March 31, 2015

The China Open Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:54 pm
Robbo - Right Result?

Robbo – Right Result?

Below is the schedule for Wednesday over in Beijing as the China Open moves into the Last 32 phase.

I have to say, it’s a real shame that this event comes so close to the World Championship qualifiers as this is taking a lot of the sheen off it as people look forward more and more to Sheffield. It’s a shame because it’s usually a very good tournament.

I can’t help thinking that there should be at least a fortnight’s gap between the final ranking event and the start of the World Qualifiers, if anyone involved in the Ponds Forge event has a run in this, they will be severely handicapped once they race back to Sheffield to play three Best of 19’s to try and qualify. Particularly if they’ve also been involved in Llandudno and Thailand, that’s a pretty gruelling schedule for anyone.

The seeded players don’t have that problem and though there are some that will be adamant that Neil Robertson has had the best possible result in being dumped out on day one, but even if the player that wins this is seeded in Sheffield, they still have a fortnight to recover so I don’t think it’s that big an issue really.

Anyway, we’ll see if the ‘Curse of the China Open winner’ will happen again, but it might just be a coincidence that nobody who has won this has ever gone on to win the World Championship, after all, back to back ranking event wins are pretty rare these days. That said and as Neal Foulds pointed out to me earlier, if Selby wins it he’s got two curses to get round, good luck with that Jester. 

Recommended Bet: 2 point double on Mike Dunn and Robin Hull pays over 5/1 at Bet 365. 

Elliot Slessor v Mark Selby
Stuart Bingham v Michael White
Ryan Day v Stephen Maguire
Barry Hawkins v Dominic Dale
David Gilbert v Zhou Yuelong
Zak Surety v Robert Milkins

Robin Hull v Mark King
Jack Lisowski v Dechawat Poomjaeng
Anthony McGill v Shaun Murphy
Mark Williams v Michael Leslie
Mike Dunn v Kurt Maflin

Ding Junhui v Dark Mavis
Peter Ebdon v Judd Trump
John Higgins v Graeme Dott
Ricky Walden v Gary Wilson
Marco Fu v Jamie Jones

Snookerbacker Classic Grand Finals: Information and Further Prize Announced!

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:30 am

SB2015 A4 Poster2 (1) with amendsFor anyone who missed the Grand Finals draw last night live on Twitter I have copied it below together with the corresponding match times.

I am also delighted to announce that as well as the existing prizes in place, I have now secured a further £250 cash prize for the player that makes the highest break on Grand Finals Day.

This is in addition to the £500 overall highest break prize currently standing at 134 by Daniel Wells and the £1000 maximum break prize both sponsored by John Parrott Cuesports

This takes the overall prize fund this year to well over £8000.  


Dress Code: Shirt, trousers, shoes and waistcoat – no bow tie required.
Match Times: Please ensure that you arrive in plenty of time for your stated match time.

DRAW: All matches are the best of 7 frames and will all be live-scored online.

10am start:

Ben Harrison v James Brown – Referee: Mark Seaman
Jamie Clarke v Martin O’Donnell – Referee: Nick Harry
Sydney Wilson v Jamie Bodle – Referee: Alan Collis
Brett Miller v Tom Barton – Referee: Martyn Royce

NB 11.30 start:

Phil O’Kane v Reanne Evans – Referee: Mark Seaman
Sean O’Sullivan v Ant Parsons – Referee: Nick Harry
Eden Sharav v Daniel Wells – Referee: Alan Collis
Mike Rogers v Paul Davison – Referee: Martyn Royce

Quarter Finals – NB 2pm

Semi Finals – NB 4pm

Final – NB 6pm – Referee: Nick Harry


It is free to come along and watch so why not treat yourself to a Sunday of top quality live snooker?

March 30, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic: Rogers and Barton Clinch Last Chance Wins, Order of Merit Concludes.

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:10 pm

Sunday in Gloucester saw the conclusion of the qualifying heats of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic with the final four names being confirmed to make up the last 16, who now return to Gloucester this Easter Sunday to fight it out for the biggest cash prize in amateur snooker.

The day was to see two players progress as of right and the final place being decided from the ongoing Order of Merit list which has again been a popular by-product of the event with players who had not made it through by winning an event outright. Uncannily, it was again to be decided on the final frame of the qualifiers, as it was last season.

