January 9, 2015

The Masters Preview

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:27 pm

MastersSunday sees the start of one of the highlights of the snooker calendar as The Masters gets under way from Alexandra Palace in London, with World Champion Mark Selby kicking things off against Shaun Murphy.

The Masters is probably now my second favourite tournament. It used to be the UK, but in spite of the fact that it produced a great final back in December (the only two session match of the tournament, incidentally), I think it has lost a lot of its charm. The Masters has remained largely unaltered and the format, like the World Championship, which is tried and trusted and is a favourite with snooker fans, prevails. In short, like the UK used to, it works.

The 16 top players in the world are competing for a huge £200,000 winners cheque and that means we are sure to see all of them giving it their best.

The form horses are of course Ronnie and Judd, who are again seeded to meet in the final. Other big players like Selby, Robbo and particularly Ding, really need to get their season underway after a relatively sedate opening half of it by all of them.

Those just under this elite five include players that are proven winners like Shaun Murphy, Mark Allen, Marco Fu, Stephen Maguire, John Higgins, Ali Carter, Ricky Walden, Stuart Bingham and Barry Hawkins. Which leaves just Joe Perry and Rob Milkins as the two players yet to have a major tournament success, but both have been knocking on the door for a while now.

As ever, the BBC are on hand with coverage, no doubt utilising Steve, JP and Ken at the venue to do some slapstick features. Disappointingly however they are not giving the evening matches a lot of coverage on the main channel and consequently we’ll be seeing most of the players who they consider we’d most like to watch playing in the afternoon when most people are at work.

I really don’t think it’s too much to ask to put a couple of hours on each night on BBC2, but hopefully the Red Button will have it on most nights. The alternative of course is Eurosport, who continue to work tirelessly to promote snooker, it’s entirely your choice which set of commentators you most like taking the piss out of or moaning about.

I’ll be watching this from start to finish anyway, making an arse dent in the sofa and drinking copious amounts of tea and hopefully keeping you up to date, or even dare I venture ‘entertained’ with things from a couch potato’s point of view, both on here and more instantly on Twitter. I’ll be sticking with the BBC in the afternoons as they continue to provide the most material to really take the proverbial out of. They are the gift that just keeps on giving to a satirist/piss-taker and like all the best sources of material, they do this without ever really knowing it.

I’ll preview this match by match and at the bottom of the post you will find the playing schedule, what more do you need? Get your place on the sofa, get the kettle on and enjoy the ride, we only get the BBC three times a year so it’s worth enjoying when we do. Here goes.

Click on the match for the head to head, courtesy of the magnificent and essential Cue Tracker website.

Ron: His foot's better.

Ron: His foot’s better.

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ricky Walden

Ronnie stormed to Masters glory last season and comes here on the back of his UK success and Champion of Champions win (he calls it The Champions Cup for some unknown reason). He has also told everyone that his errmm ‘broken’ ankle is OK now so he won’t be wearing his slippers again this week. He returns to the place where he gave poor old Ricky a right pasting last season. After carelessly allowing the man still desperately searching for a decent nickname 39 points in the first frame, he won the next five 477-0 in an almost flawless display. To say Ricky needs a reversal of fortune to get anything out of this is rather an understatement. Of course you cannot expect Ronnie to do the same again, but you have to expect him to win with a bit in hand. Matches like that are hard for the player on the receiving end to blot out, particularly at the same venue and Ricky also lost 6-0 in the UK in December to Bingham before being beaten in the German Masters qualifiers, something tells me he’s struggling a bit for whatever reason and there was a rumour that he had an injury a month or so back so perhaps he’s not fully over that. One thing is certain, you do not want to be lining up in Ronnie’s back yard if your head isn’t on straight in front of a baying, rabidly froth-mouthed, murderous mob of shaved chimps eager to see blood spilt, or to be more specific, your blood. Remember that Ronnie is also on the brink of beating Hendry’s all-time century record and the audience, half of whom will be his famous mates, will be hoping they get to be there when it happens. In short, pray for Ricky.

Prediction: O’Sullivan to win 6-2.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on there being more than 1 century in the match at 11/8 with Bet365.

Stuart Bingham v Marco Fu

Two players that are very hard to split both in terms of their form and their head to heads. 10 meetings and they have won 5 each though it is Marco who has fared better in the bigger matches. I think Bingham is probably the most improved player of the last few years and he is now a main contender wherever he plays and has proved he has the bottle and the game to succeed on the big stage. Marco continues to be underrated but it’s a long time since he has won anything of note, but he is always a tough player in the early rounds and can produce some devastating stuff when the mood takes him, as he proved against John Higgins in a recent televised EPTC match where Higgins hardly got a shot. It’s a very tough call this one but on current form/gut feeling I have to side with Ballrun, but I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly confident pick.

