September 1, 2015

The Month Ahead: September

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:57 am
A very happy Captain.

A very happy Captain.

The ‘stop, start’ nature of the opening months of the season continues through September before the nights start drawing in and the snooker calendar really gets into full throttle. There are just two events this month and one of them isn’t really a proper one, in fact there will be a few players out there who have nothing to play in at all until the start of October, a far cry from Bazza’s 365/24/7 wall to wall snooker promises back in the day.

Before we take a look at what to expect over the next 30 days it’s worth just reflecting on how good the Paul Hunter Classic was last weekend. I’m not usually the type to go into gushing praise of winners after an event but in this case you can’t help but feel delighted for Ali Carter. After a rollercoaster ride couple of seasons off the table, Sunday saw him come good again on the big stage at the day job. It may not be a full ranking event but it certainly has the feel of one and you can tell that the players regard it as such. It’s also great news that it will remain on the calendar next season, when changes to the EPTC format beckon.

I had a brief chat with Ali yesterday morning and he was clearly still elated by his victory, he stressed how hard it had become for him to get back to winning ways and I sense that this win will definitely put that belief back in him that he may have just lost temporarily and remind him why he is a top player, despite his current lowly ranking. It’s great to see him back in the winners enclosure and it’s clear that all players and fans think the same. Enjoy it, as it’s not often all snooker people agree on everything.

But the bad news for Ali is that he is one of those who won’t be getting his stick out until at least 30th September as he didn’t qualify for the Shanghai Masters which is the main event of the month and he also isn’t interested in the 6-Reds comp in Thailand.

It’s this novelty event that gets the snooker underway on the 7th and it’s not really something I’m that interested in either. I have no idea how the field is chosen as it’s a mix of professional and amateur players and given that every group involves a Thai player and it’s played in Thailand I think there will be wheelbarrows aplenty in and around the venue. The Thai Wheelbarrow Gang got their float last week on Thanawat so now it’s time to really splash out in their own backyard.

The main event of the month is the Shanghai Masters, which usually serves up some decent early season snooker. The real shame of this tournament is that they have again slotted in a total of 8 wildcards in the first round. It’s a shame that this now outdated system remains in place and I hope all of them get beaten by the players who deserve to be playing in the last 32. The draw for the Shanghai Masters is here.

So all in all it’s still not quite yet into full on mode and it’s not really until November that we start seeing a lot more of the boys on the baize when the calendar really starts picking up and runs more or less right through to the Crucible in April. I told you snooker was a winter sport.

August 29, 2015

Saturday in Furth: The Paul Hunter Classic

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:34 am

Following on from yesterday’s top half of the draw, today in Furth sees the bottom half play down to the second bunch of eight players to battle it out on Finals Day tomorrow.

A host of mostly unlikely candidates have qualified already, Kyren Wilson, Mark King, Ian Burns, Thor Chuan Leong, Dark Mavis, Stuart Carrington, Shaun Murphy and Robbie Williams all through to Sunday, making the prospect of a first time PTC winner a distinct possibility.

Here is the line up for today. It’s covered by Eurosport and you can click here to see the times and channels you can watch it on. 2 points today going on the bet below.       

8.30am (UK time)

Dominic Dale v Yu De Lu
Jamie Cope v Ashley Carty
Robert Milkins v Nico Elton
Anthony McGill v Daniel Wells
Fergal O’Brien v Xiao Guodong
Ken Doherty v Tian Pengfei
Michael Georgiou v Zhou Yuelong
Michael Leslie v Joe Swail
Gerard Greene v Jimmy Robertson
Stephen Maguire v Stephane Ochoiski


Sean O’Sullivan v Allan Taylor
Michael Holt v Richard Beckham
Andrew Higginson v Sam Baird
Matt Selt v Lu Ning


Joe Perry v Michael Wasley
Judd Trump v Marc Davis
Ricky Walden v Dechawat Poomjaeng


Ryan Day v Liam Highfield
David Morris v Marco Fu
Ali Carter v Elliot Slessor
Aditya Mehta v Ian Glover


Oliver Lines v Li Hang
Mark Williams v Thomas Rees
Chris Wakelin v David Grace


Mark Selby v Jake Nicholson
Scott Donaldson v Ashley Hugill
Darryl Hill v Martin Gould
Tom Ford v James Cahill


August 28, 2015

Kathi’s Blog: Friday in Fürth

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:55 pm
MOD and seat

A flea’s eye view of the action.

