October 24, 2016

International Championship Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:21 pm

round-3It’s been a lively start to the International Championship and barring a few upsets the big hitters are all still there, unfortunately accompanied by one of the wildcards, who I hope loses in the next round as he shouldn’t be in the tournament.

The crowds have been good and the evidence is clear to see that Ronnie O’Sullivan is absolutely integral to that. Ding of course always draws a home crowd and I’m sure Liang will also attract them in similar numbers following his recent ranking event win but Ronnie continues to put more bums on seats than anyone in the sport.

In fact he almost put a few bums on the floor earlier following his win over Xiao Guodong, the stampede towards The Rocket after the match as he clung to a marker pen for dear life was quite a sight. Even big Jan Verhaas, a man not known for shying away from a bit of the physicals, particularly when it involves moths, seemed to panic as hundreds of programme, T-Shirt and cue ball clutching Chinese fans raced towards the advertising hoarding with very little concern for their or their hero’s personal safety.

Ronnie continued to oblige but when the heavies from security were forced to step in to stop a full on riot even Ronnie knew that enough was enough and scarpered off with the pen, which presumably belonged to one of the fierce baying rabble just a few metres away. Chaotic scenes and proof it it were needed that the rumoured appearance fee that Ronnie is receiving for gracing them with his presence is indeed money well spent.

Ding in the meantime missed a brown on a 147 to the disappointment of the crowd, but he still managed to come through unscathed after his heroics in the first round when Mitchell Mann had him up against the ropes only for the home favourite to dig himself out by winning the last four frames of the match.

With Selby, Robbo, Judd and co still in there, you have to fancy this is going to be a decent week with a belting finale, thankfully played over something resembling a sensible match length.

In terms of the betting 3 out of the 4 odds against punts recommended in the last round all won our pal Ghou Yolonge at 5/2, the vastly improved Daniel Wells at 5/4 and thespian John Astley who continues to post decent results since his theatrical stint at The Crucible at 7/4. Let’s see if there is any value in Round 3.


Punts – John Astley @7/1, Daniel Wells @12/5, Graeme Dott @13/8

Worth a Decent Bet – Ghou Yolonge @Evens

Treble pays nearly 3/1 – Yolonge, Fu and Wenbo

October 22, 2016

International Championship Starts Sunday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:06 pm
Winner Winner Marmite Dinner

Winner Winner Marmite on Toast

I must admit, I carelessly forgot to check the schedule for this assuming that it started on Monday like all the other Chinese events but it’s actually Sunday in the early hours that the lucrative International Championship gets underway in Daqing.

John Higgins is the holder and his ‘held over’ match from the qualifiers against friend of the blog Syd Wilson is amongst the 24 matches taking place on the opening day, on account of this daft premise of taking the world and his dog to the main venue, rather than trimming the field to allow us to view more matches and give it a real sense of occasion. When this is suggested to Herr Hearn it meets with the old ‘makes no bizznizz sense’ response, which is a pity.

This championship in itself has always been a highlight of the first part of the season, particularly as it follows a longer match format from the start, with best of 11 framers being the order of the day, so at least we can thank them for sticking to this and not going down the lazy and rather boring best of 7 route so favoured by European tournaments.

Players coming into this in form you’d say are Judd Trump, Liang Wenbo, Ding Junhui and who can possibly leave out good old Matt Selt, who comes fresh from a tour event tournament win. Does he, you ask? Well, yes as Matt came through the event that only him and his Southern and Yorkshire pals seems to get wind of and is the new Haining Open Champion.

World Snooker followed an innovative new marketing concept for that one by only telling a couple of players and hoping they’d pass it on to the others just to be nice and not just keep schtum and try and win some dosh on the quiet. I believe next week the governing body are piloting a revolutionary communications method which involves two baked beans tins and a piece of string so let’s see how that works out.

So it’s a busy old day tomorrow with some of the matches due to get underway at 2.30am UK time. As ever Eurosport picks up the mantle of coverage, they are improving in leaps and bounds with the addition of a studio at European events but I’m not sure whether they will or can extend this to further afield, perhaps if they can find a piece of string long enough they could employ the new World Snooker patented communications strategy to help with this.

Ronnie O’Sullivan, who rumour has it is receiving a huge appearance fee just for turning up kicks off a rare foray to China on Monday against the dangerous and in form Xiao Guodong, I definitely wouldn’t rule out a shock there with the Chinese player as long as 9/2 in places to make home advantage pay. I have a good feeling about the Chinese players this week and fancy that we could see one of them lift the trophy next weekend, time will tell.

