September 28, 2015

International Championship Qualifying Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:22 pm
Won't be holidaying in Barnsley this week.

Won’t be holidaying in Barnsley this week.

Barnsley’s the name, snooker’s the game this week as 60 matches are played out to see who boards the plane to China for the International Championship next month. It’s the first flat structure event of the season where the top 64 take on the bottom 64 and the winners progress.

The reason there are only 60 matches and not 64 is that the four matches involving Ricky Walden (defending champion), Stuart Bingham (World Champion), Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo (the top two players from the host nation) will be held over to Daqing. I’m sure I remember The Respected Chairman Hearn saying a while back that this wouldn’t happen anymore, but I must be mistaken as he’d never do a U-Turn on a promise, we all know that.

Or maybe it’s because he realised after Ding was so pissed off at having to qualify for events in China in a leisure centre over here last season, that he didn’t bother winning a frame against an amateur, that it wasn’t such a great idea to have this much overrated ‘level playing field’ (which isn’t level at all as we saw from the way the draw was done) after all. I predict and hope that within two seasons we’ll start seeing more and more events revert back to the top 16/32 starting later than the others just as the sponsors and TV companies want. Why have a ranking list otherwise?

As nice as it is to see players breaking through like Kyren Wilson did in Shanghai, by and large the public want to see big names in the big competitions, which is why having this all encompassing round, where the likes of Judd, Selby, Robertson etc. run the risk of a bad day at the office is potentially commercial suicide.

I’m sure Kyren, having won a major ranking event on the ‘old’ system will have earned more respect from the players above and around him for having done it the hard way, putting himself in the Champion of Champions and in the running for a Masters slot in the process, just two years after he was playing in the final of the Snookerbacker Classic. Now that’s what I call making an impact. In terms of this (in my opinion) rush towards a flat structure, it’s called knowing when you’ve got it wrong. Flat structures are what the PTC’s are for, not major championships.

That said, it’s a nice little bonus that my pal Alex Taubman gets a trip over to China by virtue of his draw against Wenbo. He’ll be telling me if he ends up out of pocket don’t you worry.

Much has been made, though not as much as might have been made two seasons ago of Ronnie not entering. But it’s now very much the norm and one thing Bazza has succeeded at in my opinion is raising the profile of the other players enough for us not to notice as much. Sure, it’s nice when he does play, but it doesn’t feel as much like tournaments are devalued these days without him, especially given his very patchy form and generally erratic behaviour in Sheffield last season. Perhaps we can now say that we are truly in the post-Rocket era?   

Below is a list of the matches in draw order, though not the order they were drawn (obvs – lol). For some reason they are not played this way in terms of session order and they’ve been jumbled up all over the shop. You can click here to see the order of play.

Remember these are all Best of 11 frames, so potentially this is a great week to get involved.

Recommended First Round Acca: 4 point acca pays best odds over 7/2 at Marathonbet on – Shaun Murphy, Rob Milkins, Aditya Mehta, Mark Joyce, Xiao Guodong, Alan McManus, Mark Allen, Fergal O’Brien and Matt Selt.

Recommended Singles: 5 x 1 point singles on Barry Pinches 11/4, Syd Wilson 11/4, Martin O’Donnell 8/5, Sanderson Lam 12/5 and Daniel Wells 16/9.