You know what Germans are like, always nicking the best sun loungers, well now even this place is being taken over by them. Thankfully, it’s in the shape of the lovely and seemingly always happy Kathi, who is in Fürth and wanted to share her experience of the event with us all.

Take it away Miss H….

Snooker in the Living Room

Welcome to the cosiest event on tour, the Paul Hunter Classic. If you’re lucky enough to bring your bae to Fürth, you might find yourself saying something along the lines of “Look, darling, there’s snooker in the living room!” In the very fancy living room, actually. The warm light in the lobby, the people who are having drinks while checking the scores, the really cool people in the tournament office and the ten beautiful snooker tables – all that creates an atmosphere that simply makes you feel at home.

At home and at the right place for some fantastic live snooker: You can’t get much closer to the action than here. Most of the tables are super-close to each other and super-duper-close to the audience. Which means that when you are watching a match, you are watching it next to the players. And next to the players on the other tables. You can just sit anywhere and follow four matches at the same time. It’s chaotic and it’s awesome. Mostly awesome.

To make sure everything stays cosy despite the chaos they have put nice living-room-y plants everywhere. And I don’t mean combinations in the matches, I mean actual green plants. If the BBC guys were here, they might start a new campaign: #plantswatchingsnooker. Before #peoplearewatchingsnooker, it’s mandatory for everyone to admire the beauty of their ‘living room for a weekend’ from upstairs. The lovely panorama of all those tables and matches turns promising snooker players into less promising poets: “I like standing here.”, says Ron.

The pros usually standing at the tables also seem to enjoy the Paul Hunter Classic: During your average PHC day you might easily sit next to players like Shaun Murphy, Michael Georgiou, Peter Lines or – if you’re very, very lucky – Mark Selby. It’s lovely to watch people realise they’re sitting next to one of their idols.

Sometimes they even forget there are matches going on. One of the most notable frames I’ve watched today was the last one in the MOD-TT match. There was some unusual stuff going on. Unusually great stuff for a Friday morning: MOD played the most beautiful break ever. It wasn’t a century in the end but it should count as one. So fluent, so cool, so sophisticated. That wasn’t a living room moment, that was a ballroom one.

Yesterday’s slapstick moment was in Adam Duffy’s match. He kept carelessly dropping his chalk while his opponent kept his chalk in the weirdest beltbag I have ever seen. The chalk didn’t drop but the level of fashion did. Fashion-wise there’s no Dark Mavis Lady in Fürth but there is The Lady With The Alan McManus Glitter T-Shirt. It’s, well, glittery. But when there’s a family reunion in the snooker living room, people are bound to show up wearing awkward clothes.

There’s also always that one child that misbehaves. Rumour has it Mark Williams literally climbed over the barrier to get a seat for the Burnett-Woollaston match. It was worth the effort as this turned out to be a cracking match. Ben casually made a century and Jamie casually made sure there was going to be a decider. Which Jamie also won. Which didn’t stop Ben from taking pictures with fans after the match. It’s so nice and cosy here in Fürth.

Talking about Fürth, let me reveal a huge mind-blowing secret: The “th” in Fürth is not really a “th”. It’s pronounced just like your average “t”. Wow. But I’m going to leave the nerdy fun-fact-library now and go back to the living room. Because there’s snooker in the living room. A lot of snooker.


Follow Kathi on Twitter here

Unusual Betting Patterns: Are the Thai’s at it again?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:14 pm

WheelBarrowI make no apology for the title of this blog post as once again the WPBSA has seen fit to issue the following statement today after the conclusion of the match between Martin O’Donnell and Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon, which Martin won 4-2.

The WPBSA was today alerted to unusual betting patterns regarding the match between Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon and Martin O’Donnell at the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany.

The WPBSA monitors betting on ALL professional snooker and has the most sophisticated methods available today. Working with partners worldwide and by liaising with the Gambling Commission, the WPBSA will review the available facts surrounding betting on this match. A decision will then be taken on whether any further action is necessary.

