February 4, 2019

The World Grand Prix

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:52 am

The snooker takes no rest and it’s now time for the World Grand Prix to take centre stage on ITV. This forms the first part of the three ‘Coral Series’ events, a new innovation this season, and pits together the top 32 players on the one season list (or to be more specific the 7 month list) in a 32 man knockout. (more…)

January 29, 2019

The German Masters

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am

The Templedrum

Most bloggers and fans will proclaim the German Masters to be one of their favourite events on the calendar. Having made the trip to Berlin myself I can confirm that there is a great atmosphere and packed crowds inside the Tempodrom (or if you are Phil Studd ‘The Templedrum’) with a unique table set up that offers the crowd a great viewing experience, so what’s not to like?

I ask this question as it’s become obvious to me over the years that whilst this is a firm favourite with fans, it’s not so for the players. They site a few quirks that they aren’t that happy with, the lighting levels on the outside tables and the fact that often the crowd near their table are busy watching (and clapping) shots from another match are often top of the list of moans but overall, for the viewing public both at the venue and at home, it’s a pretty entertaining few days.

The starting field for the qualifiers was pretty strong, though as ever Ronnie didn’t grace this one with his presence. Masters champion and the boy who would be king Judd Trump is here though and faces his first outing after being much touted by many in the know as the new ‘man to beat’ in snooker, his win in London even prompted some to talk of the great coronation, the new Davis/Hendry moment, when the pupil became the master and Judd finally assumed the mantle from O’Sullivan.

I’m not so sure I have to say. O’Sullivan had a howler in the final and it’s clear he was outplayed, but I really need to see more of this new style of play from Judd on a consistent basis before I believe that this new dawn isn’t another false one that we’ve seen now a few times from him. A win in similar style this week would go some way to really rubber-stamping his Crucible credentials so it’s interesting too from that viewpoint.

It’s a nice compact 32 man field this and my main focus from the betting point of view is trying to call Shaun Murphy home to complete this bet, he qualified for this before Xmas in some style, knocking in 8 tons in the 10 frames he won, but his subsequent performance at Ally Pally wasn’t that encouraging and I hope he finds what he had in December back soon or I fear he may be the man to let me down.

It will also be interesting to see if the Mark’s at either end of the draw can get their season going. World Champion Williams shows no signs of letting up on his kebab drizzled lifestyle while Selby clings on to the Number 1 spot like a one armed man clinging to the side of a skyscraper with no help in sight, with only a matter of time before the inevitable drop occurs.

One player I sense might have a decent week here is Ding Junhui, for me he looked pretty decent at The Masters and he at least looks like he’s enjoying it again now, which is of course half the battle with him, I’d also have a look at the 147th 147 man Dave Gilbert, who might be able to take advantage of a Selby wobble if it happens in his section of the draw. In the top half, I think Joe Perry stands a fighting chance in the top quarter after a fairly quiet season with Judd battling it out in the second quarter, though something tells me he won’t win it.

It’s covered on Eurosport from Wednesday and if you haven’t tuned in before, do so. It gets really pumped as the days go by.

Recommended Bets: Win – Ding Junhui (13/1 – Boosted), Each Way – Joe Perry (40/1), Dave Gilbert (100/1). 

You can plot your own German Masters here, I will be posting match bets on Twitter of a morning.

Here’s the updated draw and format for the final stages of the 2019 German Masters at the Tempodrom in Berlin, following the completion of the qualifying rounds.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

January 20, 2019

Masters Final

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:38 am

I’m not going to waffle on about this, we’ve potentially a riveting final in store between Ronnie and Judd and hopefully it will showcase snooker to the wider audience in the best possible way.

It’s fair to say that Judd has as good a record against Ronnie as most if not all other players on the tour, apart from Elliot Slessor, so it’s all set up to be a close run thing. Despite this, Ronnie is a heavy favourite with the bookies so if you fancy Judd to turn him over again there is a bit of value there.

Personally, I think whilst Judd will probably rise to the occasion, we are due a virtuoso display from the Rocket and part of me feels this is all geared up for the 147th 147 (25/1 at Boylesports). I’ve managed to predict all Ronnie’s correct scores this week and weirdly not for the first time. It’s a bit like when Muhammad Ali used to tell everyone how many rounds he’d take to knock someone out, except I do it for Ronald and it’s not boxing so the similarity is somewhat tenuous.

Needless to say I haven’t had a penny on any of them so today I’ll be investing in him to win 10-7 and lose. Let’s hope for a great final and weep that Hawkins and Robertson let that century bet down as if there isn’t one today I’ll eat my vegan hat.    

