Snookerbacker

January 19, 2017

The Masters Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:07 am

One of my pet hates when it comes to reading snooker blogs is that long, blindingly obvious preamble that you have to write to introduce a post. Yes, we all know that it’s Day 5 of The Masters, yes, we all know that the next two days sees the 4 semi-finalists being decided, yes, we are all aware that every match that the BBC has covered in the afternoons has gone to a decider so they are obsessed with deciders even though the evening matches have been pretty one-sided by comparison. There is no need to harp on about it when all the readers really want to do is have a look at the match previews and agree or disagree with your predictions. It’s where a lot of blogs switch me right off so I don’t bother reading on, so you’ll never catch me falling into that tired old trap. Oh no sir.

Anyway, it’s Day 5 of The Masters and today sees the first two quarter finals with tomorrow seeing the next two which will decide the four sem……etc. etc.

I’ve taken a look at each match individually below and if you click on the match it will transport you to a fantasy world of anorak heaven where you can get lost in Statland for as long as you like, courtesy of Cue Tracker. Here we go.

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Neil Robertson (Thursday 1pm)

Right, let’s get this out of the way, Ronnie is very very lucky to still be here. But for Liang Wenbo shitting himself he’d be back to his bed for the week like he was all over Christmas watching boxsets. But once he saw that Wenbo was reverting to type his final frame performance on Sunday was pretty flawless, but overall he played pretty poorly. By contrast Robbo has been hard at it over the yuletide season and the fruits of his labour were clear to see in his defeat of Ali Carter. What followed was Robbo at his geeky best talking about his unhealthy obsession with video games, a topic I know next to nothing about and by the sounds of it at least I have made one right life choice. These two last met in Romania in October and Ronnie whitewashed Neil over this distance but two years ago here Neil inflicted a heavy 6-1 defeat on The Rocket so that makes them about quits. For me you have to take into account the previous round here, I disagree that Liang missing that black is some mystical sign that Ronnie’s name is on the trophy, he’s full of cold and he’s not at his best, Neil looks up for it at last and was keen to remind us after Ali’s match that he’s still a top player, despite his current lowly ranking. I fancy Robbo to send Ronnie packing today, but in the tradition of the week given the strange pattern of events I’ll take him in a decider.

Prediction: Robertson 6-5.

Marco Fu v Mark Allen (Thursday 7pm)

Strong performances from both players in the first round coming through deciders sets up a mouth watering clash tonight. Marco to me looks a totally different proposition since his win in Scotland and it’s almost now like he goes into every match expecting to win, maybe it’s his lucky massive watch. Allen has never been short of bottle and he proved again in his win over Higgins that this is never the factor in him not winning, he’s attacking and when the pressure really builds on the big stage against the best players, more often than not he delivers. Head to heads don’t tell us a lot and are pretty even, it’s quite surprising how few times they have faced each other but the only time they have done so at The Masters saw a 6-4 win for Marco at Wembley Arena. I’m going to favour Marco again here as something tells me his trophy lifting this season isn’t done yet and I’d not be at all surprised if he did it again this week. In the spirit of patterns I’ll stick with the same scoreline as 2011.

Prediction: Fu 6-4. 

Joe Perry v Ding Junhui (Friday 7pm)

Joe Perry produced an almost flawless performance in the first round which might have gone unnoticed given it wasn’t the ‘big draw’ match of the round. He hardly missed a ball and played like someone without a care in the world, later admitting that he’s been so poor lately that he came here expecting nothing, how many times have we heard surprise winners say that over the years? Ding played well enough against Kyren and did what he had to do to win but it has to be said that Kyren did give him quite a few chances that Joe possibly won’t here. Ding is ahead on the head to heads but Joe has won their last two meetings, including here a couple of years back. Ding’s record at Ally Pally is poor and I just think Joe has the wind in his sails here so I’m going to stick with The Gentleman.

Prediction: Perry 6-4. 

