October 31, 2013

International Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:39 pm

Long two session semi-finals are the name of the game in Chengdu for the next couple of days and for me at least the betting satchel is now well and truly closed on a tournament that has seen an end to the recent hot betting streak. It was bound to happen sooner or later and we’re still way way ahead on the season so far.  

With the greatest respect to Friday’s two protagonists it’s probably not the most entertaining match up of all time. But both Perry and Fu have had great starts to the season and have both won something so it’s going according to form you might argue.

The semi-final on Saturday however could be a cracker. Dotty is just the type to put the fly in the ointment and Ding’s winning run as he attempts to make history could be stopped by the tenacious Highland Terrier.

The headline writers will doubtless want an all-Chinese final again, but Englishman Perry and Scot Dott will have something to say about that I reckon. I’ve seen worse bets that Dott with a 2.5 frame start at 4/5 with Ladbrokes and I reckon that will go close, but gun to head I’d have to side with a repeat of the Masters final a few years back with Fu lining up against Ding.

We’ll see.

Friday 1st November

Joe Perry 5-3 Marco Fu (8 Frames)

Joe Perry 8-9 Marco Fu (To a finish)

Saturday 2nd November

Ding Junhui v Graeme Dott (8 Frames)

Ding Junhui v Graeme Dott (To a finish)

Check out all Apollobet’s outright match prices here.

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October 30, 2013

International Championship Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:22 pm
Ebdon (Right)

Ebdon (Left)

The Quarter Finals begin and end on Thursday in Chengdu and I am sorry to say that this tournament is largely passing me by. I was looking forward to watching a lot of it but with one thing and another that just hasn’t happened.

It sounds like I missed a cracking match today between Neil Robertson and Peter Ebdon, we’ve seen this sort of thing before with Ebbo, coming into this event he’d have had serious trouble when confronted with a shovel and a bull’s arse but now he seems to be back to his grinding best. He’s done it in two China Opens and who is to say he won’t do it again here and win the tournament? Unlikely as it seems, if you are believer in history repeating itself he is the man to be on. His huge fall down the rankings means he desperately needs to start getting to semi-finals and finals so he has a huge incentive too. As well as a truckload of bananas.

Our favourite vegan crackpot said afterwards, “I tried to play more quickly today and I’ve already had a few messages from people back in the UK saying I look better when I’m getting on with it. I felt as if I was competing. Neither of us played at our best, but that made it exciting for the fans. I enjoyed it and I’m delighted to win. I have been struggling for a while to get back into form. I’ve been working hard on my game and doing a lot of swimming. Last season I had a few back, neck and shoulder problems which stopped me swimming, which made a big difference.” Robbo for what it’s worth predicted an Ebdon win over Ding if he maintains that kind of form, which is some compliment.

Wee Graeme Dott came through a high quality match again Kurt Maflin and proclaimed afterwards “It’s probably one of the best matches I’ve been involved in, it was really high quality. I didn’t do much wrong from 5-3 to 5-5, he made two great clearances. I thought I had lost when Kurt was among the balls in the last frame because he was playing so well. I’ve been cueing really well this week and I’m looking forward to playing anyone.” Fighting talk from the Highland Terrier.

In the other matches in this session Mark Allen was beaten by Joe Perry whose good start to the season continued, while Marco Fu put an end to the run of Childcard.

In the second session Ding came through safely in what looked like a scrappy match with Matthew Stevens, he’s through to play Ebbo now and said “I have played many matches against Peter Ebdon before and I know his rhythm in practice, it’s not slow. He just treats each shot very carefully in competition and all I can do is to perform my own game.” Press room staff were seen later crying with laughter at Ding’s little joke about Ebdon not being slow, ever the comic, good old Ding had them rolling in the aisles with that one, he even said it with a straight face. Genius.

The Jester from Leicester Mark Selby is also through, hammering Stuart Bingham, Selby who tends to raise his game when the money gets bigger said “I scored well and blocked Stuart out, it’s a big tournament and everyone wants to do well. Everyone left in the tournament is well capable of winning.”

The Quarter Final line up is completed by Ryan Day who is feeling quite at home in Chengdu, I’m sure that has nothing whatsoever to do with the number of pandas that are there and anyone who says it is will have me to answer to, he knocked out The Ferginator and Liang Wenbo who drew confidence from his defeat of O’Sullivan knocked out Dark Mavis.

Bettingwise, the great recent run looks set to come to an end, unless the final recommended bet below comes in. If Ebdon can follow on from today and beat Ding, there is no reason at all why he won’t win it, so that price at Ladbrokes for me is just too tempting to pass up.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Ebdon for the title at 25/1 with Ladbrokes.


Ryan Day v Joe Perry
Marco Fu v Mark Selby


Peter Ebdon v Ding Junhui
Graeme Dott v Liang Wenbo

Check out all Apollobet’s outright match prices here.

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Thanks to World Snooker for use of the photo

October 29, 2013

International Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:18 pm
Oval and Out

Oval and Out

It’s Day Four in Chengdu and thankfully we are finally rid of those early morning sessions which are highly inconvenient for the UK audience. What were they thinking putting them on at that hour? God only knows…surely China should be getting on board with us Brits and putting this on to suit our days rather than their own, very selfish if you ask me.

