Snookerbacker

November 30, 2012

United Kingdom Snooker Championship Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:21 pm

Some people think the BBC is a load of…….take your pick, they did the graphics.

It’s here. It might not be the most prestigious event of the season so far in terms of prize money but that matters not a jot.

This is the UK Championship, this has history, this has prestige and that is what makes it special. There are some things that money can’t buy and while I am all for exploring new territories whilst retaining some balance that is why these shores are and will remain, the true home of snooker.

If that sounds jingoistic I don’t care. The governing body must retain some of this history and not go chasing the fast buck, if we lose even one of the remaining three big events to China, we have sold our snooker soul. Any players that think it’s worth chasing the money for these events to the highest bidder are wrong. One day they will realise this and regret their stupid and ignorant stance on the matter.

However, happily I don’t think there are many players out there with real ambition that don’t want to win a historic event in the country it should be played in, there’s hope yet.

Add to this that snooker is back on the BBC in winter and in my view is something to savour, it’s a pair of comfy slippers and a hot steaming cup of fluffiness.

OK, you may not like the way it’s sometimes dumbed down so much as to reach Senile Ethel at the Old Peoples Home in Bournemouth (she loves her snooker, doesn’t matter that it’s on her Sanyo 12 inch black and white portable TV which hasn’t been working since the digital switchover) and Wayward Wayne at the Young Offenders Institute in Salford (it’s the only thing that calms the little bastard down and stops him self-harming), but it’s all we’ve got and I welcome the team back with open arms, which I’ll probably happily close in a week’s time.

Day One, unusually (I think) does not see the defending champion in action. But don’t worry about that, this is a quality field and we have six great matches to watch. The red button coverage has been curtailed of course so online for certain matches will be the only way forward, but we should be thankful for that at least in these tough economic and hard times at the BBC.

Of course for viewers outside of the UK, a lot of whom I know read this tripe, they will get their usual service from Eurosport, who should be praised for the work they have done in putting snooker out there for johnny foreigner to watch.

But all I’ll say is this. Hands off the UK, Masters and the World Championship. It belongs here, at the home of snooker and I can’t bloody well wait for a week of it. I’m off to York on Tuesday, but until then, it’s freezing outside, I have a stinking cold so I’ll be joining Wayne, Ethel and hopefully millions of others in front of the TV tomorrow morning with the heating and slippers on, dogs walked and fast asleep, Mrs SB snoozing and kettle and buttered toast on the go, to take the rise out of the BBC coverage on Twitter.

Join me, you know you want to.

All predictions and recommended bets for the first round are on the main preview, you should check out Apollobet’s match prices too here. OK they the current blog partners but this season they have been the best snooker bookies out there.

11am 

John Higgins 6-3 Michael Holt
Barry Hawkins 6-4 Liang Wenbo

Not Before 2pm

Ding Junhui v Ryan Day
Stephen Maguire v Fergal O’Brien

7pm

Mark Selby v Michael White
Graeme Dott v Martin Gould

Open an account with Apollobet and get a free £20 matched bet by clicking the banner below. 

UK Championship Big Preview: It Has to be Higgins

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:00 am

Higgins: In great form.

The 36th UK Snooker Championship gets underway from the Barbican in the fantastic city of York on Saturday and incredibly is the first time that some ‘mainstream’ snooker fans will have seen any of the players since May.

It’s time to welcome back Hazel, Rishi, Steve, JP, JV, Dennis, Willie, Ken and Mr Hendry and anyone else on the BBC team who will no doubt trot out the same old clichés and one-liners, timeless anecdotes, messages for sick/dying/dead golf pals, increasingly obscure features and regulation V-Neck jumpers for the viewing public.

But given that BBC events are now getting rarer than a sighting of Ronnie O’Sullivan in China and now that the winter evenings are upon us in the UK, let’s thank whoever you’d like to thank for small mercies. Whatever you say or think about the team at the Beeb and with the greatest respect to the chaps at Eurosport, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

The event itself is steeped in history and is usually won by one of the big names of the sport, Judd Trump becoming the 19th man to claim victory last season in a great final against Mark Allen. Looking at the list of champions, the man at the top is a certain Mr Steve Davis, who first won it 32 years ago in only the fourth event of its kind. This makes it all the more remarkable that he is still competing at this level and has again qualified to the main venue itself. Dave Hendon charts the great man’s love affair with the UK Championship here.

I had the pleasure of watching some of the greats live when the event was held at the Preston Guild Hall including Steve, Alex, Jimmy, Terry and countless others. Little did I suspect as a mere baize-obsessed nipper all those years ago that close on 30 years later I’d be behind the scenes at the same event, if at a different venue, waffling on about it to anyone who’ll listen. I’ll be travelling to York on Tuesday but before then I’ll be where most people will be, in front of the TV with a cup of tea taking the piss out of the BBC, happy days.

It may be a slightly shorter format these days for the earlier rounds, but the UK still has the feel of a ‘proper’ event, an inevitable by-product of it’s history which like the class displayed by Mr Davis is something that money cannot buy, no matter how hard some might try.

Newly crowned World Number 1 Judd is back to defend his title and is in the middle of a fine run of form having won the most prestigious event of the season so far, the International Championship in China, as well as finishing runner-up to John Higgins in the Shanghai Masters. Higgins is also in good shape and has already bettered what was a poor period for him last season and looks almost back to his old self again. Whilst these two will be seen as the form horses going into this Barry Hawkins and Ricky Walden are both main ranking event winners this season too, while smaller events have been won by the likes of Neil Robertson, Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Stephen Maguire, Martin Gould and Premier League King Stuart Bingham.

Two players that are not competing are world champion O’Sullivan who is on a well-publicised self-imposed break and Stephen Lee who is on an enforced suspension.

Amongst the qualifiers joining the Nugget is Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel, who also qualified for the Crucible last season. He’s shown some very impressive form in coming through four matches to get here, including a 6-1 victory over former UK and World Champion Peter Ebdon, who misses out this time. Michael White and Jack Lisowski also line-up in the last 32, two young players that are tipped for greater things in the future. White’s rise up the rankings in particular this season is making people take note of him and he faces Mark Selby first up.

Blog partners Apollobet have an extensive range of prices. You might also want to take note that they have a refund offer on outright bets should Mark Selby win the title, worth bearing in mind as an insurance policy in what is one of the most hotly contested, busiest betting weeks of the year.

Right, that’s enough chinwag from me. Here goes nothing…..