1            Ricky Walden v Tian Pengfei (held over to China)
2            Cao Yupeng v Liam Highfield
3            Andrew Higginson v Zhang Yong
4            Liang Wenbo v Alex Taubman (held over to China)
5            Kyren Wilson v Thor Chuan Leong
6            Anthony Hamilton v Jamie Cope
7            Joe Swail v Allan Taylor
8            Mark Allen v Scott Donaldson
9            Mark Williams v Nigel Bond
10          Mark King v Ian Burns
11           Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Hammad Miah
12           Alan McManus v Ross Muir
13           Martin Gould v  Gareth Allen
14           Sam Baird v Zhou Yuelong
15           David Morris v Sanderson Lam
16           Judd Trump v Michael Wild
17           Barry Hawkins v Rhys Clark
18           Peter Lines v Chris Wakelin
19           Jimmy Robertson v Lu Ning
20          Robert Milkins v Darryl Hill
21           Ali Carter v Luke Simmonds
22           Jack Lisowski v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
23           Matthew Stevens v Fraser Patrick
24           Marco Fu v Paul Davison
25           Stephen Maguire v Noppon Saengkham
26           Gary Wilson v Oliver Lines
27           David Gilbert v Barry Pinches
28           Xiao Guodong v Jason Weston
29           Ryan Day v Zhang Anda
30           Mark Joyce v Hamza Akbar
31            Li Hang  v Craig Steadman
32           Ding Junhui v Sam Craigie (held over to China)
33           Mark Selby v Eden Sharav
34           Mike Dunn v Mitchell Mann
35           Robin Hull v Sean O’Sullivan
36           Anthony McGill v James Wattana
37           Dark Mavis v Lee Walker
38           Rory McLeod v Daniel Wells
39           Dechawat Poomjaeng v Michael Georgiou
40           Michael White v Alfie Burden
41           Graeme Dott v Andy Hicks
42           Jamie Burnett v James Cahill
43           Ken Doherty v Vinnie Calabrese
44           Peter Ebdon v Zak Surety
45           Fergal O’Brien v Hatem Yassen
46           Tom Ford v Michael Leslie
47           Gerard Greene v Martin O’Donnell
48           Neil Robertson v Kuldesh Johal
49           Shaun Murphy  v Lyu Chenwei
50           Luca Brecel v David Grace
51           Kurt Maflin v Joe O’Connor
52           Jamie Jones v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
53           Michael Holt v Jake Nicholson
54           Rod Lawler v Jimmy White
55           Stuart Carrington v Zhao Xintong
56           John Higgins v Ashley Hugill
57           Joe Perry v Michael Wasley
58           Aditya Mehta v Ian Glover
59           Dominic Dale v  Sydney Wilson
60           Matt Selt v Adam Duffy
61           Ben Woollaston v Leo Fernandez
62           Robbie Williams v Joel Walker
63           Yu De Lu v Chris Melling
64           Stuart Bingham v Steven Hallworth (Held over to China)

Click the banner below to view the host of match betting at Marathonbet


September 23, 2015

Flawed Draws and Penned Plans

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:09 am

Bit of a Balls Up

Yesterday once again saw some slapstick off-table action courtesy of World Snooker as they again attempted to stage a draw live on the internet for everyone to watch. This time for the International Championship which gets underway in Barnsley at the end of the month.

It was brave of them to set foot back into live streaming territory in the first place. Who can forget the shambolic World Championship ‘live’ draw when they forgot to turn on the camera until it was finished? The stars of the show were oblivious to the fact that their best one-liners weren’t going down a storm with the baize hungry fans tuning in to know who would face who at the Crucible. The only thing we ended up seeing at the end was Shaun Murphy, presumably unhappy with his draw, menacingly approaching Bazza with a golf club in his hand before Mark Pearson of Betfred was cut off half a millisecond before he could say ‘fuck’ live on air. Apart from that it went really well.

So it must have been with much trepidation that the powers that be decided to do the whole thing again, this time in the more sedate surroundings of World Snooker HQ in Bristol. They opted to keep it simple, no big names involved, no bells and whistles, just five bags filled with balls and a board with dints on it with which to rest said spherical objects. What could possibly go wrong this time? The usual suspects on Twitter anticipated that something would, but surely these harpingers of doom were simply scaremongering?

The first hints of there being a problem/fuck up came when a particularly eagle-eyed German on Twitter spotted that two top 16 players, namely Stephen Maguire and Michael White had been mistakenly drawn to meet in the second round should they win their first matches. Hints that the penny had dropped in the studio could be seen when a panic-stricken hand reached into one of the bags only to find it empty, no amount of rustling could muster up a ball. The brief look of confusion/horror on the faces of the two stars of the show confirmed what the anoraks had already spotted, namely that they’d made a total balls up of the whole thing with the first error creating a domino effect of mistakes which couldn’t be explained away in the face of the tidal wave of insults from the trainspotting viewers who took to their keyboards in disgust. You have to hand it to World Snooker, there’s not many that can bugger things up quite like they can.