Barry Hawkins v Mark Selby (Friday 1pm)

The Jester again proved to any remaining doubters that he’s the best there is in the game at the moment in coming through his first match. OK, he was helped along the way by a kick but even his opponent MJW afterwards conceded that he was beaten by one of the greats of the game, even comparing him to ‘the big four’ in his formative years of Ronnie, Higgins, Hendry and himself. He truly is the Master of Brinkmanship and only a very brave man would bet against him these days, he should really be starting every tournament as favourite but he still isn’t, though for how long that lasts who knows (you can still get 5/1 on him for Sheffield, take it). Barry produced the goods against Murphy, he had a bit of run but he also played pretty good stuff and he’ll be confident of upsetting the odds here. Predictably as it’s a BBC match in the afternoon, again I am going to plump for a decider and we all know what happens in Selby deciders at The Masters.

Prediction: Selby 6-5. 

Recommended Bets: Trebles and an Acca on the four recommended winners, acca pays over 18/1. Acca on all matches having more than one century pays over 11/1. 

January 11, 2017

The Masters Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:34 pm

The Potters are heading to the Palace

Well would you Adam and Eve it? It’s only that time of year when we head to ole Laandan Taan and feast our mince pies on the delights of ‘Ally Pally’ for The Masters snooker. Hopefully they will have had enough time to clean up all the piss stains and vomit residue left behind by those common ‘working/under class’ rabble that frequent the ‘darts’, making way for the altogether more gentlemanly and ladylike and slightly obsessive attendees who visit our far superior sport in their droves and their anoraks. The pints and nuts are replaced by Bovril and fruit bonbons and the raucous roars by polite applause at deft safeties, dump shots and well judged positional cannons, we are just so much more civilised than that other shower and long may that gulf between the two sports live.

Last year saw Ronnie O’Sullivan at his brilliant best romping to the title with an absolute walloping of the hapless Barry Hawkins who didn’t show up for the final, but one year on it’s now become a worryingly long time for the avid and sometimes rabid fans of The Rocket since he’s had a trophy in his hands. Perhaps this is the week he can rediscover the winning formula and stop this increasing talk of his playing career in gradual demise? Mostly, I admit, from this corner of the blogesphere in the hope it might not be true and I’m wrong like I was about Higgins. 

As ever there are plenty there to try and stop him getting his mits on the Paul Hunter Trophy, in fact, I think I’m right in saying that for the first time in Masters history every player involved this year has won at least one ranking title. Of course, this is largely due to the amount of snooker there is these days but it’s still quite a stat nonetheless and just highlights what a quality field we have lining up, starting on Sunday afternoon with the said Rocket Ronald taking on Liang Wenbo, who is making his second appearance at The Masters following his breakthrough into the top 16 for the first time last season. He has since of course captured his maiden ranking title at the English Open in Manchester.

There are a few ‘regulars’ that are missing out this year after an undignified topple down the rankings, we have no Ricky Walden or Stephen Maguire, two players who we are used to lining up with the game’s elite. Indeed in Maguire’s case you need to go back to 2003 for the last time he didn’t compete at The Masters, he made his debut in 2004 and has been an ever present since then until now; his current ranking of 25 not helping his cause. In Ricky’s case, his run of four consecutive years in the top 16 has come to an end although at 17 he was pipped to the final place by that peskie newbie Kyren Wilson.  

Kyren is the only debutant in London this year, his win at the Shanghai Masters in 2015 saw him zoom up the rankings, he’s managed to hang on to his top 16 place for this being around £30k ahead of Walden and he also plays on day one against Ding Junhui, so Sunday sees a big day for the Chinese snooker fans as well as for Kyren on his first visit to the sacred palace of potters.

This is one week in the snooker year that I always look forward to, we get to see every match and every ball potted in the company of the usual crew at the BBC, or if you prefer, Eurosport. Of course the BBC can be trusted to deliver the goods along with the V-Neck sweaters, slapstick/crap mid-sesh features, tales about ill or dead/soon to be dead golf buddies and Cliff Thorburn in the afternoons, with the Red Button on hand for the evening. I’ll probably stick with JV, Dennis, giggling Ken, JP’s eyebrows, Hendry’s acerbic put downs, Hazel’s filofax of facts, my mate Steve and the rest of the gang in the afternoons before tuning in to Eurosport for the evening with all the grown ups, as long as Phil Studd isn’t commentating with Mike Hallett on those (hint hint if you are listening – please split them up my ears can’t handle it).