Whilst there is nothing unusual about the result between two evenly matched players it is once again a match involving a player from Thailand that has attracted a lot more interest from punters than any of the others. I was alerted this morning before the match began to substantial changes happening in the match betting market and it appears this is linked to the amount of money placed on O’Donnell to win, or rather, Thanawat to lose.

This is particularly unsavoury given that this is a tournament which marks one of our missing greats, but it’s not the first time Thanawat has been implicated in this kind of thing. Who can forget the cheeky double a couple of seasons back when both Thanny and the now ermm ‘retired’ Passakorn Suwannawat carried off a magical correct score double which everyone knew about before either match got underway? Result? Unpunished by the governing body.

It’s time to start getting tough with this as I know of at least 2 further matches where scorelines have been known to the social media world before a ball has been struck and it doesn’t take a genius to spot the common link. Whilst the underlying rumours are that these players are being placed in a position which makes it very difficult for them to refuse to comply, it’s not in the interests of the sport to allow this to go on and simply turn a blind eye.

Time to act, Nigel.

August 27, 2015

Friday in Fürth: The Paul Hunter Classic

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:38 am

Paul HunterIt’s always a very poignant time in snooker when the players and fans get together in Fürth to mark the memory of one of snooker’s brightest stars, sadly taken from his family and the sport far too early.

The Paul Hunter Classic is now a familiar fixture on the snooker calendar and there isn’t a fan out there, or perhaps even a player, who would not like to see this great event elevated to full ranking status. Perhaps with the changes that are happening to the European Tour next season this might be on the cards, surely any sponsor can see the value of having their name attached to something which all snooker fans around the world support.

Every time this tournament comes along people start talking about Paul, his legacy, his great matches and his achievements, the Masters hat-trick, his famous Plan B and the golden boy looks which gave rise to the nickname The Beckham of the Baize. When I think of Paul Hunter, who unfortunately I never had the pleasure of meeting, I always think of his epic match at the Crucible against Ken Doherty, which I still rank in my top 3 world championship matches. I’m sure you have all seen this before, but if you haven’t this excellent BBC piece perfectly sums up what a dramatic match this was, who knows what he might have gone on to achieve had he not been taken from the sport 9 years ago? He’d surely have still been one of the greatest players in the game today and perhaps even a multiple world champion. Sadly, we’ll never know. 

The event itself is always well supported by the German fans and those from further afield and this year I am sure will be no exception. The amateurs have been battling away on Wednesday and Thursday for the right to join up with the professionals for Friday and Saturday’s Last 128 rounds onwards, before the last 16 fight it out on Sunday. It’s covered by Eurosport and you can click here to see the times and channels you can watch it on.

It would be rude not to have a bet or two on this so we’ll start with the outrights and have a look a bit closer at the match betting in advance of Friday’s morning session later.

Recommended Outright Bets: 1 point win on each – Barry Hawkins @ 25/1, Stephen Maguire @ 25/1, Michael White @ 50/1, Graeme Dott @ 50/1 and Martin Gould @ 50/1. 0.5 point each way on each – Matt Selt @ 100/1, Alan McManus @ 125/1 and Jack Lisowski @ 250/1.    


8.30am BST

Barry Hawkins v Zhang Yong
Kyren Wilson v Ben Jones
Gary Wilson v Anthony Hamilton
Stuart Bingham v John Higgins ⊆⊇
Mark King v Brian Cini
Jamie Jones v Samuel Thistlewhite
Lee Walker v Sydney Wilson
Rory McLeod v Kurt Maflin
Ian Burns v Ryan Causton
Duane Jones v Steven Hallworth
Martin O’Donnell v Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon

Aprox 10am BST

Mark Allen v Sanderson Lam ⊆⊇
Peter Lines v Rod Lawler
Jack Lisowski v Lyu Chenwei
Thor Chuan Leong v Christopher Keogan
Liang Wenbo v Noppon Saengkham

Aprox 10.30am BST

Alan McManus v Joshua Cooper
Dark Mavis v Paul Davison
Eden Sharav v Mitchell Mann
David Gilbert v Kacper Filipiak

Aprox 11.30am BST

Mike Dunn v Ross Muir
Tony Drago v Stuart Carrington
Matthew Stevens v Patrick Einsle

Aprox 12pm BST

Shaun Murphy v Barry Pinches ⊆⊇
Zak Surety v Zhang Anda
Craig Steadman v Fraser Patrick
Luca Brecel v Gareth Allen

Aprox 1pm BST

Peter Ebdon v Rhys Clark
Alfie Burden v Alex Taubman
Robbie Williams v Sam Craigie
Ben Woollaston v Jamie Burnett


Snookerbacker Classic – Leeds FULL, Liverpool, Derby and Glasgow nearly full.

