December 31, 2014

Old Year Reflections and New Year Projections

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:41 pm
I'm not quite ready to retire just yet.

I’m not quite ready to retire just yet.

The new year is almost upon us and while most of the other snooker websites have been reflecting on the year, I’ve been busy doing other things and consequently haven’t found any time to blog or even to tweet. Much, I’m sure, to the relief of many. 

I’m not really even sure what I’m going to write here yet, but it just felt like the right time to return to the blog as we approach 2015. If anyone missed Matt’s awards posts over the Xmas period, shame on you, they are here and here.

In terms of this blog, I am going to break an annual tradition and NOT announce my retirement any time soon. I know this will come as devastating news to those of you who look forward to me doing this every year, but this year I mean it. I am not going to retire the blog just yet.

The reason for this is I suppose threefold, firstly, I will continue to pick and choose events I cover, this is a bit of an advantage of not having a bookmaker tie-in deal, as I have had for the first four years of this blog. It means, very much like the players, I can concentrate on only the events that I am interested in and not every conveyor-belt tournament under the sun.

Secondly, I continue to very much enjoy doing the Snookerbacker Classic and I hope to have some really exciting developments to announce about that in January. The Grand Finals Day is not even half full yet and the line-up already looks incredible, it can only get better.

Finally, I’ll also be working on another snooker-related project for the next few months, it’s already underway and once it’s done I’ll need this place to promote the living daylights out of it.

So that’s me, but what about snooker? This is, after all, the only reason for this blog’s continued existence.

Well, I do think the sport is in good shape for the most part, I was disappointed with the UK format and semi-final changes, I do think that more varied sponsors need to be found, I think the Chinese tournaments, with the exception of the International Championship are all becoming very very similar. I would like the German Masters to be given the status it deserves and the formerly prestigious Welsh Open is basically now just a PTC. But all in all I have enjoyed the year.

The World Championship was great again, despite the disappointing sponsor (come back Betfred) and it’s only a few short months until we are back in Sheffield. I enjoyed the Champion of Champions again, if only for the best Twitter hashtag of the year and the ITV team, the PTC’s are beginning to get their own identities and I like the increased emphasis on Europe and I always enjoy the Masters and the German Masters.

Of course, off the table is always in the spotlight too and the whole Stephen Lee saga came to a close, I do feel that the length of his ban was pretty hard on him and nobody likes to see someone kicked into touch with a young family and not many other options.

Big bounces and kicks are now the hot topic almost every day over on Twitter and it seems ludicrous that World Snooker can’t find a solution to these strange phenomenon. But they are now trialing a breakthrough piece of technology called ‘polish’ which seems to have gone down well with the players, if they’re not careful they’ll soon have to find something new to moan about.

'nuff said.

’nuff said.

Ali Carter has had quite a year too. Ali has become a friend of mine and I’m ecstatic that he’s beaten this cruel and indiscriminate illness for a second time. All of snooker and indeed everyone else can take heart from both his tale and the positivity he showed throughout the battle, he is a great example of why a positive outlook is essential when facing difficulties, whatever they may be. He’ll still be back to his grumpy old self on the table though soon, you mark my words.

So that’s my reflections on the year and hopes for the new one. I think the amount of snooker now is about right after a far too busy schedule the previous season. The changes to the rankings and what this means for players seems to me to be having the desired effect and all talk of burn-out should now be abated. It’s onwards and upwards for 2015, starting with the Championship League from Crondon Park and followed by The Masters at Alexandra Palace, part of Bazza’s BOGOF deal on the back of the current circus that’s on there. 

I’ll sign off with a few brief awards of my own:

Player of the Year: Ronnie O’Sullivan

Match of the Year: Michael Wasley beating Ding at the Crucible. Pure Drama.

Achievement of the Year: Robbo’s century of centuries.

Tournament of the Year: The World Championship.

Amateur Tournament of the Year: Modesty forbids me from revealing this one.

