Snookerbacker

April 24, 2013

World Championship Day 5

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:12 am

Just Like That: The Star of the Show (and Poomy getting in his way)

It’s Day 5 at the Crucible and those seeds just keep on toppling. Day 4 saw a new Crucible cult hero born as Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng proved that sometimes a smile can speak a thousand words as well as pot a few crucial balls as he put paid to another year of hope for Stephen Maguire.

With due respect to everyone else on show yesterday Dechawat or Jack as he likes to be called was the star of the show. He may not have played the best snooker of the day but sometimes that simply doesn’t matter.

His manner around the table is something I compared yesterday to Charlie Chaplin and Mr Bean, giving rise to further comparisons as the day went on with the likes of Norman Wisdom, Lee Evans (who is basically Norman Wisdom’s act copied and updated slightly but not much) and Stan Laurel (one person cruelly suggesting that Mags could be Ollie)  being thrown into the mix as possible influences to snooker’s new undisputed King of Slapstick Comedy.

But it would seem judging by the amount of times our new hero uses a certain phrase in this post match interview, he’s more of a Tommy Cooper man. Well, at least it’s not Frank Spencer eh?

As for Maguire, he has again not really performed to his best at the Crucible after a promising season. It’s getting to the point now where he is looking increasingly like being included in the ‘best player never to be World Champion’ debate alongside stalwarts Jimmy White and Matthew Stevens. While snooker’s new Mr Poombastic won the hearts of the Crucible crowd and the watching millions at home, Maguire struggled to hide his anger at his opponent’s rather odd mannerisms and antics which included clapping his own shots, chuckling to himself, bouncing up and down and talking to himself at length around the table.

Mags said afterwards “I don’t think he’s the full shilling. I’ve never seen him before but there’s definitely something missing. He seems like a really nice boy and very genuine. The crowd seemed to take to him and got behind him at the end and he seemed to be enjoying it. I was afraid to look at him in the end. Crazy things were happening out there. I just had to switch off.”

“All I can say is that he’s a nice lad. It just wasn’t meant to be for me. Take nothing away from him, he made some great breaks all through the match and luck favours the man who plays well and he played better than me. It’s disappointing for me but I could tell the way the match was going. I had a bad feeling about it.”

Very sporting words from Mags and possibly rather different than the ones that were going around his head during the match when he looked for all the world to be about to murder his wonderfully oblivious opponent who seemed to think that he liked to share his visual gags. Even at one point risking life and limb by impersonating snooker’s Mr Angry and pretending to lash out when snookered. Maguire forcing a smile to cover his dark thoughts.

Earlier in the day Matthew Stevens was also out of sorts in his match against Marco Fu and looked like he needed another couple of hours in bed as he went 3-0 down, a deficit that he wasn’t able to recover against a consistent Marco who starts the afternoon session with a 6-3 lead.

Judd (right)

Judd (right)

On the other table Ding Junhui marked his territory with a great display against Angles McManus, a 7-2 lead including breaks of 131 and 129 making this morning surely a thankless task for poor old Angles. Ding played with an armband on as a mark of respect to the victims and ongoing rescue efforts going on in Chengdu and himself and Marco insisted on not coming out to their walk-on music for the same reason.

Matthew and Angles were in fact the only two players to do so yesterday as the governing body promptly realised that it should probably be extended to all the players, some might say a careless Rihanna and a Mark Morrison too late, but there we have it.

While The Poomster was doing his routine in the afternoon and enjoying every minute of it, Judd Trump was entertaining the crowds as only the King of Bling can as he raced to a 6-3 lead over Dominic Dale and staked his claim for the Bobby George Cash 4 Gold Cue with a dazzling 142 break. The moral being that if there is something shiny to be won, he’s bang up for it. I don’t know about the Ace in the Pack, as I think The Magpie is more fitting personally. But as a word of caution to Judders, please remember the old phrase ‘all that glitters…….’ and don’t be disappointed when the spray paint comes off in your sweaty palms come the end of the championship. If you don’t like it you could always give it to a pal….

Last night saw a rather mediocre early display by Mark Selby who takes a 6-3 lead into tonight against Judd’s mate Matt Selt, Selt winning the final two frames of the session after at one point looking like he could be only the second player in Crucible history to suffer a whitewash.

But the best performance of the day without a doubt came from Ali Carter. He came into the concluding session with Ben Woollaston 5-4 up and won the first 5 frames of the session to win 10-4, looking extremely solid in the process. He now faces Ronnie in Round 2 in a repeat of last year’s final. He has lost 13 out of 13 times to The Rocket but one could argue, to coin an old classic from Blackadder, that what he has done 13 times before is exactly the last thing you would expect him to do this time as he moves on to Saturday.

He will probably not get a better chance to beat Ronnie and for me that match will decide the finalist from the top half, hence the hedged outright bets at the start of the championship in this section. I truly believe that if Ali can win, he is capable of lifting the trophy and with him still available at 22/1 to do so, now is the time to back him if you agree.

He played his cards very close to his chest afterwards and refused to be drawn into speculation about his next mouth-watering tie and you can see what he did or rather didn’t have to say, here.

Zip it Dotty.

Zip it Dotty.

Because there was so much going on in the arena, there isn’t really anything much to report off it today except for the babblings of Graeme Dott who is still going on about Peter Ebdon as if stuck in some kind of spiral of despair. Graeme may find himself flying the Scottish flag single-handedly from around midday today in a week best forgotten for those north of the border, the once dominant nation of the baize.

To help him along, Dott has called for a shot clock to be brought in get rid of the snails and on that subject I shall say just this.

Shut up Graeme.

Anyway, the recommended bet from yesterday is looking promising at the moment to get back a chunk of the first round acca losses so fingers crossed on that as today sees the final two first round matches get underway before we move into the second round which starts tomorrow. Robbo takes centre stage against Rob Milkins who claims that betting and booze are firmly a thing of the past in this article, which is bad news for his pal The Wizard of Glos as apart from watching 1980’s TV there’s not much else they can do together now. Meanwhile Neil claims to be ‘confident and recharged’ and ready to win his second world title, he is definitely a huge contender from here on and I’d be surprised if he lost to Milkins.

Stuart Bingham is also in action tonight as he starts out against Sam Baird and it will be interesting to see if Sam can emulate the debuts of Poomy and Michael White who now face each other in the next round of course. Ballrun however is the face of the middle-aged revolution today and is a very tough nut to crack these days.  

10am

Judd Trump 10-5 Dominic Dale* 
Ding Junhui 10-5 Alan McManus* 

2.30pm

Matthew Stevens 3-6 Marco Fu* 
Neil Robertson v Robert Milkins

7pm

Stuart Bingham v Sam Baird
Mark Selby 6-3 Matthew Selt*

*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 original main image, you can view her Facebook album from day four here.

April 23, 2013

Chirpy King and Knackered Dott on their Day 3 Wins

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:43 pm

World Championship Day Four

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:12 am
Thailand's answer to Charlie Chaplin isn't exactly going down a storm with Mags.

Thailand’s answer to Charlie Chaplin isn’t exactly going down a storm with Mags.

