Snookerbacker

April 29, 2013

Day 11 at the World Championship: Quarter Final Preview (UPDATED)

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:37 pm
We are down to the final eight.

We are down to the final eight.

As there is a pretty quick turnaround after the Monday evening session I thought it best to get the Quarter Final preview up for the first two matches that we know with the other two to follow in the morning.

The bets from the second round have gone extremely well with (as I write) the possibility that all eight recommended will land if Ricky Walden finishes the job and Ronnie and Ali can conjure up a century break between them tonight in the final session, but we’ll see.

EDIT: They did so all eight bets recommended in the R2 preview won.

As the debate rages on about toilet breaks and burn out it was great to hear that two decent new events are set to be launched next season, one in India and one in ermm, Coventry.

You can read everything that Bazza had to say on that here and I’m sure I’ll have something to say on the matter soon enough, I usually do after all.

But for now, the first two QF’s between Trump and Murphy and Ding and Hawkins are previewed briefly below with the other two to follow on the morrow.

I do like the price of the bet on the Ding match and I am not sure after this post goes up how long that price will last, so if you fancy it be quick, as the actress said to the bishop.

The best of luck if you are having a bet.

Quarter Finals (click on the match for head to head statistics):

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stuart Bingham

The Ronnie go-round is now well and truly spinning after a great display last night against Ali, who proclaimed afterwards that if the Rocket doesn’t lose his head he will win the tournament again. Indeed, in the balls last night Ronnie was as sharp as ever, even his long game began to improve towards the end of the match and that might be an ominous sign for the rest of the field. He plays Stuart Bingham who was another that pulled away towards the end of his match against Dark Mavis from being level coming into the latter stages. Unlike Ali, Stuart has beaten Ronnie and over a longer distance, in the 2010 UK Championship when he won 9-6. But Ronnie has won all four of their other encounters against his former practice partner. Bingham is a tough cookie these days and I don’t think this is a gimmee for Ronnie, who will need to be just as sharp if not sharper and can’t afford a dodgy first session today. I was going to flag up Stuart at +4.5 frames at around the 8/11 mark until I saw the bet below, which actually gives you both players at better odds.

Selection: O’Sullivan 13-9

Recommended Bet: 2 points on the winning margin being under 4.5 frames at 10/11 with Paddy Power

Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy

An absolute cracker is on the cards here between two players who have already shown glimpses of their best form, both coming here relatively fresh. They have met surprisingly few times in big events and that only adds to the intrigue of this encounter. Judd seems to have the bit between his teeth so far and also, as is often the case when he is in decent form he seems to be getting just that little bit of running here and there to help him along the way, he is a lot of people’s idea of the winner. Murphy will be determined to finish what has been a disappointing season for him on a high and you can almost smell his determination through the TV screen as he hammers those long pots home with his machine-like cue action. I’ll be honest here, I haven’t got a strong view on this one and can forsee any number of outcomes, most of them are of it being quite close so with that in mind just a small interest on the outsider is where I will be placing a small daft wager.

Selection: Murphy 13-10

Recommended Bet: 1 point on Murphy to win 13-10 at 14/1 with Apollobet.

Ricky Walden v Michael White

Michael WhiteWhat a prize awaiting the winner of this one, a place in the semi-finals to play in the one-table situation for a player who won his first ever match here on Day 2 and a player who at 21 years old is making his Crucible debut. Ricky came through the mill last night and survived a comeback by Rob Milkins, he has been known to crumble under pressure at times in the past but didn’t last night even though he made no secret of the fact that he is trying his best and failing to not get carried away looking at the draw. Michael White for me has played some of the best snooker of the championship so far and is a player that I believe could even achieve the impossible this week. He is fearless, enjoying every minute and up to now has been clinical in putting matches to bed. OK, he had very little to do in the last round but his performance against MJW felt like the dawning of a new star in snooker. Jamie Jones, also from Neath got to this stage last year and lost, then had a terrible season this time, I’m going to take White to buck this trend and progress to the semi-finals and kick on next season aswell.

Selection: White 13-8

Recommended Bet: 4 points on over 1.5 centuries at 8/11 with Bet 365 

Ding Junhui v Barry Hawkins

Barry Hawkins has a decent record against Ding and after a win over Selby may approach this in very much a devil may care mood and that makes him a danger man. For me this is probably in reality Ding’s semi-final as I would be surprised if, having won this one he lost another real semi-final on the one table set up. There is little doubt that Ding is showing glimpses of brilliance but the bookies don’t seem that convinced that he’s such a sure thing against Hawkins and I have to say that I agree. His lapses of concentration are still apparent and were exposed by Mark King to some extent but King isn’t as strong a scorer as Barry and his safety is probably not quite as good these days either. Ding will probably win and the 1/2 at Hills will attract money I am sure, but the one thing you can usually rely on in his matches is centuries and Barry is no slouch in this area either so the early price that has been put up at Bet 365 below should be backed before it’s gone.

