Snookerbacker

September 20, 2014

International Championship Qualifiers Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:50 am
Ding won a vase last year.

Ding won a vase last year.

It’s a long way from Chengdu, but Barnsley it is that hosts the first round of the International Championship from Monday. This is a tournament which I enjoy and is the best one China hosts, by virtue of the fact that the matches are a little bit longer with all these ones being the best of eleven frames, making them a much more enticing betting proposition. The prize money on offer also ranks this right up there with the majors.

There are 64 matches in all to be played out with all the major players involved, apart of course from Ali Carter whose recovery is now thankfully complete. He’ll be getting back into the cockpit for the Bulgarian PTC and we can’t wait to welcome him back to the snooker world after his incredibly brave fight against his health problems.

Below I have listed the matches as they are played. There will be coverage on the usual betting sites as well as the World Snooker TV live channel.

There are plenty of betting opportunities available so we’ll see if we can continue the good run from the Shanghai Masters. The fact that these are best of 11 means for me, this is one of the best betting few days of the season.

If you want to view head to heads, where there is one, just click on the match and take a look, courtesy of Cue Tracker. Note that a lot of these matches are first time meetings.

(S) denotes live streamed matches.

Monday 22nd of September 

9.30am

Peter Lines v Mitchell Mann
Aditya Mehta v James Wattana (S)
Michael White v Sean O’Sullivan (S)
Dominic Dale v Vinnie Calabrese
Jack Lisowski v Ian Burns
Cao Yupeng v Craig Steadman

Predicted Winners: Mann, Mehta, White, Dale, Lisowski, Steadman.

2.30pm

Ding Junhui v Wang ZePeng (S)
Graeme Dott v Lee Page
Robbie Williams v Ahmed Saif
Mark Williams v Scott Donaldson (S)
Luca Brecel v Chris Melling

Predicted Winners: Ding, Dott, Williams, Williams, Melling.

7.30pm

Mark Joyce v Lu Ning
Ken Doherty v Joel Walker (S)
Kurt Maflin v Elliot Slessor
Neil Robertson v Alex Borg (S)
Matthew Selt v Alex Pagulayan

Predicted Winners: Joyce, Walker, Maflin, Robertson, Selt.

Tuesday 23rd of September 

9.30am

Ryan Day v Lu Haotian (S)
Martin Gould v Cao XinLong
Nigel Bond v Joe O’Connor
Barry Hawkins v Ratchayothin Yotharuck (S)
Jamie Cope v Oliver Brown
Kyren Wilson v Ross Muir

Predicted Winners: Day, Gould, Bond, Hawkins, Cope, Wilson.

2.30pm

Stuart Bingham v Michael Wasley (S)
Jimmy White v Alex Davies
Michael Holt v Sam Baird (S)
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Steven Hallworth
Mark King v Zak Surety

Predicted Winners: Bingham, White, Holt, Poomjaeng, King.

7.30pm

Dark Mavis v Lee Walker (S)
John Higgins v Stuart Carrington (S)
Gary Wilson v Li Hang
Jamie Jones v Zhang Anda
Alan McManus v Michael Georgiou

Predicted Winners: Mavis, Higgins, Wilson, Jones, McManus.

Wednesday 24th of September 

9.30am

Anthony McGill v Ashley Carty
Ben Woollaston v Sydney Wilson
Tom Ford v Joe Swail
Andrew Higginson v Chris Wakelin
Liang Wenbo v Zhou Yuelong (S)
Ricky Walden v Lu Chenwei (S)

Predicted Winners: McGill, Woollaston, Swail, Wakelin, Wenbo, Walden.

2.30pm

David Morris v John Astley
Joe Perry v Chris Norbury (S)
Mike Dunn v Matthew Day
Rory McLeod v Andrew Pagett
Judd Trump v Ian Glover (S)

Predicted Winners: Morris, Perry, Dunn, McLeod, Trump.

7.30pm

Peter Ebdon v David Grace
Matthew Stevens v Michael Leslie (S)
Jamie Burnett v John Sutton
Jimmy Robertson v Hammad Miah
Mark Selby v Oliver Lines (S)

Predicted Winners: Ebdon, Stevens, Burnett, Robertson, Selby.

Thursday 25th of September 

9.30am

Mark Allen v Nico Elton (S)
Yu Delu v Brandon Sargeant 
Marcus Campbell v Barry Pinches
Robert Milkins v Daniel Wells (S)
Xiao Guodong v Alexander Ursenbacher
Gerard Greene v Eden Sharav

Predicted Winners: Allen, Delu, Pinches, Milkins, Guodong, Sharav.