Quarter One

Judd Trump v Mark Joyce (2pm 2/12) H2H: 4-1
Ali Carter v Steve Davis (2pm 2/12) H2H: 5-2
Stuart Bingham v Jack Lisowski (7pm 2/12) H2H: 0-1
Stephen Maguire v Fergal O’Brien (2pm 1/12) H2H: 4-0

The Captain faces The Nugget

Judd Trump’s head to head over his opponent Mark Joyce masks a defeat in this very championship in 2010, when Joyce beat young Judders 9-7 and made it into the Quarter Finals, this remains his best run in a main ranker. Joyce is in decent form too and qualified with solid wins over Andy Hicks and Jamie Cope, but you just can’t see him troubling the man of the moment here I shouldn’t think and Judd and the bosses at the Beeb will be very annoyed if he comes unstuck this early on. The Captain Ali Carter has been handed the task of spoiling the nostalgia party and faces The Nugget for a possible Crucible rematch with Judd in the next round. The pair actually met in this event in 2003, with Ali winning 9-6 on that occasion, Steve qualified in style, knocking in big centuries to boot and coming back from 4-0 down in one match as only he can. Reports from Ali’s camp are good however and I wouldn’t back against him even with a sentimental one pound note. Stuart Bingham is having a fantastic season so far, not just with Premier League success but also with 2 Asian PTC wins under his belt and a string of consistent performances including a runners-up spot to Ricky Walden in Wuxi. He faces Judd’s pal and go-karting rival (cue obscure BBC feature) Jack Lisowski, who has struggled a bit with nerves on the TV in the past but is getting more experience as the days go by, on balance you’d have to fancy the seeded player again but that’s one that could go either way if Jack is on his game. Fergal O’Brien AKA The Ferginator takes on the master cuebanger Maguire who he has never beaten. The only way I see Fergal getting anything out of this match is by frustrating his opponent, but Mags very seldom loses to players outside the upper echelons and it would be something of an upset if that trend was bucked here. In terms of the draw, you’d have to say that Trump’s could have been worse, there is no such thing as an easy draw but I think his arguably more favourable one than some of the other big hitters in the bottom half has contributed to him being favourite to win it. Nevertheless, Maguire is no push over and comes here after a fortnight off, preferring not to enter Bulgaria presumably to get tuned for this. He has a 3-1 head to head lead over Judd although he did lose to him here last year, at the prices I’d rather back him at 20’s than Judd at 4’s. If you do fancy Judd however he is best priced 4/1 at Apollobet (with the Selby insurance clause).

Predicted First Round Winners: Trump, Carter, Bingham, Maguire.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Maguire

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Maguire to win the Quarter at 11/4 with Apollobet. 1 point each way on Maguire to win the UK Championship at 20/1 with BetVictor

Quarter Two

Mark Williams v Mark King (7pm 3/12) H2H: 6-6
Ricky Walden v Luca Brecel (7pm 3/12) H2H: 0-0
Graeme Dott v Martin Gould (7pm 1/12) H2H: 1-1
Shaun Murphy v Robert Milkins (11am 2/12) H2H: 1-1

King: Good recent record over MJW

The two Mark’s do battle first off and they are locked in a bald head-to-head duel at 6-6. It’s actually King who has won the last 4 meetings between the pair, although one was a minor event (Championship League). But the last two times they have met in main rankers, both in China, King has won very comfortably. I don’t think MJW is playing anywhere near his best recently and the way King qualified with a 6-0 win over Xiao Guodong is enough to suggest that there may be an upset on the cards here, at the prices King might even be worth a ‘just in case’ punt for the quarter. Ricky Walden is handed the task of dodging the Belgian Bullet and had a great run at this venue last season making the semi-finals. Ricky’s PTC form has been a bit in and out but his main ranking form has been solid, he won in Wuxi of course and reached the Quarter Finals in the International. Luca is still learning his trade but is a very cool customer and is what I’d best describe as a banana-skin for Ricky. For me he still goes for one too many but that is the confidence of youth and if he gets the rub it can pay off (just ask Judd), but Ricky has the experience to cope with this now and I think he will in a venue he likes at a time when it’s likely to be packed. A real tough one to call is Dott v Gould, Martin qualified against a tough opponent and confidence is a big thing with him, Dotty is another who chose to skip Bulgaria while Gould went over to be whitewashed by Barry Hawkins ahead of qualifying for this, I just can’t call this one as I feel it’s a coin toss, so the value is Gould at odds against. The bottom match in this section finds Shaun Murphy up against Rob Milkins, their head-to-head spans two matches over seven years and Murphy won the most recent 4-1 in a PTC. Shaun looked in fine shape up until the semi-finals of the International Championship and he continues to struggle to maintain his high standard for the duration of events. But he usually starts the big events well prepared and I’m happy to side with him in what is another close call, Milkins is generally a player that the seeds would want to avoid this early on.

Predicted First Round Winners: King, Walden, Gould, Murphy.  

Predicted Quarter Winner: Walden

Recommended Bet: 1 point on King to win the quarter at 22/1 with Apollobet.

Quarter Three

John Higgins v Michael Holt (11am 1/12) H2H: 6-2
Dark Mavis v Cao Yupeng (11am 2/12) H2H: 0-0
Matthew Stevens v Dominic Dale (1pm 3/12) H2H: 3-2
Mark Allen v Marco Fu (7pm 2/12) H2H: 2-1

Last year’s finalist, 20’s taken.

It goes without saying that John Higgins is one of the main contenders in this, he starts off against Michael Holt and has a decent head to head against the Hitman. In main ranking events, that is outside of the PTC’s, Higgins has never lost to Holt and it would be a brave or foolish man that bet on it happening for the first time here. China’s Cao Yupeng’s fine form continues and he finds himself in the last 32 after wins over Marcus Campbell, Dave Harold and Liam Highfield, he now faces his pink stablemate Dark Mavis for the first time. Mavis is not the inexperienced camera-shy player of old and is now a pretty consistent performer and a regular face on our screens, Yupeng now also has the experience of winning on the big stage having famously knocked Mark Allen out at the Crucible so this could be a close one, but on balance I will side with Mavis as I continually under-rate him and that is turning into a costly mistake. Matthew Stevens has been largely invisible this season since making the semi-finals at the Crucible and his campaign could do with kicking off soon, he faces his pal Dom Dale and for me this is an ideal draw for Matthew. I think if he’d have been facing an unfamiliar opponent such as Yupeng he might have struggled but I’d actually have him as one of the better bets of Round 1 in a match that may finally ignite his season. Finally, it’s Mark Allen and the man he ermm ‘mentioned’ in a speech that got him a big fine in Sheffield, Marco Fu. Marco is another that the seeded players look to avoid early on and his years of experience make him still a formidable opponent. Allen is someone that I have backed already to win this at 20/1 (recommended in early October) and his price, as expected has shortened markedly. I think the winner of the tournament will come from this section and for me it’s either Mark or Higgins, which is the match up I’d expect in the Quarters. I’d be happy either way as Higgins will be other main pick in the outrights.

Predicted First Round Winners:

Higgins, Mavis, Stevens, Allen.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Higgins

Recommended Bet: 3 points win on Higgins to win the UK Championship at 15/2 with Bet Victor.  

Previously Recommended 03/10/12: 2.5 points on Allen to win the UK at 20/1 with Stan James (now best priced 14/1 at Apollobet with the Selby insurance)

Quarter Four

Neil Robertson v Tom Ford (1pm 3/12) H2H: 2-0
Barry Hawkins v Liang Wenbo (11am 1/12) H2H: 1-0
Ding Junhui v Ryan Day (2pm 1/12) H2H: 5-1
Mark Selby v Michael White (7pm 1/12) H2H: 0-0

Ding: Under the Radar?