Mike Rogers - bit of a brainbox.

Mike Rogers – bit of a brainbox.

The top half of the draw saw victory for Mike Rogers, who overcame Kishan Hirani in his qualifying final.  Mike has been an SB Classic regular now for a couple of seasons and had narrowly missed out before on making the Grand Finals.

This time he went one better and despite not seeming to realise when I walked up to him to congratulate him that he’d actually qualified, thinking he had another match to play, he was delighted once the realisation dawned that he’d actually won through.

All this might lead you to believe that Mike is a bit dim, well, nothing could be further from the truth. Mike is actually coming to the end of a very intense Maths degree at University and to say he can totally baffle you within seconds of talking about his passion for all things numerical is putting it mildly (as is the word baffle). I still remember him first showing me a mathematical graph (which I’m sure is a layman’s description for what it actually is) and looking rather shocked and perhaps a little disappointed when I wasn’t as intrigued by it as he was as I tried desperately to change the subject.

By all accounts, Mike is also a very laid back kind of guy, which possibly explains his sometimes lethargic looking demeanour around the table and his frequent sighs and outtakes of breath. But his competitive streak must be in there somewhere or else he’d not have made it through a very tough final draw against a player in Kishan that many had down as a live contender for this season’s title.

It’s great to see Mike finally get over the line, I just hope he leaves his graphs at home on Sunday and brings Whitney instead, she’s far more interesting.

Tom Barton: Late Night Thrills.

Tom Barton: Late Night Thrills.

 The bottom half of the draw saw victory for Tom Barton, who eventually came through a decider against Kent star Phil O’Kane to nab the last automatic spot after over 12 hours of snooker on Sunday.

Tom was as ever accompanied by legendary snooker hardman Joe Lazarus, a man that’s so hard that Chuck Norris wears a pair of Joe Lazarus pyjamas for bed. Joe was again on top storytelling form while watching his protege and he also wolfed down almost half of Mrs SB’s victoria sponge while everyone else just watched, far too terrified to ask if they could have a piece for fear of falling victim to a cake-raged upper cut.

On the table, Tom had early victories over Majid Khan and Matt Glasby before coming up against Andy Marriott, a grand finalist from last season. The two slogged away for over 3 hours before Tom eventually made it over the line in the decider.

Despite this, Tom only wanted a few minutes after the match to gather himself together to face Phil O’Kane in the final, which was to go to a decider again, Tom producing the goods in the final frame and marking himself out as a real stamina man with a very solid technique and cool head under pressure, this being no doubt engrained in him by Joe who still coaches to this day. Joe has never struck me as a man that needs a lot of sleep, in fact he’s so hard that sleep probably needs a lot of him.

Tom seems a quiet, unassuming lad and clearly enjoys a very close relationship with Joe, who is a master at stealing the limelight. It’s great to see a new name in the mix and it will be interesting to see how Tom gets on against other, perhaps better known names on the amateur circuit. Under the radar is sometimes a very nice place to be.

Kiss it - a KO for O'Kane.

Kiss it – a KO for O’Kane.

Phil O’Kane meanwhile had his own adventure on Sunday. He went into the day needing to win either 12 or 13 frames, depending on how scores went, to catch Merseyside’s Josh Mulholland and pip him to 2nd spot in the Order of Merit List, behind Brett Miller, who had qualified much earlier in the event but whose place could only be finally confirmed on Sunday (Brett, frame on the way on Sunday).

Phil did just that and tried his best in the final to try and make the blow a little less hard to swallow for Josh by winning through and getting him his place, but it wasn’t to be and Kent’s finest bowed out in the final frame as Josh received updates on Twitter.

Brett has really impressed this season and has only been beaten in each event by the eventual qualifiers, he’s been scoring heavily and I think he has a real chance of causing an upset on Sunday. His eventual winning tally in the Order or Merit speaks for itself and consistency wise he’s right up there with the best of them.

As for Phil, he was genuinely delighted on Sunday and is a big favourite with everyone on the amateur tour. He’s a natural comedian and a favourite with Mrs SB who thinks he’s ‘a bit of a charmer’. Very much like a nasty fungal infection, he’s grown on me over the years too. We’re both looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday and who knows, this could be just what he needs to make that step up?

