November 28, 2013

UK Championship Day 4: To Beeb or not To Beeb?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:30 pm
Ali's been giving it both barrels.

He’s got the hump: Ali’s been giving it both barrels.

Another day of qualifiers or first round matches if you prefer in York, with only the morning and afternoon sessions needed before the cameras and V-Neck jumpers from the Beeb are shipped in for the beginning of the TV coverage on Saturday.

The reverberations surrounding the format change to this once great event on the calendar have been escalated today by the comments of The Captain Ali Carter, who is never short of a word or three and says amongst other things that the event feels like a PTC, which at this stage is probably true and something that surely has to be avoided.

Maybe it will be when the schedule thins out a bit of course but by then we may have lost the interest of the BBC three times a year audience, which whether you or I like it or not, are still the vast majority of people who watch snooker on TV in the UK.

Most will want to see players they recognise, for example:

(courtesy of  my Mum): ‘I like him’ (Crossword Clue: 4, 9), ‘He looks a bit shifty’ (5,6), ‘No, don’t like him’ (6,1,8), ‘Lovely boy for his mum’ (3, 6), ‘A Gentleman’ (5.5).  See if you can get them all

Interestingly, Ali’s point is picked up on by the BBC itself here. Quotes included are:

“I don’t think the venue can accommodate it”

“When you are right on the side cushion, you cannot walk into your shot” 

“It’s hard to believe that if you are in the top 16 you would be in favour of this”

“We all had to come through the old system. We all started off at the bottom and got to the top so I don’t see why doesn’t everyone else have to do that”

All to me are very fair and valid points and the second one in particular is totally unacceptable for a professional snooker tournament of this magnitude and heritage.

Another point of note that is worth mentioning is that when it starts on Saturday the vast majority of the live BBC coverage, almost all of it in fact, is in the afternoon. This means they are totally relying on morning matches finishing in three and a half hours to get the main event on live (I believe they are not even turning the cameras on until the live show starts). This is a big ask and I can almost see the scenario now where they are going off air before the conclusion of the match they are concentrating on, which they would have wanted to start a lot earlier and in line with the schedule. This also adds the risk that at least 66% of their commentary team don’t know anyone outside the top 16 and might have to commentate on them from the start of the broadcast. Expect lots of Hazel and discussion fillers is my prediction, it’s no wonder Ken lost, at least he knows what he’s doing.

I really hope this has been thought through, I suspect/hope that it has and that this great Championship may well get a new lease of life away from the BBC, who are clearly now way behind Eurosport and ITV in terms of their commitment to snooker. Perhaps, they want to just keep the Masters and the World Championship, hence the deal to allow Bazza to try this for a tournament they clearly want to and will eventually ditch anyway.

Anyway, here’s Friday’s schedule. 


Ricky Walden v Cao XinLong
Dark Mavis v Robin Hull
Marco Fu v Mitchell Travis
Robert Milkins v Patrick Einsle

Sports Hall
Tian Pengfei v Pankaj Advani
Matthew Selt v Scott Donaldson
Rod Lawler v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
Kurt Maflin v Liam Highfield

Predictions: Walden, Mavis, Fu, Milkins, Pengfei, Donaldson, Lawler, Maflin.

In the main arena this morning it would be quite a shock if all four higher ranked players didn’t make it through. The Chinese player Xinlong is potentially a threat to an out of form Ricky Walden who seems to be in the middle of a bad run at the moment but you would expect him to get out of that one unscathed in a venue he has proved he likes in the past. Robin Hull from Finland is another that might pose a threat to Dark Mavis, but Mavis is another who has performed at his best in York and realistically should come through that one. Marco Fu faces amateur player Mitchell Travis and again should not really struggle while Rob Milkins faces Germany’s Patrick Einsle who I feel continues to struggle to compete at this level.

The more competitive matches are in the Sports Hall, a cracker awaits between Tian Pengfei and Pankaj Advani, two players who are capable of upsetting anyone on their day, it’s too close to call for me that one but at the odds I’d chance a few quid on Pengfei. Another close call is Matt Selt and Scott Donaldson, Scott has started posting some decent results lately and it would be no surprise to see him prevail at backable odds, he has won their only previous meeting. Rod Lawler continues to play the game in his own unique way and I think will outwit Thanawat and justify favouritism in that one and finally the dangerous and heavy scoring but inconsistent Kurt Maflin takes on Liam Highfield who is struggling at the moment to hang on to his tour place, it has to be Maflin on form in that one.

Recommended Bets: 3 x 1 point doubles and a 1 point treble on Pengfei, Donaldson and Maflin. The treble pays over 11/2 at Sportingbet. 

Dunny: Manflu.

Dunny: Manflu.


John Higgins v Alex Borg
Stephen Maguire v Sanderson Lam
Matthew Stevens v Ryan Clark
Joe Perry v James Cahill

Sports Hall
Alfie Burden v Daniel Wells
Mike Dunn v Luca Brecel
James Wattana v Ian Burns
Aditya Mehta v Robbie Williams

Predictions: Higgins, Maguire, Stevens, Perry, Burden, Brecel, Burns, Williams.

Perhaps another session in the main arena which will see the four higher ranked players come through their first match unscathed. I’d argue that Bjorn Borg probably has more chance than Malta’s Alex of beating John Higgins, even if John is some way off his A, B or even C game. SB Classic regular and all round diamond geezer Sandi Lam gets his chance in the big arena against Maguire and what an experience that will be for him, I really hope he gives a good account of himself but realistically you’d have to say a win is heavily against the odds. Ryan Clark is capable enough but rarely wins and I reckon this point in the season will see Matthew Stevens start making strides, he’s been quiet so far but does tend to get his act together later than most. Joe Perry faces Stephen Hendry’s cousin James Cahill and is the higher ranked player with the stiffest task out there, Cahill is not without a chance there and despite Joe being in decent form a surprise is not beyond the realms of possibility in that one with the outsider at a very attractive price and for me he’s a very attractive handicap proposition to win at least 3 frames.

You would have to wonder how prepared Alfie Burden is for this, he was last seen in the boxing ring knocking seven types of shite out of another bloke and taking a few blows himself which is hardly ideal preparation for the more gentlemanly pursuit of snooker, he faces Daniel Wells in what could be a close one, Wells pushed him close in the International Championship over the same distance and if The AB is a little underprepared the Welshman has a good chance in that one. Mike Dunn hasn’t been feeling well this week and faces Luca ‘Lovely Smile’ Brecel who did so well here last year but has struggled so far this season to get any type of winning run going, if Mike is to be believed he’s not a well man so Luca is probably worth a punt. Ian Burns has struggled a little with his Rookie of the Season status last time but is now beginning to post some wins, if he’s getting back to the form he showed last season I would expect him to beat the experienced James Wattana, who while still a great player is a little limited in the scoring department. Finally, Robbie Williams takes on Aditya Mehta, a battle between two players who might be fighting it out for the Rookie tag this time along with the likes of Gary and Kyren Wilson and Chris Wakelin. Robbie’s form of late has been very very impressive and Adi is a really solid player so that makes this very difficult to call, but the value is with the Scouser.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Cahill (+3.5 frames) at Evens with Paddy Power. 3 x 1 point doubles and a 1 point treble on Brecel, Burns and Williams. Treble pays over 11/2 at Hills.

You can view the draw for the UK Championship by clicking here – the order of play is listed here

You can view Apollobet’s outright prices here, match betting here and Daily Enhanced Specials here.

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