Snooker Website of the Year: Cue Tracker. Incredible achievement and an essential visit for stats.

Snooker Channel of the Year: ITV. More please and BBC take note, your viewers are not all retards, only half of them are. 

Rookie of the Year: Oli Lines. Great kid, I taught him all he knows.

Hero of the Year: Ali Carter. An inspiration.

Prick of the Year: The Wizard of Glos and Snooker Bingo on Twitter, can’t split them.

December 21, 2014

Seasonal Greetings

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:16 pm

It’s the end of another calendar year on the baize and time to shut up shop for a week or so before I look back at the year in the next blog and probably threaten to retire again, I haven’t decided yet. But I cannot leave you to enjoy Christmas without at least attempting to spoil it for you.

WARNING: The ten minutes you will take watching the nonsense below cannot be claimed back at any point in your life.


December 19, 2014

German Masters Round 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:28 am

It’s the Last 64 of the German Masters today in Wigan, here’s the line up for the day. Remember there are two live streamed tables available to watch at World Snooker TV or the usual bookies sites.

I have to say best of luck to SB Classic Grand Finalists Syd Wilson and Sean O’Sullivan as they attempt to win through to Berlin. 

Ding Junhui v Craig Steadman
Sydney Wilson v Ryan Day
Michael Georgiou v Andrew Pagett
Alfie Burden v Sam Baird
Li Hang v Gerard Greene
Alan McManus v Matthew Selt
Igor Figueiredo v Stuart Bingham
Mark Allen v Ben Woollaston
Yu De Lu v Mark Williams
Liam Highfield v Marco Fu

NB 11am
Stuart Carrington v Liang Wenbo

Lu Ning v Michael Wasley
Robbie Williams v Shaun Murphy
Joe Perry v Fraser Patrick
Jimmy Robertson v Matthew Stevens
Dark Mavis v Gary Wilson
Aditya Mehta v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Tian Pengfei v Fergal O’Brien
Stephen Maguire v David Morris
Judd Trump v Mark Joyce
John Higgins v Ken Doherty

NB 3.30pm
Martin Gould v Ross Muir

Neil Robertson v Jamie Jones
Xiao Guodong v Tony Drago
Rod Lawler v David Gilbert
Michael White v Mark King
Barry Pinches v Barry Hawkins
Zhang Anda v Michael Holt
James Cahill v Ashley Carty
Marcus Campbell v Peter Ebdon
Anthony McGill v Sean O’Sullivan
Oli Lines v Mark Selby

Recommended Bet: 3×1 point trebles and a 2 point acca on Baird, Georgiou, Wasley and Burns. Acca pays over 10/1 at Betfred. 3 point acca on Maguire, Perry, Gould, Cahill, Guodong and Neil Robertson pays almost 5/1 at Corals.

December 17, 2014

German Masters Qualifiers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:12 am
They have to win in Wigan first.

They have to win in Wigan first.

While the rest of us are busy untangling tinsel and coloured lights, wondering if there is enough food and booze in the house to feed a small continent and getting stressed because they don’t think Great Aunt Ethel will like the cardigan you have bought her, spare a thought for the potters who have to spend a few days in Wigan.

It’s yet another Northern venue for the qualifiers, this time for one of the best events of the season, The German Masters in Berlin.

It has to be said that Berlin and Wigan aren’t really that similar, Berlin is a creative and architectural magnet which has drawn in many a famous name from the world of theatre, philosophy, art and music for inspiration, Wigan draws in workmen for its pies.

But given that most, though not all potters on the circuit are probably more drawn to a good pie than a good prose, perhaps this is the ideal venue to kick off this excellent tournament as 128 aim to be the 32 that make it to surely snooker’s best venue, the Tempodrom.

It will be covered by the usual betting sites as well as the World Snooker TV website. The matches are listed below. I may slot in a few more recommended bets tomorrow, but for today, the 8 man acca could help with the sprout bill.