Selection: Ding 13-9

Recommended Bet: 4 points on more than 2.5 centuries at 10/11 with Bet 365. (This price went within minutes of the preview going up, I think 8/11 is best now) 

Recommended Accas: 1 point on O’Sullivan, Murphy, White and Ding pays just on 12/1 at Bet Victor. 3 points on Bingham (+5.5), Murphy (+3.5) and White (+3.5) pays over 11/4 at Ladbrokes.

Order of Play Today

10am

Shaun Murphy 2-6 Judd Trump
Ding Junhui 3-5 Barry Hawkins

2.30pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan 7-1 Stuart Bingham
Ricky Walden 6-2 Michael White

7pm

Shaun Murphy 8-8 Judd Trump
Ding Junhui v Barry Hawkins

If you like betting in-running blog partners Apollobet have launched a new live service that is well worth a look, click on their website here and click the live betting section.

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Ronnie Talks

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:30 pm

World Championship Day 10

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:42 am
Likes: Shoes, Vegas and Hanging out. Dislikes: Education, Old Stuff.

Likes: Shoes, Vegas and Hanging out. Dislikes: Education, Old Stuff.

What a cracking day we have in store today on Day 10 of the World Championship. There are only two sessions but each of them see two matches playing to a finish including tonight’s epic between O’Sullivan and Carter and by the end of today the full quarter final line-up will be known.

For those who thought that Sunday’s brief post was a result of me at last ‘seeing the light’ and attending church for the day, I have some disappointing news. I still don’t believe in the big man upstairs for the same reason as I don’t believe in the tooth fairy (those minor details called proof and science) and the lack of post was simply a result of the much discussed ‘burn out’ factor which seems to be affecting a lot of the snooker fraternity of late.

Yes, the weekend trip to the Crucible was enough to see off this particular blogger for a day and I felt in esteemed company as we have seen John Higgins, Mark Selby, Marco Fu and Neil Robertson all blame the heavy schedule this season for their under-par showing at the great championship. Selby in particular showing what all his efforts this season have done for his chances of being a world champion with a frankly turgid display against the much fresher looking Barry Hawkins.

The players next season will be in a position to pick and choose events and I am sure that the big players will do just that, which means two things. Firstly, there are bound to be new faces appearing on our screens more regularly in events like the Wuxi Classic and the Australian Open but secondly that it does mean some tournaments will be somewhat devalued, even for the winners. Winning an event in bongo-bongo land in front of one man and his dead cat with none of the top 16 competing won’t exactly launch a career however much the boys at Eurosport dress it up and for me this does risk snooker becoming spread too thinly and the calendar being 60% dirge and 40% proper tournaments.

However, it will at least I suppose lead to championships that are more established regaining some of the status they have perhaps lost since the beginning of the reign of King Bazza, so it’s very much a double edged sword. But I will say what I said when he first started banging on about 51 weeks of snooker a year again, it’s a mistake, saturation kills all sports eventually (I await with baited breath the death of football) and I think a healthy dose of as many as 10-12 big tournaments for decent prize money beats 30-odd little crappy ones every time, but it seems this is the way it’s heading. It will also mean that as a blogger, selectivity will be the order of the day here too.

My burn out seems to have recovered now though, I am a husband, a blogger, a tournament director and I spend far too much time on Twitter, oh yes and I also have a job, but it’s taken me a day to get over a late night which involved a great deal of snooker chat with some old friends and a chance to once again watch some action at the home of snooker.

I am beginning to get the feeling of a turn in the tide when it comes to moving this great championship out of Sheffield by the way, I don’t think it will happen in the foreseeable future, which is great news for all snooker fans who care about the traditions and history of the sport.

Which brings me to the subject of Judd, oh Judd. Judd Judd Judd……

At the end of the BBC coverage yesterday he seemed to take umbridge with a feature on the late great Joe Davis by his namesake Steve, questioning as only he can what a feature about things that happened and I quote ‘3 million years ago’ offers to kids wanting to get into the sport. The feature was actually quite fascinating with lots of old footage and if I could have sat a little cherub down and given them a little history lesson I am certain they would have been asking questions about it all night. For those that want to know more about the godfather of snooker, this is a must watch maybe even show it to a kid and see what they think?

