Snookerbacker

July 23, 2014

The Month Ahead: August on the Baize

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:58 am
August culminates with the Paul Hunter Classic

August culminates with the Paul Hunter Classic

The barren baize month of July has been a welcome break for busy potters, officials (and bloggers) but as the year moves into it’s eighth month, the oil is applied to the rusty tour bus wheels and it’s off we go again in August as we take in the sights of Latvia, Germany and Barnsley.

The period off the table has been something of an oddity and somewhat at odds with Bazza’s initial promise to bombard us with snooker until we were sick of it, or words to that effect. What has actually happened has been a much more satisfying medium in my opinion, a total rest on the pro-snooker front, a chance for us all to get refreshed and most satisfying for me, the chance to actually look forward to watching snooker again at the end of it.

As we know, this season all of the PTC events will be held in continental Europe and there won’t be any in the UK, this is a really positive step in widening the European market and building on the demand that is already there. We are also witnessing the individual PTC’s (which they’ll probably be known as forever) beginning to create an identity for themselves, not least the Paul Hunter Classic which concludes the month and is regarded by many players as a pretty big deal. Ronnie O’Sullivan has a title to defend there and I hope if he decides to enter that he brings the trophy back in better shape than it was last seen.

August begins with the Riga Open in Latvia, the draw for which can be found by clicking here, this will be covered extensively as ever by Eurosport and features all the big names with the exception of Ronnie who hasn’t entered, so no surprise there then.

After the delights of Eastern Europe it’s back to Blighty, Barnsley to be exact as the Metrodome plays host to the Shanghai Masters qualifiers. If rumours are to be believed Ronnie has entered the main event which is a bit of a turn up for the books seeing as he’s rarely spotted in China these days unless he’s being paid loads to do sponsored stuff. But it’s a long way from a qualifying tournament in Yorkshire to a venue in Shanghai so we’ll see how that all goes, he’s got to get on the plane yet and that doesn’t always go to plan.

To finish the month we once again travel to Furth for the Paul Hunter, it’s nice that this has become a much respected event on the calendar at a nice venue and it’s always very well attended by the knowledgeable German crowd (who, unlike the fabled knowledgeable Crucible crowd do on the whole have some knowledge). Long may it continue to grow is what I say, probably the highlight of the month for me.

Don’t forget to get your team entered into the Anorak List contest, it doesn’t cost you a penny and could be a bit of fun if you like that sort of thing. You can enter your team here and it all kicks off in Latvia.

Here’s August.

7th

Riga Open/ETC1 (pre qualifier)
Arena Riga, Latvia

8-10th

Riga Open/ETC1 (Last 128)
Arena Riga, Latvia

12-15th

Shanghai Masters Qualifiers, Barnsley Metrodome

21st

Paul Hunter Classic/ETC2 (pre qualifier)
Stadhalle, Furth, Germany

22-24th

Paul Hunter Classic/ETC2 (L128)
Stadhalle, Furth, Germany

July 22, 2014

Snookerbacker Classic Information Page

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:38 am

It’s all quiet on the snooker front at the moment with very little happening around the place until we set sail for Riga in Latvia for the opening EPTC of the season.

That means it’s a really good time for me to get everything set up for this season’s SB Classic and I thought it would be useful to place all the information about it on one handy page here.

The latest is that the opening three qualifiers are now full and that the first Preston heat and the weekend in Leeds at the end of November as steadily filling up too.

To reserve a place in any of the remaining events, details of which are on the information page, contact me today.

July 9, 2014

The Snookerbacker Classic 2015: Open for Entries

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:39 pm
SBC15

Scenes from last season’s Grand Finals and defending champion Ant Parsons

The doors are now open for everyone to enter this season’s biggest, most exciting and unique UK amateur snooker event; The Snookerbacker Classic, which is now into its fourth year.

The headline news this season is that I have been able to increase the prize money further and it now amounts to over £7000 in all, we are also visiting two new venues in the North in Preston and for the first time in the South, London.

I am also hoping that I will soon receive some really exciting news which will increase the prestige of the tournament even further, but while I wait for that, it’s time to open up the entries and explain a bit about what’s going on this time around.