Anthony Hamilton v Syd Wilson
Ryan Day v Dave Harold
Graeme Dott v Michael Georgiou
Tom Ford v Andrew Pagett
Ricky Walden v Li Hang
Gerard Greene v Ratchayothin Yotharuck
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Stuart Carrington
Liang Wenbo v Ian Glover
Alan McManus v Zak Surety
Stuart Bingham v Zhou Yuelong

Recommended Morning Bet: 2 point acca pays almost 7/4 on Day, Dott, Walden, McManus and Bingham.

NB 11am
Kurt Maflin v Igor Figueiredo

Ding Junhui v Jamie Clarke
Peter Lines v Craig Steadman
Matthew Selt v Lyu Chenwei
Yu De Lu v Lee Walker
Mark Williams v Luca Brecel
Dominic Dale v Lu Ning
Mike Dunn v Michael Wasley
Robbie Williams v Matthew Day
Shaun Murphy v Joe O’Connor
Joe Perry v Scott Donaldson

Recommended Afternoon Bet: 2 points on Peter Lines at 5/4. 1 point on Jamie Clarke at 10/1.

NB 3.30pm
Jimmy Robertson v Hammad Miah

Mark Allen v Robin Hull
Ben Woollaston v Alex Davies
Cao Yupeng v Fraser Patrick
Matthew Stevens v Ian Burns
Dark Mavis v Daniel Wells
Gary Wilson v Michael Leslie
Jimmy White v Tian Pengfei
Fergal O’Brien v Lyu Haotian
Judd Trump v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
Mark Joyce v Jak Jones

Recommended Evening Bet: 3 point treble pays over 7/4 on Pengfei, Wilson and Joyce.

Recommended Daily Acca: 2 points on Day, Dott, Walden, McManus, Bingham, Pengfei, Wilson and Joyce pays over 6/1 at Boyles.


Rory McLeod v Liam Highfield
Marco Fu v Steve Davis
Stephen Maguire v Alexander Ursenbache
David Morris v Duane Jones
Michael White v Chris Norbury
Mark King v Steven Hallworth
Kyren Wilson v Zhang Anda
Michael Holt v Eden Sharav
Martin Gould v Chris Melling
Jamie Cope v Ross Muir

NB 11am
Aditya Mehta v Adam Duffy

Alfie Burden v David Grace
Ali Carter v Sam Baird
Barry Pinches w/o Jamie Burnett
Barry Hawkins v Noppon Saengkham
Andrew Higginson v James Cahill
Robert Milkins v Ashley Carty
John Higgins v Elliot Slessor
Ken Doherty v Vinnie Calabrese
Jack Lisowski v Oliver Lines
Mark Selby v Oliver Brown

NB 3.30pm
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Sean O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan v George Pragnall
Neil Robertson v Mitchell Mann
Jamie Jones v Joe Swail
Xiao Guodong v Cao Xin Long
Nigel Bond v Tony Drago
Rod Lawler v Allan Taylor
Dave Gilbert v Joel Walker
Marcus Campbell v Michael Tomlinson
Peter Ebdon v Chris Wakelin
Anthony McGill v John Astley

Round 2 follows on Friday

December 11, 2014

Lisbon Open Preview and Other Stuff

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:24 pm
The streets of Lisbon

The streets of Lisbon

Well, not a preview as such, more of an informative post really, there’s a first on this blog. I’m not going to be in the snooker zone during this event as it’s a busy time in Chez Backer off the table and I’m afraid that as much as I like Portugal, something had to give.  

It’s nice to see snooker embracing yet another European country as part of the EPTC series. Although I do wish they would have left one back here in dear old Blighty as we are Europe too and some of us are happy to be so, despite the fact that we do have an idiotic proportion of the increasingly stupid population over here that support UKIP, but never mind, I digress.