Florence, no Judd she's not the one with the machine.

Florence, no Judd she’s not the one with the machine.

I hope that Judd was just hoping to provoke a reaction and continue to cultivate this ill-advised strategy of being snooker’s new bad boy. He’s about as bad as Florence Nightingale, who he’ll probably have to look up in one of those book things and is quickly coming across in the media at least as vacant, greedy, vulgar and as one-dimensional as a postcard. I think he needs to take his off-table career back into his own hands as he is a wonderful player but at this rate he could end up being a very unpopular world champion, perhaps even this week.

On the table he has been right back to form and if he’d just learn to do his talking there it would be quite an achievement. His verbal contributions seem manufactured and designed to shock, they don’t reflect the lad I have seen at close quarters one bit who at the risk of compromising ‘the brand’ seems thoroughly pleasant and quite humble.

This is in contrast to the likes of Ronnie or Mark Allen who, when they say things that grab the headlines are just being themselves, Judd seems too eager to create controversy and that won’t work for long. I even thought at one point that the tweet directed at the great JD was from a new spoof account that has materialised, but it appears he is turning into something of a parody of himself.

Anyway, I think today we might really see the championship take off. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Ronnie and Ali and despite the BBC claiming that O’Sullivan was a little off-colour yesterday I actually think he’s getting better with every session he plays, his long game is still way off the standard of the likes of Judd and Ding but in the balls he remains the best of them all. Ali has also been extremely solid and tonight promises to be even better, he is disappointed not to be at least level but today is another day.

The match between Mark King and Ding Junhui turned around much as expected yesterday and the fancy prices that appeared after King took a 6-2 lead on Ding to win both the match and the tournament were snapped up by anyone with the first idea about snooker. I’m not saying that King can’t produce an unlikely win from behind, indeed he is usually more dangerous when nobody expects him to win but the first session deficit was overturned by his brilliant opponent in fairly predictable style yesterday.

Mavis and Ballrun are also having a right old tussle and start this afternoon’s session level in a match which to many seems more or less nailed on to go the distance. Also tonight Ricky Walden attempts to make the Quarter Finals for the first time as he re-enters the arena with a 10-6 advantage over Rob Milkins, Ricky will be keen to put away any thoughts of Clinchers Disease and finish that before the mid-session interval, if he does, the stage could be set for a grandstand finish on Table 1 for all to see.

In terms of betting, the four recommended bets on the second round so far have all landed and the final four resting on today are all in with a live chance, if there is another century in Ronnie’s match, Mavis and Bingham both win at least another frame each, Ding wins without conceding a further 3 frames and Walden wins in anything but a decider it will be a clean sweep of recommended bets. If any of you followed them to the letter I am sure you, like me, will be glued to the TV from 1pm.

If you like betting in-running and are looking to lay off today, blog partners Apollobet new in-running service is well worth a look, click on their website here and click the live betting section.

Fingers crossed and ankle clips fitted.

1pm

Stuart Bingham 13-10 Dark Mavis
Mark King 9-13 Ding Junhui

7pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 Ali Carter
Robert Milkins 6-10 Ricky Walden

(All matches play to a finish)

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the images, you can view her Facebook album from day seven here.

April 28, 2013

World Championship Day Nine

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:00 am

You can read my match by match second round betting preview here

10am

Stuart Bingham 4-4 Mark Davis
Robert Milkins 3-5 Ricky Walden

2.30pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 Ali Carter
Mark King 7-9 Ding Junhui

7pm

Stuart Bingham 8-8 Mark Davis
Robert Milkins 6-10 Ricky Walden

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, you can view her Facebook album from day seven here.

April 27, 2013

World Championship Day 8

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:21 am
Footy Shirt Man (left) and Ronnie (right)

Footy Shirt Man (left) and Ronnie (right)

Day 8 at the Crucible sees the return of the defending champion, a full week after he won his opening match. If Ronnie is going to win this great championship he will be playing every day from this point onwards, as would his opponent today Ali Carter.

Yesterday saw the first two names into the Quarter Finals as Michael White finished his match against a more understated Dechawat Poomjaeng a session early by winning six of the eight frames they played to win 13-3.

White must be living the dream at the moment and who is to say that he can’t make all the way to the one table set up the way he is playing? He faces Rob Milkins or Ricky Walden to do just that so we are bound to see at least one new face in the semi-finals this year. There must be a small part of him that is daring to dream of winning this and wouldn’t it be ironic if after the 6 times runner-up tag of his famous namesake, he can etch the name of White on the trophy at last at the very first time of asking?

