pm
Tony Drago 1-2 Tony Chappel
Karl Townsend 1-2 Tony Knowles
Alain Robidoux 2-0 Les Dodd
Mike Hallett 0-2 Jimmy White

Sunday October 28 

1pm

Quarter-finals (Random Draw)

Steve Davis v Darren Morgan
Dene O’Kane v Jimmy White
Alain Robidoux v Tony Chappel
Tony Knowles v Nigel Bond

7pm

Semi-finals & Final

October 25, 2012

Snooker is ‘Institutionally Racist’ says BBC caller

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:06 pm

Pure Coincidence

It’s good having eagle-eyed or in this case bat-eared followers on Twitter as sometimes they alert you to things that you would otherwise have missed.

Every morning in the UK a man called Nicky Campbell who used to host Wheel of Fortune on the telly has a radio phone-in about the issues of the day. Today part of this discussion turned to racism in sport and that is when a caller, I’m sure coincidentally called ‘Joe’ decided to turn his attention to what he called a ‘massive problem’ of racism in the world of snooker.

He claims that as a black man, attempts he made to make it big in the game were ‘frowned upon’ and that a big company set to sponsor poor old Joe pulled out of the deal on discovering he was black.

He points to the lack of black players in the game, though he fails to mention the Asian players on the tour but it’s clear Joe, who claims to have a friend in the top 60 of the sport isn’t impressed with the way snooker is run.

You can hear Joe’s comments in full here and by moving the cursor to 46.30. Many thanks to the USA Snooker Association who came across this, at least somebody was listening.

October 23, 2012

International Championship: Trump Can Blast Away Demons

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:02 pm

Hot under the collar in Shanghai and Sheffield

Sunday sees the start of the most financially prestigious tournament in Chinese snooker history as the International Championship gets underway from the Sichuan International Tennis Center in Chengdu. 

This is the richest world ranking event ever staged in Asia, with the winner to collect £125,000 from a total prize fund of £600,000. More amazingly to me is that it also sees a brand new format for a Chinese event and a break from the tired old routine of all the others.

Sadly, this doesn’t mean we have seen the back of my personal bugbear, the pointless and unfair wildcard round which will undoubtedly again claim a couple of scalps from players that have earned the right to be there competing for the big prizes.

They (The Chinese) have however at least attempted to appease me by making the matches longer, with best of 11 frame encounters right up to the two session best of 17 semi-finals (bliss) and the best of 19 frame final (should be a two day job and best of 25 covered on ITV finishing on a Sunday afternoon like the Mercantile Credit Classic, Jimmy v Cliff, those where the days), making this something of a mini-world championship. AND I MEAN MINI.

This is most welcome and makes the tournament, which is covered in full by Eurosport, something that we can really get our teeth into from a betting point of view and a nice pre-cursor to the UK and the Masters which are just around the corner. Think of this as Bazza’s early Christmas present to us loyal baize followers, or think more darkly like I do.

The event also sees the return to full-ranking action of Ronnie O’Sullivan who comes back from his rest and Legends gig with Jimmy to show us what he can do. It’s very difficult to assess whether he’ll continue where he left off in Sheffield here or resemble the frankly dreadful and blatantly un-arsed player we witnessed when he lost to Simon Bedford in a recent PTC on his only competitive match since lifting the Crucible crown so brilliantly. One assumes with the size of the purse up for grabs he will at least try this time.

One person that will not be lining up for a crack at the big money is Stephen Lee, as investigations continue into whether he’s already landed the big money in other ways following his recent match against John Higgins in the Premier League which was reported here and led to an immediate ban being imposed on the under-fire Trowbridge man. This means that our old friend and carrot cruncher Peter Ebdon will receive a bye into the last 16 which at least saves on the electricity bill for the table lights at the venue, though with all the carrots he is eating he probably doesn’t need them.

You can view the now traditionally awful World Snooker PDF of the draw here but for a more interactive guide to both plan your bets and to enter a competition click here and bang your selections in the ongoing season-long contest which I personally have donated 100 Euros to as a prize for the season winner, that’s real money folks.

Talking of prediction contests, this season’s blog partner Apollobet have again generously donated a £50 free bet for the winner of the traditional blog contest here. It’s a bit of a landmark this one as this now means that since starting the blog (not yet 3 years ago) free bet giveaways to contest winners total over £3000, hopefully some of you have put them to good use and not simply been careless with them.

Anyway, now to the matter in hand and the outright preview, the match betting one will follow on a daily basis starting on Saturday with my look at Sunday’s matches. It’s a big event this and make no mistake they will all want to win it, as well as the money this may well end up being the most prestigious tournament in Chinese snooker so who wouldn’t want to win it first?

