UK Championship 2016 – Last 32 round-up

Yesterday saw the conclusion of the last 32 round and there were a few more unexpected results and drama aplenty. The biggest name to go out yesterday  was Ding Junhui who was outplayed by Jamie Jones.

Read here the official reports by Worldsnooker:

Monday afternoon

Monday 28 Nov 2016 06:02PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby both scored emphatic 6-1 wins at the Betway UK Championship on Monday to reach the last 16.

O’Sullivan conceded a frame for the first time in the tournament, having won his first two matches 6-0, but then reeled off six in a row to beat world number 99 Michael Georgiou.

Breaks of 82, 84, 67 and 69 helped five-time UK Champion O’Sullivan book a fourth round meeting with Joe Perry or Matthew Stevens. Georgiou described his opponent’s ability as “not human” after being blown off the table.

“That’s a big compliment from a fellow professional,” admitted 40-year-old O’Sullivan. “There’s a lot of hard work and discipline behind being able to play well. When people talk about it being natural and effortless, I find that insulting because I work as hard as anyone. Someone once asked Muhammad Ali about his natural talent and he said it only looks that way because he gets up at 6am and spends the whole day running and training.”

Selby saw off Robert Milkins with top runs of 77, 120 and 64. He now faces Mitchell Man or Zhang Anda.

David Gilbert made a brilliant clearance in the deciding frame to beat Ali Carter 6-5. Gilbert came from 3-0 down to lead 5-3 with top breaks of 126 and 108. Carter recovered to 5-5 with 95 and 116 and looked favourite when he led 52-4 in the last frame. But Tamworth’s Gilbert dished up with 55 to set up a match with Ding Junhui or Jamie Jones.

“It’s the best clearance I’ve ever made,” said Gilbert, who could earn a place in the top 16 and the Masters if he reaches the final. “It means a lot because this is a massive tournament and I want to get in front of the TV cameras and show what I can do.”

Peter Lines’ dream of meeting son Oliver in the semi-finals ended as he lost 6-2 to Liam Highfield, whose top break was 110.

Monday evening

Monday 28 Nov 2016 11:05PM

John Higgins stepped up his bid for a third title within a month as he beat Ben Woollaston 6-2 to reach the last 16 of the Betway UK Championship.

Higgins had Dominic Dale to thank for the result as his cue tip was damaged during his previous match Noppon Saengkham, and Dale happily met his request to put on a new tip. Three-time UK Champion Higgins looked comfortable among the balls tonight as breaks of 94, 52 and 89 helped him to a comfortable victory.

“I’m really happy with how things are going, it couldn’t be better to be honest,” said Higgins, who has already won the China Championship and Champion of Champions this month and earned well over £300,000. “I know Ben missed a couple of shots, but I played pretty well to go to 3-0. He got back to 3-2 and then the sixth frame was a massive turning point as Ben had a couple of good chances and he’ll be really disappointed he didn’t capitalise on those to make it 3-3. That really changed the game because I was in front and won the last two frames pretty easily.

“Dominic put a new tip on for me and told me to just go out and play with it. Hopefully he’ll give it another shape for me before the next round. He says I owe him a meal!”

Zhou Yuelong edged out Yan Bingtao 6-5 in a battle of two of snooker’s hottest young prospects.  Yan led 4-1 before Zhou won five of the last six frames with top runs of 96, 71, 53 and 84. In another Asian derby, Marco Fu beat Mei Xiwen 6-4 with a top break of 128.

Luca Brecel impressed in a 6-1 win over Yu Delu, his top break 80.

It’s a real shame that the match between the two young Chinse wasn’t on television, it would have been far more interesting than the John Higgins drubbing of an out-of-sorts Ben Wollaston. Those guys are the future of snooker and it went to the wire.

Yesterday afternoon

Tuesday 29 Nov 2016 04:47PM

Oliver Lines kept his superb run going at the Betway UK Championship with a 6-0 thrashing of Jimmy Robertson

Talented 21-year-old Lines beat Judd Trump 6-2 in the previous round and kept his momentum going with another excellent display against Robertson, knocking in breaks of 90, 51, 67 and 72.

The world number 61 from Leeds is through to the last 16 of a ranking event for the second time in his career and now meets Marco Fu on Wednesday evening.