“I’m thrilled,” he beamed afterwards “I had to keep in the zone and keep concentrating and I thought I dealt with that pretty well throughout the game. Last night, he was joking around a lot but I held it together pretty well”.

“At 10-2 I thought I could win with a session to spare. I was delighted in the end to get a couple of breaks and finish him off. I think it’s definitely an advantage to have an extra day off, I can relax now and go and practise for a couple of days and just enjoy the result.”

Last night saw a real epic between Shaun Murphy and Graeme Dott who earlier in the day had gone all prima donna on us and insisted that the Crucible carpet be ‘watered’ to counter the static shocks that he, but nobody else was getting.

It’s fair to say that the level of scientific knowledge on display both on the BBC and on Twitter left a little to be desired. Willie suggested that Graeme might have had something metal in his pocket and that maybe this was to blame, that’s a new one on me I have to say. Others concluded that the problem wasn’t with the carpet but with Dotty himself which would seem the most logical conclusion, but nevertheless Dotty’s crackpot request to mix water with electricity was granted and the Crucible Carpet Gardener was awoken from his shed for the first time since 1977 to do his thing. The knowledgable Crucible crowd showed their appreciation and scientific nouse by giving snooker’s very own Percy Thrower a little clap while he set about tending to his shagpile.

Whatever he did, it incredibly seemed to work, though we weren’t told whether Dotty has also changed his shoes, but Graeme appeared to return in terrier mode and fought in a similar vein all day but it was Murphy who took command at the end of the match and eventually rode out the 13-11 winner and now has a few days off to rest and recharge.

“The whole point of being a snooker player is for those moments,” said Smurf afterwards. “I’ve had my share of late night drama at the Crucible, won some and lost some. No matter how many hours of practice you put in, you can’t simulate those emotions. I’m just relieved to have won in the end. Even at 6-2 up after the first session I knew Graeme would have a run at me because he’s that type of player and he’s got a very good record here.”

In the other matches on show Mark Selby leads 9-7 over Barry Hawkins going into the final session today, Hawkins refusing to be shaken off by the Jester so far so there might still be a bit of snooker left in that one.

Judd - Attention all Pockets.

Judd – Attention all Pockets.

Judd Trump started his second round match against Marco Fu in superb form, he was bashing balls all over the place and this time they were mostly going where he was telling them to. The black at the end of the session was ferocious with Judd knocking it in at such a pace that the cue ball bounced several times on the bed of the table as if stunned and begging for submission. Judd leads 6-2 in that one and we look forward to more of the same today.

As for us, Mrs SB had an eventful birthday. She decided to have her hair done and was in there for ages as the meticulous crimper got to grips with her golden locks. It did result in a slight delay to our (my) travel plans and we didn’t arrive in Sheffield until around 3pm, by which time the owners of the Bed and Breakfast that we’d booked into 2 miles outside of Sheffield had decided to go for a day out, seemingly oblivious to the fact that we might seek alternative accommodation rather than stand outside their house for the afternoon.

So we decided to stump up a bit (a lot) more at the last minute and stay closer to the venue and a few gin and tonics and a good chat with a blog regular followed by a sub-standard Italian meal later it was a walk back in the rain that awaited the first lady of the baize on her big day. She even stood up poor old Paul Collier who was waiting in the bar with a Mojito in his gloved hand to present to her while she was nodding off after a long day.

We have filed yesterday under the category of ‘careless’ and now look forward to an eventful day on the baize and a chance to catch some of the action in the arena. I also caught wind that there is a massive (free) champagne reception planned very near the Crucible later for Amir Khan the boxer who is fighting in Sheffield tonight so we’re going to try and gatecrash that in the time-honoured Scouse fashion, I’ve already been rehearsing my ‘I’m with Abdul’ line in the mirror this morning. We’ve got to find some way of clawing back the hotel bill.

You can read my match by match second round betting preview here

10am

Marco Fu 2-6 Judd Trump

2.30pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ali Carter
Barry Hawkins 7-9 Mark Selby*

7pm

Marco Fu v Judd Trump*
Mark King v Ding Junhui

*Denotes Match Conclusion

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, you can view her Facebook album from day seven here.

April 26, 2013

World Championship Day 7

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:56 am
Sheffield here we come.

Sheffield here we come.

Hi-ho, hi-ho to the Crucible we go…Day 7 is Ladies Day at the World Championship and it’s also Mrs SB’s birthday and as a special treat I am taking her to Sheffield, what a lucky lady she truly is.