What followed were apologies aplenty from the culprits, players like Mark Allen and Matt Selt demanded that the draw be done again. Angry tweeters called for mass resignations, bloggers took different approaches, one who shall remain nameless mercilessly took the piss while Matt from Pro Snooker Blog sought to clarify what could be done to rectify the problem without the need to draw it all again. World Snooker claimed that the integrity of the draw was intact and would be compromised if it was drawn again, instead deciding to re-number the matches to ensure that it was drowning in integrity, which had me for one reaching for a dictionary to look up what integrity actually meant.

So once more the live draw generated discussion for all the wrong reasons and that’s why I’m really looking forward to the next one. It will take some creativity to come up with a way to royally fuck up three on the spin, but if anyone can do it, World Snooker can.

On to a more personal matter now. I hinted last week that I was about to embark on a project which I was quite excited about and I’m delighted to say that I can now tell you all what it is. For a few months now I’ve been chatting away with Ali Carter, having approached him a while ago about writing an autobiography. Ali popped round to SB Towers at the weekend to go through what remained as well as a few bottles of red and some delicious fayre laid on by Mrs SB and we’re now hard at work getting all this down on paper. So hopefully in a few months time you’ll all be rushing out to buy a copy. I’ll promise you now that it will be full of surprises and a real eye-opener into the world of a player who very few know anything about. 

Watch this space.

September 21, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic 2016 – Last Places Filling

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

Hat Man LargeThe Snookerbacker Classic this year has proved extremely popular with amateur players up and down the UK, so much so in fact that we are now down to the last few places for the entire season before a ball has been struck. Perhaps the £12,000 in prize money might be pushing the buttons, who knows?

Anyway, here is an update of where things are up to:


18th October: The George Scott Snooker Club, Liverpool (16 players, 1 qualifier) – FULL, FEES DUE AND WAITING LIST IN OPERATION

1st November: The Lucky Break Snooker Centre, Clydebank* (16 players, 1 qualifier) – FULL.

28th November: The Cue Ball, Derby (16 players, 1 qualifier) – FULL, FEES DUE AND WAITING LIST IN OPERATION

5th December: The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds (16 players, 1 qualifier) – FULL, FEES DUE AND WAITING LIST IN OPERATION

31st January: The Elite Snooker Centre, Preston (16 players, 1 qualifier) – FULL, FEES DUE AND WAITING LIST IN OPERATION

20th February: The South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (32 players, 2 qualifiers) – 4 PLACES LEFT (CONTACT ME DIRECTLY OR PAY TODAY)

21st February: The South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (32 players, 2 qualifiers) – FULL, FEES DUE AND WAITING LIST IN OPERATION

6th March: The George Scott Snooker Club, Liverpool (16 players, 1 qualifier) – FULL, FEES DUE AND WAITING LIST IN OPERATION

26th March: The South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (32 players, 2 qualifiers) – 5 PLACES LEFT (CONTACT ME DIRECTLY OR PAY TODAY)

27th March: The South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (32 players, 2 qualifiers) – 5 PLACES LEFT (CONTACT ME DIRECTLY OR PAY TODAY)


Venues and Dates


CONTACT SNOOKERBACKER – Please remember to check your email for my response!

September 16, 2015

Shanghai Masters Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:34 pm
Ebbo's off to an inspiring start on Twitter.

Ebbo’s off to an inspiring start on Twitter.

The Shanghai Masters continues with the Last 16 round being played out and by the end of the two sessions on Thursday we will know the Quarter Final line up.

Off the table there are a few snippits of news flying about. Stephen Lee has announced on Facebook that he is going to be publishing his long-awaited book at some point in April to coincide with the World Championship.

I think it’s fair to assume given its likely content that he won’t be asked to come and give a recital live on the BBC with Hazel and the gang listening intently.