“If I had lost today after beating Judd the other night then it wouldn’t have meant much,” said Lines, who won the Rookie of the Year award after his debut season in 2014/15. “Judd actually messaged me before the match today and said I better not lose.

“I played really well and handled the occasion. I have been working on my scoring and I made good breaks at the right times today.

“Hopefully this is the start of something good. I remember when David Grace got to the semi-finals here last year, and I said to my dad ‘that will be me next year.’ It will be tough against Marco Fu though because he is world class.”

Oliver’s dad Peter lost to Liam Highfield last night, ending their dream of a semi-final meeting, but it has still been a lucrative week for the family, with £25,000 in prize money already banked. “I keep getting texts off my sisters saying what they want for Christmas,” joked Lines Jnr. “I’m really proud of what me and my dad have done here.”

Shaun Murphy came through a dramatic tussle with Dominic Dale, winning 6-5 to earn a match with Zhou Yuelong. Murphy, the 2008 UK Champion, built a 5-2 lead with top breaks of 63, 89, 65 and 103. Dale battled back to 5-5 and looked favourite in the decider until he missed a red to a top corner leading 34-15. Murphy seized his chance with a 34 clearance.

“I missed chances to win at 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, and it really didn’t look like I deserved to win the game in the end as I was making mistake after mistake,” said Murphy. “I wasn’t able to get to the line and think clearly. I made a mistake at 5-2 and punished myself throughout the next few frames. I wasn’t able to put one foot in front of the other.

“It’s a horrible feeling, thinking you’ve messed it up, and it’s very hard to play through. Dominic commented on the number of chances we both had at the end there. We made that look very difficult out there – snooker can do funny things to you. Maybe the trick is not to care and got out and play with a bit of freedom, but my problem is that I do care.”

 “I’m just pleased to still be here and have the problem of wondering where to go to dinner in York this evening. That’s a nice problem to have, rather than to have to drive home down the A1 after another disappointing, devastating loss. I’m 34 now and I’ve been doing it a long time, but every defeat still hurts, and that disease-ridden feeling of loss started to circle then.”

Mark Williams also came out on the right side of a 6-5 scoreline, beating Ricky Walden. Chester’s Walden led 5-3 with a top break of 86 but he missed chances in the next two frames and two-time UK Champion Williams eventually won the tie with a run of 91 in the decider. The result means that Walden will miss the Masters for the first time since 2012, having dropped out of the world’s top 16. Williams now meets :Liam Highfield.

Matthew Stevens set up a match with Ronnie O’Sullivan by beating Joe Perry 6-2. Welshman Stevens, the 2003 UK Champion, compiled beaks of 64, 57, 93 and 61.

Ricky Walden looked absolutely devastated at the end of the match. Shaun Murphy here above explains very well how a player feels when a match is slipping out of their hands, for Ricky there was the additional factor of dropping out of the top 16 and missing the Masters.

Matthew Stevens seems to be playing well again, but how well exactly is hard to assess as he’s not been on a television table yet and Joe Perry, to his own admission, has been struggling badly in this tournament. We’ll soon find out though, as he will be Ronnie’s opponent this afternoon on the main table.

Yesterday evening

Tuesday 29 Nov 2016 10:34PM

Jamie Jones scored one of the best wins of his career with a 6-2 defeat of two-time UK Champion Ding Junhui in the last 32 of the Betway UK Championship.

World number five Ding became the latest top star to crash out of the tournament in York, following the likes of Judd Trump, Neil Robertson and Stuart Bingham out of the exit door.

And he was soundly beaten by an excellent display from Welsh 28-year-old Jones, who is through to the last 16 of this tournament for the first time.

Jones won the opening frame with a break of 61 and the second with a 46 clearance. Ding recovered to 2-2 but then Jones dominated after the interval, winning four frames in a row with top runs of 55 and 51.

“It ranks high among my best ever wins,” said world number 39 Jones, who now meets David Gilbert. “I felt calm throughout and I put Ding under pressure. If you do that against anyone they will miss, and then you’ve got to punish them when you get chances.

“My philosophy this week has been to just treat every match the same and not think about how far I am in the draw or the prize money.”

Mark Allen made a tremendous comeback from 4-0 down to beat Ryan Day 6-5.  Allen made a 136 to launch his fightback and eventually won a tense 41-minute decider on the colours.