The trip will I hope cheer her up as yesterday saw her beloved Neil Robertson dumped out in Round 1 by Robert Milkins, another shock result as Robbo became the sixth seed to topple at the first hurdle joining John Higgins, Matthew Stevens, Mark Williams, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen at the hotel checkout desk.

Milkins was clearly over the moon after the match and although nobody could really understand what he was saying it’s good to see that World Snooker got a farmer in to translate his quotes afterwards, apparently he said:

“I’m absolutely chuffed to bits. Beating Neil over the best of 19, it doesn’t come much better than that. Yesterday Neil played really well and I didn’t have the run of the ball, and I somehow came out of it only one frame behind at 5-4. I didn’t feel so good today and I didn’t play as well but I won a lot of close frames. My safety has been stronger than the rest of my game for the last couple of years”.

“I’m happy with life now, I’ve got two young kids and a lovely Mrs and good friends behind me, a good manager and a good coach and I don’t really need much else to tell the truth. A few years ago I had nothing at all, I was in a flat going out drinking every day, then I got evicted and I was nearly £30,000 in debt. I was going down the gutter. I was lucky that good friends of mine came along and took me in and everything turned around”.

The afternoon also saw Round 2 get underway and another very solid display from Shaun Murphy saw him take a good early lead over Graeme ‘call me slow and I’ll sue you’ Dott. It was a much quicker match than his last one so I am sure he will be delighted about that.

Last night saw the grafter Stuart Bingham come back and complete the job on Sam Baird, he now faces Dark Mavis in the next round in the battle of the former journeyman. He said afterwards, “Thankfully for me I got on top of Sam pretty early and he started feeling the nerves of playing his debut here. I was 8-1 down to Hendry at the end of the first session last year so I know exactly how it feels, and it was important for me to get the job done as soon as I could tonight”.

“I have always had the self belief and in the last two years I have actually proved it. There are loads of tournaments so you have so many chances to do well. This is my 29th tournament this season, who would have thought that a few years ago? I was practising with Mark Davis (Dark Mavis) just before he came up here so I know he was in good form. Back home he beat me 10-9, on my table. It is going to be a tough game.”

Once Stuart had got his match won the arena opened out for the new Crucible hero Poomers, Rob Walker shamelessly stole the nickname I gave him the other day after he beat Maguire on introducing him as Mr Poomtastic, but he was far from that in a session which saw him go 7-1 down to Michael White who could quite conceivably finish the match with a session to spare by winning 6 of the 8 frames this afternoon.

The fourth frame saw Poomy claim another Crucible first, three consecutive misses on the reds when he wasn’t snookered saw him forfeit the frame, you can watch the whole frankly ridiculous episode here (think it might be UK only).

CORRECTION: As ever my shoddy lack of research is utterly transparent as apparently it has happened before between JP and Anthony Hamilton in 1997 and Ken did it too in 1996. Bloody anoraks.

Today sees the second round continue and Murphy and Dott play to a finish this evening, it will also see Mrs SB cadging Mojito’s from anyone that she meets and vaguely recognises when we get to Sheffield.

Right, that’s that, we have a train to catch. Choo-chooooooooooo.

You can read my match by match second round betting preview here

10am

Shaun Murphy 6-2 Graeme Dott
Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby

2.30pm

Marco Fu v Judd Trump
Michael White 7-1 Dechawat Poomjaeng

7pm

Shaun Murphy v Graeme Dott*
Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby

*Denotes Match Conclusion

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, you can view her Facebook album from day six here.

April 25, 2013

World Championship Round Two Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:00 am
Round 2 includes a repeat of last year's final.

Round 2 includes a repeat of last year’s final.

The Last 16 gets underway on Thursday after a mixed first round for the seeded players. I don’t think many would have expected a Dechawat Poomjaeng v Michael White clash at this stage a few weeks back but that is the beauty of this great championship, you just never know what it will throw at you.

The big match of the round is undoubtedly the repeat of the final last year between the champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and the highly impressive Ali Carter who looked in fine fettle in Round 1. Their match being spread over three days from Saturday to Monday, something of a first for a defending champion.

Ronnie looked a bit patchy on his return to me despite the claims of a hapless hack at the venue who said that his performance was the best anyone had played all season! LOL!!!! Perhaps he was watching a re-run of last years final on the screens in front of him just yards away from the live action and didn’t realise? Who knows eh? Who am I to argue with the journalistic expertise on display at the Crucible anyway?

