Snookerbacker

February 28, 2013

World Open Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:44 pm
Flies are presenting a slight problem this week. (Picture posed by actors, it's not a real fly)

Flies are presenting a slight problem this week. (Picture posed by actors, it’s not a real fly) (actually it might not be a real actor either) What the fuck is it?

The World Open has produced a cracking Quarter Final line up with eight of the world’s top players still involved. The standard of play today was a big improvement on what we have seen so far.

Today saw early session wins for Judd Trump who hit three centuries, Neil Robertson who said it was the best he has ever played in China, Matthew Stevens who won with MJW’s cue and Mark Selby, who had two re-racks.

Trump claimed after his excellent win over Nigel Bond that  “considering the conditions are tough here and it’s very hot it was one of the best games I have played. It was very warm in the arena but you just have to get on with it. My form is getting better” he then spat two flies out and left the press area.

If that is the case with Judd he is timing it right as we move into the most important part of the season, perhaps the World Championship is now firmly in his sights after the criticism he has had from some quarters, for once nothing to do with me, lately.

Stevens on the other hand continues to hunt the local bins and bars for his stick, it was nice of MJW to hand his floating weapon over to him and Matthew’s subsequent win over Shaun Murphy is probably his best result since the World Championship, he said  “I dug in there at 3-1 down and tried to play without side as it’s hard to play with side with a different cue. Hopefully my cue will arrive tonight. I didn’t expect to get this far so everything now is a bonus. Maybe I’ll put my cue in the bin!”

The exclamation mark suggests that he was joking, but the way he has been playing recently it might not actually be a bad move and sometimes a blessing in disguise is all you need to give you a wake up call. If I was him I’d carry on with this one and see what happens, it’s not as if MJ needs it back for a bit.

Robbo flew in the face of the common perception about the conditions and the flies and claimed that they were ‘fantastic’, probably because he played in a cork-hat to wade off the little fuckers. He said “That was probably the best match I have played in China, I didn’t miss one ball. My performances in China have improved a lot over the past 18 months” – so he is clearly feeling confident.

Selby said he might wear a glove tomorrow.

In the second session, Ding won the all-Asian tie to the delight of the mediocre crowd of humans and the flies hovering around the table in this snooker-mad area of the globe. He looked more relaxed than he has looked in China for a long time to me and perhaps isn’t feeling quite the weight of expectation that has looked like a burden to him in recent times.

Ding now faces John Higgins who is another that might be timing his season right judging by his 5-0 victory over the in-form Stuart Bingham. He said afterwards that he was “satisfied with the win although the performance was a bit scrappy, Stuart didn’t play as well as he has been lately and missed balls that I didn’t expect him to miss”. Ballrun simply took to Twitter and after accusing a small innocent child of cheating yesterday this time accused former World Champion Higgins of getting away with murder, someone really needs to reel this loose cannon in, has his Twitter account been hacked by Mark Allen?

I think they may have swapped personalities actually as when Mark finished off Mill Hopkins in his match he immediately took to Twitter to apologise to his fans for a poor performance. He also said “I don’t think I have played that badly since I was 14. It got to the stage where I didn’t think I could pot anything but I’m proud of myself for the way I dug in and managed to make a few breaks. I’ll need to improve massively in the next round but as long as I’m still here I’ve got a chance”.

He also revealed that he’d been listening to Eminem in between matches and given his new found media-friendly, say-the-right-thing approach and Ballrun’s below the belt shots at opponents regardless of their age or world ranking I think it’s time for the real Mark Allen to please stand up. Please stand up. Please stand up.

The session was completed with a 5-4 win for Ricky Walden over Stephen Maguire, it took ages, presumably because after every visit they had to put Mags’s clothes back on. Of his own cue saga in Round 1 he said “Stephen’s a good mate of mine and he lent me his waistcoat and cue for my first match. I would have done the same for him. I actually like his cue more than mine now!”

I do wish World Snooker would stop using exclamation marks in their quotes, it doesn’t make things any funnier, or funny at all for that matter. Does it!!!

Bettingwise, well we still have the main picks Ding, Selby and Allen alive in the outright market and I would be delighted if I was able to say that at this point tomorrow as it would mean a very high chance of a guaranteed profit on the event, but there are cases for all of them now so rather than give an analysis of the quarter finals I will list the head to heads and give my best guess at a scoreline, let’s hope that tomorrow sees a great day’s snooker with four cracking matches on show.

Incidentally, while I am mentioning head to head statistics I should point out that although I use a subscription package I am mightily impressed with the work being done on the Cue Tracker site in this regard. If you have not yet taken a look at it you should and you can do that by clicking here and entering your players, it stretches back to the 80’s and is being added to every day and is a minefield of snooker information. Ron Florax who runs the site is also worth a follow on Twitter here.

6.30am

Judd Trump v Matthew Stevens (h2h 2-0 but only in minor events)
Neil Robertson v Mark Selby (h2h 1-4)

11.30am

Mark Allen v Ricky Walden (h2h 2-4)
Ding Junhui v John Higgins (h2h 5-7 but with a few minor events, Ding has won the last three)

Selections: Trump 5-2, Robertson 5-3, Allen 5-2, Ding 5-4.

Have a hunt around for a correct score combination bet perhaps, that’s what I’ll do, these are too tough to call considering we are not seeing them all play. If you have a silly couple of quid here and there those crazy cats at Apollobet are going 100/1 on each match to have a 147 in it. We’re down to the big boys now, you just never know. 

See all the match prices at Apollobet here.

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February 27, 2013

World Open Day 4

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:09 pm
At least The Jester is making an effort, in his own way.