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:50 am

Entries for the Snookerbacker Classic in Leeds on 5th December are now closed as it is full. All players that have reserved a place in this event have until 11th September to pay their entry fee or risk losing their place in the tournament. See this link for details on how to pay the entrance fee.

There are also now only 2 places left for the Liverpool qualifier on 18th October and the Derby qualifier on 28th November, as well as our trip to Glasgow on 1st November. Fees for these events are also due by 11th September for anyone that has reserved a place. 

August 25, 2015

Book Review: Legends Uncovered by Jason Francis

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 1:44 pm

Legends book 1Now and again I get sent and given the odd freebie by people in the snooker world and one such item landed on the doormat of Snookerbacker Towers last Saturday, namely the newly published ‘Legends Uncovered – The Story of the Snooker Legends Tour’ by the man behind this nostalgic snooker roadshow, it’s creator Jason Francis.

I should get this out of the way first, I know Jason and communicate with him regularly and I’ve met him a few times both at his event and at my own, we’ve even spoken about working together in the future so I might be forgiven for making this review a flowery, sugary, arse-licking and totally fabricated load of old cobblers. But the good thing is that Jason knows that’s just not in my character so I’ll tell you what I thought of the book and leave it up to you if you want to buy it. No flowers, no sugar and definitely no licking of backsides.

The Legends events have grown in both number and status over the past three or four years and there can’t be many snooker fans who haven’t heard of them and with that, this usually means they’ll have an opinion on them. My own is that it isn’t aimed at people like me who enjoy watching hardened highly competitive long format match snooker and don’t care too much for quickfire shootout style, entertainment led tomfoolery. But there are those, lots of them in fact, that love going to the Legends events to watch and meet players both from the golden era of snooker like Cliff, Dennis, Jimmy, JP, Nugget and the like, to more recent players of legendary status like Hendry, Ken and Ronnie. Not forgetting the lovely and always gracious Michaela.

When I received the book I was a bit worried that it might simply be a commentary on the various events that have taken place on the Legends Tour, talking us through the frames as they happened and frankly making it hard for me to pick up, never mind put down. But I needn’t have feared, for what the book delivers is a very personal account of Jason’s dealings with players and those involved at the very top of the game and some typically forthright views about them. There are also some great snippits and recollections of encounters with some very familiar names that have until now, remained locked in Jason’s memory. Not least his dealings with a certain Mr Alex Higgins, which makes hilarious reading and provides further evidence, if it were needed, that Alex remained an absolute nightmare to deal with and a total barnpot right to the end.

He also has a lot to say about Barry Hearn and it is clear that he admires his skills as a promoter hugely, though he isn’t quite so generous with compliments towards some of those around him. In fact it does come across that Jason, like the rest of the snooker world, is a little bit scared of the Great Dictator, not least because when they first met in Bazza’s office, he’d just finished giving Pat Mooney the hairdryer treatment in full earshot of the next pupil in line for the cane, Mr Francis.

He discusses his relationships with all the players on the Legends tour. Jimmy is a constant throughout the book and is clearly someone that Jason is very close to. The book reveals some private sides to Ronnie, Hendry and Jimmy that are not immediately obvious to the wider general public, the common trait being that each of them seem to go out of their way at times to help Jason; he even refers to Ronnie at one point in the book as being ‘stupidly generous’.

There is insight into his business dealings and the chapter about Ronnie’s announcement that he was coming back after a year off offers insight from behind the scenes of the Rocket bandwagon. Another chapter I found very entertaining and interesting was all the hoo-haa that surrounded Jimmy White’s testimonial event at the Dorchester in London, which involves amongst other things, confirmation, if this were really needed, that Mick Hucknall from Simply Red is a complete bellend, as well as brown envelopes stuffed with cash for those who had offered services for free. You get the distinct feeling that this event took it’s toll on both Jason and Jimmy and opened their eyes to the motives of some so-called ‘friends’. 