News also filtered through that Kreativ Dental will be sponsoring this tour next season in its entirety, which is good news for fans of dental tourism. I’m not exactly sure what that phrase means so if anyone does know please enlighten me and share it with the group. Maybe it’s a European thing, if it is I want nothing to do with all the foreigners over there and I’m defecting to UKIP. British dentures for British people is what I say.

Oh well, at least it’s not Daffybet again.

Another development this week was the publication of the World Seniors Qualifiers draw, from which surely you would expect the eventual winner to emerge in the final stages. 

It’s littered with main tour professionals who are mostly a far cry from the largely nostalgic geriatrics that they put through to the TV stages. Rod Lawler, Peter Lines, Dark Mavis, Alan McManus, Mike Dunn, Dominic Dale, Joe Perry, Anthony Hamilton, Robin Hull, Gerard Greene and Marcus Campbell are among the names in the hat. I don’t think the likes of Cliff, Dennis and co. will be troubling any of them if they make it through to the telly bit.  

Next week it’s off to the cosmopolitan mecca and home of pies, Wigan, for the German Masters qualifiers. As it’s not too far from me I might get to spend a day up there if the chaos ahead this weekend has calmed down a bit.

I might as well flag up a few outrights for Lisbon while I’m here as this element of betting this season is producing the best returns, match betting is getting harder and harder as the players get sharper as a whole, there’s not a lot of difference between them when they are all at their best and that makes for difficult punting, just how the bookies like it.

Recommended Outright Bets: 2 points each way on Stuart Bingham at 12/1. 1 point each way on Mark Williams at 25/1. 0.5 point each way on Michael Holt at 80/1, Anthony McGill at 80/1 and Rod Lawler at 125/1 – back these all at Skybet/Boyles or Apollobet who pay semi-finalists, none of the other bookies pricing this up do this and only pay finalists. 

Click here for the draw for the Lisbon Open and click here for the format. The whole thing starts with the amateur rounds on Thursday with Eurosport getting involved from Friday, you can view their schedule of coverage here. Ali Carter has withdrawn by the way, he’s been a bit busy with TV stuff.

I’ll be back next week, internet access allowing, for the Wigan bonanza.

December 6, 2014

UK Championship Finals Weekend

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am
Judd - Looking Sharp

Judd – Looking Sharp

It’s the business end of the UK Championship this weekend and despite a week of shocks there are four big hitters left to slug it out for the dosh.

First off, Ronnie takes on Stuart Bingham. The head to head shows a huge lead for O’Sullivan but I think he’ll have to improve a notch today to win.

That might sound ridiculous given the brilliance of the maximum the other night but to me he’s not really been properly tested this week and is still missing balls that a sharper Rocket would pot in his sleep. Bingham on the other hand, despite an uncharacteristically poor display against Dotty, on the whole has looked sharp, he also of course beat Ronnie here last season.

Just a quick mention of Ronnie’s complimentary words about Anthony McGill yesterday which were very nice to hear, it’s obvious that he meant it and I second the fact that McGill, as well as being a very good player, also has something to bring to the table in terms of his personality. He walked in to The Smiths ‘This Charming Man’ so that’s good enough for me, as it was for Hazel, who came out live on air as a fan of the greatest band ever to walk the earth yesterday.  

The other match sees my idea of the champion Judd Trump up against Stephen Maguire, who came through a turgid battle last night with Marco Fu, which at one point left the audience looking for some teeth to pull. Mags has a very good record against Judd and beat him 5-0 early in the season in Wuxi. But their last meeting in the Champion of Champions saw Judd as a comfortable winner, I can’t see Trump losing that one but anything can happen.

An O’Sullivan/Trump final is what most will want to see and would also from a betting point of view get us out of the week with reputation in tact, given that this was the predicted final at the start of the tournament. But I just have an uncomfortable feeling about Ronnie’s match and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Ballrun spoiled the party. I’m not going to back him but I wouldn’t put anyone off from doing so.


Stuart Bingham v Ronnie O’Sullivan

Prediction – Bingham 6-4.


Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire

Prediction – Trump 6-3

December 5, 2014

UK Championship Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:42 am
Superlatived Out.

Superlatived Out.

What can you say that hasn’t already been said about Ronnie? Superlative upon superlative with a superlative sauce and superlative side-salad has already been served so I am struggling for what to add I have to admit.

His 147 to sign off last night was magic, another timely reminder to the BBC as to why he should never be overlooked at that daft awards show they have every year. But he’s not on skates, ski’s, a field, a pitch, a track, a golf course, a skateboard, a track or a bike so he’s got no chance. Ridiculous really given that he’s a lot more entertaining than some of the nobody’s that get nominated.   

He did get a lot of chances to warm up last night and Matt Selt will be bitterly disappointed at not bringing anything near his A game but Ronnie can do that to opponents, he simply has to turn up, put on his broody, moody frown, mince around the table and opponents more often than not start to crumble, such is his domineering presence.

He’s so good that everyone has forgotten about his errrmmm ‘broken’ ankle. To shake that off the speed he was running around the table last night proves once and for all that he must be superhuman, well either that or he hasn’t got a broken ankle after all and just fancies wearing his comfy loafers all week.

He now faces Anthony McGill who he said he was a fan of last night, also saying that he was a really nice kid, even though he doesn’t know him, but he’s taking other people’s word for it. So that’s cleared that up then. He also said he wanted to end his career with over 1000 century breaks so we’ve got plenty more of him to come if that’s the case. You can watch his interview after the match here.

Earlier on, Judd showed he can be mature sometimes in seeing off the limpet that is Rod Lawler, at one point it looked like Rod had got under his skin but Judd knuckled down and coped very well with what was a very tough game for him. Tonight I fancy we’ll see him back to his crash, bang, walloping best as he takes on Mavis, who is amazed to have even got this far if his quotes are to be believed.

Dotty was at his terrier-like best the other night, well he was for the first five frames and the decider anyway as he sent Robbo packing. Poor old Robbo isn’t firing on all cylinders as yet this season and you don’t want to run into a rampant Dotty when you are a bit iffy. He’s like a dog with a bone when he gets going is wee Graeme. He faces Stuart Bingham who walloped Ricky Walden 6-0, quite a result that against a player in form coming into this, I think that will be a cracker personally and possibly the match of the round.

Marco Fu became Marco Phew and waited until the final black to knock out Shaun Murphy, who rather than take the blame himself decided to blame the WPBSA for losing because of the table. Poor old Shaun spends hours mulling over the causes of kicks and big bounces in the laboratory and he still can’t convince the powers that be to listen to him. Marco faces Maguire, the third Scot in the last eight who saw off the bearded wonder Davy Morris, again, like the Dott/Bingham match, this one could go to the wire I reckon.

So a great day in store today in York. Bettingwise, a welcome turn for the better in the last round and we still have the recommended win bet on Ronnie (3/1) and each-ways on Judd (9/1) and Marco (40/1) in there so hopefully after the carnage earlier in the week we can emerge from the wreckage with some pride in tact. 

Click on the matches below to reveal the head to head record. 

Recommended Bet: 2 points acca on O’Sullivan (-2.5), Dott (+2.5), Fu (+2.5) and Trump (-1.5) pays almost 11/4 at Paddies.


Anthony McGill v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Graeme Dott v Stuart Bingham


Marco Fu v Stephen Maguire
Dark Mavis v Judd Trump

Thanks to Monique for the picture of Ronnie, view her album from yesterday on Facebook here.

December 3, 2014

UK Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:28 am
The Man of the Moment

The Man of the Moment

The Coral UK Championship now reverts to the two table set up as the Last 16 gets underway this afternoon and it’s fair to say that last night produced one of the most memorable matches in living memory in York.

Unfortunately I was in bed.

