Snookerbacker

November 17, 2016

The Northern Irish Open Continues

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:13 am
It's a bit breezy in Belfast

It’s a bit breezy in Belfast

I’m actually quite enjoying this, I wasn’t intending to get that involved in it but there is so much going on in Belfast it seems silly not to at least blog about it once.

The fact that it is being held next to a busy airport runway is one thing but add to this the fact that they appear to be playing in a tent in the windiest corner of the globe and you have probably the noisiest venue ever visited by World Snooker, at one point yesterday it actually sounded like the whole place was going to cave in.

I suppose it’s all very apt given the frequent references to The Hurricane, in whose honour the trophy (not the tournament as Jimmy keeps saying) is named. If there is an afterlife (there isn’t) then Alex is having a ball up there turning on the wind machine to remind them all why they are still earning, what happens today might not have done had Alex not been the player and character he was.

Talking of characters, what’s all that about with Mark’s Allen and Joyce? Allen says he’s a ‘dick’, thinks ‘he’s something that he isn’t’, ‘isn’t even a good player’ and generally ‘is just not a nice person’ while Joyce says nothing in retaliation. Talk about one way traffic?

I’ve tried in vain to find out what the background is to this, I know that Allen spent a bit of time earlier in his career around Joyce’s neck of the woods so maybe they have some previous from then, if anyone knows what the blazers this is all about please feel free to let us know. It’s even got a few of his fellow professionals baffled with one saying to me he thought it might all be a big act on Allen’s part for the benefit of his home tournament, but it looked pretty real to me so if it is I think Mark has a back up in the acting profession if the snooker goes tits up.

Last night saw snooker’s very own shrinking man Jimmy outplayed by The Rocket, beforehand the two had a look at a few old photographs together while struggling to remember where they were taken. In one, Ronnie can be seen gazing up at his hero in an almost doe-eyed fashion, however he was later to reveal that he’d had no sleep and been out on the lash for 24 hours before it was taken, Jimmy confirming in a rare moment of clarity that Ronald was indeed in quite a state that day and was struggling to even stand up never mind play snooker.

Another photograph led Dafabet Ambassador Jimmy to start reminiscing about a time ‘when I used to like a bet’ as he recalled scuttling around the qualifying venue tables on the balcony of the Guild Hall checking on his 8 match accumulator. Thankfully now Saint Jimmy has seen the light, as well as cutting out the pies he now just leads people off the betting cliff rather than jumping off himself with his ambitious morning accumulators delivered as part of his ambassadorial duties, no wonder Dafabet are so fond of him, he’s making them a packet with those tips.

Just before last night’s spectacle John Higgins had continued his mercurial recent run with a 4-1 win over SB Classic Champion Sam Craigie, topping it off with a maximum break to earn another 10 grand on top of the zillion quid he has already won over the past few weeks, it would be a brave man to bet against him lifting his namesake’s trophy come Sunday.

Anyway, it’s a 12 noon start in the Big Top today, I haven’t looked at the forecast but if the wind gets up again they are going to be lucky to get this finished before the venue collapses, then Alex really would have had the last laugh.

The schedule for the rest of the tournament can be found here

November 14, 2016

Northern Ireland Open

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:04 am

The November marathon of snooker continues today with the new Northern Ireland Open, the second of the million pound Grand Slam tournaments which are basically PTC’s by any other name.

It’s a somewhat depleted field with a few withdrawals late on but there are still a few big names in there, Ronnie O’Sullivan is still in the mix and joins the zoo full of amateurs on Monday evening. I’m not going to bother with this one in terms of a preview or coverage as the best of seven events aren’t really my cup of tea. Remember that Liang Wenbo is the only person who can nab the million quid off Bazza, he won’t of course but it would be quite funny if he won this too.

