March 28, 2015

China Open Preview

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

Seems legit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 23, 2015

PTC Grand Finals Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:05 am

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

March 16, 2015

World Grand Prix Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:28 am


‘In the seaside town, that they forgot to bomb, come come come nuclear bomb’

But it’s a blessing in disguise that they did forget, or else Llandudno would never have been able to stage the new World Grand Prix, which starts today and runs until Sunday at the very creatively titled ‘Venue Cymru’ or Wales Venue for anyone who doesn’t speak Welsh (thank me for the translation later).

This new event on the calendar is not so much an invitational as it brings together the highest ranked players over the last 18 tournaments starting with the 2014 World Championship up to the 2015 Gdynia Open. Thus providing us with the best indication of who’s in form going into the business end of the season. Quite how Ding Junhui has managed to squeeze in is anyone’s guess as I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw him win.

Unfortunately, this is AGAIN the best of 7 frames for the majority of the tournament. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of best of 7’s now and can’t wait until the World Championship and the tests that lie ahead in that over the longer format, both in terms of the qualifiers and the main event. It can’t come soon enough for a bluff old traditionalist like me who gets bored rigid seeing best of 7’s hijacking our entire sport.

We are told that this is ‘what the audience want’ without any actual evidence to back this up other than a tired rather patronising old anecdote about shortening attention spans. If you assume that your ‘audience’ are actually people who like snooker, then you assume that they would describe themselves to varying degrees as a ‘snooker fan’, I am yet to meet or discuss this issue with anyone who falls into this bracket who thinks best of 7’s are the way forward. Whatever you say, this format belittles a tournament and nobody likes to see the same format being trotted out over and over and over again.

One good aspect of this however is that it sees the return of Jill and the gang in the ITV studio. They provide excellent coverage without treating the armchair fans as idiots, like the BBC so often do. They employ people who know who all the players actually are, and the whole thing works very well. For that reason I will probably be switching on this week regardless of the frustrations I have about the short format.

Today’s highlight is probably the real tortoise and the hare affair later on between my mate Rod and Ronnie. But there is enough there in every session to keep you interested.

European viewers, that is those outside the UK, can watch this on Eurosport, so everyone’s a winner. Talking of winners, the recommended 33/1 on Michael White to win in India landed, I had a feeling that his win in the Shootout, however dreadful it may be, might just lead to him upping his game a notch. Often, players as good as him just need that first tournament win to break into the big time and surely he is heading towards the top 8 sooner rather than later, maybe even higher, he’s certainly good enough.

I’ll be surprised if he lands the treble, he can be backed at 66/1 if anyone disagrees. For me though this will see a more established name lifting the trophy and bagging the 100 grand first prize at the end of it.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Mark Selby at 8/1. 2 points on Neil Robertson at 15/2. 1 point each way on Mark Allen at 25/1.

Mark Selby v Michael Holt
Martin Gould v Alan McManus

NB 2pm
Stephen Maguire v Xiao Guodong
Stuart Bingham v Anthony McGill

Neil Robertson v Luca Brecel
Barry Hawkins v Matt Selt

NB 8pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Rod Lawler
Mark Allen v Liang Wenbo

Shaun Murphy v Peter Ebdon
Joe Perry v Ben Woollaston

NB 2pm
Ricky Walden v Ding Junhui
Marco Fu v Dark Mavis

John Higgins v Graeme Dott
Mark Williams v Ryan Day

NB 8pm
Judd Trump v Dominic Dale
Robert Milkins v Michael White

March 9, 2015

Indian Open Preview and Schedule

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:30 am
A Return to India

A Return to India

Mumbai is the latest stop on the global snooker tour as the players pitch up in India for the five day Indian Open at the plush Grand Hyatt Hotel. This event which was originally supposed to take place in October, was postponed due to political unrest in the area.

