Snookerbacker

November 30, 2015

UK Championship Last 32

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:58 am
Bog

The players don’t have a pot to piss in

Monday and Tuesday see the next round of the UK Championship completed as the sports hall, or ‘graveyard’ as Steve Davis prefers to call it closes it’s rusty iron gates for another year and the tournament focuses solely on the four table main arena set up at The Barbican.

There have already been a number of talking points both off and on the table and one thing that has impressed me this year is how much better the Eurosport coverage is than the BBC, at least up to now. The addition of Colin, Ronnie and Jimmy in the studio and Fouldsy doing backstage natters is making a big difference.

The three geezers in the studio are already beginning to look like they’re on the start of a week long bender and you just know that sooner or later some inappropriate lads ‘banter’ is going to kick in resulting in one of them, probably Ronnie, getting chucked out. He’s not mincing his words when it comes to the other players and his clear disdain for the likes of Mark Selby is there for all to see. He’s also not the most patient when he hears them moaning about the tables, instead just telling them to adapt and get on with it like him and John Higgins do, I think there will be a few watching who concur with that as the constant public outcries are beginning to become a little bit tiresome now.

The BBC is currently miles behind in terms of the quality of coverage, despite their informal approach in the players lounge, where they seem intent on nabbing any player with a kid to come and have a natter. Marco’s little girl stole the show and melted a few hearts and they also had Joe Perry on, who looked very happy to be there with his daughter before his match later in the evening against Robbie Williams.

What happened in between the interview with a smiling, doting daddy and the start of the match can only be speculated upon. But the smiles were long gone by the time The Gentleman entered the arena and what followed was what can only be described as the grumpiest display of snooker we’ve seen in a very long while.

Joe huffed and puffed his way around the table, mouthing expletives at the oblivious Robbie, who took his time and admitted later that he knew Joe got wound up at slow play so he used it to his advantage to steal the show. OK, by the end several of the audience had committed suicide and half the watching public had reached for the lighter and silver spoon, but Robbie didn’t care a jot as he was through to face Matt Selt, who is of course known for his calm and measured responses to negative stimuli. I can’t see there being any further issues from him if Robbie decides to adopt a sloth-like demeanour again today.

The other main burning issue concerns Barry Hearn and a shithouse. I’m not suggesting for one second that our esteemed dictator should be labelled as such but he does seem to be on a mission at the moment to stop the potters from answering the call of nature during tournament play. He seems to be suggesting that too many of them are quite literally taking the piss and holding up play unnecessarily to visit the porcelain trombone and he wants to put a stop to it.

So he’s decided to limit toilet breaks henceforth to 2 for a best of 7 (a shit and a piss) and 3 for a best of nine (a shit and 2 pisses) with the instructions for longer matches yet to be clarified. There are a few players, the ones with weaker bladders, who are taking great offence at this and Mark King has even suggested that he might end up wearing a nappy to complete his adultbaby look. This all comes after a match earlier in the week when a Chinese player who was involved in a match that had been flagged up for suspicious betting patterns disappeared 6 times during said match to ermm ‘go to the toilet’. The fact that the huge gamble had been rumbled and that it ended up not landing is I’m sure just a coincidence, he didn’t go anywhere near his mobile phone I’m sure. So in short, if you exceed your shit or piss quota during a match you can expect to receive a hefty fine. This leaves the list of things that players can’t get fined for these days looking pretty empty, unlike their swollen bladders.

So we move on to the Last 32, there have been a few upsets already but most of the main players are still involved. I have highlighted Monday’s live streamed matches in bold with Bingham v Ebdon and Carter v Higgins kicking things off on a mouthwatering Monday afternoon, Holt and Swail tonight might also provide some drama and I’d wager we see a decider in that one. Bettingwise, it continues to be a bit hit and miss but I do still have a lot of faith in the outright selections, so let’s not lose too much heart just yet.

VIEW ALL THE HEAD TO HEADS FOR THIS ROUND ON THIS HANDY PAGE AT CUE TRACKER   

Monday 1pm

Stuart Bingham v Peter Ebdon  
Jamie Burnett v Li Hang
Ali Carter v John Higgins               
Robbie Williams v Matt Selt        

Monday 7pm

David Grace v Jack Lisowski        
Michael Holt v Joe Swail               
Robin Hull v Luca Brecel
Jamie Jones v Mark Selby            

Tuesday 1pm

Martin Gould v Mark Allen          
Tom Ford v Kyren Wilson             
Ben Woollaston v Shaun Murphy             
Stephen Maguire v Dark Mavis 

Tuesday 7pm

Judd Trump v Liang Wenbo        
David Gilbert v Marco Fu             
Neil Robertson v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Mark Joyce

Recommended Bets: 2 point acca pays just on 15/2 on Burnett, Lisowski, Maguire and Joyce. 2 points on Peter Ebdon at 9/4. 2 points on Joe Swail at 15/8. 2 points on Dave Gilbert at 13/8. 2 point treble on Ebdon (+2.5), Swail (+1.5) and Gilbert (+1.5) pays over 9/2.   

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  

SB

     

Snookerbacker Classic 2016: Leeds Full Details for Players and Spectators

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:15 am

SB A4 POSTERAfter the opening three qualifying heats saw Brian Robertson, Marc Davis and Elliot Slessor make their way to the Grand Finals in April, on the 5th of December we head to the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds to find qualifier number four.