It’s Day 4 of the World Championship at the Crucible and those seeds just keep on toppling as John Higgins and Mark Allen yesterday became the latest casualties of the middle-aged former journeyman and under-achiever revolution that is hitting the baize at the moment.

Yesterday began with a truly gritty display by Peter Ebdon who managed to crawl his way back into the match against Graeme Dott, drawing level at 6-6 with Dotty looking like a condemned man heading for the gallows at one point.

But somehow the Glasgow terrier managed to survive Ebbo’s antics which included toilet breaks between frames verging on mid-session intervals. These mini-breaks even at one point had Dennis calling for the governing body to ‘have a good look at it’, though what they would have to have a good look at wasn’t made crystal clear, which in the interests of good taste and decency was probably for the best. Our Den has clearly never managed on a diet of organic carrot juice, raw vegetables and bananas before or else he might have a bit of sympathy with poor old Peter’s lively constitution.

Anyway, they were predictably hauled off early and were to return last night for Dott to finally wrap it up 10-6 much to his and I dare say half the population of the planet’s relief. But you have got to love Ebdon, at least he gets people talking.

In the other morning match Mark Allen and Mark King were having a bit of a scrap, it finished 5-4 to King and they were to return last night where Allen looked to be taking command of the match, only for renowned grappler Kingy to really dig in and eventually win the final four frames of the match in style to once again knock out Allen in the first round, depriving us once more of the chance to see him play Ding.

There are those who are now calling for him to do a bit more talking on the table rather than off it and it has to be said that the Crucible is becoming rather a bad venue for him, something that he will have to correct pretty nifty before the rot well and truly sets in.

“I’ve said it a million times, on my day I can beat anyone,” said King who for some reason doesn’t want a nickname anymore (what’s wrong with Kojak?). “In the past I have put myself under pressure, so this time I came here with no expectation and just tried to relax and enjoy it. I twitched on the pink in the last frame and thought I was going to throw up. But I held myself together and when I potted match ball I nearly started crying. When he won the 12th frame to go 7-5 up he gave it the fist and that spurred me on.”

That’ll learn him.

dark mavis 2In the afternoon we were to see yet another Crucible howler from John Higgins as he was resoundly beaten by Dark Mavis. Our Mave held himself together admirably and later joked that for the last 20 years he’d just been giving the other boys a chance as he felt sorry for them and this was part of the plan all along. Higgins in the meantime was very downbeat and hinted that it may be time to jack the whole thing in and there is clearly something that has gone very wrong with his game recently.

You can watch a delighted Mavis speaking after the match here, he marches on to possibly face another former journeyman who is now finding his feet after 20 years Stuart Bingham, or Sam Baird who is probably a couple of decades away from peaking the way things are going recently.

There was a much chirpier face than Higgins face on the other table as debutant Dechawat Poomjaeng, a kind of Thai Charlie Chaplin/Mr Bean fusion made visual gags an art form against an increasingly irate Stephen Maguire. Notoriously miserable Mags looked at one point as if he was going to twat poor old Poomy when he decided to clap one of his own shots to chortles from the audience who clearly warmed to him from the minute he ‘did a Wenbo’ and lost his way into the arena at the beginning. Maguire managed to win the last frame of that session but again they were hauled off early before Mags did something he regretted with Poomjaeng leading 5-3, they return this afternoon for more of the same hopefully and Poomy can be backed at 6/4 to hold on to his advantage, which he just might.

Last night also saw the start of Ali Carter’s Crucible quest and he leads Ben Woollaston 5-4 going into tonight in what could be a close one to decide who is the next opponent for Ronnie on Saturday. Both looked in decent form so whoever wins will certainly be a big test for the Rusty Rocket.

This morning sees two new matches starting out and the Fu v Stevens encounter could be a decent one with the seed again arguably vulnerable. It also sees the return of Alan McManus to face Ding and given that our Angles fits the Mavis/King profile too, Ding might not have that all his own way either. We also see Judd Trump lining up this afternoon against Spaceman Dommo Dale who is once again walking out to the understated bellowing of Mario Lanza and tonight the world number one Mark Selby takes on another Crucible debutant of the week Matt Selt.

Selty will be hoping to shoot it in the right direction tonight.

Selty will be hoping to shoot it in the right direction tonight.

Selt and Trump used to be pals of course, but not any more. Oh no. Matt decided at the qualifiers last week to tell a journalist that they have had a bit of a lovers tiff and that now he prefers blondes, well, Neil Robertson who is a kind of fake blonde but let’s not split hairs. He goes on to basically say that Judd is totally up himself and that he’s not as good as Robbo or that he ever will be. But the real nail in the coffin comes with the last line of the interview, which I can’t even bring myself to write on here. I’ll let you read it, but be prepared to laugh for the rest of the week and miss all the snooker. It’s here.

Selty walks on tonight to 1980’s gay anthem Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the video for which featured leather clad muscle men pissing on each other while one was gagged and tied up on a wheel, all good family fun. Judd in the meantime took to Twitter yesterday to show us his collection of shoe boxes, which is also all good manly thoroughly hetrosexual behaviour. I hope the two don’t bump into each other today as I’d fear for our Selty, Judd’s also got an expensive selection of handbags and I think in a fight his would hold up the best. It’s all down to the stitching you see.

The betting hasn’t been exactly a raging success so far and Allen losing scuppered what I though was a pretty solid first round acca. But the old mantra of ‘never bet in a match with Mark King in it’ has come back with a vengeance to bite me on the arse so it’s time to try and make amends with a bet on the remaining first rounders in the hope that some normality is restored to this great championship.

By the way, myself and Mrs SB will be making our way to Sheffield on Friday for the weekend having found a bed and breakfast to our liking about 5 miles out of town. It coincides both with the birthday of the first lady of the baize and Ladies Day at the Crucible, when all ladies will be asked to wear purple for a good cause. You can see the lovely Michaela talking all about it here.

You can view my main betting preview for the tournament and a write up on all the first round matches here.

Also, please keep the Snooker Shrine pictures coming in, there are some corkers in the gallery already here.

Recommended Bet: 3 point treble on Fu (+2.5), Trump (-2.5) and Selby (-3.5) pays just on 11/4 at Apollobet

10am

Matthew Stevens 3-6 Marco Fu
Ding Junhui 7-2 Alan McManus

2.30pm

Judd Trump 6-3 Dominic Dale
Stephen Maguire 9-10 Dechawat Poomjaeng

7pm

Ali Carter 10-4 Ben Woollaston*
Mark Selby 6-3 Matthew Selt

*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 three here.

April 22, 2013

‘My Next Match Should Be Sponsored By Valium’ – Shaun Murphy on his Chances

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:36 am

World Championship Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:41 am
It was all White on the night (well the afternoon anyway)

It was all White on the night (well the afternoon anyway)

It’s Day Three at the Crucible and yesterday saw us lose our first former champion Mark Williams, who was beaten by the brilliant young Michael White. Today we will definitely lose a second and it’s looking highly likely a third will also topple at the first fence.

Yesterday began with Ricky Walden winning the two frames he needed to book himself into Round 2 with his first ever Crucible win over Michael Holt. Holty was philosophical in defeat saying “It’s more of the same from me, I just don’t play well in the big arenas and that was an extreme example. Usually I can play out there but I just missed balls that I wouldn’t miss in the qualifiers and that’s why I’ve never achieved anything.” Ricky in the meantime was delighted to have broken his own personal Crucible curse and you can see what he had to say here, he now faces Neil Robertson or Rob Milkins in Round 2.