Given that he’s already indicated that Nigel Mawer of the Integrity Unit is very much in his firing line for, and I quote, ‘lying and fixing paper work up’ as well as Barry Hearn’s lawyer (‘in as well World Snooker all at it’ sic), it’s enough to make the BBC target market of Marjorie from Chipping Norton choke on her afternoon cream bun.

It will be interesting to see if he continues with the wholly innocent story given some of the some-might-say irrefutable evidence that was presented against him in terms of who placed bets and when. I’d say he’ll also need to back anything he says, particularly any accusations, up with solid evidence if anyone is going to take it or him seriously, but he claims to have hearing tapes that confirm all his swipes and if he has, then it will indeed make very interesting listening.

Anyway, if all else fails he’s now got a coaching gig in China lined up, so at least he’s getting back on his feet. The documentary link shows Bazza and Nigel typically talking tough about match fixing saying they punish all wrongdoers whilst wishing Lee well with his new venture through gritted teeth. It also features the hapless Rob Walker trying to play snooker so it’s worth watching it just for a laugh at that.

In other off-table news, there was also a new addition to the Twitter clan of snooker players as Peter Ebdon decided to take the plunge into the murky waters of the Twitterati at the behest of Shaun Murphy. After getting the pleasantries out of the way he was quickly tweeting about being a vegan as well as posting those ‘ever so poignant’ pictures with quotes on that we’re all meant to reflect and dwell on and come out of the other side as a better person. None of them have ever worked on me I have to say but maybe I’m a lost cause, or perhaps I’m nice enough as it is and don’t need any further help on the philosophical side. I dunno.

In terms of the tournament so far, sadly Mark Selby had to withdraw following the death of his father-in-law but on a happier note Ricky Walden’s withdrawal came as a result of the birth of his first child. Neil Robertson, playing only his second event of the season, looked a bit rusty in losing to a resurgent Jamie Cope and there were good first round performances from the likes of Michael Holt, Judd Trump, Mark Williams and Martin Gould who I think may have retweeted something about it being his birthday once or seven hundred times.

Bettingwise it’s been a pretty good start with the 4 point bet on Allen getting further than Maguire landing after one round as well as the punts on outsiders Hitman Holt and Dark Mavis, the latter of whom maintained a 100% win percentage over Michael White after eight meetings. The clues were there.

In terms of the outrights, we’re still in the hunt are all four selections; Williams (40/1), Higgins (20/1), Holt (150/1) and main pick Murphy (10/1) who as stated above cleverly introduced his opponent to Twitter to give him something to do other than practice and then knocked him out. The old ‘get my next opponent hooked on Twitter’ routine working a treat for our Smurf. Peter I’m sure will have some philosophical words to tweet about his defeat which I await with baited breath to see if they change me for the better.

Just a note that I won’t be covering the rest of this tournament in any great depth, not through lack of interest but instead because another snooker related project is going to be taking up a lot more of my time in the coming weeks. Hopefully I’ll be ready to divulge exactly what that is to the masses as soon as possible, but suffice to say that on a personal level it’s very exciting.


Stuart Bingham v Mike Dunn (TV)

Mark Williams v Jamie Cope (TV)

Michael Holt v Kyren Wilson

Shaun Murphy v Dark Mavis


John Higgins v Martin Gould

Judd Trump v Matt Selt

Ding Junhui v Ryan Day (TV)

Mark Allen v David Grace (TV)

Recommended Bets: 2 point acca pays almost 3/1 at Ladbrokes on Williams, Murphy, Higgins and Allen.


September 11, 2015

Shanghai Masters Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:06 pm

I think the middle one might be Jack Nicholson, not sure who the girl on the left is holding the tomato, a celebrity chef perhaps? The only one I’m definite on is David Cameron.

Monday sees arguably the biggest event of the snooker season so far get underway as we turn our collective anoraks towards Shanghai for the Masters over there. This usually provides some good stuff to whet the appetite for the rest of the season so hopefully this year will be no different.

It seems ages ago now that the qualifying for this took place and the lunacy of the wildcard round continues for those who have already fought hard to get through. No doubt there will be at least one casualty of this farcical system as there always is when they are playing a fully sharp, conditioned local who doesn’t deserve to be there. OK I know, broken record….