There has been a little confusion, well on my part at least, about how we can all get to watch this, but this was solved this morning by World Snooker. Apparently, the event will only be televised in India but will be available online at the World Snooker TV streaming channel for those who subscribe. This usually means that the bookies will be streaming it too and I normally head to Bet 365 for this, I seem to remember that last year they took the India TV coverage and had commentary and analysis.

It’s great that snooker is expanding to new markets and there is no doubt that last year this event did capture the imagination of the locals, especially as Aditya Mehta managed to have a great run to the Final. It’s just a shame that the best of 7 frame matches have again become the format of choice here, unfortunately to a bluff old traditionalist like myself this does not really draw me to the tournament.

Indeed, no fewer than 13 tournaments this season have adopted this format, which for me is fine for the EPTC and APTC events as they have never been anything else and the sheer volume of matches makes this a sensible approach, but to have these short matches in main ranking events for me is a bit disappointing, particularly when most of the tour have to travel half way around the globe to play in them. I suppose the one plus is that it makes me look forward to Sheffield even more.

I suspect that this is in part the reason for a lot of big name non-entry’s, we have no Ronnie, no Selby, Maguire or Allen and even the usually committed trio of Murphy, Bingham and Robbo have chosen to give this a miss. Even Barry Hawkins withdrew from the qualifiers and now Ali Carter has had visa issues forcing his withdrawal it is a depleted field as far as top seeds are concerned.  

There are a few who have been roped in though, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Mark Williams and holder Ding Junhui probably being the most recognisable names to the Indian audience, but we also have the likes of Marco Fu (update – withdrawn), Rob Milkins, Ricky Walden, Dark Mavis, Peter Ebdon, Graeme Dott, Joe Perry and Shootout Champ Michael White in there so the chances are we will be seeing a recognisable face holding the trophy at the end.

I’ll just take a small punt on a select few and see how it works out.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on John Higgins at 12/1. 1 point on Michael White at 33/1. 1 point on Joe Perry at 20/1 and 1 point on Peter Ebdon at 50/1.

You can view the full draw for the Indian Open here.


Jamie Jones v Liang Wenbo
Matthew Stevens v Gerard Greene
Thepchaya Un-Nooh v Neeraj Kumar

Followed by

Stuart Carrington w/o Marco Fu  
Ben Woollaston v Yu Delu
Sam Baird v Brijesh Damani

Followed by

Eden Sharav v Mark Williams
Mike Dunn v Rob Milkins
Lu Haotian v Dharminder Lilly
Adam Duffy v Sumit Talwar


Judd Trump v Peter Lines
Peter Ebdon v Zhou Yuelong
Nigel Bond v Faisal Khan
Li Hang v Allan Taylor

NB 3pm

Rhys Clark v Pankaj Advani
Ken Doherty v Joe Swail
Kyren Wilson v Alan McManus
Fraser Patrick v Jamie Cope


Rory McLeod v Ricky Walden
Joe Perry v Marcus Campbell
Cao Yupeng v Michael White
Tom Ford v Anthony McGill

Followed by

Rhys Clark/Pankaj Advani v Chris Wakelin
Mark Joyce w/o Ali Carter
Sam Baird/Brijesh Damani v Rod Lawler
Gary Wilson v Adam Duffy/Sumit Talwar

Followed by

Jamie Burnett v John Higgins
Dark Mavis v Anthony Hamilton
Matthew Selt v Joel Walker
Tian Pengfei v Lyu Haotian/Dharminder Lilly


Ding Junhui v Thepchaya Un-Nooh/Neeraj Kumar
Ryan Day v Nigel Bond/Faisal Khan
Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon v Dechawat Poomjaeng
David Morris v David Gilbert

NB 3pm

Mark King v Aditya Mehta
Graeme Dott v Robin Hull
Luca Brecel v Fegal O’Brien
Andrew Pagett v Zack Richardson

February 26, 2015

Gdynia Open Preview: AKA Anoraks Weekend

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:15 pm
One for the Anoraks.

