Snookerbacker

July 28, 2014

Snookerbacker Classic February Venue Change and Order of Merit Update

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:18 pm

Given the popularity of the Snookerbacker Classic in and around it’s spiritual home of Gloucester I’ve decided to change one of the dates to accommodate all the players that want to enter down there.

Therefore I have changed the venue next February 21st and 22nd from Leeds to the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester. All players who have entered and paid for Leeds already have been informed and their places have been transferred to these events. You can find out everything you need to know about this season’s tournament here.

As with the event in Gloucester in November, the Saturday will be a 16 player event with one qualifier and the Sunday a 32 player event with two qualifiers.

This means that we see the return of the Order of Merit List and the player that tops this at the end of the tournament, who hasn’t qualified for the Grand Finals already, will take his or her place in the Grand Finals with the other 15 qualifiers. Full details can be viewed in the terms and conditions.

Contact me today to reserve a place in both events. Payment will be due by the end of October and they are likely to go quickly. To make sure you get one, use this page to forward payment.

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 16, 2014

SB Classic 2015 – Liverpool FULL

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:48 am

The second qualifying heat for this season’s Snookerbacker Classic in Liverpool is now full. Those who have reserved places will soon receive a link to pay the fees.

All fees must be paid by 31st August or places will be offered to those on the reserve list (there are currently 2 people waiting).

For all other events see details and payment deadlines here and to pay your fee see here.

 

July 11, 2014

SB Classic – Reserve Your Places Today

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:19 pm

Given the popularity of the SB Classic events in Gloucester I felt it was only fair to start taking reservations (subject to availability) for all the other events with a slightly later entry fee payment date. 

So if you want to enter any of the following events but need a bit of time to get the cash together here are the new ‘pay by dates’ – contact me today to reserve your places. Entry fee for each event is £50.

Payment Deadline 31st August for

Sunday November 9th – George Scott’s Snooker Centre, Liverpool EVENT FULL
Sunday November 16th – The Elite Snooker Centre, Preston
Saturday November 29th – The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds
Sunday November 30th – The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds

Payment Deadline 31st October for

Sunday February 8th – The Elite Snooker Centre, Preston
Saturday February 21st – South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester 
Sunday February 22nd - South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester
Sunday March 8th – Cueball, Derby
Saturday March 28th – Upton Park Snooker Centre, London

PLEASE NOTE I CAN ONLY TAKE RESERVATIONS UNTIL ALL PLACES IN THE EVENT ARE FILLED. ALSO NOTE THAT THERE ARE ALREADY PAID ENTRIES IN ALL EVENTS SO SPACES ARE LIMITED.

Contact me to reserve on any of these:

By Email: snookerbacker@ymail.com

On Twitter: @snookerbacker

On Facebook: By clicking here

If alternatively you wish to secure your place by paying the entry fee now, click here

July 10, 2014

Snookerbacker Classic 2015 – Gloucester Dates FULL

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:51 pm

I think this has broken the record from last year.

The two opening dates in Gloucester on the 1st and 2nd of November for the 2015 Snookerbacker Classic are now full following yesterday’s launch. The first one in particular reads almost like a Grand Finals Day and should be a cracking opener.

A reminder that to reserve places for any of the other events you should contact me directly - please bear in mind that Leeds tends to fill quickly and that all the other events except London are limited to 16 players and all already have paid entries.

To pay entry fees and get it out of the way you should click here and follow the instructions. 

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 – South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (16 players down to 1 qualifier)
Sunday February 22nd - South West Snooker Academy, Gloucester (32 players down to 1 qualifier)
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)

ORDER OF MERIT (WHOLE EVENT) – 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.

April 11, 2014

World Championship Qualifiers Day 4: Round 2 Concludes

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:04 am
Jimmy: Another tilt at the big one.

Jimmy: Another tilt at the big one.

Round Two concludes today at Ponds Forge and amongst those in action is none other than Jimmy White, who, unlike The Nugget looks to be almost certain to stay on the tour regardless of what happens today.

It was the end of the road for Steve Davis yesterday and it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll be back on the tour as a professional player again. His defeat to Craig Steadman means he’s left with the option of Q-School or just simply playing for fun in the PTC’s next season. He obviously has an open invitation to any SB Classic that he’d care to grace.

The good news is that yesterday was a very profitable day on the betting front. The 2 point 17/2 acca landed as did the banker bets, despite Rod Lawler losing to Kyren, had he not we’d be dancing in the streets of Scousepool, but it wasn’t to be. So it’s time to now look ahead to today and the next rounds.