Quarter One:

Ronnie will start out with a match against either the improving Welshman Michael White or Chinese infant and part-time chimney-sweep Lu Haotian who is one of the crop of youngsters heralded by many as the future of snooker (I’ll get mee coat). Despite this, you would expect the World Champion to come through safely enough there, though I would love to see the hugely improved Welshman White push him close. Waiting for O’Sullivan could be dogged Scot Graeme Dott and if Ronnie isn’t in tip top shape I fancy that Dotty is just the sort of player that might send him packing, they have played three times over best of 11 and Dott leads 2-1, it would not surprise me if the vastly experienced, hard-working and fearless Scot came through there as I expect him to beat Coventry born Welshman Dominic Dale in the first round. Seasoned traveller Neil Robertson is gradually getting a bit better in China though he got thumped 5-0 by Joe Perry in Shanghai and it remains to be seen if he sports his unlucky curly-haired look again, he is in form and will fancy his chances of making it through to the Quarter Finals unscathed, although Ryan Day may have something to say about that as might Matthew Stevens, who in truth is yet to find any form this season and may be one to watch as the season goes on. Overall Robbo’s record in China is too poor to back him with any confidence and I’d rather take the much bigger price about Dott that is on offer as he continues to be underestimated at the bookies (much to his annoyance if his book is anything to go by) and at least he is a proven winner in China, albeit a while back and we know he likes the longer format and is not in the inexplicably terrible form he was in at the Crucible, he also tends to play better on TV, where he will surely be if he faces Ronnie, who might of course just turn up and walk it…

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Dott to win the International Championship at 50/1 with Skybet.

What is wrong with the Sheffield man?

Quarter Two:

What is wrong with Ding Junhui on home turf lately? Nothing. He plays fine in the UK but he is worshipped in China and now seems to struggle to find his best form there. The national hero and still the best Chinese player ever to grace the game faces a wildcard first up and then either Shaun Murphy or Andrew Higginson, who will both take some beating. Personally however, I think the winner of this section will come from the bottom set of matches. Martin Gould is desperate for ranking points to get back into the top 16 and faces Marco Fu, who is showing some improved form lately, meanwhile the most successful player ever in China Mark Williams faces Dark Mavis first up but having beaten Mavis very easily in all their previous 3 main ranking tour meetings he’ll be confident of coming through that one I should think. On balance and given his proven pedigree over there, it has to be MJW, though I don’t think the eventual winner will come from this section (they will still give Ding a cup at the end though).

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Williams to win the International Championship at 16/1 generally. 

Quarter Three:

It doesn’t get any easier as Judd Trump, John Higgins and Mark Allen all compete in this section of the draw, along with perennial dark horse Stuart Bingham, who is also in decent form. The final in Shanghai between Trump and Higgins was fantastic, as was the semi-final Trump contested against MJW the day before, there are those that feel the loss to Higgins coupled with ‘that’ comeback by Ali Carter against Trump at the Crucible have brought him down a peg or two, but I’m not one of them. The match against Ali was as tense as can be and the Crucible does strange things to a player (trust me, it is as close to a Crucible match as I have ever been) but being there I always had the sense that Ali would win, to some extent the same feeling I think everyone had with Higgins when he started on the comeback trail. But I don’t think Judd is the type to dwell on such things and of the three main names mentioned he is the one that has the best chance of making the Quarter Final unscathed, where he will surely meet Antwerp winner Allen or Shanghai Master Higgins. It’s rare that a player wins two events on the bounce these days (Allen), it’s even rarer that a player wins two main rankers on the bounce (Higgins), so I’m going to side with Judd as my main fancy as I reckon it could be his turn this time in a country where he also produces some of his best snooker.

Recommended Bet: 3 points win on Trump to win the International Championship at 13/2 with Apollobet (back it here).  

Quarter Four:

Stephen Maguire has started the season very consistently and has a possible tussle against his (and mine, as he won me loads of dosh not long back) great pal Jamie Burnett first up for the right to face Peter Ebdon, this being something that Mags has done on his last two trips to China, the score being one each with Ebdon taking the marathon China Open Final in a decider in April and Mags gaining revenge in Shanghai over the shorter format 5-3. Also in the section is another ranking winner from this season Ricky Walden, who won the Wuxi Classic, Ricky faces the winner of arguably the tie of the first round Mark Selby v Ali Carter. They met in the Antwerp semi-final and Selby absolutely steamrollered Ali and that kind of beating will be hard for the Captain to forget. For me this section is a toss up between Maguire and Selby, with Mags at double the price of Selby and with the easier draw of the two and a fairly even head to head. I’m happy to side with him.

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Maguire to win the International Championship at 18/1 with Betfred.

To open an online account with Apollobet click the banner below and receive a free £20 matched bet, you can view their extensive prices on this event by clicking here, including comprehensive match betting and tournament highest break odds.  

 

International Championship Prediction Contest

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:34 am

Sunday sees the start of the lucrative International Championship in China and once again blog partners Apollobet have put up a £50 free bet as a Prediction Contest prize.

Have a look at the groups below and choose your team of 8 for next week.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
Choose 2 Choose 2 Choose 2 Choose 2
(WC Round included)      
Michael White Mark Selby Stuart Bingham Ryan Day
Ken Doherty Shaun Murphy Ding Junhui Andrew Higginson
Aditya Mehta John Higgins Martin Gould Marco Fu
Cao Yupeng Stephen Maguire Ali Carter Peter Ebdon
Jamie Burnett Mark Williams Ricky Walden Dark Mavis
Fergal O’Brien Neil Robertson Matthew Stevens Rob Milkins
Barry Pinches Ronnie O’Sullivan Graeme Dott Dominic Dale
Lu Haotian Judd Trump Mark Allen Zhou Yuelong

HOW IT WORKS

Select two players from each group

For every frame your player wins you will score 1 point

If your player wins the tournament you score a further 10 points

If your player has a 147 break in the tournament you score a further 15 points

The usual rules apply regarding anonymous or multiple entries

To enter simply go to the comments section and enter your team together with your username and valid email address in the boxes provided (only I can see the email address)

Entries close when the first ball is struck on Sunday morning.  

GOOD LUCK 

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