Tom Ford is OK though as they still haven’t found anyone to play him, presumably they are scouring the local schools for the next big thing to turn up and blow the unsuspecting Leicester cueman off the table and get everyone talking for the umpteenth time about ‘the new Ding’ when quite what has happened to the old Ding is anyone’s guess. Last I saw he couldn’t hit a bulls arse with a shovel, but maybe under the mystical guidance of The Terry Lama he’ll be back to his old self soon enough.

Stuart Bingham won this last year and he’ll be looking to kick-start his season as World Champion as will a lot of the others who may have spent a bit too much time off the table than on it during the summer months.

But to me since starting to write this blog a few years ago, it’s this event that signals the start of the season and I have really enjoyed the stop/start nature of the season so far, particularly the Paul Hunter Classic which I hope stays on the calendar for a long time. In the UK at least it’s beginning to feel a bit more autumnal and to me that means it’s time to settle down to some snooker. I’ve even booked my B&B for the UK Championships in York I’m that excited. I wouldn’t have been like this had the summer been filled with nothing events like it was a couple of seasons ago.

Anyway, I’ll leave you to enjoy the quite marvellous poster which accompanies this post, if that can’t get you in the mood what can? Quite in the mood for what I don’t know, but in the mood nevertheless.

Oh yes, I knew there was something else, bets. Here’s a few outrights and a couple of match bets on top. There are some interesting markets at Marathonbet which you probably won’t see anywhere else here. I think Murphy is the player to be on this week, he seems to be largely picking up where he left off in Sheffield and comes here in good shape.

Recommended Outrights: 3 points win on Shaun Murphy at 10/1. 1 point each way on John Higgins at 20/1, Mark Williams at 40/1 and 0.5 each way on Michael Holt at 150/1. 

Match Betting: 2 points on Holt to beat Maguire at 7/4. 4 points on Mark Allen to get further in the tournament than Stephen Maguire at Evens with Marathonbet. 3 x 1 point doubles and a 1 point treble on Holt to beat Maguire (7/4), Mavis to beat White(11/10) and Selt to beat Walden (11/8) all at Bet 365.

You can view the full draw here and look at the format here. The order of play for the wildcard round and the Last 32 is below.

Monday 14th September

6.30am (UK Time)

Jamie Jones v Fang Xiong Man
Mike Dunn v Niu Zhuang
Peter Ebdon v Yuan Si Jun
Graeme Dott v Ryan Day


Rob Milkins v Chen Zifan
Alan McManus v Yao Pengcheng
John Higgins v Liang Wenbo
Barry Hawkins v Martin Gould



Tom Ford v Han Bin  
Jamie Cope v Lin Shuai
Kyren Wilson v Wang Yuchen
Stuart Bingham v Fang Xiong Man


Marco Fu v Mike Dunn
Judd Trump v Robert Milkins
Ding Junhui v Alan McManus
Stephen Maguire v Michael Holt



Mark Williams v Tom Ford
Neil Robertson v Jamie Cope
Mark Allen v Luca Brecel

Joe Perry v Kyren Wilson
Shaun Murphy v Peter Ebdon
Michael White v Dark Mavis
Mark Selby v David Grace

Weird poster used courtesy of Chinese website 


September 10, 2015

Bingo Calling: The World Champion’s Blog

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:55 pm
Two Fat Ladies....

Buckle my shoe – it’s 32.

I thought it was high time I caught up with the World Champion again to talk about all things snooker and a few things that have absolutely nothing to do with snooker. Here’s the second installment of Bingo Calling, the World Champion’s blog.

SB: SB! How’s it going?

Ballrun: SB! Not too bad at all.

SB: First off from me Ballrun is another gushing thank you for donating £1000 to the SB Classic, I have to repeat again this was top drawer.

Ballrun: That’s OK SB, I was happy to help you out.

SB: Top man, I’d better not write anything bad about you now had I?

Ballrun: Yeah SB, that’s right, you ain’t got the money yet.