Myself and Mrs SB had a lovely night last night in Sheffield at the Legends by the way. Classic Champ Ant Parsons performed in his game with Hendry and very nearly made a century at the Crucible, watched on by his proud mum and dad. It was a very enjoyable night and something I’d recommend to anyone, the Crucible was packed to the rafters, the set up was very professional and JV in particular put on a really good show. It’s basically like an all year round snooker pantomime and good old harmless fun. We also ended up drinking too much.

Anyway, here’s today. I’m a little pushed for time (breakfast calls) so it’s simply a roll call and a little bet. Normal service will resume for Round 3 later on.

10am & 7pm

Jimmy White v Ian Burns
Martin Gould v Mitchell Travis (LIVE STREAM)
Gerard Greene v Igor Figueiredo (LIVE STREAM)
Jamie Burnett v Vinnie Calabrese
Cao Yupeng v Scott Donaldson
Jack Lisowski v Stuart Carrington
Nigel Bond v Ross Muir
Matthew Selt v Rhys Clark
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Alexander Ursenbacher
Anthony Hamilton v Joe Swail
Dave Harold v Li Yan

Recommended Bets: 3 point treble on Selt, Yupeng and Bond pays just over 2/1 at Apollobet. Add Burns for a 1 point acca which pays just over 4/1 at Apollobet. 0.5 point trixie on Figueirdo (9/4), Calabrase (5/2) and Swail (7/4) at Sportingbet. 

2.30pm

Jamie Jones 3-6 Joel Walker (LIVE STREAM)
Marcus Campbell 2-7 Alex Borg
Jamie Cope 8-1 John Astley
Tom Ford 6-3 James Cahill
Yu DeLu 3-6 Luca Brecel
Mark Joyce 5-4 Chen Zhe
Rory McLeod 4-5 Michael Wasley
Liu Chuang 2-6 Robbie Williams
Pankaj Advani 3-5 Li Hang (LIVE STREAM)
Tian Pengfei 4-5 Robin Hull

You can view match prices at Apollobet here   

Apollo Post banner

March 2, 2014

Ruthless Parsons is Classic King

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:29 pm
This year's champion: Ant Parsons.

This year’s champion: Ant Parsons.

Saturday in Gloucester saw the conclusion of this year’s Snookerbacker Classic and a tension filled, action packed, top class day of snooker saw Ant Parsons from Teeside emerge as the champion to scoop the winners prize, beating Mitchell Mann from the Midlands in the final.

It’s very difficult to know where to start with how it all went. Mrs SB and I put in a lot of work to make this what we modestly think is the best amateur tournament there is and I think yesterday saw that all come together in a Grand Finals Day which I believe, again with modesty, was the best one of our three years on the road. This of course could not have been achieved without the team behind the tournament, the officials, the partners, the venues and of course the players, all of whom I will thank later on.

On arrival at the SWSA Andrew Norman was again his seemingly always cheerful self and helped out with anything I requested. My quest for perfection, OCD about symmetrical tables, chairs, water bottles, ice buckets and custom made cue towels being tolerated as if it were perfectly normal behaviour. Mrs SB laid out a special home made orange cake which didn’t last very long at all, as the main players in the day began to arrive.

The opening session saw wins for Jamie Clarke, Ant Parsons, John Whitty and Adam Wicheard. Adam beating the pre-tournament massive gamble John Parkin 4-3. I’d had word the previous day that a Parkin triumph would have cost the bookies a pretty penny or two so I think they probably owe Adam a pretty large drink as a thank you. John’s opening price of 66/1 was surely a result of the bookies letting the cleaners compile the odds for a laugh, they dodged a bullet.

As those matches finished the next four first rounds got underway and three deciders were to be played out. Ben Harrison beating Zack Richardson, Syd Wilson beating Kishan Hirani and Mitchell Mann also dodging a bullet by coming back from 3-1 and 57-0 down to pip Order of Merit Winner Callum Lloyd who has clearly improved a lot by virtue of his participation in this event. On the end table there was something of a shock as Sanderson Lam of Leeds was beaten 4-0 by 50/1 outsider Anthony Jeffers from Liverpool.

Behind the scenes there was a real team effort going on. The live-scoring system again attracted huge interest globally and was complimented on from far and wide on social media. Andy Guest of My Snooker Stats and his team of Stevie, Dom and Adam did a sterling job all day of keeping a truly international audience informed as things happened, it’s a fabulous system which he should be rightly very proud of and it’s an honour for me to have it for the Grand Finals. He tells me he’s very big in Finland.

As the Quarter Finals were being played, none other than Jason Ferguson, the Chairman of the WPBSA turned up for a nose. We had a very constructive chat about how I might eventually get that main tour card I am after and we’re talking again at the Crucible as he’s putting certain people in touch with me and fiddling with knobs etc. It’s potentially very exciting and hopefully we can work something out for next season which takes the Classic further afield and firmly under World Snooker’s radar.

