May 31, 2013

And then while I’m away….

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:40 pm

ClosedTomorrow is the day that myself and my lovely wife accompanied by our two faithful hounds head to the hills for a spot of walking in the middle of nowhere and as a consequence of the sometimes appreciated lack of contact with the outside world, the blog is having a few well-earned days off.

Unfortunately, I still work on bluff old traditionalist time and still feel a little uncomfortable with snooker going on while the UK enjoys its annual three and a half hours of sunshine. I am getting used to it but it may take a little longer. Hence, this is the time of year that it’s most convenient to go away before the proper season starts.

Unfortunately, Barry Hearn having made his millions already only believes in sunning himself while everyone else has to work for him so the snooker rages on at a pace while we are away with the conclusion of the Australian Open qualifiers and a PTC taking place in somewhere called Bulgaria of all places, whatever will he dream up next from his big pond full of fish that all have names that he writes down?

So while I’m away, I won’t, unlike my fellow Scouse quartet, apart from the two ones that are dead, be writing home every day or sending any of my loving to you, most of you will be glad to hear.

To keep in touch with all things snooker, the live scores are the first port of call for the Aussie qualifiers and if you want to read about the Bulgarian PTC then here’s the draw and the format of that event which starts in the middle of next week.

For a bet, keep your eyes peeled for value and don’t forget to check out blog partners Apollobet by clicking the banner below.

But from me, for a few days at least, I bid you farewell. If I fail to return by Saturday please alert the emergency services in Snowdonia National Park. Thanks in advance.

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Australian Open Qualifiers Continue…

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:28 am
If you are good he might show you his didgeridoo

If you are good he might show you his didgeridoo

The final matches of Round 1 and the start of the second batch of qualifiers kicks off on Friday for the Australian Open as the race hots up to see who makes it to Bendigo.

It’s the final year of committed sponsorship of this event which was one of Bazza’s first initiatives on taking over the game, it’s fair to say it’s met with a mixed reception but there have been memorable victories in the first two years for Stuart Bingham and Barry Hawkins, who have both kicked on from their initial ranking successes, Bingham’s final in particular against MJW goes down as one of the best finals of the last five years.

But for every Bingham, Hawkins and Neil Robertson there are players that aren’t interested in competing, I understand their reasons for this but I do hope these same players aren’t the ones piping up should we lose tournaments like this one and become ever more reliant on China. The bottom line is that to get things going they have to be supported by the big names and well done to those that have done this, everyone knows who they are.

Anyway, like I said yesterday, we’re going away for a few days on Saturday with little or no internet access throughout so I won’t be posting much more on this event although I might have time tomorrow if I get up early enough, which I usually do in fairness.

As ever there are plenty who will be keeping you in touch with all the action and the usual suspects can be relied upon to post updates and the like, you can always also take to Twitter if you feel the urge as the snooker community on there is growing by the day.

For betting, the blog partners Apollobet are pricing these up and you can check out their markets here. Incidentally, they are working at getting back the range of markets they had on all matches as we speak, it’s all changed slightly because they moved site but they are determined to get all those markets back for the loyal snooker punter base they have built up and they apologise for this slight blip in the quality of their snooker offering.

But for a few days or so it’s goodbye from me, I hope to be back in the land of the semi-sane in time for the Bulgarian PTC which will be the first chance we will have to watch a bit of snooker on the TV since the World Championship, I wonder if Ronnie will turn up for that? He’s in Europe at the moment by all accounts so you never know…..

Thursday’s matches


Alex Davies v Ben Harrison
Andrew Norman v David Morris
John Astley v Darren Bond
Lu Haotian v Ashley Carty
David Grace v Oliver Lines
Hammad Miah v Sydney Wilson
Sean O’Sullivan v Sanderson Lam
Martin O’Donnell v Ryan Causton


Pankaj Advani v Joe Swail
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Stuart Carrington
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Tony Drago
Tian Pengfei v Gary Wilson
Yu De Lu v Michael Leslie
Jimmy White v Joel Walker
Adam Duffy v Gareth Green
Jimmy Robertson v Scott Donaldson


Alan McManus v Kyren Wilson
James Wattana v Zak Surety
Kurt Maflin v Craig Steadman
Mike Dunn v Saqib Nasir
Barry Pinches v Simon Bedford
Cao Yupeng v Elliot Slessor
Liu Chuang v Li Hang
Nigel Bond v Jamie O’Neill

DAILY ACCA: 2 points today on Astley, Advani, Delu, Robertson and Maflin pays almost bang on 7/1 at BET 365

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May 29, 2013

Australian Open Qualifiers Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:50 pm
Take it easy....the Aussies are known for their laid-back nature...and belching competitions.

Take it easy. The Aussies are known for their laid-back nature and belching competitions. Oh and also arm wrestling and barbecues and TV shows like Neighbours and Home & Away and Prisoner Cell Block-H, they also say weird things like ‘Cobber’, ‘Dunny’ and ‘Rack Off’ and the men have a general and healthy disregard for Sheilas. What’s not to like?

No sooner have we come to the end of the qualifiers for the Wuxi Classic than the next set are upon us. This time it’s a return to the old format as the qualifiers for the Australian Goldfields Open get underway at the South West Snooker Academy/Capital Venue on Thursday morning.

Some may wonder why this tournament reverts back to the old qualifying formula, but it’s perfectly understandable really. Because of a mixture of the relatively low prize money and the travel involved, a lot of the top players have perhaps understandably chosen to sit this one out and concentrate on other matters, namely a holiday in most cases.