That left the stage open for the other table as the wall was raised for the rest of the session and who better to put on a show than Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott? Well, there are lots better actually but sometimes you just have to put up with what you’ve been handed.

Anyone who followed Deco’s Novelty Bet post to the letter will have had their heart in their mouth and the ankle clips securely fastened during frame one when all we were looking for was a foul shot to land the big bet. It could not have gone any worse early on with Dotty looking at one point like two big scoring breaks would be enough to secure the opener foul-free, but Eboo had other ideas, he strode proudly and peacock-like to the table as only he can at over 70 behind with just 43 left and started doing his thing, laying a snooker which Dotty duly missed to land the bet in bizarre fashion. Never in doubt.

The rest of the session I’m afraid was not quite as riveting, it is always fun to read the social media outlets when Ebbo takes to the baize, he does get a harsh press but I’m sure he doesn’t care one bit about that – I still find him very interesting to watch but I’m a bit weird like that and would probably have attended Victorian freak shows had I been born in another era. However, what everyone’s favourite vegan will care about is his utterly abysmal form, he persists with his bombhead style tip and seems to shake his head after every shot seemingly obsessed with thin cloths and light balls. He finished the session 6-2 down, predictably they weren’t able to play 9 frames in the allotted four and a half hours and surely is destined to be dumped out today unless he comes back as a completely different person, his highest break of the match so far being just 25 with Dott dominating.

The afternoon session was highly entertaining however and the all-Welsh clash saw a potential new star born. Neath’s Michael White did have the odd wobble once he saw his score get to 9 but poor old MJW couldn’t capitalise on the missed chances and it was soon apparent that White was totally in command of the match. The clinical way in which he finished it bodes well for the future and you can see his reaction to his win here. Despite Hazel, ‘Stevie’ and Hendo suggesting that this may be the end of the road for MJW, he simply wished his opponent the best of luck and said he was having a break and then preparing for next season. He’s not ready for retirement just yet and I still think he has a bit more left to give.

Higgins with tongue (lower right of face)

Higgins with tongue (lower right of face)

On the other table John Higgins started brightly against Dark Mavis, you can tell he’s in the mood when he stick his tongue out and there was plenty of tongue action going on as he raced to a 2-0 lead. But our Mave was not going to let John’s tongue dictate matters and his performance from then on was more or less faultless. We saw less and less of the Higgins pinkie and the session ended 6-3 to Mavis, who now looks a very strong favourite to dump John (and his tongue) out this afternoon. Has the Higgins hunger for titles finally fizzled out? Mavis is best priced 8/15 to win the match at Apollobet in running and I’d suggest that is still value on yesterday’s showing, he’s no longer the shrinking violet of old in front of the cameras and Higgins hasn’t looked right since Mave beat him in the UK.

We then moved onto the evening session which saw another young hope Jack Lisowski try and emulate Michael White but fail. He was resoundly beaten by Barry Hawkins in a one-sided match. Neal Foulds made a good point in commentary that for the younger players coming through in big tournaments it is often more favourable for them to draw a big name rather than one they might go in thinking they have a big chance against. Yesterday, illustrated that perfectly and Hawkins bossed the match from very early on, he might not be a big name but he’s far from a pushover. You can see what the man with the all-year-round tan had to say about his victory here. Jack simply said that the venue is unique and very hard to get used to, he stopped short of calling it a shithole though.

The performance of the day without a doubt was Shaun Murphy’s clinical win over Martin Gould on the other table. They came back seemingly up for a really tight battle but that wasn’t how it transpired. When Smurf took a marathon first frame to go 6-4 up he went from strength to strength and looked razor-sharp in finishing the match off 10-5. Shaun didn’t really want to talk about the match afterwards and just sat there lamenting about meandering through the streets of Sheffield waiting to be recognised and how much the tournament ‘got his juices flowing’ (too much information in fairness). Gould simply praised his opponent’s form and quite rightly so, Murphy was fantastic towards the end of the match.

The journalist's best friend.

The journalist’s best friend.

The talk off the table was of the continuing poor coverage afforded to the snooker by the BBC. The assembled press pack at the venue once again reluctantly took to Twitter to find their main story now that Ronnie has left town for a bit and the weight of disappointment amongst the Twitterati even persuaded Bazza himself to wade in and write a letter to the big bad bods at the Beeb about their shameful disregard for the baize. When it comes to Spencer’s they have firmly nailed their colours to Frank rather than the late great John it would seem.

I think there are a couple of things to remember here. Firstly, that the first weekend coverage from the BBC has always been a bit shit because of that daft race in London, it’s just a bit shitter this year because of the loss of most of the red button facility. I know there will be those who say it’s all available online but not everyone has access to this, particularly an older generation of viewer that would probably just settle for watching something else. Also, some of us are sick of watching snooker on a laptop.

The second thing to remember is that Bazza has always stated that as long as the BBC supports the event, it will never be moved from the Crucible. The cynics in town may see this as a cleverly orchestrated plan to do just that, by claiming that the event no longer has a sustainable level of support so bugger you lot, we’re off to China. A sobering thought for bluff-old traditionalists and purists like me everywhere. Let’s just hope that the coverage gets better as we move into the weekdays.

Today will see three more names through to Round 2, with Mark’s Allen and King playing their entire match today. Stephen Maguire starts out against another debutant in Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng, we look forward to some borderline racist jokes for the older generation from Dennis and the gang on that one. We also get our first glimpse of the Captain who takes on the next first-timer in Ben Woollaston, a player who has been climbing up the rankings all season, practices with Mark Selby and is a former PTC winner. The winner of that one faces O’Sullivan in Round 2.

You can view my main betting preview for the tournament and a write up on all the first round matches here.

Also, please keep the Snooker Shrine pictures coming in, there are some corkers in the gallery already here.

Recommended Monday Bets:

2 point treble: Allen (-2.5 frames), Carter (-1.5 frames) and Maguire to make the highest break in the match pays just on 2/1 at Apollobet.

6 points on Maguire to make the highest break in the match pays 1/3 at Bet 365 (Poomjaeng played 60 frames in the qualifiers with a highest break of 82)

10am

Graeme Dott 8-6 Peter Ebdon (coming back tonight)
Mark Allen 4-5 Mark King

2.30pm

John Higgins 6-10 Dark Mavis*
Stephen Maguire 3-5 Dechawat Poomjaeng

7pm

Ali Carter 5-4 Ben Woollaston
Mark Allen 8-10 Mark King*

Followed By Dott 8-6 Ebdon conclusion

*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. They are fast becoming the number one bookie for snooker so it would be a wise move to get on there.

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

April 21, 2013

Watch Ronnie’s Reaction to his First Round Win

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:45 am

World Championship Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:06 am
Wonny as witten a ikkle book

Wonny as witten a ikkle book

Now he’s been and gone for a week at least, we can concentrate fully on the other 30 players in the tournament (sorry Marcus) as the World Championship enters it’s second day.