Neil Robertson will be bang up for this again and has been saying as much in the run up to the event. The tough as granite Aussie will fancy his chances in what I’m sure he will see as a winnable section of the draw. First up he faces Tom Ford who made a maximum last week and then qualified easily with a crushing and nifty defeat of Yu Delu. It’s no easy opener for Robbo but the two met at exactly the same stage here last year with Robbo winning 6-1 having two years earlier met for the first time at this stage and won 9-3, weirdly this being the only two times, now to be three that they have played each other anywhere. Robbo has to be a strong candidate for your accumulators there, though I detect he’s not yet showing the kind of form that suggests he will win it, but you never know with Robbo as these events tend to bring out the best in him. Liang Wenbo comes here in great form and faces Barry Hawkins, the main beneficiary of Ronnie and Lee’s absence from this as World Number 18. Hawkins is a winner already this season but with the form Liang showed to get here with a 6-0 thumping of Andrew Higginson and the way he played to do it I think the bookies might have overpriced him for this one personally, he has a great chance of making the second round and will be pleased with his first round draw. His fellow countryman and former UK Champion Ding has a strong head to head record over Ryan Day but Ryan won the most important match the two played at the Crucible in April. I was right down in the pit of the arena for that one and I can tell you that Ding fell apart while Day held himself together admirably, it signaled to me one thing that I have always suspected, that while the World Championship is held at the Crucible, Ding will never win it. Here however is a different matter and Ding looked relaxed at the venue last year and enjoyed some huge support largely courtesy of some Chinese students that attended, which I assume they will again, I think he’ll get his revenge on Day here. Finally, Mark Selby takes on improving Welsh youngster Michael White in what is the biggest match of his life so far, White that is… It’s a huge ask for him to come here and beat one of the most consistent and best match players on the tour and I just hope he enjoys the experience and doesn’t crumble, but I’d be amazed if he got a result. Selby isn’t in tip-top form, but he very rarely loses to unseeded players in the big ones, even when he isn’t at his best he tends to grind out the win.

Predicted First Round Winners: Robertson, Wenbo, Ding, Selby.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Ding.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Ding to win the Quarter at 5/2 with Apollobet.

Match Betting Recommended Bets:

4 points Acca on Robertson, Higgins, Walden, Maguire and Selby pays just under 10/3 at Boylesports.

Add Ding for a 1 point Acca that pays almost 5/1 at Boylesports.

Add Stevens for a 1 point Acca that pays just over 8/1 at Boylesports.

Add both plus Murphy for a 1 point Acca that pays almost 11.5/1 at Boylesports.

2 points on King to beat Williams at 12/5 with Sportingbet

2 points on Wenbo to beat Hawkins at 6/4 with Paddy Power

1 point double on the two at almost 7/1 with Sportingbet

Special: 2 points on there being a 147 break at any time in the Championship YES at 11/5 with Betfred.  

Thanks as ever to Monique Limbos for the main image of John Higgins. 

German Masters Final Qualifying Day

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:52 am

What nearly all Germans look like, except Boris Becker although he does look a bit like the one at the back.

It’s the final day of qualifying in Sheffield before the big one starts tomorrow, this event being somewhat overshadowed by pictures of Mark Allen in a canoe, Judd saying that £300k a year isn’t enough cash and that he doesn’t care if people don’t like him (sound familiar?) and none of the other contenders for the UK Championship saying anything really.

Personally I would say that the flatter structure of qualifiers which has been adopted for the first time in this is the future. It’s much fairer and I’d actually say that the way this event has been formatted is just about perfect. I still feel there has to be some reward for being a top 32 (rather than a top 16) player and if that means playing one less round than everyone else then so be it.

The structure makes the pursuit of a top 32 place a lot more realistic for the pro’s lower down the list and that has to be a good thing rather than them continually ploughing through 3 matches only to be dumped out by a much bigger name in the round before the venue. It also totally does away with the wildcard system, which the German sponsors have sensibly dropped any demand for this season, take note China.

Interestingly, those who have made it to York aren’t doing too well on the whole so far. Luca Brecel, Steve Davis, Martin Gould, Dark Mavis, Jack Lisowski and Cao Yupeng all being knocked out. The only exception so far is Ali Carter, the Captain whitewashed Rory McLeod in no time at all last night.

There are plenty of others playing today that will also be in action in York, among them are seeded players Stuart Bingham, Matthew Stevens, Ricky Walden, Graeme Dott and Barry Hawkins, whose match has been rescheduled to this morning as he plays at York in the first session tomorrow against Liang Wenbo, who also plays in this morning against Dott.

The betting has been a bit up and down and again just the odd frame is skewing things, the big one is coming, it has to be. Brecel losing yesterday was a blow and at 3-0 up he looked for all the world like a surefire winner after a blistering start but it was a great performance of matchplay from Barry Pinches to get back into it and he was marginally the less careless of the two in a scrappy decider. Hamilton’s 5-0 win over the struggling Jamie Cope last night did repair some of the damage though at what I thought was a generous 11/8 given how well The Sheriff played the previous day.

So to the final day of qualifiers:

10am

39) Michael Holt v Tian Pengfei
42) Peter Ebdon v Michael Wasley
43) Andrew Higginson v Zhang Anda
44) Stuart Bingham v Rod Lawler
45) Graeme Dott v Liang Wenbo
60) Barry Hawkins v Sam Baird

Recommended Morning Bet: 4×1 point singles and a 2 point acca at Apollobet on Wasley (4/6), Anda (8/15), Wenbo (4/9) and Lawler (8/15) all +2.5 frames. 1 point on Wasley to beat Ebdon at 12/5 with Apollobet. 1 point on Wenbo to beat Dott at 6/4 with the same firm. 

2.30pm

46) Ryan Day v Dave Harold
47) Robert Milkins v Chen Zhe
50) Ken Doherty v Adam Duffy
51) Marco Fu v Matthew Selt
52) Ricky Walden v Alfie Burden
53) Matthew Stevens v Pankaj Advani

Recommended Afternoon Bet: Not a lot out there for me this afternoon, three out of four as usual this morning but a nice win for Wasley (12/5). Don’t really fancy anything strongly. Small 1 point treble on Day, Doherty and Walden pays 21/10 at Apollobet

7pm

38) Tom Ford v Kurt Maflin
54) Jamie Burnett v Mark Joyce
55) Mark King v Barry Pinches
59) Fergal O’Brien v Dechewat Poomjaeng
62) Marcus Campbell v Jamie Jones
63) Joe Perry v Simon Bedford

November 29, 2012

German Masters Qualifiers Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:31 am

The Unique set up in Berlin

It’s Day 2 in Sheffield for the German Masters qualifiers and I will shamelessly say that yesterday’s highlight for me was Martin O’Donnell’s win over Gerard Greene which sees him make the venue in Berlin to play Mark Williams. All thanks to this much fairer flatter structure that’s in place.

The reigning Snookerbacker Classic champ played very solidly and finished the match off with a one visit frame to thankfully avoid another decider and win 5-3.

There’s 17 more matches today with Jimmy White receiving a bye to tomorrow to face Dom Dale. Amongst those in action today are Luca Brecel, Mark Joyce, Steve Davis and Cao Yupeng who have all qualified for the UK and will next be seen in York. There are also four second round matches including The Captain against The Dentist this evening.