This means that the field is being made up by a lot of amateur players, most of whom will not have the means to make the trip to Australia unless it’s worth their while financially. The fact that the 16 players that emerge from out of this set of qualifiers are guaranteed around £4772.47 (I did the maths) in prize money when they arrive to take on the top 16 seeded players helps to make the event more viable all round.

Neil Robertson does all he can to drum up enthusiasm for this event and fresh from his 147 he could be seen striding around Gloucester in a cork hat, wrapped in a flag and belching at passers-by to try and display why we should all be looking forward to it.

But for day one, it’s a lot of largely unfamiliar names to most casual observers. I know most of them to varying degrees but I accept that to the man or woman on the avenue or cul-de-sac today this is largely a ‘Who’s That?’ rather than a ‘Who’s who’ of the snooker world. As a consequence the bookies are slow to price this up, if they even bother at all.

I’ll also be taking it a bit easier this next week or so as myself and the lovely Mrs SB and our two hounds are off for a week away of walking in hillsides and eating pub lunches, hopefully with some decent weather but definitely with little or no internet access. So on Saturday I shall be saying goodbye for a week and then I will hopefully come back as refreshed as I can be at my age to tackle the new season head on, including this season’s Snookerbacker Classic marathon which I have been working on for a few weeks now.

As for the Aussie Open, you can click here for the full draw and format of the event and click here to see the top 16 seeds who are awaiting the qualifiers in Bendigo. If you want to go along and watch the action in Gloucester over the next few days at the SWSA you can order your tickets here. The prize money is listed below.

Goldfields Australian Open (For reference: $1000 AUS = £643)

Winner $70,000  
Runner-up $30,000
Semi-finals $20,000
Quarter-finals $15,000
Last 16 $10,000
Last 32 $7,500 – Australia
Last 48 $1,600 – Gloucester
Last 64 $750 – Gloucester
Last 96 $150 – Gloucester
Last 128 Nothing – Gloucester
High break (Australia) $2,500
High break (Gloucester) $100 
Total $445,000 ($435,000)


Joe Swail v Darren Cook
Stuart Carrington v Mitchell Mann
Tony Drago v Chris Keogan
Gary Wilson v Dylan Craig
Michael Leslie v Phil Barnes
Joel Walker v Oliver Brown
Jak Jones v Gareth Green
Scott Donaldson v Shane Castle


Kyren Wilson v Andrew Rogers
Patrick Einsle v Zak Surety
Craig Steadman v Ant Parsons
Allan Taylor v Saqib Nasir
Simon Bedford v Darryl Hill
Elliot Slessor v Jamie Clarke
Li Hang v Josh Boileau
Jamie O’Neill v Phil O’Kane


Ross Muir v James Cahill
Daniel Wells v Mitchell Travis
Chris Norbury v Matthew Day
Ryan Clark v Vinnie Calabrese
Mohamed Khairy v Darrell Whitworth
Lee Page v Chris Wakelin
Andrew Pagett v Noppon Saengkham
Li Yan v Dylan Mitchell


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May 26, 2013

Wuxi Classic Qualifiers Preview (Post Updated Daily)

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:50 pm
The value of each opening match

The value of each opening match

Monday sees the beginning of a new era in snooker, that might sound quite melodramatic given that on the face of it this may look to some like just another round of qualifiers for just another Chinese event, but this is phase one of Bazza’s masterplan for the season, namely the much discussed and debated flat structure qualifiers.

It’s great to see the excellent South West Snooker Academy/Capital Venue back on board with World Snooker and it’s Gloucester that re-opens its doors to play host to the 128 players who each have to win just one match to board the plane to China to play in the Wuxi Classic next month and be assured of at least £3000 in prize money.

To put this in perspective, take a look at this list of prize money earnings from the last two seasons. Not the top bit, but the ones propping the list up. Some of these players will earn more from winning their first match of the season than they have earned from snooker in two years and lots can earn more than they earned last season in just one match for what is a relatively minor event on the calendar. Well you can call me old-fashioned, you can call me Susan if you so wish, you can even call me a cab, but I think this is a lot fairer than what has gone before and long may it continue.

The main gripes are from some of the players, though not all, nearer the top of that list. Some feel that the work they have done to get into the top 16 in the sport should guarantee them some protection. The truth is, that they still have it. The top 16 still have their earning potential heightened by appearing at the Masters and being seeded automatically to the Crucible next year as well as the other events which have decided not to get on board with Bazza’s philosophy. Tournament winners also now have the lucrative Champion of Champions event to look forward to, so the boys at the top shouldn’t be seen serving fries to top up their income just yet.

Add to this that events are still seeded, so the higher up the rankings you are, the more likely you are to have a more favourable draw. In short, the best players will earn the most and the worst will earn the least, sometimes nothing. But for me the big stride forward is that all players now have a better chance to earn a decent living and when they win a match they get paid, as it should be in any professional occupation or job of work.

Despite this, there are some absentees for this event and that means that some of the amateurs that performed well in Q-School get to make up the numbers and possibly stumble upon a very welcome payday themselves. The same is true of the Australian Open qualifiers which immediately follow these, but they are still structured in the old format and the earning potential is not quite as healthy, hence the fact that far more of the top players have chosen to sit that one out, in my view quite understandably given the long season ahead.

Anyway, for now it’s Wuxi and for me personally it would be great to see my pals Martin O’Donnell and Allan Taylor win their respective matches. Martin faces Gerard Greene and if he wins that he could be lining up against Ronnie in China (yes, you read that right, Ronnie in China, for the Rocket has decided to enter this). The Assassin in the meantime makes his professional debut on Tuesday morning against Mark King so the best of luck to him too, we’ve followed his journey through the ranks from the beginning and it’s great that his hard work has paid off. I’ve instructed him to change the arrow directions to the toilets at the venue to gain that vital advantage over his bog-trotting opponent, so let’s see if that works.

