Day Off in York

There was no play yesterday, and Ronnie took the opportunity to do a book signing session in Waterstones in Sheffield, as well as meeting with friends for a meal.

The press also made the most of the day off by publishing various off-the-table stories, and here is a selection of what I found interesting:

Mark King spoke to the BBC about how his gambling addiction impacted his life.

Peter Lines, talking to the Yorshire Post, revealed why he considered quitting snooker entirely.

John Higgins told the BBC about his fears he could become a journeyman whilst going trhough a lean spell a couple of years ago.

And young James Cahill, Stephen Hendry’s nephew, revealed to the BBC how low he feels about his game, his future on the main tour and that he could call it a day on his career at the end of this season.

James, just like Mark King and Anthony Hamilton, mentioned that they are skint and how nearly impossible it is to sustain the costs of playing on the main tour if you’re not at the top, and nobody starts at the top. The discussion, yesterday, came on to twitter and I got involved. I did a very simple thing: I looked at the sheet published on Worldsnooker, took my pocket calculator, and did the maths. A lower ranked player, who isn’t taking part to any invitational event, but does play and win their first match in every tournament available to them, will get just below 40K, before taxes. Several bloggers and players managers have done an estimate of what it costs, just to play, and came up with numbers between 20K and 25K. That’s just to cover the entry fees and the travel expenses. It may look to be a lot but entry fees aren’t cheap at all and, planes and hotels aren’t either. Remember that, if a player doesn’t turn up at the main event, after winning their qualif matches, they get nothing. So, let’s take an example: a player winning their qualifying match at the International Championship will have to travel to China, and that means at least two planes both ways, as the tournament is held in Daqing. It’s a very long couple of flight, and even in economy class it’s not cheap. In Daqing, in this particular tournament, the hotel is paid by the sponsor, but only whilst the player is still in the tournament. Which means they have the following choice: either they book their planes with fixed return date, and if they lose early they will be stuck in Daqing (which no one wants to do after losing anyway) and have to fork out for their hotel themselves, or they take an open return option and it will add considerably to their flights costs. Whatever, it costs them. So, in fact what they get – IF they win their first match every time – is about 1K to 1.2K per month. Not much he? Especially if you have a family to support, or if you are an expat in UK. So, that is what I posted and it earned me a spat with the boss himself. Indeed I got an answer from Barry Hearn: “Rubbish!”. Really Barry? It’s simple maths … and of course I got no further explanation as to why my post was “rubbish”, very simply because it isn’t, it’s the sad state of things for those not at the very top, whatever Barry Hearn wants us to believe. Barry always goes on about “not supporting mediocrity”. I agree with the principle, but what about investing in the future? Because snooker is a very difficult game, and it takes time to climb to the top. Would have Neil Robertson be able to survive nowadays to realise his huge potential? I think not. I don’t think that a teenager, for all his huge talent, alone far away from his family, with £500 in his pocket and his game very raw because he never played top opposition at home would stay any sort of chance in today’s system, where he would have to play a top 64 every first match and get nothing at all when he loses. And that doesn’t bode well for the future.

UK Championship 2016 – Last 128 round-up

With no play today (the BBC are installing their lights and stuff in the arena), and the last 128 round completed, it’s a good time to assess what happened in York earlier this week.

All detailed results are on Cuetracker as usual.

You can read what happened on day 1 here.

Here is Worldsnooker official report on day 2.

Wednesday 23 Nov 2016 09:56PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan took just 56 minutes to beat Boonyarit Keattikun 6-0 and reach the last 64 of the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.

It was a blistering display of attacking snooker from the Rocket as he fired breaks of 63, 129, 80, 90, 103 and 106. His victory took just three minutes more than his 53-minute 6-0 whitewash of Dominic Dale at the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy, the quickest ever best-of-11 match.