RECOMMENDED OUTRIGHT BETS: WIN – Ding Junhui @9/1 and Neil Robertson @17/2. EACH WAY – Ali Carter @66/1 and Xiao Guodong @200/1.

RECOMMENDED MATCH BETS: Value Punts – Zhou Yuelong (Ghou Yolonge) @5/2, John Astley @7/4, Daniel Wells @5/4 Xiao Guodong @9/2. ACCA – Jimmy Robertson, Martin Gould, Michael White, Michael Holt, Ryan Day and Li Hang pays over 10/1 at Hills.



October 18, 2016

The World is Not Enough

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:04 am

As it is a quiet week, at least on the official World Snooker front anyway, I thought I’d flag up something that’s been ongoing on Twitter since I asked the question during the English Open Final, namely, would a player or a fan who has not won the World Championship rather do so or win the million pound bonus for the Home Nations events.

Almost unanimously the fans who responded opted for World Champion status, many were incredulous that anyone who played snooker for a living would not agree.

as one eloquent if a little melancholic tweeter put it…

Then one of the players in the question’s target bracket intervened to back what the fans were saying in their droves with:

So, it’s a done deal surely? Well apparently not Alfie, prepare to be shocked. First of all Mark Williams, who totally ignored that the question was aimed at people who hadn’t been a world champion waded in with his contribution, he even spelled most of it right this time he felt so strongly (I’m being picky on ‘Trophies’):

He was then joined by a couple of others who did fit the brief and came down on the side of dosh over glory:

So is it that straightforward? Personally I thought the players would opt for being World Champion but it’s not that cut and dried and plenty out there would prefer to be rewarded with a huge lump sum as a trade off for their dream. So is this a sign that the mantle of world champion for some has lost its allure or that some players these days are simply realists over dreamers? I much prefer the dreamer approach when it comes to a question like this but I stand accused and guilty of being an old fashioned, stick in the mud traditionalist when it comes to snooker.

What do you think then? Tweet me @snookerbacker if you feel the urge.

October 14, 2016

English Open Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:03 am

It’s quarter finals day in Manchester and it’s fair to say there are a few names still in there fighting that we might not have expected after a day of shocks in the English Open yesterday which saw Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Allen, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson all beaten by players way down the ranking list from them.


We do still have two world champions and two world runners-up in there but the undoubted star of the show lower down the ranks is Chris Wakelin, long regarded by the shrewdies amongst us as a decent prospect, the former Asda delivery driver made Ronnie look well past his sell-by date despite booking out of his hotel just before the match. Arguably even more impressively he then went one better in beating the in-form Xiao Guodong who had earlier come from 3-0 down to dump out another million pound hopeful Robbo.

There is still plenty to get involved in now we move to the best of nines, with tomorrow’s semi-finals being best of 11 followed by a two session final on Sunday. So will it be an established name who carries off the weight of snooker’s wannabe millionaire at the end of this, or will we be seeing a first time ranking winner lifting the Steve Davis Trophy on Sunday evening?

Recommended Bets: Hawkins (-1.5 frames), Higgins (+2.5 frames), Wenbo (-1.5 frames) and Wakelin (+2.5 frames) – go for trebles and an acca, acca best priced over 11.5/1 at Marathon Bet. If I was going to recommend a decent single bet, Hawkins at 5/6 would be the one.   

October 13, 2016

English Open Day Four

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:11 am
Ronald: Made to Wait

Ronald: Made to Wait

I have to say I am really enjoying this tournament, despite my usual gripes about the best of sevens I think the coverage offered up by Eurosport has been first class and the matches being covered, particularly yesterday, are offering up a real feast for snooker fans like me who only really switch on to the sport when it’s not sunny anymore.

Play today doesn’t start until 12 noon UK time, so there’s more of a chance for me to pen my totally opinionated thoughts on things a little more. Firstly, the coverage, there is no doubt now that Eurosport have seriously upped their game in this regard. The addition of the studio element gives it all a more polished feel and you wonder why it’s taken so long for them to do this, it’s now barely distinguishable from the excellent ITV format which works so well.

The new thin version of Jimmy White is looking more comfortable in his role as analyst as each tournament goes along and he has the added dimension of being able to tell us snippits about players that we’d not hear anywhere else. How else would we have known that Stephen Maguire has had something of an epiphany over the summer months and has finally decided to give snooker a go? Jimmy told us that snooker’s ‘lad’s lad’ seems to have grown up a bit and has shipped his table away from a club into an office set-up so he feels like he’s going to work, predicting great things for him as the season unfolds, OK after he said this Mags lost so I’d not be taking any of Jimmy’s tips but great insight nonetheless.