One for the Anoraks.

It’s off to Gdynia in Poland for the final European Players Tour Championship this weekend and for anyone that thinks ‘Oh it’s just another PTC’ I’d encourage them to look again.

Rather than repeat what has all been said about the will’s, the won’t’s, the might’s and the do you mind if I don’t’s, here is a handy little link and guide from Matt, who this tournament is tailor made for. He’s even booked Friday off work to tweet about it and explain how each result will affect rankings and tour places for next season. Anoraks are well and truly off.

It’s a huge competition for some who it would appear have only one way of staying on the tour next season and retaining their two year tour card, amongst those is our very own Allan Taylor who faces Zak Surety first up (interestingly, well, at least for me in a repeat of their 2012 SB Classic Quarter Final, now where did I leave that anorak?) before a likely though not certain meeting with Shaun Murphy who faces Jak Jones, a player on the cusp of overtaking Allan and a ‘must win’ against Shaun. It’s also a big event for fans of Jimmy White who is another looking to secure his tour place through this route first, though he also has a chance of doing it by staying in the top 64.

All this is as well as how it might affect the other rankings, the 24-strong line up for the Grand Finals in Bangkok and of course the 32-man line up for the World Grand Prix.

So, there is lots going on here and I dare say that some will leave this event elated and some deflated, such is the cut-throat nature of the rankings these days.

As usual, I’ll plump for a few in the outrights just for a bit of interest, but it’s lower down the list which will be the topic of conversation for much of the first two days for those pesky snooker anoraks.

The draw for the Gdynia Open is here and it will be covered as ever by Eurosport.

Recommended Outright Bets: 2 points on Mark Selby at 6/1. 2 points on Stephen Maguire at 16/1. 1 point Each Way on Marco Fu at 33/1. 0.5 point Each Way on Peter Ebdon at 80/1, Matt Selt at 80/1 and Alan McManus at 150/1.   

Mark Selby v Rory McLeod
Tian Pengfei v Q13
Liam Highfield v Ian Glover
Stuart Bingham v Q14
Mark Williams v Lee Page
James Cahill v Tom Ford
Andrew Higginson v Peter Lines
Rod Lawler v Ali Carter
Anthony McGill v John Astley
Gary Wilson v Marcus Campbell
Zhang Anda w/o Xiao Guodong  

Approx 10am
Joe Perry v Matthew Stevens
Liang Wenbo v Q15
Robbie Williams v Q16
David Gilbert v Q17
Mark Davis v Q18
Peter Ebdon v Scott Donaldson

Approx 10.30am
Sam Baird w/o Ahmed Saif
Elliot Slessor v Q19
Jimmy Robertson v Q20
Fergal O’Brien v Lu Chenwei

Approx 11.30am
Ryan Day v Ken Doherty
Gerard Greene v Alfie Burden
Martin Gould v Q21
Luca Brecel v Hammad Miah

Approx 12pm
Michael Holt v Igor Figueiredo
Alex Davies w/o Nigel Bond
Aditya Mehta v Robin Hull
Michael Wasley v Steven Hallworth

Approx 1pm
Stuart Carrington v Q22
Joel Walker v Q23
Stephen Maguire v Ross Muir

Followed by later rounds

February 20, 2015

Welsh Open Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:43 am

LucaIt’s Quarter Final time in Cardiff and I’m pretty sure at the start of the event nobody could have expected the line up we have left. Strange things are happening out there and upsetting the snooker applecart somewhat.

I asked the question earlier, when was the last time we reached the Quarter Final stages of a ranking event where the widely acknowledged ‘Big 6′ of Ronnie, Selby, Robbo, Ding, Judd and Smurf were all absent? I’d have guessed we’d need to go back at least a decade and indeed someone came up with the answer.