The Quarters themselves saw wins for Ben Harrison, who had by now lost his coat, over Syd Wilson, who hadn’t lost his coat. Mitchell Mann was really starting to motor and he closed out his 4-1 win over Anthony Jeffers with a 104 clearance in some style, Ant Parsons came through against John Whitty meaning an end to the Scouse challenge for the year and Jamie Clarke beat pre-tournament favourite Wicheard 4-1 to progress to a match with Parsons.

What followed in the semi-finals were two matches that were totally different in character but weirdly both finished at exactly the same time. Mitchell Mann’s form was getting even better and a 92% pot success rate including breaks of 93 and 101 told the story of a superb display against the coatless Harrison. Mitch’s dad Jeff proudly watching in the wings, visibly shaking at the end of the match, knowing that his son was looking likely to end the day as champion if this type of form continued and phoning all his contacts to keep them informed, but the real drama of the day was taking place in the other semi-final between Clarke and Parsons.

On reaching the decider Jamie was left with a match ball green to reach the final, which he duly potted and somehow managed to find the middle pocket with the white, a shot that really didn’t look on. He looked on in stunned disbelief as Ant raced through the final five colours to pip him on the black. Ant offered his hand in commiseration and everyone in the room was left really feeling for Jamie, who is a fantastic player and a very likeable lad with a great future ahead of him. He’ll bounce back I’m sure but for now, it wasn’t to be for him and he was clearly dejected at the end of the match. Ant, by his own admission, had got out of jail, his own bullet dodged. Snooker can be a very cruel game.

As the players prepared for the Final, much discussion centred around the trophy that was up for grabs. Ryan Causton had amusingly said earlier in the day that it reminded him of Chewbacca from Star Wars, while others compared it quite fairly to a stool or a coffee table, others stood for a while transfixed only to say ‘well, it’s different’. The general concensus however was that it was a real gem and I know Syd Wilson and Mitchell in particular took a real shine to it. For reference, it’s a hand-carved piece of Ash wood from a local tree artist called Roy (not Roy Wood as that would be too weird), it took him 5 months to make and to be honest we didn’t really want to give it away, but alas we knew the time would come to part.

Big Future: Mitchell Mann in action on Grand Finals Day.

Big Future: Mitchell Mann in action on Grand Finals Day.

Most observers I spoke to had Mitchell as favourite for the final and he started well with break of 62 to bag the first frame. His coach Neil Johnson from Liverpool, an old friend of mine, was ‘in bits’ watching the live scoring and texting me to find out how I thought it would go. I could offer little insight as I had no idea really.

For whatever reason from frame 2 onwards Mitchell’s form began to evade him and Ant started to take command of the match. Mitchell later told me that he’d let the match with Stephen Hendry at the Crucible (part of the winners prize) creep into his mind and that this might have affected his game. Ant however as the match went on was clearly the more focused of the two and in the end the 4-1 scoreline was about right. He even told me at the end that he’d forgotten about ‘The Hendry Part’ of the prize and when he was reminded he hastily started making plans.

A delighted champion said afterwards ‘I am on cloud nine, I’ve been entering this since it started and it truly is the best amateur tournament in the world as far as I am concerned, we are treated like royalty at Grand Finals Day and that is a testament to how well it is run, I am so proud to be the champion this year and even more delighted that my wife Sarah was here to watch me win. It’s a great memory for us both. I have a tournament tomorrow but I’m sure I’ll find time to celebrate and I can’t wait to hook up again with Mr and Mrs SB at the Crucible to really celebrate my win in style, what a day it’s been!’

Mitchell was reflective in defeat and said ‘Ant played the better of us in the final and he deserved to win. I need to work on my stamina as I started badly today but played myself into the tournament with my first win, I felt great in the semi-final but I think it was one match too many for me today. What I will say is that this is a brilliant event and I want to thank Mr and Mrs SB who are doing such a great job for us amateurs, if I can I’ll definitely be back next year to try and go one better’.

Personally, I am absolutely delighted for Ant. He will remember, probably better than me, three years ago when I turned up to Gloucester for the first time as a very nervous rookie tournament director and he was the first player that myself and Mrs SB really got to know with his wife Sarah. For him to win in what I modestly think has been the best year of the tournament so far is fitting and I couldn’t be happier with our champion or the destination for the trophy. As long as their kid doesn’t cover it in jam or paint of course.

As for Mitchell, all I can say is, what a player he is. His percentages were streets ahead of the rest of the field for most of the day but he just tailed off a bit at the end. He is 22, has a great team behind him now and has the snooker world at his feet. I’d say with the way he is going now we’ll be seeing him in the professional ranks sooner rather than later, he has all the attributes it takes to succeed and he knows the areas he needs to work on, if he does that, success is guaranteed. He’s also a lovely lad and his dad Jeff is rightly very proud of him. Onwards and upwards.