Prediction: Bingham to win 6-4.

The Captain is back in the cockpit.

The Captain is back in the cockpit.

Barry Hawkins v Ali Carter

It’s sure to be a great reception that awaits The Captain on his return to the BBC events, by the way don’t miss his documentary on Eurosport on Monday evening. I know Ali was very disappointed at losing early in the UK as he wanted that to signal his big comeback to the sport after all his off the table problems (with due respect to the COC, it isn’t as big as this or the UK quite yet – 00o err missus). But The Masters is a decent substitute to signal your return and it will be great to see him playing in front of a packed crowd again. Barry comes fresh from making a 147 at Crondon Park as well as winning the first group, I don’t usually take Crondon into account when assessing this tournament as the events are poles apart, but he is obviously in decent form following what for him has been a bit of a ropey spell, particularly ‘that’ match against Nigel Bond in the UK which must have really put him off his Christmas turkey. The head to heads reveal a 9-1 advantage to Ali but they do tend to have close ones in the big events. Again, this isn’t a massively confident pick but I will side with The Captain to win a tight one given his dominance in their previous meetings.

Prediction: Carter to win 6-4.

Neil Robertson v Robert Milkins

Robbo is going through a bit of a lean spell lately and a big win is precisely what he needs to boost his confidence a bit. It reminds me a bit of Selby’s form last season so perhaps it’s not a bad thing and the season, like Selby’s did, will end on the ultimate high for him. Since winning in Wuxi at the start of the season and the following week losing the final in Australia to Judd he has been beaten by a lot of players that you’d normally expect him to wallop, as well as falling over the line against other much lower ranked players. Rob Milkins is having a bit of an up and down type of season and was whitewashed by Dotty at the UK following a good run in the International Championship and a final appearance in a German PTC. Rob can be a very dangerous opponent and memorably beat Neil at the Crucible in 2013 when the Aussie was many people’s tip for the title. This could well have all the hallmarks of a shock result if he gets going early, but Neil at his best usually finds a way to win. It remains to be seen if he can start motoring again in the second half of the season, I don’t think he’ll win this week but I do expect him to come through this one.

Prediction: Robertson to win 6-3.

Ding Junhui v Joe Perry

Ding, Ding, Ding, where have you been this season? What have you been up to? Why haven’t we seen you turning up at the big events? Mrs SB has missed seeing you as you are one of her favourites and she wants to give you a big cuddle and squeeze your little dimply cheeks. He has only played 26 matches all season as opposed to his opponent’s 43, he’s been whitewashed by an amateur, pipped by James Cahill in the UK in a match reminiscent of his defeat to Michael Wasley at the Crucible, so where is it all going wrong this season for him? It’s very hard to put your finger on why Ding’s form seems to have eluded him, he’s not entering the PTC’s so presumably isn’t as match sharp as those who are and this kind of thing can come back and bite you on the arse if you aren’t careful, those pesky snooker gods don’t forgive easily and they damn sure as mustard do not forget. Perry on the other hand is playing very solidly and is closer than ever to lifting a big title. I think he’ll fancy the job here and on current form I’m going to take a chance that he can add to Ding’s continuing season of woe.

Prediction: Perry to win 6-5.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Perry at 9/4 at Ladbrokes.

He's more tongue than groove lately

He’s more tongue than groove lately

Mark Allen v John Higgins

The Artist Formerly Known as John Higgins takes on Mark Allen in a match that I’m sure will split opinion on the betting front. For most of the season poor old John has been a right old misery and a shadow of his former self. Where once no ball was safe when he stuck his little tongue out, now he’s left looking bewildered as he rattles, jaws, bounces and bashes from a few feet. That said, just lately there are signs that he might be getting back into the groove. Apparently the fiercely loyal snooker clan in Scotland spotted something he was doing differently and since then he reckons he’s on the mend, he’s a huge price to win this outright if anyone is interested in that, it could be quite a coup if he’s not done winning just yet and is surely worth a bash as his price will plummet if he beats Allen. Mark was in great form earlier in the season but just lately you detect a mid-season dip might be occurring with disappointing performances in the COC and the UK. So one player is picking up some form and one might be in a dip, there’s only one way to go then.

Prediction: Higgins to win 6-3.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Higgins at 6/4 generally.

Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire

Judd is in great form at the moment and is many people’s pick for the title this week. I think for the first time since he lost to Higgins in the Crucible final he now looks again like World Champion material and if he can keep this momentum he has going I expect big things of him in Sheffield. His comeback against Ronnie in the UK Final had the nation hooked and we were reminded once more who the entertainment crown will be passed on to when Ronnie eventually jacks it in. Snooker is lucky to have him. He beat Maguire 6-4 in the UK semi-finals but over the years it’s the Scot who has the upper hand in the head to heads. Maguire also comes fresh from his EPTC win in Lisbon, though he didn’t do too well at Crondon Park last week, despite beating Judd (sending a message perhaps?) and looking largely disinterested otherwise from what I saw. I’m going to go against the crowd on this one as I don’t think Judd will win this outright, I’m looking elsewhere for the winner and something inside me is telling me that Maguire might upset the odds here.

Prediction: Maguire to win 6-4.

Recommended Bet: 2 points on Maguire at 2/1 with Bet365.

The Master of Brinkmanship

Can the Master of Brinkmanship become The Master?

Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy  

This one is the curtain raiser on Sunday and usually the opening day produces its fair share of drama for the entertainment hungry BBC audience at home. World Champion Selby has a sound Masters pedigree but poor old Shaun has been feeling sick and he’s even been off his grub, so much so that he had to withdraw from the Championship League and their famous breakfasts, but word on the street is he’s over the worst and ready for battle. A look at their head to head record shows just how closely matched these two are, from 33 matches, Selby has won 16 and Murphy 15, with two draws. In terms of frames won it’s just as close, with Selby leading 117 to 115. These two old friends and rivals and one-time World Champs are as close as any other two players that I can think of when it comes to the stats. All this makes for what should be a cracking opener and you have to fancy that it will be close. It just has that feel about it to me. Sleeping giant Selby hasn’t yet really got going this season (that’s the baby’s fault) but surely it won’t be long until he does. I think this could be the week that the World Champion reminds us of why he is, ermm, the World Champion. I’ll be making The Jester my main selection for Masters glory.

Prediction: Selby to win 6-5.

Recommended Bet: 4 points on the winning margin being under 2.5 frames at 11/10 with Paddy Power.

I have also chosen the above bet for a new charity initiative that you can read about here.

Recommended Acca: 3 points on Robertson (-1.5), O’Sullivan (-2.5), Higgins (+2.5) and Perry (+2.5) pays almost 9/2 at Paddy Power.

Recommended Outright Bets: 3 points on Mark Selby to win the Masters at 9/1. 0.5 point each way on John Higgins at 50/1. 2 points on a Selby v O’Sullivan final at 8/1. 2 points on Joe Perry to win Quarter 3 at 8/1.  

Order of Play:

Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy (Sunday January 11 at 1pm)
Stuart Bingham v Marco Fu (Sunday January 11 at 7pm)
Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire (Monday January 12 at 1pm)
Neil Robertson v Robert Milkins (Monday January 12 at 7pm)
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ricky Walden (Tuesday January 13 at 1pm)
Barry Hawkins v Ali Carter (Tuesday January 13 at 7pm)
Mark Allen v John Higgins (Wednesday January 14 at 1pm)
Ding Junhui v Joe Perry (Wednesday January 14 at 7pm)

Quarter-final one (O’Sullivan / Walden v Bingham / Fu): Thursday January 15 at 1pm
Quarter-final two (Hawkins / Carter v Robertson / Milkins): Thursday January 15 at 7pm
Quarter-final three (Ding / Perry v Allen / Higgins): Friday January 16 at 1pm
Quarter-final four (Trump / Maguire v Selby / Murphy): Friday January 16 at 7pm

Semi-final one: Saturday January 17 at 1pm
Semi-final two: Saturday January 17 at 7pm

Final: Sunday January 18


January 4, 2015

January on the Baize

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:51 pm
The Main Event in January

The Main Event in January

January is traditionally a time when people get really depressed, suicide rates soar as some realise that they can’t afford to eat after spoiling their already spoilt kids further over the festive season, plunging them into the bog of eternal debt.

It’s also traditionally the time that sees the snooker season really get going, people start thinking about Sheffield, me included, and rankings see players jostling for position for the big one in April. We also have the mouth-watering Masters to feast on and keep us all toasty warm on the harsh winter nights.

This year is no exception, and although the month is dominated by rather lame, uninteresting events, the Masters never fails to serve up a treat and this year should be no different.

The draw for Round 1 was known a while back and is:

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ricky Walden
Stuart Bingham v Marco Fu
Barry Hawkins v Ali Carter
Neil Robertson v Robert Milkins
Ding Junhui v Joe Perry
Mark Allen v John Higgins
Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire
Mark Selby v Shaun Murphy  

So, plenty to get our collective teeth into there. It’s sponsored again, rather disappointingly, by Dafabet, who continue to bankroll the main events whilst not really giving them anything in terms of added value. But I suppose you have to get what you are given and it remains to be seen if World Snooker can pull a more interesting sponsor out of the proverbial bag for the Crucible this year.