The commentary team remain a mixed bag of course, Neal Foulds is as good as ever and seems to have found the knack of forcing Phil ‘More is Less’ Studd to stop for breath, which is quite some feat. Dave Hendon continues to humour Mike Hallett, who yesterday decided it was OK to make fun of one of the children in the audience, no doubt to the head in hands horror of all who heard it. Mike does have a habit of going a bit Catchphrase at times and saying what he sees before engaging Mr Brain, but it does sometimes make for good, if sometimes cringeworthy listening. I haven’t managed to catch any of Ali Carter’s commentary yet but he seems to be getting good feedback from those who have, so that’s another plus.

The PTC format of these events in my opinion takes away a bit of the prestige that the TV coverage builds up. Yesterday being a case in point where an excited crowd including kids on a school night waiting to see Ronnie’s match at 7pm didn’t see him until nearer 10pm. Meanwhile the second streamed table lay empty for 3 hours while the crowd waited for their hero. It really didn’t make any sense to me and this would be a far better event if they took 32 rather than 128 to the main venue.

It’s no doubt that Ronnie is still snooker’s biggest draw by a country mile and his match last night against the latest young Chinese sensation was quite a spectacle, a bit like teacher versus pupil. Despite the efforts of the marketing team at World Snooker to carve out personalities for some of the others while fining them if they so much as fart in a public area, he’s still the one they still all want to see in large numbers. On a general point and at the risk of going down the ‘there are no characters in the game anymore’ route, it was far much more fun blogging about snooker before Bazza’s strict disciplinarian regime took hold. He keeps telling us we are in the entertainment business, but for entertainment we need heroes and more importantly villains, but with players constantly treading on verbal eggshells, that just won’t happen until he eases up a bit on the fines.

Right, I think that’s all I had to say about all that. Today sees two rounds being completed so by later tonight, hopefully not too much later tonight, we’ll know the final 8. Interestingly when Ronnie was told there were possibly two matches for him to play today he said with a trademark smirk’well that suits me fine’, he’s still available at 11/4 to win this, I suggest that you avail yourselves of that this fine autumnal morning.

Recommended Bet: Acca pays over 11/4 at Marathon Bet on Barry Hawkins, Mark Allen, Ali Carter and Judd Trump. Singles worth a punt I’d say are Kristinut Wotshisname to beat Ricky Walden at 4/1, Xiao Guodong to beat Neil Robertson at 58/19, Fergal O’Brien to beat Liang Wenbo at 20/9, Joe Swail to beat Tom Ford at 5/2.

October 12, 2016

The English Open Day Three

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:56 am

Just two days in to the action at Manchester and already we’ve had a maximum, Alfie Burden was the latest addition to the maximum hall of fame last night with his 147 against Daniel Wells, it’s Alfie’s first maximum in his years on the professional tour and also marked his 100th century, so despite losing the match, he did have some consolation.

The big names continue to come through with no real shocks at all to speak of in the first round, you have to feel that the winner of this will come from the small band of players right at the top of the sport, one thing is for sure, the winner will be in the spotlight given the £1 million bonus on offer. I’d hazard a guess that a certain Mr O’Sullivan might be nabbing the headlines going in to the second event, I’m sure he’d enjoy nothing more than making Uncle Bazza sweat a bit, but we’ll see.

Recommended Daily Acca: Fergal O’Brien, Joe Swail, Xiao Guodong, Stephen Maguire, Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham pays over 14/1 at Corals.

Single Punts at Decent Prices: Daniel Wells (7/2), Tom Ford (13/8), Peter Lines (10/3), Chris Wakelin (19/5).   

October 11, 2016

The English Open Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:07 am

It’s Day 2 of the English Open in Manchester as the potters continue to chase the million pound pot of gold at the end of Bazza’s Rainbow. Today sees the likes of Mark Selby, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and Neil Robertson in action, with all the bigger names coming safely through yesterday. It remains to be seen at the end of the week who will be in the million pound spotlight going into the second event. In the meantime I’ll list a few interest bets below.

Recommended Morning Double: Nigel Bond and Noppon Saengkham pays almost 5/1 with Corals.

Recommended Afternoon Double: Graeme Dott and Fergal O’Brien pays almost 10/3 at Corals.

Recommended Daily Acca: Mei Xiwen, Michael Holt, Mike Dunn, Anthony McGill, Mark Selby and Ali Carter pays almost 6/1 at Paddy Power.  

October 7, 2016

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The Coral English Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:52 pm
Seconds Out: Round One.

Seconds Out: Round One.

Monday sees the snooker roadshow move back to UK shores as the first of the new Home Nations Series kicks off with the Coral English Open from EventCity in Manchester.