SB: Have I ever told you that you are my favourite ever player? The grace around the table, the cue action…the good looks, the ermmmm….

Ballrun: OK SB that’s enough, you’ll get your money don’t worry.

SB: I see you’ve got a new website?

Ballrun: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it for a while SB. I know a few other players have them like Shaun Murphy and Neil Robertson and after winning the Worlds I just thought it was time for a more professional approach and that’s really why I did it.

SB: Did you win the World? You never mentioned it?

Ballrun: Careful SB….

SB: Just my little joke Ballrun, anyway back to on the table, what happened in the World Cup? Didn’t go to plan did it? Was it Selby’s fault or what?

Ballrun: Well, yeah, of course it was.

SB: I’ll move on then..

Ballrun: Nah, it was a good experience but we both struggled and the first match done us in really, we just never got going, it happens sometimes. But it was great to represent England, just a shame about the result that’s all.

SB: So then you went on to Riga….

Ballrun: Then we went to Australia SB.

SB: Ah well, not far off….Careless.

Ballrun: Well I went there and got Ferginated so I might as well have gone straight to Riga.

SB: You weren’t the first and you won’t be the last Ballrun.

Ballrun: Yeah SB, again I had chances to win and didn’t take them from 4-2 up and I managed to lose. Then I went to Riga and Liang Wenbo beat me 4-1, I was all over the place really.

SB: You had a decent match against Higgins in Furth, could have gone either way…

Ballrun: Yeah, but again I had my chances to win 4-1 and 4-2 and didn’t, but you are still playing John Higgins at the end of the day and that’s never going to be easy as he’s still one of the best players in the world.

SB: I remember looking at the odds for the match and you were favourite, proves that in the bookies eyes you are now one of the main men to beat given Higgins reputation.

Ballrun: I suppose so, I don’t feel any different to last season really though, I think there is some added pressure now as World Champion and one website said ‘a below par Stuart Bingham’ so maybe they are trying to create the pressure.

SB: That wasn’t me was it?

Ballrun: No not you SB, you’d not have got that grand otherwise. But you can’t help but read this stuff on Twitter and all that, people saying this and that but the season hasn’t really started yet and I only won in Sheffield 4 months ago and I’ve had 2 months off, I’m a bit rusty but I’m confident I’ll come good soon.

Ballrun and Ali go way back.

Ballrun and Ali go way back.

SB: Don’t listen to any of those websites or the tweeters Ballrun, except me of course. It’s early season, snooker’s a winter sport you know that.

Ballrun: Of course SB, I won’t let it get to me don’t worry.

SB: Good man. So would you like to say something about Ali Carter’s win at the Paul Hunter? You two go back a long way after all.

Ballrun: Brilliant SB. If there was ever writing on the wall it’s for Ali to win that after all he’s been through. I’m delighted for him, nobody deserves it more than he does.

SB: Me too, I think he should do an autobiography.

Ballrun: Me too SB, me too.

SB: So what’s your take on all these European venues given that some of them might not be holding events next season? Do you like playing the PTC’s?

Ballrun: I do SB, I’ve been a pro long enough to remember the six tournament calendar and having to flog your guts, living in a suitcase going to pro-ams to make a living, I of all people can’t complain about how it is now, maybe some people forget how bad it was or know no different and that’s why there are sometimes complaints. We’re playing in top class venues all over Europe in front of big crowds, so for me there is nothing not to like. The Paul Hunter is my personal favourite, but Riga was good and we’re off to Ruhr soon so all good, especially if I do well.

SB: It’s about right now isn’t it? Not too many of them. But you probably want more don’t you?

Ballrun: I’ll play in anything SB, with them cancelling these Asian Tour events it looks like I’ll be playing in everything this year. Not sure what’s going on with those.

SB: You’re even playing in the 6 Reds? You’ll play in anything won’t you?

Ballrun: I’ll always be the same SB, give me a table and a set of balls and I’ll play, doesn’t matter where it is.

SB: Or how many reds there are…

Ballrun: I’d play 1 red SB, way things are so far this season I’d have more of a chance…

SB: So to wind snookery things up Ballrun, you’re off to defend your Shanghai title soon, biggest event of the season so far wouldn’t you agree?