At least The Jester is making an effort, in his own way. Clap Clap.

It’s Last 16 day over in Hainan Island as the World Open nears the business end of things in an event that despite the excellent ITV coverage has yet to really take off in terms of quality.

In the first session of Day 3 Ding came through a decider against Michael Holt in front of a slightly bigger but by no means packed crowd and Mark Selby saw of wildcard Lu Haotian 5-0, showing no mercy on his young opponent.

However, the good news is that Mark appears to be picking up a bit of the old lingo over in China judging by this interview, it’s great when the players embrace the culture and begin to start talking like the natives. I. have. to. say. that. Mark. is. doing. an. excellent. job. and. is. very. good. player. I. see. him. many. times.

In the other match of the first session Barry Hawkins ended a woeful run of results in China with an impressive 5-1 win over Ian Burns who appears to have spent almost all his time over there in the sauna. He’s so thin anyway he’d better look out that the careless cue-handlers over there don’t mistake him for one and sling him in the plane hold with all the other sportstubes that could end up anywhere on the planet when all he wants to do is make his way back quietly to Blighty. He’d better not dress in brown with a blue beret or he’s buggered.

In the second session the worrying form of MJW continued and he looked a shadow of his floating self in going down 5-2 to Marco Fu in a match that he’d probably have won easily if he’d been anywhere near his best.

The conditions are certainly against the floaters here, the humidity is being commented on by a few players and the damp held within the cloth is making things very tough on those who like to stroke them in. I’m not sure that this venue is the best for a ranking event to be honest. The fact there have been just 6 centuries so far speaks for itself and it’s a shame as it would have been nice to get a really decent event for ITV to kick off with, after all it would be nice if they came back for at least one more.

The three other favourites in the session all came through with John Higgins beating Alan McManus and Stephen Maguire defeating Marcus Campbell in the all Scottish clashes, Stuart Bingham was the other winner against a Chinese wildcard who he claimed later had not declared a push shot on himself, the cheating little fucker (ok I added the last bit). Poor form indeed from a young player, another reason to #banthewildcards.

There wasn’t many talking points today but I continue to be impressed with the ITV angle of serious coverage rather than dressing their presenters up as whatever the dickhead director comes up with next. Sir Clive and Prince Neal are a class act and cover the obvious and understandable limitations of the presenter Jill with finesse. I think the BBC could learn a thing or two from this and focus more in the intervals now and again on the match itself rather than thinking of something that might amuse someone with an IQ lower than their shoe size while everyone else puts the kettle on or hides behind the sofa with their hands on their ears wishing it would go away.

On a personal note I have also written a piece for Snooker Scene about the Snookerbacker Classic today as well as hearing from World Snooker who have kindly put a piece up about it here, they are likely to do another piece about the new champion David Gray in the run-up to the Q-School which is great news for this year’s mantle carrier.

As for this tournament, I called the Burns match wrong and hold my hands up as ever to that. Hawkins broke what was a long chain of losses over in China so perhaps it could be a good week for him, who knows. But we’re still in fighting with the outrights with Ding, Allen and the main pick Selby who must all fancy their chances of lifting the trophy on Sunday. 

Dott: Can cause an upset tomorrow.

Dott: Can cause an upset tomorrow.

6.30am

Judd Trump v Nigel Bond
Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby
Neil Robertson v Graeme Dott
Matthew Stevens v Shaun Murphy

Nigel Bond has had to wait for his last 16 match having received a bye against the unwell Ali Carter, he hasn’t played Judd since 2006 in a best of 5 match in the Grand Prix which he won, but I can’t imagine Judd even remembers it. Trump seems to be ok in these conditions, perhaps they are tailor made for a player who hits the ball as hard as he does, I can’t see him not coming through this one. Similarly with Selby, a very solid striker of the ball who should not be too troubled by the tables or conditions, he lost in Germany to Barry Hawkins but I was there for that and he had played a tough game against Ding on the main table just hours earlier and looked knackered, I think he will put the record straight here and for me he is still the man to beat this week. Robbo didn’t play at all well against Dale and might have lost had Dom not been utterly careless with his tip, on the other hand another solid hitter Graeme Dott hit the best break so far this week, a 139 against Jamie Cope and he will fancy the job in a re-run of the 2010 World Final, their head to head is 4-4 but I think Graeme is in the better form of the two lately and I actually think assuming he stays in the top 16 he may be worth an outside punt for the Worlds, particularly if he is seeded to play Ronnie in Round 2. Matthew Stevens and Shaun Murphy is another World Final re-run, this time from Shaun’s 2005 triumph, Matthew holds the upper hand in the head to heads and won with a borrowed cue last round against Dave Gilbert, but there is no doubt who is in the better form here so it has to be Murphy.

Selections: Trump, Selby, Dott, Murphy.

Recommended Bet: 4 point treble on Trump, Selby and Murphy pays just on 6/4 at Paddy Power. Add Dott for a 2 point acca at over 11/2 with Ladbrokes.  

11.30am

Marco Fu v Ding Junhui
Mark Allen v Robert Milkins
Ricky Walden v Stephen Maguire
Stuart Bingham v John Higgins

The morning treble was let down by Murphy so it’s very much small stakes all the way now and hoping that the outright book gets us out on top this week. I think Ding is coming into form and although Marco beat MJW yesterday he needed a lot of chances, ones he shouldn’t get against Ding. Allen and Milkins could be close, I think for all Mark’s protests about this event last year he is actually quite desperate to defend it, he’s also gone a long time now since his last tournament win and he’ll want to start making himself a contender again, tough match this but I will take him to shade it. Ricky and Mags might have to swap trousers and leave the cue on the table for each other in their match, Ricky famously dressing up as Mags earlier in the week to win, again I’d say this one will go to form and Maguire can book his quarter-final place. Another match that I think will go to form is Bingham and Higgins and when I say that I mean I think Bingham will win, he is easily in the better form of the two men at the moment.