2.30pm

Shaun Murphy v Allan Taylor (S)
Alfie Burden v Noppon Saengkham
Stephen Maguire v Liu Chuang (S)
Anthony Hamilton v Liam Highfield
Dave Gilbert v Mark Owens

Predicted Winners: Murphy, Saengkham, Maguire, Hamilton, Gilbert.

7.30pm

Ronnie O’Sullivan v James Cahill (S)
Marco Fu v Shane Castle (S)
Fergal O’Brien v Fraser Patrick
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Andrew Norman
Rod Lawler v Tian Pengfei

Predicted Winners: O’Sullivan, Fu, O’Brien, Un-Nooh, Lawler.

Betting:

Betting on this set of matches is very much about what type of gambler you are. Do you prefer to risk high stakes at lower odds or lower stakes at medium to high odds when looking at accumulators? which is surely the way to go with so many matches over this distance. Or, do you want the value and the singles and doubles on odds against shots? Well, there is something for everyone here so the recommended bets will deal with each of these types of punt. Starting with your main acca on my idea of the safest propositions amongst the 64.

Recommended Bets:

4 points acca on Ding Junhui, Graeme Dott, Robbie Williams, Matt Selt, Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins, Dark Mavis, Anthony McGill, Judd Trump, Joe Perry, Xiao Guodong, Mark Allen, Robert Milkins, Yu Delu, Shaun Murphy and Dave Gilbert pays over 8/1 with Boyles.

2 points acca on Michael White, Aditya Mehta, Mark Williams, Jamie Cope, Nigel Bond, Ryan Day, Kyren Wilson, Michael Holt, Alan McManus and Mike Dunn pays over 22/1 at Hills. Add Anthony McGill and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh for a 1 point acca which pays over 37/1 at the same firm.

2 point singles on each of the following: Mitchell Mann (7/4), Joel Walker (11/10), Chris Wakelin (15/8), Joe Swail (6/4). 4 points on Barry Pinches (5/4). 

September 12, 2014

Shanghai Masters Finals Weekend

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:13 pm

As so often happens, it all worked out in the wash. Despite the shocks of the week we still have four big names contesting the semi-finals and the likelihood of a great final whoever comes through.

I’ll just sit back now and hope that Mark Allen can kick on and land the 16/1 recommended bet but in truth you’d have to fancy a Selby and Ding showdown, we’ll see. Bingham does have a decent head to head record against Ding and they seem to like a decider for any correct score punters as you’ll see when you click the match. None of these four are scared of winning so it’s all set up for a decent weekend. 

There’s a few days of qualifiers from Thursday next week and I’ll probably cover those, well the second lot at least. Firstly there are qualifiers for the now postponed to a packed March Indian Open (short Best of 7 matches) and secondly for the lucrative International Championship (longer Best of 11 matches). EDIT – The Indian qualifiers have already been moved to later in the season. 

Saturday 

7.30am

Mark Allen v Mark Selby

12.30pm

Ding Junhui v Stuart Bingham

Sunday

Mark Allen v Stuart Bingham

September 11, 2014

Shanghai Masters Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:35 pm

As the sixteen players that were left this morning have been whittled down to eight, it’s now time for the Quarter Finals of this season’s Shanghai Masters.

The matches are listed below and if you click on them the head to head stats will magically appear, courtesy of Cue Tracker. Mark Allen (1 point each way at 16/1) is still in the hunt in the outrights recommended in the pre-tournament preview and I will admit to having had a dabble on Angles McManus at 33/1 yesterday so still chances there. 

7.30 am UK Time

Michael White v Mark Allen
Fergal O’Brien v Mark Selby

12.30 pm

Ding Junhui v Graeme Dott
Stuart Bingham v Alan McManus

Recommended Bet: 2 point double on Dott and McManus both plus 1.5 frames pays 11/4 at Ladbrokes.

September 10, 2014

Shanghai Surprise? The Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:16 pm
Great Tournament. Shit Film.

A surprisingly shite film, that’s for sure.

There have been surprises aplenty over in Shanghai so far this week, if you accept the premise that anything these days in snooker can be described in such terms. 