Later in the book Jason also reveals projects that have for one reason or another, never quite got off the ground as well as one that sunk before leaving harbour. These include a tour to rival World Snooker and a documentary with a certain player who refused to take a lie-detector test at the end of it for reasons best known to himself. What’s clear is that one thing Jason isn’t short on is ideas.

Altogether, I found it a good read and I actually finished it in two sittings. My one criticism of it, ironically for me, is that there is a bit too much unnecessary swearing in it. Indeed the very first quote from Mr Hearn himself is enough to make any easily shocked readers think twice about reading on. Given that when I went to the Legends there were quite a few older generation ladies in the audience, I’m not sure it’s pitched quite at their level, it’s more Mills and Fucking Boon than Catherine Cookson. But it’s written very much from a personal point of view and Jason does at times, appear to have his patience stretched to breaking point by the actions of others, not least some of his Legends themselves. Fuck ’em.

There is plenty to keep the snooker fan entertained but I’d say it’s not really a snooker book, definitely not compared to Steve Davis’s recent autobiography which at times reads like the complete, unedited works of Snooker Scene. It’s more a personal journey on Jason’s part and an account of the people he has met along the way. He only admits to being starstruck when meeting Steven Gerrard, but my guess is he’s probably been quite starstruck a number of times given the status of some of the players he now calls friends.

There have been those who have decided, for whatever reason, to give Jason a very tough time of late, to the point where his business has suffered, this has been done mostly behind the cowardly disguise of the internet which has allowed those who choose to behave like a schoolyard bully to do exactly that. He deals with this side of things at the end of the book and if it tells us anything, it tells us that hurling insults across the internet can have some very serious consequences, both for the victim and in time, for the perpetrators. The whole thing makes me question whether the internet is actually something that has made life better or worse to be honest.

One thing is for certain, love him or loathe him, you can’t fail to have an opinion on Jason and his Legends product and as many marketing text books will tell you, it’s better having a bad opinion of something than no opinion at all.

You can get a copy of the book at one of the Legends shows or you can order one for £15 plus p&p (£4) from 

August 24, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic Entries Update

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:25 am

Hat ManAs expected, the Snookerbacker Classic is proving to be popular again with amateur players and the entries have been coming in since the launch on Sunday. So much so that it won’t be long before all 16 player qualifiers are operating a waiting list.

So if you haven’t yet entered any of the following heats but want to you should act fast. Please be aware that I can reserve places for players who have regularly played in the tournament before pending payment of fees, but first time entrants and those who may have only entered once or twice before will need to pay to secure their places.

All the details you need can be found by clicking here.


18th October: The George Scott Snooker Club, Liverpool 2 PLACES LEFT 

1st November: The Lucky Break Snooker Centre, Clydebank 1 PLACE LEFT

28th November: The Cue Ball, Derby 3 PLACES LEFT

5th December: The Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds 1 PLACE LEFT

31st January: The Elite Snooker Centre, Preston 4 PLACES LEFT

Contact me to reserve a place by filling in the details below:



August 16, 2015

Facebook Changes

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:37 pm

facebook-thumbs-downLast week, the top bods at Facebook decided that I was getting too big for my boots and kicked me off my personal profile, which I used to chat with the friends I have made over the years and ‘invited’ (i.e. told) me that I had to have a page instead for everyone to like, you know, like a famous person.

The result is that I now don’t have any of the friends that I used to chat with and I now simply have people who like me. It’s made it very hard for me to know if any of my former buddies know where I am anymore so if you are one of those, make sure you click here and ensure you are getting updates from the blog when they happen.

It’s highly inconvenient and comes at a time when I was looking to do a big launch for the Snookerbacker Classic, but hopefully some people that I have got to know both in person and through social media will continue to interact in the comments section there.

In the meantime, anyone who is on Twitter can continue to follow and chat here and you can always contact me by email at

The Snookerbacker Classic 2016 – OPEN FOR ENTRIES

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:10 am

This season’s Snookerbacker Classic is now open for entries. You can find out everything you need to know about amateur snooker’s most lucrative snooker tournament by clicking here. Places in all qualifying heats are limited.

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