Day 5 in York sees the conclusion of the last 16 matches after the first four quarter finalists were decided yesterday.
Tuesday saw wins for Ali Carter and Matthew Stevens in the afternoon and for Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham in the evening session.
Ali played solidly enough to beat Mark Joyce but said afterwards that he hasn’t been feeling too great lately, he’s made massive changes to his diet on account of his Crohns and has good days and bad, but his game to me looks in great shape and he now faces Bingham who’s form lately has been something of a revelation, a win over Maguire cementing the fact that he truly is now one of the world’s top players.
Matthew Stevens and Marco Fu had a right old scrap but Matthew again proved that he’s a player that likes the big stage after an otherwise disappointing start to the season for him, but he won’t care one bit about that if he can go deeper in this. Shaun Murphy beat Graeme Dott comfortably with a downbeat Dotty claiming afterwards he ‘could be finished’ from the game. Smurf marches on however and now faces the winner of the Brecel v King match this afternoon.
As for me, I arrived in York early yesterday morning to find the place covered in ice. This immediately filled me with dread as I have a totally rational fear of falling on my arse having done it so many times now that I just expect it to happen again.
I had been given walking directions to my bed and breakfast of choice by a local hobo who knows the area, it turned out that he was spot on with his advice although I did get a bit confused at one point and knocked on a house which had a grand piano in the window. Thankfully nobody was home as it obviously wasn’t my budget end bed and breakfast but this prompted me to call the place to find out where I was exactly. This was a big mistake for as I stood there fiddling around for my phone a button pinged off my coat and into the road. I searched for it for around 5 minutes as passers-by crossed over the road to avoid me, to no avail, the button was lost.
I then made my way to the B&B with the button still on my mind and eventually went back and found it after a further extensive search, to concerned stares from the window of the house with the grand piano whose owners had by now returned. I think if I’d have been there a minute longer they would probably have called the police.
Anyway, it was then time for me to head to the Barbican after confidentally proclaiming to the B&B owner who was trying to give me directions that I’d be fine as I’d been to York loads of times. I wasn’t of course and only a desperate ‘help me’ tweet avoided me becoming totally lost for hours. Bear in mind that I was still in the grip of my ice phobia and that a 70 odd year old man overtook me at one point as I tiptoed about like Bambi on the ice, the walking equivalent of a Rod Lawler/Peter Ebdon best of 35.
The day came and went and last night was spent in the company of the my old acquaintance The Wizard of Glos, who complained endlessly about the cold while walking around without a coat on. We were joined by a few careless others and much merriment was had by all, although our late night snooker-related chat meant we had to settle for meagre offerings on the culinary front on the way back to our digs. It’s fair to say that the establishment we ended up purchasing our grub from won’t be troubling the judges of Masterchef anytime soon.
As far as the betting goes it was a good afternoon with both bets, including the maximum recommended bet on Ali winning, the evening was less successful and it turns out that it was me, not the bookies who was wrong in my assessment of the odds on the Bingham/Maguire match, but you can’t win them all.
I’ll be in the arena today to catch the action but will be cutting my York trip short and leaving tomorrow, I’ve still got a horrible cough and Ol’ Ma Snookerbacker had a bit of an accident yesterday back home, so I must return to see her as a dutiful son must. But it means I’ll also get back to Mrs SB and the dogs a day early, so it’s not all bad as winter draws in and the chill is most definitely in the air.
Let’s see what we have in store today.
Mark King v Luca Brecel (H2H 0-1)
All eyes will be on Luca after his victory over Ricky Walden, let’s be honest it was a pretty terrible match but you have to admire the way the youngster scrapped it out, Ricky does tend to struggle when he’s not bossing a match and he was probably thinking from very early on that he was going to win and got frustrated too easily. King played brilliantly in spurts against MJW who went away from the match very disappointed and struggling to see his future in a game that he has given so much, but I predict he’ll be back soon enough. These two met in the qualifiers for the Crucible and it was the Belgian that came out on top 10-8 and he most definitely again has the wind in his sails here and huge wave of support behind him. Despite that I just think King will edge it, for me he is playing the better of the two but with the momentum behind the Belgian, I wouldn’t go mad on it as this could end up being a very historic week if he keeps this run going.
No recommended bet.
Ryan Day v Mark Selby (H2H 1-6)
Mark Selby’s record over Ryan Day is very strong. In fact, the last three times the pair have met Selby has won without dropping a frame, with a frame score of 14-0 which included a 6-0 here last season, the time before that Selby won 4-1 so he can claim to have something of a hoodoo over the Welshman, these matches have all come in the last 2 years. There is no doubt that Day is enjoying a mini-resurgence of late and his run at the Crucible and win over Ding in Round 1 here are testament to that. However, purely on the head to head evidence alone this is surely a match to be looking for value in a comfortable Selby win. It’s probably worth a bet that history will repeat itself again here.
Recommended Bet: 2 points on Selby (-2.5 frames) at 6/5 with Apollobet.
John Higgins v Dark Mavis (H2H 4-1)
John Higgins has had a decent break since playing on Saturday and returns for the duration now to face Mavis, who he has a decent record against. The two first met back in 1995 in the Skoda Grand Prix but their most recent meeting was in last season’s German Masters where Higgins ran out a convincing 5-1 winner. We’ve seen so many times with John that he starts events slowly and builds into a crescendo at the end, this might be another one of those weeks and I’d take him to come through here, though Mavis isn’t a pushover these days for the big players and is like Bingham, benefitting from the heavier schedule these days.
Neil Robertson v Barry Hawkins(H2H 1-2)
Neil Robertson’s performance in Round 1 earned what Dennis Taylor referred to as a ‘half standing ovation’, well I don’t know he has to do to get a full one as his 6-1 win over Tom Ford included breaks of 74, 100, 112, 127 and 129, the performance of the round by quite a distance. Barry Hawkins looked like running out an easy winner against Liang but he was pegged back and in the end relied a little on his opponents misses to get over the line. I can’t really see him getting anything from this with Robbo in this kind of form and I’d be prepared to be a bit braver on this handicap than on the Higgins match.
Recommended Bet: 2 points double Higgins (-1.5 frames) and Robertson (-2.5 frames) pays almost 2/1 with Apollobet and a 3 point treble on Selby, Higgins and Robertson pays almost bang on 6/4 at Corals.
Thanks as ever to Monique for the picture, her UK Facebook album is here