July 29, 2016

World Open Nears Conclusion

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:16 am
We're approaching another lull in the calendar

We’re approaching another lull in the calendar

We’re down to the final four at this season’s World Open from Yushan before another quite large gap in the calendar which sees almost a month without any snooker at all going on in this rather sedated start to the new campaign.

It’s been quite an entertaining tournament so far, though again for all but a handful of matches the attendance has been quite poor, not helped really by below par performances from the Chinese contingent, in particular Ding, who looked as rusty as a rusty thing covered in rust.

The large gaps that are appearing in the calendar are not to everyone’s liking, in particular I have noticed those who are a little newer to snooker and who perhaps were only switched on to it after the coronation of Herr Bazza, but for old hands like me it really isn’t a big deal and I look forward to events more when there has been a few weeks of inaction. It is however a far cry from the 365/24/7 snooker that the incoming chairman promised would happen when he was anointed. 

But the newbies need not be too despondent as when the calendar picks up again there are plenty of opportunities to watch snooker. It kicks off at the back end of August in Furth for the annual Paul Hunter Classic which of course was famously won last year by the returning Ali Carter, who is also involved at the business end of the current tournament.

Following this, September is dominated by the Shanghai Masters but it’s in October that things really start picking up with the European and English Opens as well as the lucrative International Championships all being played then, so that’s quite a month.


So as we approach the last throes of snooker for a while, it’s time again for a bit of downtime until Germany, no prizes for guessing who I’d like to win the World Open from here. Not least because he was recommended at 66/1 to do so.

Semi Finals

Ali Carter 6-1 Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 

Neil Robertson 2-6 Joe Perry 


Ali Carter 10-8 Joe Perry

July 21, 2016

World Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:16 am

World OpenThe biggest tournament of the early season gets underway in China on 25th July as Yushan plays host to the World Open, it’s a new venue and officially Shaun Murphy is here to defend the title he won in 2014, with this having been scrapped from last season’s calendar.

There is over half a million quid on offer here which is a step up from the recent jaunts to Latvia and India, but this still isn’t enough to tempt Ronnie O’Sullivan to hop on a plane and take part, instead he was last seen skulking around Elvis Presley’s pool room. It’s probably more likely that The King himself jumps out of a nearby wardrobe to take up the challenge with The Rocket than Ronnie ever playing competitively in China again.

Perhaps more surprising is that Mark Allen, who won this two years on the spin before Murphy, also decided this was too early to come back to the baize, other top players all decided that this wasn’t one to miss so we’ll see how costly that decision could be to Mark at the end of the season, or arguably more importantly when seedings for the World Championship are decided, although looking at how much money he won last year he is unlikely to end up outside the top 16 any time soon.

It was good to see a new face lifting a trophy in India and Anthony McGill finally fulfilled the years of promise he has shown to become the latest virgin ranking winner beating Kyren Wilson, who surely has a good season ahead of him, in the final. Now anoraks everywhere are left to ponder who the next first time ranking winner will be, I’d take a punt on Michael Holt given his upturn in form recently, he can’t be far away now I don’t think and is still going off at three figure prices in almost everything. 

There isn’t much else really to report on the snooker front, the whole scene goes a little quiet over the sunnier months and that’s no bad thing. Who knows, by the time we get to November we might all be fully refreshed and chomping at the bit for a bit of baize having been starved of it for so long. I certainly prefer this to the 24/7 feel of a couple of seasons ago, but that said, I do wonder where the next generation of professionals are coming from given the lack of any effective replacement for the PTC’s for amateurs.

Anyway, back to this. One good thing about this event is that it returns to the best of 9 format for the early rounds so it’s nice that the Chinese events at least are not being swept away with this tedious move to best of sevens in everything. It’s making me like the Chinese events a lot more than the ones closer to home as I continue to be switched off by the shorter format, I’m particularly disappointed that such a great new initiative as the Home Nations series is subject again to best of sevens when most snooker fans yearn for longer matches to mix it up a bit.

This one is covered on Eurosport TV which is good and also available on Eurosport Player, which is now up and running after a few early teething problems in India, I signed up to it and it’s a pretty good service, at least so far.

Bettingwise, I’m happy to take a punt that Ding Junhui will come into this fresh and buoyed by his Sheffield adventure, he’ll have all the support as ever to lift him and perhaps this season we’ll see him get back to something like the player we saw at The Crucible, but who before that, hadn’t been seen for quite a while.