January 19, 2019

The Masters Semi-Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:51 am

Well, that was fun while it lasted. Anyone who has been keeping up to date with all things snooker on Twitter this week will have seen the centuries bet I requested gain some momentum, but alas, last night saw the end of the 66/1 dream as Neil Robertson and Barry Hawkins failed to muster up a ton between them, but at least you are spared me going on about it forever and a day so every cloud…..

It’s a stellar line up for the last four as you’d expect from The Masters. Ronnie O’Sullivan remains a strong favourite to lift the Paul Hunter trophy on Sunday and while he’s not been at his sparkling best he’s not yet been troubled and has eased his way through, he plays Ding Junhui (head to head here) who came through a decider against Luca Brecel in the last round which included of course the three miss frame forfeit on his part.

These two met in the famous final here back in 2007 when the London racists were out in force and made Ding cry. The crowd are getting rowdier and rowdier as the weekend approaches with one particular absolute helmet having to be removed as he shouted ‘Barry’ for the millionth time, clearly an oxygen thief with a very limited vocabulary.

Ding is a totally different human being these days and in both his walk-ons he’s come down the steps with a big smile on his face and fist-pumping people who aren’t even asking for one, I swear he fist pumped someone’s head the other day, hopefully it was the racist from 12 years ago. Anyway, he’s clearly in a very good place mentally at the moment and while his game isn’t as sharp as it might be, his bonce is bang on the money.

Ronnie gave a strange interview to his pals at Eurosport the other day, seemingly a little frosty early on towards Colin Murray whilst almost sitting on top of a stoic Alan McManus, who looked at one point like Ronnie’s ventriloquist dummy with The Rocket’s arm lodged up his backside, but eventually Ronnie released a clearly relieved Angles and let him sit undisturbed once he got his mouth into gear. It’s as close to unhinged as we’ve seen him in a while but on the table his chimp is definitely in its box eating bananas rather than swinging from the TV lights in a tyre throwing shit at the referee. I can see a better performance from him today and perhaps a couple of tons, I’ll go with 6-3 to O’Sullivan. His old pal Andy Goldstein is back today as Colin heads off to the footy so his interview later will probably be less of a spectacle, much to Alan’s relief.

In the other semi-final Judd Trump takes on his Grove stablemate Neil Robertson (head to head here)They last met here in 2016 when Judd won in a decider and there won’t be many out there who won’t be expecting another close one tonight in what I’m sure will be a real ‘Saturday night’ atmosphere in London, god help us.

Judd has definitely looked a lot more solid this week and is keeping the naughty snooker to the bare minimum, only occasionally showing signs that he’d like to really lamp one. He’s been working hard on his game and practising more than ever and it’s clearly paying off, he’s getting the game that he needs to have now to be any threat in Sheffield and his fans, while missing the old Judd, will I’m sure be hoping new Judd keeps this winning attitude going.

By a similar token, Robbo is regaining his form and looks to be approaching something like his best as we move into the juicy part of the season. How he didn’t make at least one ton against Barry is beyond me but the main thing (for him at least) is that he’s winning a lot of frames in one visit, something that Judd is perhaps not doing as regularly as he is so I’m thinking that might be the difference between the two today.

In terms of a prediction, I’ll take Robbo to edge it 6-4 and set up a final against O’Sullivan, in terms of a bet, a bit of interest only for me as I deflate from the excitement I’ve been having since day one, those 66/1 pokes don’t come round too often….

Recommended Bet: Double pays just over 11/2 on O’Sullivan to make more than 1 century and Robertson to win.


January 17, 2019

The Masters Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:15 am

With eight of the original sixteen still left it’s now time to move on to the Quarter Finals of this great tournament. The first round produced quite a few moments of drama and the odd shock with notable early fallers including the defending champion Mark Allen and four times World Champion John Higgins who both lost in deciders. So who can make it to the last four?

Click on the match for the head to head stats.

Luca Brecel v Ding Junhui (17th Jan – 7pm)

A match up between two players who’ve not really been quite themselves this season but one of them will find himself in the semi-finals after this. Luca produced the goods in the first round against Mark Allen but his big issue has always been maintaining that high standard consistently. Ding put in a workmanlike performance in Round 1 against a hapless Jack Lisowski but on first round form he’ll need to step up a gear here to win. Luca appears from his interviews to have a new hunger for the game, he’s had issues with his cue and his shoulder that now both appear to be sorted and it also seems that he’s been a little hurt by criticism on social media that he doesn’t practice very much, so much so that he’s decided to do the sensible thing and bin it. Ding however looks happy and incredibly relaxed, the family life clearly suits him and as ever when he gets going he is absolutely devastating in the balls. I’ve ummed and aaared on this one as I initially thought Luca would step up and win, but as the hours have passed I’ve now come to my senses, experience wins here and that has to be Ding.

