July 30, 2013

World Games Final: Mehta v Wenbo

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:58 am

World GamesYou would be forgiven for thinking that an uncannily quiet period on the snooker calendar meant that there is nothing on whatsoever, but as I reported here a few days ago, Colombia is where it’s at this week in a potentially important week for the future growth of the sport.

Jason Ferguson is over at the World Games in Cali and is prolifically and excitedly tweeting from the venue with snippits of the action. It may surprise some that the UK didn’t claim any of the three medals with Joe Perry and Nigel Bond both losing out in the early stages and the final later on today (5pm UK Time) sees India’s Aditya Mehta up against China’s Liang Wenbo for the gold and silver medals. Dechawat Poomjaeng has already claimed the bronze after defeating Brasil’s Igor Figueiredo in the third place play-off.

All the results can be found here.

I’m sure that our Fergie is busy trying to convince the movers and shakers over there that snooker, or perhaps more realistically ‘cue sports’ should be the next sport to take the leap from this stage to the Olympic one. Let’s hope that they give him the chance to make the case as it would be a welcome addition to the Games and let’s face it, if Dressage and that Gymnastics thing where they wave sticks and ribbons around can get in it, anything can.

Apollobet have priced up the final here and I think I’d be tempted with the price on Mehta, who I have to say I did think was in with a shout in this from the start (if you can be bothered to search down my Twitter feed you will see that I’m not aftertiming!). Although Liang is 2-0 up on the head to heads, out of the two I reckon Adi is the one on an upward path while Liang has been largely treading water for a few seasons now so the 11/8 is a fair price in a match that will mean the world to both of them. Liang can struggle when the pressure is turned up a bit and Mehta for me is capable of handling it better if it goes close.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Mehta at 11/8 at Apollobet 

By the way, any thoughts on snooker’s Olympic dream are most welcome in the comments section, it is a quiet week after all.

July 24, 2013

Snooker’s Olympic Dream

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:28 am
Snooker is currently nowhere to be seen.

Snooker is currently nowhere to be seen.

Thursday sees the start of the World Games in Cali, Colombia and in amongst the non-Olympic sports on show is snooker, as sixteen players from around the world do battle for medals.

Whilst the World Games will probably pass largely unnoticed by the global sporting community given it’s remit to showcase sports which are not included in the Olympic Games it is potentially an important week for snooker. Jason Ferguson has made no secret of the fact that he’d like the baize boys to be one day competing on the Olympic stage and this is an event he sees as key to snooker’s big ambition.

Our Jase is definitely excited about all this and sees it as a big opportunity for the sport “As we strive to strengthen our position as a world sport it is vital that we earn our participation in such high calibre sporting events.”

“Several sports previously in the World Games, such as triathlon, subsequently made it into the Olympics as participation in the World Games is used as a stepping stone towards the Olympic dream.”

“Involvement in multi-sports events like this is also vital to many National Governing Bodies around the globe who receive significant funding for their sports development. I would like to thank all of our athletes who are competing for medals in Cali as they carry our Billiard Sports flag in to another major sporting arena.”

He might be stretching it a bit calling the baize boys athletes but it’s obvious that his intentions are good.

Anyway, it’s quite an eclectic mix of players that are carrying snooker’s hopes in their hands over there, it’s fair to say there are players of mixed abilities, with experienced professionals like Joe Perry, Nigel Bond and Liang Wenbo, mixing with some of the up and comers like the Indian pairing of Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta; familiar names to snooker folk like young Lyu Haotian and Brazil’s Igor Figueredo and others who presumably will just be making up the numbers.