I’m also going to throw in a few each way punts on players that are more than capable of having a run in this. Snooker in the early season isn’t always dominated by the big name players and although you have to look at Neil Robertson’s draw and make him a worthy favourite, there really isn’t any such thing as a certainty when we get down to the last 32 or so of a ranking event, particularly this early in the season when a lot of them would probably much rather be on their holidays. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a player outside of the top 16 go deep in this so it’s worth spreading your bets around in each quarter in the hope that you’ve found the right man.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Recommended Bets: Win: Ding Junhui 10/1. Each Way: Ali Carter 66/1, Michael Holt 150/1, Liang Wenbo 80/1, Kurt Maflin 250/1, Zhou Yuelong 300/1. Quarter Bets: Michael Holt to win 3rd Quarter at 25/1, Kurt Maflin to win 1st Quarter at 40/1. 

July 6, 2016

You’re No Sport

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:55 am

There are rumblings and mumblings on social media among the baize faithful, whilst this is definitely nothing new in snooker, this time it’s probably worth giving a word or two about. The absence of the promised coverage of the Indian Open on Eurosport Player has raised questions about exactly what the ten year deal Bazza was toasting in Sheffield entails, he himself stating that there is ‘clearly some problem’.

The great man’s advice for now is to watch it on one of the bookmakers websites, which is fair enough if you are partial to a wager or three, as I’ve been known to be in the past, but not great if you are in a country which prohibits such websites, are under 18 years of age or you are at work (though you shouldn’t be watching it there anyway if your boss is there).

To remind you of what the deal is supposed to deliver you can read this, basically, it promises wall to wall, ceiling to floor coverage of the main tour, including the Indian Open. It would seem that the governing body weren’t even aware of the situation given that they were even telling us all to tune in when the tournament had started, after repeatedly telling us in the days running up to it about this brilliant coverage they’d secured.

Let’s hope that things are sorted out soon, though it appears that there are still some questions that need to be resolved about the rights. TV rights are a complexed matter of course and I wouldn’t know how to negotiate them, but this was a big announcement at The Crucible and to think that the corks were popped before the i’s were dotted is a little worrying.

I can’t help thinking to myself, would this happen with the darts or the boxing? Am I right or wrong to conclude that snooker is something of a poor relation to Barry’s other two hobbies?

July 4, 2016

Indian Open – Potters Head to Hyderabad

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:43 am
Back early to defend his title.

Back to defend his title.

Tuesday sees the start of five days of action from Hyderabad in India as the potters, hopefully not destined to spend more time on the potty than potting take part in the Indian Open.

One of the aspects of this that is different is of course the Indian commentators, expect many scathing attacks on players if they dare to miss what they decide is an easy ball or they dare to misjudge a safety, much talk of players being ‘club standard’ is to be expected if anyone has a bad day at the office. Those boys don’t pull their punches and they will also be suitably biased towards their own players, making sure that they mention Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta more times than Dennis mentions golf in Sheffield regardless of who they are actually watching.

This continues the stop/start feel to the beginning of the new season, first we headed to Preston for a week of qualifiers, including the first round of this event, then a few weeks later came the Riga Masters in Latvia, which to be honest passed me by in a heartbeat and was won by Neil Robertson, now a couple of weeks later it’s this and then we have another couple of weeks to wait until the biggest event so far of the season, the World Open in Yushan, China.

This stuttering start does have its critics but I’m actually a fan of it and would rather we had a fortnight between all tournaments, with perhaps some lesser event like the Championship League providing the baize heroin injection for those who just need more and more of it, which I don’t. It’s not really until November that the events start coming thick and fast and that’s fine by me as the UK Championship and The Masters are there to keep us cozy when the nights start drawing in. For now, let summer do its thing and keep the snooker at a minimal level.

There’s not been that much happening in the baizeworld really over the past few weeks, it’s all a bit quiet while everyone takes in the changes that are happening over here in other areas and tries to get their heads around that, perhaps a focus on snooker every now and again might provide the therapy that I know I need after the week that’s just taken place in the UK.

This is covered on Eurosport Player if you have it, I haven’t so I’d better sort that out if I want to watch it. I do hope they take the Indian coverage though and we get to hear their sometimes comical thoughts on what is unfolding in front of them. We’ll also get to see one of the more bizarre presentation ceremonies at the end which seems to go on forever as every Captain and his mate gets introduced to the bemused winner and loser and Jason Ferguson stands there in his regulation suit and tie combo trying to look interested.

I managed to recommend a winning acca on the Riga preview, albeit at shorter odds by virtue of Kyren Wilson’s withdrawal, which was a certainty since I made him the poster boy of the preview, predicting big things for him this season. Happily he has recovered from the health scare that stopped him travelling to Latvia and is back in action here, where he faces my pal Martin O’Donnell first up.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the updated format

Recommended Bets: Outright – Marco Fu (12/1) Shaun Murphy (11/2) Stuart Bingham (12/1). First Round Acca –  Joe Swail, Dechawat Poomjaeng, Matthew Stevens, Mike Dunn and Anthony McGill pays just over 15/2.

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