Prediction: Ding to win 6-3 

Ryan Day v Ronnie O’Sullivan (17th Jan – 1pm)

Not for the first time in my life I was called ‘careless’ the other day, this time it was by the World Champion, who said that I was careless for not noticing how often Ryan Day wins deciders in one visit, as he did against John Higgins on day one. I’ll admit it’s a trend that I hadn’t noticed and I still haven’t checked the validity of Mark Williams’ claims, so if anyone would like to I am happy to accept the tag. Ronnie, by his own standards was not fizzing in round one but we’re getting so used to him looking unbeatable it’s a surprise when he only knocks in a couple of tons in a match, his opponent Stuart Bingham for whatever reason just didn’t turn up and Ronnie simply went about his business to win in a canter. Surprisingly, these two haven’t met in anything meaningful since 2011 and Day has in fact won their last two meetings, but back then Ronnie’s chimp was totally out of it’s box and causing carnage wherever it went, he’s a different kettle of chimps these days and I expect him to do the job here, he’ll probably lose the first frame again though

Prediction: O’Sullivan to win 6-3  

Mark Selby v Judd Trump (18th Jan 1pm)

Two players coming into this in good form and without doubt on paper this is the tie of the round. Judd ditched the naughty snooker in dispensing with Kyren in round 1, the first four frames were as good as I have seen him play in terms of maturity and matchplay, he looked determined, played the right shots on all occasions and was ruthless in punishing Kyren’s carelessness. Selby started to be Selby again in his match against Maguire, tons for fun and looking like he’s getting his game back in shape just in time for the run up to Sheffield, where this year I think he’ll be the man to beat. It’s surprising how few times these two have met in anything meaningful, but where they have it’s 3-3, with Trump winning all three they have played over more than best of nine. It’s so difficult to predict what will happen here and in terms of a bet I’d say it’s a just sit and watch it match rather than wasting your money. I’ll side with Trump because he has the look of someone who means business this week and you have to factor in that Selby hasn’t been as consistent as him this season.

Prediction: Trump to win 6-4 

Barry Hawkins v Neil Robertson (18th Jan 7pm)

I’m really looking forward to this one. The Hawk was clinical in putting away Shaun Murphy in round one, who like Bingham, Lisowski and Wilson seemed to fall apart at the seams when faced with the Ally Pally crowd. Robbo looked very impressive from 3-1 down against Williams and in full flow it’s very difficult to see him missing at times, if he keeps up the kind of form he showed in winning those last five frames I fancy him to make the final this week. Barry tends to save his best for the big occasions and it doesn’t get much bigger than this so this is an intriguing match up. Hawkins got the better of the two in last season’s China Open semi-final but in meaningful matches Robbo holds a slight advantage, their most famous encounter saw a 13-12 win for Barry at The Crucible in 2015 and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this one goes the distance too, but on first round form, it’s Robbo for me.

Prediction: Robertson to win 6-4  

January 9, 2019

The Masters Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:30 am

The Pistol is back to defend his crown

All the left behind bodily waste and excrement has been swilled away, the last drunk lying in the corner with ‘180’ written in permanent marker on his arse cheeks has been given his marching orders and now the darts can make way for the altogether more respectable crowd at the Ally Pally for this year’s Masters. Mark Allen is back and in great form to defend the title he won 12 months ago.  

The Masters is always a great way to get rid of the January blues and by the time it’s finished those mornings are getting a little bit lighter and the nights aren’t closing in quite so much. But in the meantime, it’s time to watch the 16 best players in the world according to the rankings at least, battle it out in the electric atmosphere and one-table situation.

Can Ronnie O’Sullivan continue his virtual dominance of the sport these past few months in a tournament he’s won 3 times from the last 5? Or can Mark Allen become the first person besides Ronnie since Paul Hunter to retain the trophy now bearing Paul’s name? As well as these two form players we have a whole host of potters coming here determined to start their new year off with a bang and with the very handy £200,000 first prize.

Let’s take a look at the runners and riders and consider their form coming into this.

Click on the match to reveal the head to head record courtesy of the always excellent Cue Tracker. 

Mark Allen v Luca Brecel – Sunday January 13 at 1pm

The Pistol returns to the scene of his maiden major win in a great final over Kyren Wilson last season in pulsating form and riding high at the top of the one year ranking list. He faces Belgian Bullet, olive lover and serial holidaymaker Luca, who arrived to play the first round against Mark in this last year with two cues (as well as a nice tan), such was his lack of confidence at the time. Somehow, he’s managed to stay in the top 16 for another year though my guess is that unless he has a huge upturn in form soon he won’t be here next time, he is currently down in the mid-thirties on the one year list. The head to head shows 4 meetings with 4 victories for Allen so Luca, given the recent form of the two is really up against it here. He’s not been beyond the Last 16 in anything this season so far and my guess is he won’t break that trend here. Traditionally, this Sunday afternoon BBC curtain raiser provides a bit of drama, with more often than not in recent years a 6-4 or 6-5 result being the outcome. But on current form, I’d say that is another trend that is likely to be broken here, I can see nail-biting drama coming in a few of the first rounders, but not this one. Golden rule when betting: never trust a snooker player with a tan. 