Once again we have two former champions competing in the shape of 2014 winner Ant Parsons and current holder Brett Miller and they are joined by a host of top amateur players to battle out the last qualifier this side of the Christmas break. 

The full draw can be viewed here where you can also keep track of the results as they happen and all first round matches will commence at 10.15am on the dot. Players should be aware of the terms and conditions regarding late arrivals.

The dress code is polo or collared shirt, trousers and shoes.

All players should arrive at the venue in plenty of time for their opening match and be prepared for a roll-on, roll-off day. In other words, have a decent breakfast if you are planning on going deep. The winner is guaranteed at least £250 and will be just 4 matches away from the £3000 first prize, which also includes a frame at The Crucible as part of the Snooker Legends Tour a few days after the Grand Finals.

Full details of the Snookerbacker Classic can be viewed here, including those all important terms and conditions.

All matches are the best of seven frames.

The referees for the day will be Rob Spencer and Alex Crum who will be roaming for the first two rounds before donning their white gloves to referee the semi-finals and final.

Anyone who would like to come and enjoy the snooker is more than welcome at one of the best clubs of it’s kind in the UK.

Snookerbacker Classic 2016: Slessor Shines in Derby

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

Sunday saw the third qualifying contest of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic and this time it was the turn of the North East’s Elliot Slessor to clinch his place at Grand Finals Day in a day of real quality on the baize.

Elliot without his prize because referee Rob Spencer forgot it.

Elliot without his prize because referee Rob Spencer forgot it.

 We haven’t seen Elliot competing in the SB Classic since the very first one back in 2012 as he’s been busy on the professional circuit since. But he came through an extremely tough field and managed to knock out 2014 champion Ant Parsons on his way to victory in the final against Tom Barton who had earlier knocked in breaks of 131 and 127 to knock out comeback king David Roe.

All the results from Derby can be found by clicking here and the Score Centre, including all the latest updates on all qualifiers, the highest break and the ongoing Order of Merit can be found here

I’d like to thank Mark Jones for directing the tournament on my behalf and for the hat which is pictured above. I’d not like to thank referee Rob Spencer, who forgot to take Elliot’s prize with him, hence him holding a piece of paper in the picture. I’ll be having stern words with Rob at the next qualifier in Leeds this Saturday, the draw for which can be viewed here.

Full details of this season’s SB Classic can be viewed here.

November 27, 2015

UK Championship: Round 2 Preview (Well kind of)

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:00 pm
Hazel and the Gang are back.

Stop trying to hog the limelight Hazel. OK, you’re back and the snooker’s on, we get that. But Ronnie’s got something he wants to say about tomatoes. See ya.

The BBC begin their coverage of the UK Championship on Saturday from York. It’s always an occasion these days when we get to see snooker on the BBC so I for one will be tuning in there to be talked down to rather than watch a far more informative and incisive set-up on Eurosport, where Ronnie and Jimmy are joining Colin Murray in the studio, presumably not wearing V-Necks.

Ronnie of course, even when he isn’t playing is never far away from the headlines and today he’s apparently backtracked on his statement last week in Romania that he was coming back to play in The Masters in January. He’s now saying he won’t be playing and that he has set no timetable for a comeback.

He also uses this opportunity to tell us:

  • what he has for breakfast (poached eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and porridge, presumably not all in the same bowl).
  • what he has for his dinner (Laila’s curry, but he likes fish too and chicken, oh and grilled stuff, he likes grilled stuff too, oh yes and salad, he likes that aswell – we all eat too much pasta and bread in the UK he says).
  • what time he gets up (4am apparently, that’s a bit too early in my opinion for a young person. I understand old people getting up that early as they’re running out of days and want to get to the cake shop first but Ron is still only 40. I’d have a lie-in if I was him and get up at 6.30am like I do, though that’s usually because the dogs wake me up for their breakfast and their morning deposit, anyway I digress).
  • what he watches on TV (I’m a Big Celebrity Brother Get Me Out of Dancing on Ice or some such mind-numbing social conditioning twaddle and some sport, as he likes sport, just not snooker).
  • when he has a shower (it’s fucking fascinating stuff this, I promise you).
  • what time he goes to bed (9pm is an early night for him, pretty standard for me but each to their own and this is about him not me).
  • what book he’s reading (it’s about stopping smoking, by someone who I assume has stopped smoking and decided to write a book about it to tell everyone how he did it, if everyone did that every time they gave something up I think the market might become a little saturated so obviously the way this fellow gave it up was a lot better than the way others gave it up, but the results were the same I assume i.e. they all gave up)
  • what he keeps in his ermm ‘handbag’ (‘my pens’ – obvs, who doesn’t? He also keeps everything in there that can lead to identity theft if anyone fancies a crack when they see him next eating grilled stuff in a restaurant).

He stops short of telling us how many times he goes for a shit and at what time this usually occurs, which may of course depend on the porridge to egg/mushroom/tomato ratio of his breakfast or the intensity of the curry he has for his dinner, but hopefully that will form an integral part of the next article. Stay tuned for that, I know I won’t.

But for those who are getting rather weary of Ronald’s insistence that he doesn’t want to be the centre of attention anymore, whilst choosing to say stuff like this when a major championship is on and becoming the centre of attention, there is a major championship on and he shouldn’t be the centre of attention until he decides to start playing again.