In terms of betting we ended up just ahead yesterday courtesy of treble landing last night, Liang Wenbo, Dave Harold and Peter Lines recouping two dodgy doubles from earlier on, with five from the seven selections obliging.

Let’s see if there is anything for us today.

10am

19) Matthew Selt v Robbie Williams
20) Alfie Burden v Sean O’Sullivan
21) Mike Dunn v Pankaj Advani
22) Mark Joyce v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
23) Barry Pinches v Luca Brecel
24) Alan McManus v Tony Drago

Recommended Morning Bet: 2 points on Pankaj Advani (-1.5 frames) at 8/11 with Apollobet. 2 point treble on Advani, Burden and Brecel pays almost bang on 2/1 at Skybet.

2.30pm

25) Nigel Bond v Scott Donaldson
26) Jimmy White w/o Mohamed Khairy
27) Yu DeLu v Dechawat Poomjaeng
28) Andy Hicks v Sam Baird
29) Liu Chuang v Adrian Gunnell
30) Jamie Jones v Michael Leslie

Recommended Afternoon Bets: 3 point double on Jones and De Lu at just on 11/10 with Apollobet. 1 point on Scott Donaldson at 9/4 with Bet 365. 

7pm

31) Steve Davis v Simon Bedford
32) Cao Yupeng v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh

Round 2

34) Jamie Cope v Anthony Hamilton
35) Martin Gould v Fraser Patrick
36) Ali Carter v Rory McLeod
37) Dark Mavis v Xiao Guodong

Recommended Evening Bet: 2 points on Anthony Hamilton at 11/8 with Apollobet. 1 point acca on Davis, Yupeng, Gould, Carter and Mavis pays over 5/1 at the same firm.

November 27, 2012

German Masters Qualifiers – Start Wednesday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:01 pm

We just need a bit of space

One of the best initiatives on Bazza’s calendar, the German Masters in Berlin in late January which incidentally myself and the sainted first lady of the baize Mrs SB will be attending, has it’s qualifiers awkwardly and in my view needlessly sandwiched between a PTC qualifying event and the UK Championship this week (for which I did a big preview today and it’s here) .

For me that’s a great shame as it is a chance to see how the new flatter structure qualifiers pan out and I also believe that there should always be a free week to really build up the Majors, rather than having other events packed together like this, but it’s probably saving on the overheads.

I’m sure a few of the UK seeds and qualifiers will agree as they will or may end up playing in this on Friday and then in York over the weekend, I know it’s not far but it’s just daft really and not ideal preparation for players that have made it to the Barbican.

The flatter structure, which for me is a great move and essential if the tour becomes ranked by money won rather than ranking points means that lower ranked players have a far better chance of getting to the final venue. Some, including The MO’D only have to win 1 match to do so, because a lot of the top players will not play at all as they are, in all probability busy bigging up the UK to the press as of course they should be and their first matches are as a consequence carried over to Berlin.

However, 6 of the top 16 will be playing in these qualifiers. Joining Barry Hawkins on Friday are Stuart Bingham, Graeme Dott, Ricky Walden and Matthew Stevens, with Ali Carter scheduled to play on Thursday evening, presumably so that the eloquent, amusing and media-savvy World Championship Runner-Up can also be on hand for the BBC in the run-up to the UK for all of a whole day ahead of his tie with The Nugget, while he tries his best to concentrate on snooker.

You can view the whole draw here on the legendary ‘My First PDF’ scan from the governing body, whose workforce are even too busy to get it printed properly on a webpage to support the event. Again a sign of the lunacy of the timing of this event which should be important enough in it’s own right but will inevitably and of course rightly be overshadowed by the UK build-up.

Despite all this unnecessary congestion in a calendar that has in reality seen a few fairly quiet periods recently which these three days could easily have been slotted into or played at the start of this week with the PTC qualifiers played for two days after the UK, once again Apollobet are proving themselves to be THE snooker bookmaker and have priced up the matches here.

While all eyes will be on your UK bets, you can sometimes overlook some more meaty bets ahead of it. I wonder what price all the 6 top 16 players to get through ahead of the big one?

I’ll probably post a few bets on the matches tomorrow on this post once I’ve had half a chance to have a good look.

Bloggers need a break sometimes too and I am on auto-pilot to ‘dislike’ when sports become saturated with mediocre events, which I don’t think this one is, but the Monday and Tuesday action has rather passed me by. It’s the reason I don’t like football anymore, in the end, all matches become ultimately meaningless as the next ‘6 pointer’ or ‘most anticipated match in a decade’ is only a week or two down the line. If you don’t quite get what I mean by that, this sketch sums it up much better than I can.

I prefer fewer, quality events whether they be here, in Europe, Australia or in China to the conveyor belt feeling of some of the events lately. Bazza is doing a far better job than his lazy predecessors and the PTC’s have served a purpose, it’s soon time to grow them into proper events like this one, which I hope and believe is part of the grand plan. It can’t come soon enough if this week is anything to go by, who wants 52 weeks of snooker? Really? 30-odd will do just fine.

Recommended Morning Double: 2 points on Michael White and James Wattana pays 6/4 at Apollobet.

10am 

Round 1 

1) James Wattana v Li Yan

2) Anthony Hamilton v Ian Burns

3) Michael White v Fraser Patrick

4) Rory McLeod v Jordan Brown

5) Xiao Guodong v Jamie O’Neill

6) Kurt Maflin v Joel Walker

Recommended Afternoon Double: 2 points on Lawler and Mehta pays just over 11/8 with Apollobet

2.30pm

7) Anthony McGill v Tian Pengfei

8) Gerard Greene v Martin O’Donnell

9) Jimmy Robertson v Daniel Wells

10) Jack Lisowski v Michael Wasley

11) Aditya Mehta v Zhang Anda

12) Rod Lawler v Liam Highfield

Recommended Evening Treble: 2 points on Wenbo, Harold and Lines pays over 9/4 with Apollobet

7pm

13) Liang Wenbo v Paul Davison

14) Dave Harold v Craig Steadman

15) David Gilbert v Chen Zhe

16) Ben Woollaston v Ben Judge

17) Peter Lines v Passakorn Suwannawat

18) Adam Duffy v David Grace

Munich PTC Qualifiers Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:03 am

A bit of advice for The MO’D.

It’s the second day of qualifiers for the Munich PTC today before qualifying gets under way for the German Masters tomorrow, we then move our full attention to York and the UK championship which starts on Saturday.

Apollobet have again proved to be the only firm really giving the PTC’s their full attention and again they have comprehensive match prices up for today here.

Best of luck today to SB Classic Champion Martin O’Donnell who I reckon just needs one win to set him on his way this season, he faces Pankaj Advani first up and on last week’s evidence my advice to The MO’D is to leave some long tempters and play on even if he needs a number of snookers.

A quick well done also to SB Classic Finals Day man Kyren Wilson, who made another massive stride towards professional status yesterday by reaching the final venue. All yesterday’s results are here.

Anyway, here’s today’s crop and later I’ll be putting up a UK Championship outright preview. Apollobet have a full range of prices up for that including quarter betting here.