Yes, while Master Cahill was enjoying his finest hour out there I was dishing out the Zd’s blissfully unaware that all this was going on. What a complete and utter idiot I truly am.

Fortunately, there are people out there who are far more dedicated than I am to our noble sport and I am able to catch up on what was a truly extraordinary night on the baize in a tournament producing shocks aplenty. If you too decided against staying up to watch it, you can make amends here. No? It was just me then?

Hopalong O’Sullivan remains favourite, quite why I’m not sure but if he does win it, not only can he claim to be able to beat top players with his left hand, he’ll also be able to claim that he can beat them with one leg aswell. I still can’t see him winning it, but obviously given how bad the betting has gone on the matches I hope I’m wrong and that the maximum outright bet recommended pre-pegleg news lands.

Good old Rodders is also still in there fighting after defeating Mark Allen last night and now faces Judd on the box. This gives the Last 16 a distinctly mixed feel with so many of the familiar names out of the running. But we’ve seen this kind of thing before and more often than not it still ends up being two very familiar faces in the final, we’ll see. I fancy Judd to win it personally from here.

I shall now return to repeatedly hitting myself on the head with a mini-butt for the rest of the week as self-punishment for missing out on all the fun last night. James was even top trend on Twitter such was the magnitude of his victory. Who says snooker in the UK is dead?


Recommended Wednesday Bet: 2 points double on Dott and Cahill (both plus 2.5) pays over 7/4.

Stuart Bingham v Ricky Walden
Anthony McGill v John Higgins

Neil Robertson v Graeme Dott
James Cahill v Dark Mavis

Recommended Thursday Double: 2 points on Trump (-2.5) and Fu (+1.5) pays just on 5/2. 

Judd Trump v Rod Lawler
Shaun Murphy v Marco Fu

Matt Selt v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Stephen Maguire v David Morris

Thanks again to Monique for the use of image.

December 1, 2014

UK Championship Last 32

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:54 am
Fancy a slice Bazza? Thought not.

Fancy a slice Bazza? Thought not.

They have reached the Last 32 stage in York and there seems to have been plenty going on over the weekend while I have been busy with the SB Classic just up the road in Leeds.

As usual, it’s the changes to the tournament that have taken centre of attention off the table. When Ronnie O’Sullivan starts criticising these days, given that he hardly ever moans about conditions, it’s surely time for the powers that be to have a serious look at things.

While his focus is on the venue primarily, in that it is too small to hold an event this short with 128 players packed into it, I’d only disagree on one point. For me the venue is a fantastic place to hold a snooker tournament, the city is in Christmas mode, non-snooker nuts can go shopping while the baize boy or girl in the set-up watches the snooker, there is loads to do and the event is very well attended.

The problem is the daft format, but for that to change it will take a certain Chairman not pre-disposed to admitting he’s ever made a mistake to eat some humble pie.

The facts are that the top players, in a so-called prestigious event should be treated better than they are being. The tables should be tried and tested and tried and tested again, they should do away with the sports hall and make that, not a hotel bar, the practice facility and they should reduce the field, holding the first round and possibly the second, while maintaining the flat structure, elsewhere.

They won’t do this of course because Bazza will start screaming about increased ticket sales. But who’s to say they wouldn’t have increased anyway? Is he seriously going to say that it’s because the fans have the chance to watch lower ranked players in a Sports Hall and not because the profiles of the likes of Ronnie, Robbo, Ding, Judd and the defeated Selby are on the up (thanks to the efforts of Bazza and co) that the audience is increasing? I’m sure The Masters will be sold out again as it usually is, why? because the top players are there on one table.

Save this daft conveyor belt format for where it belongs; the EPTC’s and minor rankers. It has no place in a major event steeped in history.

On the table, the big boys aren’t having it all their own way are they? Robbo nearly came a cropper and but for one ‘careless’ positional shot from Kyren he’d have been dumped out along with the World Champ Selby, who was sent back to Nappyland by the bearded wonder Davy Morris. Ronnie’s through, but for how much longer can snooker’s favourite hop-a-long stay on his feet? Only time will tell.

