I think it’s Day Three of the UK Championship but correct me if I’m wrong. It feels more like qualifiers for the main event rather than part of a global masterplan to me.
I trust that this feeling I increasingly have of an administration intent on dumbing down professional snooker doesn’t detract from what should be a great snooker spectacle when it starts on the BBC on Saturday.
However, it is with my head hung very low that I report disappointing coverage from the former broadcasting home of snooker.
In terms of betting, I have that feeling I get when I am in a restaurant studying a menu so vast that you just don’t know which way to turn and inevitably end up ordering something that you don’t really want and leaving disappointed, feeling short changed.
For me and my tiny and ever-shrinking brain there are simply too many matches happening at the same time to make this a tournament I can get excited about from a betting point of view at this stage, unlike the Champion of Champions, Masters or World Championship that force you to make a choice and hone in on a decent bet, they are increasingly the tournaments I’m having the most success in. Sometimes you just need to be given a smaller choice so you can drill down to the bets you really like.
This flat field all at the venue thing is going to take a bit of getting used to for someone like me I reckon. I’d prefer them to just play it all somewhere else and leave us with the 32, whoever they may be for the venue, but Bazza seems to be steering the ship in a certain direction, let’s just hope it doesn’t end up shipwrecked while others say I told you so.
Anyway, I think the best way to help the thought process is to go through sessions match by match and arrive at what should be a logical conclusion for your bets, something that I haven’t done this past few days, relying instead on gut feeling, it turns out largely dodgy guts that have materialised by choosing the wrong thing on that huge menu,
There are a mere 24 matches on Thursday, can’t someone just give us a set meal deal?
If you go over to Cue Tracker here you can enter both players names and see their head to head statistics. There are far too many matches for me to live link those I’m afraid, sorry Ron.
Ken Doherty v John Astley
Graeme Dott v Fraser Patrick
Ali Carter v Ratchayothin Yotharuck
Michael Holt v Lee Page
Ben Woollaston v Stuart Carrington
Nigel Bond v Craig Steadman
Jimmy Robertson v Li Yan
Jamie Cope v David Morris
Predictions: Astley,Dott, Carter, Holt, Woollaston, Bond, Robertson, Morris.
John Astley, like Kyren Wilson, Gary Wilson and Chris Wakelin is a player I am keeping on the right side of at the moment while the bookies are giving us a fighting chance and I reckon he’s got a decent chance against Kendo, but it has to be said the bookies are not giving much away considering the gulf in experience between the two. It’s either playing when the Beeb go on air or filling the vacant Nugget spot which will define the UK Championship this year for Ken you feel. Graeme Dott is in decent form and does not struggle against lower ranked opponents when that’s the case, his recent record is played 14, lost 3, the three to beat him have been Mark Allen, Ding and Bingham all three being very close, he should progress against his very handy fellow Scot Fraser Patrick and he’ll probably have been thoroughly pissed off having watched the Champion of Champions too. Ratchayothin Yotharuck is no pushover, but Ali Carter’s form is enough to suggest he can get primed up for a decent run in this with a mildly testing starter (menu’s on the brain again) whilst I would also expect Michael Holt to coast past his first round opponent Lee Page in the main arena.
In the Sports Hall is where the ‘shocks’ might be tomorrow I reckon. Stuart Carrington has shown enough to suggest that his price to beat Ben Woollaston might be long enough to have a punt on, if it was in the main arena I’d back Ben but from what I’ve heard the conditions in the Sports Hall are a little different so that may be a leveller, but Ben is the better player so I’ll leave it. Nigel Bond is ridiculously tricky to read these days and any bet for or against him should really carry a government health warning, no bet. Li Yan isn’t really beating a lot of players lately, particularly outside China so Jimmy Robertson should beat him, but Jimmy is another who is a little unpredictable so he’ll either win easily or struggle, never anything in between. The bookies aren’t daft when it comes to Morris v Cope, Cope you would think should be favourite for this match, but he isn’t, there’s a reason for that.
Recommended Bets: 2 x 2 point accas with bankers Dott, Carter and Holt. Add Robertson pays over 5/4 at Apollobet. Add Morris pays 2/1 at Betfred. A 2 point 5 fold on all 5 pays over 3/1 at Apollobet. 2 points on John Astley to beat Ken Doherty at 6/4 with Stan James.
An appointment with The Dentist.
Barry Hawkins v Alexander Ursenbacher
Shaun Murphy v Lee Spick
Stuart Bingham v Ahmed Saif
Jimmy White v Michael Wasley
Cao Yupeng v Zhang Anda
Gerard Greene v Paul Davison
Rory McLeod v Martin O’Donnell
Dave Harold v Chen Zhe
Predictions: Hawkins, Murphy, Bingham, Wasley, Yupeng, Davison, O’Donnell, Harold.