Prediction: Allen to win 6-2.  

Ding Junhui v Jack Lisowski – Monday January 14 at 7pm

The enigma that is Ding Junhui faces one of the most exciting players to watch in snooker, Jack Lisowski, who is deservedly making his Masters debut this year after a great 2018 which has seen him rise to 7th in the one year ranking list, at last fulfilling in part the potential that he’s been showing for quite a few years now. The way Ding is nowadays makes it very hard to predict his matches, sometimes he looks so unhappy playing snooker you just want him to pack it in and go and enjoy himself after years of over-the-top expectation and immense pressure on such young shoulders, but then he’ll spring into life and show you why he shouldn’t. He’s not been playing in a lot this season, perhaps because of his new family situation and lost in the Last 16 of the UK to Martin O’Donnell when he was looking pretty promising coming into that match. In fact, his winning record this season isn’t bad at all and he did round off the year with qualification for Berlin, though it has to be said the draw wasn’t challenging for a player of Ding’s status. Jack’s been keeping his eye in since Christmas with a group win in the Championship League in Coventry so rustiness won’t be an issue for him. I find this a very hard match to call but I think if Lisowski doesn’t let the Palace experience get to him too much he can turn over a player who hasn’t looked as sharp as he does now for a year or so, if ferocious potter Jack gets an early foothold in the match he might be out of sight before Ding has even woken up.       

Prediction: Lisowski to win 6-3.

John Higgins v Ryan Day – Sunday January 13 at 7pm

These two seem to play each other quite a lot don’t they? Or is that just me? Anyway, they met here last year in the quarter finals and Higgins ran out a very comfortable winner but their latest meeting in Shanghai saw a deciding frame victory for Day, both matches over the best of eleven distance that this one is. Higgins seemed very down in the dumps pre-Christmas and there was even again talk from him of considering his future at the end of the season. I think his last two defeats in world finals have really knocked the stuffing out of him and sometimes I feel exhausted just watching him. But he can’t be feeling that bad as he knocked in a 147 in Scotland to round off the year so perhaps following the festive season he may feel a little better. Perhaps he was just having a bad week. Day hasn’t quite been the player he was this time last season following his run of tournament wins and he suffered a shock 6-2 defeat to Joe O’Connor in the UK at the very first stage so he’d like to get his season back on track this side of the new year with a confidence boosting run in this, given he’s fallen out of the top 16 on the one year list. Rather than a runaway win I think this one might produce the drama on Sunday rather than the afternoon match and I can see this going close given that the two are pretty evenly matched on current form and I’ll plump for the tenacious old warhorse Higgins to just edge it.    

Prediction: Higgins to win 6-5.

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stuart Bingham – Monday January 14 at 1pm

Superlatives have come and gone, come back again and again and they just keep on coming, but Ronnie’s current spell of form is probably best summed up by Stephen Hendry when he said, without even a hint of self-awareness, that Ronnie’s recent run is as close to a domination of the sport that anyone has come since he did it. Allen may well be the man of the moment, but you have to factor in that his two big recent wins came in events that O’Sullivan didn’t enter and that in the middle of them Ronnie beat him in the UK final. The plain fact is that having played 28 matches so far this season, Ronnie has only lost two of them; to Judd Trump and to Dark Mavis (under something of a cloud from his previous match), so that is some going. Despite the commanding 14-3 head to head Ronnie enjoys over Bingham, Stuart is one of those players who to me gives it his best against The Rocket and is usually outplayed rather than intimidated into defeat, Ronnie seems to consistently up his game against some players for whatever reason and Stuart, unfortunately for him, is probably one of them. They have met twice this season, both victories as you’d expect given what I have already said for Ronnie, and you’d be a brave person to bet against another one here. It has to be Ronnie, in an event he clearly loves. Perhaps a showdown with Allen in the semi-finals is where this half is heading and the winner of the whole thing will come from that.    

Prediction: O’Sullivan to win 6-2.

Who are you?