Apparently, it was the 2006 Malta Cup, an event which was to become about as straight as Joe Swail’s backarm once it became a round-robin invitational in 2008. But given that of the six mentioned only half of them were in it (Selby, Robbo and Murphy) that answer just goes to show exactly how rare this is. In fact, could it conceivably be the first time ever that this has happened in an event that all six have entered?

Quite amazing John.

Anyway, there are still a few proven winners left in there in Higgins, Maguire, Fu, MJW and Ricky Walden who are all ranking winners so the odds are still heavily in favour of this not being won by a first timer. But regardless of whether they win or not, it’s a huge day for Ben Woollaston who Ali Carter told me played ‘unreal’ for three frames against him yesterday, Gary Wilson, who a few shrewdies know has it in him and Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel, who produced a fine performance yesterday to knock out Selby.

A typical Daily Mail comment poster.

A typical Daily Mail comment poster.

Luca’s interview later was full of his trademark lovely smiles and a very impressive grasp of English. He’s clearly matured a lot since I last saw him at the UK Championship and thankfully, unlike so many before him, he’s come out the other side with his talent in tact, hopefully a very bright future awaits as he is just what snooker needs.

In other lunacy. That ‘story’ otherwise known as a Twitter pisstake involving Rory’s logo has escalated courtesy of that renowned piece of arsewipe The Daily Mail. Desperation levels have sunk to a new low (or should that be high?) as they seek to stir up some racist comments by any possible means and they’ve only gone and printed it here.

Expect plenty of ‘I’m not a racist but (>insert racist comment here<)’ type comments in the Comments section, already 600 deep. This section of the website is a dangerous and inhospitable cesspit of humanity and is generally inhabited by those with an IQ slightly lower than their (UK) shoe size and a hateful mind passively dressed up with a smile and online ‘banter’, disguising their deep-rooted hatred of anything that is remotely ‘not normal’ and serial masturbation when one of their comments gets a thumbs up from a fellow fuckwit.

Maybe I should ask for a finders fee?

Anyway. here’s today. My picks would be Higgins, Williams, Woollaston and Walden. We still have Ricky at 50/1 in the outrights.

Click on the match for the head to head.

John Higgins v Stephen Maguire

NB 1pm
Marco Fu v Mark Williams

Ben Woollaston v Gary Wilson
Ricky Walden v Luca Brecel


February 19, 2015

Welsh Open Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:30 am
Maths Rage: Dazza's interesting interview technique.

Maths Rage: Dazza’s interesting interview technique.

We’re now down to the two table situation in Cardiff and although this round is still only the best of 7 frames, perhaps now the tournament will start to feel more like a proper ranking event than a bog standard PTC.

Yesterday was notable mainly for the match between Matthew Stevens and Ronnie O’Sullivan. A grumpy looking and unshaven Rocket ‘crashing’ out with a whimper following a careless display which saw him throw away a match he should really have won.

After an altercation with a camera person earlier in the match, Ronnie when 3-2 up missed a straightforward yellow for the match which Darren Morgan later described as ‘one he would pot 100 times out of 100′, before further upping the stakes to ‘1000 out of 1000′ even though he’d claimed that one was the 101st time he’d played it – yes, I don’t get that either, perhaps he should just have said it was an unexpected miss rather than demonstrating his total misunderstanding of mathematics and percentages. Anyway, he missed it and that’s that and he’s out.

The post-match interview saw Ronnie back to his old self when quizzed by the hacks, lamenting on the length of time it’s been since Matthew last beat him he mused  “That’s another one that has beaten me after a long time, fuck it, I’m bang in trouble – fucking hell, I’ve got no chance.” I make that a round £500. Pay up.

Matthew meanwhile was busy being strangled in the studio by Darren, who made great pains to say that he was a mate of his, if that’s a mate I wouldn’t like to be his enemy. Perhaps our Dazza was simply trying to make the audience watching forget what a total arse he’d made of himself earlier. Anyway, Matthew escaped with his life and along with MJW continues to fly the flag for the watching Welshies.

