Q-school 2019 – Event 1 – Day 1

There were 42 matches played in Wigan yesterday, as part of the first round of the Q-school 2019 event 1, yielding 21 winners who will go to the next round (last 128).

I may come as a surprise – it did to me anyway – but 10 of those winners are actually teenagers, none of them having been pro before.

They are: Aaron Hill (17), Riley Parsons (19), Ronan Whyte (19), Kayden Brierley (17), Si JiaHui (16), Harry Farell (19), Iulian Boiko (13), Jack Harris (19), Sean Maddockx (17), Ben Mertens (14). Amongst then, the three youngest ones are not from the UK/Ireland. Si JiaHui is from China, Ben Mertens from Belgium and Iulian Boiko from Ukraine.

Regarding Ben and Iulian, who are still only children, they were made to play very late in the evening. And the fact that they come from abroad – Belgium has a one hour time difference with UK, Ukraine has two – made it even later for them. I feel that it wouldn’t have been too much of an effort for Worldsnooker to make sure that those kids would be scheduled to play during actual day time.

In addition to those 10 teenagers, there were six additional winners in their very early twenties: Wang ZePeng (22), Liu JiaMing (22), Thomas Hillborne (22), Xu Si (21), Louis Heathcote (21), Daniel Holoyda (20). Three of them fare rom China – Wang, Liu and Xi – whilst Daniel Holoyda is from Poland.

It is only the first match, on the first day, but this is a very encouraging sign for the future of the game.

All three women involved in the competition were in action yesterday, with only Ng On Yee managing a win. On Yee’s win is not  that surprising considering how close she ran Alan McManus at the World Championship qualifiers last month. Reanne Evans’ form seems to be nowhere near her best. Rebecca Kenna though gave Wayne Townsend, an experienced amateur, a stern test. Wayne was full of praise for Bex on Facebook after the match: her safety in particular was very solid.

Former professionals from India, Aditya Mehta and Lucky Vatnani both won their matches convincingly. I’m very pleased for Adi, a true gentleman. His career has been brought to a halt by a very serious neck injury:

Express News Service

CHENNAI: When Aditya Mehta boards a flight from Mumbai to London on Wednesday night to take part in three qualifying school events in Wigan from May 18, it will be understandable if he takes a moment or two to compose himself.

The two-time former national champion (2011 and 2012) has had a tumultuous four years in the sport and there is much riding on this latest comeback — if he does well, he will secure a two-year pro card. If he does get it, the 33-year-old will have something to look forward to in the short-term. Something to cling on to after a couple of years from hell.

For the Gujarati suffers from a condition known as ‘Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease’. In layman’s terms, three of his discs in his neck (C5, C6 and C7) are damaged. Even as he explains his condition, the agony in his voice is clear.

“It doesn’t heal itself, I have to manage on my own by physiotherapy and so on.”

To rest up properly and gain some strength in his shoulders, he sat out from the sport from April 2018 before getting back to the table in January this year.

But there was a time in his life when he ignored the pain and the warning signs. “2014,” he says. “I kept playing when I shouldn’t have.” There was even a point that year when the pain was so brutal that he collapsed in his room in Manchester. But Mehta soldiered on, hopping from one arena to the next in search of challenges.

The initial diagnosis — or the lack thereof — did not help. “I consulted scores of doctors, chiropractors, physios… but nothing worked to be honest.”

When he had contemplated quitting the sport altogether last year, lady luck had finally decided to pay him a visit. A fellow Indian Oil athlete had recommended a sports physio and since then he has learned to control the pain in the neck area. “At the Worlds in 2018, I decided I couldn’t keep going like this any longer.”

Since coming back to the fold in January, he has already risen to No 3 in India apart from scalping Pankaj Advani in the final of the CCI Invitational in March. He knows he is not yet a 100 per cent but doesn’t want to waste time because Q school events take place only once a year. He isn’t expecting a miracle in Wigan but he has gone through an awful lot. For starters, he has had to change his stance to manage his pain properly.