First off, we saw Liang Wenbo beaten by a Chinese schoolboy, a result that I did actually half expect given what I know about the pair of them. The wildchild had some decent form and Liang tends to sometimes not be at his best against this type of opponent (bookies outsiders from China) for one reason or another. Sharing the wealth and all that…

Anyway moving on, Matt Selt also fell foul of this ridiculous round which I’m sure delighted him no end, maybe he’ll tell us his thoughts on the fucking wildcard fucking round in the next X-Rated fucking Pinch of fucking Selt.

Then we saw the resurgent Scot Alan McManus sending Ronnie home, again a result that I’d argue can’t really be reported in ‘shock’ terms given Angles recent form and the rustiness of the Rocket.

But Ronnie showed his face, doubtless earned a packet from an exhibition the day before where he wore a silver waistcoat and smoked bifters and he probably won’t be seen back in China until this time next year for another big fat pay cheque. Job done. Plane home. Bish bash and a bosh on top.

My main fancy for the title Judd Trump also came a cropper against the Spaceman, Dom Dale. Coventry-born Welshman Dom had never beaten him before and his form from the 6 Reds held up. Judd being left to wander the lucrative shops of the area with Jack Lisowski buying overpriced marked-up tat until his flight home.

John Higgins being beaten by real Welshman Ryan Day surely can’t be deemed a Shanghai surprise these days. Day is capable of beating anyone of course when he’s in the mood and poor old John can’t hit a bulls arse with a shovel at times the older he gets, poor sod. In fact our Higgy was so grumpy afterwards he didn’t even speak to the assembled Chinese hacks about losing at the scheduled mandatory 10 hour press conference, what’s his problem exactly? Fine is in the post no doubt.

Stop that plane Judd!! Here comes Robbo with Django in tow in a blinged-up London cab!

Mags - not happy about the table.

Mags – not happy about the table, and quite possibly the Chinese portrait.

Another Welshie, young Michael White gave the Aussie a taste of his own medicine by winning a decider in their match. Whatever next? The way this is going there won’t be any big names left in this and all on the eve of Bazza and Co. trying to renegotiate the contract to pull them in line with all the other comps which all end up with big names at the end of them. What are the chances of that happening? Snooker eh?

At least some order was restored in the last set of matches with wins for World Champion Selby, Mark Allen and Six-Reds King Maguire (pictured), who afterwards moaned about the table, doubtless after a few cuebangs, at least some things are as they should be in this crazy madcap world. Mags sets up a clash with Angles next as even China goes Tartan mad ahead of next week’s big independence vote north of the border (they are both voting Yes).

But wait!!! A final Shanghai surprise to top off the day!! Just when you thought it was safe to venture back into the arena a dapper looking Marco Fu managed to lose against the wildcard who dumped out Selt. What the devil is going on? The way this is panning out Fergal will be winning it and they’ll be snapping Bazza’s hand off to adopt the new format, just like he wants.

Anyway, despite the outright pick on Judd we are still well in front betting-wise courtesy of the ‘surprise results’. Here’s the line up for Thursday as we move into the Last 16 with a few bets underneath. I’ve had a small interest each way on Angles at 33′s, he’s playing well enough.

CLICK THE MATCHES FOR HEAD TO HEADS COURTESY OF CUETRACKER

7.30am

Michael White v Ryan Day
Mark Allen v Mark Williams
Dominic Dale v Stuart Bingham
Graeme Dott v Shaun Murphy

12.30pm

Ding Junhui v Martin Gould
Stephen Maguire v Alan McManus
Michael Holt v Mark Selby
Wildcard v Fergal O’Brien

Predicted Winners: Day, Allen, Dale, Murphy, Ding, McManus, Selby, Wildcard.

Recommended Bets: 2 point treble on Day, Allen and Wildcard pays over 4/1 at Corals. 2 points on Dale at 6/4 and 2 points on McManus at 13/8. 1 point acca on all five pays over 28/1 generally.

PHOTOGRAPH OF MAGUIRE COURTESY OF NEIL ROBERTSON ON TWITTER. DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER.

September 5, 2014

Shanghai Masters Preview: Trump Can Continue Winning Form

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:07 pm

ShanghaiI suppose it’s not a case of ‘the season starts here’ given we’ve had action from all over the globe already but somehow the Shanghai Masters does for me at least, signify the point of the year when the real stuff really begins, maybe it’s because of the change of the seasons here in good old Blighty. 