I can’t leave you however without directly quoting Phil’s philokane-asophical insight into his change in attitude. Step aside Terry Griffiths, there’s a new mind guru in town:


Aaron Cook: ‘Phil, I don’t think I have ever seen you this focused’

Phil: ‘No Aaron, that’s just what happens sometimes when you realise you’ve made a massive fuck up of your life’ 

A big thanks as ever to all at the SWSA, all the players who have supported the event this season, my kind team of sponsors and the referees on Sunday Roycey and Chardo.

All the scores from Sunday can be found here and the final order of merit standings, grand finalists and current highest break here.

Now here is a picture of Joe Lazarus as he has just rang me while I was writing this to ask why there isn’t a picture of him anywhere. 



Snookerbacker Classic Grand Finals: DRAW LIVE ON TWITTER TONIGHT

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:45 pm

The draw for Grand Finals Day of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic will be tweeted from 6pm this evening. To follow this as it happens you should follow me on there by accessing this account.

In the spirit of transparency, I should say that I will actually to doing the full draw automatically using the usual software a couple of minutes before tweeting it. But I won’t post the link to the draw page until I have finished the tweets. So anyone who doesn’t like suspense and prefers to be ‘the first to know’ can I’m sure find this information if they are desperate/sad/anoraky enough to look hard for it.


March 28, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic Last Chance Saloon Gloucester

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:41 pm

Sunday sees the final qualifying heat of the Snookerbacker Classic in Gloucester where we will see the final three Grand Finalists decided.

You can keep up with the scores from the day here and the race for the 2nd spot on the Order of Merit here with either Josh Mulholland or Phil O’Kane set to take the 2nd spot behind runaway leader Brett Miller who is already confirmed as a finalist.

The referees for the day will be Martyn ‘Rolls’ Royce and Nick ‘Chardo’ Harry.  

China Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:35 am
Poor Ronnie isn't able to make it again.

Seems legit.

Monday sees the start of this season’s final stages of the China Open from Beijing. This is now a firmly established tournament in the calendar and guess what? IT’S NOT BEST OF 7’S!!!

What it is however is the final event of the season before all cues head to Sheffield, firstly for the qualifiers at Ponds Forge which begin just three days after this ends, in which time the draw will have to be done before heading to The Crucible for the main event which starts on 18th April.

This is also the event which will decide who will be heading to the qualifiers and who will be seeded straight through to The Crucible. As things currently stand the last place on the list would appear to be between Stephen Maguire and Michael White, unless someone lower down the list has a magical week and ends up winning this and other results go their way. To keep abreast of this list as China progresses there is no other place than this to visit.

One player who we won’t see until things get underway at snooker’s mecca is Ronnie O’Sullivan, who yesterday withdrew from this event for, errrrmmm, ‘health reasons’…..

Oddly, only a week ago when he was being interviewed by Jill after his defeat to Judd in Llandudno, I predicted that poor old Ron wouldn’t be playing here. Call it intuition if you will, or more accurately you could call it that I saw a massive smirk appear on his face when Jill said ‘and you have a trip to China coming up’. But he’s got a sick note from his doctor, who no doubt is a consummate professional in his chosen field and has had an excellent season and climbed the medical rankings.

Other than Ronnie, the only other member of the top 16 as they stand not to make the trip is Mark Allen, who no doubt wants to concentrate on getting himself sharp for The Crucible safe in the knowledge that his place there is safe, you can’t really blame him for that and perhaps it might give him an edge, though the gap between this ending and the start of the main event is long enough for this to not really matter too much to those who are making the trip and certain of their Crucible spot. No burnout excuses this year boys.

The draw for the China Open is here and the first two days schedule of play is detailed below. I’m refusing point blank again to give the wildcards a name, there’s no need for them to be there and I hope they all get walloped first round by their unlucky opponents.

Recommended Bets: 3 points on Mark Selby at 13/2. 1 point each way on Shaun Murphy at 12/1. 1 point each way on Stephen Maguire at 20/1.

Match Bets: 2 point acca on Alan McManus, Peter Ebdon, Jamie Jones and Mark King pays almost 9/1 at Bet 365. 2 points on Gerard Greene to beat Barry Hawkins at 3/1. 2 points on Kyren Wilson to beat Dark Mavis at 2/1. 1 point on Marcus Campbell to beat Ding at 4/1.   