“The cue usually is in contact with the chin when we line up to strike. Me? Not so much. I have been advised to keep a di­stance of at least four inches be­tween my chin and my cue. It’s not that I don’t have the sh­ots I had previously but it’s now a question of having to adapt.”

Reach the semifinals in one of the three qualifying events and he will get back to the promised land. If he does, he would have answered that question with aplomb.

I wish him the very best.

Infuriatingly, but alas unsurprisingly, Lucky Vatnani’s win over Zhang Yong started speculations about possible foul play – from Zhang – because the Chinese player was favourite with the bookies before being beaten soundly. I can’t help to wonder if such speculations would have been raised if Zhang was English (for instance). Anyway, they were killed in the bud when one Q-school player who was in the venue, and watched the match, firmly stated that it was all about Lucky playing “awesome”.

Finally there were wins for WSS players – who DO dare to dream – Simon Dent, David Lilley, Stuart Watson and Matt Couch.

You can find all detailed results on snooker.org.

On a totally different subject, Ronnie will be on Sunday Brunch later this morning.

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Q-school 2019

So the prelude to the 2019/20 season starts today in Wigan

Sixteen players will come out of this eighteen days long process and get a our card for the next two seasons.

I’m not convinced that it’s the best process either.

  • being held in the UK only, and quite costly, it introduces a bias in favour of  UK players from the start, a bias that will only be reinforced throughout the season by a qualifying system also hosted in the UK only. Non UK players face additional costs – travel and accommodations – and possible visa issues.
  • it’s a very short format. Not much time to settle for those unaccustomed to the conditions, therefore favouring the ex-pros over the newbies. It also means that just one slice of luck might have a decisive impact on the outcome of a match.
  • there are a lot of byes to the second round, effectively giving a free four points to those who benefit it. This might become critical when it comes to the order of merit. It’s even more critical now that four spots will be allocated via that order or merit. Plus the fact that it’s used to feed the “top-up” system all season long.

What’s the alternative? Lewis will tell us: a “Swiss system”. I agree with him but I doubt that the powers in charge will ever consider that. They – well most of them – probably don’t understand how that works, and, if I’m honest, I believe that most fans wouldn’t either.

Anyway, it’s what it is, and it starts now…

Good luck to all involved.

And … there are players in this draw that were pros this season and have won only two matches over the full last eleven months. They still have a massive advantage over the amateurs because they have been playing in the same conditions for two years. I’m not sure that’s right. I know that this will probably raise outrage, but I would be in favour to put a condition to a minimum of four or five wins during the last season to have a right to be allowed to the Q-school right away. I would rather give them a pass to the challenge tour and a year delay to reflect about whether or not they are really good enough to be professionals.

 

Ronnie this morning ….

Ronnie was on the “This morning” ITV show earlier today … cooking a curry.

I found this account in the press (the Mirror) with some pictures.

Ronnie O’Sullivan swapped his cue for a frying pan today during a live cooking segment on This Morning.

The world snooker champion proved he is a dab hand in the kitchen as well as on the green baize.

Ronnie rustled up a chicken curry for presenters Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, who admitted it was a “surreal” experience.

The presenter confessed: “This is surreal. I’m loving talking to you. This king of the green baize and there he is standing in the kitchen and we’re talking cooking.”

Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ admitted he struggled with his weight as a child but had lost two stone after meeting a nutritionist and fallen in love with cooking.

Ronnie O’Sullivan turned his hand to cooking in the This Morning kitchen (Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)
Ruth pointed out that he was only using one hand (Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)

Ronnie has released a new cook book, Top Of Your Game, which has Top Of Your Game, 70 recipes to cook for your best self.

Ruth did warn Ronnie to turn down the hob to make sure the food wouldn’t spit.

She also pointed out that he only uses one hand when cooking – and some viewers at home noticed as well.