Before racism was wrong.

Before racism was wrong.

The BBC Wales coverage is a joy to behold (if you are Alf Garnett), the blatant jingoism that accompanies each sentence when a Welsh player is playing would border on offensive if it wasn’t so funny.

We’re used to it in China, where some audience members have been rumoured to shout ‘Burn the Foreign Devil!!’ when one of their own is in play, the Welsh don’t quite go that far (yet) but it’s still good old fashioned racism that shines through when one of their boys is playing. It’s like the last 30 years never really happened, perhaps they didn’t in Wales and racism is still OK.

Anyway, bettingwise we still have Judd (9/1), Ricky Walden (50/1) and Ali Carter (100/1) in the mix from the four selections so hopefully they can kick on to make the best of 9’s tomorrow.

Here’s today’s order of play.

Michael Georgiou v John Higgins
Luca Brecel v Mark Selby

NB 2pm
Mark Williams v Judd Trump
Ben Woollaston v Ali Carter

Matthew Stevens v Marco Fu
Stephen Maguire v Alan McManus

NB 8pm
Stuart Bingham v Ricky Walden
Gary Wilson v Neil Robertson

February 18, 2015

Welsh Open Last 32

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:16 am
We're down to 4 tables now.

We’re down to 4 tables now.

It’s Last 32 day over in Cardiff today as we get down to a 4 table set up at the car boot sale. Yesterday was slightly less eventful on the table as the fall out continued from Ronnie’s comments from day one, with some players and predictably the Chairman hitting back and praising the venue.

I also discovered yesterday that Rory McLeod had decided to block me on Twitter, this possibly followed the furore that I admit I created in jest on Monday night, but poor old Rory obviously failed to see the funny side or grasp my rather twisted sense of humour, believing instead presumably that I actually believed that he was sponsored by a load of froth-mouthed, brainwashed, bloodthirsty savages and not by an investment company, who I must say are doing quite well for publicity out of this.

For clarification, Rory is NOT sponsored by a load of fanatics in Syria and any misunderstanding on anyone’s part that he was is more to do with their own stupidity than anything I have done.

Maybe he just blocked me because I’m an atheist and he posts links from a muslim site that attacks the likes of us and in very grown up fashion blots out the faces of famous unbelievers such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, thus encouraging adult and informed debate.

Anyway, back to the snooker and there was still some criticism yesterday, not this time about the venue, more about that old chestnut, the playing conditions, with Rob Milkins claiming they were the worst he’s ever encountered.

This led to a twitter chat again and I was rather surprised when Mark Allen revealed that at one venue, when he complained about the lighting he was told that it was more important that the spectators got to see the action than the players playing in acceptable conditions, this came from a prominent figure in World Snooker. I suppose that’s what happens when you have a regime that values entertainment over sport.

LesTalking of entertainment, the bloke in the studio at BBC Wales is providing us with plenty. It’s becoming something of a surprise when he gets one of the players names right, yesterday he proclaimed that Stephen McManus had just won, which was kind of right as they both had but I’m sure Alan Maguire was left feeling a little aggrieved.

At least he has Dom Dale there to help him along, Dom’s a very demonstrative character and uses his hands a lot when he speaks, I noticed yesterday that he quite liked moving them into a position akin to the cupping of female breasts, in a kind of 1970’s Les Dawson style. I don’t know if this is subconscious but for any deaf viewers watching who can’t lip-read they must wonder what he’s going on about.

On the table, there was another awful performance by Ding Junhui, who is now getting to the point where the whole season is looking like a write-off, credit to local boy Lee Walker for his performance as it’s a long time since he’s been on the big stage but Ding seems to have totally lost his way this season. All very peculiar.