Ronnie looked both sharp and rusty in equal measure yesterday but from as early as the end of the first mini-session never looked like losing his title on Day One. His 10-4 victory over Marcus looked fairly effortless in the end and as I suspected this ideal draw from his point of view gave him the chance to get himself up for next weekend, when from Saturday onwards he will feature every day for at least one session until he either gets knocked out or retains his title. Who says the schedule is fitted around him?

Afterwards he said it was nice to be back, that his ‘journey’ (an hugely overused word which I personally detest) since he announced he was coming back has been exciting for him, that it was nice to come back for the diehard snooker fans (whatever that means), that it was like training for a marathon the day before you ran it and that BAM! he’s got a book coming out in October to tell everyone what he’s been up to, though the fact that he’s already told us he was bored and wasn’t getting out of his stinking bed until the crack of noon every day to shovel pig shit at a farm doesn’t make for an epic in my opinion.

He also went on to divulge probably the only interesting part that will be in the book while his despairing publisher had his head in his hands. He just said that he would have signed the players contract had he sat down with Barry Hearn sooner and that he was being mis-advised by people he had put his trust in (I wonder who that could be), that he didn’t read the contract himself and that he got involved in a war of words without knowing the facts.

So basically, that’s the book and there’s no need to bother buying it. Ronnie now faces either Ali Carter or Ben Woollaston in the Last 16.

Over on the other table it was Ricky Walden who made an early gambit for the fabled ‘Betfair Golden Cue’ with a 140 break on his way to an 8-1 lead over Michael Holt. Someone told me that snooker’s equivalent of the Holy Grail can’t really be made of gold as it would be worth over half a million quid, which is more than the winner’s prize and seeing as the ermm ‘generous’ sponsors have put a padlock on the press room soft drinks cabinet I don’t think they are likely to be dealing in those type of numbers.

My guess is that come mid-May whoever wins it will be looking for a cue shaped envelope to post to one of those hooky online gold shops which make lavish promises and guarantee a fair price, well their definition of a fair price, to the great unwashed for all their unwanted chavvy items and vulgar bling. So from henceforth it shall be referred to as the Bobby George Cash 4 Gold Cue.

On the table, the end of session score is a huge disappointment for Holt and he comes back this morning to try and make the score respectable, surely knowing that his chance has gone in a match that he probably thought he had a good chance of winning going into it. It is also a landmark for Ricky as it will be his first ever victory at the Crucible which is quite amazing for a seeded player.

Fatboy Slim scores Gouldy's DJ skills.

Fatboy Slim scores Gouldy’s DJ skills.

In the afternoon session, Shaun Murphy and Martin Gould finished locked in battle at 5-4 in favour of Smurf. The oddest thing about that being Gouldy’s choice(s) of walk on song. He decided to go all DJ on us by inventing his very own Martin megamix which started with Motorhead and had Spandau Ballet bolted clumsily on the end. To say that this didn’t work is an understatement with most people thinking the sound department had made a massive fuck-up, but I am reliably informed that this is what he wanted. I’m not sure he’ll be headlining Glastonbury any time soon.

On the other table Jack Lisowski’s debut started and ended on a positive note, a fine clearance in the first frame and some gutsy pots in the last frame being the highlights for him, it’s just the bit in the middle that didn’t go to plan and he resumes tonight 6-3 down against the perma-tanned Barry Hawkins.

Last night while Ronnie was polishing things off the all-Welsh clash got underway between MJW and Michael White. White goes into this afternoon’s session with a one frame lead and looked very very good in spurts, that one could be a real classic in a day that promises at least two tight finishes. Williams does need to change his walk-on song though before it’s too late, I’ll leave that with him.

Starting out today is the one we’ve all been waiting for, Graeme Dott and Peter Ebdon. Now poor old Dotty as we know can get a bit touchy sometimes and this time he’s cheesed off that people keep saying he is slow, now I don’t know where that idea came from, after all it is purely coincidental that he has been the common link in two of the longest most sleep inducing world finals in living memory, it’s just the way it happened. He’s just misunderstood that’s all and I’m not having any of it.

Anyway, these two snails get underway this morning and by freak chance the BBC have hurriedly decided to cover the London Marathon all day instead, which is very mean of them but understandable, we don’t want everyone losing interest just yet do we?

Not a fan of snooker.

Not a fan of snooker.

Talking of the BBC, I was very disappointed with the coverage yesterday. As someone who has spent the whole season looking at a laptop for live snooker I do look forward to actually watching it on the TV for two weeks at this time of year and I much prefer doing that with the BBC, who I have referred to many times in the past as like a comfy old pair of slippers. But with the red button coverage being slowly eroded or showing fucking people fucking talking fucking endlessly all about fucking football while it’s already on the main fucking channel while Hazel shows us some action from a match earlier and the director ignores the live stuff going on, the early signs are not good.

Thankfully, Eurosport have most of it live, though farcically last night while the BBC showed a sitcom from the 1970’s and Eurosport showed speedway, Ronnie O’Sullivan was winning a snooker match online only in the host country in what had been termed snooker’s biggest match of the season. Some mothers do ‘ave em.

So on we go today, the coverage of the London Marathon will obviously take centre stage as fit people run around dressed as chickens and the like trying to get on telly on the guise of raising money for a worthy cause, it’s just a bit shit really isn’t it Beeb?

You can view my main betting preview for the tournament and a write up on all the first round matches here.

Also, keep the Snooker Shrine pictures coming in, there are some belters in the gallery already here.

10am

Graeme Dott 6-2 Peter Ebdon
Ricky Walden 10-1 Michael Holt* 

2.30pm

John Higgins 3-6 Dark Mavis
Mark Williams 6-10 Michael White

7pm

Shaun Murphy 5-4 Martin Gould* 
Barry Hawkins 6-3 Jack Lisowski* 

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Thanks as ever to Monique for the main image, yo can view her Facebook album here.

April 19, 2013

World Championship Day 1: The Rocket Returns

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:44 am
Will he strike gold again?

Will he strike gold again?

It’s time. 

This is what it’s all about, forget the moans about the PTC’s, the gripes about the changes to the ranking system, the grumbles about big bounces and lightweight balls, for Saturday morning sees the watching snooker world focused on one place and for 95% of us, let’s be honest, on one man. Mr Ronald Antonio O’Sullivan is back to defend the title he won last year and it is on this Saturday morning that we will probably find out if he’s up for the challenge or not.

There will be those that will want to see a return to form from Ronnie, like a returning hero back to show everyone who’s boss. There will also be those who would like nothing better than to see him fail miserably and be sent home with his tail between his hairy legs. But I’ll bet that whatever your feelings are towards him, you will be watching.

The players and pundits have been voicing their opinions all week, Peter Ebdon says he’s flying and won’t get beat by anyone unless they are playing out of their skin, John Parrott says he’ll be too rusty to win and Shaun Murphy says he will be prepared to the last ‘millisecond’.

I have attempted to give a balanced view in the main betting preview here, in short and without wishing to state the bleeding obvious, I think if he’s at his best he will win it, if not, he won’t and Robbo will.

Who shouted fence-sitter? Right, get off my blog.

Mrs Snookerbacker has also seen fit to grace everyone with her rather odd thoughts on the tournament here and my Far East Correspondent has given his view on some of the quirkier bets out there here.