O’Sullivan has lifted the UK Championship trophy five times, most recently in 2014 in York, and if he carries tonight’s form into the televised stages he’ll take some stopping. He now meets Rhys Clark, who won a black-ball deciding frame to edge out Li Hang 6-5.

“I got three centuries in my last match and lost, so it just goes to show that centuries don’t mean anything,” said 40-year-old O’Sullivan, who won his first UK crown back in 1993. “I don’t really read too much into it, you just play one match at a time and see what happens.

“I played alright, I am just treating it a bit like a knockabout. I have other things in my life so snooker is a bit of a distraction and getting my cue out is a pleasure. When it was all I had to do, I felt like I was trapped in a prison, now it is a bit exciting. Trying to be too serious about what you do is harmful to you.”

Mark King went from the sublime to the ridiculous as he lost 6-2 to Sam Craigie. King played brilliantly to win the Northern Ireland Open last week but today his chances were dented when he forgot to bring his cue into the arena after the mid-session interval. That meant he was docked a frame, as he was not ready to play, and went from 3-1 to 4-1 behind. A break of 141 gave King frame six, but Craigie won the next two to secure his second round spot.

King said: “At the interval I went to the tournament office to get my Betway logo stuck on my waistcoat. I had my cup of tea and my banana, then I was in a bit of a daze and I left my cue in there. Even when I was walking back to the table, and I didn’t have my cue, it didn’t even click. In three days I’ve done two things I’ve never done in 25 years: win an event and get docked a frame.”

Shaun Murphy had to rally from 3-1 down to beat Brazil’s Itaro Santos 6-3, winning the last five frames with top breaks of 66, 71 and 55. “When I was 3-1 down at the interval it was blind panic,” admitted 2008 UK Champion Murphy. “Experience got me through in the end, I tightened my game up and stopped giving him easy chances. I get a buzz here because we’ve got a great connection with this venue and it would be so nice to go on a run.”

John Higgins, snooker’s man in form having won the China Championship and Champion of Champions, saw off Alex Borg 6-3, compiling runs of 132, 68 and 71.

Luca Brecel top scored with 78 in a 6-0 win over Aditya Mehta. Mark Allen was pushed hard by China’s Chen Zhe but eventually won 6-4. The Pistol, who knocked in breaks of 95, 84, 136, 132 and 137, said: “It’s just good to be able to come here, relax and let my arm go. It’s been a long time since I’ve come to a major event as relaxed as this. I was under a lot of stress last week at the Northern Ireland Open because it was my home tournament. Who knows – I might go far here.”

Here is Worldsnooker official report on day 3.

Thursday 24 Nov 2016 11:47PM

Neil Robertson’s defence of his Betway UK Championship title failed to get past the first round as he suffered a shock 6-3 defeat against amateur Peter Lines.

Weekend Schedule

Robertson won the title in York for the second time a year ago, but this time he was well below his best and admitted he was outplayed on the tactical side by Leeds cueman Lines.

A top break of 58 helped Lines build a 3-1 interval lead, and he maintained his lead throughout, despite Robertson making runs of 82 and 72 in frames five and seven. Yorkshireman Lines sealed the result in the ninth with breaks of 38 and 57, setting up a last 64 tie with Chris Wakelin.

“It was a daunting task but I just wanted to relax and play well,” said 46-year-old Lines, who dropped off the pro tour last season but did well enough in Q School to earn entry into most of the ranking events this term. “It’s probably the most pleasing result I’ve ever had, beating Neil in a big arena and playing that well. In the last few seasons the pressure of trying to stay on the tour got too much for me. In a way it was a relief to drop off and now I’m enjoying it more.”

Lines, who reached the quarter-finals of the UK Championship in 2009, added that his cause was boosted by the fact that son Oliver, the world number 61, scored a 6-5 win over Martin O’Donnell on Tuesday night. “I was in turmoil watching that game,” joked the proud dad. “If Oli had lost there was no way I would have won either.”