Mark Selby v Stephen Maguire – Wednesday January 16 at 7pm

Hey you over there! Yes you! Didn’t you used to be Mark Selby? The winning machine is clearly malfunctioning at the moment and despite a title, a classic semi-final with Ronnie in Belfast and a couple of quarter final appearances, Mark hasn’t won a match on the BBC since he lifted the World title in May 2017 with victory over John Higgins. He also lost in the first round here last season and has only won two matches here in the last four seasons. So what’s the problem with The Jester? It’s very hard to fathom but we didn’t even see him on our screens at York because James Cahill had already pumped him in the pre-TV stages so he clearly needs to up his game in the Grand Slam events to remind people who only watch snooker now and again who he is and what a handsome chap he has grown into. This might make this sound more of a crisis than it actually is given he is still 3rd on the one year list but I’ve got to give Hazel and the gang a little gem to dangle ahead of this match against Maguire. On the head to heads these two are pretty evenly matched and Maguire has been a bit more consistent than usual this season without causing a lot of bother at the business end with two semi-finals and a quarter final in York to his name. This match all depends on Selby really, he has to start putting things right soon in the biggest events but Maguire is a very dangerous opponent and not one you want to tackle when the BBC are on your back and shoving their own private records in your face, I think he’ll turn the corner soon, but I’m not sure it will be here, my bet would be Sheffield, where I think he feels most at ease.   

Prediction: Maguire to win 6-4.

Judd Trump v Kyren Wilson – Wednesday January 16 at 1pm

Let the pretend rivalry begin! As made-up stories designed to convince people they are true go, this is right up there with that big red bus that went on about giving money to the NHS instead of the EU or Donald Trump saying he’d never met that porn star who knew what his little fella looked like. But never over-estimate the intelligence of the general public is what I say. Anyway, I’m sure that the BBC will try and eeek out some needle between two basically nice lads, who just happen between them to carry a decent chunk of snooker’s long term future on these shores in their collective bridge hands. I seriously think the BBC have missed a trick not scheduling this one for the opening Sunday afternoon, it kicks off at 1pm on Wednesday when most people who will want to watch it are at work and it would have really showcased snooker’s future to a larger audience nicely in my opinion, but what do I know? They are pretty even on the head to heads but I’m kind of getting the feeling that the younger man, Wilson, is beginning to gain the psychological edge in the matches that really matter of late. Judd however as mentioned above is one of only two players to beat O’Sullivan this season and the only one to beat him when he was firing, he’s in great form, knocked in a maximum just before Xmas in the German qualifiers and has just won a group in Coventry so this is set up really nicely. I’d say this is poor scheduling for what looks on paper to be the tie of the round, it’ll come back to bite ya, mark my words.  

Prediction: Wilson to win 6-5.

Barry Hawkins v Shaun Murphy – Tuesday January 15 at 7pm

Another coin toss of a tie here between two players who have been under-performing so far this season, which is unusual for Murphy but generally par for the course for Hawkins, who tends to save his best for the second half of the season, namely Sheffield. Murphy came back to form in Scotland with his runners-up spot to Allen and then proceeded to knock in 8 centuries in 10 winning frames to qualify for Berlin, it seems the Magician’s wand may be slowly rediscovering it’s powers after it being a little limp of late since he upped sticks and moved to Ireland. Their last really meaningful encounter came at this stage two years ago when Hawkins rode out an easy winner, but with Murphy playing catch up on his peers already this season and now back in cahoots with his old coach, I sense that if Barry were to prevail again it won’t be such a procession. Given that these two are so evenly matched I’m only going with Murphy because I think he’ll have a strong second half of the season and might be a bit more focused at the moment, but I think we could have another very close one here.    

Prediction: Murphy to win 6-4.

Mark Williams v Neil Robertson – Tuesday January 15 at 1pm

A real Kebab versus Carrot affair this as the carnivorous current world champion takes on the plant-based Aussie who is showing signs of a return to something like his best this season, particularly in his trademark break-building department. The head to head shows a commanding lead for Robertson but this is masked by small time encounters in the Championship League which Neil usually wins. When you remove those it’s more or less level and surprisingly for two top players they haven’t met very often at all; just six times in nearly 14 years and never in a Grand Slam event. I say discount those minor event meetings but it is amazing how routinely Robbo wins these match ups, which perhaps suggests that he might enjoy playing Mark, but that may be just me reading too much into it, it could just be that MJW had too many sausages on his Crondon Park breakfasts on the days in question. Williams is making much about not really caring this season and if that’s true, who can blame him? But a carefree floater brings with him his own danger factor and if he really doesn’t give a damn if he wins or loses he’s shrugging off any pressure he might otherwise put on himself here. Robertson has already bagged 47 tons this season with Judd Trump the only player to have done the same kind of volume, and in that kind of scoring form that makes him a contender in any big contest. I just can’t get that Championship League formline out of my head here as there is very little else to go on so I’m plumping for Robbo to send Willo back to his caravan, which is probably now relocated to Barbados.  