But despite what the media might have us all believe it’s not just about Ronnie, for a start he has to overcome his first round opponent Marcus Campbell who can approach the match knowing he is in a no-lose situation, this makes him potentially very dangerous.

Day One also features what I think could be one of the matches of the first round as Michael Holt takes on Ricky Walden, a recommended bet on Holt in the preview being the way to go on that one at the prices I reckon. In the afternoon two more potentially even matches get underway, Shaun Murphy opens his Crucible account with a first round against a man who has never beaten him, reigning Sky Shootout and Power Snooker Champion Martin Gould. The BBC will I’m sure also focus heavily on the debut of Jack Lisowski, no stranger to snooker regulars but someone that could potentially swell his following in the mainstream audience with his swashbuckling style of play.

In the evening Ronnie and Marcus conclude their match after the 9 frames in the morning session and on Table 2 the all Welsh clash gets going between the King of the Floaters MJW and young potting machine Michael White. It will be very interesting to see how Jack and Michael take to the Crucible as they are very much spearheading the new breed of players who aim to take the game forward in the future.

Whatever happens, day one is always one of my favourite days of the championship and has in the past produced some of its most memorable moments. I am bound to start thinking about Tony Knowles beating Steve Davis in 1982 at some point and get all nostalgic.

Will Lightning strike the Crucible on Day One?

Will Lightning strike the Crucible on Day One?

As for me, last year I had the privilege of getting access to the Crucible while it was still being set up, of touching the tables in an almost empty arena and of being as close to the action as anyone could hope to be in the press area, including for the entire Judd v Ali match which will remain one of my abiding Crucible memories. This year, I am approaching the championship from a different angle, largely as a fan watching it on the TV and soaking it in like a giant piss-taking sponge. I may make my way to Sheffield for a day or two to catch up with friends I have made since starting this blog but primarily, I will be blogging as a fan and hopefully keeping you all sufficiently entertained so as you will keep coming back. Hopefully we can win a bit of cash on top from those nasty old bookies.

If you are as passionate about these incredible 17 days as I am, then make a shrine and send me and Mrs SB a picture of it, here’s how with some early examples. Also, make use of the comments section for a natter or get yourselves on Twitter for a couple of weeks and join the thriving snooker community on there. There are loads of ways to get involved in this great championship so lets make this one so memorable that all talk of moving it to China is banished once and for all.

So now it’s time to say Hazel, Jason, Steve, JP, Kendo, Hendo, Dennis, JV, Griff, The Great WT and the shockingly under-utilised Fouldsy – it’s over to you, but remember…..I’m watching.

Oh, there is one last thing, a bit of housekeeping. If you are commenting on the blog for the first time please remember to include an email address in the box provided, this will not be visible to anyone but me and I don’t use it for anything, you will only have to do this once then the blog will remember you, it’s clever like that. It just saves me having to authorise all comments. Oh and try and keep it civilised, this isn’t the Betfair forum and anyone that just comes on to give it the verbals will be spammed without explanation or apology.

If you are a once a year visitor, then welcome back. If you are new to the blog then errmm, what took you so long? If you are betting throughout the event for the only time of the year on snooker then here are some handy hints for the next 17 days.

OK, now that’s all cleared up, let’s get to it…….

Day One Recommended Bet: 2 point double on O’Sullivan (-3.5 frames) and Lisowski (+2.5 frames) pays over 11/8 at Apollobet

10am

Ronnie O’Sullivan 7-2 Marcus Campbell (concludes tonight)
Ricky Walden 8-1 Michael Holt (concludes tomorrow)

2.30pm

Shaun Murphy 5-4 Martin Gould (concludes tomorrow)
Barry Hawkins 6-3 Jack Lisowski (concludes tomorrow)

7pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Marcus Campbell*  
Mark Williams 4-5 Michael White (concludes tomorrow)

*Denotes final session of the match

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. They are fast becoming the number one bookie for snooker so it would be a wise move at the start of this championship to get on there.

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April 18, 2013

World Championship 2013 Preview: Sheffield Set for The Rocket and Robbo Show

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:00 pm

Ron and RobboAs a blogger or a journalist you are always looking for that killer introduction to a piece, the line that will send goosebumps down the neck of the reader, hooking them in with a line and a sinker attached. But sometimes simplicity is the key. You can showboat with long words, maybe throw in a proverb, phrase or short anecdote to appear cleverer than you really are, I do that all the time. But sometimes you just need to state the fact and that fact is that this is snooker’s time to shine again, because on Saturday our World Championship starts from the Crucible in Sheffield and I can’t bloody well wait.

Almost all talk will be and has been about the return of the champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and that is understandable. Ronnie is not bigger than the sport, but the reality is that he’s closer than anyone has been since Alex Higgins to claim that he actually is, not that he ever has, unlike Alex. The stories in the build up will range from predictions of an Ali-like (Muhammad not Carter or Bassiri) return to glory to reports that he’s on the edge of a mental breakdown and not the player we saw take the Crucible by storm twelve months ago in such domineering and assured fashion – an achievement he rates as his greatest to date, well he did yesterday anyway.

The truth is, that his inclusion in the tournament has thrown in an added dimension and bit of mystery both for fans and punters. Will he again shine in the spotlight or this time has he bitten off more than he can chew? Is this Lazarusesque comeback just one step too far for a player approaching the twilight years of his career and destined to fail in anti-climactic fashion or has he been simply building up to this return for a year to show everyone exactly how far ahead he really still is of the others?

But those others can’t be written off lightly even if Ronnie returns in tip-top shape, major contenders include Mark Selby, who has been playing some fantastic stuff this season and is looking for the BBC Grand Slam having won the UK and the Masters already this season. Neil Robertson just a few weeks ago picked up the China Open title and his first over there, he usually saves his best for the end of the season and will be fully prepared to try and win his second world crown. Ding Junhui, the only Chinese player on show will come into this with confidence as will Mark Allen, the two both having won big titles recently.

John Higgins has said that he will need a ‘miracle’ to win this year, but how often has the old reverse psychology trick worked out? Higgins comes to this in poor form but others without his level of championship pedigree have done just that down the years and come away the winner. Then there are the likes of Shaun Murphy, Ali Carter, Judd Trump, Stuart Bingham and Stephen Maguire who will all want a say in the destination of the trophy and that is before you look at anyone else.

Dave Hendon has been charting the main contenders on his blog all week and that can be viewed here.

Of the names above, I would narrow it down to 4 or at a push 5 that can win the title this time. For me they would be (in a particular order) O’Sullivan, Robertson, Selby, Higgins and perhaps Ding. I would be very surprised to see a winner come from outside those five although if Ronnie doesn’t turn up and if Higgins’ poor form continues my best outsider by virtue of the draw would be the twice runner-up to O’Sullivan, Ali Carter, who would then find himself in a very winnable quarter.

Add to all this anticipation the undoubted hype that will surround the likes of Jack Lisowski and Michael White and we have one hell of a championship in prospect. The feel of old versus new is a big thing this year for me as it was in the qualifiers and it will be interesting to see how the new breed of players like Lisowski and White handle the experienced older hands that they have drawn.

Below I will preview all the first round matches seperated into their relevant quarters and then have a look at the bets, both match betting and outright, two of which have already been recommended earlier in the season if you have been paying attention.