A dejected Robertson, by far the biggest name casualty of the first round, said: “His safety was incredible, I was outplayed in that department. He constantly denied me any openings and the frames went messy, which suited him. When I saw the draw I knew it would be tough and that Peter wouldn’t be scared. I’m really disappointed to lose my title. I prepared well but sometimes you get on a run where things don’t go your way.”

World Champion Mark Selby eased to a 6-1 victory over Andy Hicks, though he gave up the chance of a possible 147 in the opening frame when he missed the 12th red on 88. Selby, the 2012 UK Champion, went on to compile runs of 93, 59 and 100 in a comfortable win.

“A 147 is always nice but it still only wins one frame,” said world number one Selby. “I didn’t make up my mind when I played the red I missed. I should have got up off the shot and started again.”

Stuart Bingham’s first round success was even more emphatic as he beat Poland’s Adam Stefanow 6-0 with top runs of 70, 127, 108, 72 and 70.

“My game is in good shape, it’s just winning titles that is missing,” said world number two Bingham. “I’m only losing to people playing outstandingly well.”

Two-time UK Champion Mark Williams top scored with 121 in a 6-1 win over Jason Weston but revealed his is suffering from a neck injury. “I was in a lot of pain all through the match,” said the Welshman. “I need to get some treatment before I play again.”

There was only one contender for comeback of the first round as Alan McManus recovered a 5-0 deficit to beat Michael Wild 6-5, sealing the result with a 130 clearance in the decider.

Last year’s surprise semi-finalist David Grace suffered an early exit this time as he lost 6-2 to rising Chinese star Zhao Xintong. Ali Carter looked sharp in a 6-1 win over Chris Keogan, firing runs of 66, 100, 74, 62, 111 and 78.

Mark Davis beat Sydney Wilson 6-3 and now faces an all-Sussex derby against Jimmy Robertson, who beat Thor Chuan Leong 6-0.

And now this is what I took from what I watched …

I won’t go over Ronnie’s victory again, you can read my thoughts about it here.

Out of 64 matches, 46 were won by the highest seed, and 18 by the lowest seed.

The biggest surprise is, of course, the Defending Champion, Neil Robertson, losing by 6-3 to former professional Peter Lines; for once I would even use the word “shock”. Peter Lines has all the experience in the world and is a very hard match player, so it was never going to be a walk in the park. Neil Robertson however has now lost his first round match in all three last tournaments he played, and had skipped the Northern Ireland Open to be rested and prepare for his title defense. That’s a bit worrying. From what I watched of the match, before the MSI, Peter played very well, but Neil DID have chances.

Three of the semi finalists of last week’s tournament fell at first hurdle here: Kyren Wilson, Anthony Hamilton and Mark King. Whatever Barry Hearn’s claims, I’m not convinced that playing snooker day-in, day-out is what brings the best out of the players. Like everyone, in every job, they need time to rest and refresh, physically and mentally. They also need time for practice. With 128 players in York, from what I read on twitter, this was restricted to one hour/day on 1/2 a table this week. Not good enough. Mark King of course could be expected to have a bit of an anti-climax after last week  triumph, the cue incident clearly showed that he was slightly “distracted”. But what about Kyren? He looked in great form against Ronnie and Mark Williams, then somehow crumbled.

Ding came out the winner in his last 128 match, but it went to a decider. He was anything but convincing, except in the last frame. John Higgins wasn’t at his best neither, nor did Mark Selby, but they didn’t need to, so it’s hard to draw any conclusion from that.

Three young Chinese players won their last 128 match: Zhao Xintong, Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong. Those three will do some damage in the coming years, I expect. Ronnie rates Zhao and Yan very highly and is coaching Zao a bit, as he still has a lot to learn when it comes to tactics. That’s how impressed he was by the young man after he played him in Manchester. He was there BTW to talk to him after his match in York.