Order of play can be found here and the draw here 

November 11, 2016

The COC Semis

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:47 am
It's been a while

It’s been a while

Now the groups are all done it’s time for the final four to battle it out in two best of eleven frame semi finals in Coventry before tomorrow sees the two session final decide who will be this season’s COC of snooker.

The groups were all entertaining enough and I do have some time for this format, at least it’s a bit different and obviously the coverage afforded this event by the excellent ITV team adds very much to it. So much so in fact that Neal Foulds has said that this event should be ‘up there’ with snooker’s most prestigious events like the Masters, the UK and the World Championship. Personally I’d have this on the second rung of the ladder as I think there are at least two tournaments in China that merit inclusion in a Grand Slam type bracket more than this one, but we’ll agree to differ on that.

Talking of agreeing to differ, Twitter is getting a bit more tetchy these days. All I have to do is simply say something mildly non ‘on message’ about John Higgins and all hell breaks loose. It’s almost like to some I have accused them of rogering a goat the way people can react. Maybe that’s the post-Donald world we now live in, where people can do something wrong one minute and the next it’s all forgotten about like it never happened, much like Donny himself who now seems to love, respect and admire those who he has been spouting his venomous bile towards these last few months. He was only joking.

One Trump who won’t be triumphant this week is Judd, the ‘Ace in the Pack’ himself being trumped by Higgins who progresses again to face Ding Junhui this afternoon in the first semi-final. It’s quite a remarkable run that Higgins is putting together, it makes you wonder why he’s been so poor at The Crucible these past few years, never looking like adding to his tally of four world titles, perhaps this season he might re-emerge as a contender again as he clearly still has everything it takes to be at the top of the tree. Ding in the meantime came through a pretty mediocre affair with Ali Carter before dispensing with Stuart Bingham who frankly looked like he just wanted to go to bed by the end.

In the other semi-final tonight we find Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Allen. Ronnie struggled through his group on Monday, he looked at times a little disinterested but was never really asked a serious question all day and by the end looked a bit bored by it all, his post match interview showed signs that his inner chimp was escaping from the box. He also had a go at Marks and Spencers about his new shoes, so much so that the following day the retail giant announced it was closing loads of shops and concentrating on food rather than clothing, such is the power The Rocket yields.

Allen is in great form and must fancy his chances of upsetting the crowd tonight. I suspect the Ronnie that we’ll see later won’t be the one we saw on Monday, I’d imagine he’ll be relishing the possible match up with Higgins in the final for a real old school battle of the greats. They haven’t really locked horns on the big stage now since 2011 when Higgins beat him on the way to what could prove his last world title win, for the fans I think it would be a real treat to see them battle it out in a big final again, it’s almost a decade since they met in a major final so it’s very much overdue.

So it’s unsurprisingly from me a nod to nostalgia and I’ll go for a Higgins versus O’Sullivan final, if you click on the match fixtures below you’ll find the head to head stats on Cue Tracker. The Even money available on Higgins to win this afternoon looks like a decent bet to me.

Semi Finals

1pm – Ding Junhui v John Higgins

7pm – Mark Allen v Ronnie O’Sullivan

November 6, 2016

My Big COC Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:06 pm
Let the action commence

I know, I know, it’s just juvenile isn’t it?

Well, the title of the blog post ensures a sustained hit rate from those perhaps looking for something else at least, Monday sees the start of this season’s Champion of Champions event in Coventry and the action is covered throughout by the excellent team at ITV.

It’s a 16 player tournament which in effect is a standard knockout format, but for one reason or another they prefer to split this into 4 groups of 4 players, 1 group playing each day to determine the final four, it’s more convenient for the players as they only play a maximum of three days if they reach the final and don’t have to hang around all week with a feeling quite literally of being ‘sent to Coventry’.

The prize money once again is not to be sniffed at and is broken down as below:

Champion £100,000
Runner-up £50,000
Losing semi-finalists £25,000
Group runner-up £10,000
First round loser £ 7,500

With John Higgins having already picked up 200 grand over in China if he can manage to win this as well this could make a serious dent into a mortgage on a Spanish villa, he also has the benefit of a few days rest as he doesn’t start until Thursday.