Let’s draw a line under this now.

______________________________________________________________________________

I’m not going to once again go into the devalued status of this great championship as I’m sure that will form a lot of the focus of the TV and social media debates for the next 9 days and I have said more than enough about it already. It’s not as good as it was but it’s still better than 90% of the other tournaments on the calendar so let’s just enjoy it for what it is. 

Nearly added to the unemployment figures.

Nearly added to the unemployment figures.

Bettingwise with regards to Round 1 it was a tale of what might have been. We were 2 deciding frames away from a hugely profitable first round. The 15/2 acca was let down by Mark King, who long-standing readers/sufferers will remember I used to have a saying about. I only wish I’d remembered this phrase when I’d put the bet on.

The other was Andy Hicks, the 14/1 from William Hills still in my book being the most ridiculous price of this or for that matter any season and but for an incredibly unlucky in-off on match ball yellow, the compiler would have been joining the Job Seekers Allowance queue come Monday morning. Bullet – Dodged. Incidentally, it’s worth checking out Barry Hawkins press conference after the match where he mentions his thoughts on the amateurs playing in this, particularly when they are as experienced as Hicks is. 

We did land an acca on Thursday though so that clawed some of it back and I remain confident in the outright picks and still harbour hopes about the 63/1 quarter betting Christmas present to the ever faithful. I’ve seen nothing yet to suggest that this might not go very very close to landing, we can dream, after all, it’s nearly Christmas, the time when Baby Jesus makes all dreams come true, or is that Santa Claus? Anyway, schedule and bets below.

VIEW ALL THE HEAD TO HEADS FOR THIS ROUND ON THIS HANDY PAGE AT CUE TRACKER  

Second Round (Best of 11 frames)

13:00

Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Anthony Hamilton (Eng)
Graeme Dott (Sco) v Jack Lisowski (Eng)
Mark Williams (Wal) v Tom Ford (Eng)
Gary Wilson (Eng) v Martin Gould (Eng)
Yu De Lu (Chn) v Marco Fu (HK)
Liang Wenbo (Chn) v Jimmy Robertson (Eng)
Tian Pengfei (Chn) v John Higgins (Sco)
Dark Mavis (Eng) v Ken Doherty (Ire)

Recommended Session Bet: 2 point double on Lisowski (+1.5) and Doherty (+2.5) pays almost 5/2. 2 points on Lisowski at 2/1.

19:00

Joe Swail (NI) v Adam Duffy (Eng)
Kyren Wilson (Eng) v Mike Dunn (Eng)
Zhou Yuelong (Chn) v Shaun Murphy (Eng)
Gerard Greene (NI) v David Gilbert (Eng)
Li Hang (Chn) v Ricky Walden (Eng)
Ross Muir (Sco) v Ben Woollaston (Eng)
Joe Perry (Eng) v Robbie Williams (Eng)
Jamie Burnett (Sco) v Alan McManus (Sco)

Recommended Session Bet: 2 points on Li Hang at 7/2.

Sunday 29 November

Second Round (Best of 11 frames)

13:00

Michael Georgiou (Eng) v Mark Allen (NI)
Chris Wakelin (Eng) v Michael Holt (Eng)
Judd Trump (Eng) v Stuart Carrington (Eng)
Daniel Wells (Wal) v Ali Carter (Eng)
Mark Joyce (Eng) v Sydney Wilson (Eng)
Matthew Selt (Eng) v Sean O’Sullivan (Eng)
Oliver Lines (Eng) v Mark Selby (Eng)
Dechawat Poomjaeng (Tha) v Ryan Day (Wal)

Recommended Session Bet: 1 point double pays almost dead on 4/1 at Paddy Power on total frames in these two matches being over 9.5 – Holt v Wakelin and Selt v O’Sullivan.

19:00

Robert Milkins (Eng) v David Grace (Eng)
Dominic Dale (Wal) v Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Aditya Mehta (Ind)
Fergal O’Brien (Ire) v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Tha)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Jamie Cope (Eng)
Anthony McGill (Sco) v Luca Brecel (Bel)
Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Robin Hull (Fin)
Xiao Guodong (Chn) v Jamie Jones (Wal)

Recommended Sunday Bet: 2 point Acca pays over 5/1 at Marathon Bet on Allen, Carter, Day, Hawkins, Maguire and McGill.

Recommended Acca: 3 points acca pays best odds over 5/2 at Marathon Bet on Bingham, Mark Williams, Higgins, Gilbert and Carter. Add Swail and McGill for a 2 point acca pays almost 17/2 at the same firm. 

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  

SB

November 26, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic Derby 28th November: Full Details for Players

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:30 am

SB A4 POSTERAfter the opening two qualifying heats saw Brian Robertson and Marc Davis make their way to the Grand Finals in April, on the 28th of November we head to the Cueball Club in Derby to find qualifier number three.

This heat is again an extremely high class field and very difficult to call. Current holder Brett Miller and the man he succeeded at champion Ant Parsons are both in action, as are joint tournament favourite Elliot Slessor, former professional Lee Page and returning veteran David Roe. 

The full draw can be viewed here where you can also keep track of the results as they happen and all first round matches will commence at 10.30 am on the dot. Players should be aware of the terms and conditions regarding late arrivals.

The dress code is polo or collared shirt, trousers and shoes.

