December 6, 2016

German Masters Qualifying

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:31 am

It took them a while to get round to doing the draw but today Barnsley plays host to the first day of qualifying for February’s German Masters in Berlin, one of the best tournaments on the calendar.

I might post the odd bet here and there on Twitter but I’m not going to be covering this in any depth this week, you can view the draw here, the order of play here, follow the live scores here and if you want to watch live you could do worse than sign up for Eurosport Player for a small fee here

December 4, 2016

The UK Final: The Rivalry Continues

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

We meet again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 3, 2016

UK Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:48 am

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


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

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

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


December 2, 2016

UK Championship: Quarter Finals Friday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:08 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 1, 2016

Ronnie Shakes it Up

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

He can’t help himself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 30, 2016

UK Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:51 am

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

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

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

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

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


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

November 28, 2016

UK Championship Third Round

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:59 am

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

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

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

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


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

November 25, 2016

UK Championship Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:12 pm

Saturday sees the start of the tournament proper as the BBC rolls into town to cover the remainder of the UK Championship from The Barbican in York, this being the first snooker they have covered this season, have you missed them? No, I didn’t think so.

See the thing is with the BBC, I used to really look forward to them getting involved but increasingly now I find myself tuning in to Eurosport instead whilst wishing everything was on ITV. Each broadcaster has their strengths, Eurosport I’d argue have landed a real coup with Ronnie and Jimmy but do need to improve their commentary team, ITV seem to me to be as close to the real deal as any of them and BBC retain a couple of decent commentators and the best in the business at keeping everything in check in Hazel. In addition, they do now and again provide the odd (literally) feature to keep us all entertained during the intervals, also benefiting from not having to break to adverts starring Fred Flintstone or being whistled in by a painter after every frame of course.

The BBC remain the most popular station for coverage with the wider baize viewing public, if not the hardcore snooker fraternity, two very different beasts with differing televisual needs. I’ll see the usual huge hike in hits and visitors to this place that the UK always brings, I’ll get more followers on Twitter and the other place simply because it’s on the BBC, still then, despite the efforts of its competitors the real Home of Snooker in the UK at least.

The holder Neil Robertson has already bitten the dust and Ding very nearly did too, there were easy wins for Ronnie, Selby and Judd and a comeback from 5-0 down to win 6-5 from Alan McManus. The schedule for Saturday and Sunday is contained below as 64 become 32 going into week two. Bets at the foot of the post, I hope a few of you got on the first round big acca which managed to dodge the exit of Robertson and come home in style with McManus, could that be an omen?




MAIN ACCA – MJW, Maguire, McManus, Carter, Gilbert, Allen and Fu pays over 9/1.

TRICKY TRIXIE – Jimmy Robertson, Kurt Maflin and Peter Lines, treble pays over 14/1.

PUNTING DOUBLES AND TREBLES (Best Prices Quoted) – Sam Craigie (5/2), Mitchell Mann (2/1), Paul Davison (23/5) and Hammad Miah (5/2), acca pays 164/1.

November 23, 2016

Crazy Snooker with Robbo and Jester

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:49 pm

Now and again I get approached by companies wanting me to bash a few things up on here on their behalf, 99% of them are a waste of time, but when Betway asked me to help them promote Neil Robertson and Mark Selby playing ‘Crazy Snooker’ ahead of the UK Championship, how could I possibly not take a look?

The resultant videos of these two clowning around on the snooker equivalent of Mousetrap are contained below, it’s fair to say that The Jester takes a healthy lead against a hapless Robbo early on, who seems to become increasingly frustrated as he realises he’s pretty crap at it and The Jester is starting to patronise him a bit. But can the determined Aussie pull it round on the inward leg? Stranger things have happened…..not many I’ll grant you but it’s a nail-biting finish. A bit like Billiards, I’m not sure it will catch on, it’s better than the Shootout though.

If you feel so inclined you can also play along with the Betway interactive quiz and follow their tournament blog by clicking here 

November 21, 2016

The UK Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:07 pm
Coming in from the cold

Coming in from the cold

We all know the feeling, after spending a week roughing it in a tent it’s always nice to get back indoors and have a nice hot bath, well after the Belfast camping trip it’s time now to get back to the more theatrical surroundings of York’s Barbican for this season’s UK Championship which runs for the best part of a fortnight starting on Tuesday.

At the risk of sounding like a scratched record, it’s once more that point in the season where I start moaning about the format of this once great event. The reduction in match length which happened almost immediately after Bazza’s dictatorship started has taken away a big slice of what made this such a great event back in the day.

From a players point of view it’s all very much ‘us and them’ for the opening rounds as the lower ranked players get shoved in a quite inadequate sports hall to play their opening matches whilst those higher up the rankings or those considered more ‘box office’ are treated to the main arena from the off, meaning that in effect the higher ranked players have an advantage from the start. The 128 players at the venue is in my opinion one of Bazza’s least successful initiatives, save that for the Home Nations, not for this.

That isn’t to say that players from lower down the ranks can’t have a run as David Grace proved last year making the semi-finals but usually we find one of the ‘big guns’ getting their mits on the trophy at the end. Neil Robertson returns to defend the title this time around.

It usually feels like Christmas is just around the corner when this starts but after it we’ve still got German Masters qualifying and the Scottish Open to play before the potters can start writing their lists to Santa, such is the way of the snooker world these days.

As you’d expect it’s a full field of big names and these days it’s so difficult to predict tournament winners. Mark King winning in Belfast proved that and according to a poll I ran on Twitter came as more of a surprise than Brexit, President Trump and the deaths of Prince and Bowie put together. Whether the win will promote him to the main arena for his first round match against SB Classic Champ Sam Craigie remains to be seen, but World Snooker have a habit of bringing players down to earth with a bump so I wouldn’t be too hopeful if I was him.

I actually, rather boringly think Ronnie is the man to beat in this. He is clearly focusing on the big events now and said as much in Belfast, he played well enough there to suggest he isn’t far off top form and this type of event usually brings out the best in him so I’m happy to take the 4/1 floating around on him to win it.

In terms of match betting, there are so many going on I’ll be putting them up on here daily for the first few rounds until we get to the last 32. Eurosport Player or the bookie sites will be covering the streamed tables from the start and the BBC and Eurosport will be covering the main event from next Saturday.

RECOMMENDED OUTRIGHT BETS: Ronnie O’Sullivan at 4/1, Each Way Stuart Bingham at 28/1.

FIRST ROUND BIG ACCA: Pays over 2/1 at Marathon:  Hawkins, Ding, Trump, Woollaston, Higgins, Dunn, Carter, MJW, McManus. 



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