“I felt at 4-0 down that if I could get a couple of frames back I’d have a chance,” said Allen, who now meets John Higgins. “When it got to 4-3 I noticed Ryan was shaking all over the place and I knew I could win. I’m chuffed with the result but I need to improve.”

Stephen Maguire came from 5-3 down to edge out Fergal O’Brien 6-5 while China’s Zhang Anda saw off Mitchell Mann 6-3.

Ryan Day, who is a trememdous player and very good to watch when relaxed, often looks vulnerable when the pressure is on, and he was again yesterday.

Here are bits of the drama for you to enjoy if you missed it:

Ronnie on a car-boot sale rant …

Yesterday, maybe to celebrate the 23th anniversary of his first UK title,  Ronnie went on a good old rant about the sorry state of snooker after it was, once again, snubbed by the BBC and, reigning World Champion, and World n°1 for 93 consecutive weeks, Mark Selby didn’t even make the SPOTY shortlist. It’s been all over the media.

This is Hector Nunn’s take on it on inside-snooker

O’SULLIVAN: WE’RE SEEN AS CAR-BOOT SPORT, AND CHEAP TV

Hector Nunns November 28, 2016

Another day, another routine Ronnie O’Sullivan win at the Betway UK Championship, and another set of trenchant views aired – this time on the status of snooker relative to other sports, and another omission for the game from the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Following his 6-1 win over Michael Georgiou at York’s Barbican Centre, a victory that saw a first frame dropped in three matches for the five-time winner, O’Sullivan was asked by this correspondent about a record 16-person shortlist for SPOTY with once again no snooker involvement – despite world champion Mark Selby being No1 for 93 weeks in a row.

The system was changed a few years ago, and rather than a straight public vote a panel of the ‘great and good’ picks a shortlist and only then can the public get involved. Arguably the success of darts’ Phil Taylor (you could almost hear some of the howls against this from members of the panel that year) showed what the public might do given the chance.

But O’Sullivan went further than limiting his comments to disdain for the panel’s judgment, with an honest and frank assessment of the issues facing the sport he has played professionally for 25 seasons.

Purely on the SPOTY issue, the failure to put O’Sullivan on the shortlist in 2013 when he won a fifth world title after taking an entire year off was a complete joke and embarrassing for all those who blocked the idea on the panel. The list nowadays has the appearance of being painfully agenda-driven, featuring sportspeople few would recognise or talk about.

And it is a long, long time since Steve Davis featured five times in the top three in the 1980s, including one win, and Stephen Hendry finished second to Paul Gascoigne and his Italy World Cup tears in 1990. Yet snooker still gets TV audiences in the millions others would kill for.

O’Sullivan, more concerned with the general trend than specifically this year, said: “We know how much we get on that show – about 10 seconds? That is how we are seen, that is a complete insult and what they think it warrants. At least I have got my OBE.

“Snooker is now a low sport compared to many other sports – like tennis, golf, F1, Olympics, that are corporate, classy events.

“You look at snooker and it is cheap TV, a filler for other programmes there is so much out there and it has lost its respect.

“We need £1million first prizes, that might happen with China, and it doesn’t get the coverage it should. It is still a great sport, but the image needs to change.

“In F1 you see all these beautiful looking people speaking well and you look at snooker and think ‘God’. For us it is a fiver to get in at Barnsley to watch top players.

“It is like we are the car boot sale, and the other sports are shopping at Harrods. How can we compete, and it affects the people picking the shortlist.

“And I don’t think snooker will ever get on the shortlist again. I wasn’t even surprised when I wasn’t nominated after winning the world title after a year out.”

I have to be honest, as a journalist who so often feels he is banging his heads against a brick wall trying to sell snooker to certain (not all) editors who sneer at the sport, O’Sullivan is in at least one sense also speaking for me on this one.

The game is not respected by many strands of the mainstream media, and it is rapidly becoming a TV sport only, “filling hours” in O’Sullivan’s words.

The Mark King ‘forgetting cue’ story in York was the sort of laughter-inducing tale that should have seen it done big in every newspaper. Only The Sun did it properly, putting it on the back page and creating a panel of other moments featuring forgetful sportspeople.