Jamie Clarke - green ain't his favourite colour

Jamie Clarke – green ain’t his favourite colour

A word on the semi-finalists again from a personal point of view. I felt really sorry for Jamie Clarke and have even took time out of my busy schedule to text him today to check he’s OK such was the manner of his defeat, (I’m good like that. Actually I text him because he was on BBC Wales and Mrs SB said he looked handsome and I disagreed, so it was just to settle an argument really). Jamie is a fantastic player and was one shot away from the Final, friends of mine away from the blog who I have met on our travels will know how much I rate him and he still, like Mitchell, and unlike me, has time on his side.

As for Ben Harrison, he wasn’t at his best yesterday by his own admission but still nabbed a Q-School place along with Jamie regardless and can be proud of that. He’s another regular in the tournament and a firm favourite of ours, he was also delighted earlier when I text him to tell him I located his coat. It’s now residing in SB Mansions with a rather hefty ransom tag attached.

Careless.

Now for the thank you’s in the Oscars style. If I miss anyone I am truly sorry but I will try not to. As I said above this was a truly team effort and I would firstly like to thank the venues and the staff who helped us make this tournament what it is becoming; the superb SWSA and in particular Andrew Norman and Clare Mount, Scotties in Liverpool (Col), Cue Ball in Derby (Danny and Paul) and the Northern in Leeds.

I’d next like to thank all the referees for their tireless work. I can’t name them all but on Grand Finals Day the fivesome of Clive ‘The Planner’ Brown who reluctantly admitted under interrogation and a glass of red wine that I had a great personality, Welshie Alan Collis who turned up unexpectedly but was most welcome and a top drawer supersub, Rob Spencer (who has been out with the blonde one out of the Human League so I hate him), the legend that is Nick ‘Superref’ Harry (’nuff said), and of course the irrepressible and unstoppable Martyn ‘Rolls’ Royce, who has been a constant all singing, all dancing, all head-torch wearing companion throughout the event.

Next the SB Classic family of sponsors, John Parrott Cuesports, SightRight, Snooker Legends, Lake Creative Design and My Snooker Stats and to the lovely Vicki Evans who made the cue towels for the players at Grand Finals Day.

Next, anyone who has taken an interest in the event, whether it be by tweeting me about it, having a bet on it or even turning up to watch or help out, it’s always greatly appreciated. The only exception I will make to this is Craig Scotford aka The Wizard of Glos, who I am still seeking a restraining order from as I type.

Finally, the players. A lot is written about ‘moaning snooker players’ but I can truly say that I’ve not seen any evidence of this in my own tournaments, quite the opposite in fact and I hope this is because we like to treat them well while expecting them to pay £50 to enter each one, some could maybe learn a lesson. Regardless of this, we’ve made some great friends this last three years and every year adds to the list. Special mention has to go to the Jones family, 4th placed in the #TWAT snooker contest Baldy Mark, mum of the year Theresa and daughters Hannah (yes, the snooker one) and their youngest Ellie (who’s artwork is rather ermm, interesting) who we’ve grown a lot closer to this year. I really hope next year is the year that Hannah starts fulfilling her potential in both the ladies game and the amateur tour and Ellie starts to stop drawing pictures of people with arms growing out of their mouths.

So that’s it. We have a champion and our house is now minus a huge heavy log. Congratulations to Ant, who also wins £300 for the highest break of the tournament, a 122. Enjoy it mate.

All the results from the Grand Finals including player stats are here.

If any media or bloggers or dare I say potential sponsors would like to chat with Ant or Mitchell about their Snookerbacker Classic experience then please get in touch with me and I will set something up.  

Let’s do it all again next year. I’ll leave you with this……..see you all next season.

Royce reflects on the SB Classic.

Royce reflects on the SB Classic.

March 1, 2014

Snookerbacker Classic Grand Finals

SB 2014 poster2The Grand Finals of the Snookerbacker Classic take place today at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester as 16 of the UK’s top amateurs play for the biggest prize pot in the amateur game, as well as a Crucible date with Stephen Hendry and a quite unique hand carved trophy made from ash wood.

We start with the 10am session which features tournament favourite Adam Wichaerd who is up against the big gamble of the week John Parkin, he’s been backed in from 66/1 to 16/1 to be champion so will be hoping to justify this support. Also in action are Welshman Jamie Clarke and James Leadbetter, last ditch qualifier Andy Marriott who takes on Ant Parsons and Essex boy Ryan Causton who plays John Whitty.

Once they are done we have Leeds man Sanderson Lam taking on Anthony Jeffers, many people’s tip for the title Mitchell Mann up against Callum Lloyd, Last Sunday’s SWSA winner Syd Wilson against Kishan Hirani of Wales and possibly the tie of the round sees Ben Harrison take on Zack Richardson.