So, the groups in the order that they play are listed below with a short summary.

day-1

It’s fair to say that one name and one name only stands out from this bunch, but whilst they keep on spelling Dark Mavis’s name wrong we’ll move on. Ronnie O’Sullivan is a heavy favourite to come through what looks like the most favourable bunch he could have ermm ‘drawn’. Finland’s Robin Hull is capable obviously and a very heavy scorer when he is in the mood, he is here because he won the Shootout. Mavis and Gouldy again are dangerous on their day but neither is firing at all this season yet and I can only conclude that if Ronnie doesn’t win this group his game is not in great shape, even with his C game and on the form of the other three, he should come through this quite easily with minimal frame droppage.

Predicted Group Winner: Ronnie O’Sullivan to beat Martin Gould 

day-2

I think you’ll get pretty short odds on the words ‘of’ ‘group’ and ‘death’ being mentioned in no particular order within the first ten seconds of Tuesday’s programme and it’s these poor unfortunates that have been handed the responsibility of playing in this obligatory named foursome. Coin tosses are pretty much the order of the day here and it’s only with a pinch of salt that I’d follow any possible ‘clues’ as to the identity of the group winner. In terms of freshness, we know that Stuart Bingham should be knackered but he’s proved time and again that the busier he is the better he gets, Robbo is yet to start firing so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ballrun progress. There are some who think that Ding will go into a slump following his hammering by Selby in China and he looked a bit cheesed off last week so perhaps there is something in it and a chance for Ali Carter to hook up with his old Essex sparring partner again in the Final. Since Ali beat Stuart in the World Championship the roles of victor have been reversed and I’m going to plump for the busiest player on the circuit to defy fatigue and keep his strong run going.

Predicted Group Winner: Stuart Bingham to beat Ali Carter

day-3

If Group 2 is the Group of Death, I’d say Group 3 is the Group of Induced Coma. Again, any conclusions drawn might be based on false or misguided information but Selby, despite losing to Mark Allen last week has to be top of your list to be the last man standing here. Liang Wenbo I’m sure will want to get back to winning ways after tailing off a bit following his win at the English Open but I think Selby will have too much for him in every department and will be relatively fresh. The other match again is a difficult call and I just have a slight fancy for Perry (6/4 recommended), Mark Allen looked shattered when losing to Higgins a couple of days ago and Joe’s form has been solid enough to suggest that he might defy the odds in that match.

Predicted Group Winner: Mark Selby to beat Joe Perry

day-4

So far we have the Group with no Name, the Group of Death, the Group of Induced Coma so I think I will call this one the ‘Group of Very Nearly Certain Accidental Death for which you may be entitled to Compensation’, catchy no? You’d imagine that Judd would fancy his chances against outsider Anthony McGill and I actually quietly fancy Judd’s chances overall this week. He is playing well enough, will have had a decent rest compared to the other 2 big hitters and I just feel that this week it could be his turn again. Shaun Murphy has been in superb form the last couple of weeks and must be wondering what he has to do to win a trophy, such has been the standard of his opponents against him. Higgins will be sufficiently rested but I’ll still take Murphy to beat him as John seems to struggle a little these days with consistency and perhaps he might not be the same player back on home soil as we saw last week.

Predicted Group Winner: Judd Trump to beat Shaun Murphy

Incidentally, take a look at this new prediction widget thingymajig on Cue Tracker if that’s your kind of thing. I measured my percentage on match predictions a couple of seasons ago and it was consistently 3 out of 4, or 75%, it would be interesting to see how this computerised predictor fairs against that come the end of the season.

Predicted Final Outcome: Semi Finals: Trump to beat Bingham and O’Sullivan to beat Selby.

Final: Trump to beat O’Sullivan.