I’ll be staggering the betting previews below but you can find all you need to know on the betting front at blog partners and the undisputed kings of snooker betting Apollobet, who are kicking off their new season with their brand new site and lots more to come on the snooker front.

You can find their prices for these matches here and you can open an account with them by clicking here or the banner below.

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Prize Money for Wuxi Classic   

Winner £80,000 
Runner-up £35,000
Semi-finals £20,000
Quarter-finals £11,500
Last 16 £8,000
Last 32 £6,500
Last 64 £3,000
Last 128 Nothing
High break (Finals) £2,000
High break (Qualifiers) Nothing
Total £467,000 (£400,000)


Ricky - no certainty to be on the plane.

Ricky – no certainty to be on the plane.

10am (click match for head to head record)

Ricky Walden v Pankaj Advani
Jimmy White v Lee Page
Mike Dunn v John Astley
Robert Milkins v Robbie Williams
Tom Ford v Scott Donaldson
Liu Chuang v Gareth Green
Jimmy Robertson v Ryan Clark
Graeme Dott v Christopher Keogan

The holder Ricky Walden could have hoped for an easier opener and it’s no sure thing that the Crucible semi-finalist will be boarding the plane to China to defend the title he won 12 months ago. He faces the very dangerous Pankaj Advani who had a great first season last campaign and will be hoping to build on that success here, Ricky might still be a little weary after his Crucible adventure and I’d say Advani is probably worth a punt to knock him out. The pickings in the other matches in this session aren’t exactly stand out but I’d expect Jimmy White to open his season account with a win over returning pro Lee Page, Lee came through Q-School but looking back at his PTC results over the last couple of seasons there is little to suggest that he can upset the Whirlwind, who came within a match of making the Crucible most recently and has at least been keeping his eye in with the Legends gig since. John Astley is a very nice player and any hint of rustiness from Mike Dunn might well be exposed, John is on the tour by virtue of his PTC position last season which was his first foray into the professional game, he more than held his own. Rob Milkins plays at his home venue and that alone will give him the advantage over Robbie Williams you would think, Milkins is at the Academy almost as often as the staff so he can make home advantage tell there. Of the other matches, I’d expect Tom Ford to come through against Scott Donaldson and wins for Liu Chuang, Jimmy Robertson and Graeme Dott against opponents that they would each need a bad day at the office to lose to, even at this early stage of the season.

Selections: Advani, White, Dunn, Milkins, Ford, Chuang, Robertson, Dott.

Recommended Bets: (Best Prices) White (1/2), Robertson (4/9), Milkins (4/11), Chuang (4/9) – 4 x 2 point singles and a 1 point acca (Best Price just under 7/2 at Bet Victor). 1 point on Advani at 9/4 with Hills.       

2.30pm (click match for head to head record)

Rumours of his demise may be premature.

Rumours of his demise may be premature.

Mark Williams v Ross Muir
Barry Pinches v Liam Highfield
Jack Lisowski v Hammad Miah
Ryan Day v Noppon Saengkham
Anthony Hamilton v Jamie O’Neill
Yu De Lu v Sanderson Lam
Stuart Bingham v Li Yan
Mark Selby v Andrew Pagett

Much was being made towards the end of last season of the supposed demise of MJW, his first round exit at the hands of Michael White put the cherry on the cake of a season he would probably rather forget. He’s back though and as keen as ever to silence the doubters, he’s been putting the hours in on the practice table since and I expect him to make a winning start to this campaign against Q-School graduate Ross Muir from Scotland, who plays with a glove on his bridge hand. Liam Highfield is a player that I think might make giant strides this season, towards the end of the last he was beginning to show some real form and signs that his game is clicking into place, if this momentum continues I would expect him to beat the experienced Barry Pinches. Jack Lisowski has just returned from a boys bonding session in Las Vegas so it’s clear he has not had his mind on the day job of late, Hammad Miah is highly thought of by his peers and his Q-School success was widely predicted by some shrewdies in the know, he’s possibly worth a punt here just on the basis that Jack might be suffering a Vegas hangover, except without Mike Tyson and the tiger and all that stuff. Jamie O’Neill is another regular at the SWSA and if rumours of Anthony Hamilton’s neck injury lately are true then he is another that might just spring a surprise here. Ryan Day and Mark Selby will expect to progress, Day plays Thailand’s Noppon who has only won just 4 from 21 matches in competitive play at this level while world Number 1 Selby faces MJW’s verbal sparring partner and sweet shop owner Andrew Pagett, another of the PTC beneficiaries from last season. Padge talks a good game and indeed did very well in spurts last season, making the semi-final of the Belgian event only to be beaten by Mark Allen, he’s also played at the Crucible of course dressed as a circus ringmaster. It would be great to see our pal Sandi Lam turn over Yu De Lu, but Yu’s form is very solid lately and he only missed out on a Crucible appearance by one frame so it’s a very tough ask for Slam, but I wish him the very best of luck. Finally, the recently married Ballrun Bingham faces Li Yan, who has only won once in the last ten starts.

Selections: MJW, Highfield, Miah, Day, O’Neill, Delu, Bingham, Selby.

Recommended Bet: Highfield (5/6) and O’Neill (11/8 Apollobet)  2 x 1 point singles and a 1 point double pays best just over 10/3.  

Morning and Afternoon Acca: 3 points at just on 9/4 at BetVictor on Dott, Robertson, MJW, Bingham and Selby.