Selections: Ding, Allen, Maguire, Bingham.

Recommended Bet: 1 point acca on Ding, Allen, Maguire, Bingham pays just on 11/2 at Boylesports. 

See all the match prices at Apollobet here.

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February 26, 2013

World Open Day Three

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:50 pm
There's some odd things going on this week all over the place.

There’s some odd things going on this week all over the place.

After all the hullabaloo of today’s announcement by Ronnie it’s time to actually concentrate on something other than some bloke telling everyone he’s going to go back to work after some time off and what better way to do so than to get back to the World Open in China?

In fairness it’s all happening over there and they are doing their best to steal the limelight back from The Rocket and the vodka gang. There has been lost luggage, borrowed socks, cues getting lost and generally behaving badly and tips falling off when they finally do make it to their rightful owners.

We even had the bizarre sight earlier of rain stopping play as a leaky roof threatened to bring monsoon-like showers to the match between Mark Allen and Ryan Day who had understandably not brought their waterproofs into the playing arena.

All this is happening in the context of sparce crowds and a referee with the loudest cough in earth, there also seems to be a constant noise in the background reminiscent of a swimming baths.

If anyone has ever seen ‘Carry on Abroad’ this truly seems like snooker’s very own version of the hotel on the island of Els Bells in the Costa Packet where Vic Flange and company enjoyed a bit of rain and general chaos on their holidays.

Pure slapstick stuff and comedy gold from the hapless and hopeless event organisers over there.

On the table there was a win today for the slightly damp champ Allen, who has as yet not taken to Twitter to tell us what he really thinks of things on his favourite island but sometimes a smile/sarcastic wave can spell a thousand words. Judd Trump was an impressive winner and put the UK ghost of Mark Joyce to sleep, other winners were Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Graeme Dott, Ian Burns, Matthew Stevens and some wildcard who beat Andrew Higginson, the Widnes man being the latest victim of The Cuesnatchers, as was Stevens who came back to beat Dave Gilbert and judging by this result he might be considering sticking with the borrowed one.

On another note, while the Twittersphere was very busy earlier on for obvious reasons I was also made aware of a quite bizarre online conversation between two big fans of Ronnie which seemed to centre around a blog post that I did the other day here which ended up being pretty accurate even though I say so myself (the blog post I mean not the conversation, definitely not the conversation).

This perfectly innocent and tongue-in-cheek assessment of the Rocket seemed to touch a nerve with this pair, who I am sure (I’m not) function largely normally in everyday life. One decided that I should change my name to ‘SnookerIdiot’ which must have taken him a while to think of, the other whilst rightly pointing out that I was funny and intelligent then took a diversion into the darker side of his persona and said that I displayed ‘possibly paranoid schizophrenic delusions of the most dangerous variety’.

A bit harsh I thought considering I was only talking about a bloke playing in a snooker tournament, but I read on nonetheless.

You’ve just gotta love these guys and they are probably highly excited at the amount of traffic they have had already today to read their totally rational thoughts on all things Ronald. So let’s give them another click to show our appreciation shall we? Here you go, click here.

I’d say enjoy but I think I should instead end with the old Crimewatch tagline of ‘Don’t Have Nightmares’, what a pair of balloons but it passes the time I suppose and they aren’t doing anyone any harm. Yet.

Anyway, I’m just off to quell the frothing, raging beast within by murdering a prostitute or two while my imaginary wife cooks my tea in my imaginary house with my imaginary butler (ok they can have that one). But not before looking at tomorrow’s matches.

In terms of the outrights, the daft punt on Gould was destined to failure as Murphy continued his hoodoo over him but I’m still happy with the Allen, Ding and Selby threesome and I reckon we won’t be far off the money with them.

He's had a little Willo

He’s had a little Willo

6.30am

Mark Selby v Lu Haotian
Mark Williams v Marco Fu (rescheduled to 11.30)
Barry Hawkins v Ian Burns

Wildcard Haotian is clearly a prospect and is learning the trade within this arena at a young age, but he’s playing Mark Selby tomorrow so only if there are smelly rats nibbling on the dead cats will this one not result in a comfortable win for the Jester, though there is no news on his cue or trouser suit the latter probably being more important to him given his swoony/Hollywood status in China with the ladies, but he’s so svelt these days he could probably borrow Lu’s at a push with a decent tailor on hand. MJW has just had a little Willo and I didn’t congratulate him and the lovely Mrs MJW on this on here, so, ermm, CONGRATULATIONS! (*inserts balloon and a picture of a shitty nappy* and a 🙂 and all that. Anyway, Big Willo plays Marco Fu and there are bound to be those who believe that Marco is a great bet at odds against, but I am not one of them, if you got the 2/1 on him that was available earlier in the week then well done as that is a very backable price but he’s no value now and the prices if anything make MJ the bet, he showed signs of cueing better in Wales and had other things on his mind, he’s also a very good traveller to events and the most successful of the lot out there still. I think he might just scupper a few bets tomorrow. Best value bet of this session for me has to be Ian Burns, he’s won a match already and Barry Hawkins’ record in China is about as bad as anyone can have out there, I may be way off here but take that 2/1 if you agree.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Ian Burns to beat Hawkins at 2/1 with Stan James

Ding Junhui v Michael Holt (played at the rescheduled time of 6.30am and Williams v Fu is now at 11.30am)

11.30am

John Higgins v Alan McManus
Stephen Maguire v Marcus Campbell
Stuart Bingham v Zhao Xintong

Predicted Winners: Higgins, Maguire, Bingham.