I’ve taken a look at each match individually below and if you click on the match it will magically take you to the head to head record and a journey through anorak paradise courtesy of Cue Tracker, the only thing you can’t analyse on there is respective shoes sizes, you have everything else at hand to form your punting or non-punting opinion. It goes without saying that when you get the cream of the crop together in a competition the betting gets very tough indeed, but here goes some misguided opinions anyway. Now sit back and enjoy a feast of snooker at one of the best venues on the tour, it all starts on Sunday so get the snacks in for some proper winter snooker. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Liang Wenbo – Sunday January 15, 1pm

Liang – Bonkers

In common with most players on the circuit Liang Wenbo’s head to head statistic against Ronnie doesn’t bode well for his chances here. Their matches of late have tended to be close though which tells me it’s usually getting over the line rather than ‘rabbit in the headlights’ syndrome that’s mostly to blame for Liang. His newly found winning formula can in part be attributed to his opponent here who seems somewhat intrigued by the bendy faced Chinese player, so much so that Ronnie decided to take him under his wing and give him a few tips. Watch this match closely in terms of body language, I’ve never seen Ronnie smile at anyone the way he smiles at Wenbo during play, it’s very unusual for him to show any emotion during a match these days in particular a smile. My guess is that Ronnie enjoys his match ups with this quirky ‘marmite’ type character, which is probably why he usually beats him and probably will again here.

Match Prediction: O’Sullivan 6-4 

Neil Robertson v Ali Carter – Tuesday January 17, 7pm

It’s 4 years and 8 meet ups since Ali managed to turn over Robbo, he’s lost most of his matches against him on the big stage including a 6-1 drubbing here two years ago. To be fair they were pretty level pegging until Ali’s much documented health problems but lining up against someone who has beaten you on the last seven occasions you have met might just niggle slightly. Robbo himself though isn’t at his best yet this season, we are used to seeing him in the later stages routinely but for whatever reason it isn’t clicking for him as yet and his ranking is as low as I can remember it for quite a while. Ali has a ranking event win under his belt already this season from capturing the World Open, this of course got him here, but his results since then have been a bit patchy and you get the feeling that both these players need the timely confidence boost that a win here will bring. I think this one could go close but I’m just going to take Robertson to edge it, either way, if O’Sullivan is waiting, book your seat on the sofa for Round 2.

Match Prediction: Robertson 6-4 

Judd Trump v Marco Fu – Tuesday January 17, 1pm

Marco was is great form in Scotland when capturing the Home Nations event over there, his comeback in the final against John Higgins must have really given him a boost as he has lost his way in the past in big finals and it may be a real sign that he’s ready to win a real biggy. He can also take heart that he’s beaten Judd at this stage here before three years ago in a decider, he’s in form and he’s got that to his credit. Judd has been pretty consistent this season so far and of course won over in Romania but his form just before the Xmas break losing 5-1 to Tom Ford and his poor showing in the UK Championship means he’s got a bit to prove here. At the start of the season a few of his peers were saying that this could be Judd’s year, if it is to be so, he’ll want to bag another title before going to Sheffield and until then this is the biggest, but I have to say, I think Marco with the wind in his sails could upset the applecart here. Perhaps a quiet ‘under the radar’ few months might help Judd focus on the ultimate goal in April, it worked for Selby last year after all.