All players should arrive at the venue in plenty of time for their opening match and be prepared for a roll-on, roll-off day. In other words, have a decent breakfast if you are planning on going deep. The winner is guaranteed at least £250 and will be just 4 matches away from the £3000 first prize, which also includes a frame at The Crucible as part of the Snooker Legends Tour a few days after the Grand Finals.

Full details of the Snookerbacker Classic can be viewed here, including those all important terms and conditions.

All matches are the best of seven frames.

The referees for the day will be Rob Spencer and Peter Bennett who will be roaming for the first two rounds before donning their white gloves to referee the semi-finals and final.

Anyone who would like to come and enjoy the snooker is more than welcome at this excellent and very hospitable club.

For reference the post code for the club is DE21 4AW

November 25, 2015

UK Championship Day 3

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:34 pm
Dreaming of when this was a decent fucking comp.

Happier Times: Dreaming of when this was a decent fucking comp.

It’s the final day of round one/qualifying matches on Thursday before a rest day on Friday ahead of BBC coverage starting on Saturday in York, with the final 24 matches being played out to decide the Last 64.

The main talking point so far off the table has been the slightly unsporting way Ding decided to express himself after losing to Adam Duffy the other night. Instead of congratulating his opponent on an excellent season, he instead said that it was all fucking crap and the arena is for amateurs, which to be fair Duffy is.

Just read that back, an amateur is what I mean, not crap, definitely not crap. I repeat, Adam Duffy is not crap. (He can be a little sensitive at times).

It’s similar to the way Ding reacted when losing to Ryan Day a couple of years back at the Crucible, though there were a few more fucks that day I seem to recall. I’m not sure he is in a good place emotionally at the moment and perhaps snooker isn’t doing him a lot of good. He could be Terry’s toughest gig to date.

Interestingly, the BBC decided to report that his press conference was ‘littered’ with expletives, but the transcript shows that only one fuck and two craps were offered up; which is rather disappointing given the explosive headline.

Presumably the BBC are now employing sensationalist young journo’s who’ve spent most of their time coasting through university wanking over tabloids and Twitter before falling out with a 2:2 in Journalism straight into their first zero hours contract.

It was also quite an odd decision for them to actually print the word ‘fucking’ on the BBC website, I’m not sure whose bright idea that was but whoever it was is probably fucked themselves when the top brass, the ‘hell bent on ruining the BBC’ government and those self same tabloids bother to look at a snooker story. This is not what Ethel from Dorset pays her license fee for I’ll have you know and she is penning a strongly worded letter as we speak.

Thankfully, the censors aren’t too bothered about this blog so we can carrying on fucking, cunting and twatting (one or two t’s?) to our hearts content.

Talking of bloggers, the far more informative Pro Snooker Blog’s founder and author Matt Huart has gone public with the news that he will soon be taking up a post at the WPBSA. It’s great news for him and I offer him hearty congratulations on here as I have in person. There are one or two rather mean-spirited people who believe that this is a cynical attempt by those in power to control media output, but Matt isn’t exactly known for causing trouble however much I try and pin on him and the governing body should be applauded for rewarding all his hard work, particularly in the field of rankings, with a salary and a complimentary anorak. 

There, that last paragraph should help secure my expenses for The Crucible, cheers Matt. Enjoy the dark side.

Anyway, if it’s trouble-making, opinionated ranting, hysterical over-reaction, totally irrational one-sided blind to the facts argument and made-up conjecture you are after, you’ve still got this place. I don’t think I’m next in line to join the stripey tie brigade. This beast can’t be tamed that easily, though I am of course open to negotiation and if the price is right I will happily shelve every principle I pretend to have.

Here’s the running order for tomorrow and don’t forget to check out the head to heads on Ron’s handy page here. There are still bets going from the original preview so hopefully at the end of Round 1 we’ll come out with a profit. 

First Round (Best of 11 frames)

09:30

Robert Milkins (Eng) v Vinnie Calabrese (Aus)
Rod Lawler (Eng) v Daniel Wells (Wal)
Graeme Dott (Sco) v Nigel Bond (Eng)
Robin Hull (Fin) v Zhang Anda (Chn)
Barry Hawkins (Eng) v Andy Hicks (Eng)
Robbie Williams (Eng) v Mitchell Mann (Eng)
Mark Allen (NI) v Zhao Xintong (Chn)
Dechawat Poomjaeng (Tha) v Chris Melling (Eng)

14:30

Stuart Bingham (Eng) v Jordan Brown (NI)
Anthony Hamilton (Eng) v Peter Lines (Eng)
David Gilbert (Eng) v Jason Weston (Eng)
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh (Tha) v Darryl Hill (Eng)
Fergal O’Brien (Ire) v Thor Chuan Leong (Mas)
Kurt Maflin (Nor) v Sean O’Sullivan (Eng)
Mark Selby (Eng) v Joe O’Connor (Eng)
Mark Joyce (Eng) v Barry Pinches (Eng)

19:30

Kyren Wilson (Eng) v Paul Davison (Eng)
Dominic Dale (Wal) v Michael Wild (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Alex Taubman (Wal)
Luca Brecel (Bel) v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (Irn)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Jimmy White (Eng)
Xiao Guodong (Chn) v Noppon Saengkam (Tha)
Matt Selt (Eng) v Zhang Yong (Chn)
Cao Yupeng (Chn) v Oliver Lines (Eng)

Recommended Bet: 2 points pays almost 5/1 at Betfred on Dott, Allen, Gilbert, O’Brien, Joyce, Dale, Wilson, Selt and Maguire.  