No recommended bet.

See all the match prices at Apollobet here.

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Ronnie’s Press Conference

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:00 pm

Posted to You Tube by Kiss Zsolt

O’Sullivan to Defend World Crown

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:31 pm
He's Back

He’s Back

It’s been a long few weeks for fans of Ronnie O’Sullivan as today he finally announced that he would be defending his World Championship title in Sheffield in April, to the delight of his fans around the world.

In the press conference he also announced his new sponsor for the event as Oval Vodka and said that the primary reason he was returning was because he was bored and fancied the challenge.

It will certainly be the boost that the World Championship needs but as Ronnie himself admits  “It’s going to be a tough call to go there with no match practice.. it’s going to be a massive challenge.”

So after weeks of guesswork and speculation everyone can now look forward to seeing him back in action where he belongs in what surely is his biggest challenge as a player, this is assuming that he remembers to enter by Thursday’s deadline.

It’s welcome back to him and as you were for everyone else.

Apollobet have reacted to the news by immediately slashing his price from 9/1 to 7/1 to grab a hold of the trophy again following a year out of action, assuming you disregard his one PTC appearance.

So can he do it? If anyone can, Ronnie can.

February 25, 2013

World Open Day 2 and the little matter of an announcement….

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:13 pm
Will Ronnie announce a career change?

Will Ronnie announce a career change?

It’s Day Two of the World Open in China but it’s highly likely that snooker’s radar and indeed a lot more people in person will be watching and waiting eagerly to find out what a certain Mr O’Sullivan will say at his press conference in London at high noon.

Yes tomorrow is the day that we find out what the slightly mad World Champ will bang on about this time. I think we can rule out his bid to become the next Pope although like Tony Meo in the song he has got ‘I-Talian roots’ so might settle in nicely at the Vatican.

I’m pretty sure that the dodgy archbishop who resigned today for priest-bothering isn’t making way for Ronnie on a career change mission which I reckon leaves us with two possible scenarios, he’s either announcing that he’s going to play at the Crucible after all or he’s going to tell us again that he isn’t and that he’s hanging up his chalk forever.

Either those or he’s going to learn ballet and do the lead role in Swan Lake at the Chingford Amateur Dramatics Christmas Charity Fundraiser at the Civic Hall, admission £2.50, concessions for OAP’s and dole-ites.

You heard it here first folks.

We’ll find out tomorrow for definite but my guess is that there will be a lot of happy fans out there who from now until he hits the first ball at the Crucible in less than 8 weeks time will be talking about him as only Ronnie fans can and incessantly do.

I hope he plays as it’s always better to have the best in it rather than sitting watching at home and despite what people say about nobody being bigger than the sport, he comes as close as you can to being just that, I’ve also kinda missed the barking mad nutter as I’m sure even his detractors might possibly reluctantly admit to. If you would like to read a highly scientific study of all the possibilities then please click here.

Away from London there is a snooker event going on and despite the usual and now expected desperately low numbers turning out to watch two quite poor standard matches on the main tables it did at least give everyone a chance to see how ITV are pitching their snooker offering and I have to say that I thought the early signs were encouraging.

Neal Foulds admirably held together a visibly nervous and slightly out-of-depth female companion in the main studio and the feel was very much a serious bit of snooker discussion rather than the attempts at hilarious slapstick and leftfield features often favoured by the BBC to varying levels of success. Hearing the Great Sir Clive of Everton back in the box was also a bonus and I remain amazed at how easily the BBC were prepared to let him go in favour of inferior pundits and commentators. I also liked the graphics and for me it stuck very much with how ITV did snooker in the 1980’s, nothing too fancy and a lot more focus on the sport than the people playing. I’d say it was a very promising start and I would be interested to see what others thought of it. I still wish Dickie Davies was there though.

Tomorrow should see the snooker improve a bit as well as players wearing their own clothes for a change. Ricky Walden became a bit of a charity case and had to do an impersonation of Stephen Maguire by borrowing his cue and his clobber for his match against Ebdon who continues to misfire to epic proportions in preparation no doubt for winning the China Open again. But it was impressive that Ricky managed to get the result despite even having to suffer the ignominy of borrowing a pair of socks to play in, he has now got his gear and his cue back so at least the old front/back/inside out/commando/do the same again after a good airing pants trick won’t have to come into play. Or is it only me that does that during the World Championship?

On a sadder note, there was another win for a wildcard too, but I refuse to name him as they shouldn’t be in it and I feel sorry for Simon Bedford who becomes the latest victim of this gross baize-tinted injustice, let’s just hope that the casualties are minimised as the tournament goes on and all the wildcards are sent packing sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I will of course keep you all posted on the Ronnie stuff but I’m sure you’ll hear it well before I get round to putting anything on here.

Ronnie is still 9/1 to win the World Championship at Apollobet and I suggest if you think he will, to back that tonight by clicking here, you are highly unlikely to get a better price at any time in the future once he tells people he is playing.

You can also check out Apollobet’s match prices for Day 2 by clicking here.

Burns: Cert.

Burns: Cert.