Match Prediction: Fu 6-3

John Higgins v Mark Allen – Monday January 16, 1pm

Moneybags

Plenty of people became superlatived out in that run just before Xmas that Higgins put together. His confidence grew in direct correlation with his bank balance (I’ve seen the graphs) as he once again turned back the clock to show us all what a fantastic winner and competitor he is. His last two matches against Mark Allen he has won with a bit in hand though Allen did turn him over here at this stage two years ago. Higgins doesn’t have a ‘great’ Masters record, although it’s still better than almost every player who ever picked up a cue, much like Steve Davis who despite winning everything else under the sun didn’t always perform at his best in this. But Higgins hasn’t come into it playing as well as he is now for some time. Allen’s season can at best, by his standards, be described as OK, he’s got to a couple of quarter finals, one semi in the Champion of Champions but he’s not reaching the heights of previous early seasons just yet. You have to stick with Higgins here and he’d be my pick for the winner of the top half of the draw.

Match Prediction: Higgins 6-2 

Stuart Bingham v Joe Perry – Monday January 16, 7pm

Joe Perry holds the bald head to bald head advantage between these two familiar faces, Bingham of course has now leaped above Joe in snooker’s hall of fame but the two of them through the years have been pretty evenly matched and probably been labelled in the same bracket of player for the vast majority of their careers. It’s funny when one player of two who have met a lot suddenly makes that giant step up like Stuart did, does Joe think it could or should have been him? Does he think any differently when playing Stuart since he became a world champion? Does Stuart now consider himself a rung above on the ladder looking down? Oh, the complex mind of a snooker player….Anyway, I digress. Stuart was very consistent in the early part of the season with semi-final and final appearances but he’s yet to lift a trophy since his Crucible triumph which must niggle a little, Joe has had some disappointing results since reaching the final of the World Open and will be hoping 2017 marks a new start for him. I find this one quite difficult to call but just on current form and consistency I’ll stick with Stuart.

Match Prediction: Bingham 6-4 

Ding Junhui v Kyren Wilson – Sunday January 15, 7pm

Debut boy Kyren hasn’t played Ding since the Quarter Finals of his Shanghai Masters triumph and Ding seemed to be in a bit of a sulk following his crushing loss to Mark Selby in the final of the International Championship in front of his home crowd, a 10-1 loss that seemed to deeply affect him emotionally and since then he’s not really been his normal self. You’d hope that the former Masters champion has had some time to reflect on that over the break and realise that after all it’s just a snooker match and lots of people would find it very difficult to cope with Selby when he’s on a mission, it will be interesting to see what happens next time the two meet given that The Jester also ended Ding’s world champion dream last May aswell, he’s probably sick of the sight of him. Anyway, I’ll trust to luck that Ding’s head is back on straight and if it is I’d expect him to win here with a little bit to spare.

Match Prediction: Ding 6-3 

Shaun Murphy v Barry Hawkins – Wednesday January 18, 7pm

Of the 11 meetings between the pair, Murphy has won 9 of them. OK, it is skewed a little by the smaller events but if you look at what I’d term meaningful head to heads Murphy still leads 5-1. I wonder why that should be given that Barry is a well established top 16 player? Maybe it’s one of those hoodoo’s that certain players have over others or maybe the style of play Barry adopts which is usually fairly attacking just suits Shaun? Who the devil really knows? Murphy can probably count himself a little unlucky this season so far to have lost in a couple of great matches to almost flawless performances, most notably for me Bingham in the China Championship earlier in the season, but there are those who continue to mumble about him just being too attacking and needing to tighten up a bit and dare I say it, be more like Selby and less like, well, Murphy. This match closes the first round and I just get the feeling that it might be one of the best of the eight, I can see it going to a decider and if it does I’ll count on the hoodoo to see Murphy throothroo.

Match Prediction: Murphy 6-5

Mark Selby v Mark Williams – Wednesday January 18, 1pm

The Master of Brinkmanship meets the laid back Welshman for the 26th time in their careers with the head to head extremely close both in terms of matches and frames played, Williams slightly ahead on both. Quite amazingly for people like Dennis, when I’d say it was more ironic really, MJW was the last player to have held all the ‘big three’ titles at the same time; the World Championship, the UK and this. But Selby is now in a position to also do just that and join an extremely elite group of players to have done so, with MJW being handed the chance to retain the status quo by beating him here. To give you an idea of how elite a group this is, Ronnie’s name ain’t down so he’s not comin’ in. Will this add to the pressure for Selby? Well MJW had better hope not as that is when The Jester thrives, to me he is the closest we have had to a dominating player since Hendry. His consistency is now as strong as ever, he is light years ahead on the money/ranking list and unlikely to be toppled for at least two years from his perch and he has to be the fancy in the bottom half to get to the final. It would be nice to see him join the club in arguably a more competitive era of snooker than that of Hendry and Davis, though perhaps not Williams. Even so, maybe then, deservedly, he will finally be accepted as one of the sport’s ‘greats’, just not by Ronnie’s fans. 