The matches will be officiated by referees Martyn ‘Rolls’ Royce, Clive Brown, Rob Spencer and Nick ‘Superref’ Harry.

To keep fully up to date with today’s goings-on you can click this link for ball by ball live scoring, if you haven’t seen this system in action before, prepare to be amazed, it’s quite something and blasts World Snooker’s system out of the water (in fairness).

There is betting available on the outrights and the matches over at Apollobet and these will be updated as the day goes on. All the matches are the best of seven frames.

If you are interested in coming along you would be most welcome, entry is free, Mrs SB has made a delicious cake and you can enjoy a slice with some top quality snooker.

All that remains is to wish all the players the very best of luck, each of them start just two wins away from Free Q-School entry and one starts four wins away from being this year’s champion. It really is wide open and all to play for.

February 26, 2014

Snookerbacker Classic: Meet the Grand Finalists

With Saturday just around the corner I thought it would be a nice idea to catch up with some of the Grand Finalists ahead of what should be a great day in Gloucester. It’s very rare these days in the amateur game that you get 16 players this good in the same tournament so it’s good to hear from each of them as they assess their chances.

They are listed in the order that they qualified. If you want to read more about how they did that click the venue links next to their name. If you want to have a bet on any of them click the price link under their names.

Every match on Saturday will be live-scored ball-by-ball and this is the page you need to bookmark to keep up to date with everything as it happens.

The Draw and Prize Money are listed at the bottom of this post.

MEET THE GRAND FINALISTS

First Qualifier Ben 'Man in Black' Harrison

Ben Harrison – Qualified from: SWSA, Gloucester.

Current Odds: 7/1

Ben has been playing in the SB Classic since the first year but this is his first Grand Finals Day, he was very impressive in Gloucester back in September. I asked him how things have been for him since then.

“I feel really good SB, I reached a final in Leeds a couple of weeks ago and I am practicing more than I ever have done and feeling the benefits from it. I have recently had a baby son and this has given me a lot of purpose to my snooker as I feel I have my life sorted, I’m made up to finally be in the Grand Finals and I feel I am as well prepared as I ever have been for a big tournament like this. I’ve been practicing a lot with Adam Wicheard and I can’t wait for Saturday, it should be a great event as it always is and I hope I can do well. I am confident”   

Kishan with prize

Kishan Hirani - Qualified from: SWSA, Gloucester

Current Odds: 14/1

Welshman Kishan is another first time finalist having made it through back in September at the first time of asking, how does he feel about his chances on Saturday?

“I play a lot at the South West Snooker Academy and it seems to bring out the best in my game. I am playing regularly and I think my overall game is pretty solid going into Saturday. I’ve been playing some of the SWSA professionals and top Welsh amateur Duane Jones so my match play has improved and is always getting better. It seems ages ago that I qualified and I have been concentrating on this event now for some time, which may give me an advantage. Gloucester is the best venue for snooker that we have in the UK for amateur events like this and I’d describe myself as quietly confident, all I’ll say is, don’t count me out”   

Adam with prize

Adam Wicheard - Qualified from: SWSA, Gloucester

Current Odds: 6/1 joint favourite

Former main tour professional Adam starts Saturday as a reluctant favourite with the bookies, he made the finals last year too but was beaten in the Quarter Finals, does he think this year he will fare better?

“These bookies rate me don’t they? I’m not sure what I’ve done to be favourite in this as I don’t think I should be, I was second favourite last year too and I lost in my first match. I’m playing today against Ben Harrison for the first time since last Wednesday and a couple of weeks before that so I don’t think I am as prepared as some of the other players will be. I am not very consistent either, I’m one way or the other, I’ve been here now for nearly two hours and I can’t even hit a 30, but another day I might be better. So I have no idea how I’m playing until I start, if I click I’ll have a decent day, if I don’t I’ll get beat. SB drew me in the early matches too despite me asking him to give me a lie in so I’m not pleased about that either. Anyway, we’ll see what happens, but favourite? In this field? You having a laugh?”

Jamie with prize

Jamie Clarke - Qualified from: SWSA, Gloucester

Current Odds: 14/1

Another Welshman involved on Saturday is Jamie Clarke, a losing Quarter Finalist last season and former protégé of none other than Ronnie O’Sullivan. How does he assess his chances in Gloucester?