The presenters tucked into Ronnie’s delicious meal, but Eamonn admitted the three of four person portion looked like two to him.

Ronnie was an ace in the kitchen (Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)
Eamonn and Ruth were big fans (Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)

The Rocket revealed that he had weight problems in his childhood.

He explained: “I kind of always had a problem with my weight as a kid. I was a bit chubby and overweight and a lot of that had to do with being down the snooker club, a lot of fried food and that sort of stuff.

“Then obviously as I turned professional I realised to try and be the best I could be I tried to eat a bit healthy. I had awareness there was a good and bad side to eating. It just took over.

Then I got into running and that meant I could eat what I liked. I was slim. Then I got lots of injuries and couldn’t run so I piled on the weight. So I always had that fear as a kid I didn’t want to be too overweight.”

Ronnie struggled with his weight as a child (Image: Ken McKay/ITV/REX)

Well those who have seen him cooking with Rhiannon live on facebook will be able to reassure Ruth: he can and does use both hands when cooking. But then the Mirror wouldn’t be able  make a story out of it 😉

Anyway, judge by yourself… here is the show!

This Morning on ITV (17.05.2019.): from snooker pro to chef: Ronnie O’Sullivan

And Ronnie was on talksport as well in the morning, before the show.

 

Review of the 2018/19 season by Wouldsnooker

Here it is, as published today

The World Snooker Tour has covered the globe over the last 12 months, from Beijing to Berlin, with 26 trophies up for grabs in 11 different countries. The pursuit of glory has been played out with a collective prize fund of £14 million. Here is the story of the season…

Riga Masters
27-29 July 2018
Champion: Neil Robertson
Winner’s prize money: £50,000

The Thunder from Down Under struck instantly to claim silverware in the opening event of the campaign. He proved to be too strong for maiden ranking event finalist Jack Lisowski in the showpiece clash, coming through a 5-2 winner. It was the second time Robertson had won in the Latvian capital and it ensured that he continued his streak of having won an event in every year since 2006.

World Open
6-12 August 2018
Champion: Mark Williams
Winner’s prize money: £150,000

Last year’s Crucible King Williams landed a 22nd ranking event title with victory in Yushan. The Welshman had trailed David Gilbert 9-5 in the final, but he staged a dramatic fightback to sweep up the remainder of the frames and come through a 10-9 victor. Williams said: “I never give up or let my head drop, no matter what the score is. I never let my opponent see I’m losing heart, and then sometimes it does turn around.”

Paul Hunter Classic
24-26 August 2018
Champion: Kyren Wilson
Winner’s prize money: £20,000

The Warrior ended a three year wait, which extended back to the 2015 Shanghai Masters, to claim a second ranking title in Furth. Wilson faced familiar opposition in the final in the form of 2002 World Champion, friend and mentor Peter Ebdon. Former Masters finalist Wilson had trailed 2-0, but summoned a four-frame surge to run out a 4-2 victor and take home the title.

Six Red World Championship
3-8 September 2018
Champion: Kyren Wilson
Winner’s prize money: 3.5m Baht (approx. £82,000)

Kettering’s Wilson made it back to back titles by becoming world champion of the shorter format of the sport with victory in Bangkok. He put on a dominant display in the Thai capital to defeat Asian No. 1 Ding Junhui 8-4. “Ding is always hard to beat and has won this tournament before,” said Wilson. “Given the standard these days it is very difficult to win two events in a row. Winning has become a habit.”

Shanghai Masters
10-16 September 2018
Champion: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Winner’s prize money: £200,000

The Rocket got off to a flying start in his first appearance of the 2018/19 campaign. The new-look 24-man Shanghai Masters has become the most lucrative invitational event in the history of snooker, and its final saw O’Sullivan pitted against Barry Hawkins in front of a packed Shanghai crowd. Despite trailing for long periods of the match, he eventually came through an 11-9 victor.