Match Prediction: Selby 6-3

Outright Bets: Mark Selby at 4/1 and John Higgins at 9/1.

Recommended First Round Acca: Ding, Higgins, Selby and Fu pays 15/2 at Marathon Bet.

I will be tweeting daily handicap/century doubles throughout the first round. 

January 3, 2017

Alfie Burden handed Suspended Suspension

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:37 pm

Alfie – Careless

As sporting heists go this one has to be up there with the daftest. Alfie Burden was today handed a 6 month suspended suspension and fined £5000 for breach of the betting rules of the sport.

‘He got off lightly’ I hear you cry. ‘Always knew he was bent’ I hear you roar. ‘What about Stephen Lee?’ I hear from somewhere near Trowbridge, but when you read past the headlines you see that all Alfie is really guilty of is being incredibly stupid and deciding that when the governing body say that players can’t bet on snooker, he thought they weren’t talking to him.

It turns out that The AB of London Town has been punting away without a care in the world, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the sport is in the grip of the bookies and sooner or later someone who knew the rules would find out.

The facts of the case are that between 30th September 2006 and 4th February 2010 the hapless Alf placed in the region of 50 bets on snooker with an online betting operator. Between 30th September 2006 and 22nd November 2007 he placed 5 bets on his own matches. In each case the bet was for him to win as was part of an accumulator with other snooker matches from the same tournament, so at least he wasn’t backing the other fella.

Between 5th July 2013 and 29th November 2016 The AB placed 36 bets on snooker with another online betting operator. The bets were mainly accumulator style bets. None of these bets involved his own matches, but it did include bets on tournaments he competed in.

In an ironic and slightly cruel twist, the governing body have decided to tell everyone what a terrible judge Alfie is and reveal in the official statement that ‘Mr Burden’s betting on snooker has been largely unsuccessful. He has bet a total of £25,003.03 on snooker since 2006 and has to date has lost a total of £2,995.27’.

It goes on that ‘there is no suggestion whatsoever that Mr Burden was doing anything to influence match outcomes or engaged in any corrupt activity, he was solely betting on snooker’.

So is the sentence fair? I’d say the only thing he has done wrong is ignore the rules and for that he’s paid £5000 and had his reputation mildly soiled, but not irrecoverably damaged.

Alfie, you balloon, what were you thinking? Next time just give me a shout and I’ll put it on for ya…only jokin.

December 12, 2016

Hoots Man! It’s the Scottish Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:40 am

Scotland, for those that aren’t sure where it is, is a small suburb in the North of England which houses people that moan about being English, fight each other over the most trivial thing, moan a lot, sing about being Scottish and drink loads of alcohol. It’s also managed somehow to produce some fine snooker players down the years, possibly because the weather is always terrible and they have to stay indoors for 23.5 hours a day.

Snooker returns there today in the form of the Scottish Open, the third leg of the much heralded Home Nations series. The million pound bonus is now a distant memory with unlikely winners Liang Wenbo and Mark King having taken the first two trophies ensuring that wily old Bazza doesn’t have to fork this out any time soon whilst claiming it was always part of the prize money pot for the season.

The last time snooker visited Scotland was for a PTC just around the corner from John Higgins’s house in Ravenscraig. To say it was poorly attended would be grossly inaccurate and an exaggeration of the truth of the matter, it was basically watched by one man without his dog so lets hope that the move to Glasgow produces a much better crowd than that one did.