I am assuming that South Africa’s Manuel Francisco is some kind of relation to match-fixer Peter and convicted drug-smuggler Silvino, so snooker is in very safe hands there. (See Janie’s comment, it is actually match-fixer Peter who is playing, someone carelessly got the name wrong)   

Dechawat Poomjaeng (Thailand)
Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (Iran)
Nigel Bond (GB)
Joe Perry (GB)
Pankaj Advani (India)
Aditya Mehta (India)
Liang Wenbo (China)
Igor Figueiredo (Brazil)
Saleh Mohammed (Afghanistan)
Noppon Saengkham (Thailand)
Alex Borg (Malta)
Lyu Haotian (China)
Manuel Francisco (South Africa)
Brendan O’Donoghue (Ireland)
Ajeya Prabhakar (USA)
Omar Al Kojah (Syria)

The official website of the World Games is here.

July 22, 2013

A Young Man’s Game?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:03 pm

BabyYesterday saw one of snooker’s big hitters come back with a bang as Mark Williams captured the Rotterdam Open title in fine style defeating Mark Selby in the final in front of a great crowd.

MJW is the fourth ranking event winner of the season, fifth if you count the Asian PTC won by Joe Perry, the others have been won by John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Marco Fu, Perry also won the Pink Ribbon event earlier in the year.

Robbo at 31 is the youngest winner this season, Marco is 35, Higgins, Perry and MJW are all 38, indeed a scan down the latest projected top 16 reveals that only three of them, Judd Trump (23), Mark Allen (27) and Ding Junhui (26) are in their 20’s and looking further into the top 64 this is again dominated by players in their 30’s, so why is there so little young success stories in snooker at the moment?

It’s very hard to fathom out, but even the most casual snooker observer would be able to see that the big winners tend to come mostly from the thirty-something generation these days. Judd is the obvious exception and it does underline just what an achievement it is to have already topped the rankings in the sport and become established at such a relatively young age. But he is the exception rather than the norm and kept at it when others around him packed it in and found something else to do. 

Is this the legacy left behind by years of mismanagement of the sport at the very highest level? Where was the investment in grass roots snooker while all the boys at the board were having their extended champagne lunches on expenses? Where were the junior events and initiatives when they were too busy smoozing with sponsors and getting fat off the profits to care? What was being done to encourage the sport to grow?

Well in short, bugger all. That’s why, love him or loathe him, snooker needed someone like Barry Hearn to shake it up.

What this lack of foresight means in the real world is that a player who has a season off can come back and after a few weeks practice win the World Championship largely untroubled. It means that the likes of MJW and Higgins can continue to win tournaments and earn a decent crust from doing so for the foreseeable future.

It also means that players who may have been in the shadows for a few years like Marco, Joe, Stuart Bingham, Dark Mavis and Robert Milkins can now develop and use their experience to tie hapless younger opponents in knots. Snooker has skipped a generation and it’s the older players, the same ones who were constantly told by the very people not investing in the sport’s future that it was ‘a young man’s game’ that are the main beneficiaries.

Will the new dawn in snooker change this? Very possibly. There is now a clear strategy to grow the sport and interest all over the world is increasing amongst the younger generation. But it will take time, which means that the increased earning potential will continue to be captured mostly by the more experienced older hands for some time yet.

Ironically, the likes of MJW, Ronnie and John all have the shoddy management of snooker to thank at least in part for their continued success and career longevity. It’s meant that a paltry sum of young talent arose from the children of the 1990’s and that they can continue at the top of the sport, possibly for longer than any of them thought possible a decade ago.

Ronnie hinted in an interview recently that he might quite like to get to 8 world titles before calling it a day, well I would argue that is a distinct possibility and I’m sure he, like MJW and Higgins has looked around and not seen a great deal to be that concerned about.

July 21, 2013

Rotterdam Open Finals Day

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:01 am

We have reached the final day of the Rotterdam Open and after what some may think of a day of shocks on day one, order was largely restored yesterday with four of the games big hitters making it through.

John Higgins, Stephen Maguire, Mark Williams and Mark Selby are all still in the hunt making this potentially a cracking day ahead. It certainly seems to be a popular venue with the players and I’m sure this will become a permanent fixture on the early season calendar.