“It’s funny really, last year when I went to the Finals I had been ill in bed all week the week before, this year I was ill last week but I’m better now and back playing so I hope it will go better for me. SB tells me that it’s a week later this year so that means I was sick on the same week as last year, hopefully the omens are good for me this time around. I’m starting to play very well and have mostly been playing on my own, I am very confident in my game and I want to go to Gloucester and grab the title. In a way I think the week off ill has done me good and I am feeling very positive now, I play my best at the SWSA, I don’t know why that is but I just do and I am glad the Grand Finals are there and not in Leeds where I had a day to forget last year, 5 and a half hours on the road from the crack of dawn, get beat first match by Gray, then watch Oli Lines nick my highest break by a point with a 142 so lost £300 there too, then I ordered food and it didn’t arrive so I decided to go home, traffic jams meant that took 2 hours longer, so I don’t think Saturday can be any worse than that. I’m ready and I am confident” 

Anthony Jeffers with his prize.

Anthony Jeffers - Qualified from: Scotties, Liverpool

Current Odds: 50/1

Scouser Anthony Jeffers is a first time entrant of the SB Classic and came through a long day at Scotties back in October beating the experienced John Welsh in his final match, can the Liverpudlian upset the odds?

“I’ve not been playing that much to be honest, I’m at Scotties now and I am putting in the hours for this comp as I have a focus which is something I think I need. I tend to blow hot and cold on the table but I am playing well today so that’s a good sign. I’ve not competed at this level for a while but I know most of the players there and have beaten most of them at one time or another. At 50/1 I have to have a little interest on myself as I like a bet, I checked with SB of course and he said it was OK. On my day I am capable of beating anyone and I know that I can. I hope to have a run in this and can’t wait for Saturday”    

Mitchell with prize

Mitchell Mann - Qualified from: Scotties, Liverpool

Current Odds: 6/1 joint favourite

Midlander Mitchell is a former Junior Pot Black champion and comes to this on the back of a highly impressive performance in Liverpool, he’s many people’s idea of the champion, but how does he assess his own chances?

“I am playing every day at the moment as much as I can and my results in competitions have been good, I have won 3 English Ranking Series events on the trot and beaten a lot of good players to do that so I am ready for Saturday and I’m going to give it my best shot as this is a great tournament to be involved in. SB tells me a lot of people are bigging up my chances but I think Adam is a worthy favourite, he has achieved more in his career than the rest of us, but I have to say I am going there to win. For me it’s not about taking part, it’s about winning and to be a champion you need a winning mentality and I think I have that. I have been in Liverpool today at Scotties working with my coach Neil Johnson and I am working on a couple of things he spotted, that might not be ideal just before a big tournament but I’m confident I’ll be primed for Saturday. I played Callum Lloyd, who I play in the first round on Saturday, when I qualified and I played really well against him and hit a century. I’m really looking forward to the Grand Finals and think whatever happens that Snookerbacker deserves so much credit for putting this tournament on, it’s second to none in the amateur game and I would be proud to be the next champion”  

Ant Parsons

Ant Parsons - Qualified from: Cueball, Derby.

Current Odds: 13/2

Teesider Ant is another returning Grand Finalist having made the Quarter Finals last year. He holds the current highest break in the event of 122 which he made on his way to victory in Derby, will he be the man to beat in Gloucester?

“I am playing really well at the moment and the confidence I have taken from being involved in professional tour competitions has given me a real boost. My televised UK match against Ding just after I qualified in Derby and where I feel I performed really well just improved my confidence overnight. I am putting a lot of hours in and I feel it is paying off. I feel I can go all the way on Saturday and I would love to end the day as the winner as I have been entering this event for the last three years and SB knows how I feel about it, I can’t understand anyone that doesn’t enter it who wants to make their way in the game or just enjoy a snooker event for what it is. But this is the best I have felt going into an amateur event ever, I am coming along with my wife Sarah and picking up Sanderson in the middle of nowhere on the way, after that I am there to enjoy a quiet drink with Mr and Mrs SB before going to work on Saturday. I feel I can go all the way this time” 

Sandi

Sanderson Lam - Qualified from: Northern, Leeds.

Current Odds: 10/1

Yorkshireman Sandi is another SB Classic former finalist who lost out narrowly in the semi-finals last year in Leeds. He’s a busy lad and is playing this just before jetting off to play in the World Open in China, will he be flying across the globe as the SB Classic Champion?

“I’m playing alright, I’ve been in big tournaments and that has helped my game massively. I qualified for China and I can’t wait to go and play and it would be lovely to win this as a real confidence boost. Having been at Finals Day last year all I can say is that I love it. The whole atmosphere makes you want to play better, you are treated like a professional player and last year this tournament got me a sponsor, which has helped me concentrate on snooker full-time without the worries in the background, I know I am very fortunate to be in that position and I now get to travel all over the world to play snooker. I’ll be taking this match by match and ball by ball, I’ll take nothing for granted and I just hope that I bring my best game with me. It’s a great tournament and I would be honoured to be the next champion and fly the flag for Mr and Mrs SB. I’ll be trying my hardest to win”     

Ledz

James Leadbetter - Qualified from: Northern, Leeds.