And it is not just elements of the media that cannot see past this rather lowly image of snooker. Barry Hearn rightly enjoys a reputation of being able to sell snow to eskimoes, but even he has not been able to attract blue-chip, non-bookmaking sponsors for some of the best tournaments.

There will have been comments in O’Sullivan’s stream of consciousness that will have chimed with Hearn, all the times he has come up short after meeting with or calling target non-bookmaking companies and trying to get them to put their name to an event on the calendar. The World Snooker chairman’s expected response on BBC Radio Five Live on Tuesday morning will be fascinating.

Although O’Sullivan’s pot shot at SPOTY will get headlines, arguably his concerns about the image of the sport are far more important and relevant long-term. He is not daft, never has been, and usually in there in the middle of a rant is some perceptive observation.

On the table, world No106 Georgiou said afterwards: “Ronnie is not human – the way he is playing I can’t seeing him getting beaten here.”

O’Sullivan, 40, added: “I could do with a good, tough, close match – a 6-3 or a 6-4. Not human? Maybe I am like Superman! But seriously I just do my best, and I take that as the ultimate compliment from a fellow professional.

“He must appreciate the way I play, and entertain and do it the right way. The only players I came up against in my career I didn’t think were human were Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.

“I think it was Muhammad Ali when asked about his natural talent who said ‘Yeah, I have got natural talent’. But he went on to say ‘I get up at 6am, go in the gym, go for my runs, train for two or three hours at a go, and then do it all again’.

“People use that phrase natural talent but a lot of hard work and discipline goes into it – it can be almost insulting when people say it looks easy. I work as hard as anyone and it isn’t easy.”

Of course Barry Hearn was already on BBC this morning, reacting to it. It expect some angry retaliation at Ronnie whilst, I’m sure, he will be secretly delighted at the exposure it provided.

My two cents on this, and something I have said countless times before, is that on the mainland European market at least, the close association with the gambling industry is doing snooker no favour. Gambling is heavily regulated in many countries and seen as a rather shady business, not one high-profile companies want to be associated with. In many countries advertising for gambling is banned, gambling companies sites are either blocked, or prevented to offer a number of products.

Betway is the sponsor of this UK Championship, and they do a blog with players interviews and stuff. Well, I can’t read them because the blog in blocked by the gambling regulation body in country I’m in currently, Greece, and it would most certainly be the same in my home country, Belgium.

But of course I’m surely talking “rubbish” again …

UK Championship 2016 – Last 32: Ronnie loses … a frame

Ronnie lost the first frame of his last 32 match against Michael Georgiou, the first in this tournament, but played amazingly well after that. When I saw him come back to the table, at the end of frame one, well after it was lost, to get his arm going and a good feel of the table, I knew he was up for it. Ronnie’s performance was duly praised by a very sporting Michael, who claimed that the experience had been amazing despite the defeat and that Ronnie “is not human” …

Here are the scores, Ronnie first (source Cuetracker):

Scores: 49-83(52); 82(82)-4; 84(84)-0; 70-19; 88(67)-20; 66-31; 73(69)-1

Here is the official report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Monday 28 Nov 2016 06:02PM

hjgRonnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby both scored emphatic 6-1 wins at the Betway UK Championship on Monday to reach the last 16.

O’Sullivan conceded a frame for the first time in the tournament, having won his first two matches 6-0, but then reeled off six in a row to beat world number 99 Michael Georgiou.

Breaks of 82, 84, 67 and 69 helped five-time UK Champion O’Sullivan book a fourth round meeting with Joe Perry or Matthew Stevens. Georgiou described his opponent’s ability as “not human” after being blown off the table.

That’s a big compliment from a fellow professional,” admitted 40-year-old O’Sullivan. “There’s a lot of hard work and discipline behind being able to play well. When people talk about it being natural and effortless, I find that insulting because I work as hard as anyone. Someone once asked Muhammad Ali about his natural talent and he said it only looks that way because he gets up at 6am and spends the whole day running and training.

And a few pictures posted on twitter by BBC and Worldsnooker

The match preview by the ES pundits:

The full match:

Ronnie’s and Mark Selby’s interviews by ES after their matches:

Ronnie’s postmatch with Rob Walker, saying he feels his firepower is coming back and a tournament win could be around the corner for him:

Ronnie also had a right rant at BBC’s SPOTY (Sport Personality Of The Year) for once again snubbing snooker, but I’ll do a separate topic on that.