Bettingwise, the main tip Higgins (13/2) and main each way hope Dark Mavis (40/1) are still in there and yesterday saw a nice little 9/1 treble land so I hope a few of you got on that. I’ll go for another ambitious one this morning with three outsiders.

Anyone who fancies the 2012 Snookerbacker Classic champ Martin O’Donnell to blaze to glory can still get 66/1 on that happening over at Apollobet – Come on the M’OD…

Recommended Bet: 1 point treble pays over 13/1 at Bet Victor on Dave Gilbert, Anthony McGill and Gary Wilson.

9am (UK Time)

John Higgins v Stephen Maguire
Ryan Day v David Gilbert
Anthony McGill v Martin Gould
Jimmy Robertson v Mark Selby
Stuart Bingham v Martin O’Donnell
Mark Williams v Sam Baird
Gary Wilson v Joe Swail
Dark Mavis v David Grace

12 noon

John Higgins/Stephen Maguire v Ryan Day/David Gilbert
Anthony McGill/Martin Gould v Jimmy Robertson/Mark Selby
Stuart Bingham/Martin O’Donnell v Mark Williams/Sam Baird
Gary Wilson/Joe Swail v Dark Mavis/David Grace


Semi Finals



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July 20, 2013

Rotterdam Open Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:01 am

It’s time for the bulk of the top half of the draw to play down to eight qualifiers after yesterday saw the first eight finals day qualifiers decided in Rotterdam.

Already through to Sunday’s last 16 are: Dave Gilbert, Stuart Bingham, Sam Baird, Gary Wilson, Joe Swail, David Grace, Dark Mavis and I am delighted to say Martin O’Donnell who had a couple of corking wins yesterday over Rob Milkins and Marcus Campbell.

Here is the line up for today.

Recommended Bet: 1 point treble pays almost 9/1 at Ladbrokes on Elliot Slessor, Pankaj Advani and Andrew Norman.

8.30am (UK time)
John Higgins v Sam Harvey
Andrew Pagett v Elliot Slessor
Michael Wasley v Fozan Masood
Daniel Wells v Florian Moederscheim
Anthony Hamilton v Allan Taylor
Sean O’Sullivan v Stephen Maguire
Alfie Burden v Dylan Craig
Barry Pinches w/o Marco Fu
Joel Walker v Pankaj Advani
Ryan Day v Ryan Clark
Stuart Carrington v Alex Taubman
Approx 10amJack Lisowski v Matt Couch
Gerard Greene v Andrew Norman
Alan McManus v Aditya Mehta
Mark Williams w/o Jimmy White
Fergal O’Brien v Mitchell Travis
Jamie O’Neill v Rory McLeodApprox 10.30amMike Dunn w/o Lee Spick
Anthony McGill v Robin Hull
Michael Holt v Jak Jones
James Cahill v Kevin van HoveApprox 11.30amMartin Gould v Gareth Green
Jamie Jones v Matthew Day
Michael Leslie v Jeff Cundy
Judd Trump v Vinnie Calabrese

Approx 12pm

Jimmy Robertson v Chris Norbury
Michael White v David Morris
Mark Joyce v Mark Owens
John Astley w/o Mohamed Khairy

Approx 1pm

Fraser Patrick v Wan Chooi Tan
Scott Donaldson v Mark Selby
Andrew Higginson v Daniel Ward

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July 18, 2013

Rotterdam Open Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:24 pm

After a busy day of amateur qualifiers on Thursday, Friday sees the bottom half of the draw play down to eight players to contest Finals Day on Sunday over in Rotterdam.

You can read my preview to the event here which includes a link to the draw and the TV schedule.

Recommended Match Bets: 3 point acca Ian Burns, Gary Wilson, Luca Brecel and Dominic Dale pays just under 2/1 at Ladbrokes. 2 point double on Peter Lines and Liam Highfield pays 7/2 at Apollobet.  