7pm (click match for head to head record)

Ian Burns v Joel Walker
Matthew Selt v Chen Zhe
Ben Woollaston v Dylan Mitchell
Michael White v Sam Baird
Cao Yupeng v Paul Davison
Barry Hawkins v Simon Bedford
Marco Fu v Daniel Wells
Steve Davis v James Cahill

The Hendry Clan are back

The Hendry Clan are back

The evening session is possibly most notable for the pairing at the bottom. Six times world champion Steve Davis takes on new boy to the tour James Cahill, so what? You may ask, well young James just happens to be the nephew of a certain seven times world champion who hails from Scotland that’s what, yes, we have another from Clan Hendry in the professional ranks (you can hear Blackpool lad James’s reaction to making the tour by winning the European Under-21 Championship here – apologies in advance for the interviewer who seems to think that there is a tournament called The British Open and that Marco Fu is one of the biggest names in snooker). Steve still gives it his all but admits to only really putting the hours in these days for the bigger events, however his experience alone could stand him in good stead in these flatter events and like Jimmy White, he might be an unlikely beneficiary of this system as the season progresses. Ian Burns won ‘Rookie of the Season’ recently at the World Snooker Awards bash and he faces Joel walker who he narrowly beat in the World Championship qualifiers a couple of months ago, Burns was very much under the radar in having a fine season last time and it remains to be seen how he handles his new status in the spotlight, but his game is solid and I’d expect him to be able to do this. Matt Selt will hope to hit the ground running after his appearance at the Crucible, Hendry’s best mate faces Chen Zhe who has only actually played 6 competitive matches in 2013, Selt will and should be confident of a win. Another eye catcher is the battle between Michael White and Sam Baird, Michael will hope to avoid ‘doing a Jamie Jones’ this season after his Crucible adventure, but SWSA barman Sam is more than capable of bringing the young Welshman down to earth with a bump if he’s a bit wobbly. Cao Yupeng beat Paul ‘Snowy’ Davison 5-2 around this time last year in the Australian Open so those who believe in the old adage of history repeating itself will be backing the impressive Chinese player and SWSA homeboy there. World Championship Runner-Up Barry Hawkins faces the only player to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan last season Simon Bedford, Barry is another like Milkins who can be seen plying his trade in Gloucester almost as regularly as the cleaner and surely his new found fame will lead to bigger and better things this season, along with Marco Fu and the improving Ben Woollaston, he should progress to Round 2 in China with no real problems unless rustiness has kicked in.

Selections: Burns, Selt, Woollaston, White, Yupeng, Hawkins, Fu, Davis.

Recommended Bet: 1 point acca on Selt, Woollaston, Hawkins, Fu and Davis pays 4/1 at BetVictor.    


Go on moi saaaan

Go on moi saaaan

10am (click match for head to head record)

Nigel Bond v Chris Norbury
Rory McLeod v Sean O’Sullivan
Mark King v Allan Taylor
Martin Gould v Ashley Carty
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Reanne Evans
Neil Robertson v Mohamed Khairy
Dave Gilbert v Jak Jones
Alan McManus v Darryl Hill

For regular followers of the blog this session is all about one man, he’s the blondest snooker player of them all and unlike Robbo it’s all natural, Allan Taylor makes his professional debut in this session against Mark King. Luckily enough I also have a golden rule which I only seldom break and that’s to ‘never bet on a match with Mark King in it’ and I am happy to report that I won’t be breaking it again here. Can Allan win? Of course he can, he’s a cracking player with a great temperament, but King is tough so his task will be too. Best of luck mate, we are all behind you. There isn’t actually a lot on the betting front in this session that takes my eye, Neil Robertson, Alan McManus and Martin Gould should all win against opponents all playing the biggest match of their collective careers so far, but there is very little in the way of value out there on those three. Rory McLeod takes on Sean O’Sullivan, who by the end of his first pro season last time was beginning to find his feet. Rory beat The Storm 5-3 in their only meeting to date last year and again this promises to be a close one. Regulars will know how highly I continue to rate Dave Gilbert, he’s been a bit off the radar this past 12 months after a great season the year before, he faces Q-School graduate and returning pro Jak Jones of Wales who won their only previous meeting. As well as Jak has done to get back on the tour he doesn’t beat players of Gilbert’s standard very often lately so I’d stick with the Tamworth man in that one. That leaves the improving Thai player Thepchaiya Un-Nooh against Reanne Evans, they have played twice and Un-Nooh has won twice but neither have been easy, Reanne comes fresh from a respectable showing at Q-School but given the Thai players improvement of late you would have to just narrowly side with him there but it would be no shock if Reanne got the win. Finally, Nigel Bond faces another returning pro in Chris Norbury who grabbed the last place from the PTC Order of Merit list. There is no doubt that Bond is a fading force these days and I’d say if there was going to be a shock in this session that would be it, Norbury had a few eye-catching results last season and could have had a worse draw.

Selections: Norbury, McLeod, TAYLOR (GO ON), Gould, Un-Nooh, Robertson, Gilbert, McManus.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble at just under 6/4 with Bet 365 on Gould, Gilbert and McManus.

2.30pm  (click match for head to head record)

Jamie Cope v Zhang Anda
Jamie Burnett v Andrew Rogers
Ding Junhui v Aditya Mehta
John Higgins v Adam Wicheard
Anthony McGill v Vinnie Calabrese
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Darren Cook
Dominic Dale v Mitchell Travis
Peter Ebdon v Chris Wakelin

Poomjaeng - Crackers.

Poomjaeng – Crackers.