I know the press room regulars will be hoping so, as gone are the days of free booze and gimmicks courtesy of the excellent Betfred, the ‘Great Shot’ and ‘Ton-Up’ Banners in particular being the marmite of the snooker fan world. But we didn’t know how lucky we were as now it’s more a case of trying to crack the code to the padlocked soft drink fridge and feeding off scraps. Those poor neglected hacks.

In the meantime, we have Crondon Park and The Championship League. This series of events were originally designed to plug a gap in the calendar and are unique in the fact that they are played entirely behind closed doors in casual surroundings and also entirely for the benefit of the bookie’s satchels. It feels more like a practice session but there is a decent amount of dosh on offer and a place in the COC awaits the eventual winner. There are also quite pleasant looking armchairs and apparently the Crondon Belly-Buster Breakfast is a sight to behold.

If this annual bookies benevolent fund floats your boat and you fancy losing all your hard earned on it you can browse the website here by navigating from the Events tab (it’s worth looking if only to see Shaun Murphy’s profile picture in the players section, he seems to think he’s won it already). It’s covered by the bookie streams but betting on it is suicide and definitely won’t pay for the kid’s Christmas, I’d go for the sleeping pills option, it’s far less painful in the long run. 

There are three of these in January and an Asian PTC, the dates are detailed below.


Championship League  

The Dafabet Masters
Alexandra Palace, London 

Championship League 

Asian Tour 3  – Xuzhou Open
Xuzhou Olympic Center, Xuzhou, China  

Championship League


December 31, 2014

Old Year Reflections and New Year Projections

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:41 pm
I'm not quite ready to retire just yet.

I’m not quite ready to retire just yet.

The new year is almost upon us and while most of the other snooker websites have been reflecting on the year, I’ve been busy doing other things and consequently haven’t found any time to blog or even to tweet. Much, I’m sure, to the relief of many. 

I’m not really even sure what I’m going to write here yet, but it just felt like the right time to return to the blog as we approach 2015. If anyone missed Matt’s awards posts over the Xmas period, shame on you, they are here and here.

In terms of this blog, I am going to break an annual tradition and NOT announce my retirement any time soon. I know this will come as devastating news to those of you who look forward to me doing this every year, but this year I mean it. I am not going to retire the blog just yet.

The reason for this is I suppose threefold, firstly, I will continue to pick and choose events I cover, this is a bit of an advantage of not having a bookmaker tie-in deal, as I have had for the first four years of this blog. It means, very much like the players, I can concentrate on only the events that I am interested in and not every conveyor-belt tournament under the sun.

Secondly, I continue to very much enjoy doing the Snookerbacker Classic and I hope to have some really exciting developments to announce about that in January. The Grand Finals Day is not even half full yet and the line-up already looks incredible, it can only get better.

Finally, I’ll also be working on another snooker-related project for the next few months, it’s already underway and once it’s done I’ll need this place to promote the living daylights out of it.

So that’s me, but what about snooker? This is, after all, the only reason for this blog’s continued existence.

Well, I do think the sport is in good shape for the most part, I was disappointed with the UK format and semi-final changes, I do think that more varied sponsors need to be found, I think the Chinese tournaments, with the exception of the International Championship are all becoming very very similar. I would like the German Masters to be given the status it deserves and the formerly prestigious Welsh Open is basically now just a PTC. But all in all I have enjoyed the year.

The World Championship was great again, despite the disappointing sponsor (come back Betfred) and it’s only a few short months until we are back in Sheffield. I enjoyed the Champion of Champions again, if only for the best Twitter hashtag of the year and the ITV team, the PTC’s are beginning to get their own identities and I like the increased emphasis on Europe and I always enjoy the Masters and the German Masters.

Of course, off the table is always in the spotlight too and the whole Stephen Lee saga came to a close, I do feel that the length of his ban was pretty hard on him and nobody likes to see someone kicked into touch with a young family and not many other options.

Big bounces and kicks are now the hot topic almost every day over on Twitter and it seems ludicrous that World Snooker can’t find a solution to these strange phenomenon. But they are now trialing a breakthrough piece of technology called ‘polish’ which seems to have gone down well with the players, if they’re not careful they’ll soon have to find something new to moan about.

'nuff said.

’nuff said.