Licensed to Pot.

Licensed to Pot.

As for Barry Hawkins, blimey o’riley, what happened there then? Nigel Bond certainly did a bit of a Lazarus trick on him didn’t he? Unassuming Nigey was like a rabid terrier chasing a wounded weasel once he got a sniff that the poor old Hawk was on the ropes. He even managed a fist-pump at the end which must have rubbed salt in to Barry’s already gaping wound. The mild-mannered veteran turned into a ruthless assassin right there in front of our very bleary eyes, but the next day he was sat there with John and Hazel as if butter wouldn’t melt. Who’d have thought him capable of such cruelty? It’s always the quiet ones, that’s what Ol’ Ma Snookerbacker always says.

I didn’t feel it was fair to just bash up a bet on the last round as I’d not have given it any thought with other things going on, both at home and on the SB Classic front. This didn’t stop one bellend on Twitter giving me some grief, blissfully unaware that sometimes betting on snooker isn’t on the top of my life priority list. As I assume it is his, if you don’t count masturbating.

Despite all this, being in Leeds I did get the chance to see Matt Selt being put through his paces on the practice table and from what I saw I think he’ll probably take some beating tonight against The Dentist, who isn’t quite the player he was a few seasons back. I also have it on good authority that Matthew Stevens is back on the practice table in earnest and working hard and it’s tempting to think he’ll prevail against John Higgins, though Higgy is making a few more positive noises than of late, which wouldn’t be that hard in fairness, but with the help of a fellow couple of jocks he seems to have spotted one of the problems he was having in his game, so perhaps best to leave that one or just have a dabble on the handicaps as it will probably be close. Here’s my fancies for Monday anyhow.

Monday Recommended Bet: 3 points on Matt Selt (-1.5) at 6/5. 2 points on Matt Selt (-2.5) at 15/8. 3 point acca on Bond, Morris and Stevens (all +2.5 frames) pays 2/1. All at Paddies. 


Nigel Bond v Anthony McGill
John Higgins v Matthew Stevens
Fraser Patrick v Judd Trump
David Gilbert v David Morris

Matt Selt v Rory McLeod
Shaun Murphy v Jack Lisowski
Ken Doherty v Ricky Walden
Marco Fu v Dechawat Poomjaeng

Tuesday Recommended Bet: 3 point treble on Milkins, Walker (+3.5) and Ebdon (+3.5) pays over 11/4.  

Neil Robertson v Peter Ebdon
Robert Milkins v Graeme Dott
Joel Walker v Stuart Bingham
Ben Woollaston v Ronnie O’Sullivan

Ding Junhui v James Cahill
Joe Perry v Mark Davis
Rod Lawler v Mark Allen
Mark Williams v Stephen Maguire

SB Classic Leeds: Inspired O’Sullivan and Holder Parsons Progress

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

The weekend in Leeds saw two more players through to the list of Grand Finalists in this seasons Snookerbacker Classic as Sean ‘The Storm’ O’Sullivan and last season’s champion Ant Parsons added their names to the already high quality list of finalists.

Sean had a special reason for wanting the win.

Sean had a special reason for wanting the win.

 Saturday saw a win for Sean O’Sullivan and after he prevailed in the final against Brett Miller he dedicated his win to his best friend Billy O’Connor, who is currently fighting cancer with incredible bravery.

Sean started the day with an impressive 4-0 win over Chris Keogan while the two pre-tournament favourites to win the Classic in April, Sam Craigie and Paul Davison did battle on the main arena table. Sam came out a 4-2 winner in impressive style and many watching expected him to have a big say in the day’s events on the back of this.