6.30am

Mark Allen v Ryan Day
Shaun Murphy v Martin Gould
Ian Burns v Saleh Muhammad
Andrew Higginson v Zhao Xintong

The holder Mark Allen has a 6-3 head to head lead over Ryan Day winning their last five encounters. Day came back to prominence with a decent run in the World Championship but still is far from the player he was when he sat looking like a future world champion in the top 8 and I expect Allen to come through that one. The Gould v Murphy match could decide who wins that quarter and as I said in the preview Martin is yet to beat Shaun in five attempts, there is no rational reason for thinking he will here as Murphy is in good form and is a strong starter to events and very rarely loses his first match, I have taken a silly price about Gould in the outrights on the basis that his price will drop markedly if he wins this match so it’s a watching brief for me, but gun to head I’d probably side with Murphy. Saleh Muhammad is from Afghanistan, by chance he turned 40 today so it’s fair to say he won’t be one for the future, he’s won a couple of medals at the Asian Games and I think I remember him playing in that World Cup event last season but unless I am missing something he should not trouble Ian Burns in the slightest, if you can get any sort of price on Burns in the handicaps then take it, but at time of writing all the betting on the match seems to have disappeared. Andrew Higginson’s wildcard opponent is no pushover and can count Ken Doherty, Xiao Guodong and Yu Delu amongst his conquests this season, but Higginson would be his best win so far and I hope Andrew comes through and isn’t another victim of these bloody pests.

Predicted Winners: Allen, Murphy, Burns, Higginson.

11.30am

Judd Trump v Mark Joyce
Neil Robertson v Dominic Dale
Matthew Stevens v David Gilbert
Graeme Dott v Jamie Cope

Mark Joyce famously beat Judd Trump in the UK championship when Judd appeared uninterested in the match and took his foot off the gas in a match he should have won, it wasn’t the first time Joyce had beaten him and I actually wouldn’t completely write off another shock here. Now then here’s something, Dominic Dale has beaten Neil Robertson on the last 4 occasions they have played including in Neil’s own backyard in the Australian Open, does Dom have a hoodoo over the former World Champion? Perhaps so and again this session may be set up for one of shocks. Dave Gilbert will fancy his chances of turning over the out of form Matthew Stevens and again I would be tempted to have a small interest on him doing just that. Jamie Cope also has a good record against Graeme Dott so this session could really be one that turns over the prices if history is anything to go by so it’s worth a small interest on all four outsiders in this session, watch all the favourites storm in now!

Recommended Bet: 4 x 0.5 trebles and a 1 point acca (all +2.5 frames) Joyce (Evens), Dale (10/11), Gilbert (1/2) and Cope (4/11) at Apollobet.

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February 24, 2013

World Open Day One

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:11 pm

Day One in China is dominated largely by the Wildcard Round and it’s not really one I want to get heavily involved in from a betting perspective, more out of principle than anything. 

I don’t really see any solid bets in the first session though I would not be at all surprised if Nigel Bond was beaten by his very useful young wildcard. I will have a look at the second one in the morning, but on balance it’s a day to just hope all the players that deserve to be there get through.

You can read my outright preview here

UK times

6.30am

Ricky Walden v Peter Ebdon
Alan McManus v Lin Shuai
Mark Joyce v Noppon Saengkham
Nigel Bond v Zhu Yinghui

Recommended Bet: 1 point on Yinghui to beat Bond at 2/1 with Apollobet

11.30am

Simon Bedford v Lu Haotian
Dark Mavis v Robert Milkins
David Gilbert v Lu Ning
Jamie Cope v Wang Yuchen

Predicted Winners: Haotian, Milkins, Gilbert, Cope.

No Recommended Bet

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World Open Preview: Selby Can Regain Momentum

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:43 pm
Mark Allen is back to defend his title, unfortunately Freddie Mercury is currently dead.

Mark Allen is back to defend his title, unfortunately Freddie Mercury is currently dead.

Dead Cats, that is what most people remember about the World Open last season as it was here that Mark Allen famously upset an entire nation with his thoughts on the venue and the people in it before scurrying off with the trophy without so much as a farewell wave to poor old Tiddles.

Despite the fact that our Mark had a rotten time here he is back this week to defend his title on Hainan Island. The tournament is sponsored by Yearly Yuan-Jiang Gujinggong Liquor, try saying that when your pissed, in fact try saying it when you’re sober.

Earlier this week German Master Ali Carter pulled out of the event due to ill-health, I hope he’s feeling better soon as he promised in Berlin to give me another Captain’s Log soon, but I’ll understand if he’s not feeling up to it and given his ongoing battle with Crohn’s it’s hardly surprising that a trip to somewhere with questionable hygiene levels if Mark is to be believed isn’t high on his list of things to do. His Captain’s Logs might take on a whole new dimension if you catch my drift.

But apart from Ali and the currently resting Ronnie O’Sullivan and the suspended Stephen Lee it’s all the usual suspects turning up for business. The event is still subject to the tiresome and unneccesary wildcard round which is always guaranteed to make my blood boil. Thankfully when the flatter structures come into play they will have to dispense with this unfair initiative, apart from at the stubborn and backward thinking Shanghai Masters which will retain the current structure next season, bin the sponsors I say.

A copy of the draw for the event can be found here and the schedule session can be viewed here. The tournament also marks the rebirth of live snooker on ITV in the UK and a long overdue return to TV work for the great Sir Clive of Everton. This is a very welcome step in the right direction negotiated by World Snooker and they deserve a lot of credit for getting this network back on board for something other than the dreadful PowerSnooker.

This has all been done despite the fact that some of the tabloid hacks seem intent on ruining the sport in the UK forever with the likes of their poor excuse for journalism today which was littered with inaccuracies and mistakes. It would be nice if the retards that wrote this bollocks checked their facts now and again, but they can’t even transcribe the interview into text properly and this tells you the level of shaved chimp we are dealing with here, so desperate to be the name that brings snooker’s downfall ever closer that they forget to actually check the facts.