From here on in and as the mornings grow crisper and the nights get that bit longer it feels like a good time to settle down and watch a bit of snooker. Call me a bluff old traditionalist if you will, but snooker is a sport tailor made for TV on colder days and nights, like the sporting equivalent of a comfort blanket or a pair of well worn loafers.

That said, the Chinese schedules of course always revolve around the daylight hours back in Europe and the UK and the fact all their formats revolve around 4 tables means we don’t really get to see the whole picture unravelling like we might in say the Masters or the World Championship. But Shanghai is usually a pretty decent event nonetheless and the 32 players who are there as of right alongside the 8 who have no right to be playing should put on a decent week’s entertainment.

Ding Junhui is the defending champion and number one seed while the field also includes Ronnie O’Sullivan, a rare participant in China these days, World Champion Mark Selby who missed the six reds with a dicky tummy, early season winners Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Mark Allen and all the action will be brought to you by Eurosport from early on Monday morning.

So now let’s have a look at the tournament on a quarter by quarter basis and see if we can find a decent bet or two shall we?

QUARTER ONE

Ding Junhui v Jack Lisowski 
Joe Perry v Martin Gould 
Graeme Dott v Liang Wenbo/Yan Bingtao 
Shaun Murphy v Joe Swail 

Ding has done two things so far this season, he has won the first Asian PTC event and he has flown over to lose 5-0 to Oliver Brown in the qualifiers for the Wuxi Classic, so this represents his first foray into the main ranking events, rumour has it he is not entering any of the EPTC events at all so he’s very much embracing the freedom the new money list brings. He’s got a tough opener against Jack Lisowski and the only thing that is certain is that it shouldn’t take long. Joe Perry has started the season well and faces another player on the up in Martin Gould, all in all it’s a tough opening couple of rounds for Ding particularly if he’s rusty so I’m steering clear of him in this event, probably unwisely. The wildcard who faces Wenbo could well cause a surprise and has some very decent form making him a danger on home soil so don’t discount him turning over a couple of big names. It’s a welcome return to the main events for The Outlaw Joe Swail who has beaten Shaun Murphy on their last three meetings so he will not go into this with any fear. However, his lack of main ranking event recent experience may just count against him.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Joe Perry 

QUARTER TWO

Judd Trump v Dominic Dale 
Stuart Bingham v Li Hang/Chen Zifan 
Stephen Maguire v Jimmy Robertson 
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Alan McManus

Dominic Dale has never beaten Judd Trump in 5 meetings and with The Ace in the Pack looking very strong already this season I don’t think that 100% record will change. Judd has the look of someone who doesn’t want to miss the boat behind his contemporaries to me and I fancy him to have a good run in this. Stuart Bingham is always a danger of course but it’s been a while now (relatively) since he’s been seen at the sharp end and he may need to play himself into the season a bit. Maguire seems in good form in the 6 reds and comes here straight from that, his chances always have to be respected but it’s the bottom match in this quarter which will attract the most interest. It’s a decade since Ronnie faced Angles and McManus comes into this in very decent form and is a player I think will progress back up the rankings this season. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he caused an early upset. Ronnie didn’t look that sharp in the Paul Hunter Classic to me.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Judd Trump 

QUARTER THREE

Neil Robertson v Michael White/Niu Zhuang 
John Higgins v Ryan Day/ Xu Si 
Mark Allen v Andrew Higginson 
Barry Hawkins v Mark Williams/Zhang Yong

Lots of why’s and ifs and buts in this section which is basically ruined by the wildcard round, knock out the wildcards and you have four decent matches. It’s time to get rid of them once and for all. Robbo is already a winner over in China this season having captured the Wuxi Classic and goes to every event nowadays as the main contender. John Higgins seems to be recapturing a bit of form after a terrible season last time but for me I still think his winning days are behind him. Mark Allen is in fine fettle and for me is the man to be on in this section, his early season form seems to be rock solid and he like Judd is possibly looking at the likes of Ding, Robbo and Selby and wondering why he’s not getting more of a slice of the winners pie. We all know he’s good enough, now feels like the season he has to prove it in the main rankers.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Mark Allen 

QUARTER FOUR

Marco Fu v Matthew Selt/Zhao Xintong 
Robert Milkins v Fergal O’Brien 
Ricky Walden v Michael Holt/Yuan SiJun 
Mark Selby v Ken Doherty/Huang Jiahao