Ali Carter has had quite a year too. Ali has become a friend of mine and I’m ecstatic that he’s beaten this cruel and indiscriminate illness for a second time. All of snooker and indeed everyone else can take heart from both his tale and the positivity he showed throughout the battle, he is a great example of why a positive outlook is essential when facing difficulties, whatever they may be. He’ll still be back to his grumpy old self on the table though soon, you mark my words.

So that’s my reflections on the year and hopes for the new one. I think the amount of snooker now is about right after a far too busy schedule the previous season. The changes to the rankings and what this means for players seems to me to be having the desired effect and all talk of burn-out should now be abated. It’s onwards and upwards for 2015, starting with the Championship League from Crondon Park and followed by The Masters at Alexandra Palace, part of Bazza’s BOGOF deal on the back of the current circus that’s on there. 

I’ll sign off with a few brief awards of my own:

Player of the Year: Ronnie O’Sullivan

Match of the Year: Michael Wasley beating Ding at the Crucible. Pure Drama.

Achievement of the Year: Robbo’s century of centuries.

Tournament of the Year: The World Championship.

Amateur Tournament of the Year: Modesty forbids me from revealing this one.

Snooker Website of the Year: Cue Tracker. Incredible achievement and an essential visit for stats.

Snooker Channel of the Year: ITV. More please and BBC take note, your viewers are not all retards, only half of them are. 

Rookie of the Year: Oli Lines. Great kid, I taught him all he knows.

Hero of the Year: Ali Carter. An inspiration.

Prick of the Year: The Wizard of Glos and Snooker Bingo on Twitter, can’t split them.

December 21, 2014

Seasonal Greetings

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:16 pm

It’s the end of another calendar year on the baize and time to shut up shop for a week or so before I look back at the year in the next blog and probably threaten to retire again, I haven’t decided yet. But I cannot leave you to enjoy Christmas without at least attempting to spoil it for you.

WARNING: The ten minutes you will take watching the nonsense below cannot be claimed back at any point in your life.


December 19, 2014

German Masters Round 2

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:28 am

It’s the Last 64 of the German Masters today in Wigan, here’s the line up for the day. Remember there are two live streamed tables available to watch at World Snooker TV or the usual bookies sites.

I have to say best of luck to SB Classic Grand Finalists Syd Wilson and Sean O’Sullivan as they attempt to win through to Berlin. 

Ding Junhui v Craig Steadman
Sydney Wilson v Ryan Day
Michael Georgiou v Andrew Pagett
Alfie Burden v Sam Baird
Li Hang v Gerard Greene
Alan McManus v Matthew Selt
Igor Figueiredo v Stuart Bingham
Mark Allen v Ben Woollaston
Yu De Lu v Mark Williams
Liam Highfield v Marco Fu

NB 11am
Stuart Carrington v Liang Wenbo

Lu Ning v Michael Wasley
Robbie Williams v Shaun Murphy
Joe Perry v Fraser Patrick
Jimmy Robertson v Matthew Stevens
Dark Mavis v Gary Wilson
Aditya Mehta v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Tian Pengfei v Fergal O’Brien
Stephen Maguire v David Morris
Judd Trump v Mark Joyce
John Higgins v Ken Doherty

NB 3.30pm
Martin Gould v Ross Muir

Neil Robertson v Jamie Jones
Xiao Guodong v Tony Drago
Rod Lawler v David Gilbert
Michael White v Mark King
Barry Pinches v Barry Hawkins
Zhang Anda v Michael Holt
James Cahill v Ashley Carty
Marcus Campbell v Peter Ebdon
Anthony McGill v Sean O’Sullivan
Oli Lines v Mark Selby

Recommended Bet: 3×1 point trebles and a 2 point acca on Baird, Georgiou, Wasley and Burns. Acca pays over 10/1 at Betfred. 3 point acca on Maguire, Perry, Gould, Cahill, Guodong and Neil Robertson pays almost 5/1 at Corals.

December 17, 2014

German Masters Qualifiers

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:12 am
They have to win in Wigan first.

They have to win in Wigan first.

While the rest of us are busy untangling tinsel and coloured lights, wondering if there is enough food and booze in the house to feed a small continent and getting stressed because they don’t think Great Aunt Ethel will like the cardigan you have bought her, spare a thought for the potters who have to spend a few days in Wigan.

It’s yet another Northern venue for the qualifiers, this time for one of the best events of the season, The German Masters in Berlin.

It has to be said that Berlin and Wigan aren’t really that similar, Berlin is a creative and architectural magnet which has drawn in many a famous name from the world of theatre, philosophy, art and music for inspiration, Wigan draws in workmen for its pies.

But given that most, though not all potters on the circuit are probably more drawn to a good pie than a good prose, perhaps this is the ideal venue to kick off this excellent tournament as 128 aim to be the 32 that make it to surely snooker’s best venue, the Tempodrom.