Prediction: Robertson to win 6-3

RECOMMENDED BETS: Trebles and an Acca on all these four matches having over 9 frames: Higgins/Day, Trump/Wilson, Selby/Maguire, Hawkins/Murphy – Acca pays over 25/1 Boosted at William Hills. Trebles, Fourfolds and Accumulator on Lisowski, Maguire, Wilson, Murphy and Robertson – Acca pays 59/1 at Marathon Bet.  

Daily doubles will appear throughout the championship each morning on Twitter.

QF1 (Allen / Brecel v Ding / Lisowski): Thursday January 17 at 7pm
QF2 (Higgins / Day v O’Sullivan / Bingham): Thursday January 17 at 1pm
QF3 (Selby / Maguire v Trump / Wilson): Friday January 18 at 1pm
QF4 (Hawkins / Murphy v Williams / Robertson):  Friday January 18 at 7pm

Winner QF1 v Winner QF2: Saturday January 19 at 1pm
Winner QF3 v Winner QF4: Saturday January 19 at 7pm

Final: Sunday January 20 at 1pm and 7pm

December 9, 2018

The UK Championship Final

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:27 am

It’s the final of the UK Championship today as the defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan takes on the Masters champion Mark Allen, assuring us again of a very familiar name being engraved on the trophy this season, O’Sullivan aiming for a record number of UK titles, while Allen hopes to add his first to his CV.

You would probably say on balance that these have been the best two players in the tournament, but they’ve had very different paths here, with Ronnie coasting to his victories after a scare from Ken Doherty against players, other than world number 16 Jack Lisowski, all outside of the higher ranks. Allen on the other hand has had a much tougher path and has had to take care of Neil Robertson, Stephen Maguire and Stuart Bingham to get here.

The big question is whether Allen will bring his trademark fighting spirit to the table against not just the best, but the most intimidating player in the world. Ronnie seems to have such a hold over some players that he’s more or less got a three frame start before the off, but you’d like to think that Allen is in an elite bunch of players that this doesn’t apply to.

Their head to head confirms this. The most recent meeting between to the two came in Allen’s march to the Masters with a very convincing 6-1 victory over The Rocket and indeed over the years, just one match and two frames seperate them in the seven matches they have played.

I’m going to stick my neck out today and go for Allen. I think the 5/2 available on him to win is decent given their most recent meeting and the fact that the Northern Irishman is in sensational form. I also think if he does win he’ll win with a bit to spare so there are some decent handicap odds around if you agree.

As well as the final, today sees the draw for The Masters, which no doubt will be live on the BBC to varying degrees of ooooo’s and aaaaaahhh’s from the audience when the matches are called out.

The top eight in the seeding list below will be randomly drawn against the players seeded 9-16 in the opening round draw.

  1. Mark Allen (Holder)
  2. Mark Williams (World Champion)
  3. Mark Selby
  4. Ronnie O’Sullivan
  5. John Higgins
  6. Judd Trump
  7. Barry Hawkins
  8. Ding Junhui
  9. Neil Robertson
  10. Kyren Wilson
  11. Shaun Murphy
  12. Stuart Bingham
  13. Ryan Day
  14. Stephen Maguire
  15. Luca Brecel
  16. Jack Lisowski

The Scottish Open starts tomorrow but I’ll not be covering that on here, just all a bit too congested and it’s nearly Christmas.

December 3, 2018

UK Championship Last 32

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:40 am

Ronnie’s been at it again

It’s time to say goodbye to the Sports Hall as all the players now move into the 4 table main arena for the Last 32 of the UK Championship, with 8 matches played today and the remaining ones tomorrow.

It’s been an eventful few days not just on the table, but as ever off it.

First off we heard the news about Cao Yupeng and Yu De Lu. This pair of cheats have been coining it in at the expense of punters by fixing matches all over the shop, rightly they have both received lengthy bans, in the case of De Lu probably a career ending one, whilst Cao seems to have plea bargained by dobbing in a few of the others so hopefully we can expect more of them to be rooted out, as I’m pretty certain there are more than just the two of them who have been at it for substantial personal gain.

Then John Higgins said he was considering retiring at the end of the season following his loss to Alan McManus. He was really down in the dumps and seems to have totally fallen out with the sport. The obvious solution to me would seem to have a few months off and try and prepare for the World Championship, but perhaps the thought of trying his heart out there only to fall short at the end for the third year running is what is behind his current mood, we’ll see.

Not to be outdone by us talking about someone else for five minutes, the man grabbing the headlines back again is Ronnie. Old Rent-a-Gob is outdoing himself this week and has been telling anyone who’ll listen that he’s ready to make a move away from the current tour and form his own lucrative one in China. He seems oblivious to what Higgins said after his match as he claims he’s on board with him as well as ‘a few others who are fed up with the current set up’, so it sounds like they’ll be playing a lot of round robins and seeing quite a lot of each other.