And as it’s always nice to start the day with a laugh, here is something the Ronnie shared on his facebook page.

UK Championship 2016 – Day 6

It was an eventful day in York yesterday, as the last 64 round was completed. There were a few more surprising results, the biggest surprise being the severe defeat of Judd Trump at the hands of Oliver Lines. Judd had withdrawn from Belfast to prepare for this and was supposed to be fresh. Obviously every player has days off and, they are only human, sometimes they are not feeling too well and won’t necessarily tell. But I certainly didn’t expect that result. Other players who fell at this stage are Liang Wenbo, beaten by young Yan Bingtao who is certainly become some kind of “menace” in the game, Martin Gould losing to the relatively unknown Mi Xiwen and Mark Davis dispatched by Jimmy Robertson, who of course is a heavy scorer on his day.

Then of course, Mark Allen made a 147 in the process of beating Rod Lawler in a match that was surprisingly fast considering Rod’s involvement.

Here are Worldsnooker official reports:

Afternoon Session

Sunday 27 Nov 2016 05:46PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan scored his second consecutive 6-0 victory at the Betway UK Championship, beating Rhys Clark to reach the last 32

The Rocket needed 56 minutes to win his opening round tie with Boonyarit Keattikun last week and this time he needed 17 minutes more to finish off his victim. Breaks of 112, 79, 82, 81 and 131 helped five-time UK champion O’Sullivan sail into round three, where he will face Michael Georgiou.

Rhys is a good player and he looked nervous today, but it’s nerve racking for everybody,” said O’Sullivan, who hasn’t won a title since the Welsh Open last February. “If you think that I’m going out there totally relaxed then you’re mistaken. You need to have nerves out there, it’s who handles it best. That’s what you do as a professional, block everything out and concentrate on the job at hand.

ukc2016day5l64allen147

Magic Moment of the day came from Mark Allen as he made the first 147 of his career. The Pistol went on to beat Rod Lawler 6-4. “It’s good to get that monkey off my back, I was very nervous the whole way through the break,” said Allen. “I saw the 147 when I was on 16, the balls were sitting so nice. It puts you under it because you know they’re all sitting there and you’re expected to make it. If you miss you look like a bit of a tube.

“It’s big for me because I was one of the few top players who hadn’t made a 147. If you did a checklist when you turn pro it would be to win events, make your first century on TV, make a 147 and obviously go on to win a world title or be world number one. I’m sort of halfway through that checklist already.”

Ding Junhui came from 2-1 down to beat Ross Muir 6-2. “I had the feeling I controlled the match and also I had very good luck,” said Ding.

China’s Mei Xiwen saw off Martin Gould 6-3 while up-and-coming Yan Bingtao won a Chinese derby against Liang Wenbo by a 6-4 scoreline

Evening Session

Sunday 27 Nov 2016 10:35PM

Oliver Lines scored the best result of his career so far with a 6-2 victory over Judd Trump to reach the last 32 of the Betway UK Championship.

It has been a remarkable tournament so far for the Lines family as dad Peter knocked out Neil Robertson on his way to the third round and and now rising star Oliver, age 21, has taken a huge scalp himself. They have already earned £20,000 between them and that figure could rise dramatically if they can keep their runs going, with a semi-final meeting in prospect if they can each score three more wins.

Lines Jnr was voted Rookie of the Year after his debut season in 2014/15 and has perhaps not made as much progress as he had hoped since then, but tonight’s performance showed the true extent of the world number 61’s potential.

The Leeds cueman built a 3-0 lead with a top break of 62, then world number three Trump took the next two frames with runs of 72 and 60. Lines made an excellent 61 to go 4-2 up, then won frame seven on the colours before sealing victory in the next in three scoring visits.

I had never really performed on TV before,” said Lines. “I have been practising very hard and I think my results will start coming in a roll. Me and dad will think about the semi-finals on the way home – it would be a dream if we could both get that far.

Lines now meets Jimmy Robertson, who beat Mark Davis 6-2 in a Sussex derby.