In fact it wasn’t a great day for China at all as it was announced that the Wuxi Classic is to join the World Open on the snooker scrapheap. Is the love affair with snooker in China coming to a messy end? It’s probably too early to say that but word on the street is that pool is quickly overtaking snooker in the hearts of the Chinese people, perhaps the snooker revolution is fizzling out, we’ll have to wait and see how this pans out as Bazza and Jason scour the globe for new markets. I’d try Russia personally.

Bettingwise, we still have 3 of the 4 recommended outrights left in, after the misguided punt on Ding, so hopefully they won’t all be sent packing today.

Here’s the schedule for today.

Matt Selt v Ali Carter
Joe Perry v Gary Wilson

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Matthew Stevens
Mark Allen v Ben Woollaston

NB 2pm
Michael Georgiou v Graeme Dott
Martin Gould v Ricky Walden
Peter Ebdon v Mark Selby
Jamie Cope v Neil Robertson

Alan McManus v Aditya Mehta
Luca Brecel v Oliver Brown
Liang Wenbo v John Higgins
Jamie Jones v Mark Williams

NB 8pm
Stephen Maguire v Sam Baird
Stuart Bingham v Michael White
Ashley Carty v Marco Fu
Michael Wasley v Judd Trump


February 17, 2015

Welsh Open Day 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:04 am
Ronnie doesn't like the new venue.

Ronnie doesn’t like the new venue.

It’s Day 2 in Cardiff and as ever it was a certain Mr O’Sullivan who dominated the headlines yesterday, this time more for his off the table comments than on the table genius.

On finishing his first match against Vinnie Calabrese, he charged to the BBC Wales studio to declare the venue ‘substandard’, ‘like a shopping mall’, ‘like playing in a car boot sale’ and ‘like an aircraft hangar’. I think that means he doesn’t like it.

Terry Griffiths, not a man known for outbursts, if you discount that time he called Judd Trump a cunt live on air, sat next to the rather erratic Rocket looking slightly uncomfortable. This after all, is the big event in Wales and snooker’s biggest name was putting the boot in to this choice of new venue. You can watch it here.

This was a particularly different Ronnie than we are used to seeing of late. Short hair which looked a bit like he’d cut it himself when he was bored, cocky body language and smirky grins being a far cry from the Steve Peters model professional he has been for the past three seasons. The chimp was definitely out of its box yesterday and last night he looked bored out of his skull as the hapless Rory McLeod snatched defeat from the gaping jaws of victory to ensure we get to see the errant Rocket again tomorrow. I don’t know about you, but I’ve rather missed barnpot Ronnie and it’s nice to see that he’s still in there somewhere, if only in short bursts.



Rory himself caused quite a stir over on Twitter by virtue of some shit-stirrer (me) tweeting a picture of his sponsors logo, the unfortunately named 1SIS, and being re-tweeted quite a few times. Rory being a devout Muslim and striding out proudly sporting this logo being one of the more unfortunate coincidences in the history of our great sport. But I suppose you don’t bite the hand that feeds and in the spirit of our great chairman, if the bunce is on the table, you shouldn’t go worrying your little head about where it came from. It’s bizznizz after all.

Anyway, back to the set up and format, as all of you know by now I think this tournament is a shadow of what it used to be. This idiotic race to have all the players at the venue is backfiring quicker than Rory’s logo choice and it’s clear that the venue, when it can cope (here), is as unsuitable for top level snooker, as it is when it can’t cope (York).

Also, according to those who were there yesterday, it’s bloody freezing with an arctic wind being blasted at the faithful fans in the stands who sit there shivering in their bobble hats and anoraks, braving this harsh, hostile climate until the last bus home at 10 o’clock. Poor sods.

I don’t disagree with the flat 128 structure and fully support the reward at the end of the season being a Crucible spot for the top 16, but there is nothing wrong with playing 2 rounds of qualifiers elsewhere and taking 32 to the venue. It’s still the same for everyone and would make the early matches a far more appealing TV spectacle than we saw yesterday, that’s of course if any station actually decides to air all the TV table matches, perhaps the crew needed to catch the bus last night too. They could also make the matches a bit longer then too.