He also claimed that De Lu and Cao were harshly treated, which is of course absolutely ridiculous. Barry Hearn rightly served him with a public rap on the knuckles for this and seems on the face of it to be getting a bit sick of his constant babbling, aren’t we all?

On the table we’ve seen a few shocks, notably Higgins, but also some fine performances, notably from Neil Robertson who staged a marvellous comeback against Un-Nooh and from Dave Gilbert who knocked in four tons in his defeat of Peter Ebdon, another who is considering retirement at the end of the year, along with Dominic Dale, there will be none of them left at this rate.

We’ve also seen the debut of Shaun ‘Ten Jobs’ Murphy on the BBC team. He’s slotted right in and is already kitted out in the regulation knitwear favoured by the team, though Alan McManus, ever the rebel, broke ranks yesterday with a patterned cravat, making him look quite the dandy Scotsman of the team. Get you Angles.

Here is the draw as it stands and you can have a look at the schedule here.

RECOMMENDED LAST 32 BET – 4 FOLDS AND AN ACCUMULATOR ON ALL THESE MATCHES TO HAVE OVER 9 FRAMES: Bingtao/Wilson, Ford/McManus, Carter/Maguire, Pengfei/O’Donnell, Bingham/Gilbert – acca pays around 29/1.


November 30, 2018

The UK Championship – The BBC comes to town

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:31 am


It’s that time of year again when Joe Public in the UK thinks the snooker season starts. Yes, the first BBC coverage of the six month old season gets underway tomorrow in York with the last 64 of the UK Championship.

I’ve had a lovely time this week, we’ve just rescued another hound so I’ve decided to stay at home for the duration of this event, apart from a couple of days next week when I’m heading there, and I’ve been watching the excellent live streaming on Eurosport Player.

The reason it’s been so enjoyable is because firstly, there is no commentary, just the relaxing clicking of the balls and polite audience applause and secondly, they leave the cameras rolling all day so you really get a sense of what it’s like to be there.

If I could wish one thing it would be that they did this for all events; that we at least had the option of watching and listening and just interpreting the action on our own instead of being subjected at times to inane babbling and daft catchphrases and jokes as old as Anthony Hamilton’s trousers. That’s what I want for Christmas.

But for all that, I do still look forward to the BBC coming back, granted my sense of heightened anticipation is more or less done the minute Dennis opens his mouth but there’s still something nostalgic about it all, like slipping on a comfy old pair of fluffy slippers and having a mug of tea while listening to Val Doonican’s greatest hits, we all love a bit of nostalgia don’t we? No? Just me then? Oh well.

The first round has thrown up two big shocks, firstly Mark Selby continuing his ongoing York-based nightmare and getting pumped by James Cahill and secondly, the woefully out of form Shaun Murphy falling to the Chinese player Chen Feilong. Both big surprises and even more so when you see that Murphy was seemingly coasting at 3-1 up then managed to lose five on the bounce.

This prompted one particular poster on Twitter to suggest that Shaun pursue a different career, which I’d suggest is a little harsh given he’s made quite a bit of bunce out of knocking balls around with a stick, he’s even got one of those mowers that you sit down on, that’s how you know life is going well. Anyway, I’m sure Shaun won’t follow this well-meaning chap’s advice, instead he’ll probably double his effort in an attempt to silence the critics. Failing that he can always wave to them from his sit-down mower. 

All the other big names are through though Anthony McGill counted himself out of the race to The Masters with a defeat, with Jack Lisowski still in the driving seat for the 16th spot as things stand and the likes of Ali Carter, Marco Fu, Joe Perry and Dave Gilbert in hot pursuit and Maguire, Brecel and Day (also out) still not certain of their starting place at Ally Pally.

I’ll be posting match bets on Twitter and anyone who has been following will know that it’s been a pretty good week on the punting front, particularly yesterday, we were also just one frame shy of landing a whopper from the main preview, I’ll be having stern words with Eden Sharav next time I see him. The main acca only missed out because Ken Doherty rolled back the years and he now meets Ronnie on Sunday afternoon, I wonder if he can raise his game again?

Here is also a look at the latest standings in the Tipster Contest, the exit of Selby hitting a lot of those involved with a hammer blow.

The match schedule can be found here. Over to you Hazel….


November 23, 2018

UK Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:29 am

It’s a great time of year for snooker fans this as we all shift attention to The Barbican in York for the UK Championship, the first of the BBC events this season and only a few short weeks later the other side of Christmas we have The Masters, for which the final field of 16 will be decided in York.

There is a lot of talk amongst snooker fans that the UK isn’t the event that it used to be. Indeed, I myself feel a bit less excited about it than I used to, the eroding of the match lengths and the flat 128 draw to me make it feel a bit less prestigious, but weigh that against the excellent venue, apart from the Sports Hall, and the fact that the BBC give it some airtime (though again not as much as they used to) and it is what it is.