9am

3) Alex Taubman 2-4 Adam Wicheard
4) Joe Steele 4-1 Eden Sharav
37) Neil Robertson 4-0 Sam Craigie
38) Joe Swail 4-3 Jak Jones
39) Kurt Maflin 4-0 Ricky Norris
40) Jimmy White 4-2 Jamie O’Neill
41) Andrew Higginson 4-1 Nico Elton
42) Dominic Dale 4-0 Mitchell Mann

Not before 11am

43) Tony Drago 4-2 Matthew Selt
44) Li Yan 3-4 Liam Highfield
45) Allister Carter 4-0 Mike Dunn
46) Alan McManus 4-0 James Cahill
47) Jack Lisowski 4-1 Matthew Couch
48) David Grace 3-4 Ashley Carty
49) Ken Doherty 4-3 Michael Wild
51) Alfie Burden 4-0 Jamie Gibson

Not before 1pm

50) Andrew Pagett 1-4 Adam Wicheard
52) Rod Lawler v Christopher Norbury
53) Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-2 Reanne Evans
54) Ryan Day 4-0 James Wattana
55) Ian Burns 4-0 Phil O’Kane
56) Luca Brecel 4-1 John Whitty
57) Dechawat Poomjaeng 4-0 Gerard Greene
58) Steve Davis v Aditya Mehta

Approx 3pm

Graeme Dott v Joe Steele
Paul Davison v Marc J Davis
Robbie Williams v Matthew Day
Ben Woollaston v Shahbaz Hameed
Pankaj Advani v Martin O’Donnell
Matthew Stevens v Barry Pinches
Anthony Hamilton v Ben Judge
Barry Hawkins v Adam Duffy

Approx 5pm

67) Mark Joyce v Lucky Vatnani
68) Stephen Maguire v Peter Lines
85) Neil Robertson v Joe Swail
86) Kurt Maflin v Jimmy White
87) Andrew Higginson v Dominic Dale
88) Tony Drago v WINNER OF MATCH 44
89) Ali Carter v Alan McManus
90) Jack Lisowski v WINNER OF MATCH 48

Not before 7pm 

91) WINNER OF MATCH 49 v WINNER OF MATCH 50
92) Alfie Burden v WINNER OF MATCH 52
93) WINNER OF MATCH 53 v Ryan Day
94) WINNER OF MATCH 55 v WINNER OF MATCH 56
95) WINNER OF MATCH 57 v WINNER OF MATCH 58
96) WINNER OF MATCH 59 v WINNER OF MATCH 60
97) WINNER OF MATCH 61 v WINNER OF MATCH 62
98) WINNER OF MATCH 63 v WINNER OF MATCH 64
99) WINNER OF MATCH 65 v WINNER OF MATCH 66
100) WINNER OF MATCH 67 v WINNER OF MATCH 68

November 26, 2012

Munich PTC Qualifiers Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:54 am

I bet he doesn’t feel like playing today

Somehow I seem to have completely overlooked the fact that there are PTC qualifiers this week ahead of the German Masters Qualifiers on Wednesday and the UK Championship which starts in York on Saturday, 14 days of solid snooker starts right here.

Apollobet have priced up the matches here and below is a list of today’s schedule from Sheffield which includes last night’s Premier League winner Stuart Bingham.

Monday November 26

Not before 9am

Round 1
Kishan Hirani 2-4 Justin Astley
Ross Higgins 4-0 Henry Roper
Mark Selby 4-0 Daniel Wells
Michael White 0-4 Scott Donaldson
Marcus Campbell 3-4 Kyren Wilson
Jamie Jones 4-0 Ben Jones
Mark King 4-0 Kacper Filipiak
Rory McLeod 4-2 David Gilbert

Not before 11am

Craig Steadman 3-4 Michael Wasley
Marco Fu 4-1 Sean O’Sullivan
Ricky Walden 4-1 Christopher Keogan
Jamie Cope 2-4 Sam Baird
Joe Perry 1-4 Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
Fergal O’Brien 2-4 Joel Walker
Liang Wenbo 4-0 Neal Jones
Ding Junhui 4-2 Cao Yupeng

Not before 1pm

Andrew Norman 1-4 Justin Astley
Stuart Bingham 4-1 Zhang Anda
John Astley 4-3 Passakorn Suwannawat
Tian Pengfei 4-0 Matthew Hudson
Jamie Burnett 4-2 Zak Surety
Allan Taylor 4-0 Hassan Miah
Dark Mavis 4-0 Peter Ebdon
Shaun Murphy 4-0 Chen Zhe

Not before 3pm

Simon Bedford 2-4 Liu Chuang
Xiao Guodong 4-0 Oliver Lines
Yu Delu 4-1 Daniel Kandi
Jimmy Robertson 4-0 Ross Higgins
Dave Harold 4-0 Greg Davis
Michael Holt 4-1 Liam Monk
Robert Milkins 4-0 Michael Leslie
Tom Ford 3-4 Nigel Bond

Not before 5pm

Martin Gould 4-1 Ryan Causton
Anthony McGill 4-1 Varun Madan
Mark Selby 4-0 Scott Donaldson
Kyren Wilson 4-3 Jamie Jones
Mark King 4-2 Rory McLeod
Michael Wasley 4-3 Marco Fu
Ricky Walden 4-0 Sam Baird
Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon 4-2 Joel Walker

Not before 7pm

Liang Wenbo 4-2 Ding Junhui
Justin Astley 4-3 Stuart Bingham
John J Astley 3-4 Tian Pengfei
Jamie Burnett 4-2 Allan Taylor
Mark Davis 4-1 Shaun Murphy
Liu Chuang 4-2 Xiao Guodong
Yu Delu 2-4 Jimmy Robertson
Dave Harold 4-3 Michael Holt
Robert Milkins 4-2 Nigel Bond
Martin Gould 4-0 Anthony McGill

November 24, 2012

UK Championship First Round Draw and Lowdown

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:11 am

It’s just a week today until this week’s 16 qualifiers join the top 16 seeded players at the Barbican in York for the UK Championship which again this year is sponsored by William Hills.

Now that the qualifiers are done and dusted I thought I’d put everything you need to know about the tournament in a neat little post, starting with the draw, followed by the prize money and then some ticket details. If you have the chance to get to York my advice is to take it, it’s a great city and this is a great venue for snooker so you’ll have a top time if you decide to make the trip.

Last 32

Judd Trump v Mark Joyce (2pm 2/12)
Ali Carter v Steve Davis (2pm 2/12)
Stuart Bingham v Jack Lisowski (7pm 2/12)
Stephen Maguire v Fergal O’Brien (2pm 1/12)
Mark Williams v Mark King (7pm 3/12)
Ricky Walden v Luca Brecel (7pm 3/12)
Graeme Dott v Martin Gould (7pm 1/12)
Shaun Murphy v Robert Milkins (11am 2/12)
John Higgins v Michael Holt (11am 1/12)
Dark Mavis v Cao Yupeng (11am 2/12)
Matthew Stevens v Dominic Dale (1pm 3/12)
Mark Allen v Marco Fu (7pm 2/12)
Neil Robertson v Tom Ford (1pm 3/12)
Barry Hawkins v Liang Wenbo (11am 1/12)
Ding Junhui v Ryan Day (2pm 1/12)
Mark Selby v Michael White (7pm 1/12)

Final Stages Prize Money:

Winner: £125,000
Runner-up: £50,000
Semi-finals: £25,000
Quarter-finals: £17,000
Last 16: £11,000
Last 32: £7,500
High TV break: £3,500

Standard tickets for the tournament are on sale now, for details call 0844 854 2757 or click here

If you are rich, posh or want to impress easily impressed friends or a person you have been trying to cop off with for ages you can book a VIP Package by calling some geezer called Frank Smith on 01277 359925.