I’ve been accused many times, sometimes even by myself to be fair of continually underrating Barry Hawkins, guilty as charged I reckon and I won’t be making the same mistake again as he takes on the young Swiss potter who rhymes with snookerbacker, I think the main arena setting will ensure that Barry progresses and the same can be said for Shaun Murphy and Stuart Bingham who both face opponents that they would be very disappointed to lose to, only a very bad day at the office for any of those three big names would see them fail to progress, but none of them are a backable price even in a treble. The most competitive match of this foursome is obviously Jimmy against Wazza. Michael is picking up a good winning habit lately and it’s fair to say that Jimmy hasn’t been firing on all cylinders since his foot operation. He’s fighting for tour survival so has a massive incentive to win but this is a tough match for him against an up and coming and very capable player, I’d marginally favour the Gloucester man who I don’t think will be phased by the main arena.
UPDATE: Lee Spick has withdrawn and Shaun Murphy gets a bye. Paul Davison v Gerard Greene now in the main arena.
The more competitive matches are again in the Sports Hall part of the venue. A golden rule of this blog is to avoid wherever possible betting on matches involving two Chinese players. Cao Yupeng for me along with Xiao Guodong is the next in line after Ding on the Chinese order of merit, but he’s still some way behind, he should beat Zhang Anda on form, he’ll probably win 6-5 as it’s amazing how many of these clashes go all the way. Local man and solid battler Paul Davison will fancy his chances of progressing against Gerard Greene, who I tend to bet against quite a lot. I still don’t know where his PTC burst of form came from to get the final against Ronnie in Germany and since then he seems to be losing again so I’ll take Snowy to progress, quite amazingly given their long professional careers they haven’t played each other for 12 years. Next up The MO’D faces The Dentist in what could be a long one if Rory gets his way. I think the bookies have priced this one about right and I’ll just cheer Martin on without a bet, he’s beginning to come good and let’s hope he can keep up the momentum with a timely win here. Finally, sleepy Chen Zhe takes on Bananaman Dave Harold, Big Dave for me still has the ability to grind down opponents and recent results suggest enough to me that he can progress in this one.
Recommended Bets: 3 x 1 point doubles and a 1 point treble: Wasley, Davison and Harold (treble pays almost bang on 6/1 at Hills). 3 points on Davison at 13/10 with Hills.
Judd Trump v Gareth Green
Mark Allen v Jak Jones
Mark Williams v Allan Taylor
Peter Ebdon v Andrew Norman
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Adam Duffy v Barry Pinches
Peter Lines v Sam Baird
Liu Chuang v Tony Drago
Predictions: Trump. Allen, Williams, Ebdon, Wheelbarrow Gang, Pinches, Baird, Chuang.
Tonight sees two live title contenders in action in Judd Trump and Mark Allen. Judd’s form however has recently somewhat deserted him, barring a decent showing in Antwerp and a 147 to boot he’s not really firing at the moment. He faces Gareth Green who coincidentally is booked to play in the SB Classic on Saturday, needless to say he starts a very long outsider for this. Jak Jones played very well against Ronnie on TV in Antwerp and looks to have modelled his whole game on the Rocket, he could feasibly give Mark Allen a scare and is no pushover, Mark will have to be on his game to ensure a comfortable victory, anything less and there is a possibility that may go close. Scouser Allan Taylor takes on MJW and those who are familiar with the blog know of the special bond I have with The Assassin, I’d love to see him win and look forward to watching it, he is more than capable and you never know. Peter Ebdon is seemingly coming back to something like form after an absolutely awful run of results has seen him plummet down the rankings, he faces one of the nicest people in snooker Gloucester’s Andrew Norman who seems to simply play for pleasure these days, but players like that can be dangerous and I fancy that one to be quite close, marginally favouring the tough as teeth former world champion.
The all Thai match is one to leave alone, I’m very disappointed that World Snooker have decided to take the PTC Grand Finals there rather than Ireland this year. There have been too many instances of hooky matches involving players from this part of the world and in my view, as well as a bit of brushing been done under the carpet, people in the game know what’s been happening but on the face of it are not really trying too hard to stamp it out. Barry Pinches has recently enlisted the help of SightRight’s Steve Feeney to help his bid to stay on the tour and the results seem to be paying off, I quite fancy him to use his experience to beat Sheffield’s Adam Duffy, who has only won 2 of his last 10 matches. Peter Lines continues to impress in qualifiers and is a really tough player to beat, he faces Gloucester’s Sam Baird, who still owes Mrs SB a gin and tonic. That’s a really tough call as Baird can be ruthless when he’s in form, as Sam has won their only two encounters to date I’ll side with him, but this could be down to the wire. I’ve no strong feelings about the other match between Drago and Chuang, though as Chuang is 2-0 up on the head to heads I would probably give him the nod, though he is a player that seems to have already peaked in his career.
Recommended Bets: 2 x 2 point singles and a 2 point double Barry Pinches (17/20 Apollobet) and Lines v Baird over 9.5 frames (11/10 Paddy Power). Double pays almost 11/4 at Paddy Power.
You can view the draw for the UK Championship by clicking here - the order of play is listed here
You can view Apollobet’s outright prices here, match betting here and Daily Enhanced Specials here.