It was also nice to see Jamie Barrett, an old friend of the Classic and finalist back in 2012 back competing, he’s had his own personal things going on and the man they call ‘The Bullet’ was relying on instinct having not been practising much at all, he was to eventually fall at the semi-final stage to the eventual winner, who it has to be said by then had had his fair share of Mrs SB’s Victoria Sponge cake, the cake once more proving to have the magical qualities it takes to make a winner.

Craigie was beaten in the second round by Jason Tart, who is emerging as a player to watch from this year’s tournament as is Brett Miller, who was powering his way through the field and was eventually to beat Tart in the semi-finals to set up a meeting with O’Sullivan.

Sean took command early in the final and having the extra motivation behind him, it always felt like he was destined to prevail. Brett had to console himself with being firmly established at the top of the Order of Merit List and he remains very much on course to be joining Sean at Grand Finals Day, regardless of what happens from here on in, with more than half the events now played.

Afterwards a delighted Sean turned to his motivation and told me ‘I said to you on Friday when we spoke that I’d like to stay in the tournament and win today for Billy, he’s taken a few knocks and he always gets back up again and is an inspiration to everyone around him. This win is for him and I can’t wait to get back to see him. I’m delighted to make the Grand Finals in my first year in the tournament, it’s a unique event and hopefully I can kick on in April and win it’. 

You can view all Saturday’s results by clicking here.

The Champion Returns: A familiar face has his eyes on the prize again.

The Champion Returns: A familiar face has his eyes on the prize again.

Sunday in Leeds saw an under-the-weather but as ever, fighting champion Ant Parsons get back to winning ways and set himself up to defend his crown at Gloucester next April.

Ant had been beaten in Preston by Jason Tart in his first heat back since triumphing last season but despite weathering a very heavy cold and clearly not at 100% he managed to save the best until last to see off Paul Davison in a decider on Sunday evening.

Davison and Craigie met again in Round 1 having been pitched together two days on the bounce and this time the tables were turned and it was the man they call Snowy (he did complain of cold hands during the day so maybe that’s why) who got his own back for the day before. I believe a hefty gamble has gone on Sam to win the Classic this year but as things stand he isn’t in any further qualifying events.

There were also first round wins for Marc Harman over Jason Tart, Chris Keogan over Alex Taubman, Sam Thistlewhite over Brett Miller and for Michael Whaley and Michael Rudd, reducing the number of Michael’s in that section of the draw from 3 to 2, much to the delight of an easily confused tournament director who complained of ‘too many Michaels too close together in the draw’ while Mrs SB talked to referee Rob Spencer about ironing and snooker players with receding hairlines, deep stuff.

As the day went on it was clear that Davison was going to play a big part and he only dropped one frame further on his way to the final. Ant however was not his usual self on the table and was clearly relying on his tactical rather than out and out attacking style to get him through, which it did eventually in a semi-final tussle against Sam Thistlewhite.

The final saw Parsons in much better form from 0-2 down and he started to produce snooker much like his old self and took the lead at 3-2 at a pace. It was then time for Paul Davison to produce a bit of class and a 125 clearance bagged the weekend’s £1 per point highest break prize courtesy of Apollobet, edging out Chris Keogan who had earlier knocked in 106.

The decider saw Paul in first but in failing to take full advantage, Ant then again started to motor and did enough to grab his Grand Finals place again as champion.

He said afterwards ‘I’m delighted to win today, I’ve not felt great all day but somehow I found something at the end there, I’m not sure how. Last season, Grand Finals Day was fantastic and a great memory for me and my wife Sarah. I would have hated to miss out this year and I’m really looking forward to going back and defending my title’.

You can view all Sunday’s results by clicking here

You can view the ongoing Order of Merit and Highest Break Board by clicking here. Brett Miller leads the Order of Merit, from which the top two will qualify to Grand Finals Day.

A big thanks to all at the Northern for their hospitality and to referees Alex Crum and Rob Spencer. We now take a break from the SB Classic for a bit but once we’re up and running again in February it’s a more or less straight run to the Grand Finals.

There are still a smattering of places left, click here for details.

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