Here is the order of play today. Rant over, for now.

Ryan Day v Noppon Saengkham
Stephen Maguire v Duane Jones
John Higgins v Michael Leslie
Graeme Dott v Zak Surety
Andrew Higginson v Chris Wakelin
Liang Wenbo v Cao Xin Long
Gerard Greene v Daniel Wells
Jamie Burnett v Alex Borg
Kurt Maflin v Liam Highfield
Robbie Williams v Dave Harold
Fergal O’Brien v Sam Baird

NB 12pm
Mark Selby v Alex Davies
Michael White v Ross Muir
Stuart Bingham v Chuan Leong Thor
Robert Milkins v Luca Brecel
Peter Lines v Michael Georgiou
Alan McManus v Jamie Clarke
Anthony Hamilton v Ahmed Saif
Aditya Mehta v Sydney Wilson
Kyren Wilson v Robin Hull
Nigel Bond v Chris Melling
Marcus Campbell v Stuart Carrington

NB 2.30pm
Ding Junhui v Lee Walker
Barry Hawkins v Scott Donaldson
Ricky Walden v Lu Ning
Peter Ebdon v Tony Drago
Martin Gould v Jak Jones
Rod Lawler v Hammad Miah
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Mitchell Mann
Mike Dunn v Oliver Brown
Jimmy Robertson v Igor Figueiredo
Tom Ford v Tian Pengfei

Marcus Campbell/Stuart Carrington v Mark Selby/Alex Davies
Andrew Higginson/Chris Wakelin v Graeme Dott/Zak Surety
Liang Wenbo/Cao Xin Long v Gerard Greene/Daniel Wells
Jamie Burnett/Alex Borg v John Higgins/Michael Leslie
Stephen Maguire/Duane Jones v Kurt Maflin/Liam Highfield
Robbie Williams/Dave Harold v Fergal O’Brien/Sam Baird
Alan McManus/Jamie Rhys Clarke v Anthony Hamilton/Ahmed Saif
Stuart Bingham/Chuan Leong Thor v Kyren Wilson/Robin Hull

NB 8pm
Ding Junhui/Lee Walker v Peter Lines/Michael Georgiou
Aditya Mehta/Sydney Wilson v Barry Hawkins/Scott Donaldson
Nigel Bond/Chris Melling v Michael White/Ross Muir
Martin Gould/Jak Jones v Rod Lawler/Hammad Miah
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh/Mitchell Mann v Ricky Walden/Lu Ning
Robert Milkins/Luca Brecel v Tom Ford/Tian Pengfei
Mike Dunn/Oliver Brown v Ryan Day/Noppon Saengkham
Peter Ebdon/Tony Drago v Jimmy Robertson/Igor Figueiredo

February 15, 2015

Welsh Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:35 pm
Wales: Where men are men and the women do the ironing.

Wales: Where men are men and the women do the ironing.

Monday sees the start of the Welsh Open and a new home for the event in Cardiff. Unfortunately, the move has not been accompanied by reverting the format of the event back to one more befitting this once prestigious fixture in the calender. In fact, for me it’s now little more than a slightly more interesting PTC.  

The tournament, formerly known as ‘The Regal Welsh’ after a brand of Embassy fags (and still referred to as such by the holder, Ronnie O’Sullivan) has a rich history. It started off as a ‘taffs only’ event to find out who would have bragging rights in the valleys in 1980, but reverted to a full ‘open’ tournament in 1992 when Stephen Hendry became the first champion. Indeed, the only Welshman to have lifted the title since this shift is Mark Williams and it’s become synonymous over recent years as an event which sees the Welsh boys under-performing, much to the collective woe of the ‘fiercely’ Welsh and patriotic locals.

Since Bazza came to the helm, he’s fiddled with this so much that now we are down to opening rounds stuffed full of players and best of 7’s in a roll-on roll-off format. Sounds like a PTC to me.