Betting – O’Sullivan to reach the final at 5/4. Trump to win the tournament at 11/2. First Round Acca – Perry, Bingham and Murphy pays over 9/1. 

November 4, 2016

The Chinese Masters Final

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:21 pm

It’s been a great week in China and it’s fair to say that the Chinese Masters (which they still insist on calling something else) has definitely attracted a far larger audience than the usual Chinese events, which given its location is not surprising.

I’m sure the local crowd would rather have seen Marco Fu get further but his lacklustre display yesterday in his defeat to Shaun Murphy may now be explained by the fact that he has withdrawn from the Champion of Champions next week in Coventry, which means that Joe Perry’s place in the best hashtag event in snooker is now secure, as is John Higgins’, regardless of the result of the final tomorrow.

Murphy himself is again left wondering how he isn’t in the final, a superb display only surpassed by a superbier one by Stuart Bingham to edge him out again in the decider. Far from Shaun’s usual on and off the table ultimate professional in triumph or adversity manner, this time he didn’t congratulate his opponent and took to social media to simply say:

Now I don’t know if he was referring to his general state of mind or perhaps to his opponent, but I’m sure we’ll all agree to give him the benefit of the doubt. Of course he was referring to Stuart ‘Ballrun Bugger’ Bingham, he’s done him for the World and now possibly out of 200 bags so I think he’s being quite polite about him given the circumstances, I’d have gone for something a lot stronger personally but I’m not as professional as Shaun is.

Anyway, Bingham is up against John Higgins in the final who wasn’t challenged at all by Mark Allen, Higgins seems to be coasting through here and from what I can see he is taking advantage of poor performances from his opponents, but all you can do is win and he won’t be complaining one bit, he’s assured £100,000 tomorrow and the winner, who I think will be Bingham will receive the whopping £200,000 winners (no doubt giant) cheque.

It’s been a great addition to the calendar and I do hope that Bazza and co at least consider leaving it in this format, it’s obviously popular with the crowds and from what I see, the fans prefer it too. OK, the bookies might not take all the trade they’d like but last time I looked the sponsors weren’t in that line of business so why not try something different?

So the final between Stuart Bingham and John Higgins over the best of 19 frames starts early doors tomorrow, my prediction would be a 10-7 win for Bingham, either way I’d like Stuart to win.

November 3, 2016

The Chinese Masters Final Stages

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:57 pm

Perhaps not the four names that everyone expected to be contesting the semi-finals of this lucrative event but a field nevertheless of proven winners who will be contesting the best of 17 on the two tables on Friday.

The bookies make Shaun Murphy the marginal favourite but he is up against the man who pipped him to the World Title two years ago Stuart Bingham who is now back to his best after a season arguably anchored down as World Champion and one that he struggled to cope with on the table at least. Murphy beat Marco Fu who struggled and had an enormous watch on and I feel that Shaun needs to up it a notch given the form his opponent is in.

Mark Allen came through a great match with Mark Selby and finally ended The Jester’s fine winning run, but not without a nearly incredible comeback from the World Champion that would have had his fans in raptures had he pulled it off, Allen in the end, after a superb performance early in the match, somewhat stumbling over the winning line, a very relieved man.

Allen now faces John Higgins who was solid in beating Ali Carter, who was far from his best it has to be said. That one to me is very hard to call but given that Allen has had a scare and must have the wind in his sails I’d say he’ll marginally pinch it.

So if Marco Fu put a giant watch to my head just before the alarm was about to go off and deafen me I’d plump for Bingham and Allen to win, but not by much, might be worth looking at the handicaps on these from a betting point of view as I can’t see the Allen/Higgins match being won by any more than two frames, possibly the same for the other one. 

November 2, 2016

Chinese Masters Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:44 pm

qfsI make no apology for changing the name of this tournament because it more accurately describes what is going on in China this week and the event is all the better for it, long may it continue.