Gary Wilson v Liang Wenbo
Ricky Walden v Cao Yupeng
Kurt Maflin v Ali Carter
Zhou Yuelong v Wildcard
Alex Davies v Wildcard
Peter Lines v Wildcard

Dechawat Poomjaeng v Neil Robertson
Barry Hawkins v Gerard Greene
Kyren Wilson v Dark Mavis
Alan McManus v Jack Lisowski
Jimmy Robertson v Dominic Dale
Robin Hull v Wildcard

Ding Junhui v Marcus Campbell
Andrew Higginson v Judd Trump
David Morris v Stephen Maguire
Peter Ebdon v Zhang Anda
Ryan Day v Liam Highfield
Fergal O’Brien v Mike Dunn

John Higgins v Yu Delu
Marco Fu v Ashley Carty
Nigel Bond v Robert Milkins
Jamie Jones v Matthew Stevens
Anthony Hamilton v Zhou Yuelong/Wildcard
Joe Swail v Zack Surety

Mark Joyce v Mark Selby
Stuart Bingham v Peter Lines/Wildcard
Joe Perry v David Gilbert
Ken Doherty v Michael White
Elliot Slessor v Matt Selt
Joe O’Connor v Michael Leslie

Robin Hull/Wildcard W/O Ronnie O’Sullivan
Jamie Cope v Shaun Murphy
Mark Williams v Alex Davies/Wildcard
Daniel Wells v Graeme Dott
Jamie Burnett v Mark King
Anthony McGill v Alfie Burden

March 25, 2015

SB Classic Last Chance Saloon: Lowdown for Players

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:07 am
It's a big day for Kent's finest on Sunday.

It’s a big day for Kent’s finest on Sunday.

Sunday in Gloucester sees the final 3 Grand Finalists decided for this season’s Snookerbacker Classic as the qualifiers and the ongoing Order of Merit list reach their conclusion.

The draw for Sunday was done last night and is here.

Anyone drawn to play in Matches numbered 1-8 will be commencing at 10am. Anyone drawn to play in Matches numbered 9-16 should arrive no later than 11.30am to the venue.

The usual rules apply for late arrivals. Dress code is collared shirt or polo with trousers and shoes.

All the information about this year’s tournament is here, including links to reports from all of the qualifiers so far.

The ongoing Order of Merit can be viewed here. As things stand Brett Miller is already comfortably through to Grand Finals Day with second place being currently held by Liverpudlian, Josh Mulholland.

Although Josh is level with Ryan Causton, he holds second place as his performance in his best event, the first Liverpool qualifier, was narrowly better than Ryan’s performance in his best event, the second qualifier in Gloucester. Josh won 14 frames to Ryan’s 12 and had a ‘frame difference’ of +4 to Ryan’s +3. So by virtue of that single frame, he may squeeze into the Grand Finals.

As Ryan is in Malta and was unable to enter on Sunday and a lot of the chasing pack are also not playing it means that only one player, namely Phil O’Kane who is 12 frames behind Josh can possibly catch him. To do this Phil must reach his section final and depending on frame scores in his earlier matches win at least one frame in that final. Otherwise, it is Josh who will progress to the Grand Finals on Easter Sunday. 

Can I also remind players that the clocks go forward an hour on Saturday evening. Yes Phil, I am talking to you.  

March 23, 2015

PTC Grand Finals Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:05 am

Yet another best of 7 frame format event this week in Bangkok, here’s all you need to know, oh and it’s on Eurosport at these times. 

March 20, 2015

Referees and Grand Prix

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:56 am
Tabby - Gone but not forgotten.

Tabby – Gone but not forgotten.

As the World Grand Prix continues today in Llandudno and the moon and sun pass each other many light minutes and miles (not light years, I’ve been corrected) from here, talk off the table in snookerland is centring around the fate and fortunes of two referees, namely Michaela Tabb and Marcel Eckardt.

The constant questions surrounding the whereabouts of Michaela directed at anyone who people thought might possibly know something, myself included, came to a head yesterday with a very brief, some might say rather disrespectfully short, statement from World Snooker stating that she has finally resigned, though when she did this and the circumstances under which this was done were not mentioned.

That’s probably because this is a huge embarrassment for the governing body, as Inside Snooker have revealed that the root of the issue lay in an unpaid ‘discretionary’ bonus which led to a falling out between Michaela and World Snooker which has ultimately led to the announcement yesterday, the governing body having previously hinted that Michaela was simply feeling under the weather.