Ballrun: Yes, I’ve only defended a ranking title once so it will be an experience, I have a tough draw in Jamie Jones or a wildcard so I’ll need a good start and hopefully it will kick start my season. First time I defended in Australia I lost in the first round to Matt Selt so hopefully I can do better this time.

SB: Practice for ‘THE CURSE’?

Ballrun: Bring it on SB, but I’m not going to upset the snooker gods, I know better than that.

SB: Any off table news? I see you’ve got a new pair of fancy shoes?

Ballrun: Another freebie SB, you know me.

SB: I assumed so given your penchant for the free stuff, what’s the story there then?

Not what he ordered.

Not what he ordered.

Ballrun: Well, every quarter finalist in the Worlds got a letter in their dressing room during the championship from a shoe company in Sheffield offering them a free pair of made to measure scoobies, I was round there like a shot the next morning SB, don’t even think they were open when I got there, got in there, they were delighted to see me so I got the old plates measured and my shoes have just arrived. I don’t know if any of the other players did it.

SB: You love a freebie Ballrun, I’ll give you that.

Ballrun: I do SB. Oh guess what? I’m also on a Question of Sport in October, that should be good and I’ve been doing some filming for the Ronnie O’Sullivan Show on Eurosport, that’s on in September I think.

SB: So he’s talking to you now you’re World Champion then is he?

Ballrun: That’s it yeah, I’m in Ronnie’s gang now SB.

SB: It was bound to happen Ballrun. Anyway, thanks as ever for your time, I know you’re a busy chap these days. Catch you in a few weeks yeah?

Ballrun: Yeah no problem SB, see you soon.

SB: OK, can I have my money soon? Ballrun? Ballrun?

Bingo Calling returns soon, assuming I get my £1000.

September 9, 2015


Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:37 pm
Brett Miller came through the Order of Merit last year and ended up champ.

2015 winner Brett Miller came through the Order of Merit last year and ended up Champion.

It’s always a bit of a thrill for me when the bookies price up my event. It always feels strange to see it there on Oddschecker and on the websites listed next to major sporting events and today Boyles have kindly priced up the outrights again for this year here.

In a way it is a bit different this season. As places are being taken up so quickly I was able to send over a more or less complete list of entries to them and they have come up with their interpretation of what I told them. Which I stress was nothing more than names and how many qualifiers they have entered.

For those unfamiliar with how it works, there are 11 qualifying heats this year so effectively 11 chances to make the Grand Finals. Some players enter a lot of them to give themselves a better chance, both of automatically qualifying and of topping the ongoing Order of Merit, others pick and choose.

Indeed last year’s eventual champion Brett Miller, was a player who got into the Grand Finals by virtue of his place on the Order of Merit so this is proof that it’s worthwhile entering more qualifiers to give yourself that advantage.

Brett is back to defend his title this year and has entered 6 qualifiers (he’s on a waiting list for a further 2) so he clearly has his eye on repeating history this year, though of course, he has proved that he may not need the Order of Merit this time around and could easily qualify early. He is 25/1 to retain the title, something nobody has yet done in the 4 years we’ve been running. The Curse?

Here are a few other pointers:


No player that has ‘fallen off’ the tour the previous year has yet won the SB Classic. Only 1 former professional, David Gray in 2013, has lifted the trophy, all other winners have been amateur players, never having been professional, when they won.

Brett Miller (25/1) was the first player to win the SBC who had qualified from the Order of Merit, the runner-up on that list Phil O’Kane (33/1) made the semi-finals at Grand Finals Day last season. Prior to this, all eventual champions had won their first qualifying heat.

By definition, with the exception of the first champion, Martin O’Donnell, every winner had entered the SB Classic at least one year before they won it, in the case of Ant Parsons (10/1) and Brett Miller (25/1), they had entered the previous two SB Classics before winning.

Jamie Clarke (7/1) has made the Grand Finals Day for the last 3 seasons, the only other player to have made 3 Grand Finals Day is Syd Wilson, who is now professional.