This year there will be 11 qualifying events around the country to find our 16 finalists. All qualifying events are £50 per entry and will be available on a first come, first served basis. If a player qualifies from an earlier event and has entered others, any unspent entry fees will be refunded immediately.

I have had a pre-launch of the tournament in advance of this for players that have entered multiple times in the past and this has resulted in the opening weekend in Gloucester filling almost immediately. For all other events, please see the ‘Reserving Places’ instructions below.

The details of all qualifying events can be found below. I have indicated the maximum number of players in the heat and the number of qualifiers.

VENUES:

Saturday November 1st – South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (16 players down to 1 qualifier) EVENT FULL
Sunday November 2nd – South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (32 players down to 2 qualifiers) EVENT FULL
Sunday November 9th – George Scotts Snooker Centre, Liverpool (16 players down to 1 qualifier)
Sunday November 16th – The Elite Snooker Centre, Preston (16 players down to 1 qualifier)
Saturday November 29th – The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds (32 players down to 2 qualifiers)
Sunday November 30th – The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds (32 players down to 2 qualifiers)
Sunday February 8th – The Elite Snooker Centre, Preston (16 players down to 1 qualifier)
Saturday February 21st – The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds (32 players down to 2 qualifiers)
Sunday February 22nd - The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds (32 players down to 2 qualifiers)
Sunday March 8th – Cueball, Derby (16 players down to 1 qualifier)
Saturday March 28th – Upton Park Snooker Centre, London (32 players down to 1 qualifier)

All matches will be the Best of 7 frames, with the exception of the Last Chance Saloon in London which will be the Best of 5 frames.

GRAND FINALS DAY – SOUTH WEST SNOOKER ACADEMY GLOUCESTER, SUNDAY APRIL 5TH.

PRIZE MONEY:

WINNER: £1500 RUNNER UP: £1000 LOSING SEMI-FINALISTS: £500 LOSING QUARTER FINALISTS: £200 LOSING LAST 16: £100 JOHN PARROTT CUESPORTS HIGHEST BREAK: £500 JOHN PARROTT CUESPORTS MAXIMUM BREAK: £1000

EDEN RESOURCES SNOOKERBACKER SCHOLARSHIPS: £700 (More Details to Follow)

FURTHER PRIZES TO BE ANNOUNCED.

HOW TO ENTER:

Reserving Places: Please email snookerbacker@ymail.com or contact me via Twitter or Facebook to reserve places. Please note that I will only reserve places for a maximum of 14 days and I will let you know the date that your place becomes unreserved. Only places with paid entry fees are confirmed. Please note that it is not possible to reserve places for Gloucester on 2nd November and the first players to pay this entry fee will be eligible to play (see below). 

Paying Entry Fees: Please click this link and follow the instructions, I will send a confirmation email when the fee is received. Please remember to include the name of the player in the instructions if it is not for yourself.

You can view the full terms and conditions of entry for this year by clicking here - please note that in entering the tournament you are accepting these conditions. 

To enter the 2015 Snookerbacker Classic, click this link and select the events you want to enter and pay the fee.

Why should you enter? Well, in the coming few days and weeks you’ll be hearing from some players who will tell you why you should. Don’t just take my word for it. The official poster for this season’s event will be available very soon and posted out to the venues.

Submit Your Anorak List

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:45 am

GeekyA very quiet month on the snooker front gives us all some time to have a really good ponder and what better thing to dwell on while you are soaking up the sun than the upcoming season on the baize?

A couple of weeks ago I unintentionally launched this season’s new initiative ‘The Anorak List’, where you get to pick a team of ten potters to follow through the season.

Your points will be calculated on totally over-complicated criteria posted by a couple of very clever chaps (anoraks) who have come up with a scoring system so obscure and innovative that it takes a doctorate in Quantum Physics to even begin to understand it. 

Basically all you need to do is pick players from each of the criteria in this post and bash your team down in the comments section of either that post or this one.

From that point onwards my two trusted train-timetablers will do the rest. We’ll hopefully have an ongoing league table throughout the season for you to click on, I’m leaving all the technical stuff to them as it’s not really my strong suit.