Anyway, Ronnie’s brief appearance in China was just that, brief, as he was beaten by Liang Wenbo from holding a 4-1 lead. Ronnie wasn’t at his best and China got to celebrate a home win. He can come home now knowing that he’s fulfilled his part of the bargain with the vodka boys so everyone’s happy.

Earlier Ding had also got through and is still on for a hat-trick of titles, you have to go back to the days of a certain Mr Hendry for the last time that happened, but to me Ding did show a few signs of tiredness here and there and I don’t really fancy him to make history on that showing personally.

The childcard beat Barry Hawkins, some have accused me of being unfair to the childcard in refusing to give him any credit for his performances. Well, I am nothing if not consistent so I will again refuse to praise the childcard for another win in a tournament he shouldn’t be in.

I wasn’t up early enough to see Mark Allen play but apparently he struggled against dogged Dave Harold and amongst the shocks of the day were contrasting fortunes for the Welsh twosome of Matthew Stevens and Mark Williams. Matthew gave John Higgins a pasting, increasing my suspicion that we may be witnessing the end of an era with John, I just don’t see any glimpses of his steely resolve lately and haven’t done for a while, will he ever get it back? MJ lost to Kurt Maflin who now gets to have a crack at Dotty who ended Kyren Wilson’s run.

There were also early wins for Joe Perry, Marco Fu and Dark Mavis, the latter of whom along with Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham are still in the hunt for the outright bets. It’s fair to say that the match betting today didn’t go too well. Ryan Day managed to turn over Judd’s conqueror Angles and Fergal O’Brien, Mark Selby and Peter Ebdon all came through real snoozefests late on.

Robertson’s 6-1 win over Un-Nooh is arguably a score that was easily predictable. It is also a score that betting markets pointed to before the match as well as silly odds being taken on Robbo just to win at Betfair. By the time the match started there had been over £40,000 traded there on that match alone, over 99% of which was on Robbo. This is not a great deal of money for sure when it comes to betting markets, but when there are people prepared to take odds as low as 1/12 on a player before a ball is struck in a match this will always raise alarm bells, particularly when the player being laid has ‘form’. Betfair arguably being the back end of activity which has long since gone on in the Asian markets. Ronnie’s televised match at the same point had less than £6000 traded on it. In short, this match was comfortably the most traded on of the week so far.

It may well be that this is just merely a reflection of the confidence Robbo backers have in their man, but to me it smells a bit fishy and has similar patterns to other undoubtedly dubious matches involving Thai players. I can’t and won’t blame the players themselves and as I have said before the Integrity Unit face a thankless task, but this can’t just carry on. I hope that all firms and exchanges will soon take the decision to pull betting on all matches involving certain players, though what good this will do is unclear as it will merely push things further underground. It’s a real problem in the sport and I’m not at all sure how to solve it, I’ll just say that I’m glad it’s not my job to do so. But it should continue to be highlighted rather than ignored or else the baddies have won and my mum would not like that and would give me a severe telling off.

Anyway, here is the line up for tomorrow. We still have main fancy Robertson involved and he seems to be playing as well as anyone, we also have the two 40/1 shots in Mavis and Bingham still in the hunt.

Click on the match to view the head to heads where applicable.


Childcard v Marco Fu
Neil Robertson v Peter Ebdon
Mark Allen v Joe Perry
Graeme Dott v Kurt Maflin


Ryan Day v Fergal O’Brien
Stuart Bingham v Mark Selby
Dark Mavis v Liang Wenbo
Matthew Stevens v Ding Junhui

Recommended Bets: 2 point acca pays almost 9/2 at Ladbrokes on Robertson, Dott, Day and Mavis. 2 points on Bingham to beat Selby at 7/4 with Corals.

Check out all Apollobet’s outright match prices here.

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Thanks to World Snooker for use of the photo

SB Classic Liverpool: Jeffers and Mann Progress

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:47 am

Scotties in playEvents 3 and 4 of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic saw us at a new venue in Liverpool, an old haunt of mine George Scott’s Snooker Club, or simply ‘Scotties’ to patrons of this famous old shrine to snooker. 

Scotties is synonymous with snooker in the North West and there probably isn’t a snooker player on the main tour for the past 30 years who hasn’t been there at least once. Famous faces adorn the walls, some photographed with the man whose dream the whole place was, the late George himself. It’s barely changed since I started going there for junior events as a kid along with the likes of Rod Lawler, John Timson, Colin Kelly and Nicky Fruin. So, as you might imagine I was very nervous staging my own competition there, filling such giant shoes as the late Ted Robinson, a man who put his heart and soul into snooker and after whom the refurbished matchroom is now named.

Saturday started with us being led to a private room at the side of the main bar area which is like someone’s sitting room, it’s odd that I always knew the room was there but I don’t recall ever going into it before. Mrs SB set out the antique cake stand as the players started milling in. The mix was clear for all to see, local lads in some cases very local in the shape of Anthony Jeffers and Josh Mulholland who are regulars at the club as well as John Welsh, a player I remember well from my time playing and still a fierce competitor mixed with those who came from further afield, Billy Brown making the trip up from London, Mitchell Mann from the Midlands, Damian Wilks from Bradford and Callum Lloyd from Newport amongst others.

First round highlights on Saturday included an eye-catching 4-0 win for Mulholland over Mitchell Mann and a marathon which saw Jeffers scrape past fellow Scouser Brian Robertson 4-3 in just under 4 hours. Both local lads also prevailing in the next round along with Welsh and Alex Taubman, giving the semi-finals a very local feel.