By coincidence that is also the name of a local butcher by us but I’m not sure if it’s the same bloke. Anyway the package includes:

– Ticket for the afternoon or evening session (with pork ribs)

– Arrival drink (and some lamb chops)

– Three-course meal or luxury buffet with drinks (no vegetables or vegetarian option)

– Goody bag (of meat)

– Event programme and radio earpiece to listen to the insightful BBC commentary (and a shoulder of venison)

– Interval drink (and chicken wings)

– Appearance from snooker legends which will probably be Dennis and JV I reckon (and a tray of cold meats) 

Maybe it is him.

Prices start at ermm ‘just’ £75, rising to £120 for the evening session in the final.

If you are interested in getting to York for a day or two and need somewhere to stay I’ve always found this site to be very helpful. There’s bound to be Xmas markets and stuff like that going on too if you like all that kind of caper or you have to drag the Mrs along and need somewhere to pack her off to while you’re watching the snooker.

Right that’s my bit done for the York Tourist Board, I take Paypal or used notes in brown envelopes, no cheques.

November 22, 2012

UK Championship Final Qualifying Day: York or Bust

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:13 pm

Will it be the waistcoat or the V-Neck in York?

After a great week of qualifiers which on Day 3 saw another 147, this time by Jack Lisowski, we are now at the stage where the places for York in just over a week’s time are decided. Seeded players 17-32 join those who have won through to the final day of judgement for those coveted venue places.

I am writing this before the second session of Day 3 is concluded so can’t give an accurate summary as yet in terms of how the betting is going, but I’d hope that come tomorrow morning it is looking positive, it’s been a steady rather than a blockbusting week but that will do for me given the bar hitting that’s been going on lately on here.

UPDATE: It is positive but a look back at last night’s bet sums up things recently, 3 out of 4 and Bond losing a decider to land a very decent bet indeed. Unreal. The afternoon bet ducked by just a single frame. Still an OK week though so musn’t grumble.   

Personal highlights so far are the progress of Luca Brecel who faces a mouth watering clash with Peter Ebdon which will surely be live streamed in the morning session, as well as the performance earlier of the man at the other end of the age scale Steve Davis, who showed all his trademark fight to come back from 4-0 down to beat The Punjabi Piston* and , Pankaj Advani in a decider.

He really is professionalism personified is the Nugget and for me the best ambassador that any sport has ever had, though I may be slightly biased as I don’t like many other sports. He faces Jamie Burnett now for a place at the venue and is there really a snooker fan out there that would not want to see him in a waistcoat rather than a BBC regulation V-Neck jumper at the venue? I think not.

*Yes yes, I know he’s not Punjabi, but Anthony Hamilton isn’t either a sheriff or from Pottingham, Selby isn’t a Jester and John Higgins sure isn’t a Wizard or he would be able to make things disappear and we all know he couldn’t, I mean can’t do that. Just get over it, it’s a great nickname and I’m sure will be claimed in the comments section by someone from bongo-bongo land saying they invented it, but he only came up with it when I talked about Panky’s unique cue action and described it IN DETAIL. I’d have got there eventually and I can also delete comments on here coz it’s my blog. So there. 

Anyway, to the matter in hand……at time of writing and predictably, only Apollobet have prices up.

9.30am

Jamie Cope 4-6 Mark Joyce (winner plays Judd Trump)
Jamie Burnett 2-6 Steve Davis (winner plays Ali Carter)
Joe Perry 4-6 Jack Lisowski (winner plays Stuart Bingham) – Streamed
Fergal O’Brien 6-2 Dave Gilbert (winner plays Stephen Maguire)
Mark King 6-0 Xiao Guodong (winner plays Mark Williams)
Peter Ebdon 1-6 Luca Brecel (winner plays Ricky Walden) – Streamed

Jamie Cope has beaten Mark Joyce on both their previous encounters but Mark had a nice win over the in-form Andy Hicks to get to this stage, a comeback from behind will give him confidence going into this. Cope had a half-decent run in Bulgaria following a defeat to Allan Taylor in Gloucester, I think that’s a fairly tough one to call and it’s worth looking at the handicaps in what could be a close one. Burnett and the Nugget is just one to sit and watch, if I was forced to have a bet to save my life I’d have to go with Burnett but if Steve gets a foothold in the match early it might be a different story. I’d suggest that if Burnett isn’t leading going into the mid-session interval then he might have a very tough time of it, for me the first session of this is the key to the match. Interestingly, Steve holds a 5-0 lead on the head to heads and whilst they haven’t met since 2006, that might be enough to sew some seeds of doubt in his opponents head. I noticed the other day that Judd and Jack Lisowski did a feature for the BBC in preparation for the televised stages (they went go-karting or something like that which as we know, all young male people do that these days unless they are on the dole and not into male bonding, in which case they go out and take drugs and cause loads of trouble). Whilst Judd was obviously the focus of this piece there will be those that may raise an eyebrow as to why Jack was involved, those who raise that eyebrow should back today’s 147 man to beat Joe Perry. The Ferginator is next up against the Cuban from Tamworth Dave Gilbert who was another that came back from behind today, judging by the live-scoring DG did this in his typically pick-em-out and intricate way (I studied him at the Crucible), but he continues to score well and had two centuries and one thing he has in abundance is patience, perhaps not with himself but on the baize, which is what you need against Fergal. I actually fancy him quite strongly tomorrow, he beat Fergal 10-4 to qualify for the Crucible in April, I think he’ll beat him again and would have him as favourite for this match. Another one worth a punt at odds against is Xiao Guodong against an out-of-form Mark King, but only a small bet as regulars will know that by recommending that bet I am going against an old adage of mine. Finally, the match between Ebdon and Brecel. I want Brecel to win and I think he will, he won’t be phased by Ebbo and our Pete does still struggle against fearless potters, he always has. This will be seen by some to be a very bold and almost ridiculous statement, but I think Brecel is a player better equipped than most to deal with Ebdon, he plays the table and not the player and that is usually half the battle with Peter.

Selections: Cope, Burnett, Lisowski, Gilbert, Guodong, Brecel.

Recommended Bets: 3×1 point doubles and a 1 point treble on Gilbert (Evens), Guodong (11/10) and Brecel (13/8) at Apollobet. 3 points win on Gilbert at Evens.

2.30pm

Martin Gould v Ben Woollaston (winner plays Graeme Dott) – Streamed
Robert Milkins v Rory McLeod (winner plays Shaun Murphy)
Michael Holt v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (winner plays John Higgins) – Streamed
Marcus Campbell v Cao Yupeng (winner plays Dark Mavis)
Dominic Dale v Ian Burns (winner plays Matthew Stevens)

Hitman: Crackers.