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  

SB

November 24, 2015

UK Championship Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:57 pm
Some bloke with his hands in his pockets, some other bloke and a John Inman impersonator.

(Left to Right) Some bloke with his hands in his pockets, some other bloke having a drink and a John Inman impersonator.

It’s Day 2 in York on Wednesday and this sees another 24 matches completed in Round 1 both in the main arena and the slightly less salubrious back room where they put the lower seeded players.

I know it’s great that we get to watch some of these matches on the stream and but for John Higgins turning a strange shade of purple after the mid-session interval the quality, if not the punctuality, of the World Snooker streaming channel is always pretty good.

I am disappointed however by some of the match choices. There are plenty out there which may be a lot closer than the largely one-sided affairs they have picked to stream and it’s a shame, given the relatively low but dedicated fans that are watching both on the official channel and at the bookies, that more imagination is not put into these choices.

Punters on Bet 365 and the like just want to bet, generally on anything that moves, they don’t usually care one jot as to who is playing if they are doing their conkers in-play as long as they win and we’ll no doubt see the likes of Higgins, Trump, Selby etc. next week enough on the BBC. But I suppose while the venue consists of two rooms that are poles apart in terms of quality, they have to make sure the top players don’t rub shoulders with the plebs in the back. Another reason to consign the flat structure to the baize-lined rubbish bin.

Tomorrow they seem to be going out of the way to tell people what a global sport snooker is by screening players from Pakistan, Brazil, Thailand, Hong Kong, Egypt and some place called Wales. When for me the match of the afternoon features two English players, Ali Carter and Alfie Burden who surely should be given a knock on the match tables ahead of both the other matches that have been chosen? I know I may be a little biased here but can anyone seriously disagree?

But in the great scheme of things it’s not a biggie, I read that World War Three is just about to start so it could be worse, you could be Turkish, apologies obviously if you are.

Here’s the running order for tomorrow and don’t forget to check out the head to heads on Ron’s handy page here.

First Round (Best of 11 frames)

09:30

Michael Holt (Eng) v Fraser Patrick (Sco)
Jimmy Robertson (Eng) v Lu Ning (Chn)
Mark Williams (Wal) v Hamza Akbar (Pkn)
Mike Dunn (Eng) v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon (Tha)
Ricky Walden (Eng) v Itaro Santos (Brz)
Gerard Greene (NI) v Michael Leslie (Sco)
Ryan Day (Wal) v Duane Jones (Wal)
Zhou Yuelong (Chn) v Craig Steadman (Eng)

14:30

Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Ashley Hugill (Eng)
Peter Ebdon (Eng) v Lyu Chenwei (Chn)
Rory McLeod (Eng) v Jamie Cope (Eng)
Yu Delu (Chn) v Michael Wasley (Eng)
Ali Carter (Eng) v Alfie Burden (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) v Ross Muir (Sco)
Joe Perry (Eng) v James Wattana (Tha)
Jamie Burnett (Sco) v Sanderson Lam (Eng)

19:30

Judd Trump (Eng) v Hammad Miah (Eng)
Matthew Stevens (Wal) v Chris Wakelin (Eng)
Marco Fu (HK) v Hatem Yassen (Egy)
Aditya Mehta (Ind) v Sam Baird (Eng)
Ben Woollaston (Eng) v Steven Hallworth (Eng)
Li Hang (Chn ) v Lee Walker (Wal)
Alan McManus (Sco) v Eden Sharav (Sco)
Tian Pengfei (Chn) v Ian Burns (Eng)

Recommended Bets: 1 point on Mark Williams to win 6-0 at 9/2. 2 point treble pays just over 7/1 on Williams (-4.5), Murphy (-4.5) and Hicks (+3.5). 

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  

SB

November 23, 2015

UK Championship Day 1

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:01 pm

It’s Day 1 of the UK Championship on Tuesday and this sees 16 of the opening 64 matches in Round 1 taking place in York.

There are two streamed matches in both sessions and these are highlighted in bold below. As usual they have gone with the highest seeds in each session when these might not have been the top four matches on everyone’s list, but I suppose you can’t please everyone, least of all snooker fans.

The stream is available both through the main bookmaker sites and the World Snooker TV streaming channel, which for me is the better option in terms of quality and worth signing up for a month to just for the three days of matches here.

If anyone missed my main preview for the championship including recommended bets it’s here. You can view all the head to heads on one handy page here. I have recommended a small treble below for a bit of interest in the opening session, depending on how that goes I might add a further one for the evening session. 

First Round (Best of 11 frames)

14:30

Dark Mavis (Eng) v Rhys Clark (Sco)
Andrew Higginson (Eng) v David Grace (Eng)
John Higgins (Sco) v Leo Fernandez (Ire)
David Morris (Ire) v Michael Georgiou (Eng)
Martin Gould (Eng) v Allan Taylor (Eng)
Stuart Carrington (Eng) v Liam Highfield (Eng)
Jamie Jones (Wal) v Ian Glover (Eng)
Ken Doherty (Ire) v Tony Drago (Mlt)

19:30

Ding Junhui (Chn) v Adam Duffy (Eng)
Jack Lisowski (Eng) v Zak Surety (Eng)
Liang Wenbo (Chn) v Gareth Allen (Wal)
Gary Wilson (Eng) v Martin O’Donnell (Eng)
Anthony McGill (Sco) v James Cahill (Eng)
Joe Swail (Eng ) v Joel Walker (Eng)
Michael White (Wal) v Sydney Wilson (Eng)
Tom Ford (Eng) v Scott Donaldson (Sco)

Recommended Afternoon Treble: 1 point on John Higgins (-3.5), Jamie Jones (-3.5) and Allan Taylor (+3.5) pays best price over 11/2 at Marathonbet.