It’s back to the best of sevens for this and it’s covered as usual by Eurosport. As chance would have it, two Scottish snooker heavyweights John Higgins and Alan McManus have drawn each other in the first round, it’s funny how these things happen in the open and transparent draw system that is operated by the governing body, almost as if the snooker gods themselves have had a hand in deciding this fate.

I’m not going to get too involved in this as I’m getting into Christmas mode. I might post the odd bet on Twitter but I will leave you with the essentials if you want to get involved.

View the draw here, view the schedule here, view the live scores here and pay and watch through Eurosport Player here.

December 4, 2016

The UK Final: The Rivalry Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:57 am
We meet again

We meet again

Snooker has through the years enjoyed many great rivalries, from the very early days of Spencer and Reardon, through Alex and The Nugget, through Hendry and White then O’Sullivan who then battled with Higgins and now, with Mark Selby.

It’s astonishing even writing that first paragraph just how Ronnie has maintained his position in the sport for so long, the last three truly great rivalries have all involved him and he’s there today, looking for yet another big title against his current nemesis.

The fans of both are fiercely loyal to their man. In the age of social media where seemingly anyone can say anything to whoever they want that they wouldn’t dream of saying to their faces, the insults fly. ‘Slowby’ is frequently used by the politer fans of Ronnie to describe Selby, the less polite ones will just call him a ‘fucking boring twat’.

Meanwhile, Selby’s fans goad their enemy by simply telling them to get over the fact that Selby has Ronnie’s number and knows how to beat him, pointing to the recent history books to rile their foes.

The truth is that these two remain the best two players in the world and their match-ups are always fascinating to watch because they are so different. This is what makes the best rivalries, if you look at the ones I mentioned above, it’s easy to see why they worked so well for the sport.

I’ve gone from thinking one will win to the other and I’m still not sure if I’ll even have an interest bet on it, there are so many different scenarios that can play out and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them totally dominates from the start and runs away with it, but I hope that doesn’t happen.

Selby to me this week has looked very much like the player that won two world champiosnhips and Ronnie dodged a bullet which was even bigger than Marco’s watch last night to get here. So if someone had a second one in the barrel and it was pointing at my head, the name I’d give is Selby. I’m actually quite surprised that Ronnie is such a clear favourite with the bookies.

I hope it’s a great final, let battle commence.

December 3, 2016

UK Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:48 am

We are down to the one table situation in York today as the best of 11 frame semi-finals are battled out with all four left, after a tournament of shocks, being established names in the sport.

sf

Shaun Murphy faces Mark Selby this afternoon and the head to head between these two is as you’d expect, incredibly close with Mark ahead by one match of the 35 they have contested and just three frames up out of 259.

Tonight, Ronnie O’Sullivan faces Marco Fu with Ronnie, as he does with most, holding a commanding head to head lead but Marco has beaten him on the big stage in the past so it’s still a test for The Rocket, who will hope to improve on his rather understated performance last night.

Let’s hope it’s a great day in York and a fitting conclusion to this prestigious event tomorrow.

RECOMMENDED BET: SINGLE ON SELBY 6-5 AT 13/2. 

December 2, 2016

UK Championship: Quarter Finals Friday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:08 am

qfA cracking day of snooker lies ahead today in York as eight become four with all four quarter finals played today, two of which involve clashes between multiple world champions, with the other two offering two players in particular a golden chance of a great payday this weekend.

Jamie Jones is the latest in a long line of players to claim he’s skint, whilst it is easy to make light of these matters it is now becoming increasingly evident that this is a real issue in snooker and one that should really be being addressed head on.

Jamie is a middling professional who had a great run in Sheffield a few years back but hasn’t really kicked on as expected, with that comes huge financial pressures which only a run like this can ease, just ask Mark King.

Is it time that professional players were guaranteed a base wage? Even if they lose in the first round of everything? That’s a question that there is some disagreement on and while the tour is so big in terms of player numbers it’s very unlikely to happen. Another argument perhaps to trim it a little and have a supporting tour in the background which rewards hard graft?