China Championship
24-30 September 2018
Champion: Mark Selby
Winner’s prize money: £150,000

It was a clash of the titans in Guangzhou as Selby locked horns with John Higgins for the title. It was the third time the pair have met in a ranking final, having previously faced each other in two World Championship showpiece matches, but this time it was the Jester from Leicester who came out on top 10-9 in an epic seven-and-a-half hour battle.

European Masters
1-7 October 2018
Champion: Jimmy Robertson
Winner’s prize money: £75,000

After 12 seasons as a professional, Robertson finally got his hands on a ranking event silverware. The Bexhill potter did it the hard way after extraordinarily winning his first three matches in Lommel 4-3 on the final black. He was pitted against Joe Perry in the final, where he held off a fightback from the Gentleman to win 9-6 and claim his first ranking title.

English Open
15-21 October 2018
Champion: Stuart Bingham
Winner’s prize money: £70,000

Bingham earned his fifth ranking title with victory at the English Open in Crawley, making him one of only 18 players in snooker history to have won five or more pieces of ranking silverware. The 2015 world champion from Basildon faced close friend Mark Davis for the Steve Davis Trophy and there was never more than a frame between the pair in a tightly contested clash, until Bingham broke clear to secure a 9-7 victory.

Macau Masters
24-25 October 2018
Champion: Barry Hawkins

The invitational event saw two teams do battle as Joe Perry, Zhang Anda, Mark Williams and Marco Fu lost out against Barry Hawkins, Ryan Day, Zhao Xintong and Zhou Yuelong. All eight players then contested a six red singles competition, which Hawkins won by defeating Williams 3-2 in the final.

International Championship
28 October– 4 November 2018
Champion: Mark Allen
Winner’s prize money: £175,000

Northern Ireland’s Allen ignited his season with a scintillating display of break building prowess in Daqing as the Pistol fired in an incredible 14 centuries on his way to picking up his first title of the campaign. He defeated Neil Robertson 10-5 in the final to secure the title, making it the third time Allen has lifted ranking silverware in China.

Champion of Champions
5-11 November 2018
Champion: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Winner’s prize money: £100,000

O’Sullivan continued his sublime start to the season with victory at Coventry’s elite invitational event. The Rocket proved to be the cream of the crop as snooker’s silverware holders from the past 12 months congregated at the Ricoh Arena and faced Kyren Wilson in the final, who had looked set to land the biggest win of his career so far, but surrendered a 9-8 advantage to lose out 10-9.

Northern Ireland Open
12-18 November 2018
Champion: Judd Trump
Winner’s prize money: £70,000

The Ace in the Pack secured his first title in what has proved to be the best season of his career so far. Trump scorched a path to the final in Belfast where he faced a familiar foe in the form of Ronnie O’Sullivan, who was competing in the final of an event for the second consecutive week. In a blockbuster clash it was Trump who eventually emerged a narrow 9-7 winner.

UK Championship
27 November – 9 December 2018
Champion: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Winner’s prize money: £170,000

The Rocket reached new heights with a historic victory in York. O’Sullivan defeated Mark Allen 10-6 in the final to break two significant records – becoming the most prolific player in UK Championship history with seven titles and the most successful Triple Crown player having now claimed 19 wins. O’Sullivan said: “To beat Hendry’s 18 majors is crazy. I don’t want to stop there, I want to put some distance between me and the next players.”

Scottish Open
10-16 December 2018
Champion: Mark Allen
Winner’s prize money: £70,000

Allen, who started his year by winning a maiden Triple Crown title at the Masters, signed off 2018 with a fine victory in Glasgow. Competing in his second consecutive final, the Pistol faced close friend Shaun Murphy in what proved to be an enthralling encounter that saw the Northern Irishman battle back from 7-6 down to come through a 9-7 victor.