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  

SB

November 20, 2015

My UK Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:18 pm
The 4 table set-up at The Barbican

The 4 table set-up in the main arena at The Barbican

The BBC coverage of the 2015/16 snooker season gets underway next Saturday when Hazel and the V-Necked Posse join the UK Championship from the Barbican in York for the Last 64 onwards. Before this, the previous round will be played at the venue as players descend in their droves like sardines/organic vegetables (delete as appropriate and according to taste), into a rather uncomfortably sized tin/straw bio-degradable weekly delivered box (ditto) from Tuesday onwards.

Before I preview an event which I still look forward to every season, I will say that I’m not alone in the snooker world in thinking that the changes Bazza made to this tournament on his coronation have changed it for the worse.

Hopefully his acknowledgement last week that the changes being made to the way draws are to be done ‘in the future’ or ‘with immediate effect’ (subtle difference usually means no difference in Bazzaland) are being demanded by sponsors and TV, rewarding those higher up the list with easier draws making it more likely that they will qualify to televised stages, is just phase one of us moving away from the ridiculous and fatally flawed flat structure system of which our beloved dictator was so fond and back to a fairer, more competitive tiered one.

Big ranking events and showpieces like this one work so much better when we reward the top seeds with a place at the main event and in doing so, guarantee that sponsors, media and TV audiences as well as the all important ratings chasers whose jobs depend on such things are happy. I’ve nothing against the flat structure for PTC events, they work perfectly well and that is how they were born and long may they survive…*ahem*..but for snooker’s sake let’s give this event the prestige back that it has steadily lost down the line shall we? Protect the crown jewels so to speak.

Now that the undefending champion Ronnie is doing a passable impersonation of Lord Lucan, though he is in the studio with Eurosport with Jimmy for the whole event no doubt grinning away at his inferiors despite having been canned in the last two World Championships, it’s imperative that the big names and ermm, ‘personalities’ are visible in all the main comps. We’ve seen Ding, Judd, Selby and others in the past fall victim to the flat structure in cubicles in and around the chosen venues near the Yorkshire area of England for events held in China and this makes no commercial sense whatsoever.

Furthermore, having the tiered system means that lower ranked players can build confidence by beating those of a similar ranking first before climbing to face those higher ranked; better prepared. Just as Kyren Wilson did in Shanghai, under the old tiered seeding system, building his confidence to a crescendo by the end.

All that said, the UK still retains some individuality, if only by chance and history rather than design. OK, it’s lost the Best of 17’s throughout, which for me is a great shame and nowadays all matches up to and including the semi-finals are Best of 11, meaning that even the fairly new International Championship in China is a longer match format overall, but at least the Best of 11’s aren’t Best of 9’s and at least they aren’t Best of 7’s which are turning so many fans that used to follow the sport regularly into ‘just a few decent event’ fans (i.e. the ones with longer matches). Is that Joe Davis I hear turning in his grave? (Click it, you will not regret it)

The big plus is the city it is held in, but that doesn’t mean much to someone who can’t get there to watch, you’ll just have to trust me on that one. Another plus is that it’s on the BBC and I for one hope nothing changes there. My ideal would be to take 32 players to the venue, the top 16 seeds and 16 qualifiers and play 2 session matches on 4 tables in the main arena until such a time as you just use 2 and then 1. For that to happen would require a ‘U-Turn from Hearn’, but those who have been watching closely will know that he does often change his vision under external pressures, he just never admits that he has.  

But, it is what it is and it usually still produces a few memorable matches even in this shortened format, Judd’s final against Mark Allen and Ali Carter against Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals spring to mind from recent years. Just imagine how good it could still be? Surely a 32 player week long event with Best of 17 frame matches would pack the Barbican to the rafters and restore this once great championship to it’s former glory?

Anyway, below I have listed the matches in section order with a few observations and bets. 

The actual times of the matches can be found here. Remember, while there are eight tables in operation, 4 will play in the main arena and 4 will play in a less grandiose adjoining room.

NEW! Click here for a very handy Head to Head page for all the first round matches courtesy of CueTracker. 