Martin Gould leads the head to head with Ben Woollaston 2-1 with all matches coming in PTC’s between two of the hardest working players in the game. Gould’s form took an upturn recently after some Sight Right correction and this resulted in him winning his first PTC, ironically at around the same time he was dropping out of the top 16 after a terrible end to last season, the worrying thing for Gould fans is that he’s in danger of slipping back into losing ways and Woollaston is showing some very solid form of late. I think that one may go all the way and I find it a very tough one to call. Rob Milkins aka Mill Hopkins aka Robot Milkins will need to be on his mettle (see what I did there?) as he has an appointment at the Dentist. He lost 5-2 the last time he played Rory and Mr McLeod remains a very tough proposition in qualifiers, another tight one I feel but I marginally favour the Gloucester man. My old mucker Michael Holt is up next, fresh from his drunken Bulgarian pinch fight with MJW and Mark Allen (the newest craze to be swept up by Eurosport) the Hitman is now trying to get Matt Selt to have a fight with him whilst canvassing opinion on his chances of being on I’m a Celebrity next year to cries of ‘who’s he?’ from the viewing public. In fact, snooker’s very own Tarzan is so multi-talented (he admits to being clever and devilishly handsome too) that you wonder how he gets time to play his beloved baize at all. He faces Thepchaiya Un-nooh who has been impressing all week and yesterday added to Jamie Jones’s woes by sending him packing. As ever, Holt can be either very good indeed or frustratingly careless and he’s not a player I like to bet on or against as you never know which one will turn up, but it’s fun to write about this barking mad baize boy. Scotland’s King of the Haggis Marcus Campbell faces Cao Yupeng next and comes fresh from a half-decent run in the Bulgarian PTC where he lost to Neil Robertson on Finals Day after wins over Joe Swail, Jamie Jones and Yu Delu. Cao is a player I continue to be impressed with but I noticed in his win over Dave Harold yesterday that he didn’t score too heavily, I think Marcus will edge that one to set up a meeting with Mavis in York. Finally, the match I’ll be glued to is Ian Burns against Dom Dale. Having recommended a bet on Burns at 22/1 to qualify he’s now just one match away following a highly impressive 6-2 scoreline win over Anthony Hamilton and two wins prior to that. Dale is a hefty favourite but I can dare to dream that Burns delivers, it would make up for the ridiculous amount of near misses this week in what could have been a hugely profitable few days had one or two frames gone in a different direction. Good luck Ian.

Selections: Woollaston, Milkins, Holt, Campbell and Dale.

Recommended Bet: 2 point double on Woollaston (+1.5) and Campbell pays 85/40 at Apollobet  

7.30pm

Marco Fu v Rod Lawler (winner plays Mark Allen)
Tom Ford v Yu De Lu (winner plays Neil Robertson)
Andrew Higginson v Liang Wenbo (winner plays Barry Hawkins) – Streamed
Ryan Day v Matthew Selt (winner plays Ding Junhui)
Ken Doherty v Michael White (winner plays Mark Selby) – Streamed

I have backed Rod Lawler at 6/1 to qualify and I did this at the time thinking that I was basically backing him at that price to beat Marco Fu, luckily that totally misguided theory has somehow turned out as planned with Rod burning the midnight and beyond oil to get here. This is a repeat of the PTC2 Final earlier in the year at Gloucester which Rod won 4-2 to claim his first professional ranking title, Marco was suffering with manflu in the Gloucester PTC by all accounts but you’d think he’d be over that now, nevertheless I think Rod has a decent chance in this and I’m happy to let that qualification bet ride. Tom Ford beat Yu Delu 4-0 in their last encounter in a PTC last December and of course hit a maximum in Bulgaria last week, Delu beat Paul Davison with a highest break of just 55 and Nigel Bond with a 63 – a total of 21 frames of snooker with not much else to write home about in the scoring department. He’ll have to up his game considerably to trouble the heavy scoring Ford you’d think and I’d be amazed if he beat him, the first and only maximum bet of the week. Liang Wenbo is a player I avoid from a betting perspective, he’s too unpredictable but is playing well and has a chance against Andrew Higginson, but on balance and gun to head I’ll stick with the Widnes man who is a formidable opponent in qualifiers. Ryan Day is 2-2 in his head to heads with Matt Selt but their only meeting in the last 9 years believe it or not, went to Selt in the Aussie Open. Day is in a terrible run of form if you judge it on PTC form but when it comes to the main events, as a rule of thumb he qualifies. I can’t see any reason for that to change tonight after a performance from Selt that he himself labelled as not good enough last night. Finally, Michael White takes on Ken Doherty. Ken beat Michael 5-4 in the China Open Qualifiers last season and I expect this to again be tight, White did what he had to do last night to win but he’s another that will need to up it a bit to get to York, if it goes tight, which I think it probably will I’d always side with Kendo.

Selections: Lawler, Ford, Higginson, Day, Doherty.

Recommended Bet: 5 points win on Ford at 4/6 with Stan James. 2 points double on Day and Ford pays 13/8 at Apollobet. Add Doherty for a 1 point treble pays over 7/2 at Apollobet. Add Higginson for a 1 point acca which pays over 13/2 at Apollobet.    

UK Championship Qualifiers Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

Maximum Man Andy Hicks (photo used without asking On-Q Promotions for permission but they won’t mind as they like me and we left a nice plant for them last time we were there)

It’s the penultimate day of qualifiers on Thursday as seeded players 33-48 take on the successful qualifiers so far this week. Amongst those joining things today in the quest for a place in the York starting line up are Steve Davis, Jamie Jones, Jack Lisowski and Liang Wenbo. 

Again I am writing this before the conclusion of the afternoon session but all in all the betting side of things seems to be going quite well so far (touch wood, or MDF whichever works for you).

Day 2, so far anyway has been most notable for the 147 by Andy Hicks, a player who I have always thought to be better than his ranking suggests. You can read more about the Devon potter on Dave Hendon’s blog here including details of his notorious and very funny spat with Aussie badboy Quinten Hann.

I made the point the other day that it was around this time last season that saw a few maximums, perhaps this is a sign that players are peaking as we approach what is traditionally one of the best parts of the season for a snooker fan. Whilst I don’t get as excited about a maximum as I once did, naturally given there are more of them nowadays, I do like it when players all start playing to the best of their ability. For one, it makes the betting side of things less (cliche alert) fraught with danger and I remember this two month period last year being highly profitable from a betting perspective, I’m hoping that this is the start of a similar run of form as otherwise we may need to eat one of the dogs for Christmas dinner.

That is a joke by the way.

Anyway, as with yesterday this preview will be done in stages. Starting with the morning matches and then updating the afternoon and evening sessions as the prices become available.