Let’s hope for a great championship, both on the table and at the bookies. Place your bets, sit back and enjoy the ride. Lots of fun on here is assured and a general piss-taking, lowest form of humour a shoo-in. Hopefully we can also take the bookies for a few quid in the meantime.

For those only here for the gambling side of things for this great championship, I welcome you as I always do. But please follow the rules to the letter.  Cheers.   

QUARTER ONE – (click match for Head to Head Record)

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Marcus Campbell (20th April 10am & 7pm)

It goes without saying if you have read the headline above that I think Ronnie will start with a win. I’ll be totally honest here in that had Ronnie drawn say Marco Fu or even perhaps Peter Ebdon or Jack Lisowski I probably would not be tipping him up as a possible winner. This first match is crucial to his chances and with due respect to Marcus I think he is the ideal opponent for the returning champion. I think we will know very early on in this match if Ronnie is ready for the marathon again, my guess is that he will be but it is just that, a guess. One thing is for sure and that is that a strong performance here will see his odds tumble at the bookies so if you fancy him then back him now at the best price you can find. Apollobet were 7’s earlier backed down from 9’s. As for the match itself, the two have met four times and Ronnie has won every one though granted they have only met once since 2000. Marcus has a chance to make a name for himself and may of course yet find that this is in fact the easiest draw of the lot, but I just can’t see him repeating his triumphs over Stephen Hendry here.

Selection: Ronnie to win 10-5.

Ali Carter v Ben Woollaston (22nd April 7pm & 23rd April 7pm)

Ben Woollaston: It's his first time.

Ben Woollaston: It’s his first time.

Ali Carter has not lost in the first round of the World Championship since 2006 when losing to Stephen Lee and he has one of the strongest win rates at the Crucible in the first two rounds. The Captain faces a tough opener against a player making his debut at the Crucible, Ben Woollaston from Leicester. Ben is a fine player and improving all the time, he has played a number of TV matches this season, mostly in PTC events but has looked very much at home in front of the cameras, I really rate him as a player. Ali however told us recently here of his Crucible hopes and I know he’ll be champing at the bit for a match with Ronnie and a repeat of last year’s final. Seeded players usually prefer to play against players that are new to this unique venue and that added factor as well as the fact that I still think people under-rate Ali for whatever reason is enough to convince me of a clear flight path to round two for a potential cracker. If Ronnie isn’t firing on all cylinders then Ali’s outright price is just tempting enough to add him to your outright book, if he beats Ronnie he will take some stopping.

Selection: Carter to win 10-6

Stuart Bingham v Sam Baird (24th April 7pm & 25th April 7pm)

Strangely in his long career, Stuart Bingham has only played at the Crucible 6 times and has never been beyond Round 2, his first round record being won 3 lost 3. He faces another debutant in Sam Baird who has done remarkably well to get here winning four matches to do so which is some performance from a player that seems to dip in and out of form as the season goes on like a see-saw ‘See Saw Sam anyone?’ – thought not. Bingham got walloped by Hendry (payback time for 2000) at this stage last season in the match where I carelessly decided to leave a frame early and miss Hendry’s final Crucible 147 from the press seats. You can’t really take a lot from their only previous meeting in a PTC which Sam won 4-1 but I think he might be a player that takes to the Crucible as he does seem the confident type. In my view this one might be closer than the odds suggest but with Ballrun’s experience I think when it comes to crossing the finishing line he might just have the edge.

Selection: Bingham to win 10-9

John Higgins v Dark Mavis (21st April 2.30pm & 22nd April 2.30pm)

John Higgins has only lost twice in Round 1 since 1995, that year he lost to Alan McManus and over a decade later in 2006 he lost to Mark Selby. His Crucible win record since 1995 is won 43, lost 14 with four titles in the bag. So it’s fair to say that Higgins is something of a Crucible specialist. Dark Mavis, three years Higgins senior on the other hand has only qualified for the Crucible six times prior to this year and his record isn’t great, winning only 2 of his 8 matches, suffering a crushing loss at this stage last year to Ali Carter. Some players really struggle with this place and some people thrive, here we have two opposites. However, Higgins form coming into this is not good and Mavis arrives this year after a season that in any other year would have seen him qualify for this as of right. I’d say John will be content with the draw given Dark’s Crucible jitters of the past but his form really has to improve to stand any chance in this. I reckon this match will be a trademark Higgins ‘carve out the win’ performance with very little razzmatazz. Unlike their epic match in the UK in which John hit a maximum and then somehow missed a sitter of a pink to lose a decider, the revenge factor might also play a part here.

Selection: Higgins to win 10-7

Previously Recommended Bets: 4 points on O’Sullivan to win the World Championship at 9/1 with Apollobet (21/2/13) and 4 points on John Higgins to win the World Championship at 12/1 generally (5/8/12)

Further Recommended Bet: 2 points on Ali Carter to win the World Championship at 28/1 with Betfred.

QUARTER TWO – (click match for Head to Head Record)

Shaun Murphy v Martin Gould (20th April 2.30pm & 21st April 7pm)

Has Gouldy been dealt a tough draw?

Has Gouldy been dealt a tough draw?

The head to head between these two makes for some grim reading for fans of Pinner Potter Martin Gould, they have played 6 times and Shaun has won them all. Gould makes his fifth Crucible appearance and there will not be a snooker fan watching that won’t for a fleeting second think about ‘that match’ with Neil Robertson in 2010, the unlikeliest of comebacks which would see Neil go on to become champion and there surely was not a person there that didn’t feel at least some sympathy for Gouldy. In fact he has only ever won two matches at the venue, both against Marco Fu. Since Shaun’s unlikely win in 2005 coming right from the qualifiers to lift the trophy in style he has only lost once at this stage, last year against Jamie Jones who came into the tournament on a great run of form. You would think he’ll be wanting to put that right and usually he is such a strong starter to events, that head to head might be like that for a reason.

Selection: Murphy to win 10-8

Graeme Dott v Peter Ebdon (21st April 10am & 22nd April 10am)

A repeat of the 2006 final sees Dotty pitched against Ebbo in what hopefully will be a thoroughly bad-tempered, memorable and scrappy affair given they play two morning sessions. Since 1997 Dott has lost a total of 7 times in Round 1 which is a strange record for someone that has in that time lifted the title and made the final twice. He was woeful last year at this stage against Joe Perry losing 10-1 in a display that neither he nor the watching public could explain. Ebdon’s qualification match win over Kurt Maflin means we see him here for the 22nd time in a row and last year he was drawn against Ronnie first round and beaten comfortably. Dott has won both their Crucible encounters, the 2006 final and a match at this stage three years ago but I have a sneaking suspicion that Ebdon has finally clicked again after a season best forgotten. Graeme hasn’t really looked like his old terrier-like self to me now for a while and I think he may be there for the taking against a player that could frustrate the life from a three toed sloth.