Probably the stand out match in this session sees Ding Junhui taking on India’s Aditya Mehta, who will be hoping to go one better than his fellow countryman Advani who lost on the final black yesterday. After a disappointing World Championship in which he was many people’s fancy to nab the title it remains to be seen if Ding has been putting the hours in, if he hasn’t Mehta will be a very difficult opponent for him and there is every chance that he could cause an upset, my guess is he may be the better prepared of the two. John Higgins also makes an early start to the season after a largely forgettable season last time, though he did of course still win a ranking title. He faces Adam Wicheard, who was last seen in Q-School 3, where he was forced to retire from his final match because his cue snapped (really). It’s tough enough lining up against John without having to either play with a new cue or play with one that has been in for repair so you’d have to fancy Higgins there. The only pair with a head to head record are Cope and Anda, with Anda being one of Cope’s few victims last season, Jamie seems to be a shadow of the player he was and is suffering from a condition that makes him shake on the shot, he’s not one to put the mortgage on until that mends itself. Jamie Burnett should coast home against a player that by all accounts is better at pool than snooker and only really gets into this by virtue of a few mediocre wins in Q-School, Jaybee should win that one with his hands tied behind his back in fairness. Aussie Vinnie Calabrese returns to the tour and he’s shown form in the past, he faces Ant McGill in what could be a close one, but McGill is on the up and will be disappointed to lose that one. Darren Cook had some good wins in Q-School and he faces Crucible funnyman Poomjaeng, when he’s not clapping himself or generally being zany, Poomy can play a bit. He isn’t the most orthodox of players and it can look messy when it goes wrong but his results last season speak for themselves and you’d have to fancy him coming through that one. Dom Dale’s form at the back end of last season was as good as it’s been in a decade and he should see off Mitchell Travis who comes here sharp from Q-School where he had some decent wins without qualifying and one player that did make it to the pro ranks Chris Wakelin faces Peter Ebdon who was last seen boring Graeme Dott to the verge of suicide at the Crucible. I will admit to knowing absolutely nothing about Chris so it would be foolish of me to make a prediction in that one, all I will say is that he’ll know all about life as a pro if Ebdon has his game head on. The poor lad.

Selections: Anda, Burnett, Mehta, Higgins, McGill, Poomjaeng, Dale, Ebdon.

Recommended Bet: 5 points on Burnett at 2/7 with Stan James. 2 points on Mehta at 9/2 with Bet Victor and 1 point on Anda at 5/4 with Stan James.   

7pm  (click match for head to head record)

Xiao Guodong v Andrew Norman
Mark Joyce v Li Hang
Judd Trump v Phil O’Kane
Mark Allen v Michael Leslie
Peter Lines v Sydney Wilson
Andrew Higginson v Patrick Einsle
Liang Wenbo v Fraser Patrick
Michael Wasley W/O Ronnie O’Sullivan 

Judd - not been practising

Judd – not been practising

With the withdrawal of the world champion this session now has a rather less exciting look to it but the consolation prize isn’t bad as Judd Trump and Mark Allen are both involved. Judd plays Phil O’Kane who did well enough in Q-School to justify his invite, Phil will be delighted to have the chance to just play Judd but beating him, even with his admission that he hasn’t been practising is a really tough ask. The Vegas boy could have had it a whole lot tougher. Mark Allen plays Michael Leslie who only won one match in the whole of last season, it would be a shock if he were to double that tally here. Andrew Norman can usually be seen around the SWSA with either a binbag, a chair or any manner of other items in his hands, he works like a trojan there and despite being surrounded by snooker he says he hardly ever practices, despite this his showing in the PTC’s last season was enough for him to get back on the tour after a year out, he’s more than capable of beating Xiao Guodong on home turf. Mark Joyce was one of then most improved players of last season winning a lot more matches than he lost and beating some big names along the way, he faces returning pro Li Hang who lately has been most familiar as a wildcard in the Chinese events, Joyce likes the venue (he won the Pink Ribbon there) and I think will open his season with a win. Another I feel should win with a little to spare is Andrew Higginson who plays Patrick Einsle, the German player has looked out of his depth in the past in the pro ranks and there is little to suggest a major turn in fortunes just yet. Fraser Patrick came through Q-School at the final time of asking and will be match sharp as he lines up against Liang Wenbo, Liang is very inconsistent and that one could produce a surprise. Finally, SB Classic regular Syd Wilson takes on Leeds pro Peter Lines. Peter is fairly solid when playing players ranked lower than himself and again I would have to side with the more experienced player at this level there.

Selections: Norman, Joyce, Trump, Allen, Lines, Higginson, Wenbo.

Recommended Bet: 2 point treble on Joyce, Lines and Higginson pays over 6/4 at Apollobet.        


10am  (click match for head to head record) 

Jamie Jones v David Grace
Adam Duffy v Tony Drago
Matthew Stevens v Zak Surety
Ali Carter v Elliot Slessor
Alfie Burden v Stuart Carrington
Rod Lawler v Lu Haotian
Marcus Campbell v Craig Steadman
James Wattana v Gary Wilson

Slessor - potential banana skin?

Slessor – potential banana skin?