Anyway, someone who should know better today on Twitter proclaimed that the ‘UK Open’ draw was now available rather than the UK Championship.

There was a time in snooker that this type of person would have been put in the stocks and pounded with rotten tomatoes for this heinous crime, it could be argued that people have gone to the gallows for less, but I will stop short of naming him on here as again, he is describing what that event has become, unfortunately a turn for the worse than what came before in that case.

I fear that despite everyone but Bazza and Jase thinking that this is exactly what the Chinese circuit needs at this point of the season, we’ll see them stick to their rather misguided plans to make this exactly the same as all the other packed to the rafters ranking events next season. Sponsors, if you are reading, please consider sticking to this format as most fans love a bit of difference, get Bazza to change course on this one.

Anyway, we can at least enjoy possibly the only year of the Chinese Masters after some great first round matches. It’s perhaps not up to the overall standard of the International Championship, whether that be simply because of the tiredness of some players creeping in, or as I suspect, the conditions not being quite as good here as they were last week I don’t know, but there has still been enough quality snooker on display and we even get to take a peek at all the matches, another novelty for a Chinese event.

Ding and Judd both fell victim to sharper opponents in the first round but World Champion and player that has won nearly everything else too Mark Selby marches on in what could end up being a very lucrative couple of weeks for The Jester. He’s absolutely miles clear at the top of the world ranking money list and although of course this does not count towards that he must also be now a very wealthy potter, which is testament to his hard work and dedication and also reward for having to put up with Ronnie’s Bellendrical Baying Mob all these years.

The struggling Robbo also lost today to a resurgent Michael Holt, who continues to post positive results against what are regarded as the ‘big boys’ in the sport, surely a trophy is not far away for The Hitman, who knows perhaps even this week. Stuart Bingham is continuing to relish being ex-world champion and from what I saw of Shaun Murphy and John Higgins they both look in decent form too, I missed Mark Allen’s match so can’t comment on that but a season doesn’t usually go by without him making a big impact on something.

So above is the line up for tomorrow, in the UK the session times are 6.30am and 11.30am. I’d go for an interest acca tomorrow on Carter, Selby, Murphy and Bingham (pays over 7/1) personally but obviously any of these can go either way at this stage.

October 31, 2016

The China Championship Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:44 am
You Win Again

You Win Again

This week a select few are staying on in China following the conclusion of the International Championship to play in this new ‘invitational’ event, the originally named China Championship which sees 16 players play off in a kind of Chinese Masters (probably a better name) type tournament for a winners cheque of £200,000, the biggest prize ever to be awarded in snooker outside the UK.

There are lots of reasons to be excited about this event, firstly and most obviously the prize money is huge, secondly, the matches are best of 11 right up to the best of 17 frame semi-finals and the best of 19 frame final and thirdly, there are only 16 players in it, giving it a real feel of exclusivity and prestige.

Unfortunately, the plan is that next season it’s opened up to 128 players and made into a ranking event exactly like the International Championship, the winners prize money will also be reduced to £150,000. For me, this is missing a golden opportunity to really embed a new format into the calendar and retain a Chinese Masters style tournament rather than it morphing into a replica of what came before. 

Part of the appeal of The Masters is the fact that the 16 who are lining up there have earned their place, this is why I put the word ‘invitational’ in inverted commas at the start of this post, because the players who are here, barring two of them, namely Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo who have been nominated to play by the Chinese Snooker Assocation, are here on merit having performed best in the early part of the season, so this really gives the players who have hit the ground running this season a decent reward for doing so.

It’s unfortunate that Ronnie O’Sullivan isn’t in the starting line up, having pulled out a couple of weeks ago. It’s not clear why he did this or indeed if the decision was entirely his own, but the beneficiary of him dropping out is laid back Welshman Mark Williams who replaces him and is therefore guaranteed £15,000 just for turning up.