Marco Fu was one of the players of last season, incredibly consistent and extremely impressive, if he carries that through to this season he continues to be overpriced at the bookies. Matt Selt has been picking up tips from a certain Mr Hendry over the summer and it seems to be paying off, I think he’s set for a good season if he can keep his current positive outlook but he’s got a tricky draw. Fergal O’Brien is the type of player that Rob Milkins must have nightmares about. Our Rob can get a bit angry with himself now and again and The Ferginator can sniff that kind of action from a continent away, any hint of frustration and he’ll take advantage and send the Milkman packing. You have to wonder how Mark Selby will be feeling following his manflu/shits episode, but he usually looks like he’s slept in a coffin anyway when he’s playing over there so he’ll probably be just fine, assuming he is I think you’d have to make him the favourite to come through this bottom section despite the dangerous presence of Walden and Holt.

Predicted Quarter Winner: Mark Selby

Predicted Tournament Winner: Judd Trump to beat Mark Allen in the final.

Recommended Bets:

2 points on Trump to win the tournament at 14/1 with Sportingbet.

1 point each way on Allen at 16/1 with Betfred.

1 point on Perry to win Quarter 1 at 15/2 with Betfred

2 points on Bingtao to beat Wenbo at 3/1 with Corals

1 point on McManus to beat O’Sullivan at 11/2 with Bet 365

1 point on Swail to beat Murphy at 13/5 with Boylesports. 

August 22, 2014

Paul Hunter Classic: Pro Day Two

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:36 pm
The World Champion is in action on Saturday.

The World Champion is in action on Saturday.

After the first eight qualifiers have gone through to Sunday’s Finals Day, Saturday in Furth sees the other section of the draw whittle down to the eight that will join them. 

The good news is that the acca flagged up on Friday at just on 7/1 landed so I hope a few of you that I know are still logging on regularly despite my recent lack of updates got on. It’s quality over quantity these days as far as I’m concerned, both in terms of the posts and the bets flagged up hopefully.

I’ve taken a look at the early Saturday matches but for the life of me I can’t find anything that interests me on the betting front enough to part with the hard-earned. I think there are a few outsiders with a chance in the morning matches, Oli Lines, Allan Taylor, David Morris, James Cahill, Stuart Carrington and Vinnie Calabrese all have chances at decent odds. Fraser Patrick faces a toughie against Stuart Bingham but is way overpriced and possibly being under-rated by the bookies.

But I’m keeping the satchel closed. Gun to head I’d say the best two from that list of outsiders are Calabrese and Cahill for a small interest double which is paying you close on 6/1. 

The matches are listed below and the tournament continues on Eurosport.

8.30am

Mark Selby v Alexander Ursenbacher
Dominic Dale v Oliver Lines
Shaun Murphy v Luke Garland
Mark Joyce v Lu Ning
Jak Jones v Kishan Hirani
Liam Highfield v Cao Xin Long
Andrew Higginson v Liang Wenbo
Dark Mavis v Sanderson Lam
Chris Wakelin v Eden Sharav
Michael Wasley v David Grace
Allan Taylor v Tom Ford

Approx 10am

Ricky Walden v Andrew Pagett
Ryan Day v Adam Duffy
Gerard Greene v Peter Lines
Fergal O’Brien v David Morris
Marco Fu v Hans Blanckaert

Approx 10.30am

Anthony McGill v Mitchell Mann
David Gilbert v Craig Steadman
Neil Robertson v Elliot Slessor
Jimmy Robertson v Vinnie Calabrese

Approx 11.30am

Kyren Wilson v Paul Davison
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Lyu Chenwei 
Jack Lisowski v Stuart Carrington
Graeme Dott v Martin O’Donnell

Approx 12pm

Mark Williams v Rod Lawler
Sam Baird v Yu De Lu
James Cahill v Dave Harold
John Higgins v Zak Surety

Approx 1pm

Mark King v Michael Collumb
Jamie Jones v Lyu Haotian
Ross Muir v Matthew Stevens 
Stuart Bingham v Fraser Patrick

FOLLOWED BY LATER ROUNDS

Paul Hunter Classic: Pro Day One

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:13 am
Birthday Boy

Just seen the size of his present from Bazza

Following a busy couple of days for the amateur players today sees the professionals enter the fray in Furth. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan plays his first match at 12 noon and I’m sure you’ll be able to catch that on Eurosport if you get the chance.