Friday’s Schedule

All times are UK time


Ryan Causton w/o Barry Hawkins
Adam Duffy v Stuart Bingham
Simon Bedford v Joe Roberts
Hammad Miah v Marc J Davis
Marcus Campbell v Jurian Heusdens
Matt Selt v Peter Lines
Robert Milkins v Craig Steadman
Martin O’Donnell v Benji Buckley
Kurt Maflin v Ross Muir
Tom Ford v Noppon Saengkham
Sam Baird v Tomasz Skalski

Approx 10am

Joe Perry v Oliver Brown
Jamie Cope v Shane Castle
Nigel Bond w/o Liang Wenbo
Ian Burns v Chris Wakelin
David Gilbert v Martin Ball
Robbie Williams v Paul Davison

Approx 10.30am

Liam Highfield v Jamie Burnett
Patrick Einsle w/o Ali Carter
Gary Wilson v Ahmed Saif
Matthew Stevens v Ben Harrison

Approx 11.30am

Ben Woollaston v Ricky Walden
Joe Swail v Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon
Shaun Murphy v Ben Jones
Luca Brecel v Lee Page

Approx 12pm

Tony Drago v Alexander Ursenbacher
Rod Lawler v Reanne Evans
Mark Davis v Michael Georgiou
Dominic Dale v Alex Davies

Approx 1pm

Kyren Wilson v Sydney Wilson
David Grace v Christopher Keogan
Passakorn Suwannawat w/o Neil Robertson

Followed by later rounds

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Snooker Heads to India

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:48 am
Delhi is a shock to the senses

Delhi is a shock to the senses

It has been rumoured in snooker circles now for some time and today World Snooker has announced that it will stage the first ever world ranking tournament in India in October. The Indian Open will run from October 14th to 18th in Delhi.

The tournament will feature 64 players all competing at the main venue. Beforehand, all players on the main tour will have the chance to compete in the qualifying round on August 11 and 12 at the Doncaster Dome, needing to win one match to earn a place at the venue.

The event will offer prize money of £300,000, with the winner to take home £50,000.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “I have been in Delhi this week to finalise the agreement for the event and I have witnessed first hand the enthusiasm for snooker in India. The people really love our game and I’ve no doubt that this event will be a great success and provide a basis for snooker’s growth in India.”

I hope that the players will support this new initiative, from personal experience I think India is an incredible country and I for one would really like to see this new initiative grow and become a success.

I offer three handy tips for the more adventurous players, firstly, if you take a taxi don’t say it’s the first time you have been there or you could end up anywhere. Secondly, don’t expect to pop out to see the Taj Mahal an hour or so before your match because it’s miles away, go when you have been knocked out and finally, go veggie for the whole of your stay, you won’t regret it.

Follow those three handy hints and not only will you get to see the sights, you’ll also not end up with Delhi belly.

July 17, 2013

This Could be Rotterdam: EPTC2 Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:51 am
Dutch people with cheese, lots of cheese.

Dutch people with cheese, lots of cheese.

One of the undoubted success stories of the Barry Hearn era at the helm of World Snooker has been the much welcomed and long overdue expansion of snooker into mainland Europe. Successful tournaments in Bulgaria, Germany, Belgium and Poland have laid the groundwork for this week’s Dutch adventure, as Rotterdam plays host to the second European Tour event of the season. 

Now long suffering readers of this utter tripe probably have me down as some kind of defender of the UK, a miserable, pathetic figure who laments the demise of the game on our hallowed shores at the expense of Johnny Foreigner, but nothing, apart from the miserable and pathetic bit, could be further from the truth.

I do wish there were more tournaments in the UK and often think back to the glory days, just as I wish there was less reliance on China, but we do still have the best three tournaments in my opinion and with the Champion of Champions set to light up Coventry (well something has to) in November I don’t think we do too badly really.

I thoroughly welcome the clear European focus that has developed under Bazza and Fergie and having seen at first hand the support the players receive at these venues it beggars belief that Sir Rodney ‘Effing’ Walker couldn’t see the potential there. He’s now in charge of the UK bit of the Tour de France I believe, christ knows what will happen there with him at the helm, but that’s their business.