It’s a shame because Wales was and is still a real hotbed for snooker. Possibly because the Welsh generally have a slightly worrying obsession with male bonding, but also because Wales is a place that only gets about 3 hours of sunlight a day, where sheep are fair game and where most inhabitants live in disused mine-shafts and quarries, so there’s not that much else to do there apart from snooker, a bit of rugby, the sheep and some close-harmony singing.

Anyway, my usual tactic on PTC’s is to just have a speculative gamble at the outrights. At least here from the Quarter Finals the matches get a bit longer so it’s just a case of your selections scrambling through the mesh that awaits them for the first few rounds.

It’s covered on BBC Wales and Eurosport and Ronnie certainly put on a show in Newport last year, in the only memorable match of the event, which was also the longest one. Indeed, a lot of the players, Ronnie included, thought Newport was one of the best venues on the circuit and were sorry to see it moved. How will Cardiff go down? We’ll have to wait and see….

You can view the draw for this here and below you can see the conveyer-belt schedule. Sad for an event with a decent history such as this, not one of Bazza’s finest hours this one.

Recommended Outright Bets: 2 points on Judd Trump at 10/1. 2 points on Ding Junhui at 18/1. 1 point each way on Ali Carter at 100/1. 1 point each way on Ricky Walden at 50/1.


Mark Williams v Lu Haotian
Mark Allen v Alexander Ursenbacher
Shaun Murphy v Steven Hallworth
Dominic Dale v Michael Wasley
Michael Holt v Ashley Carty
Alfie Burden v Andrew Norman
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Allan Taylor
Jamie Jones v Chris Norbury
Jack Lisowski v Li Hang
Cao Yupeng v Craig Steadman
Ben Woollaston v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon

NB 12pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Vinnie Calabrese
Matthew Stevens v Oliver Lines
Marco Fu v Ian Glover
Ken Doherty v Zhou Yuelong
Rory McLeod v Andrew Pagett
Jimmy White v Barry Pinches
Dark Mavis v Lyu Chenwei
Xiao Guodong v Joe Swail
Mark Joyce v Joel Walker
Matt Selt v Ian Burns
Mark King v Eden Sharav

NB 2.30pm
Judd Trump v James Wattana
Neil Robertson v James Cahill
Joe Perry v Lee Page
Ali Carter v Fraser Patrick
Yu Delu W/O John Sutton
Gary Wilson v Zhang Anda
David Gilbert v John Astley
Anthony McGill v David Grace
Jamie Cope v Elliot Slessor
David Morris v Joe O’Connor

Ronnie O’Sullivan/Vinnie Calabrese v Rory McLeod/Andrew Pagett
Ken Doherty/Zhou Yuelong v Matthew Stevens/Oliver Lines
Michael Holt/Ashley Carty v Alfie Burden/Andrew Norman
Dechawat Poomjaeng/Allan Taylor v Marco Fu/Ian Glover
Shaun Murphy/Steven Hallworth v Jamie Jones/Chris Norbury
Jimmy White/Barry Pinches v Mark Williams/Lu Haotian
Dominic Dale/Michael Wasley v Jack Lisowski/Li Hang
Mark Allen/Alexander Ursenbacher v Cao Yupeng/Craig Steadman

NB 8pm

Mark Joyce/Joel Walker v Judd Trump/James Wattana
Ben Woollaston/Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon v Dark Mavis/Lyu Chenwei
Xiao Guodong/Joe Swail v Matt Selt/Ian Burns
Mark King/Eden Sharav v Ali Carter/Fraser Patrick
Joe Perry/Lee Page v Yu De Lu
Gary Wilson/Zhang Anda v David Gilbert/John Astley
Anthony McGill/David Grace v Jamie Cope/Elliot Slessor
David Morris/Joe O’Connor v Neil Robertson/James Cahill

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