Selection: Ebdon to win 10-8.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Ebdon at 7/4 with Ladbrokes

Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu (23rd April 10am & 24th April 2.30pm)

Marco Fu leads on the head to heads between these two in ranking events which are one of those quirky ones that have a pattern developing, first they won one each, then they won three each etc. Marco has won their last encounter so are we entering another stage of the ‘you win three and I win three’ pattern? Or the other one? Mirrors……stop NOW! You could drive yourself mad with stats….Anyway, Matthew’s season improved with a run to the final of the World Open where he lost to Mark Allen and he reached the semi-finals here last year, thrashing Marco at this stage in the process and it has to be said that he usually saves his best for the Crucible. But Marco for me is one of the most dangerous first round opponents for the seeded players this year and despite the fact that he hasn’t won a match at the Crucible since 2009 I am prepared to take a chance on him to send Matthew home here, purely based on recent form. I think Fu is coming into this in better form than he was this time last season.

Selection: Fu to win 10-8

Judd Trump v Dominic Dale (23rd April 2.30pm & 24th April 10am)

To round off the top section of the draw we have another match to capture the imagination between Judd and the Spaceman Dale. I was mightily impressed with Dominic in the qualifiers but the fact remains that he has lost in Round 1 here the last four times he’s played and he isn’t getting any younger. Judd may benefit from Ronnie’s return as he has had to shoulder a lot of the promotional burden since his departure and whilst many will say he has underachieved this season he remains consistently in the top three players in the world. He beat Dom 10-7 here at this stage last year and has not lost to him in their only four encounters since the 2011 UK Championship which was arguably a match that Dale would have won save for some outrageous flukes from Judd. Whilst I am not in the group of people that think Judd can win this as I believe the finalist from the top half of the draw will come from quarter one, I do think he will progress here.

Selection: Trump to win 10-6

QUARTER THREE – (click match for Head to Head Record) 

Neil Robertson v Rob Milkins (24th April 2.30pm & 25th April 2.30pm)

2010 champion Neil Robertson starts his campaign to be the next multiple world champion with a match against Gloucester’s Rob Milkins, who of course ended the dreams of loyal Whirlwind fans in the qualifiers despite a valiant show from poor old Jimmy. Robbo has only lost twice in Round 1 in his Crucible career, a 2005 defeat to Stephen Hendry on his debut and a loss to Judd Trump as defending champion two years ago, other than that he’s been very consistent at this stage. Milkins plays at the Crucible for the first time since 2005 and since his debut here in 2002 when he managed to beat Fergal O’Brien he has lost all three times since. Rob is a great player but Robbo will be pleased with this draw, Milkins can beat himself up very easily in matches and Robertson is a master at exposing these weaknesses in opponents. I would predict a fairly comfortable win for the Aussie who I feel we will be seeing a lot of in the championship.

Selection: Robertson to win 10-3.

Ricky Walden v Michael Holt (20th April 10am & 21st April 10am)

Barton, ermm I mean Holt.

Barton, ermm I mean Holt.

Next up my old pal Holty who makes a welcome return to the Crucible after putting his supporters (including the dogs at SB Mansions) through the mill somewhat in his qualifying match when from 8-0 up he steadily lost that lead to get home 10-7 against Mark Joyce. This is probably one of the most evenly matched matches of round one and the head to heads are as you would expect pretty close. Holt’s only win at the Crucible came back in 2005 when he defeated the much missed Paul Hunter at this stage, since then he has lost in Round 1 twice to John Higgins, once to Peter Ebdon and once to Joe Perry on his last visit in 2010. Ricky is playing here for only the third time and is yet to break his Crucible duck (mee duck) so this could get very twitchy, almost Clincheresque, as the winning line approaches. Walden has been a bit in and out since his win in Wuxi very early in the season but has done enough to earn his seeded place. Holt proclaims to anyone who will listen that he has a new mature approach to snooker, if this is true he could cause a minor upset here, he undoubtedly has the game to win but then it becomes a battle with your own mind. I think this might be an unlikely match of the round. Game on.

Selection: Holt to win 10-9.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Holt at 13/8 with Ladbrokes 

Mark Williams v Michael White (20th April 7pm & 21st April 2.30pm)

Rare first round blips in 2007 and 2008 when MJW was experiencing something of a slump represent the only two times he has lost in the first round, other than that he has been at the top of the accumulator list of your first rounders routinely. Here he faces what many people believe is the ‘banana skin’ of the round, the young(er) Welsh potting machine Michael White. White is without doubt up there for young player of the season and his rise up the rankings has been stratospehric as he approaches the top 32 for next season, when rankings won’t really make any difference. He is the third Crucible debutant and I really hope he gives a good account of himself against someone I should think he holds in high regard. In terms of Welsh snooker this will have John Evans frothing at the mouth, in terms of a result I can’t see Williams slipping up.

Prediction: Williams to win 10-5.

Stephen Maguire v Dechawat Poomjaeng (22nd April 2.30pm & 23rd April 2.30pm)

Stephen Maguire has been handed a tie against another debut boy, Thailand’s Dechawat Poomjaeng who becomes only the third Thai player to grace the Crucible sprung floorboards (Willie will know the other one). Maguire is another fairly solid performer in this round and since losing twice to Ronnie in 2004 and 2005 (who said the draw was made for Telly?) has only gone out one more time to Barry Hawkins two years ago, he is twice a semi-finalist including last year when he lost to Ali Carter. They have played once before in the very different environment of a PTC when Dechawat won 4-2, but that is completely irrelevant to this match. It’s clear that Poomjaeng is improving as his only other venue this season was the China Open last month when he lost to Mavis 5-3. But you can’t help thinking that Maguire has the plum draw of the round here, it would be unlike him not to exploit it.

Prediction: Maguire to win 10-3.

Recommended Bet: 4 points on Neil Robertson to win the World Championship at 13/2 with Apollobet.

QUARTER FOUR – (click match for Head to Head Record)

Mark Allen v Mark King  (22nd April 10am & 7pm)

It’s almost obligatory these days to have a ‘Quarter of Death’, every tournament seems to have one and I am sure that the phrase will be used many times by Hazel and the gang about this one. It’s usually going to be this quarter just by virtue of the way the seedings are dispersed and indeed it is uncannily like last year’s fourth quarter with Allen, Ding, Hawkins and Selby all down here again. Allen, Ding and Selby were all beaten first round last year which made it more like a ‘Quarter of Slight Sniffle’ in the end and the great Northern Ireland hope will be hoping to put his loss against Cao Yupeng and all that followed afterwards to rest by a solid win here. Despite the head to head figure on the link, it is in effect 1-1 between the two if you take out minor events with Allen defeating King on his way to his first of two World Opens in 2012. Allen is a big contender in this for many, he is a live outsider and I love watching him play so I hope he comes through this one for the match with Ding that we all wanted to watch last season. Since 1998 Mark King has played 18 matches here and won 6 of them all at this stage and never progressing any further, before last year Allen had only ever lost to Hendry at this stage. King is still a tough opponent but you have to fancy Allen strongly for this one.

Selection: Allen to win 10-4

Ding Junhui v Alan McManus (23rd April 10am & 24th April 10am)

Angles: Might need a map.

Angles: Might need a map.