As you’d expect, all the big names are involved and once we get past the first three rounds (or as Ronnie prefers to refer to them, the Numpty Rounds) things will begin to take shape. Looking at the draw, the main protagonists all seem on paper to have a strong chance of making the latter stages but I’m sure we’ll see someone take on the mantle of David ‘Amazing’ Grace a few years back and go deep when you least expect.

I’m firmly of the opinion however that we’re not going to see an unexpected name lift the trophy at the end, the draw simply can’t allow it as the players who come good in major events are mainly keeping out of each others way until the last 16 or in some cases the last 8. I’ve looked at each quarter individually below and given my usual masterful, crystal-ballesque insight.

Quarter One:

The holder Ronnie O’Sullivan is a firm favourite to make the semi-finals and you have to say that the draw has been particularly generous to The Rocket. His form is rock solid and he’s winning and knocking in tons for fun so he is definitely the man to beat here. On balance I’d say the two players with the best chance of doing that in this section are Jack Lisowski and Shaun Murphy. Last year’s runner-up Murphy is in desperate need of a run in this to get into the ranking events later in the season as he is languishing currently at 54th in the one year list and struggling to find his game, conversely, Lisowski is flying and continuing where he left off last season and is assured of his place in at least 2 of the Coral series of events. If Jack ends up playing Ronnie in the last 16 I think he’ll run him close and from there anything is possible. The prices on Murphy being quoted at some firms are bordering on farce and are worth a punt regardless, but on balance this quarter should go with the seedings.

Predicted Quarter Outcome: O’Sullivan to beat Murphy in the Last 8. 

Quarter Two:

Another who seems to have benefited from a pleasant draw is John Higgins, as if he needs it. I can’t see any issues that he can’t overcome prior to a quarter final meeting with Judd Trump, the only potential banana skin for me being Liam Highfield. Man of the moment Judd will be buoyed by his win in Belfast and hungry to add another major to his CV, he has form here of course and something tells me that the win last week will get that pesky monkey off his back and he too will fly through to a quarter final match up with Higgins, with only Ryan Day who I feel might have something to say about that. I really fancy Higgins to go deep in this and add this title to his list of major successes.

Predicted Quarter Outcome: Higgins to beat Trump in the Last 8.

Quarter Three:

The bottom half of the draw to me looks much more competitive than the top half. There are a multitude of possible outcomes and my guess is that if we are to see a ‘shock’ semi finalist it will come from this half of the draw. The obvious name that stands out is of course Mark Selby, he’s looking a bit more like Mark Selby these past few weeks rather than the Mark Selby who has been doing an impersonation of Mark Selby for much of the last year or so but without the winning titles bit. His path to the last 8 though isn’t easy and amongst others he’ll have to possibly tackle the in form Dave Gilbert, who could be the man to be on at a huge price if you fancy an upset this year. Other live contenders in this section are Barry Hawkins and Judd’s best mate Kyren Wilson, both with proven big stage pedigree, I’d be surprised if the quarter final from this section didn’t feature two of the names mentioned here, which includes the four times I mentioned Mark Selby, OK five times.

Predicted Quarter Outcome: Selby to beat Hawkins in the Last 8.

Quarter Four:

Another fairly open quarter which involves the in-form Mark Allen and snooker’s newest international playboi Mark Williams. Drinker and part-time snooker world champion Williams has said that he’s not arsed if a) he doesn’t win another match all season and b) he isn’t ranked number one in the world. He’s as mad as a hatter so he’s probably telling the truth. Allen will be coming here on the back of a disappointing homecoming in Belfast after his most recent triumph in China and I’d say he’s favourite for this section of the draw on his current form. Neil Robertson is coming back to form too so it would be no surprise to see him at the business end again at a venue that I know he enjoys and for me his predicted last 16 with Allen holds the key to the winner of this quarter, with possibly Stephen Maguire coming through to meet the winner in the quarter final.

Predicted Quarter Outcome: Robertson to beat Maguire in the Last 8.         

You can play around with the draw here to arrive at your outright conclusions.

You can view the match schedule here.

Recommended Bets: John Higgins to win the UK Championship at 11/1. Each Way – Dave Gilbert (250/1), Neil Robertson (22/1), Shaun Murphy (55/1 – Boosted) and Jack Lisowski (40/1).

Quarter Winners Acca: O’Sullivan, Higgins, Selby and Robertson pays 114/1.

First Round Acca pays almost 10/1 – Honghao, Sijun, Jimmy Robertson, Li Hang, Bingham, McManus, Gilbert and Saengkham.

Doubles, Trebles and an Acca (Acca pays over 55/1) on Sharav, Swail, McLeod and Baird.


Powered by WordPress

Website transfer complete