Masters
13-20 January 2019
Champion: Judd Trump
Winner’s prize money: £200,000

Trump produced a barnstorming display to blow away Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-4 in the final and secure his second Triple Crown title. The Ace in the Pack had to wait eight years for a second piece of major silverware, with his only other win in one of snooker’s big three events coming at the 2011 UK Championship. Trump said: “It’s good for the younger generation. Everyone’s a big fan of Ronnie, including myself, but it’s nice to have someone competing with him every now and again.”

German Masters
30 January – 3 February 2019
Champion: Kyren Wilson
Winner’s prize money: £80,000

The Warrior landed his third title of the season and a second in Germany with a fine victory in Berlin. Wilson was pitted against David Gilbert in the final and the pair took to the table amid a raucous atmosphere in front of 2,500 expectant fans inside a packed Tempodrom. It was Gilbert who assumed pole-position in the closing stages, leading 7-5. However, four frames on the bounce from Wilson saw him secure the title with a 9-7 victory.

World Grand Prix
4-10 February 2019
Champion: Judd Trump
Winner’s prize money: £100,000

Trump’s victory at the world-renowned Cheltenham Racecourse venue was the 10th ranking title of his career. He faced a stern test against Barry Hawkins in the last four, battling back from 5-4 down to edge a dramatic 6-5 victory and clinch his place in the final. There he faced tenacious four-time ranking winner Ali Carter but it was Trump who controlled a hard-fought final to emerge a 10-6 winner.

Welsh Open
11-17 February 2019
Champion: Neil Robertson
Winner’s prize money: £70,000

Australia’s Robertson secured his second victory of the campaign and the 15th ranking title of his career with a fine win in Wales. He got his week off to the perfect start by compiling the third 147 break of his career in his opening round clash with Jordan Brown. Robertson faced Stuart Bingham in the final and came through a fiercely contested clash 9-7.

Shoot Out
21-24 February 2019
Champion: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
Winner’s prize money: £32,000

Snooker’s quickfire one-frame event was fittingly won by the fastest player on tour. Un-Nooh tops this season’s average shot time statistics with just 16.58 seconds per shot, and he used that to his advantage under the pressures of the shot clock. The Thai fired in the highest break in the history of the event, a run of 139, to beat Jamie Clarke in the semi-final before dispatching Michael Holt to take home the title.

Indian Open
27 February – 3 March 2019
Champion: Matthew Selt
Winner’s prize money: £50,000

Selt claimed his maiden ranking title in Kochi, ending a 17-year journey to claim his first piece of professional silverware. The Englishman beat defending champion John Higgins in the last four to reach his first ranking event final, and there he faced talented Chinese potter Lyu Haotian who he overcame 5-3.

Players Championship
4-10 March 2019
Champion: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Winner’s prize money: £125,000

O’Sullivan’s 35th ranking title will be remembered for a moment of snooker history in the last frame of the final when the Rocket fired in a break of 134, the landmark 1,000th century of his career, to defeat Neil Robertson 10-4. The magical moment for O’Sullivan was greeted by a raucous standing ovation from the Preston Guild Hall crowd.

Championship League
1 January – 14 March
Champion: Martin Gould
Winner’s prize money: £20,300

The invitational event is played over the course of the season, with the winners from each group taking part in a final stage, and this year’s event saw Gould pick up his second Championship League title in March. The Londoner faced Jack Lisowski for the honour and came through a 3-1 victor.

Gibraltar Open
13-17 March 2019
Champion: Stuart Bingham
Winner’s prize money: £25,000

Bingham clinched his sixth ranking title with victory on the Rock with the Essex cueman producing some inspired break building form, making nine centuries across the weekend. Bingham faced defending champion Ryan Day in the final and won 4-1 to end the Welshman’s hopes of a second consecutive win in Gibraltar.

Tour Championship
19 – 24 March 2019
Champion: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Winner’s prize money: £150,000

O’Sullivan achieved further momentous landmarks with his win in Llandudno. He defeated Neil Robertson 13-11 in the final to win his 36th ranking title and equal Stephen Hendry’s record, while the success also saw O’Sullivan overtake Mark Selby and move to world no. 1 for the first time since May 2010. At the age of 43, it made him the oldest player to top the rankings since Ray Reardon in 1983.