2013 so far has not been a great year for either Jamie Jones or David Grace, they have each won just one match since the turn of the year and Grace ended last season on a pretty poor run of results. Jones’s fall from grace since breaking through at the Crucible in 2012 is hard to understand, but somewhere along the way he lost his game. An evenly matched one that on current form and the winner will get a much needed early boost. Tony Drago played pretty well in the World Qualifiers and beat Adam Duffy in this event last season 5-3, Duffy is another that struggled at the back end of last season and I’d side with Drago there as he’ll obviously be itching to make the venue. Two SB Classic stalwarts take on two more illustrious opponents next and I would give Zak Surety and Elliot Slessor outside chances against Matthew Stevens and Ali Carter respectively.  Out of the two I suspect Surety might go closest as Matthew probably hasn’t picked up a cue since losing at the Crucible to Marco Fu and Zak is sharp from Q-School, Elliot is a decent prospect too and ran Ding close in a PTC last season, he made it through Q-School in lightning quick time and will be up for the challenge, no easy pickings for the Captain. Alfie Burden will expect to progress against returning pro Stuart Carrington, but the two have had two close tussles each winning a decider back in 2008, perhaps another close one beckons. Next up the promising Lu Haotian takes on Rod Lawler, Lu has turned many heads in China and although he looks about 8 years old he seems to have a game that is capable of maturing, but I don’t think he will be able to handle Rod personally. Marcus Campbell is usually pretty reliable when faced with a lower ranked player and his form at the back end of last season suggests that he will able to hold off Craig Steadman and finally another returning pro Gary Wilson takes on James Wattana, James is another that tends to breeze through the early rounds but Gary is one of the more dangerous new professionals and has the experience that maybe some of the others lack, I fancy a shock there.

Selections: Grace, Drago, Surety, Carter, Burden, Lawler, Campbell, Wilson.

Recommended Bet: 3 x 1 point singles and a 1 point treble on Grace, Drago and Wilson (treble pays best price over 11/1 at Apollobet). 1 point on Surety at 4/1 with Paddy Power and 1 point on Slessor at 9/2 with Sportingbet.       

2.30pm  (click match for head to head record) 

Tian Pengfei v Luca Brecel
Shaun Murphy v Alex Davies
Fergal O’Brien v Ben Harrison
Kurt Maflin v Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon
Ken Doherty v Joe Swail
Joe Perry v Kyren Wilson
Michael Holt v David Morris
Gerard Greene v Martin O’Donnell

Emm Oh Deeee Emm Oh Deee Emm Oh Deee

Emm Oh Deeee Emm Oh Deee Emm Oh Deee

The final set of matches again has a distinct SB Classic feel to it with the 2012 Champion Martin O’Donnell and the 2013 runner-up Kyren Wilson both in action, as well as regulars Ben Harrison and Alex Davies. The MO’D has already beaten his opponent Gerard Greene in his first season as a professional and I’m confident that he will do the same again. He was beginning to look a lot more settled at the end of last season and I think he’ll do better this season with that first year behind him. Alex Davies returns to the professional ranks with a baptism of fire and only the brave would take him to turn over Shaun Murphy, who must be desperate to get his hands on a trophy again after quite a gap for a player as good as he is. Ben Harrison might be listing the baulk cushion as his best friend come teatime tomorrow as he faces Fergal O’Brien, tough as teeth and hard to scrape off the table, he tends to also start seasons pretty well. Kurt Maflin got married last weekend and it sounds like they had a right old time of it, he obviously anticipated being shitfaced as World Snooker allowed him to put his match back to the final session, he faces Thanawhat who is an in and out type of player but very dangerous, I fancy that one to go to a decider. Another possible close affair sees Ken Doherty up against his pal Joe Swail, Joe nearly pulled off a miraculous qualifying stunt to get to the Crucible while still technically an amateur and form like that I think will see him get past his old sparring partner. Davy Morris continues the Irish theme and fresh from Q-School takes on Michael Holt, it’s a big ask for Morris this on his return to the pro ranks against one of the more consistent performers in the qualifying rounds. I’m going to predict another shock in this round and that is Kyren Wilson, he beat Joe Perry 4-0 in a PTC in 2011 and for me is another returning professional that could cause a few upsets this season, I did think he’d be a slightly better price than he is though. Finally, young Luca Brecel starts his season off against the frustratingly inconsistent Tian Pengfei, it would be nice to see Luca kick on this year and if Tian starts playing silly buggers again this could be another venue on the cards for the boy with the lovely smile, I certainly hope so.

Selections: Brecel, Murphy, O’Brien, Maflin, Swail, Wilson, Holt, O’Donnell.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Swail (5/4 Corals) and 2 points on O’Donnell (5/4 Stan James).

Recommended Wednesday Acca: Burden, Campbell, Lawler, O’Brien and Holt pays just on 6/1 at Corals, 2 points on that.     

Apollo Post banner

Ronnie Withdraws from Wuxi

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:00 am

Ronnie O’Sullivan today posted a withdrawal from the Wuxi Classic where he was due to play Michael Wasley tomorrow evening.

It’s a blow to the event organisers obviously but it’s hardly unexpected, Ronnie’s inclusion in the draw was a shock to me in the first place and his non-participation was always a possibility.

No reason has been given for the withdrawal, he usually at least manages to come up with some excuse or other, perhaps this time he just carelessly entered it by accident. But it’s good news for Wazza who can now start packing his suitcase for the main event.


May 24, 2013

Blog Facebook Changes

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:20 am

A very quick note to say that as of today I will be gradually moving all updates about the blog and the Snookerbacker Classic to this page on Facebook.

So if you want to keep up to date with new posts, competitions on the blog, general snooker news and deadlines and updates on the Snookerbacker Classic, please just press the ‘Like’ button by clicking that thumb thing and then it’s sorted.

Thumbs Up


 P.S. The blog itself will remain the same, this is just if you are on Facebook and want prompts when posts go up. I’ll keep annoying everyone on Twitter too so no change there.

