Snookerbacker

March 27, 2019

The China Open – The Crucible countdown begins

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:25 am

The China Open has been staged in the country’s capital every year since 2005 and is the most historic event held in China. In 2018 it became the only snooker event other than the World Championship to hit the £1 million prize money mark, thanks to a new four-year agreement between World Snooker and promoter Star Xing Pai, cementing its place as the top event over there, having been leapfrogged in terms of prize money by a few other, newer events. (more…)

March 18, 2019

Tour Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:15 pm

It’s all about the raaaannkings (photo credit Pete Burns)

We’re now entering the best period of the snooker season and in just over a month all eyes will be on The Crucible for the big one. But what makes this season even better is that we’ve got a kind of mini World Championship warm-up with this new event; the only other event of the season with multi-session matches from the beginning and the final one of the Coral Series trilogy.  The Tour Championship takes place at Llandudno’s Venue Cymru and sees the top eight players from this season’s one-year money list compete for a top prize of £150,000.

What makes this exciting for a stubborn, opinionated, die-hard old traditionalist like me is the long match format. The first round, or quarter finals if you prefer are played over the best of 17, with the semis adopting the Crucible first round format of best of 19 before a three session final at the weekend over another familiar Sheffield distance, the best of 25. So it’s a chance for one of the top players to really piss on the Crucible lamppost and go into the big one in fine fettle having won over the longer format less than a month earlier. In short, this is a proper comp.

As usual, the bookies favourite is Ronnie and it is a chance for us to possibly assess his form over more than one match over the multi-session distances. Interestingly, he is involved in one of the two first round matches that have been scheduled over 2 days, so he has some time to kill in between sessions, in the past this kind of thing has seen him go off the rails a bit in Sheffield, though with all his antics lately I don’t think we’d really notice the difference if he did.

For ranking anoraks, this event also has the added spice of Ronnie possibly returning to the top of the raaaaaaaaannnnnnkkkkkkking list for the first time this decade at the expense of Mark Selby, whose time at the top of this list is almost approaching the age range of Dennis Taylor’s jokes.

As you would expect it’s an all star line up and I’d say that the eight on show here are probably close to the eight I might have expected at the start of the season, although you could argue that John Higgins and possibly Shaun Murphy (currently languishing in 30th on the one year list) are notable absentees, with Ding Junhui hardly playing in anything it’s no real surprise that he hasn’t made it.

A mention also for Dave Gilbert whose fantastic season saw him just £4500 behind Kyren Wilson, who qualified in 8th spot and therefore takes on the number one seed Mark Allen. I reckon Dee Gee would have taken 9th at the start of the season and won’t be too upset at missing out and he is still available at daft prices for Sheffield for anyone interested (I took 190/1 yesterday). He’s playing well enough to have a run there and played very well against Ronnie last time he was there back in 2016, he’s also very close to securing a seeded place with Ryan Day looking like the main threat to that as they head to the final cut off event in Beijing at the start of April.

Allen has had a season of two halves really, his pre-Christmas form was fabulous and he was comfortably top of the one year list playing probably as well as I have ever seen him play, but since he was beaten at The Masters it’s slipped a little, so it remains to be seen if he can get it back in time for the World Championship, which you have to say he is long overdue a good run in.

A player coming into very good form at the right time is Neil Robertson and he should feel quietly confident in his match up with Selby given the latter’s relatively pedestrian form of late. There is a school of thought that believes The Jester losing the top spot will see his form turnaround to get it back, or perhaps just the threat of losing it this week will be enough for him to start being Selby again?

Another player in sparkling form is Judd Trump. Judd is currently a justified second favourite for the World Championship and you feel if he can win here, perhaps beating Ronnie in a semi-final along the way, his price may shorten further and he may even by vying for favouritism this time next month. Judd faces World Champion Williams who has now said he’s busy preparing for his title defence and getting his head down on the practice table rather than playing bingo and golf, going fishing and getting trousered all year to celebrate his success last year.

Ronnie faces Gibraltar Champ Stuart Bingham fresh from his win on The Rock over the short format. Ronnie has a very commanding lead over First Poke in the head to heads, Stuart will need to hit the ground running and put that out of his head if he’s to knock out the worst Australian impersonator since Michael Caine trying to be Chips O’Toole at the end of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

It’s all covered on the excellent ITV4 so expect plenty of adverts about our impending death and how much it all costs the ones you leave behind, also look forward to lots of comical scenes of people having accidents that are ‘not their fault’ during the break.

Click on the match for the head to head record.