As for Jogia and those who egged him on and supported him in his quest to make a few quid including those from so called professional bodies who were behind him and his story from the beginning even to the extent of looking at (but failing in) funding his appeal, all I will say is that if his allegations about the Far-East betting syndicates are true, I hope he and they have a good bodyguard and/or life insurance policy as my guess is that those kind of people don’t mess about in the way they conduct their business. I can push the boat out on here sometimes I know but if Joe carries on with this line of appeal he’s probably going to need more than a pair of crutches in a few months time.

Anyway, after all that unpleasantness it’s time for a look at the draw itself. In terms of outright picks lately we’ve been doing quite well in marking up Judd to win the International Championship at 8/1, Selby to win the Masters at 15/2 and Ali to win in Berlin at 25/1 so let’s see if we can keep the run going.

Here is a breakdown of the prize money on offer in this event:

Winner: £85,000
Runner-up: £35,000
Semi-finals: £20,000
Quarter-finals: £11,000
Last 16: £7,500
Last 32: £6,000
Last 48: £2,300
Last 64: £1,500
High TV break: £3,500
High non-TV break: £700
Total: £425,000 

Apollobet have decided to go best price on every player in the outright market so if you are following me in make sure you place your bets with the blog partners. If you don’t have an account with them click here to open one, if you do click here to check out their outright prices and here to check out their Specials. 

Charming

Charming

Quarter One:

This quarter sees the defending champion Allen at the head of the draw with some real threats around him, including his first round opponent Ryan Day who is more than capable of causing an upset. Also in this section is the newly crowned Welsh Open champion Stephen Maguire who promised to hold the mother of all parties in Glasgow after winning in Newport. Given the Scottish reputation for liking their booze, that on its own is enough to stop me recommending him for the follow-up victory as he’s probably still pissed now, he’s also up against Marcus Campbell who was probably at the party with him, there could be carnage. Dark Mavis is obviously a danger but both him and Ricky Walden who is also in this section have gone a bit flat lately and whilst they have both produced in China this season I think they may be best watched until some sign that their form is returning. Peter Ebdon is also here and even though he has been pretty awful lately that fits with how he’s been in the past when he’s come to China and won a tournament out of the blue so a saver on him over there is always recommended, but on balance I’d take Allen to win this quarter and if he does he’s always a danger at the business end of things.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Mark Allen to win the World Open at 12/1 and 0.5 points each way on Peter Ebdon at 55/1, both prices with Apollobet.

Due a win in China

Due a win in China

Quarter Two:

Another high quality quarter with the likes of John Higgins, new dad Mark Williams, Stuart Bingham, Ding Junhui and Marco Fu all involved. I am still unconvinced that Higgins will come back to form this season, his game does not look right to me and I maintain that getting that table in his house rather than ‘going to work’ every day at the club is behind his sudden slump in form, I can’t back him until he starts showing something like his old self and weirdly for him he is missing pressure balls and that is very odd to see. His career has mirrored Stephen Hendry more than any other player’s has and perhaps this is the start of the slide that inevitably happens to prolific winners as they approach their 40’s. A much more appealing prospect in that section is Bingham, he’s bang in form and now a proven top drawer player who will be giving it his all again, he could go close this week. But I am going to take another chance on Ding here, OK his form in China in the past couple of seasons doesn’t instill a lot of confidence but surely it has to end somewhere, he’s playing as well as he has for a bit and I think he might just have a run in this one at what I’d say is a nice price.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Ding Junhui to win the World Open at 16/1 with Apollobet.

Gould: Big Price

Gould: Big Price

Quarter Three:

The draw has opened up a little for tournament favourite Judd Trump with Ali Carter’s withdrawal but he still might face the man who dumped him out of the UK Mark Joyce in the first round so he might not have things all his own way. For me at the moment, Judd like Higgins is a player to watch to see if his form looks like returning, that might sound a very silly remark about a player who made the semi-finals in the last ranking event and is back at world number one but the minute he came up against a really top player in Newport he lost and I think it will happen again here. Of more interest to me is the match at the bottom of this quarter between Shaun Murphy and Martin Gould, both of whom I consider as top players. I reckon the winner of that match will win this quarter, but here’s the rub, Martin has never beaten Shaun in five attempts and Smurf is a famously solid starter at tournaments and rarely loses in the first round, but the gulf in price is making me favour the Pinner Potter from a value perspective  (I know, I know, you can’t spend value) and if he beats Shaun for me he has a huge chance of making the semi-finals despite the presence of Trump and Dave Gilbert who given Matthew Stevens’ recent form will fancy his chances of progressing assuming he beats his no-pushover wildcard Li Ning.

Recommended Bet: 1 point each way on Martin Gould to win the World Open at 50/1 with Apollobet.

Selby - really small picture

Selby – really small picture

Quarter Four: 

Neil Robertson and Mark Selby dominate this quarter and it would be a brave punter that would bet against them meeting in the last eight despite the fact that both have looked a little season-weary of late. For me Robbo in particular looks like he needs a month off, he doesn’t look as sharp as he did at the start of the season and to some extent the same can be said for Selby, but I just think the Jester copes a little better with tour fatigue and sometimes he looks like he sleeps in a coffin and is charged up by electricity as he rests so I would not be at all surprised if he got back to winning ways again here. Graeme Dott and Barry Hawkins would appear to be the main dangers to the big two and Dott of course can never be written off, but in terms of a player that I can see carrying off the trophy and yet another big cheque most next weekend it has to be Selby, who I reckon will want his number one spot back as well as putting his name firmly in the frame of challengers should a certain absentee decide he is coming to a party in May on Tuesday.