So to Rotterdam we go and having seen the first three main events of the season won by John Higgins, Neil Robertson and Marco Fu are we set for another season of unique winners of every ranking tournament? Well, those three will definitely hope not as it would mean they have peaked a little early to say the least.

One thing that is for sure however is that Robbo won’t be winning this as he has withdrawn, presumably to take an extended break until the next tournament he’ll be playing which won’t be for another month. Other absentees are Jimmy White and Ali Carter who both have health issues, I’m sure everyone on here wishes Ali all the best on his road to recovery. Jimmy in the meantime is currently spending most of his time playing happily on a scooter following an operation on his foot. Barry Hawkins and Liang Wenbo have also pulled out having originally entered.

ferry_to_hollandAnother player to withdraw is Lee Spick, presumably after consulting a map. Now he is a funny one is Lee, he went to the trouble of paying his £1000 plus expenses to qualify through Q-School and since then hasn’t been seen in action. The reason? Apparently he is scared of flying and he won’t be attending any events overseas (even though probably the easiest way of getting to Holland is by ferry).

I’m sorry, but I just can’t understand this. He has qualified and taken a place that could have gone to someone else and has no intention of playing most of the tour? He obviously fancies his chances in the UK and the World Championship as going deep in them is the only way he’ll be staying on the tour. Barking mad.

The draw for the Dutch leg of the EPTC series is here and you can as ever check all the head to heads by clicking on the excellent Cue Tracker website head to head page here. It’s also great to see that Eurosport are pulling out all the stops with coverage and their schedule can be found by clicking here.

In terms of betting the big names of Selby, Higgins and Trump are fighting for favouritism and of those three I would probably plump for Higgins, who for me has quite a decent draw and once he makes Finals Day he usually becomes very tough to beat, as he showed in EPTC1. Also in the top quarter I’m going to take a punt on Rookie of the Year Ian Burns who has been improving in leaps and bounds and has a PTC in him in my opinion.

In quarter 2 there are fancy prices around about Michael Holt, who has shown that he can win a PTC and for me has a winnable path to Finals Day. In the next quarter, Ben Woollaston is always worth a punt in these as he tends to perform his best in them and lower down Dark Mavis will be looking at his section possibly thinking it’s his to lose, he’s next into the book. In the bottom section, I’d be prepared to take the fancy odds about Norwegian Cockney Kurt Maflin, who is capable of putting a run together at any time and if he clicks he can beat anyone on his day and seems to have got used to the TV conditions of late.

Given the recommendations above are mostly each-way punts it’s very disappointing that most firms are only paying each way on the finalists and not on the semi-finalists, so limited stakes in this one until they sort that offer out.

Recommended Outright Bets: 2 points win on John Higgins at 13/2 with Bet 365. 1 point each way on Mark Davis at 40/1 with Apollobet. 0.5 points each way on all the following Burns (150/1 Ladbrokes), Holt (150/1 Ladbrokes), Woollaston (80/1 Ladbrokes) and Maflin (150/1 Bet Victor)   

You can take a look at blog partner Apollobet’s outright prices here and match prices here.  You can also click on the banner below to open an account with them.

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July 15, 2013

Snookerbacker Classic: Liverpool FULL

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:00 pm

All places have now been reserved for Saturday 26th October and Sunday 27th in Liverpool. 

The only options available for entry into this season’s Snookerbacker Classic are in Llanelli on 25th January or Gloucester on 15th February where there are still places available.

So if you want any of the places still on offer reserving contact me today. I will shortly be contacting players in the first two events to give deadlines for entry fee payment.

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July 13, 2013

Snookerbacker Classic: Gloucester 8th December FULL

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:01 pm

As soon as the previous post went up, the Gloucester event on 8th December when the Classic Goes Christmas filled it’s remaining places.

This means that ALL EVENTS IN 2013 ARE NOW FULL. I am however taking reserves for all events as there may be places freed up when players qualify who have entered more than one event. So please keep the queries coming.

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