Off the table, the sociable side of the Classic was once again in evidence, a bizarre conversation in the players room at one point touching on the highs and lows of being chosen to arrange Jimmy Savile’s funeral and the chances of recovering from an operation, for at least ten minutes this cosy sitting room was more like a relatives room at the local hospital but gladly it was all light-hearted and there were no further casualties.

Anthony Jeffers with his prize.

Anthony Jeffers with his prize.

On the table it was Jeffers who came through to the final first with a hard fought victory over Alex Taubman, Anthony’s 86 break in the decider coming from a magnificent opening red and leaving Alex to simply hold his hands up at the end and claim he could not have done anything about it. A much more pedestrian affair in the other semi-final saw Welsh set up an all Liverpool final with a 4-2 defeat of Mulholland, who had given a very good account of himself on his SB Classic debut.

The day was wearing on by now and it was clear we were in for a very late finish. Mrs SB had long since left the building and myself and referee Roycey were there for the late stint. This was a real clash of styles and old school man Welsh was not going to let the small matter of time put him off, he took the first but from then on Anthony began to take control of the exchanges and scored the heavier of the two, he was helped by two outrageous flukes to put him into a 3-1 lead but wrapped up the match in style and became the fifth man into the Finals as a result.

You wouldn’t believe it by the picture but Anthony is actually 21, he has had such a long career that he told me he packed in playing seriously when he was 18 and started going out with the lads. He now claims to be bored of that and has decided to give the baize another go. He is clearly a very talented player and I think his best asset is his temperament, he doesn’t beat himself up and that is a much underplayed asset in the amateur game these days, he could well shock a few in March with his level headed approach.

It was now time for Roycey and I to leave and arrive back at SB Mansions not long before midnight to be greeted by Mrs SB who had made a kings supper for the two of us, the grateful and hungry ref wolfing it down before we all made our way to bed, it had been a long day and we had another to come.

The full results from Saturday can be found here.


On Sunday we relocated to the main bar area and again the day started with a nice buzz around this famous old club. Myself and Roycey were suitably refreshed as was our other referee for the day Rob Spencer from Stockport who had also been there until late the previous evening. Mrs SB again made everyone feel at home with cakes and a smile and a very funny discussion ensued involving somebody known as ‘Jimmy the Twitch’, a man known to one of the players who let’s just say has his very own brand of twitchy snooker and some tall tales to tell.

There were three unavoidable withdrawals and with Jeffers through the previous evening, a bye for his would-be opponent Brian Robertson, thus avoiding a second four hour tussle between the two locals. The undoubted highlight of the first round was the performance of a rejuvenated Mitchell Mann, who shook off his 4-0 drubbing of Saturday to knock in two centuries on his way to a 4-1 win over the dangerous Chris Keogan from Sheffield. It was clear that he meant business with an extremely impressive performance.

Gaz Allen flew around the table at breakneck speed to account for Neal Jones in a very decent match which finished 4-3 in just under two hours, Taubman’s impressive weekend continued as he accounted for Damian Wilks and Newport’s Callum Lloyd strengthened his lead at the top of the Order of Merit list with a 4-1 win over Billy Brown.

The club itself was buzzing with all the tables in the main arena full as we continued the tournament in the match room. I had been informed earlier in the week that a very special occasion was happening later on in the match room so I was pleased that the players were getting on with it and also looking forward to moving into the sunken Clare Room for the final stages. The quarter finals saw wins for Mann, Mulholland, Lloyd and Robertson, who came through in a nailbiting decider against Gaz Allen which went to a re-spotted black. Mann’s 4-2 win over Alex Taubman saw the highest break of the day, a 112 by Taubman which currently heads the highest break of this year’s tournament, which carries a £300 prize.

Mitchell’s semi-final against Callum was a fairly one-sided affair and saw a third century for the man from Birmingham, it is the first time he has entered the Classic and was clearly really enjoying the occasion and rising to it. A former Junior Pot Black winner (beating Jack Lisowski in the final at the Crucible), he has a very nice way about him around the table which reminds me a little of Dave Gilbert, who he revealed is someone he admires and has had a few practice sessions with. His dad Jeff chatted to me after the match explaining that following a period of ‘blow-out’ from the game, Mitchell now seems fully focused again and like Jeffers the day before has a seemingly unflappable temperament.

Mitchell Mann with his prize

Mitchell Mann with his prize

Brian Robertson won the all Merseyside semi-final down in the Clare Room, Josh Mulholland getting to his second semi-final and as a result putting himself into third place on the Order of Merit, 10 frames behind the leader Callum Lloyd. Brian produced a very impressive display and is a player that very seldom plays the wrong shot.

The final was hugely entertaining and reminded me of Scotties in years gone by, hushed tones in almost total darkness and tension in the air in the corner of the Clare Room. The players did not disappoint with a very high standard of play and good scoring. Mitchell had divulged to me before the match that he really wanted to win to get hold of the framed winners prize which he wanted to put up in his bedroom, his dad Jeff asking for some posters from the tournament for his snooker room, the two were clearly really enjoying the event and the unique atmosphere this great venue creates.

Brian battled hard but in the end Mitchell was just too strong and was the best player of the day and a deserving qualifier. He was clearly delighted at the win and expressed much praise for the venue, expressing surprise that it is not better utilized by other tournament organisers. Which I had to agree with.