It will be covered by the usual betting sites as well as the World Snooker TV website. The matches are listed below. I may slot in a few more recommended bets tomorrow, but for today, the 8 man acca could help with the sprout bill.

Anthony Hamilton v Syd Wilson
Ryan Day v Dave Harold
Graeme Dott v Michael Georgiou
Tom Ford v Andrew Pagett
Ricky Walden v Li Hang
Gerard Greene v Ratchayothin Yotharuck
Dechawat Poomjaeng v Stuart Carrington
Liang Wenbo v Ian Glover
Alan McManus v Zak Surety
Stuart Bingham v Zhou Yuelong

Recommended Morning Bet: 2 point acca pays almost 7/4 on Day, Dott, Walden, McManus and Bingham.

NB 11am
Kurt Maflin v Igor Figueiredo

Ding Junhui v Jamie Clarke
Peter Lines v Craig Steadman
Matthew Selt v Lyu Chenwei
Yu De Lu v Lee Walker
Mark Williams v Luca Brecel
Dominic Dale v Lu Ning
Mike Dunn v Michael Wasley
Robbie Williams v Matthew Day
Shaun Murphy v Joe O’Connor
Joe Perry v Scott Donaldson

Recommended Afternoon Bet: 2 points on Peter Lines at 5/4. 1 point on Jamie Clarke at 10/1.

NB 3.30pm
Jimmy Robertson v Hammad Miah

Mark Allen v Robin Hull
Ben Woollaston v Alex Davies
Cao Yupeng v Fraser Patrick
Matthew Stevens v Ian Burns
Dark Mavis v Daniel Wells
Gary Wilson v Michael Leslie
Jimmy White v Tian Pengfei
Fergal O’Brien v Lyu Haotian
Judd Trump v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon
Mark Joyce v Jak Jones

Recommended Evening Bet: 3 point treble pays over 7/4 on Pengfei, Wilson and Joyce.

Recommended Daily Acca: 2 points on Day, Dott, Walden, McManus, Bingham, Pengfei, Wilson and Joyce pays over 6/1 at Boyles.


Rory McLeod v Liam Highfield
Marco Fu v Steve Davis
Stephen Maguire v Alexander Ursenbache
David Morris v Duane Jones
Michael White v Chris Norbury
Mark King v Steven Hallworth
Kyren Wilson v Zhang Anda
Michael Holt v Eden Sharav
Martin Gould v Chris Melling
Jamie Cope v Ross Muir

NB 11am
Aditya Mehta v Adam Duffy

Alfie Burden v David Grace
Ali Carter v Sam Baird
Barry Pinches w/o Jamie Burnett
Barry Hawkins v Noppon Saengkham
Andrew Higginson v James Cahill
Robert Milkins v Ashley Carty
John Higgins v Elliot Slessor
Ken Doherty v Vinnie Calabrese
Jack Lisowski v Oliver Lines
Mark Selby v Oliver Brown

NB 3.30pm
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Sean O’Sullivan

Ronnie O’Sullivan v George Pragnall
Neil Robertson v Mitchell Mann
Jamie Jones v Joe Swail
Xiao Guodong v Cao Xin Long
Nigel Bond v Tony Drago
Rod Lawler v Allan Taylor
Dave Gilbert v Joel Walker
Marcus Campbell v Michael Tomlinson
Peter Ebdon v Chris Wakelin
Anthony McGill v John Astley

Round 2 follows on Friday

December 11, 2014

Lisbon Open Preview and Other Stuff

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:24 pm
The streets of Lisbon

The streets of Lisbon

Well, not a preview as such, more of an informative post really, there’s a first on this blog. I’m not going to be in the snooker zone during this event as it’s a busy time in Chez Backer off the table and I’m afraid that as much as I like Portugal, something had to give.  

It’s nice to see snooker embracing yet another European country as part of the EPTC series. Although I do wish they would have left one back here in dear old Blighty as we are Europe too and some of us are happy to be so, despite the fact that we do have an idiotic proportion of the increasingly stupid population over here that support UKIP, but never mind, I digress.

News also filtered through that Kreativ Dental will be sponsoring this tour next season in its entirety, which is good news for fans of dental tourism. I’m not exactly sure what that phrase means so if anyone does know please enlighten me and share it with the group. Maybe it’s a European thing, if it is I want nothing to do with all the foreigners over there and I’m defecting to UKIP. British dentures for British people is what I say.

Oh well, at least it’s not Daffybet again.

Another development this week was the publication of the World Seniors Qualifiers draw, from which surely you would expect the eventual winner to emerge in the final stages. 