But this week Jamie is rising to the challenge and if he can win tonight against Marco Fu his financial worries will be eased for a bit at least. Marco himself is busy with other things and selling huge wristclocks to anyone that wants one so he’s stuck his finger in a pie outside of snooker to try and get by, he was of course one of the players who lost out financially from the demise of the old management stable at 110 Sport, apparently he lost a lot of dosh as a result and was one of the worst affected.

But all this talk of money is a far cry from the heavy wallets of this afternoon’s clash between moneybags John Higgins and World Champion Mark Selby, which should be a cracker. They’ve had some great battles down the years, notably at The Crucible with Selby ahead in matches and just one frame ahead in the 183 frames they have played with each other. I get the feeling that this match will set the scene for the big one this evening between MJW and Ronnie, who for me are the two best players to watch in the game when they are at their best.

Shaun Murphy takes on Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel in this afternoon’s other tie, Luca seems to come alive in York and rumour has it can be found in the queue every morning at the iconic local tea establishment ‘Betty’s’ to fuel up for the day ahead. Whatever Betty is putting in his tea seems to be working judging by his win over Mags last night, he might have a lovely smile but inside there is a ruthless competitor who surely at some point will be getting his hands on some silverware, I think he has a great chance against Murphy today if he can keep his form going, he doesn’t seem to get phased by the big occasions at all.

It should be a cracking day and I’m hoping to be able to get to somewhere in the vicinity of the arse dent in the living room sofa for the start of it all at 1pm. I’d advise you to do likewise.

Recommended Bets: SINGLES AND A DOUBLE – More than one century in Higgins v Selby at 6/5 and O’Sullivan v Williams at 6/5.    

December 1, 2016

Ronnie Shakes it Up

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:07 am
He's been at it again

He can’t help himself

Yesterday saw another fairly straightforward win for Ronnie O’Sullivan in York as he progressed into the quarter finals alongside Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby and Marco Fu, but once again the headlines and talking points were as much about his off-table antics as his performance on it.

Already this week he’s likened snooker to a big car boot sale much to the annoyance of his boss, rubbished some of his fellow professionals calling some of them ‘numpties’ who are not good enough to be real snooker players and claimed that the sport has become a cheap TV filler and nothing more. As an aside and more bizarrely he also claimed to be a ‘secret closet’, but I think that’s best left parked for now.

Before he played yesterday he appeared to backtrack on these observations somewhat (apart from the closet bit) on his blog before throwing another grenade after his win over Stevens.

This time his focus was on the way top players are treated and the need to not so much trim the tour numbers but saw it in half and have just 64 playing, with half of them being promoted and relegated each season from and to a supporting amateur tour. This of course isn’t a new idea and something that I myself have suggested in part in the past, even getting as far as tabling a bid to the authorities with a plan for the amateur game on it.

He claimed that the image of the sport is failing to attract sponsors of a high calibre like the likes of Formula 1 and Tennis do, a view that I know is shared by a lot of snooker fans and fellow players. Initially this was part of Bazza’s plan, to get those big blue chip companies interested in the sport and grow it globally, but despite the growth and the numbers who watch snooker, it’s still heavily tilted in favour of the gambling industry when it comes to sponsorship, something that clearly irks The Rocket.

He also told us that he’d got a tournament arranged for 8 players over 2 days for a stackload of cash only to be told by World Snooker that it couldn’t happen as it didn’t cater for 128, I’m not sure what this tournament initiative is all about but he didn’t seem too happy about it being given the elbow. You can see exactly what he said if you have access to BBC IPlayer, just fast forward to 02.59.00 if you are interested. If you can’t access IPlayer but would like to listen to what he had to say, you can do that here.

Anyway, on the table Ronnie is now odds on 19/20 favourite with this tournament’s sponsor Betway who for me are at least one of those sponsors who actually make an effort to draw some interest into the event and the sport in general, very much like World Championship sponsors Betfred. 

There aren’t many sponsors who would have taken the time to set up a new snooker based game and invite two of the world’s top players along to play it. They also have an interactive snooker quiz game with prizes on offer as well as a series of decent articles about the tour on a blog. I don’t think anyone can accuse them of not doing their bit, it’s just a shame that all the sponsors don’t give that level of commitment to the fans.