Mitchell and Anthony become the fifth and sixth qualifiers to Grand Finals Day next March, both are now just three wins away from Q-School and four away from being champion and earning a date with Stephen Hendry at the Crucible. They join Ben Harrison, Kishan Hirani, Jamie Clarke and Adam Wicheard who have already booked their place in the final 16.

There was then just time to grab a quick drink with the referee for the final Rob, who thanked me for the weekend and said he had thoroughly enjoyed it, pointing in particular to the relaxed atmosphere that seems to now go hand in hand with the tournament, we raised a glass and then it was time to go home.

For all the results from Sunday click here.

I’d like to think that the Classic did bring something back to Scotties at the weekend. It’s a club I hold very dear to my heart having been there countless times with my late dad, playing in front of George himself many times as he watched on in his cardigan and slippers. The matchroom might have changed from it’s heyday but the atmosphere is still there, the Clare Room too remains unspoilt and has a feel all of its own. The feedback from the players I spoke with was hugely positive and I can only hope that this helps to catapult the club back to where it belongs as one of the UK’s finest snooker venues.

Scotties is still thriving and it is testament to the place that the event I spoke of taking place in the Ted Robinson Matchroom was won by Fred England, a man who is sadly terminally ill, in front of a huge crowd and refereed by Pete Williamson.

If you ever get the chance to pop your head around the door, please do, you won’t regret it. I will definitely be returning there next season and I hope more players will see what a great weekend of snooker this is. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Last but not least, a huge thanks to Geoff, Colin and all the staff for their hospitality and hard work to make the event a great success, to Martyn ‘Rolls’ Royce and Rob Spencer for their tireless work all weekend, to Andy at My Snooker Stats for his continuing genius and to the SB Classic family of sponsors. I must also thank the players for making this a very special weekend for me in my home city. It was also great to catch up with my old mate Neil Johnson, now one of the country’s leading coaches and a tireless crusader of junior snooker in Merseyside, Neil is a man who if you cut him in half would have ‘snooker’ written right through him.

Visit and become friends with Scotties Snooker on Facebook by clicking here and scroll down the photo page to see the famous and familiar faces that have passed through it’s doors down the years. To get some idea of what the matchroom was like in the 80’s here is some archive footage from a BBC programme from the time.

SB2014 A4 Updated Orange poster

You can see all the results so far of this year’s Snookerbacker Classic by visiting the Score Centre here which also shows the current standings in the Order of Merit list, Callum Lloyd currently heading the chasing pack with 28 frames under his belt, the top two on this list who don’t qualify for Grand Finals Day automatically will get the last two places in the Finals on March 1st.  

October 28, 2013

International Championship Last 32

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:57 pm
Some are blaming Judd's off table antics for his loss of form.

Some are blaming Judd’s off table antics for his loss of form.

I’ve not been able to catch any of the action from Chengdu so far as the tournament enters the Last 32 phase on Tuesday, but hopefully that will change as the week progresses and my own schedule eases up a bit.

Effectively in terms of match betting I am coming into this as a 32 man event now having not seen how well players are playing out there. Of course even if I had been following it religiously it’s always difficult with so many matches going on to gauge who is playing well and who simply took advantage of a poor performance by an opponent in the first round so as far as I am concerned it’s very much the tournament starts here for me.

The main ‘shock’ and subsequent talking point of the first round is the holder and Ferrari pimp Judd Trump’s exit to Alan McManus after the hapless playboi made a rather rash and misguided prediction on the outcome of the week on Twitter after a night out on the lash with the lads. The premonition in fairness being about as accurate as Stevie Wonder playing darts.

Something isn’t quite right with Judders at the moment and to be fair to him he looked furious to have lost which is something he can feed off perhaps. The general concensus amongst fans, snooker chatters and tweeters is that it’s his lifestyle choices which are to blame but whether that is all his current dip can be put down to is unclear. I’ve heard on the grapevine that he’s seeing a sports shrink to try and get his mind focused again but I don’t know how true that is.

Either way, Angles is a proven winner and a very tough opponent even if you are playing well so perhaps once again, the ‘crisis’ talk about Trump is a little premature. It’s not like he’s been beaten by a novice but his season so far has been very poor by his high standards, standing in the high 50’s in the one season money list, he is more used Ford than shiny Ferrari at this stage of events.

Another big name casualty of a player bang in form at the moment was Stephen Maguire who fell to SB Classic 2013 runner-up Kyren Wilson 6-3. Kyren is on the crest of a wave on his return to the main tour and his results of late are proving that he’s got the game to compete with the big boys, he marches on to face another Scot, Graeme Dott next.

Apart from Judd’s and Maguire’s exits, on the face of it there have been very few surprise results in the first round, some might class the exit of Champion of Champions wildcard Shaun Murphy at the hands of Dave Gilbert as one but I don’t, Gilbert is a solid player who long-term readers of this tripe know I rate highly, I’m convinced he has a ranking event win in him before his career is over, meanwhile Shaun’s barren run in terms of trophies continues, but he gets in the CoC anyway.

The bloody wildcard that beat the Nugget and then Craig Steadman irks me as ever and I hope his time in the event is put to rest by Barry Hawkins on Day 3. I suppose the only other results that stand out as perhaps a little against the current form book are Peter Ebdon’s win over Jack Lisowski, perhaps signalling a return to form for Ebbo who has been woefully out of sorts lately for some time and Rob Milkins being beaten by the very capable and heavy scoring Kurt Maflin, other than that we’re left with more or less the field we might have predicted at the start.