As well as the main event there are some other crackers taking place too as we move into the three session Best of 25 frame matches which form this round and the Quarter Finals.

At time of writing there are still a few matches that are not known due to the later round one starts but as soon as these match ups become clear and the bookies get their prices up the preview below will be updated.

In my view Round 2 is usually where the championship really begins to take shape and usually it is also the point where people start forming their opinions on a winner. There have been a number of strong first round performances already but that doesn’t necessarily mean this will be carried forward into the rest of the tournament, indeed often the slowest starters end up crowned champion after this 17 day marathon, I wonder if that will be the case this year?

Anyway, here goes the blurb on Round 2, there are plenty of markets out there to be explored so be sure to take a good look around and perhaps suggest some of your own in the comments section.

Regulars, note the points. It’s time to have a decent bet now.

ROUND TWO: Best of 25 Frames (8/8/9) – for head to head records please click on the match

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ali Carter (Starts Saturday)

Everyone will have an opinion on this one. Some will look at the first round performances to say that Ali is an absolute nailed-on certainty while others will look at the head to head record and sneer, using phrases like ‘Ronnie owns him’ and ‘Ron doesn’t lose to Ali #FACT’. Indeed, if you discount an incredibly mediocre match at Crondon Park in the Championship League with no crowd at a time when Ronnie didn’t want to be there, Ali has never beaten him in 13 times of asking over more than a decade. Read that again: Ali has never beaten him. They first met in the UK Championship in 2001 and since then in major events Ronnie has won every time including three times at the Crucible, twice of course in Finals which if I was Ali I would remain pretty miffed about as he’d possibly be a double World Champion if not. On the flip side of the argument, if we take Round 1 as an indicator of what will happen here, Ali is the winner in my opinion. But it is also my opinion that you would be foolish to the point of naivety to do so. O’Sullivan went back to Sheffield on Tuesday and is doing exactly what he did last year, he is soaking up an atmosphere that he has been missing and tuning up for a long run in this, I am sure he sees this (as his millions of adoring fans will) as his stiffest test to date and make no mistake he isn’t taking this challenge flippantly. Ali is a favourite with the blog and with me, he was the first of the top professionals to give this place the time of day and I now consider myself and Mrs SB as friends of his and firmly in the Team Carter camp, even if this only extends to friends that see him at snooker tournaments now and again in England and Germany for a glass of grape juice. I am delighted that this match is happening, from a betting point of view the outright book is sorted as far as this one is concerned (9/1 Ronnie, 25/1 Ali) and I truly believe that the winner of this match can go on and lift the trophy. OK, time to make the call, my heart says Carter, my head says O’Sullivan, but I reckon this time at least he’ll know he has been in a match. If Ronnie wins expect his price to plummet at the bookies as the half opens up, same with Ali to a lesser extent. As far as a match bet goes, I expect them both to be playing to the last ball in every frame, to be posturing and to be improving as the match goes on. Whatever happens, one of them will play very well to win so as far as I am concerned over this distance the bet below is a maximum bet. Enjoy it.

Selection: O’Sullivan 13-11.

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Over 2.5 centuries in the match at 11/10 with Ladbrokes.

Charming.

Charming.

Stuart Bingham v Dark Mavis (Starts Sunday)

Expectedly, the head to head between these two gives us very few clues as to the result of a match between two seasoned campaigners who have emerged from the ranks of the journeymen to fully embrace and embody the changes made to snooker in the past two seasons by Bazza. They are reaping the rewards of ‘going to work’ and can be seen plying their trade in all corners of the globe and loving every minute of it. As Bingham was the most improved player of last season, Mavis has to be up there for the most improved of this. He put behind him the disappointment of not being seeded automatically in this to qualify and take it out on John Higgins in round one, while Stuart had a more comfortable opener. I am quite surprised that Apollobet are a stand out 7/4 on Mavis here in what I think is an incredibly difficult match to call, that’s value in my book. Overall though, this is a match that sees two determined players at the peak of their form and I can’t forsee this not going very close to the distance, so the bet below is the one to be on.

Selection: Bingham 13-12.

Recommended Bet: 4 points on Over 21.5 frames in the match at 4/6 with Skybet. 