The move to the two table set up clearly benefited the more experienced players yesterday with a combined score of 24-5 in their favour, but today’s matches with the possible exception of one of them, if that pattern continues, look set to be a lot closer with a lot more even match ups, so given the goings on of yesterday I think a revised handicap bet is probably in order.

Recommended Bet: Treble pays over 5/1 on MJW (-2.5), Maguire (-1.5) and Jones (+2.5) 

November 30, 2016

UK Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:51 am

The next two days sees the third transformation of the set up at the Barbican as we move to the two table scenario to play the 8 matches of the next round which will see 16 players whittled down to the final 8.

Increasingly now we are used to seeing names left in at the business end which raise an eyebrow and this is no exception. Undoubtedly local lad Oli Lines is the one that most will be rooting for at the venue and he continues today against Marco Fu following his impressive disposal of Jimmy Robertson yesterday, also still in there are Ghou Yolonge and Zhang Anda from China, England’s Liam Highfield, Neath’s Jamie Jones and the Belgian Bullet Luca Brecel.

Whilst big names are toppling like skittles there are still those in there lurking that we might expect to go deep, World Champion Selby, Shaun Murphy, John Higgins, Mark Allen and a certain Mr O’Sullivan will all have their eyes on the prize and you’d imagine that some combination of these names will be going toe to toe on Sunday, but the way snooker is these days this is by no means guaranteed, this is 2016 after all.

Ronnie faces his first proper test this afternoon against Matthew Stevens who usually gives him a decent game, it should provide an indication as to whether Ronnie is a worthy tournament favourite as we can’t really judge this on his first three matches against very lowly ranked players, despite him only dropping a frame. He did at least acknowledge after the last one that he’s concerned at not being in the top 16 when the World Championship gets underway so we know he has one eye on his ranking status.

Anyway, it should be an interesting couple of days and it would be nice to see Oli get further, I think he has a decent chance today against Marco, after that, anything is a bonus.   

l16

RECOMMENDED BETS: ACCA pays over 9/2 all handicaps plus 3.5 frames – Lines, Anda, Highfield, Yolonge. CHANCEY SINGLE – Oli Lines @5/2. TRICKY TRIXIE – Jamie Jones, Luca Brecel and Oli Lines (+1.5) – treble pays over 13/1. 

November 28, 2016

UK Championship Third Round

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:59 am

It’s time to bid a not so fond farewell to the Sports Hall today as the action now moves to the four tables in the main arena at The Barbican in York for the third round of the UK Championship.

It’s been a pretty eventful couple of days which saw some unlikely headline grabbers in amongst those still left competing. It seems Fergal O’Brien is following in the footsteps of recent fellow oldies in upping his game. The man with possibly the strangest facial expression when down on the shot banged in five centuries in his 6-5 win over Barry Hawkins, the first person ever to achieve such a feat. It’s also very much a case of ‘keep it in the family’ as Peter and Oli Lines continue their quest to keep the trophy in Yorkshire, Peter of course knocked out Robbo earlier in the contest and Oli last night completed a great win over Judd.

Of course there are still lots of established names left, not least Ronnie O’Sullivan who is yet to lose a frame, but let’s face it, he hasn’t exactly got a bad draw in this has he? He faces Michael Georgiou today and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he might carry on that streak and be 18-0 by around 2.30 this afternoon. Less convincing so far have been Ding Junhui and Mark Selby who will both need to lift their game several notches as the week goes on. John Higgins, Shaun Murphy, 147 man Mark Allen, Ali Carter and a few other established winners are all still in the mix too so there is still plenty to play for.

The running order for the next two days can be found by clicking here with how the draw pans out below, followed by a few bets.

third-round

Recommended Bets: Tasty Treble – Ali Carter, Peter Lines and Mark Williams pays over 13/2. Single Punt: Ronnie O’Sullivan to win 6-0 at 7/1. Tricky Trixie: Jamie Jones, Mitchell Mann and Fergal O’Brien – treble pays over 58/1. 

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