Anyway, here is the line up for Tuesday, these early matches will largely pass me by, well they will fully pass me by in truth so anyone that watches them please feel free to give some pointers in the comments section.

Click on the match for head to heads where applicable courtesy of Cue Tracker.

Recommended Bets:

2 x 2 point singles and a 1 point double on Gilbert (5/4 Paddy Power) and McManus (6/4 Bet Victor) double pays best at Stan James at almost 9/2.

4 x 2 point singles and a 1 point acca on Carrington (+2.5) 8/11 Apollobet, Stevens (+2.5) 4/5 Apollobet, Allen (-2.5) 9/10 Apollobet, Ebdon (-1.5) Evens generally. Acca pays almost 10/1 at Bet 365.

1.30am (UK Time)

Dark Mavis v Stuart Carrington
Mark Allen v Dave Harold
John Higgins v Matthew Stevens
Joe Perry v Dave Gilbert


Alan McManus v Ryan Day
Fergal O’Brien v Rod Lawler/Aditya Mehta
Xiao Guodong v Marco Fu
James Wattana v Ding Junhui
Kyren Wilson v Graeme Dott
Mark Williams v Kurt Maflin


Barry Hawkins v Zhao Xintong
Peter Lines v Mark Selby
Neil Robertson v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Stuart Bingham v Martin Gould
Liang Wenbo v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Peter Ebdon v Mark Joyce

Check out all Apollobet’s outright match prices here.

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October 27, 2013

International Championship Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:49 pm

ChengduThe small hours of Monday in the UK sees the conclusion of Round One over in Chengdu as the International Championship heads toward the Last 32 stage.

You can read my full tournament preview by clicking here. More match betting will follow when we know the Last 32 line-up.


Jamie Burnett v Mark Selby
Dave Gilbert v Shaun Murphy
Mark Williams v Paul Davison
Mike Dunn v Ryan Day
Peter Ebdon v Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson v James Wattana


Judd Trump v Alan McManus/Zhou Yuelong
Neil Robertson v Alex Davies
Barry Hawkins v Jimmy White/Yuan SiJun
Steve Davis/Zhao Xintong v Craig Steadman
Mark King v Peter Lines
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Zhang Anda


Cao Yupeng v Ding Junhui
Xiao Guodong v Alfie Burden
Stephen Maguire v Kyren Wilson/Lin Shuai
Adam Duffy v Marco Fu
Ben Woollaston v Fergal O’Brien
Rod Lawler v Aditya Mehta

Check out all Apollobet’s outright match prices here.

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International Championship Day One

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:21 am

ChengduThe early hours of Sunday morning in the UK sees the action kicking off in Chengdu (don’t forget to put your clocks back on Saturday night)

Below is the line up for the first day and you can read my full tournament preview by clicking here.


John Higgins v Joe Swail
Jimmy White v Yuan SiJun
Matt Selt v Martin Gould
Kurt Maflin v Robert Milkins
Dark Mavis v Oliver Brown (A)


Mark Allen v Tian Pengfei
Li Yan v Liang Wenbo
Kyren Wilson v Lin Shuai
Joe Perry v Jamie Jones
Michael White v Graeme Dott


Anthony McGill v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Steve Davis v Zhao Xintong
Rory McLeod v Matthew Stevens
Alan McManus v Zhou Yuelong
Dave Harold v Pankaj Advani
Michael Leslie v Stuart Carrington

Check out all Apollobet’s outright match prices here.

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October 22, 2013

International Championship Preview: Robbo or Ronnie?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:39 pm

Oi mate, get your head out the way will ya.

Sunday sees the start of a week of action from Chengdu in China as Judd Trump returns to defend the International Championship title he won this time last year. 

It’s a good tournament this and benefits greatly from longer matches with every round up to the semi-finals being the best of 11 frames, followed by an almost unheard of nowadays (even ridiculously in the UK Championship) two session best of 17 frame semi-final and a best of 19 frame final. So we should see plenty of the big names making a real effort to nab the £125,000 first prize on offer from the huge prize pool.

Winner £125,000
Runner-up £65,000
Semi-finals £30,000
Quarter-finals £17,500
Last 16 £12,000
Last 32 £7,000
Last 64 £3,000
Highest break (Finals) £1,000

Total £625,000

British and Continental Eurosport will be covering the event again and you can view the schedule for viewers in the UK by visiting their official listings page here. You foreigners can find it yourselves I’m sure and there will probably be more of it, not that I’m jealous at all.

The only player to have pulled out following the qualifiers which were held last month in Barnsley is long term blog buddy Ali Carter who is taking some time out to recover fully from his recent health problems, we wish him all the best.

This event is also something of a novelty in that it includes the World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, who is taking time out from tackling global financial terrorism on Twitter and blabbing on about running to give the day job a go for a change. Ronnie is currently on a Twitter embargo of all things snookery and has told everyone that he’s not going to talk about it again because he keeps getting into trouble. However, he did fail to divulge whether or not he’ll post another picture of his mate the self-nosher as I’m sure that’s perfectly ok with the governing body. In any case, it’s the first time in 18 months that Ronnie has played in China, assuming of course he gets to sit next to his mate (hopefully not the self-nosher for the sake of the other passengers) on the flight there.