So, will you go for experience over young guns? Champions over nearly-men? Wily old foxes over exuberant youth? The Chinese brigade over the UK posse? 

It’s up to you, but come along for the ride as I’ll be blagging prizes left, right and centre from all over the place and I am determined to source a suitable anorak for the winner.

The Anorak List kicks in next month when the potters head to Latvia for the first EPTC, from then on all events count towards your season total.

I hope some fellow bloggers and more esteemed names in the sport will also have a go, because it’s not a gamble, it’s just for fun (and an anorak) so if the governing body want to dish out a fine, you just send them over to me for a quiet word.

To enter your list CLICK HERE and go to the comments section.

July 4, 2014

Australian Open: Finals Weekend

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:44 pm

The weekend sees the culmination of the Australian Goldfields Open before a month long gap in the snooker calendar.

Here is the line-up, just click on the match for the head to head record.

4am
Judd Trump 6-3 Xiao Guodong

10am
Neil Robertson 6-2 Dark Mavis

Sunday 6th of July

5am & 10am – Best of 17 Frames

Judd Trump 9-5 Neil Robertson 

July 3, 2014

Australian Open: Friday’s Quarter Finals in Bendigo

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:50 pm

We are down to the last four in Bendigo with home favourite Neil Robertson still in with a chance of claiming his first title on home soil, here’s the line up for Friday. 

4am

Matthew Stevens 2-5 Xiao Guodong
Judd Trump 5-4 Ricky Walden

10am

Neil Robertson 5-2 Robert Milkins
Stuart Bingham 4-5 Dark Mavis

July 2, 2014

Australian Open: Thursday’s Running Order in Bendigo

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:11 pm

The last 16 concludes on Thursday in Bendigo with Matthew Stevens and Rob Milkins being the two names already into the Quarter Finals.

2.30am

Stuart Bingham 5-2 Mark Joyce
Xiao Guodong 5-4 Peter Ebdon

Followed by

Judd Trump 5-3 Alan McManus
Martin Gould 2-5 Ricky Walden

10am

Neil Robertson 5-0 Jamie Jones
Dark Mavis v Shaun Murphy

July 1, 2014

Looking Ahead: July on the Baize

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:10 am

ClosedJuly sees something of a rarity these days in snooker, once the Aussie Open finishes in Bendigo on Sunday there is nothing else on, absolutely nothing, zilch, zero, nada, nowt.

So what are we to make of this? Has the absolutely barking mad schedule of last season been taken on board and revised? Or has the administration failed to secure tournaments around the world to cater for the new breed of full-time potters?

Either way, it goes against Bazza’s initial promise of providing something for the professionals to play in for 51 weeks of the year somewhere in the world. So is this the first sign that this promise was hollow, too ambitious and just plain wrong?

As regular readers will know I am not a fan of blanket coverage of any sport and I fully support downtime between each event to keep things fresh on the restart. That said, given the last couple of weeks have seen Wuxi immediately followed by Australia it also now makes perfect sense to me to split the tour into two distinct sections, with a period of activity in the UK and Europe at the back end of the season and the concentration of events further afield at the beginning, perhaps this is the start of a move to that model?

Either way, the next time we will see any action is in Latvia for the first EPTC on 8th August, a full calendar month since the last ball will have been struck in Australia. This is the longest gap in proceedings that I can remember since Bazza took to the throne of World Snooker and I hope is a sign that a bit of common sense is kicking in.

There’s been a few bits and bobs of news this past month or so for anyone that has missed them. The World Grand Prix which was announced during the World Championship will start it’s existence in North Wales, Llandudno to be specific, which should be a convenient location for many supporters and I hope it will be a successful event. It’s going to be covered in full by the excellent ITV4 and will feature the world’s top 32 players competing for a prize pot of £300,000.

It’s interesting that the main new initiative this season is an invitational event and that anything won won’t count towards the money list, not that I’m complaining as I quite enjoy watching this type of tournament instead of the roll-on roll-off nature of the PTC’s and, increasingly, the Chinese events. I’d rather the televised final stage events all started with a maximum of 32 instead of this 128 at the venue idea personally, for me the latter just all feels a bit rushed.