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Mark Selby to win the World Open at 15/2 with Apollobet

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Jogia Keeps His Promise

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:31 am
He's not so quiet now.

He’s not so quiet now.

When our old pal Joe ‘My Name is Gold’ Jogia got kicked out of snooker recently he promised to lift the lid on what he called the widespread corruption in the sport and today is the day that he has done just that.

Joe has come out fighting and claims that lots of snooker players have in the past lost matches deliberately to line their own pockets. Though The Sunday Mirror stops short of naming the players that Joe has told them about they do give some fairly strong hints at who it is he is pointing the finger at.

He claims that a player once ranked in the top 10 and whose tournament earnings topped £1million deliberately lost against him. And he reveals he was approached to join a Far East-based match-fixing gang containing a dozen professionals.

The paper names the event PTC4 in Germany last season as the place where a meeting took place:

“I heard some players messing about in the next room. They were a bit sheepish when I walked in but they brought me into the conversation. There were three players and they said they would get £9,000 each for all three losing but if I came in it would work out to £15,000 each. They were trying to persuade me to do it for half an hour. They said if I got the train to London the following week and met one of the players he would hand over £15,000 in an envelope.”

Joe said bets would have been spread around bookmakers online and on the high street to avoid suspicion. The paper states that two of the players are ranked and one was once in the world top 40. The paper says that they are not naming them ‘today’.

He said: “I said ‘no’ to them, left and won my game. I don’t think it was a coincidence that all those three lost. I didn’t approach the authorities. I just thought, ‘Leave it’. I didn’t want to get involved.”

Joe beat Daniel Wells, Mark Allen and Aditya Mehta in that event before losing to Stephen Lee.

He then recounts another episode in 2010 where he became suspicious playing a player who according to the paper had been in the world top 10 (though Joe actually says top 20 in the interview). He said: “He was hitting safety shots a bit thick, losing the cue ball and missing pots by a long way. It was getting quite bad… it was embarrassing, like playing against ­Stevie Wonder. At the interval I went to the toilet when I was 3-1 in front. I smiled at him and said, ‘I take it you are not going to win this game’. He just smiled at me and walked away.”

A look at Joe’s results in the season rather than the year 2010 and the fact that he mentions there was an interval makes the match that he is talking about fairly easy to identify. Though on closer inspection he was never 3-1 up in that match so there are a number of holes in his account there.

Joe is also convinced that another top player, now retired, deliberately lost as he watched at the side of the table. He said: “It was his last game as a professional. He lost on purpose and there was about £80,000 worth of bets on him to lose.”

If it’s the match I think he’s talking about he’s probably spot on with that one.

The WPBSA has responded with the following statement from Jason Ferguson:

“World Snooker confirms that Joe Jogia has had his WPBSA membership terminated and is currently serving a two-year ban from competition, following an investigation into one of his matches which produced suspicious betting patterns.

“Joe has been informed that he will not be permitted to re-apply for membership to the association until he has repaid both the costs charged in relation to his initial hearing and the costs incurred by the association regarding his spurious appeal.

“The WPBSA takes the issue of match-fixing ­extremely seriously and we have ­pioneered methods of dealing with an issue which affects virtually every sport. We have updated our rules on betting and made it clear to all players they could potentially face lifetime bans if any rules are breached. We work closely alongside the Gambling Commission and bookmakers to investigate any suspicious betting patterns, or any allegations with substance behind them.

“At no time has Joe Jogia informed the WPBSA of these allegations or any concerns that he may have regarding the integrity of the sport as he is obliged to do under the WPBSA members rules and regulations.”

You can see what Joe has to say by clicking here.

February 23, 2013

Gray Scoops Classic Crown

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:12 pm
Last year's champion O'Donnell presents the trophy to this year's winner.

To me, to you. Two Champs.

Yesterday in Leeds it was London’s David Gray who became the second player to lift the Snookerbacker Classic trophy and make his way on to Q-School in May to represent the blog, defeating Kyren Wilson 4-2 in the final.

David qualified from the Last Chance Saloon event in Gloucester just days before swooping in on Finals Day and nabbing the big prize in what was a busy week for the former Scottish Open Champion and UK Championship Runner-up.

The 34 year old Londoner is a very familiar name on the snooker circuit and I’m delighted that this win can help resurrect his career on the baize, he has to be a strong favourite to be the second winner to progress onto the main tour on yesterday’s evidence.

The day started with myself and Mrs SB travelling to Leeds and again getting hopelessly lost at one point, but having factored this in to the journey time we still arrived in plenty of time to lay out the tournament desk and decorate the Northern Snooker Centre with posters, the basic rule being that if there was a space somewhere, put a poster there.

The early matches saw the eventual champion take a commanding lead over Welshman Jamie Clarke who looked a little out of sorts having been ill all week but just as David looked to be heading for a comfortable win Jamie found some form and in the end David ran out a 4-2 winner in a match that could easily have gone to a decider.

On the other table local boy Sanderson Lam had a tussle with Ant Parsons from the North East, Sandi coming out a 4-1 winner with a very disappointed Ant claiming he just didn’t perform on the day, which of course can happen to anyone.

The second session saw two high quality encounters, Kyren Wilson saw off Adam Wicheard and young Oliver Lines managed to beat Gloucester’s Andrew Norman with a pot success in the 90%’s.