Shaun Murphy v Graeme Dott (Starts Thursday)

These two have had very different paths to this round with Shaun breezing through in style while Dotty had to contend with Ebbo. Shaun’s scoring and more importantly his game in general was superb against Martin Gould, an opponent that even Stephen Hendry said was one that he would have wanted to avoid when the draw came out. Murphy is a master at ‘bossing’ opponents, particularly those he meets in early rounds who he possibly considers inferior to him. His recent record over Dott is good and often with Murphy I sense that when he’s in form he only loses to players he considers his equal on the table, the likes of Mark Selby and John Higgins spring to mind, the type of player he will usually meet at the end of events. You can’t judge Graeme on his first round match, he says he’s sorted his game out since last year and only a fool would write him off at the Crucible. But when it comes to scoring these days, for me Murphy is streets ahead on a consistent basis and he also looks very focused. Another maximum bet, the brave will go for the big handicap odds.

Selection: Murphy 13-7.

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Murphy at 1/2 with Paddy Power.   

Marco Fu v Judd Trump (Starts Friday)

Since Marco beat Judd back in 2007 on their first meeting Judd has had much the better of the head to heads. Both looked decent in spurts in Round 1, Marco did benefit from the wayward early play of his opponent Matthew Stevens and it has to be said that had Matthew taken his chances towards the end of the match the fading Marco could well have been caught and beaten. Tiredness has been a recurring theme when Marco has spoken to the press these last few weeks and it was again after this match. He has had a very good season but it seems to be taking its toll on him at the back end. Judd on the other hand looks as fresh as a daisy, he’s been working hard for this and preparing as well as he claims he ever has for any tournament. The limelight has shifted away from him somewhat and onto Ronnie and I think that will do him good, it’s strange to say it but he may just come in under the radar while everyone is looking elsewhere, I think he’ll win pretty cosily here.

Selection: Trump 13-6

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Trump to win -3.5 frames at 17/20 with Apollobet.      

Rob Milkins v Ricky Walden (Starts Sunday)

Ricky produced one of the performances of the first round in sweeping away Michael Holt 10-1 with a 140 break to boot and a repeat of that performance will make him very hard to beat here. He faces Rob Milkins who showed no sign of nerves whatsoever in dispensing with pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson and is another player enjoying a new lease of life under Bazza, both on and off the baize. The win over Holt for Ricky signalled his first ever victory at the Crucible and very often that can spur players on to greater things. There is no doubt that Walden has the game to compete at the very highest level and a slight dip in form in the past few months seems now to be behind him, in fact, the enforced rest this gave him in between tournaments seems to have done him some good. He won their only previous meeting on his way to winning the Wuxi Classic way back in June last year and for me he has the look of a player that might just be the dark horse in this. Rather than backing the straight win it’s worth grabbing the more attractive odds that he’ll win with more than a frame to spare.

Selection: Walden 13-9

Recommended Bet: 3 points on Walden to win (-1.5 frames) at 10/11 with Paddy Power  

The fan club.

The fan club.

Michael White v Dechawat Poomjaeng (Starts Thursday)

Last year, Ryan Day and Cao Yupeng were the unseeded players that caused the big upsets and met at the next stage, this year it’s Michael White and the new cult hero of the Crucible Dechawat Poomjaeng’s turn and somehow this one feels a little bit more exciting. I’ve spoken at length about Pooms as an overall spectacle but not about his snooker. His action is probably the strangest I have come across, he seems to approach the cue ball in a totally different order from anyone else, I swear he closed his eyes on the last shot he played against Mags as if somehow trusting that it would go in once he’d lined it up, which as a glasses wearer who used to get challenged without my specs on the baize I totally understand. It didn’t go in, but it didn’t matter. Michael was hugely impressive against MJW and on that performance has to start a huge favourite for this match which surprisingly for me he doesn’t (alert big punters). He is easily the heavier scorer of the two and I am not sure we will see a repeat of Poomy’s loveable antics in this match against a less high profile opponent. In a way I hope we don’t and that one moment in time is just locked away and brought out on special occasions to remember. Michael White is a big prospect, all snooker people know that. I hope he wins here and I think he will. But thank you Poomy, you made us all very happy.

Selection: White 13-10

Recommended Bets: 5 points on White to have the highest break of the match at 8/13 with Apollobet.

Mark King v Ding Junhui (Starts Saturday)

King v Ding. King v Ding. Shall we just get that out of the way straight away? Please? I am delighted for Mark King that he’s managed to win a big match on the big stage, he’s a lovely bloke when you meet him (he’s around my age and I have met him at both ends) and someone who has been there, done that, seen it again, done it again and come out the other side as a decent bloke. His win over Mark Allen proved what a scrappy and overall dangerous match player he can be when he’s on song and as he semi-rightly says, he is a match for anyone when he is in the mood. But this is Ding, this is the other side of the ‘semi’. In my opinion, Mark can’t contend over longer matches with some players, Ding might tie the first session or the second session, but I think he will win at least two if not three of them as he is simply the better player of the two and someone who only Selby or Robertson can beat in the bottom half. The centuries market is always worth a look when Ding is playing and before I saw what I think is a slight error of judgement at Stan James on this match I was nailed on the overs. But until it’s gone, the bet below is the one for me.