Another legend of the game Steve ‘Interesting’ ‘The Nugget’ ‘The Ginger Magician’ Davis is also in action first up, it’s a bit unfair putting him on that early on his birthday. He’ll hardly have time to blow out the candles on his cake before he’s got to get back to the baize.

There are also a few of the SB Classic regulars in action, Jamie Clarke, Jack Bradford, Alex Taubman and Gaz Allen will all be hoping to give a good account of themselves and progress.

Here’s the running order for today.

Recommended Bet: 2 point acca pays almost 7/1 at Boyles on Joel Walker, Jamie Cope, Anthony Hamilton, Tian Pengfei and Matt Selt.

8.30am

Gary Wilson v Steve ‘Birthday Boy’ Davis
Kurt Maflin v Li Hang 
Joe Swail v Scott Donaldson 
Michael Holt v Xiao Guodong 
Alex Davies v Joel Walker
Jamie Cope v Barry Pinches
Rob Milkins v Chris Norbury
Martin Gould v Ryan Clark
Michael White w/o Marcus Campbell
Ian Glover v Ratchayothin Yotharuck
Luca Brecel w/o Ken Doherty

Approx 10am

Alan McManus v William Lemons
Ben Woollaston v Jamie Clarke
John Astley v Alex Taubman
Rory McLeod v Alex Borg
Mark Allen v Lee Walker 

Approx 10.30am

Judd Trump w/o Zhou Yuelong
Anthony Hamilton v Steven Hallworth
Tony Drago v Lee Page
Nigel Bond v Mitchell Travis

Approx 11.30am

Jimmy White v Ahmed Saif
Stephen Maguire v Hammad Miah
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Steve Mifsud
Aditya Mehta v Jeff Cundy

Approx 12pm

Matt Selt v Alfie Burden 
Michael Georgiou v Tian Pengfei
Chris Melling v Cao Yupeng
Noppon Saengkham v Ronnie O’Sullivan

Approx 1pm

Mike Dunn v Ian Burns
Robbie Williams v Thomas Dowling
Michael Leslie v Jack Bradford
Barry Hawkins v Gareth Allen

FOLLOWED BY LATER ROUNDS

August 20, 2014

Paul Hunter Classic Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:21 am
Back in Action in Germany

Back in Action in Germany

The European tour continues this week as the Stadthalle Fürth, Fürth in Germany plays host to many people’s favourite on this tour, the Paul Hunter Classic, named after one of snooker’s brightest and sadly departed stars.

It was won last season by Ronnie O’Sullivan and happily he’s back to defend his title. Despite his detractors and critics it remains for most a more interesting tournament when Ronnie is involved, he’s not been seen since the World Championship but appears on the face of it keen to get back to competitive action now that the tour is organised to his exact specifications.

Indeed the only really notable exception in this is Ding Junhui, who seems to be becoming the new Ronnie the way he’s picking and choosing lately. But other than that we have all the big guns, World Champion and World Number 1 Selby, Wuxi winner Robbo and early season winner in Australia Judd are all in the mix.

It’s a fitting tribute to Paul that this is becoming something of a main event. OK, the prize money is still low compared to the main rankers but to all intents and purposes that is how it feels and it would be nice if the prize money on offer one day reflected the esteem in which it’s held by the players and fans, but the good news is that it’s getting there.

The tournament also sees the beginning of a slightly busier period in the calendar, a fortnight after this ends we’re off to Shanghai for the Masters there and in between is the 6-reds, which Dark Mavis will probably win again.

In terms of this event, the dream semi-final line up would be Ronnie or Judd against Selby with Robbo arguably in the ‘easier’ half of the draw. This in effect makes Robertson an automatic outright pick given his relatively smoother path to Finals Day. Ronnie starts the event as favourite and if you are a firm believer in horses for courses he more or less cantered to victory here last season, beating unlikely finalist Gerard Greene and breaking the trophy afterwards. Selby however is already back to winning ways and will want to cement his current status to the max, possibly by putting Ronnie to bed again in the semi-finals. Indeed snooker is now increasingly getting the feel of a big 4 or 5 who seem to be pulling away from the chasing pack a bit, my guess is that Ronnie, Mark, Neil, Judd and Ding will be sharing quite a few titles amongst them this season while the others look on.

All that said, it’s always worth hunting around for big each way prices and this is especially true where the bookies are paying out on the semi-finalists, which most of them now appear to be doing. My each-way long shot for this one is the in-form Alan McManus at 200/1 with Betfred to compliment a couple of the more obvious picks in the outrights of O’Sullivan at a best priced 4/1 and Robertson who is available at 7/1. I’m not doing points anymore but they are three I’m backing in this and I’d be surprised if one of the big names isn’t holding the trophy aloft on Sunday.