The title holder Judd in the meantime tweeted early the other day that he was going to win this and make a 147, suggesting that he was either 100% confident that he’s back to his best or 100% deluded and still pissed from a night out on the tiles with the boi’s (I’ll wait for him to correct the spelling) the night before. He’s also had an online spat with Andrew Pagett about who has got the best fake/genuine/gay shoes, so he’s obviously bang up for this, all good manly fun is what I say.

All the big names are here and the recent form of Ding Junhui, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen as well as the presence of the likes of Mark Selby, John Higgins, Mark Williams and co should ensure a cracking week of snooker. Hopefully, the very strong recent run of betting will continue too, we shall see.

You can view the whole draw on the now legendary World Snooker PDF by clicking here

Wildcard Round

Alan McManus v Zhou Yuelong
Jimmy White v Yuan SiJun
Steve Davis v Zhao Xintong
Kyren Wilson v Lin Shuai

Unfortunately, despite the move to longer matches and the fact that there are now Asian PTC’s, the Chinese organisers still see fit to stage this totally unnecessary wildcard round before the main event gets under way. I’m not even going to cover these now. If you want to look up the Chinese players who don’t deserve to be in the tournament then go to Cue Tracker here. I’m hoping that Snookerbacker Classic 2013 runner-up Kyren Wilson gets through unscathed, Angles beat his oppo 4-0 in the APTC. Good luck to all the main tour professionals.

Last 64 – click on the matches to view head to head where applicable courtesy of Cue Tracker

Quarter One

Judd Trump v Alan McManus/WC
Mike Dunn v Ryan Day
Ben Woollaston v Fergal O’Brien
Rod Lawler v Aditya Mehta
Mark Allen v Tian Pengfei
Dave Harold v Pankaj Advani
Joe Perry v Jamie Jones
Dave Gilbert v Shaun Murphy 

Well, if the tweet above is to be believed I might as well pack in the preview here and now.

But the reality is that this is the last major ranking title that Judd won and his best performance so far this season has been a quarter final showing in the last PTC. He may face Alan McManus in his opening match and that isn’t one that is likely to get him motoring so despite his obvious confidence, I’m going to pass on him until he starts talking on the table rather than on Twitter. For some, a much more interesting proposition in the outright market lies in recent Ruhr Open winner Mark Allen even though he followed this with a largely disinterested stint in India where he was beaten by Pankaj Advani. Advani and the Indian Open finalist Aditya Mehta are both also in this quarter and both face real grinders in Rod Lawler and Dave Harold, who is fresh from his Seniors semi-final at the weekend. It would be asking a lot of the Indian pair to kick on immediately despite the fact that Pankaj has decided to play in this rather than defend his World Billiards title this week in Leeds, a statement that now he’s going to concentrate on snooker. It’s a tough old section and I actually think it is the one that might throw up a surprise semi-finalist. Shaun Murphy, Dave Gilbert, Ryan Day, Fergal O’Brien, Joe Perry and Tian Pengfei who faces Allen are all players that can turn in good weeks here and there, Mike Dunn will be bouyed by his Indian Open exploits on a suitcase full of pot noodles if rumours are to be believed. All in all this is a very tough and open quarter, but the one I like in it is a player that is making strides up the rankings and for me is knocking on the door of making a real breakthrough in the game, he’s out in China playing in the APTC now so will be fully acclimatised, so for me a big price selection in this top section is Ben Woollaston.

Recommended Bet: 0.25 points Each Way on Ben Woollaston at 200/1 with Apollobet.    

Quarter Two

Barry Hawkins v Jimmy White/WC
Steve Davis/WC v Craig Steadman
Xiao Guodong v Alfie Burden
Adam Duffy v Marco Fu
Stuart Bingham v Robin Hull – EDIT: Hull withdraws, Bingham through to next round. 
Matthew Selt v Martin Gould
Mark King v Peter Lines
Jamie Burnett v Mark Selby 

Unfortunately this was one of Steve’s wind-ups, but they did pick the wrong Davis without a doubt (and definitely the wrong Murphy, sorry Shaun, nothing personal). World Championship runner-up Barry Hawkins could have had a worse draw and his form in China is steadily improving but something tells me that he isn’t quite yet in top form and the winner of this event will need to be. Another who for some reason isn’t his usual self at the moment is Mark Selby, beaten by Pa Ruke in the APTC he’ll need a swift reversal of form to be lifting the trophy at the end of the week here, but in his favour he tends to tune in for the bigger events, well the ones that aren’t held in Sheffield anyway. The Chinese revolution brigade hit full throttle after Xiao Guodong made it to the final in Shanghai, propelling him into the media spotlight over there and making him an overnight star, it will be interesting to see how he handles it. A player with pedigree in this section is Stuart Bingham and I am expecting him to do well in this. He’s another that is over there now and clearly one who loves every minute of this travel happy tour, he’s yet to really produce this season but this is usually the time of the season that he starts making improvement and I’m happy to stick with him in this quarter to again arguably upset the odds. In the other mini-section it’s worth having a few quid on Xiao too at three figure odds. One point to note in this quarter is the head to head between Martin Gould and Matt Selt. Fans and students of history repeating itself will be rushing to back one of them after clicking that link, they might also be interested in Jamie Burnett’s head to head over Selby, but Burnett’s current form isn’t good. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see the winner of Peter Lines and Mark King (just back the decider) turn Selby over in my opinion, particularly if it’s not on a TV table.