If the sport has lost one of it’s nicest, most professional people because of a row about what is believed to be a rather small sum of money then it really beggers belief. Michaela is a huge loss to the sport and is universally popular with fans and players alike and if the governing body can’t see that they are either blind, stupid or both.

I’d like to express my own personal thanks to Tabby, in a way the official statement did not. Like most people I have had the pleasure of meeting since starting to write this tripe over five years ago our paths first crossed on social media, but on meeting Michaela for the first time, backstage at The Crucible I was greeted with a huge smile and big hug, this tells you everything you need to know about her.

Since then and to my everlasting shame I have stood her up at breakfast because it was raining, tweeted her across a crowded restaurant with a cheeky wink, enjoyed another cuddle in Berlin and been the recipient of her generosity at the Legends. She is a wonderful person and even sent me a nice message yesterday to wish me and Mrs SB well.

What a diamond. Thanks Tabby x

As for Marcel, well he’s only gone and upset an already miserable Rocket who accused him of all sorts of carelessness the other night after his win against Milkins. Poor Marcel couldn’t move out of the way fast enough for Ronald who let off a tirade after the match which I think was well below the belt and worthy of a disciplinary hearing. He’s got to learn that he can’t just shoot his mouth off at whoever he likes just because it’s his time of the month.

Anyway, he’s still in the running in Wales and is up against Graeme Dott later this afternoon, I’m not sure who’s reffing it, but the mischievous tournament directors wouldn’t give it to Marcel surely……..or would they?

World Grand Prix Quarter Finals Order of Play

Dark Mavis v Stuart Bingham

NB 2pm
Martin Gould v Peter Ebdon

Graeme Dott v Ronnie O’Sullivan

NB 8pm
Mark Williams v Judd Trump

March 18, 2015

World Grand Prix Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:08 am

DoomWhile all the potters left in Clan-did-no are busy sucking on their sticks of rock, riding donkeys on the beach and trying on Kiss Me Quick hats in front of a distorted mirror, there’s been a right old to-do going on off the table.

For the 4th year in succession Ronnie is again threatening not to enter the World Championship in an expletive riddled interview in The Guardian here, poor old Ronald is bemoaning the lack of hard cash in snooker at the moment and the fact that Bazza won’t listen to him (or anyone else). If you are following him on Twitter you’ll also know that he’s so skint these days he’s even having to sell his flat in a premium rate telephone competition which lasts for a year, that’s how bad things have got for the poor old (SPOILER – The next word contains the correct answer to the competition question) Flash. 

On that facebook site things are even more downbeat. Stephen Lee has decided to break his silence and yesterday aimed both barrels in the directions of Shaun Murphy (‘brown nose’), his manager Brandon Parker (‘the master fixer’), Peter Ebdon (‘at it’), Mark Allen (‘2 faced’), Rob Milkins and Mark King (pair of degenerate gamblers – OK I’m paraphrasing that one). Anyway, it’s all in the book, which apparently is a roller coaster of humour, tales from the circuit and hard accusations designed to put the wind up the big wigs, top brass, hooky potters and fat cat hangers-on. I prefer a nice romantic novel personally but each to their own.

Stephen Hendry, remember him? Well he is another who’s full of the joys of spring, he warned us that the World Championship matches will be getting shorter in the future while asking what everyone else in snooker is asking, namely ‘WTF is with all these best of 7’s?’ I don’t know what’s gotten into everyone lately but it feels like the love affair with all things Bazza is coming to a rather abrupt end from where I am sitting.

With all this going on it’s almost making us all forget there is a tournament containing best of 7’s (yawn) going on at all. I’ve been dipping in and out of it and from what I’ve seen the coverage from ITV4 is excellent as ever, I also like the blue carpet. But the short matches and format in general is not for me.

Here’s the running order today, there is no play tomorrow and the Quarter Finals start up again on Friday.

Neil Robertson v Dark Mavis
Matthew Selt v Stuart Bingham

NB 2pm
Ricky Walden v Mark Williams
Joe Perry v Judd Trump

Robert Milkins v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Liang Wenbo v Graeme Dott

NB 8pm
Mark Selby v Martin Gould
Stephen Maguire v Peter Ebdon

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