Shaun Murphy fired breaks of 115 and 119 in a 6-3 win over Robin Hull while Marco Fu made a 125 in a 6-0 thrashing of Rory McLeod.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.

My report on Ronnie’s last 64 match is here.

UK Champoinship 2016 – Ronnie wins his last 64 match in a dash again

Ronnie needed less than an hour and 15 minutes to book his place in the last 32 where he will face a much improved Michael Georgiou. They will play this afternoon.

ukc2016day5l64ronniestats

Here is the official report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Sunday 27 Nov 2016 05:46PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan scored his second consecutive 6-0 victory at the Betway UK Championship, beating Rhys Clark to reach the last 32.

ukc2016day5l64ronnie-3The Rocket needed 56 minutes to win his opening round tie with Boonyarit Keattikun last week and this time he needed 17 minutes more to finish off his victim. Breaks of 112, 79, 82, 81 and 131 helped five-time UK champion O’Sullivan sail into round three, where he will face Michael Georgiou.

Rhys is a good player and he looked nervous today, but it’s nerve racking for everybody,” said O’Sullivan, who hasn’t won a title since the Welsh Open last February. “If you think that I’m going out there totally relaxed then you’re mistaken. You need to have nerves out there, it’s who handles it best. That’s what you do as a professional, block everything out and concentrate on the job at hand.

Here is the full match:

This is the pundits post-match analysis, with a nice little interview with Ronnie:

And Ronnie’s interview with Rob Walker after the match:

Ronnie also spoke to the BBC and to Hector Nunns after the match, admitting he doesn’t enjoy practicing much these days, doesn’t like the “128” system, that he prefers the punditry to actual play, and wants to enjoy his life. But having said that, he also insisted that he’s still competitive and that he will carry on until he feels he isn’t good enough anymore.

Read about those interviews here:

With Hector Nunns (in the Express)

Ronnie O’Sullivan jokes: Snooker is full of numpties and he blags his way through matches

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN insisted he is “blagging it” these days, despite a second whitewash win in a row at the Betway UK Championship in York.

By HECTOR NUNNS

The Rocket handed out a 6-0 drubbing to Scotland’s Rhys Clark, who suffered the same fate against the five-time UK winner three years ago.

O’Sullivan, who rattled in two centuries to take his career tally to 846, allowed him 83 points this time, compared to just 38 in 2013.

And afterwards the 40-year-old, whose breakthrough title came in this tournament as a 17-year-old, also took a pot shot at the 128-player field and four-table arena set-up.

The five-time world champion said: “I am trying to blag it out there for a while, because I won’t be spending hours in a practice room dementing myself.

ukc2016day5l64ronnie-4

And I’ll keep blagging it until I am not good enough to qualify, compete, even win – but what else am I going to do? Might as well turn up and hit a few balls.

“You know if you get to the quarters or semis there won’t be numpties, although there are a few numpties in snooker.

“Having 128 players here in round one last week may be great for snooker, but it is not great for me. As a top player you want to be in top major events, maybe I have been spoilt.

“I find coming in at round one demotivating, and there are only three tournaments I really look forward to playing in.

“It is not my favourite event with four tables out there at this stage, but compared to a knockabout down the snooker hall I’d rather be here.”

Mark Allen was ecstatic after finally making the first maximum 147 break of his career in frame seven of a 6-4 win over Rod Lawler.

Northern Ireland’s Allen, who had made two 146 breaks, said: “It is a monkey off my back, most of the top players have made one. As a kid you have a checklist and that was on it.”

With the BBC

Ronnie O’Sullivan says he is “blagging it” as a snooker player – because he would rather enjoy life than spend hours practising.

ukc2016day5l64ronnie-2

O’Sullivan, 40, beat Scotland’s Rhys Clark 6-0 in his second-round match at the UK Championship in York.

But the five-time UK champion said: “I try to still be as competitive as I can, but if not, it is a lot easier being a pundit than playing.

“I really do enjoy the pundit work much more than playing.”

O’Sullivan, who beat Thailand’s Boonyarit Keattikun 6-0 in just 56 minutes in his first-round match, added: “I love playing when you have the matches but all the practice – I am not a lover of that.

“You used to have football player managers. I see myself as a pundit snooker player.

“Rather than drive myself mad and play this game and think ‘that’s all I have got’, I try to embrace different things which take the pressure off.”