9.30am

Mark Joyce 6-4 Andy Hicks
Steve Davis v Pankaj Advani (Live Stream)
Jack Lisowski 6-2 Chen Zhe – 147 JACK LISOWSKI
David Gilbert 6-3 Tian Pengfei
Xiao Guodong 6-4 Adam Duffy (Live Stream)
Liu Chuang 3-6 Luca Brecel

Looks nothing like Hendry

Hicks is back to face Mark Joyce for the very first time in his career. On the face of it Joyce has been quiet this season but if you actually look at his results he hasn’t been doing badly at all and is now putting a bit of form together, which includes a deciding frame win over Mark Allen in the last UK PTC. Despite this and having taken the odds into account I am going to have to plump for Hicks in what for me is a coin toss, I had Hicks as a marginal favourite, but he’s odds against so that’s swayed it for me. Another one that is based solely on the price is a punt on Tian Pengfei against the Cuban from Tamworth Dave Gilbert. Dave is on a five match losing streak and could have done with an easier opponent than Pengfei to get him going in this, it’s one of those matches again where a quick look at the odds has swayed my mind a little, sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t, but this is a tough match for Gilbert and even tougher if his form doesn’t improve some time soon to the level he left it at last season. On today’s evidence of his opponent you would have to make Xiao Guodong a very hefty favourite against Adam Duffy, who despite an 80-odd in the last frame didn’t hit a break over 40 in the other 7 frames, in fact I am surprised that the price is more attractive than the one on Jack Lisowski, who faces for me a much stiffer test against Chen Zhe who Bet 365 earlier mistook for his opponent Aditya Mehta. I know which one I’d put the mortgage on if I had too, which thankfully I don’t, and it would not be Jack. Having watched Pankaj Advani beat Jimmy White earlier it is plain for all to see that all Steve Davis will have to do to beat him is leave him long tempting pots and mop up when he misses. Easy. OK that said, if they get into a safety duel you might end up seeing some of the finest safety known to man so I’m glad it’s streamed, Pankaj beat Steve in a decider in the recent International Championship qualifiers but I fancy a reversal in this, one of the handful of events that 6 times UK Champion Steve still takes 100% seriously and practices hard for. I think The Nugget still even after all these years has a better all round game than Jimmy and knows when to refuse things, Jimmy still doesn’t and that was his undoing against Pankaj, it has to be Davis for me. Finally, the Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel is back after beating Peter Lines today despite taking his foot off the gas at 4-0 up, a lesson you feel he has to take and learn from. Luca faces Liu Chuang who definitely isn’t the illegitimate Chinese son of Stephen Hendry, let me get that straight. Liu is another like Dave Gilbert and Jamie Jones that has struggled for form since making the mecca that is and continues to be, The Crucible. But The Bullet has the same feel about him this week as when he qualified for Sheffield, effortless and fearless, it should be streamed, it isn’t, but I hope Luca wins, no bet.

Selections: Hicks, Davis, Lisowski, Pengfei, Guodong, Brecel.

Recommended Bets:  3 points on Guodong at 1/2. 2 point double at just over Evens on Pengfei (+2.5) and Hicks (+2.5). 0.5 point acca on all 6 selections above pays over 38/1 all at Apollobet 

2.30pm

Ben Woollaston 6-5 James Wattana (Live Stream)
Rory McLeod 6-3 Jimmy Robertson
Jamie Jones 3-6 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Live Stream)
Dave Harold 4-6 Cao Yupeng
Anthony Hamilton 2-6 Ian Burns

The Sheriff of Pottingham

New dad Ben Woollaston can’t be accused of letting the trifling matter of a new member to the clan Woollaston of getting in the way of his snooker. Since his nipper’s birth he’s been playing in everything and has seen an upturn in his form (he must have seen the cost of nappies), being beaten only by the mighty Neil Robertson in the Quarter Finals in Bulgaria last weekend. He has actually played Wattana once before, losing 5-0 back in 2005 in the Irish Masters, but that is of little consequence to this match. Wattana is still a great competitor but Woolly is beating players of this rank routinely these days, indeed his only three recent defeats have been at the hands of Robbo, Mark Allen and John Higgins so on that evidence you’d have to fancy him to win today. Rory McLeod and Jimmy Robertson are 2-2 in the head to heads with Jimmy winning the last two encounters. He will be buoyed by his comeback to beat Michael Wasley in a decider yesterday but Rory comes to this finding his form too after a Quarter Final defeat to John Higgins in Bulgaria, I marginally favour Rory in that one. I was very impressed with Thepchaiya Un-Nooh yesterday, he’s lightning fast in the balls and has frames won in the blink of an eye when he’s in the mood, he faces Jamie Jones who is still yet to get going this season following his Crucible heroics, on yesterday’s evidence he’ll need to be on his game to win and there could be an upset on the cards in that one. I’m prepared to keep faith with Cao Yupeng against Dave Harold, they are 1-1 in the head to heads and both have been close, including Cao’s 10-9 defeat of Dave in last season’s World Championship qualifiers, I can see that going very close again. I have backed Ian Burns as an outsider to qualify for York and so far he’s going about his work well, but the bigger tests are to come and if he can beat Anthony Hamilton I will start getting very excited about tomorrow, he has beaten him in their only meeting in a PTC, but hand on heart and with Hamilton showing signs of waking up at last this season, he’ll be very tough to beat.

Selections: Woollaston, McLeod, Un-Nooh, Yupeng, Hamilton.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble on Robertson (+2.5), Un-Nooh (+2.5) and Yupeng (+1.5) pays just over 85/40 at Apollobet.   

7.30pm

Gerard Greene 4-6 Rod Lawler
Nigel Bond 5-6 Yu De Lu
Liang Wenbo 6-5 Anthony McGill (Live Stream)
Matthew Selt 6-4 Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
Michael White 6-3 Craig Steadman (Live Stream)

We kick off the evening with the match that will probably finish the latest between Gerard Greene and my old pal Rod Lawler. The pair have met 3 times in their long careers and GG leads 2-1 with the last victory being this season in the Australian Open Qualifiers. I’ve backed Rod to qualify as I think he’s playing well enough this season to make a few venues, his PTC win has given him a further boost which originally came at the eleventh hour in Q-School when he regained his tour place when on the verge of quitting. Be warned that Greene is one of those players that I bet against more often than not and perhaps I underrate him, but for me it has to be Rod in this at a surprisingly odds against price with one firm. Nigel Bond has beaten Yu Delu on both their previous meetings and comes fresh-ish from his World Seniors win, I’m sure I read somewhere that he’s knocked in a maximum lately or I might have dreamt that, but nevertheless I’ll side with Nige here. I avoid betting on matches involving Liang Wenbo like the plague, I’d like to see Ant McGill make the venue so I’ll just leave that one alone, Liang won their only previous meeting in a decider in a PTC. Matt Selt hasn’t been posting great results in the PTC’s, a win over Ding being the exception, he doesn’t seem to like that format and tends to do a bit better in qualifiers, I’ll side with him at a half decent price to end Thanawat’s run and stop Dennis, JV and co. in their tracks as they think of long-name-based gags in preparation for TT’s possible qualification to York. The match between Craig Steadman and Michael White should be a decent one, Craig is the more experienced of the two but Michael is one of the fastest improving players on the tour and deadly at times. I’d say at the odds and in a small multiple, White is the bet there.

Selections: Lawler, Bond, Wenbo, Selt, White.

Recommended Bet: 6×1 point doubles and a 1 point acca on Lawler (11/10), Bond (4/5), Selt (8/15) and White (8/15) at Sportingbet. 2 points win on Lawler at 11/10 with the same firm.     

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