China Open
1 – 7 April 2019
Champion: Neil Robertson
Winner’s prize money: £225,000

Robertson secured his 16th career ranking title and his third of the season with victory in Beijing. Having not competed in Gibraltar or India, the Australian’s clash with Jack Lisowski was a fourth consecutive ranking final. Robertson made light work of the Englishman, surging to an 11-4 victory to win the China Open for the second time.

World Championship
20 April – 6 May
Champion: Judd Trump
Winner’s prize money: £500,000

Trump finally secured a dream maiden Crucible win with one of the greatest world final displays ever. The Ace in the Pack faced a repeat of the 2011 final, which he lost to John Higgins. This time Trump turned the tables emphatically, running out an 18-9 victor. Between them the pair made 11 centuries, the most ever in a professional match. Trump’s contribution of seven tons also equals the record for an individual player in a match, held by Stephen Hendry and Ding Junhui.

This review once again illustrates how the money based rankings are twisted as tournaments requiring similar efforts are rewarded very differently. It also shows how “poor” the European based tournaments are, when it comes to money. And that’s worrying if snooker intends to be really global. Barry Hearn always comes up with “It’s up to the sponsor to raise the bar if they want the best players”. Well maybe. BUT … maybe it’s also worth putting some thoughts into what markets your “products” are aimed to, and what cultural implications this has.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: the extremely close association between the betting industry and snooker is a major hurdle when it comes to sponsors in mainland Europe. It’s seen as a very shady industry, that is heavily regulated in most of our countries, with advertising being limited or even banned, web sites being blocked or needing adaptation because some of the “betting” products are quite simply illegal.

A couple of days ago, the players on the WSS (World Seniors Snooker) were informed that only soft drinks would be allowed whilst playing, and that, after finishing, if they wished to consume alcohol at the bar, they should have a change of cloths or wear something over their official shirt because some of the sponsors might be uncomfortable being associated with alcohol. OK. That makes sense. What doesn’t is that the notion that sponsors might feel extremely uncomfortable being associated with betting and game doesn’t seem to be considered.

 

Publishing Day …

Today is the day this book hits the shelves

TopOfYourGameCover

Rhiannon Lambert came on twitter to promote it

…I’m so proud to share and I’s book is out today! 🙌🏻 Top Of Your Game: Eating For Mind & Body with is all about showing you how to eat, think, and work your way to being your very best – and staying there!

and

🍕🥘🍔Just look at the recipes! You‘ll find our favourite stir fries, curries, pizzas and all sorts of food you may think are typically unhealthy. Far from being disastrous, these will quickly become your go-to meals, made with satisfying ingredients that won’t break the bank!

Plus some pictures that are bound to tempt us…

Ronnie on Instagram also posted about a one off signing session

And with that I’m going back to the kitchen! Bon appétit!

10 years of Pink Ribbon

PinkRibbon2019Poster

This year will be the 10th time that the Pink Ribbon Pro-Am Charity tournament is held in the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Paul Mount lost his beloved sister Kay Suzanne to this terrible disease, and since 2010, he organises this fantastic tournament to help raise awareness about how breast cancer can be prevented, or at least detected early enough to be cured. The money raised goes to charities that help sufferers and survivors.

Players at all levels are welcome, and amateurs can enter twice, certain to compete in both sides of the draw. It’s always played in fantastic spirit.

Ronnie won it in 2015

That year, Darryn Walker, an amateur, reached the semi finals in both sides of the draw, and had he been able to beat Ronnie in the semi-final, would have played the final against himself! Everything can happen there! Quite incredibly, Ronnie and Darryn had shared a room, when competing as juniors but hadn’t seen each others in years. Never seen opponents babbling and laughting so much during a match!

Enter, or come along to watch! You won’t regret it!

It’s a great event for a great cause.