The world number eight plays Londoner Michael Georgiou in the third round on Monday, as he looks earn a sixth victory in an event he first won in 1993.

A winner of 28 ranking events, including five world championship titles, O’Sullivan said he was not a fan of the four-table set-up at the York Barbican, which stays in place until the fourth round begins on Wednesday.

He added: “With four tables, it is really difficult. There is no crowd around the sides so the atmosphere isn’t great, but it is better than playing down the billiard hall. I would rather play here on a Sunday afternoon than the billiard hall.

“I don’t want to spend the rest of my life hitting balls in a snooker room. I would rather be embracing a bit of life.

“I just try to blag it now and see where it goes – until I drop out and think I am not good enough to qualify for events or win. I will turn up and once I get beaten, I can go in the pundit box.”

Is a film based on Ronnie’s life coming?

If this article in the “Mirror” is anything to go by, yes … but of course it’s only a project for now.

Ronnie O’Sullivan movie has actors cueing up to play snooker legend in Hollywood biopic

Celebrities including Skins star Jack O’Connell want to portray the five-time world champion in the movie based on the life of snooker’s greatest talent.

BY HANNAH HOPE – 19:02, 26 NOV 2016

Actors are cueing up to play Ronnie O’Sullivan in a Hollywood movie based on the life of snooker’s greatest talent.

BAFTA-winning Skins star Jack O’Connell wants to portray the five-time world champion. Two US stars have also put themselves in the frame for the role.

Fans’ favourite Ronnie has had a rollercoaster life with sporting glory contrasted by drug and alcohol addiction, depression and mental breakdown – the last one just seven months ago.

Throw in an OBE for services to snooker, the jailing of his father for murder and his mother for tax evasion and you see why ­ Hollywood has come knocking.

Lionsgate, the giant behind the Hunger Games movies, has already made an approach.

Ronnie – happy again and back with actress fiancee Laila Rouass, 45 – tells the Sunday Mirror: “Lionsgate in America got in contact with my agent. I thought ‘they’re not serious’.

But as its gone on they’ve said they were going to buy the rights to my film and a couple of big LA actors who are snooker fans said they want the part. I said, ‘As long as the film does justice to my life I’ve got no problems with it.’

“I’ve been told it will be along the lines of dramas Whiplash and the Black Swan – which I really liked as it got into the emotions of the character and I think that’s how my career has been.

“I’ve had everything – good, bad and fantastic. I’ve been on a journey of perfection, that’s why I feel like I’ve had a good life.

“I’ve reached perfection in something that I do, I’ve had a wand in my hand. To get that across into a film is great.

Ronnie, nicknamed the Rocket for his speedy play, says 26-year-old actor O’Connell has put first dibs on the lead role.

He says: “Jack O’Connell is interested – he’s a big snooker fan and from the North and he’s followed my career and says he wants the part.

Part of the reason Ronnie is happy again is thanks to Footballers’ Wives star Laila, who lives with him in Essex.

He adds: “Laila and I are enjoying each other’s company and that’s the most important thing. I feel happy now. I feel like I’ve had a good life.

Ronnie is famous for quitting snooker – then returning even better than ever. These days he eases the pressure on himself by choosing carefully which tournaments to play. And, as he is set to turn 41 next week, he’s keen to mentor other players.

I’d get a lot of happiness from helping someone improve just five per cent,” he says. Ronnie has three children, Lily, 10, and Ronnie Jnr, eight, from his ­relationship with Jo Langley, and Taylor-Ann, from a romance with Sally Magnus, which ended in 1996.

And his family background helped lure the interest of ­Hollywood. Parents Ronnie Snr and Maria ran a string of sex shops in London’s Soho. When Ronnie was 18 his dad was given 20 years for the knife murder of East End gangster Charlie Kray’s driver after a nightclub row.

Then Maria was locked up for VAT fraud, leaving Ronnie to care for sister Danielle, then aged eight.

Now the star has poured these formative experiences into a semi-autobiographical crime novel, Framed.

Ronnie added: “My mum was horrified I was writing a crime novel and said ‘I hope you don’t mention me.’ It was a great way to reveal some of the experiences I’ve been through that I couldn’t talk about in my autobiography.