You can view the draw for the Paul Hunter Classic including the amateur rounds here and you can take a look at the Eurosport schedule by clicking here.

I’ll bash some match bets up as and when the tournament begins.

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August 6, 2014

Viva La Riga! The Riga Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:33 pm
The impressive arena

The impressive arena

It’s been a fragmented start to the new snooker season and feels a little bit like being stuck in an airport waiting a month for your connecting flight. The Wuxi and Australian events, won by Neil Robertson and Judd Trump respectively were followed by the longest gap in snooker since the days of Sir Rodders, but with the first ever Latvian professional tournament, we now see the season kick off in earnest.

By the looks of the pictures of the arena I have seen, it looks like a cracking venue, the image above was taken by World Snooker Services who are setting it all up for the amateur rounds which kick off on Thursday. There seems to be plenty of space and viewing platforms with 11 tables to choose from, a veritable sweet shop of snooker for those baize hungry Latvians to suck on.

It’s great that snooker is now fully embracing the European market and I think the calendar now has much more of an even feel about it. It’s not too heavily weighted either in the UK or China, though they do still have all the more prestigious events, with a whole swathe of smaller events in Europe alongside the fantastic German Open in Berlin and of course the Aussie Open which continues to cling onto the tour for dear life by virtue of the obvious enthusiasm of the organisers down under, undoubtedly given a further boost by this season’s championship won by Judd. There’s also the Indian Open of course which this season moves to Mumbai and strong rumours of a new event in Dubai with lucrative prize money attached.

The gap in the calendar has, from what I’m hearing, been welcomed by all the players and I dare say some of the hard working people around the circuit who would also have needed to recharge their batteries and had a well-earned holiday. This may not have been by design and of course the second Asian PTC was cancelled seemingly because of some issues with the parties involved, but all in all it’s made the snooker community hungry again for a bit of action.

The draw for the Riga Open can be viewed here, the order of play over at Snooker Island here and the Eurosport schedule here.

Prize Money

Winner: £20,883 – not bad for a few days work.
Runner Up: £10,000 – not to be sniffed at.
Losing SF’s: £5000 – got to be pleased with that, fair play.
Losing QF’s: £3333 – covers the trip comfortably and pays the mortgage for a month I suppose.
Losing L16: £1917 – well it’s not cost anything and I got a few days away, no dent in the bank balance.
Losing L32: £1000 – I might as well have stayed at home.
Losing L64 £583 – For fuck’s sake the Mrs is gonna kill me.
Everyone Else: A really expensive city break and the chance to contract a sexually transmitted disease while you wait for your flight home.

So who are the main contenders then? Well, the two winners so far this season Robbo and Judd are both involved, as well as World Champion Mark Selby and a host of other big names. The only real notable exceptions are Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui, Ding being amongst a whole host of Chinese players that cannot play in this, presumably because of visa restrictions.

It’s impossible to know who is going to hit the ground running after such a long break but it has to be said that Robertson’s draw is probably as good as anyone could hope for and he has to have a big chance of carrying off favouritism in the form he’s in, other than that, a punt on a few outsiders is all there is to be had at this stage for me. Note that if you are betting each way, most of the firms are betting only on the Finalists at half the odds, a more realistic punt would be to take the odds at somewhere betting on the final four at a quarter of the odds, there’s not always that much difference.

If you fancy signing up for a free matched £25 bet at Betfred, click the banner at the foot of this post and open an account there.

Check out Monique’s photos from the venue in the comments section Facebook link.

Recommended Bets: 2 points on Neil Robertson at 6/1, 1 point each way on Joe Perry at 33/1, 0.5 point each way on Martin Gould at 50/1, 0.5 point each way on Robin Hull at 250/1.  

June 29, 2014

Australian Goldfields Open Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:10 am
It's chill-out time, Aussie style.

It’s chill-out time, Aussie style.

On Monday we return to the land where men are men and shiela’s are second class citizens. Yes, it’s down under we go for this season’s Australian Goldfields Open from the freezing cold city of Bendigo.

I don’t think I was alone in being fairly surprised that the future of this tournament, at least in the short term, was rubber-stamped towards the end of last season, but I also don’t think I’m alone in being glad that it was.