QUARTER ONE

Stuart Bingham v Jordan Brown
Anthony Hamilton v Peter Lines
Dominic Dale v Michael Wild
Peter Ebdon v Lyu Chenwei
Robert Milkins v Vinnie Calabrese
Andrew Higginson v David Grace
Graeme Dott v Nigel Bond
Jack Lisowski v Zak Surety

Gary Wilson v Martin O’Donnell
Martin Gould v Allan Taylor
David Morris v Michael Georgiou
Mark Allen v Zhao Xintong
Matthew Stevens v Chris Wakelin
Michael Holt v Fraser Patrick
Joe Swail v Joel Walker
Ding Junhui v Adam Duffy

The big two in terms of seedings here are World Champion Bingham and Ding Junhui, but lurking within this quarter is one of the men in form at the moment, Mark Allen. There is little to suggest to me that we won’t see Allen face Ding in the Last 16 and who is to say that the winner of that won’t kick on and lift the trophy? Much is being made of Bingham’s form, though I do think people have overlooked his semi-final appearance in Shanghai and are instead focusing too much on a few defeats in PTC’s in deciders, I’d say he’ll make at least the Last 32 here comfortably but I can see there being perhaps a different name making it into the Quarter Finals to face Ding or Allen. Jack Lisowski is definitely overdue a run in something and he could be a live outsider in this section along with old hands Ebdon and Dott. I think the winner of the probable Allen/Ding clash will win this section and on current form, as well as his liking for the venue, I’ll plump for Allen.

PREDICTED QUARTER WINNER: Mark Allen

WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Jack Lisowski/Peter Ebdon.

QUARTER TWO

Judd Trump v Hammad Miah
Stuart Carrington v Liam Highfield
Liang Wenbo v Gareth Allen
Jimmy Robertson v Lu Ning
Mark Williams v Hamza Akbar
Tom Ford v Scott Donaldson
Kyren Wilson v Paul Davison
Mike Dunn v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon

Gerard Greene v Michael Leslie
David Gilbert v Jason Weston
Yu De Lu v Michael Wasley
Marco Fu v Hatem Yassen
Mark King v Ross Muir
Ben Woollaston v Steven Hallworth
Zhou Yuelong v Craig Steadman
Shaun Murphy v Ashley Hugill

The main players in this section, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy, like Bingham and Ding in the top section, have been handed draws against amateur players (the draw wasn’t done live this time), though it’s worth noting that Hammad Miah has beaten Judd in their only meeting, quite recently in a PTC where Miah finished the decider with an impressive century. Mark Williams is in this section too and at time of writing he is just about to play in the final of the General Cup in Hong Kong against Marco Fu, another who resides in this quarter. We also have Kyren Wilson who is knocking on the door of a place at the Masters in January, something which would have seemed highly unlikely a few months ago, also Dave Gilbert, finalist in the International Championship recently and another discovering some great form with a new cue and bags of ability. I fancy Judd to come unscathed from his section and reach the Quarter Final and try as I might to find a player other than Gilbert to oppose Murphy with, realistically I can’t. Of the two, I think by then Judd may have the wind in his sails at a venue that will bring back very happy memories for him, to set up a semi-final against the man he beat to become UK champion. But he is no value at all in the outright market.

PREDICTED QUARTER WINNER: Judd Trump

WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Marco Fu 

QUARTER THREE

Neil Robertson v Alex Taubman
Aditya Mehta v Sam Baird
Fergal O’Brien v Thor Chuan Leong
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Darryl Hill
Stephen Maguire v Jimmy White
Rory McLeod v Jamie Cope
Dark Mavis v Rhys Clark
Ken Doherty v Tony Drago

Jamie Burnett v Sanderson Lam
Alan McManus v Eden Sharav
Li Hang v Lee Walker
Ricky Walden v Itaro Santos
Rod Lawler v Daniel Wells
Ali Carter v Alfie Burden
Tian Pengfei v Ian Burns
John Higgins v Leo Fernandez

Once again, the two main seeds in this section have drawn amateur players from the *ahem* ‘hat’, nothing untoward going on here then. This section however I’d say is a little tougher for the newly crowned COC Neil Robertson and International Championship Champ John Higgins. The presence of Stephen Maguire and Dark Mavis in the top section and the likes of Ricky Walden and Ali Carter in the bottom one, mean that it’s quite likely that the seeded quarter final between the two recent winners will not happen. Walden has struggled of late, he did make the final of a recent Asian PTC but when you look at who he beat to get there, with the exception of Rob Milkins it wasn’t exactly a signal that he was returning to form, so I couldn’t back him here. Ali has a tough opener against Alfie Burden and knowing Ali as I do, I think his performance in that match as well as the result, will dictate if he can go deep in the championship. I keep being drawn back to Robertson here, I needed convincing that the changes he has made to his lifestyle hadn’t had a detrimental effect on his game and last week he proved it hadn’t, though the general feel was that the COC was a little limp in terms of quality. If he goes up against Higgins in the Quarter Finals, which is a medium sized ‘if’, I think that’s where he’ll fall in this. But this is a section which I think could throw up a semi-finalist against the odds.

PREDICTED QUARTER WINNER: John Higgins

WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Ali Carter/Dark Mavis/Rory McLeod.