This of course is Bazza’s much heralded (mostly by himself it has to be said) new initiative which gives 128 dreamers, I mean professional tour players, the chance to win £1 million, all for simply winning all four tournaments. What could be easier?

Now I’m not saying that Bazza is cunning enough to whack a million quid onto the annual prize pot knowing full well that there is more chance of Santa Claus being discovered than someone winning it, OK, I am saying that actually, that is exactly what I am saying, guilty as charged.

But is it possible? Can one of the potters have Bazza in cold sweats by winning the first three? Well, of course it is possible, I mean if someone would have told me a few weeks ago about the political changes that would happen in the UK and the fact that a bona fide lunatic could well end up being the next US President, I’d have sent them to the funny farm pronto, but even Boris Johnson holding a senior post in government I’d argue was slightly more likely a few months back than any of the eager potters have of snatching a cool million out of Uncle Bazza.

Of course, the player that most people will say can do it if anyone can is Ronnie, he is playing in all of them as things stand (probably until he loses his first match) and let’s face it, it would be some way of getting the limelight refocused on him given he has been, I think purposely, excluded from a lot of the promotional materials recently, perhaps as a way of goading him that he’s not the main man anymore in the hope that he can be again or perhaps acknowledging that he is quite unreliable and not the player he was, either way, it’s got him playing in it.

I’d say only Ronnie, Selby and at a push Neil Robertson have even the faintest sniff of giving this a fighting shot, but I’d love to be wrong and it would be quite funny if Bazza’s ‘gamble’ backfired, but he’s not a man prone to bad run of the business ball so I’ll remain firmly in the ‘it can’t and won’t be done’ camp.

Add in that most of the rounds are Best of 7’s and it seems even more unlikely that the million will go, maybe Bazza will do a lottery style rollover to next season, it would be a good way of ensuring the prize money increase looks good again after all.

As for the coverage of this, it’s on Eurosport and some channel called Quest TV on Freeview. According to a reliable source on Twitter this channel shows endless re-runs of shows like geeky 80’s adventure quiz ‘The Crystal Maze’ all day so snooker is positioned well to keep the trainspotters tuned in, another marketing masterstroke from Bazza and co.

I’ve not bothered with the European tournament this week, primarily because I don’t like events in places that think it’s just fine to keep caged tigers downstairs in unnatural and frankly inhuman conditions just so a few tossers and their uneducated kids can watch them perform tricks after suffering horrendous abuse and being drugged up to the eyeballs. So to put it mildly until that changes that’s one I’m going to ignore, it is shameful that World Snooker think it’s OK to run with this in my opinion, however ‘fantastic’ the venue is. It’s not all that for the tigers and elephants.

I’ll bash some bets up from Monday onwards for this but as ever urge extreme caution until the best of sevens are out of the way, they are playing each other so much these days there is very little in the way of value or nailed on bankers out there. 

Day 1 Morning Double: Eden Sharav and Sam Craigie pays over 5/2 at Marathon Bet.  

Box Office: Tickets will be sold via TicketLine and See Tickets.  Prices start from £8 (plus booking fees). To see where you’d like to sit view the English Open Seating Plan

Follow this link to view the draw-and-format

September 26, 2016

One Week in Preston

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:50 am

The Guild Hall in Preston is snookers home for the next few days as the iconic venue which has seen many a night of high drama on the baize plays host to two qualifying events, firstly the new European Masters which unfortunately follows the best of seven format and more interestingly the International Championship which is played over the much more appealing best of eleven.

I won’t be getting involved in the best of sevens from a betting perspective and instead will spend the next three days taking a good look at the best of eleven match ups and hopefully coming up with a few winners. All you need to know is below. 

Click here for the European Masters draw

Click here for the International Championship draw


September 23, 2016

Shanghai Masters: The Business End

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:03 pm

Semi-finals and Final weekend in Shanghai after a thoroughly entertaining week in China in what has felt like a really established tournament in the annual calendar, helped I think by the fact there were fewer players at the main venue at the start.


It’s the top two ranked players in the world and the last two world champions in the opening semi-final with China’s finest Ding against Scotland’s Mags in the second. Maguire who made a maximum earlier in the week is making a much needed surge back towards the top 16, which I know a lot of people think is where he belongs for a few more years yet.

I think we’ll see Selby in the final but the other one for me is a coin toss, gun to head I’d probably go for Ding but I’d not be surprised either way and think it could go all the way personally.

Recommended Bet: Double pays over 9/4 at Corals on Selby to beat Bingham and Ding v Mags over 9.5 frames.  

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