It’s littered with main tour professionals who are mostly a far cry from the largely nostalgic geriatrics that they put through to the TV stages. Rod Lawler, Peter Lines, Dark Mavis, Alan McManus, Mike Dunn, Dominic Dale, Joe Perry, Anthony Hamilton, Robin Hull, Gerard Greene and Marcus Campbell are among the names in the hat. I don’t think the likes of Cliff, Dennis and co. will be troubling any of them if they make it through to the telly bit.  

Next week it’s off to the cosmopolitan mecca and home of pies, Wigan, for the German Masters qualifiers. As it’s not too far from me I might get to spend a day up there if the chaos ahead this weekend has calmed down a bit.

I might as well flag up a few outrights for Lisbon while I’m here as this element of betting this season is producing the best returns, match betting is getting harder and harder as the players get sharper as a whole, there’s not a lot of difference between them when they are all at their best and that makes for difficult punting, just how the bookies like it.

Recommended Outright Bets: 2 points each way on Stuart Bingham at 12/1. 1 point each way on Mark Williams at 25/1. 0.5 point each way on Michael Holt at 80/1, Anthony McGill at 80/1 and Rod Lawler at 125/1 – back these all at Skybet/Boyles or Apollobet who pay semi-finalists, none of the other bookies pricing this up do this and only pay finalists. 

Click here for the draw for the Lisbon Open and click here for the format. The whole thing starts with the amateur rounds on Thursday with Eurosport getting involved from Friday, you can view their schedule of coverage here. Ali Carter has withdrawn by the way, he’s been a bit busy with TV stuff.

I’ll be back next week, internet access allowing, for the Wigan bonanza.

December 6, 2014

UK Championship Finals Weekend

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:00 am
Judd - Looking Sharp

Judd – Looking Sharp

It’s the business end of the UK Championship this weekend and despite a week of shocks there are four big hitters left to slug it out for the dosh.

First off, Ronnie takes on Stuart Bingham. The head to head shows a huge lead for O’Sullivan but I think he’ll have to improve a notch today to win.

That might sound ridiculous given the brilliance of the maximum the other night but to me he’s not really been properly tested this week and is still missing balls that a sharper Rocket would pot in his sleep. Bingham on the other hand, despite an uncharacteristically poor display against Dotty, on the whole has looked sharp, he also of course beat Ronnie here last season.

Just a quick mention of Ronnie’s complimentary words about Anthony McGill yesterday which were very nice to hear, it’s obvious that he meant it and I second the fact that McGill, as well as being a very good player, also has something to bring to the table in terms of his personality. He walked in to The Smiths ‘This Charming Man’ so that’s good enough for me, as it was for Hazel, who came out live on air as a fan of the greatest band ever to walk the earth yesterday.  

The other match sees my idea of the champion Judd Trump up against Stephen Maguire, who came through a turgid battle last night with Marco Fu, which at one point left the audience looking for some teeth to pull. Mags has a very good record against Judd and beat him 5-0 early in the season in Wuxi. But their last meeting in the Champion of Champions saw Judd as a comfortable winner, I can’t see Trump losing that one but anything can happen.

An O’Sullivan/Trump final is what most will want to see and would also from a betting point of view get us out of the week with reputation in tact, given that this was the predicted final at the start of the tournament. But I just have an uncomfortable feeling about Ronnie’s match and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Ballrun spoiled the party. I’m not going to back him but I wouldn’t put anyone off from doing so.


Stuart Bingham v Ronnie O’Sullivan

Prediction – Bingham 6-4.


Judd Trump v Stephen Maguire

Prediction – Trump 6-3

December 5, 2014

UK Championship Quarter Finals

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:42 am
Superlatived Out.

Superlatived Out.

What can you say that hasn’t already been said about Ronnie? Superlative upon superlative with a superlative sauce and superlative side-salad has already been served so I am struggling for what to add I have to admit.

His 147 to sign off last night was magic, another timely reminder to the BBC as to why he should never be overlooked at that daft awards show they have every year. But he’s not on skates, ski’s, a field, a pitch, a track, a golf course, a skateboard, a track or a bike so he’s got no chance. Ridiculous really given that he’s a lot more entertaining than some of the nobody’s that get nominated.   

He did get a lot of chances to warm up last night and Matt Selt will be bitterly disappointed at not bringing anything near his A game but Ronnie can do that to opponents, he simply has to turn up, put on his broody, moody frown, mince around the table and opponents more often than not start to crumble, such is his domineering presence.

He’s so good that everyone has forgotten about his errrmmm ‘broken’ ankle. To shake that off the speed he was running around the table last night proves once and for all that he must be superhuman, well either that or he hasn’t got a broken ankle after all and just fancies wearing his comfy loafers all week.