Selection: Ding 13-8

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Ding (-3.5 frames) at 4/5 with Stan James.   

Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby (Starts Friday) 

I was very impressed with Barry Hawkins in Round 1, he held himself together very well and showed that experience really matters when facing a player like Jack Lisowski, his experience of this great venue is growing and he looks stronger every year. Selby was rather one-paced in his opener and never challenged, some might say that is the way to go, in a way it was similar to the way Ronnie won, bitty, but never looked really like losing. The two met in the first round last year when Barry won 10-3, but this match can be discounted as Selby’s neck was not right and definitely affected the result. What can’t be discounted are the ranking event meetings since which stand at 2-1 to Selby. There have been a few shocks in this championship so far so logically you would think that there will probably be another one in this round. In my book this could be it, Hawkins looks sharper to me and if he can hold himself together I believe he could win, the handicap bet below in my view is mis-priced (Stan James again) – go and get them.

Selection: Hawkins 13-11 

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Hawkins (+4.5 frames) at 5/6 with Stan James 

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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 Thanks to an old pal called Hans, who also happens to know Pooms for the T-Shirt photo. You all love it and you are welcome to share with friends.

World Championship Day 6

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:34 am
Golden Boy.

Golden Boy.

Day six at the Crucible sees the last two first round matches play to a finish and the first two second round matches get underway. There is no play this morning so a chance for snooker devotees like myself to actually have what I believe is called ‘a life’, for the morning at least.

Only a brief post this morning as there is plenty for you to digest on the betting front in the second round preview here which will soon be updated with the matches involving Judd Trump and Mark Selby, who both came through yesterday in comfortable fashion to land an 11/4 recommended treble flagged up the other day.

Marco Fu also came through knocking out another seed Matthew Stevens who didn’t really produce anything like his best and leaves the Crucible disappointed not to have had a run like he did last year.

Neil Robertson leads Rob Milkins 5-4 and concludes this afternoon, in the process he staked his claim for the Bobby George Cash for Gold cue with a 143, bettering The Magpie Trump’s effort by one point. I think Robbo only wants it to go with his hair and waistcoat to complete ‘the look’ personally.

It’s interesting that this is one of just 13 centuries so far which is as small a tally as I can remember at this stage of the championship, very low indeed.

Ding Junhui also came through after early signs of a spirited fightback by Angles, but it wasn’t to be and Scotland now must rely on Graeme Dott to bring home the haggis and have them singing in the glens with their bagpipes and skirts come a week next Monday. Dott starts out today against Shaun Murphy in a battle of two former champions.

Stuart Bingham has more or less booked his place in Round 2 already after he won 8 of the 9 frames last night against Sam Baird and he comes back tonight to finish the job off.

We’re off to the Crucible tomorrow for the weekend but I have no idea if the place we are staying has any kind of internet facility but I’m sure I will find some way to keep everyone posted on what’s going on in and around the venue over the coming few days. There’s generally a lot to see and do when you get there even if you just sit and watch the weirdos that hang around there every year for two weeks but never go inside, or marvel at the homeless man who stands in the middle of Tudor Square shouting about some murder in Rotherham and cursing the BBC for ruining his view of the road with all their vans. It’s a real cosmopolitan treat.

Here’s today’s line up anyway, it’s the return of our new hero Dechawat later on but I think he may struggle to recreate his heroics of the other day against the brilliant Michael White, it would appear that these two will probably have the Crucible to themselves for most of their first eight frames tonight, barring an unlikely comeback by Baird. We shall see.

1pm

Shaun Murphy 6-2 Graeme Dott – end of session.
Neil Robertson 8-10 Robert Milkins*

7pm

Stuart Bingham 8-1 Sam Baird*
Michael White v Dechawat Poomjaeng

*Denotes Match Conclusion

Click the banner below to open an account at blog partners Apollobet, your first bet up to a maximum of £20 will be matched with a free introductory bet to the same value. 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, you can view her Facebook album from day five here.

April 24, 2013

Judd on his Chances, his Fitness and The Poomster

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:43 pm

Our New Hero in Extended Interview: Poomy Speaks!!

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:13 pm

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