The top seeded player is newly crowned International Champion Mark Selby who lines up after a hammering of Ding Junhui in that final. Selby is as close as anyone has come for a number of years in terms of domination, he had a slight trophy blip last season of course but then ended up winning the World Championship, you have to go back to season 2008/9 as the last season he failed to win something and he has also been world number one now at the end of the last five seasons.

Will he be able to take his form with him here? Well, judging by the way he won there seems very little reason why he won’t and for me he remains the player to beat in this. But there are plenty of other contenders should The Jester stumble, unfortunately however both Judd and Ding will be smarting a bit from their hammerings last week, Robbo doesn’t yet seem to be hitting top form, John Higgins seems to be struggling when really asked a question by a top player, Stuart Bingham is another who will want to forget the manner in which he was dumped out last week, Shaun Murphy perhaps may come into this as a dark horse given he played superbly in narrowly losing to Judd and I’d imagine that Ali Carter will also fancy his chances if he gets past Judd in the first round.

So, for me I’m going to go with a Selby (5/1) versus Murphy (14/1) final with an outside punt on Carter (33/1), but I’ll probably just bet on this for a bit of fun as every match could go either way, just looking at the first round below you’d imagine there will be some absolute crackers in there.

Let the Chinese Masters commence and hopefully continue next year and beyond in this format. It’s covered as ever by Eurosport.

Top Half

Mark Selby v Anthony McGill
Mark Allen v Ricky Walden
John Higgins v Mark Williams
Judd Trump v Ali Carter

Bottom Half

Shaun Murphy v Joe Perry
Ding Junhui v Marco Fu
Neil Robertson v Michael Holt
Stuart Bingham v Liang Wenbo

click-here-for-the-format

TV Schedule

Tues 1 Nov
0630-0930 LIVE day one on Eurosport 1
1130-1430 LIVE day one on Eurosport 1

Wed 2 Nov
0630-0930 LIVE day two on Eurosport 1
1130-1430 LIVE day two on Eurosport 1

Thurs 3 Nov
0630-0930 LIVE quarter-finals on Eurosport 1
1130-1430 LIVE quarter-finals Eurosport 1

Friday 4 Nov
0630-0930 LIVE semi-finals on Eurosport 1
1130-1430 LIVE semi-finals on Eurosport 1

Sat 5 Nov
0630-0930 LIVE final on Eurosport 1
1130-1430 LIVE final on Eurosport 1

October 27, 2016

International Championship Semi Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:32 pm
Prefers the shorter format

Prefers the shorter format

This has been a thoroughly enjoyable tournament so far and what we have left are four of the best players in the sport as the semi-finals get underway tomorrow with the first, a real belter between the men in form Ding Junhui and Judd Trump.

As if we haven’t been spoiled enough with these longer matches the great news is that from here on in every match is a two session one.

The Chinese promoters, increasingly unlike the UK and European ones are sufficiently confident that some of us still have an attention span and memory capacity that is a little longer than that of a turbot and favour an actual match of snooker to unfold before our eyes instead of a game of crash bang wallop, consequently the semi finals are best of 17 frame affairs.

Anyway, where was I? I can’t seem to concentrate for long these days before getting sidetra……….that reminds me I must check the gas meter tomorrow, I’m sure we’re being overcharged.

Ah yes, the snooker tomorrow sorry about that, nice long matches to get us all hooked and what could be more mouth-watering than Judd and Ding the form they are both in? Since Judd got his new stick there has been no stopping him. He has flattered to deceive sometimes in the past and had snippits of brilliance followed by periods where he has struggled both on and off the table but this time he looks like the real deal, his safety game has improved a lot, as it had to and that was demonstrated for all to see in the final frame today against Shaun Murphy in a pulsating match which went to the final black.