Current Odds: 12/1

James is a full-time pilot by day and night and a former tour professional. I caught up with him (I wish) on his current skiing holiday in Austria to talk about his chances.

“I’ll be honest SB I don’t know how I’m playing because I’m sat drinking beer on a mountain in the snow, but before I came here I was hitting it schweet as. I rate my chances highly if I play anything like I know I can, but we all know that’s the hard bit, bringing it out when it counts. I’m playing with no pressure which is an advantage, and I know how good I can be when it comes to tough match snooker, so I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I’ll hopefully be flying high come Saturday night (sorry) either with the trophy or bang on it in a bar somewhere”

Zack and Prize

Zack Richardson - Qualified from: SWSA, Gloucester.

Current Odds: 16/1 

Zack came through to the Grand Finals on his first attempt in Gloucester, a first time SB Classic entrant, how does he assess his chances ahead of the big day?

“I’m playing pretty well in practice and have been playing home and away with Jimmy Robertson for a while and holding my own, though he does win more on his table as he has home advantage! I haven’t been playing many comps since I qualified so I’ve been focusing on this really and I definitely fancy the job. I think I played Ben 4 or 5 years ago when we were juniors but it’s going to be all on the day and we’ll just see what happens. It’s the first time I have entered the SB Classic and I’m really pleased to have made the Grand Finals on my first try, I’m looking forward to Saturday and will be giving it my best shot”  

John Parkin with Prize

John Parkin - Qualified from: SWSA, Gloucester.

Current Odds: 16/1 (from 66/1)

John has been the subject of a huge gamble in the last few days, he was one match from turning professional not long ago and is something of a dark horse in this some think. He faces the favourite Wicheard in his opener. Can he land the gamble?

“This is like being famous SB! I’ve no idea where all this money for me is coming from but if I am honest when I first saw the prices for this my eyes nearly popped out of my head, I couldn’t believe it. But despite this I don’t know anyone who has backed me! On the table I have been putting a lot of hours in for this and I can’t wait for Saturday as I think this is a brilliant event, the betting angle just adds that extra bit of spice to it which makes it even more exciting, I can’t wait to play. I am very confident that I can do well and I am now conscious that I’ll not be very popular with some gamblers if I don’t! Wish me luck!”  

Ryan and Prize

Ryan Causton - Qualified from: Northern, Leeds.

Current Odds: 11/1

Essex boy Ryan ‘The Eagle’ swooped in Leeds in the best final qualifying match of the tournament this season to make his first Grand Finals Day. Can he carry that form through to Gloucester?

“I’m playing a bit up and down at the moment, I’ve played not too bad in a couple of comps but I was disappointed not to do well in Poland. I’ve been practicing with fellow finalists Syd Wilson and John Parkin and we’re all coming up together. I have a tough first round draw against John Whitty who I think is one of the favourites to win the whole tournament, but if I can win that match I think I have every chance of winning the tournament. I’m pleased to be in Grand Finals Day for the first time and I’m really looking forward to Saturday, it’s always a great set-up at these tournaments” 

Whitty

John Whitty - Qualified from: Scotties, Liverpool.

Current Odds: 8/1

Former tour professional and tough match player John Whitty is rated by Rod Lawler and a few other shrewd observers as the best player out there who isn’t on the main tour. Can the man who beat me in the Bootle Open semi-finals in the early 90′s (not that I’m bitter) stamp his authority on the Classic?

“I’ve started putting a few hours in again this week to prepare for Saturday, just a couple here and there but nothing too demanding! The main thing for me in this tournament is the venue, I think the best facilities bring out the best in players and that’s what you get in Gloucester. SB puts on the best tournament there is out there for amateurs and for that you need the best venue for the final and that’s what we have. It’s a level playing field and not a tournament played on potters tables so you have to be on your game to win as the best conditions suit the best players. I think I have a good chance, I’m up for the job and I know what it takes to win so let’s see what happens. I’m staying in a field in Brian’s campervan about a mile away so I hope it’s not flooded. My Uncle, who travels everywhere with me is coming to support me so I’d love to end the day as champion, we’ll have a great night if that happens”

P.S. Don’t remember that match SB, you been on the ale again?  

Syd with Prize

Syd Wilson - Qualified from: Last Chance Saloon, SWSA, Gloucester.

Current Odds: 13/2

Syd left it until the Last Chance Saloon to qualify this season having lost in 2 previous qualifying finals; a finalist in 2012 when he lost to eventual champion Martin O’Donnell, he’s back and he’s got his eye on the trophy.