“I seem to be the only one in the family who hasn’t got in trouble. Going to visit them in prison just became part of my life.

“Writing has been one of the best experiences outside of snooker. A bit scary, but once I started to embrace certain things, I realised I have a story to tell other than just snooker player.

Framed is out now, published by Orion, £16.99.

UK Championship 2016 – Day 5

Maybe I should write “Day 4”, because it was the 4th day of actual play and it saw 16 of the 32 last 64 matches played to a finish. Here are the official reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session

Saturday 26 Nov 2016 08:14PM

John Higgins and Mark Selby both came through tough challenges at the Betway UK Championship to reach the third round.

World number four Higgins trailed 3-2 against Noppon Saengkham, 69 places below him in the rankings, but hit back to four of the last five frames with top breaks of 126, 52 and 66 to win 6-4. Higgins has won two titles within the past month, earning well over £300,000, and is looking to continue his hot streak here in York. He now faces Ben Woollaston or Paul Davison in the last 32.

“I dodged a bullet there, I’m just delighted to get through,” said two-time UK Champion Higgins. ““I really did think I’d be heading up the road when I went 4-3 down. A lot of these boys are not frightened of top players any more. I felt as if the luck had ran out but the luck’s still with me just now.”

Higgins admitted he was “too fat” to play a certain shot where he had to stretch over the table, but insisted he would not be following Neil Robertson’s example by taking up a vegan diet. “I enjoy eating meat too much,” laughed the Wizard of Wishaw.

World Champion Mark Selby also came through 6-4 after a long battle, beating Daniel Wells. Leicester’s Selby was 3-1 down, despite a run of 101 in the second frame, but won five of the last six frames with top runs of 102 and 61.

“It was a battle,” said Selby, who won the title here in 2012. “My focus dipped in and out. It is still the early stages of the tournament, I don’t want to peak too soon.”

Liam Highfield came from 4-1 down to beat Wang Yuchen 6-5 with a top break of 125 while Luca Brecel made two breaks of 102 in a 6-5 win over Sam Craigie.

Stephen Maguire top scored with 128 in a 6-2 defeat of Zhao Xintong while Mark Williams saw off Andrew Higginson by the same scoreline.

Welshman Williams continues to suffer from a neck injury “I’m in pain or discomfort every shot I play and it’s not getting any easier at all,” he said.

Evening session

Sunday 27 Nov 2016 12:02AM

Fergal O’Brien made an incredible five centuries in a 6-5 win over Barry Hawkins at the Betway UK Championship.

It’s the first time that any player has compiled five tons in a best-of-11 frame match, although Ronnie O’Sullivan once made five in a best-of-nine. World number 50 O’Brien is through to the last 32 at the York Barbican, where he will face Stephen Maguire.

O’Brien’s centuries were 101, 100, 111, 111 and a 113 in the decider. Hawkins himself made runs of 74, 59, 95, 83 and 78 in a high quality contest.

“It’s got to be up there with the best matches I’ve ever played,” said Dublin’s 44-year-old O’Brien. “It’s just great to play the way I can against a strong opponent.”

Stuart Bingham was another top 16 player to fall as he went down 6-4 to China’s Yu Delu. World number two Bingham led 4-3, but Yu won the last three frames with top breaks of 66 and 70.

Ali Carter top scored with 80 in a 6-2 win over Robbie Williams while 2003 UK Champion Matthew Stevens won a Welsh derby against Michael White 6-4.

“Bold” was added by me in the above record. Well done Fergal! Fergal once told me he sees himself as a “slow attacking player”, well attacking he certainly was out there!

Stephen Hendry was rather hatsh on twitter

Commentated on worlds no 1&2 today, both were rubbish

Fergal 5 ton obrien showed them how

Just say what I see

I didn’t watch Bingham’s match, but I followed the Selby one, and, indeed, Mark was very far from his best – as was John Higgins BTW. Daniel Wells is a good player but probably still lacks a bit of self-belief when he faces someone of Selby’s calibre, because he had the game to beat him on this form yesterday.

As for the Chinese teenagers, Zhao Xintong lost to Stephen Maguire but young Zhou Yuelong outplayed Michael Holt to progress.

Peter Lines won his last 64 match against Chris Wakelin and could very well regain his professional status through the one year list at the end of this season.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.