Ding in the meantime went 2-0 down to John Higgins before waking up and reeling off the next 6 for a more comfortable win than I was expecting, hitting back to back centuries in the process. With Judd hitting three in his match the overs merchants on the centuries markets in this will surely be playing along tomorrow, I know I will given the players talk of the size of the ever expanding pockets over there. If you fancy this to continue like I do get those prices on the recommended bets pronto before they go, I can feel a double flying in.

In the other semi-final, the World Champion Mark Selby will face the man whose crown he stole Stuart Bingham. Ballrun looked to be in a hurry early on racing to a 4-0 lead over Michael Holt, but not long after it was 4-4 and in the end Stuart fell over the line in a decider, his planned early night and nice meal no doubt turning into a late one in bed with a Pot Noodle, relieved to still be involved. It’s been a good tournament for Holty and surely he’ll soon be going even deeper in a big one.

The tons were flying in everywhere with Mark Selby also hitting back to back biggies as he took care of business against Joe Perry, riding out a fairly comfortable 6-3 winner, while Saturday’s match up doesn’t quite get the excitement levels up to the fever pitch of tomorrow’s, it’s still one that I’ll be looking forward to.

So who wins from here? Anyone got a coin? Heads or Tails? Click on the matches for the head to head record.

Friday – Judd Trump v Ding Junhui

Saturday – Stuart Bingham v Mark Selby

RECOMMENDED BETS: Singles and a Double at Bet 365 – Centuries Market – over 2 in Ding/Judd at 5/6 and over 1 in Selby/Bingham at 5/6.

October 26, 2016

International Championship Quarter Final Thursday

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:21 pm

day-5It’s Quarter Finals Day in China when eight become four and we find out who goes on to contest the two session semi-finals, the field remains top drawer with a world champion contesting each of the remaining matches.

Without doubt the story of the Last 16 is Hitman Michael Holt’s continuing hoodoo over Ronnie O’Sullivan. Some strange things have happened in 2016, Bowie, Wogan and Prince have sadly left us, Dumb Dave Cameron has not so sadly stepped down and taken his pal Gideon with him after his hapless political gamble blew up in his face leaving us all in the shit. We’ve got some bloke off a quiz show who told a pack of lies to oust Dumbo Dave in charge of foreign affairs at a crucial time in our history and of course America may be about to elect it’s most stupid and probably dangerous president ever, which is quite some going given some of the ones that have been before.

But Holty beating Ronnie 3 times? Does this surpass all of these strange phenomenon? A player that Holty himself once admitted ‘made me look rubbish’ on live TV is now putty in his hands. As one tweeter put it today, it’s getting to the point now where it’s a surprise if Ronnie does beat him, such is the power of his hold over the limp and misfiring rocket.

Of course it’s just one match and it will take that and a bit more for Holty to land the big prize this week but it’s clear for all to see that Terry ‘Dai Lama’ Griffiths is once again taking a player with some confidence issues and transforming him into a winning machine. I don’t know what he says to them or whether he puts something in their tea but Griff obviously has the magic that it takes to get through to these sometimes stubborn and ‘know it all’ potters.

The field is full of quality and proven winners, Stuart Bingham seems to be enjoying not being the world champion anymore and flew through against Ali Carter, perhaps he should try not being world champion again next season as he looks a different animal lately, just a suggestion. John Higgins is going about his business largely untroubled in defence of his title, Ding squeezed through another decider to meet Higgins next and many think he is destined to win this week. Add these in to Judd playing as he’s always promised he could, World Champion Selby getting somewhere near his brinkmanshipping best, Shaun Murphy solidly progressing with minimal damage and Joe Perry giving Robbo a thumping and we have some snooker still left to play.

I hope a few of you took the odds on Holt to win today after yesterday’s post, that price was ridiculous and I’ll bet you won’t see him that price if he faces Ronnie again.

So to Thursday…..

RECOMMENDED BETS: ACCA on Selby, Trump, Bingham and Over 9.5 frames in Higgins/Ding pays over 5/1 at Paddies.  

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