He now faces Anthony McGill who he said he was a fan of last night, also saying that he was a really nice kid, even though he doesn’t know him, but he’s taking other people’s word for it. So that’s cleared that up then. He also said he wanted to end his career with over 1000 century breaks so we’ve got plenty more of him to come if that’s the case. You can watch his interview after the match here.

Earlier on, Judd showed he can be mature sometimes in seeing off the limpet that is Rod Lawler, at one point it looked like Rod had got under his skin but Judd knuckled down and coped very well with what was a very tough game for him. Tonight I fancy we’ll see him back to his crash, bang, walloping best as he takes on Mavis, who is amazed to have even got this far if his quotes are to be believed.

Dotty was at his terrier-like best the other night, well he was for the first five frames and the decider anyway as he sent Robbo packing. Poor old Robbo isn’t firing on all cylinders as yet this season and you don’t want to run into a rampant Dotty when you are a bit iffy. He’s like a dog with a bone when he gets going is wee Graeme. He faces Stuart Bingham who walloped Ricky Walden 6-0, quite a result that against a player in form coming into this, I think that will be a cracker personally and possibly the match of the round.

Marco Fu became Marco Phew and waited until the final black to knock out Shaun Murphy, who rather than take the blame himself decided to blame the WPBSA for losing because of the table. Poor old Shaun spends hours mulling over the causes of kicks and big bounces in the laboratory and he still can’t convince the powers that be to listen to him. Marco faces Maguire, the third Scot in the last eight who saw off the bearded wonder Davy Morris, again, like the Dott/Bingham match, this one could go to the wire I reckon.

So a great day in store today in York. Bettingwise, a welcome turn for the better in the last round and we still have the recommended win bet on Ronnie (3/1) and each-ways on Judd (9/1) and Marco (40/1) in there so hopefully after the carnage earlier in the week we can emerge from the wreckage with some pride in tact. 

Click on the matches below to reveal the head to head record. 

Recommended Bet: 2 points acca on O’Sullivan (-2.5), Dott (+2.5), Fu (+2.5) and Trump (-1.5) pays almost 11/4 at Paddies.


Anthony McGill v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Graeme Dott v Stuart Bingham


Marco Fu v Stephen Maguire
Dark Mavis v Judd Trump

Thanks to Monique for the picture of Ronnie, view her album from yesterday on Facebook here.

December 3, 2014

UK Championship Last 16

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:28 am
The Man of the Moment

The Man of the Moment

The Coral UK Championship now reverts to the two table set up as the Last 16 gets underway this afternoon and it’s fair to say that last night produced one of the most memorable matches in living memory in York.

Unfortunately I was in bed.

Yes, while Master Cahill was enjoying his finest hour out there I was dishing out the Zd’s blissfully unaware that all this was going on. What a complete and utter idiot I truly am.

Fortunately, there are people out there who are far more dedicated than I am to our noble sport and I am able to catch up on what was a truly extraordinary night on the baize in a tournament producing shocks aplenty. If you too decided against staying up to watch it, you can make amends here. No? It was just me then?

Hopalong O’Sullivan remains favourite, quite why I’m not sure but if he does win it, not only can he claim to be able to beat top players with his left hand, he’ll also be able to claim that he can beat them with one leg aswell. I still can’t see him winning it, but obviously given how bad the betting has gone on the matches I hope I’m wrong and that the maximum outright bet recommended pre-pegleg news lands.

Good old Rodders is also still in there fighting after defeating Mark Allen last night and now faces Judd on the box. This gives the Last 16 a distinctly mixed feel with so many of the familiar names out of the running. But we’ve seen this kind of thing before and more often than not it still ends up being two very familiar faces in the final, we’ll see. I fancy Judd to win it personally from here.

I shall now return to repeatedly hitting myself on the head with a mini-butt for the rest of the week as self-punishment for missing out on all the fun last night. James was even top trend on Twitter such was the magnitude of his victory. Who says snooker in the UK is dead?


Recommended Wednesday Bet: 2 points double on Dott and Cahill (both plus 2.5) pays over 7/4.

Stuart Bingham v Ricky Walden
Anthony McGill v John Higgins

Neil Robertson v Graeme Dott
James Cahill v Dark Mavis

Recommended Thursday Double: 2 points on Trump (-2.5) and Fu (+1.5) pays just on 5/2. 

Judd Trump v Rod Lawler
Shaun Murphy v Marco Fu

Matt Selt v Ronnie O’Sullivan
Stephen Maguire v David Morris

Thanks again to Monique for the use of image.

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