Recommended Bets: 1 point Each Way on Stuart Bingham at 40/1 with 888sport and Unibet (33’s best elsewhere). 0.5 point Each Way on Xiao Guodong at 100/1 at Sportingbet.

Quarter Three

Neil Robertson v Alex Davies
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Zhang Anda
Peter Ebdon v Jack Lisowski
Mark Joyce W/O Ali Carter  
John Higgins v Joe Swail
Rory McLeod v Matthew Stevens
Gary Wilson v James Wattana  
Cao Yupeng v Ding Junhui 

It’s probably apparent from the previews of the first two quarters that I firmly believe that the winner of this tournament will come from the bottom half. Now it’s just a case of deciding who it is. This section holds three potential winners in Neil Robertson, John Higgins and the bang-in-form Ding Junhui. Is there really any alternative from a betting perspective as to who will make it out of this quarter victorious? Well, of the three the safest option has to be Robertson, he has the best draw of the three and it would be a big surprise if he wasn’t in the quarter finals to face one of the other two, for me that makes him the bet. However, there is one scenario which could put the cat amongst the pigeons if the all-Chinese clash between Ding and Cao Yupeng were to go the other way. For this to happen isn’t impossible and therefore it’s worth backing both Yupeng and one of the form players so far this season Gary Wilson at silly season prices, just in case that happens. Higgins is increasingly showing himself to be very beatable these days and I’m not sure whether he has it in him to get that steely edge and winning mentality back in his game, but it would be a significant win for Mr Swail if he were to prevail in Round 1 (click the head to head). For me, it’s Robertson or a surprise name in this ridiculously difficult quarter.

Recommended Bets: 4 points on Neil Robertson at 7/1 with Apollobet. 0.25 points Each Way on Cao Yupeng at 300/1 with Skybet and Gary Wilson at 200/1 with 888sport and Unibet.

Quarter Four

Stephen Maguire v Kyren Wilson/WC
Michael White v Graeme Dott
Mark Williams v Paul Davison
Kurt Maflin v Robert Milkins  
Dark Mavis v Oliver Brown
Michael Leslie v Stuart Carrington  
Li Yan v Liang Wenbo
Anthony McGill v Ronnie O’Sullivan 

Ronnie O’Sullivan (sponsored by the Money Shop and a Vodka Company….well, if you are in debt at least you can turn to hard drink eh?) returns to China as World Champion for the first time since 2008, having missed all their events since his Crucible triumph in 2012. Will he be up for it? You bet he will. £125k for the winner and a weeks work and a match more or less every day is enough to ensure that. I’d say this event is tailor made for Ronnie, the matches are longer but the event itself is not the 17 day drainer of the Crucible, there is a load of dosh at the end and he won’t get bored as he has a book to sell, which one would assume the publishers have had the hindsight to translate into Chinese. The last person to beat him here was Stephen Maguire in the semi-finals of the China Open in 2012 and there is every chance these two might lock horns again in the semi-finals. Ronnie has what looks like a very nice section of the draw but Ant McGill is capable of causing a shock if he’s on song and the Rocket is misfiring. These are all ifs and buts and if the marketing machine people get their way he’ll be beaten in the 2nd round by Liang Wenbo to sensationalist headlines about Chinese domination. But let’s be honest here, if he is going there to win it he probably will win it. Otherwise, the insurance policies for me are APTC winner Wenbo, Dark Mavis and Mark Williams. But my inkling is that Ronnie would quite like to turn up and breeze this, I wouldn’t feel the same if it were a less prestigious tournament but for me at the moment, he can just turn it on when he wants to so it’s silly to leave him out of your bets at the prices you can still get, maybe it’s time for Robbo to step up to the mantle.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Ronnie O’Sullivan at 9/2 with Skybet. 1 point Each Way on Mark Williams at 40/1 with Sportingbet. 0.5 points Each Way on Dark Mavis at 40/1 with Sportingbet.  


5 point acca on Fu, Bingham, Higgins, Mavis and Williams pays over 7/4 at Apollobet. Add Milkins and Perry for a 3 point Acca at over 5/1 with Apollobet. Add Gould and Day for a 2 point Acca at over 13/1 with Ladbrokes.

Handicap bets and one-off match bets will follow as the tournament progresses, but note the advice on Lines v King above #grinders and the bits and bobs on certain other encounters.

Check out all Apollobet’s outright and highest break prices by clicking here and their match prices can be found here.

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SB Classic Liverpool: The Lowdown

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:00 pm

SB2014 A4 Updated Orange posterHere is the lowdown for the weekend at The George Scott Snooker Club, Liverpool. Please take the time to view the full terms and conditions to which all players agree on entering by clicking this link SNOOKERBACKER CLASSIC 2014 TERMS.

DRESS CODE: Polo or Collared Shirt, Trousers and Shoes. (NO JEANS OR TRAINERS)

ARRIVAL: Players should arrive 15 minutes before their match start time and be ready to continue in the tournament throughout the day after a short interval. All players still in the competition should remain on the premises at all times, unless agreeing to leave for a short time with the Tournament Director. Please check terms and conditions for the penalties and timings of late arrivals.