Continuing on the Welsh theme, it’s goodbye Newport and hello Cardiff as far as this season’s Welsh Open is concerned. It’s a tournament with a rich history and despite the fact that the players seemed to like Newport, it makes sense that it goes to the capital, though I have no idea if the venue is suitable or not. All we need now is a return to best of nine’s rather than seven’s and the upgrade is complete.

All this of course gives you all plenty of time to submit your Anorak List here, where you get to choose ten players to follow this season, starting with the Latvia event in August. Some clever chaps have come up with a very interesting and thoroughly anoraky way of scoring your team and I’ll be setting about blagging a bundle of prizes from here, there and everywhere between now and the end of the season. We’ll see about setting up a page with a rolling leaderboard on it too so you can check your progress, so get your team in during July to stand a chance of winning. Who knows? You could be crowned King or Queen of the Anoraks come next May.

I’ll also be officially launching the Snookerbacker Classic and inviting entries to all qualifiers in the intervening period so keep an eye out for that if you want to enter this year, prize money is up again and there are venues all over England, including three new ones.

But the message from me is, have a bit of time off, there’s a long season ahead and it’s a chance to recharge the batteries and (if you are in the right place at the right time) to enjoy the sunshine.

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

June 28, 2014

Wuxi Classic Finals Weekend: The Missing Crowds

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:33 am
Crowds have been poor.

Crowds have been poor.

It’s finals weekend over in Wuxi in an event that continues to go a little under the radar of snooker fans over here given the time of year and the times of the matches.

That said, at least there is some interest which is more than can be said for the locals, who again have hugely failed to embrace the event by actually turning up to the venue to watch the potters.

I’d use the phrase ‘watched by one man and his dog’ but at one point yesterday that would have looked like a massive exaggeration on my part as there didn’t seem to be a single person there apart from the players and the ref and there definitely wasn’t a dog in there.

Is this a consequence of Ding not qualifying? Has this shown Bazza that there are inevitably negative consequences to his flat structure if the big boys don’t all turn up? Well I’d argue that this would only happen in China, why they only seem to want to watch their own players and even then, in particular Ding, is beyond me. The only person that comes close to this in other countries is Ronnie, but we are so used to not seeing him it doesn’t really have the negative impact that it once did.

It’s all a bit embarrassing really, we are constantly told how popular the sport is in China, how the players are treated like film stars and how China is essential to the globalisation of the sport, but why don’t they come and watch the snooker live? We are told that they all like to watch it in bars or at home, so why is more not being done to encourage them to attend the venues?

Whatever the issue, whether it be cultural or the ticket prices, televising a ranking event and constantly showing the players with a crowdless backdrop is not good for any sport, let alone one that professes to be massive in that particular country. They might as well hold it in someone’s house, it would save on the venue costs and nobody would notice, the atmosphere might be a bit better too assuming the owner of the house was in and stayed to watch.

On the table, Neil Robertson had a right old moan yesterday, again joining the chorus of players calling for change in the conditions. He talked of turning heaters off and changing the brand of cloth, echoing the thoughts of the man he knocked out, Professor Shaun Murphy, who not long ago conducted an in-depth study on kicks. Neil reckons that all the players are sick of the current stuff ruining the sport. It’s strange that the governing body don’t seem to want to listen to the players on this one, after all, it’s them that keep the sport going, without them, we don’t even have a sport do we?

Anyway, Robbo is up against Barry Hawkins in the first semi-final and Joe Perry takes on 100/1 recommended each way bet Martin Gould in the other one. There seems to be a general concensus amongst the Twitter snooker community that we all want Gould to break his ranking event duck, it would be sweet if he did that against Robbo given their previous. We’ll see.

It’s all on Eurosport all day, then after tomorrow’s final it’s off to Bendigo for the Aussie Open on Monday.

Semi-Finals – Saturday

7.30am

Neil Robertson v Barry Hawkins

12.30pm

Martin Gould v Joe Perry

Final – Sunday

7.30am

1st session, 9 frames

12.30pm

2nd session, maximum 10 frames

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