QUARTER FOUR

Barry Hawkins v Andy Hicks
Robin Hull v Zhang Anda
Anthony McGill v James Cahill
Luca Brecel v Hossein Vafaei Ayouri
Joe Perry v James Wattana
Robbie Williams v Mitchell Mann
Matt Selt v Zhang Yong
Kurt Maflin v Sean O’Sullivan

Dechawat Poomjaeng v Chris Melling
Ryan Day v Duane Jones
Mark Joyce v Barry Pinches
Michael White v Sydney Wilson
Xiao Guodong v Noppon Saengkham
Jamie Jones v Ian Glover
Cao Yupeng v Oli Lines
Mark Selby v Joe O’Connor

Guess what? The main two seeds in this section, namely Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby have both drawn amateurs! Here’s me thinking the seeded structure came in after the UK Championship! Wadda mistakea to makea! That darned *ahem* hat. Anyway, at this point I must say that the 14/1 on Andy Hicks to beat Barry Hawkins that is available is worth backing just to say you were there if it lands. It probably won’t but Hicks is no mug and won’t be phased by a big audience or arena and Barry isn’t exactly setting the world alight at the moment. As for Selby, I will eat the said hat if he doesn’t win either this, the Masters or the World this season. For me, when he is on song he is the best player currently active and he tends to start gargling and loosening up the vocal chords around this time of year, so suffice to say he’d be my pick for this section and indeed, the main event, I think the draw could have been a lot more difficult for him. In terms of the top bit, it would be against the current form book for Hawkins to come through, as fine a player as he is. I’d say there are better value options in Joe Perry and Marmite Matt Selt and perhaps a quarter final for Selt is very much on the cards in this section, but in terms of who will be playing in the semi finals, for me it has to be Selby.

PREDICTED QUARTER WINNER: Mark Selby.

WORTH A SMALL PUNT: Joe Perry/Matt Selt.

RECOMMENDED OUTRIGHT BETS: 3 Points on Mark Selby to win the UK Championship at 8/1. 1 Point Each Way on Mark Allen 22/1 and John Higgins 16/1. 1 point treble pays over 63/1 on all three to win their respective quarters.

RECOMMENDED BIG MATCH ACCA: 3 Points on a First Round Acca at Marathonbet that pays over 15/2 (Best Odds) on: Dark Mavis, Ken Doherty, John Higgins, Jamie Jones, Mark Williams, Mike Dunn, Mark King, Alan McManus, Mark Allen, Matt Selt and Mark Joyce.

RECOMMENDED SILLY PUNT: 1 Point on Andy Hicks to beat Barry Hawkins at 14/1.

RECOMMENDED SINGLES: 2 Points on each: Mitchell Mann (7/4), Chris Melling (11/4), Sanderson Lam (5/2) Hossein Vafaei Ayouri (9/4).

RECOMMENDED PUNTING DOUBLE: 2 Point Double on Rory McLeod and Sam Baird pays almost 3/1 at Marathonbet.   

Open an account and bet below at Marathon Bet by clicking the banner.  

SB

P.S. I know it’s a seeded draw, a bit weighted for the top boys isn’t it?

November 18, 2015

BBC Snooker: The Beginning of the End?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:26 am
Ozzy: Should be in charge.

Ozzy: Should be in charge.

With news today in the Telegraph about the various cuts that the BBC in the UK are being forced to make and news that the Red Button option is about to be phased out, the inevitable question of where these cuts will be made is being asked, with snooker very much in the rumour mill firing line.

As I tweeted these articles and was retweeted by a comedian called Mark who I profess to never having heard of but who has a hundred zillion followers so I guess he’s a big deal and then retweeted again by Mrs SB’s celebrity dreamboat and snooker fan Richard Osman, I figured it was time to break my recent self-imposed blog silence, as this is clearly an issue which arouses great passion amongst the anorak and thermos flask brigade, who I could almost feel shaking their train timetables in rage and disgust at these latest developments.

The first thing to say is that the coverage on the BBC, albeit probably without the Red Button, which let’s face it has not really served snooker well in recent years anyway, is safe for the next two years and the 2016 and 2017 World Championship coverage will not be affected. Beyond that, the future is still unclear.

Barry Hearn tends to think long term when it comes to TV contracts and it isn’t that long ago that he negotiated the extension that we are currently enjoying with the BBC. This leads me to believe that today’s news will probably prompt him to explore the options he has open to him.  After all, he has always maintained that the future of the World Championship at The Crucible, it’s spiritual home and 17 day residence of the Snooker Gods, rests on two things, those being the support of Sheffield Council and the BBC.

Without the BBC, what will become of snooker on TV? ITV would seem the obvious choice with whom to dangle the World Championship carrot given their recent renewed interest in the baize. But as excellent a job that they do covering novelty events like the Champion of Champions and that god-awful Shootout rubbish, it is a long way from getting involved at Sheffield, York and Ally Pally, both in terms of scope and budget.

Eurosport of course carry the baton of snooker all over Europe and are mostly responsible for it’s increased popularity further afield, so a move to Europe, most likely Germany, for snooker’s most precious possession would surely be up for debate if the BBC decide to pull the plug.

Sky seem to show no interest in snooker these days and for me it would be a dark day indeed if they were to grab the spoils. It’s bad enough they’ve nicked the Open Golf with their soiled used notes, but my guess is they see snooker as small-fry in the great scheme of things and I’d be very surprised if it ended up there.

I’d say the best option for the future of the sport in the UK is the status quo and I’d be sorry to see the BBC give up on something which, like Wimbledon and the Open, it has a long and proud association with.

Sure there are those who would like to see a lot change in terms of the coverage itself, personally I think at least one of the current commentators is now not so much past his sell-by date as languishing under the fruit stinking of ammonia.

I greatly dislike the way that the features often assume that their average viewer has just hatched, although they do have to look at the nerds who hang around the venues every day so you can see why they tend to reduce the syllable count now and again. But all in all, we’d miss it, you might not like to admit it to yourself but sometimes like that mouldy old pair of toasty winter socks you cling to for dear life, you just don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

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