“I’m happy with my game and very happy to be going into the Grand Finals as a winner. I’ve been playing with Ryan Causton and feel confident my game is where it needs to be for Saturday. It’s a strong field and I feel I have earned the right to be there. Sunday was a long day but winning makes up for that, it’s a real buzz. This is a great tournament and to be champion would be incredible, not least because my mum, like me, absolutely loves the trophy, it will look great on the mantelpiece. I’m going to leave it there and hopefully let my cue do the talking”    

Callum with Prize

Callum Lloyd - Qualified from: Order of Merit List (1st Place)

Current Odds: 50/1

Welshman Callum qualified by virtue of his consistency on the Order of Merit list which he won by a distance. The young potter is an outsider in the field, but how does he rate his chances?

“I’m delighted to be in the Grand Finals as this is the best tournament around and while I am still in there I am still in with a chance. I know I am one of the outsiders but I have played in these events to get the experience to kick on in big events. I know I have the game and I now have to go there and perform. I’ve also finally got a waistcoat sorted out! I can’t wait for Saturday and it feels great to be part of this tournament, hopefully I can upset a few more fancied players”    

Andy

Andy Marriott – Qualified from: Order of Merit List (2nd Place)

Current Odds: 50/1 

Andy sat biting his fingernails on Sunday night from afar as he qualified for the Grand Finals at the death thanks to Syd Wilson’s triumph in Gloucester. Have his nerves recovered from this traumatic evening?

(Andy, like me, is a huge Morrissey fan and therefore likes to waffle on a bit, bear with him, he’s a lovely bloke and he hasn’t had his qualifying prize yet so heaven knows he’s bound to be a bit miserable now)

On his 16th place at Grand Finals Day, Andy laments……

“My form at the moment is a bit too inconsistent for my liking. My A-game is there in patches and I know that if I can produce this on the day then I can compete with anyone in the Grand Finals and that is all you can ask. I have been cueing extremely well in patches recently, scoring very heavily and earning some very good results against good players. Then at other times it is like someone has put a Boyzone CD next to the table. Last week’s final heat was a prime example. I earned a very good 3-1 victory against Sam Betts who has what appears a fantastic natural ability and positivity about his game and then in my next match against another very good player, Brett Miller, struggled to string two balls together and was well beaten”

“Realistically and slightly depressingly, I’m an outsider, not only in life but in this tournament and I have reached the finals by way of getting to quarters and semi finals of some of the qualifying heats. I entered the final Liverpool heat at the last minute due to my performance in Leeds where Ryan Causton did a total demolition job on me in the semis. Then John Whitty gave me a lesson in matchplay in the semis in Liverpool and then all of a sudden I found myself, to my everlasting despair, near the top of the order of merit going into the final heat last week. I was lost. Unusually and luckily for me Syd Wilson won this heat and somehow I qualified – I was well and truly glued to Snookerbacker’s live twitter feed all evening as the final progressed. Another pointless wasted evening”

“I have been told to be ‘Delighted’ to be in the finals although in truth, the truth I will always convey, it was harsh on Mike Rogers who, having played him before, is a cracking player and unsurprisingly to me at least pushed Syd the distance”

“My first round opponent is Ant Parsons who beat me 4-2 in the Derby heat, knocking in a 122 in the process. I watched his match with Dominic Dale from the Welsh Open on YouTube this week before the draw was made and am shocked he didn’t qualify out of Q-School last year as he looks so composed and comfortable in front of the cameras and a live audience. I can’t wait to play him and I know I need to be at my best to compete, which is how it should be”

Andy.

THE DRAW – ALL MATCHES BEST OF 7 FRAMES

Jamie Clarke v James Leadbetter (10am. Referee: Nick Harry)
John Parkin v Adam Wicheard (10am. Referee: Clive Brown)
Andy Marriott v Ant Parsons (10am. Referee: Rob Spencer)
Ryan Causton v John Whitty (10am. Referee: Martyn Royce)
Anthony Jeffers v Sanderson Lam (NB 12 noon. Referee: Nick Harry)
Mitchell Mann v Callum Lloyd (NB 12 noon. Referee: Clive Brown)
Zack Richardson v Ben Harrison (NB 12 noon. Referee: Rob Spencer)
Sydney Wilson v Kishan Hirani (NB 12 noon. Referee: Martyn Royce)

Match Betting available here

Quarter Finals

Start Not Before 1.30pm

Semi Finals

Start Not before 3.30pm

Final

Starts Not Before 5.30pm

PRIZES

2014 Champion: Q-School Entry plus £500 (or £1000 cash alternative), SB Classic Trophy and a Crucible Date with Stephen Hendry.  

Runner Up: Q-School Entry plus £200 (or £750 cash alternative)

Losing Semi-Finalists: Q-School entry (or £500 cash alternative) 

Losing Quarter-Finalists: £200

Losing Last 16: £100

Highest Break: £300

Maximum Break: £1000 (with £300 the highest break prize included) 

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