May 23, 2013

Introducing….Roycey’s Ref School

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:35 am

Eggs Ref SchoolThis season’s Snookerbacker Classic will see a number of changes. There will be more prize money, an order of merit list and three new venues. There will also be Ref School, an initiative I have been discussing with qualified referee Martyn Royce, who has just finished a stint at Q-School.

Martyn and I would like to encourage new referees into snooker by giving them the opportunity to get involved in the SB Classic next season. We both share a passion to nurture a new crop of gloved-up, eagle-eyed snooker referees.

But enough from me, here is Martyn himself to explain everything and tell you why you should consider getting involved with Ref School.

“Being a snooker referee might not appear to be the most glamorous of roles. Without delving beneath the surface you could be forgiven for thinking it’s simply a case of standing around a green table with two other people wearing white gloves and taking balls out of pockets.  But the beautiful thing about being a referee is that you don’t have to be any good at playing the game to don those white gloves and get involved. Whether you’re young or old, male or female, short or tall, anyone can be a snooker referee – even you“.

“My name is Martyn and I have been a qualified snooker referee since March 2009. Over the years I have refereed countless hundreds of frames and overseen dozens upon dozens of matches. I have had the pleasure of refereeing every standard imaginable, right from club level players simply out to have a good time through to the world’s finest professionals playing for the crowds and making their living. Every single shot in every one of those matches brings with it a different challenge, and it’s this challenge which I thrive upon as a referee. I love being the ‘man in the middle’ and being at the heart of the action, and I would love to see more referees enter the fold and take the stage themselves”.

“The Snookerbacker Classic has become an established series of fixtures in the amateur snooker calendar. With the 2014 competition comes a number of big, exciting new changes and the Snookerbacker Ref School is one of them. I will be leading a scheme across all the competition dates whereby you can get hands-on experience of refereeing if you’ve never tried it before. Everything from etiquette and positioning around the table, preparing the table ready for a match and pre/post-match routines will be covered. I will be there every step of the way giving help and advice as you take your first steps to becoming a fully fledged referee”.

“If you have the drive and commitment to become a referee, I have the drive and commitment to get you on the right track”.

“If you’d like to know more then e-mail me at: [email protected] and tell me why you’d like to be a part of Ref School and what (if anything) has stopped you from refereeing before. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, but you are welcome to travel to whichever event you wish if your initial choice is full. So what are you waiting for? Break out of your shell, sign up for Ref School and make your first steps towards the bright lights of the Crucible”.

So there you have it. A chance for budding referees with little or no prior experience to get involved in the UK’s biggest amateur snooker tournament. Who knows? One day you might be the man or woman in the middle on the biggest stage of them all. Don’t forget, the email to get in touch is [email protected] – what are you waiting for?

You can also follow Martyn on Twitter by clicking here – ask him loads of questions. 

May 22, 2013

Final Day at Q-School and New Season Draws

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:48 am
The tour just got flatter

Whatcha Gotta Lose? The tour just got flatter

The marathon that is Q-School reaches its conclusion today with the final 16 players in Q-School 3 fighting it out for the last 4 main tour places up for grabs from this event.

On the main tour itself, yesterday was notable for the draws being published for the first three events of the season which start off with the qualifiers for the Wuxi Classic in Gloucester on Monday.

Perhaps surprisingly Ronnie O’Sullivan has entered, he starts off his campaign against the man who works behind the bar at the venue Michael ‘Wazza’ Wasley and this tournament also of course sees the beginning of Bazza’s big gamble; the flat 128 structure which will become an increasingly familiar sight as the season progresses, how it goes remains to be seen.

Tuesday also saw the draw for the qualifying rounds of the Australian Open which follows the Wuxi qualifiers at the same venue. This event does not follow the same flat structure and at first sight suffers from a severely depleted field, the highest ranked player that I can see in the qualifiers is Ken Doherty who is currently in 27th spot. This means that only 16 players above him in the rankings have entered the tournament, probably because of the prize money and associated travel costs which I commented on the other day here.

I’m guessing that not many of the 16 with the exception of Neil Robertson will be from the top 8, but we shall see, there may be the odd few that fancy combining it with a holiday in Australia, I think I remember Shaun Murphy saying he had friends there and enjoyed his time in Aus and I imagine former champ Ballrun Bingham and current one Barry Hawkins  will be on the plane but after that it’s anyone’s guess.


The Bulgarian PTC draw also came out and once again the World Champion O’Sullivan has bucked the trend and entered and if this YouTube clip is to be believed he is really looking forward to it, you can see the excitement on his face in fairness.

You can view the draw for the Wuxi Classic here.

You can view the draw for the Australian Goldfields Open here.

You can view the draw for PTC Bulgaria here.

It’s great to see that the World Snooker PDF’s are up to their usual standard too.

Here’s the draw for today, you can keep up with these matches on the live scoring here.


Gareth Green 4-1 Sydney Wilson
David Morris 4-2 Ant Parsons
Lee Spick 4-3 Darren Cook
Phil O’Kane 0-4 Duane Jones
Adam Wicheard 4-1 Darryl Hill
Chris Wakelin 4-1 Darren Bond
Josh Boileau 1-4 Ashley Carty
Rhys Clark 3-4 Fraser Patrick


Gareth Green 1-4 David Morris
Lee Spick 4-2 Duane Jones
Adam Wicheard 2-4 Chris Wakelin
Ashley Carty v Fraser Patrick

May 21, 2013

Grantham Junior Snooker Open: SB Classic Slots Up for Grabs

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:15 pm

Grantham Junior SnookerDuring the course of running the last 2 Snookerbacker Classics I have been lucky enough to meet some great people. Not only the players but those who work hard behind the scenes to support snooker at grassroots level in the UK.