The second match in the Quarter of Death sees Ding take on Alan ‘Angles’ McManus, a player who may need a good map or one of those new Sat Nav things that the kids use these days to find his way back to the Crucible given that he hasn’t been there since 2006. Angles, a former Masters Champion is twice a Crucible semi-finalist and I am sure will relish the chance to rekindle old memories with a trademark grinding performance here. It’s very odd that given what we are always told about the strength of players in China it is still Ding that remains the standout player from the region despite not really liking playing over there anymore. He, like Allen will want to put the bad memories and bad words after the match against Ryan Day at this stage last year out of his mind and concentrate on the job here. Make no mistake, this is a test for Ding who I feel is the complete player but for some fragility on the temperament front, which still rears it’s head sometimes. I also think that in the past he has displayed this more at the Crucible than anywhere else. He’s a brilliant player though and if his attitude is right he will cope with this first test.

Selection: Ding to win 10-7

Barry Hawkins v Jack Lisowski (20th April 2.30pm & 21st April 7pm) 

Barry Hawkins has won his last two first round matches here but last season can probably be discounted as he met a crocked Mark Selby. He has also been a consistent face at the Crucible since 2006 when his debut saw him walloped 10-1 by Ken Doherty. The debutant that most snooker fans are looking forward to watching is Jack Lisowski, a ferocious potter who sometimes plays so fast that he bumps into himself walking around the table. Jack is very much the new breed of fearless, confident young potters who are out to change the game and the way it is viewed by the public, very much in line with the visions of a certain Chairman you feel. Barry is a player that I usually underrate to be honest and I will be guilty of doing so again in predicting that I think Jack might be the only Crucible first-timer to make an impact this year. If I am right, his head to head record against Mark Selby should be looked at for those looking further into the tournament. He won’t win the World Championship, but he might just ruffle a few feathers along the way.

Selection: Lisowski to win 10-6

Mark Selby v Matt Selt (23rd April 7pm & 24th April 7pm)

Finally, propping up the draw is World number 1 Selby, he is many shrewdies idea of the winner this year and indeed a battle between him and Ronnie in the final is a prospect to savour. Make no mistake, this guy is now ready to win this, he has had his critics in the past and all this has done is spur him on. His first hurdle is Matt Selt who must be wondering what he has done to draw the player that I reckon secretly they all wanted to avoid at this stage. Matt played very solidly to take charge of a qualifying match against Ken Doherty but then, in what I can only describe as a very strange match was somehow pegged back to 9-9 before winning the decider in a canter. It’s his first time at the Crucible but given his opponent has a score to settle from last year and possibly a trophy in his sights, it could be a baptism of fire.

Selection: Selby to win 10-3

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Mark Selby to win the World Championship at 13/2 with Apollobet

Recommended Match Bets:

10 points acca on Carter, Maguire, Allen and Selby pays almost 11/10 at Corals.

Add Murphy, Trump, Williams and Ding for a 2 point acca at over 9/2 with the same firm.

Outright Thoughts

I have covered a lot of what I think in the preview above. Your outright book should allow for mistakes and the level of points placed on players to win the championship reflects that. If Ronnie, Higgins, Robbo or Ali win it, there is a tidy profit and a covering bet on Selby who I still don’t think will somehow covers them all .

If someone put a gun to my head to say name the winner I would probably go for O’Sullivan but as they were about to pull the trigger I would probably change my mind to Robertson. The key match will be the semi-final, should it happen between Selby and Robertson as I think they are the only two people apart from Higgins who have a chance against Ronnie if he is in the mood.

The best of luck and I hope you have enjoyed the preview.

There will be more recommended bets to follow on a daily basis and I have also had one of my best people on the case checking out some of the more obscure markets, you can view his findings here

CHECK OUT ALL SNOOKER PRICES AT APOLLOBET’S NEW WEBSITE HERE

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Novelty Markets: Deco’s Pick of the Bunch

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:21 am
The bookies are clowning around again.

The bookies are clowning around again.

The bookies traditionally get their silly hats on around this time of year when it comes to betting on snooker and thankfully this year is no different. Silly season is now most definitely upon us.

There are markets on the World Championship out there that will make your hair stand on end and take some digging into. Thankfully, because I have been concentrating on the outright and match preview, my man in Hong Kong, former blog champion tipster and blog stalwart Deco who can be followed on Twitter here has been tirelessly sifting through to find that needle in the haystack and below he tells you all what he has come up with.

I’ll hand you over to my Far East Geordie correspondent.

Deco’s Pick of the Bunch and his recommended bets:

Okay, so I’ve basically broken it down into two sections, break markets & novelty markets, with a few thoughts after each one to justify why I think it’s a decent bet.

Break markets

2pts: Mark Allen to make a break over 135 in the tournament (15/8 @ 888.com) 

Heavy scorer, last time he had a good run in WC he dominated the century break roll of honour.

3pts Double: Lisowski v Hawkins over 0.5 centuries in match and O’Sullivan v Campbell over 1.5 centuries in match (just over 5/4 @ Bet365)

Both play on Day 1 when the tables are notoriously more generous.

1pt: Lisowski v Hawkins 4 centuries in match (22/1 @ Bet 365)

0.5pt: Lisowski v Hawkins 5 centuries in match (66/1 @ Bet 365)

Day 1/2 table. Expect heavy scoring in a match which should go close giving opportunity for century market to tally up.

2pts: Michael White highest break v MJW (6/4 @ Bet 365)

Assuming he is not overcome by Crucible nerves, White is a heavy scorer. MJW tends to lose interest when the frame is won and is not a prolific in terms of centuries.

0.25pts ew: Rob Milkins to make highest break of tournament (80/1 Paddies)

0.25pts ew: Sam Baird to make highest break of tournament (100/1   Skybet)

Both knock tons in for fun in qualifiers, Milkins had a 147 in qualifying in this tournament last year.

1pts on each of the bets below all at 5/6 @ Corals. Also combine the lot for a 1pt acca that pays 36.5/1 

Rob Milkins break over 91.5 Rd 1                                                  

Marco Fu break over 106.5 Rd 1

John Higgins break over 108.5 Rd 1

Jack Lisowski break over 101.5 Rd 1

Mark Allen break over 112.5 Rd 1

Mark Selby break over 110.5 Rd 1

Feel the line has been set too low on all of these. 

Novelty markets

Ebbo: The Foulmeister.

Ebbo: The Foulmeister.

5pts: A foul shot in Frame 1 of Dott v Ebdon (Evens @ Bet365)

Ebdon will be right up for this, it will be turgid. No frame will be surrendered without a mammoth battle for snookers. Ebdon gave away dozens of points in fouls when I watched him in Beijing. Often when playing for roll ups/thin edges. Often misjudges or plays in a way that gives the cue ball scope to miss/roll off and him the opportunity to whinge about the table. 100% confident this is the bet of the round!

3pts: 4 or more qualifiers in Last 16 (8/11 @ Ladbrokes)

There are 6 or 7 matches that can go either way, particularly around quarters 2 and 3. Short break between qualifiers and main event so qualifiers will be match sharp for this. Top 16 no longer hold the same fear factor for qualifiers, particularly youngsters coming through.

1pt: Marco Fu to progress furthest in tournament of the qualifiers (7/1 @ Coral)

Marco has a decent draw and his coach says Marco feels he has a tournament in him by the end of 2013. SB knows how I feel about Marco – 2013 World Champion  😀

Thanks for reading, enjoy the championship and the best of luck with your bets!

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