Quarter Final Draw

Mark Allen vs Kyren Wilson (Wednesday 1pm and 7pm)
Neil Robertson vs Mark Selby (Tuesday 1pm and 7pm)
Judd Trump vs Mark Williams (Tuesday 1pm and Wednesday 1pm)
Ronnie O’Sullivan vs Stuart Bingham (Tuesday 7pm and Wednesday 7pm)

Predicted First Round Winners: Allen, Robertson, Trump, O’Sullivan – fourfold pays nearly 6/1 at Black Type.

Predicted Tournament Winner: Trump – Best Price 5/1 at Blacktype.

Recommended Enhanced Treble – Trump (-2.5), Robertson (-1.5) and O’Sullivan (-3.5) is 10/1 at Ladbrokes. 

Name the Finalists – Robertson and Trump 19/2 at Ladbrokes.

Special Bet – More than 2 centuries in every match, 50/1 at Ladbrokes. 

March 13, 2019

The Gibraltar Open – Who will Rule the Rock?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:16 am

It’s time again for the annual jaunt to Britain in the Sun. The Gibraltar Open clings to its slot in the tour much like 98% of it’s UK population wanted to cling to the EU, sadly for them that isn’t what the result produced and you do have to also wonder how long this event will remain a staple on the snooker calendar.

Very much like most of the best players on the tour I’ll be sitting this one out but I have had a few wagers on the outrights after a scan of the draw so I’ve listed them below.

Bets: Kyren Wilson to win Gibraltar Open at 9/1, Dave Gilbert to win Gibraltar Open at 25/1. Each Way Scott Donaldson at 100/1, Zhang Anda at 100/1, Tom Ford at 130/1. 

You can plot your very own outcome to the Gibraltar Open here

Click here for the format

The amateur qualifying rounds take place on March 13-14 followed by the last 128 from March 15 to 17.

March 4, 2019

The Players Championship

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

Tonight sees the start of the Players Championship, the second of three events in the new Coral series, this one sees the top 16 players on the one year ranking list battling it out in a Masters style format at the iconic Preston Guild Hall, so what’s not to like about that then?

In terms of the players who have qualified there are just three from outside the current 2 year top 16 list who have made it, those being Ali Carter, Jimmy Robertson and Joe Perry, who replace the absentees, Luca Brecel, Ding Junhui and Shaun Murphy who all miss out, so it’s a chance for those three to narrow the gap and really put pressure on those on the brink of a seeding place at The Crucible.

The first round is a two table set up with tonight kicking off with O’Sullivan and Hawkins on one table and Allen and Maguire on the other, Allen being the number one seed for the event. It then moves to a one table situation from the quarter finals onwards with all matches up to the final being the best of 11 frames, with Sunday being contested over 19 frames. It’s also covered extensively by the excellent ITV and their schedule can be found here.

The man in form at the moment is undoubtedly Judd Trump, who is now contesting favouritism for the big one in Sheffield with O’Sullivan, indeed with just Mark Selby joining them at single figure odds there are a few decent prices around if you fancy the winner not coming from those three.

Despite Mark Allen heading up the ranking list he comes into this on the back of some disappointing form and he faces a stern test tonight against Stephen Maguire, who has got into this by virtue of consistently reaching the later rounds of events without ever really being on the brink of winning one. There are some cracking ties as you’d expect, including Selby taking on Higgins and World Champion Williams taking on Carter so there is plenty to get your teeth into.

Here is the schedule for the first round. 

Mark Allen (1) v  Stephen Maguire (16): Monday March 4 at 7pm

David Gilbert (8) v Stuart Bingham (9): Wednesday March 6 at 1pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan (5) v Barry Hawkins (12): Monday March 4 at 7pm

Mark Selby (4) v John Higgins (13): Wednesday March 6 at 1pm

Neil Robertson (3) v Joe Perry (14): Tuesday March 5 at 1pm

Mark Williams (6) v Ali Carter (11): Tuesday March 5 at 1pm

Kyren Wilson (7) v Jack Lisowski (10): Tuesday March 5 at 7pm

Judd Trump (2) v Jimmy Robertson (15): Tuesday March 5 at 7pm

Recommended Outright Bets: Mark Selby to win Players Championship at 10/1. Mark Williams to win Players Championship at 15/1.

Match Betting: Double on Maguire and Hawkins pays over 8/1. Acca on Williams, Robertson, Wilson and Bingham pays 11/2.

Special: A century in every match at 28/1 with the sponsors. 

   

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