Saturday 26th October (Visit the Online Score Centre here)

First Round – Best of 7 frames – start time 10.30am

Billy Brown v Damian Wilks
Brian Robertson v Anthony Jeffers
Gaz Allen v Leon Hosking
John Whitty v Alex Taubman
John Welsh v Callum Lloyd
Chris Keogan v Joe Steele
Ryan Bailey v Jack Bradford
Mitchell Mann v Josh Mulholland

Matches will then be played on a roll on, roll off basis to one qualifier. The winner, if due to play on Sunday will be taken out of the following day’s draw.

Sunday 27th October (Visit the Online Score Centre here

First Round – Best of 7 frames – start time 10.00am (Please note earlier start time AND that the clocks go back on Saturday night)

Mitchell Mann v Chris Keogan
Alex Taubman v Damian Wilks
Ryan Bailey v Jack Bradford
Billy Brown v Callum Lloyd
Brian Robertson v Anthony Jeffers
Gaz Allen v Neal Jones
Anthony Harris v Joe Steele
Josh Mulholland v Andrew Clark

Matches will then be played on a roll on, roll off basis to one qualifier. Should Saturday’s winner be due to play Sunday, he may be replaced by a reserve player at short notice.

The Snookerbacker Order of Merit will continue for the duration of both events, current standings can be viewed here. Walkovers will count towards points totals.

October 19, 2013

Senior Moments

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:00 pm
Here we go again

Here we go again

Following the razzamataz over in Delhi this weekend sees a somewhat more sedate pace as the elder statesmen of the baize do battle for the World Seniors Championship live on Sky Sports

It’s bus passes and Deep Heat at the ready as the creaking joints and failing minds of former greats of the game meet up to talk about how expensive things are these days, why everything isn’t as good as it used to be, how the recent introduction of a 9% heating bill increase is going to affect them and why the cancellation of the local bus service and recent closure of the village Post Office has led to them missing out on the free soup on offer at the Pensioners Club every Thursday afternoon.

The favourite for this over-45’s competition is 44 year old Stephen Hendry, who despite what World Snooker would have you believe has been shoehorned into this to increase the audience on Sky and secure the TV deal. He’s last on tonight against Joe Johnson, who if you are to believe the hype made a 147 in practice the other day, though it’s not clear as yet if he was playing snooker or darts.

Hendry has been backed down from 9/1 to 3/1 or thereabouts to carry off the trophy and according to ‘a source close to the player’ had a session yesterday and professed to be playing ‘quite well’, perhaps an ominous sign for the less competitive in this field.

There are as ever, some active tour players involved too, holder Nigel Bond, Malta’s self-harming barnpot Tony Drago, Bananaman and part-time greengrocer Dave Harold, my best mate Steve Davis and perennial runner-up Jimmy White, all of whom will fancy their chances of lifting the trophy come Sunday evening.

Those who follow snooker on a regular basis will also know that Darren Morgan is still very active on the amateur circuit and is certainly not without a chance, Welshman Phillip Williams qualified for this as of right along with Harold and I know a few shrewdies have backed him at a big price, his fellow Taff Tony Chappel did enough last season to suggest he’s not without a chance and the ageless Canadian Alain Robidoux will probably be tuned for this and is another that keeps his eye in.

Of the others, Kiwi Dene O’Kane returns but isn’t up to the standard of some of these and the same can be said for Bolton Stud and legendary shagger Tony Knowles. The man with the greatest dress sense ever in snooker and the most impressive collection of dickie bows known to man Doug Mountjoy is also giving it a go and he’s another that still likes a game, then there’s Cliff Thorburn, the very epitome of sophistication who has no doubt been flown over first class to avoid his stalker Dennis ‘The Dribbler’ Taylor for the weekend, our Den making up the numbers with a nostalgic match against the Nugget first up where he’ll do his best to put poor old Steve off with the odd politically incorrect gag no doubt.

In terms of a winner and a bet, this is largely a lottery in that the draw will be rigged, there is a random one after every round and therefore every round will have a tie which will allow the presenters to hark back to a highly memorable match of the past. But it might still be a decent watch if only to see if Hendry can still blow everyone away with only a day or so’s practice. My money says that he probably can so it might be worth just taking whatever is still left on the favourite for the title. He won’t want to make a fool of himself and he probably won’t on a table likely to have pockets the size of binlids.

In terms of the match betting, the first round is where it’s at and although these are only best of three, I think it would be a bit of a shock if the five names below don’t make it into the Quarter Finals.

Recommended Bets: 4 point acca on Bond, Morgan, Davis, White and Hendry pays just under 15/8 at Corals. 2 points on Hendry at 3/1 with Sportingbet.

Dene O’Kane 0-2 Nigel Bond

Followed by
Tony Knowles 1-2 Darren Morgan

Followed by
Tony Drago 0-2 Dave Harold

Followed by
Steve Davis 2-0 Dennis Taylor

Doug Mountjoy 0-2 Jimmy White

Followed by
Alain Robidoux 1-2 Tony Chappel

Followed by
Cliff Thorburn 2-0 Phillip Williams

Followed by
Joe Johnson 0-2 Stephen Hendry


Quarter Finals

Steve Davis 2-1 Tony Chappel
Jimmy White 1-2 Stephen Hendry
Darren Morgan 0-2 Dave Harold
Cliff Thorburn 1-2 Nigel Bond

Semi Finals

Steve Davis 2-1 Dave Harold

Nigel Bond 2-0 Stephen Hendry


Steve Davis beat Nigel Bond 2-1

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