One of those people is Simon Goldstein, whose son Tom has played in a couple of events and hopes to build on those performances in this season’s Classic. He’s even got his own website, it’s here.

Now, as well as Simon sharing my taste in the more eclectic corners of 1980’s music, he also shares my ‘give it a go’ attitude and is working hard in his local area of Grantham to grow snooker at a junior level.

He’s also a cheeky blighter and approached me a few weeks ago about a possible prize offering for his forthcoming event, the Grantham Junior Open on Sunday 7th July.

Once he had applied the thumbscrews and instructed his cocker spaniel to be on alert I caved in with very little resistance and offered up two free entries to an event in Gloucester next February to the winner and the runner-up of the aptly named ‘Ambitions Cup’.

Simon says “As a snooker Dad, I have been to many snooker competitions in the last 5 years and so wanted to give a bit back in organising my own. I am lucky to have the right ingredients to promote this event with the friendliest of snooker clubs – ‘Grantham Snooker and Pool Club’, top class sponsors and a network of junior players. I look forward to making this event a huge success and hopefully continue with more events as the need grows”.

I’m very happy to support the tournament and would like to wish all the players competing the very best of luck and I look forward to welcoming the winner and runner-up to the SB Classic.

How to Enter:

If you are under 18 as of 6th July 2013, what the devil are you waiting for? Get your name down.

To enter the tournament contact Simon by email on [email protected] or via Twitter by following him @simongold or you can call the Grantham Snooker and Pool Club on 01476 564525. You can also text Simon on 07827 242936 and the entry fee to the event is just £10.

So, for just a tenner you could end up in one of the Q-School slots on offer in the Snookerbacker Classic 2014 and begin your career in the sport.


May 20, 2013

Here’s the Season….

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:03 am
It's off to sunny Quedgeley next Monday

It’s off to sunny Quedgeley next Monday

Despite the fact that the 2012/13 professional season finished just two weeks ago at the Crucible, the new one starts in earnest a week today as the South West Snooker Academy or Capital Venue if you prefer, plays host to the first two sets of qualifiers for the Wuxi Classic and the Australian Goldfields Open.

It will be very interesting to see who chooses to play in these two events and possibly more interesting to see who decides to skip them. I reckon it’s a cunning move by World Snooker to have the two qualifying events running consecutively in the same venue and perhaps this might encourage those that were going to give the Aussie event a miss to enter it seeing as they are in Gloucester anyway for the Wuxi one.

The draw for both is apparently imminent as the final rounds of Q-School draw to a close and are due to finish on Wednesday.

The Wuxi Classic represents the first chance we will have to see how the flat draw structure pans out of course. It’s to be applauded that the winners of their first matches will be guaranteed at least £3000 prize money and for me that should signal a very healthy turnout for an event which concludes in China next month and was won last season by Ricky Walden.

I’m not sure that the same can be said for the Australian event though, it looks very much as though only a run to a last 32 slot in that will be enough for players to cover their expenses and I should think this will be a contributory factor in the number of entries we see for that one, but for those that decide to enter it may offer a decent chance to make a mark in the ranking list early on in the season as I very much doubt that many of the top 16 will bother with it. But I could be wrong of course.

Sandwiched in between the qualifiers and the Wuxi Classic final stages we have the return of the good old PTC’s, with the European events kicking off in Sofia and the Asian ones in Yixing. Increased prize money is also the order of the day in these which is all good.

You can see the full calendar here and below is a summary of the first four events in terms of prize money on offer. More prize money details can be found on this PDF file which amongst other things unfortunately for me shows how way down the pecking order the German Masters remains financially despite it being a fabulous well-attended event in a fantastic city. I really can’t think of a reason why a more attractive German sponsor can’t be found for this amazing tournament, I’m all ears on that one.

Anyway, lots of positives in terms of the dosh available to the players this season, now it’s up to them to earn their crust.

Wuxi Classic

Winner £80,000
Runner-up £35,000
Semi-finals £20,000
Quarter-finals £11,500
Last 16 £8,000
Last 32 £6,500
Last 64 £3,000
Last 128 Nothing
High break (Finals) £2,000
High break (Qualifiers) Nothing
Total £467,000 (£400,000)

Goldfields Australian Open (For reference: $1000 AUS = £643

Winner $70,000  
Runner-up $30,000
Semi-finals $20,000
Quarter-finals $15,000
Last 16 $10,000
Last 32 $7,500
Last 48 $1,600
Last 64 $750
Last 96 $150
Last 128 Nothing
High break (Finals) $2,500
High break (Qualifiers) $100 = £64
Total $445,000 ($435,000)

European Tour Events (Continental)

Winner €25,000 
Runner-up €12,000
Semi-finals €6,000
Quarter-finals €4,000
Last 16 €2,300
Last 32 €1,200
Last 64 €700
Last 128 Nothing
Total €125,000 (€70,000)

Asian Tour

Winner £10,000
Runner-up £5,000
Semi-finals £2,500
Quarter-finals £1,500
Last 16 £1,000
Last 32 £600
Last 64 £200
Last 128 Nothing
Total £50,000 (£50,000)




Wuxi Classic Qualifiers
The Capital Venue, Gloucester

30-3rd June

Goldfields Australian Open Qualifiers
The Capital Venue, Gloucester



European Tour 1 (amateur pre qualifier)
Sofia, Bulgaria


European Tour 1 (Last 128)
Sofia, Bulgaria



Asian Tour 1
Yixing, China


Wuxi Classic
Wuxi, China

29 – 6th July 

Asian Indoor Games 
Incheon, Korea

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