Although I never watch the very early matches, whenever I have tuned in for the coverage of the mid-morning starts it’s been first rate, with a nice relaxed style from the studio and the chance to listen to the velvetesque tones and laid back style of the undisputed King of the Snails Robby Foldvari in commentary.

It’s also a nicer format at the main venue than we’ve seen in Wuxi this week, with less of a conveyor belt feel about it and a simple two table set up with 32 players made up of 16 seeded players and 16 qualifiers plus two wildcards, keeping the tone of the relaxed feel of the tournament.

Despite all its plus points, a lot of the top players still don’t want to enter it. Lots moan about the financial side of things, claiming that flying to (sometimes) the other side of the globe for the possibility of earning less than they could earn for an exhibition at home is a waste of their precious time.

That may be the case for some and I suppose the better off players coming to the end of their careers who perhaps aren’t quite as driven as the younger crop have a point. But it’s nice that some of them do make the effort and support the event, they’ve a decent amount of time off after this so why not combine it with a holiday? That’s what I’d do, but some potters aren’t exactly known for their adventurous ways and will probably head home the minute they are beaten.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me is that Marco Fu has chosen not to defend the title he won last season. One can only assume that he has personal reasons for this as he’s competed in Wuxi and is not one that drops out of events lightly. It would be interesting to know why Marco didn’t enter though. But there are still enough big names in there to make it a decent spectacle for the locals who include of course, Maggie the Dog, the much loved pooch who attends and has won the hearts of the likes of Stuart Bingham and Shaun Murphy in the past.

Of course the locals will all want to see Robbo break his Aussie duck this week after a good week in Wuxi, rumour has it that Neil almost forgot to enter this and got his entry in at the last minute, which is very unlike him (it isn’t). Anyway, let’s hope he’s a bit more chirpy this week after his table gripes in China, he usually looks more settled at home and he will definitely want to win this for the crowds having disappointed them on the last three occasions.

Just a word on the wildcards, I’m not that familiar with Johl Younger but the other bloke, Matthew Bolton, has been the subject of a right old ding-dong in Snooker Scene of late. Apparently, our Matty got tanked up at the World Amateurs and started giving some Chinese kids the verbals in what was described as a borderline racist pissed up rant during which he ‘mocked their speaking style and mimicked their Oriental features’. He hit back with a right old go at the reporter Marcus Stead, who witnessed this in full, and all hell then broke loose both in the magazine and in a wider context on Facebook, which led on to a go at the editor Sir Clive of Everton, at one point Stephen Lee chipped in to say he’d knock Clive over in his car if he saw him. It’s been quite entertaining as a bystander I have to say.

Anyway, the draw for the tournament is here and I usually tune in to the action via the Bet 365 live streaming service which runs the Australian TV coverage, if you get the chance take a look, I like the way they cover snooker and it’s a bit like the way ITV set things up, which of course is a world away from the BBC with its sometimes ridiculous features, inappropriate howlers in commentary and it’s tendency to treat the viewers as if they are retarded, when as we all know, only half of them are.

Here’s my outright thoughts and the match schedule is included below.

Recommended Bet: 4 points on Neil Robertson to win the Australian Open at 7/2. 1 point each way on Ricky Walden at 33/1.  

Monday (ALL TIMES ARE UK) 

12am
Andrew Higginson 5-0 Matthew Bolton
Dominic Dale 5-0 Johl Younger

3am
Mark Allen 2-5 Fergal O’Brien
Matthew Stevens 5-3 Luca Brecel

Followed by
Robert Milkins 5-3 Liang Wenbo
Ryan Day 3-5 Mark Joyce

10am
John Higgins 5-3 Tom Ford
Ricky Walden 5-0 Marcus Campbell

Tuesday

2.30am
Dark Mavis 5-3 Dominic Dale
Stuart Bingham 5-0 Scott Donaldson

Followed by
Fergal O’Brien 2-5 Matthew Stevens
Xiao Guodong 5-2 Liam Highfield

10am
Robert Milkins 5-2 John Higgins
Stephen Maguire 0-5 Jamie Jones

Wednesday

2.30am
Shaun Murphy 5-0 Jack Lisowski
Joe Perry 4-5 Alan McManus

Followed by
Judd Trump 5-2 Rory McLeod
Barry Hawkins 2-5 Peter Ebdon

10am
Neil Robertson 5-2 Andrew Higginson
Michael Holt 3-5 Martin Gould

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