The last 3 runners-up in the SB Classic have turned professional the following season, those being Kyren Wilson, Mitchell Mann and Daniel Wells.

Number of Entries:

This might be a deciding factor in placing a bet, will you go for someone who has given themselves every chance by entering multiple events or someone who has ‘cherry picked’. Let’s take a look at the players at the top of the betting.

As things stand:

Jamie Clarke @ 7/1 has entered one qualifying weekend in Gloucester.

Elliott Slessor @ 8/1 has entered two qualifiers.

2014 Champion Ant Parsons @ 10/1 has entered three qualifiers.

Alex Taubman @ 12/1 has entered more than six qualifiers.

Joe Roberts @ 14/1 has entered one qualifier.

SWSA Gaffer Andrew Norman @ 14/1 has entered one qualifier (guess where?), ditto Preston’s Chris Norbury @ 22/1 who owns one of the venues.

There are lots of familiar names in the tournament (anyone spot David Roe @ 66/1?) and I can’t wait for it to get started. I can’t call it, a lot of the ‘regulars’ from previous years have flown the nest and turned professional but those who remain are a force to be reckoned with. There are a lot of players trying their hand for the first time, which makes this year’s tournament all the more exciting for me as it has a feel of new blood coming in. 

A final note that players are welcome to bet on this, the outright book will close when the first event gets underway in October in Liverpool. Boyles have indicated that for new customers it will lay bets to win up to £4000. Please note that these prices are right at time of posting and that this is from the current known crop of entrants, with a few places at certain venues left to fill.


September 1, 2015

The Month Ahead: September

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:57 am
A very happy Captain.

A very happy Captain.

The ‘stop, start’ nature of the opening months of the season continues through September before the nights start drawing in and the snooker calendar really gets into full throttle. There are just two events this month and one of them isn’t really a proper one, in fact there will be a few players out there who have nothing to play in at all until the start of October, a far cry from Bazza’s 365/24/7 wall to wall snooker promises back in the day.

Before we take a look at what to expect over the next 30 days it’s worth just reflecting on how good the Paul Hunter Classic was last weekend. I’m not usually the type to go into gushing praise of winners after an event but in this case you can’t help but feel delighted for Ali Carter. After a rollercoaster ride couple of seasons off the table, Sunday saw him come good again on the big stage at the day job. It may not be a full ranking event but it certainly has the feel of one and you can tell that the players regard it as such. It’s also great news that it will remain on the calendar next season, when changes to the EPTC format beckon.

I had a brief chat with Ali yesterday morning and he was clearly still elated by his victory, he stressed how hard it had become for him to get back to winning ways and I sense that this win will definitely put that belief back in him that he may have just lost temporarily and remind him why he is a top player, despite his current lowly ranking. It’s great to see him back in the winners enclosure and it’s clear that all players and fans think the same. Enjoy it, as it’s not often all snooker people agree on everything.

But the bad news for Ali is that he is one of those who won’t be getting his stick out until at least 30th September as he didn’t qualify for the Shanghai Masters which is the main event of the month and he also isn’t interested in the 6-Reds comp in Thailand.

It’s this novelty event that gets the snooker underway on the 7th and it’s not really something I’m that interested in either. I have no idea how the field is chosen as it’s a mix of professional and amateur players and given that every group involves a Thai player and it’s played in Thailand I think there will be wheelbarrows aplenty in and around the venue. The Thai Wheelbarrow Gang got their float last week on Thanawat so now it’s time to really splash out in their own backyard.

The main event of the month is the Shanghai Masters, which usually serves up some decent early season snooker. The real shame of this tournament is that they have again slotted in a total of 8 wildcards in the first round. It’s a shame that this now outdated system remains in place and I hope all of them get beaten by the players who deserve to be playing in the last 32. The draw for the Shanghai Masters is here.

So all in all it’s still not quite yet into full on mode and it’s not really until November that we start seeing a lot more of the boys on the baize when the calendar really starts picking up and runs more or less right through to the Crucible in April. I told you snooker was a winter sport.

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