It was a very notable session for Lines, who to the horror of the onlooking and already beaten Clarke compiled his highest ever break in tournament play or in practice of 142, eclipsing Clarke’s 141 which had stood as the Classic highest break since October. Oli’s break was perfection and in truth he never looked like missing, he is some prospect and a name for the notebook. As for Jamie, he probably wishes he hadn’t bothered rising out of his sick bed for the 7 hour drive, as the break cost him the £300 high break prize.

The sociable side of the Classic was again evident and a lot of the usual suspects and many more were around to watch the action. The day was added to by the presence of Monique Limbos who had flown in from Belgium especially to snap away and her pictures from the day can be found on Facebook by clicking here.

But the main talking point for most was the amazing live scoring system provided by MySnookerStats and it soon became evident on Twitter that this was going down an absolute storm with everyone. Comments came in from places like China, Australia, Germany, Holland, Russia, Japan, Canada, the USA and Wigan with unending praise for the facility and I am pleased to report that yesterday saw over 1500 unique visitors logging in to the scoring to keep up with the event. It was truly a triumph and I hope to work with the guys again next season. A huge thanks goes to Andy Guest, Dom Cullen and Adam Whelan who kept the whole thing going under the weight of the SB Army clamouring for their stat fix, a truly sterling effort all round. You can find all the stats from yesterday by clicking here – click the match score for specific player stats.

By this time last year’s winner Martin O’Donnell had turned up as promised and his appearance fee was handed to him in the form of a brown envelope crammed with used notes. He then accompanied the lovely Mrs SB back to the hotel while I stayed to keep an eye on the action, they were gone quite a while but having applied thumbscrews to the MO’D and a tickling stick to Mrs SB I am quite sure that I have no reason to be suspicious about anything, though the MO’D is of course as taken with the delightful Mrs SB as everyone else and I’m sure he turned on the charm when he slipped her a gin and tonic in the hotel bar, the cheeky cockney scamp.

On the table Gray had a real classic match against Sanderson Lam and it produced the only decider of the day in what was a very tense affair. It again outlined the difference between being a losing semi-finalist and making the final, Sandi can be proud of how he performed and he was one frame away from getting his Q-School entry paid for, it was clear at the end how much it meant to both players and David visibly relaxed after the match.

Oli - Career High Break of 142

Oli – Career High Break of 142

Whilst they were playing things were getting ever more sociable in the bar and the likes of the Wizard, Snoops, Jaykay, Elvis, Roland and the MO’D were having a right old time of it. Oliver Lines in the meantime professed how much he liked my shoes, which I wore to my wedding and Joe Johnson would have been proud of. Anyway, I promised them to him if he won the tournament and grew his feet two sizes, which he probably will at some time in the future.

It was his turn next and he didn’t manage to replicate the form he had shown earlier against Andrew and lost 4-2 to Kyren, who having already gained his tour place through the PTC’s this season was playing for the cash prize.

Oli however leaves the event with his £150 losing semi-finalist prize and the £300 for the highest break, his 142 being the best break ever made in the SB Classic.

He also leaves with a new and expanding fanbase judging by some of the support I saw for him online, particularly from the female crowd. The good news is that he’s a really nice lad and has an attitude that is sure to see him succeed as long as he stays just as he is. I’m sure that Peter and Sarah are very proud of him and with good reason, if he doesn’t make professional at Q-School this year I think he’ll be very hard to stop in next season’s Classic.

It was then time for the final and as with last year it was smiles all round as Gray relaxed into his game and produced a decent performance, probably his best of the day, to scoop the extra £500 on top of his Q-School entry. I managed to wrestle The MO’D away from the bar to present the trophy to the new champ, but not before he had a moan that David’s trophy was bigger than his, some people are never happy….

But the day belonged to David and he came along for the winners curry afterwards with a smile as wide as the trophy. It’s a long way back for him to get to where he has been in the game, he can count a Crucible victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan amongst his achievements, but this is a good start and I have no doubt whatsoever that we haven’t seen the last of him. It also goes to prove that the Snookerbacker Classic is for everyone, it’s a level playing field whether you are looking at making a comeback like David or just starting out in your career like Jamie, Oli and Sandi.

The new champ spoke at length over dinner about regular coaching sessions that he holds in Coulsdon for local kids on Saturdays and it’s clear this is something that means a great deal to him, snooker is most definitely in his blood and his passion for the game shines through when he gets talking. He’s a cracking bloke and I really hope that he doesn’t have to defend his title next season as for me, he belongs on the main tour and judging by the reaction of a few players on hearing of his win I am not alone in thinking this, he does need a new nickname though as he doesn’t really like his old one ‘Casper’ which relates to his pale complexion. Mrs SB and I discussed this on the way home earlier and we like ‘The Swift’ after all, he has swooped in as quick as a flash and nabbed the title this week.

He also generously said he will display the trophy in Coulsdon Snooker Centre as he knows they would like to have it on show there so if you are in the area go and have a look at it and get a photo with it, send it to me and I might just put it up on here. A bit like when people see the FA Cup and all that, except better.

Finally, there are far too many people that we need to thank for making the tournament a huge success this season, I hope that we got round to doing so yesterday but if not please forgive us as we were both busy and by the end the drinks were flowing. It’s a really enjoyable tournament to be involved with and I am truly flattered at how well a concept that I thought of in bed one day has been received and we both hope to see old and new faces again next season for the next one.

A special big thank you however must go to referees Alex Crum and Matthew Lowson for yesterday which saw the white-gloved twosome working non-stop for more hours than I’d care to imagine. I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.

I’ll be keeping tabs on David in the run-up to Q-School and of course rooting for him to carry the torch for the blog when he plays there.

Go get ’em Champ. The comeback starts here.

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