Another youngster who won his last 128 match is Wang Yuchen from Hong Kong. I met him in China in 2012 and he impressed me, not so much because of his talent, but because of his intelligence and maturity despite being only 16 at the time. He beat Peter Ebdon here in York! I’ll keep an eye on his progress.

Other than that, Ronnie is today in Sheffield for a book signing session. And his “conversation with God” on twitter inspired this drawing …


A very nice interview with Ronnie about his new book

It was published today by

Snooker ace Ronnie O’Sullivan revisited his misspent youth to create the hero of his debut novel, Framed. Ronnie told us about his own turbulent times in gangland Britain and how his family brought him stability.

He’s had his share of torment, battled with alcohol, drugs and depression and endured years without his father, who served a life sentence for murder, yet there’s something gentle and disarmingly honest about snooker ace Ronnie O’Sullivan.

After writing about his turbulent times, the booze, drugs and spells in rehab in his previous two autobiographies, the five times world snooker champion, nicknamed The Rocket because of the speed with which he pots the balls, is now revealing more of his own life, this time through his first novel, Framed.

It’s a gritty thriller set in 1990s gangland London, in which the hero, young snooker club owner Frankie James, enters a sordid world of ruthless mobsters and twisted killers, to find

out who has framed his brother for murder.

“Frankie is basically me, having to do things out of loyalty for his father and brother. He doesn’t want to be in that world, but he hasn’t really got a choice.

“I spent a lot of time going back to haunts in Soho where I grew up, and picked through my autobiographies. I wanted Frankie to come across stuff in the novel that I couldn’t put in the autobiographies. It was a chance to show the other side of what was going on in my life at the time.”

In the book, Frankie has a father in prison, something which O’Sullivan was able to draw on from his own experiences. When he was 16, his father Ronnie Snr. – who became a millionaire from running sex shops in Soho – was jailed for life for the murder of Bruce Bryan, a driver to the gangster Charlie Kray, in a nightclub in Chelsea. He served 18 years of his sentence before being released in 2010.

O’Sullivan’s Sicilian mother Maria also spent time in jail for tax evasion, leaving him to look after his little sister Danielle.

He says his father’s imprisonment had a ‘massive’ effect on his life.

“I like to think that if he’d been out, I would never have done drink or drugs, I’d probably have won world titles a lot earlier, probably not had the ups and downs that I’ve had.

“When he went away, I lost my way a bit, got involved with the wrong crowd and the wrong people and was quite easily led. I didn’t know what to do apart from block my mind from it through drinking, which is what Frankie has done in the book.”

After years of depression and spells in addiction clinics, O’Sullivan tries to follow more positive pursuits.

These days he says he has an occasional drink every three or four months. And he runs, currently covering around 25 miles a week.

“I took up running and that keeps me on the straight and narrow,” he says. “My addiction now is running, training and keeping fit. If I’ve got an addictive nature, I might as well have a good addiction.”

Widely regarded as the most naturally talented snooker player of all time, he explains: “A lot of the things I do are solitary, like snooker and running and now writing. It suits my personality.”

He’s no longer grabbing unwelcome headlines – in 1996 he was found guilty of assaulting an official and two years later was disqualified from a tournament in Ireland when traces of cannabis were found in his system – but seems to have mellowed thanks to a settled life with his fiancee, actress Laila Rouass.

They live together in Chigwell, Essex, with her nine-year-old daughter Inez, to whom he is stepfather.

“She’s energetic, very bright and loves having fun – a bit like her mum, really.”

He also sees his two children Ronnie Jr and Lily, from a previous relationship with his ex, Jo Langley, and has hopes of a closer relationship with his eldest daughter, Taylor-Ann, from a previous relationship, who is now 20.

“We’ve made contact and hopefully that’s something I can start building again. She contacted me and we started chatting and I thought, ‘cool’. Now we are in contact by text and are going to meet up soon. The last time I saw her was four or five years ago, and before that it would have been 10 years.”

He and ex-Footballers Wives and Holby City actress Rouass have been engaged for three years, after meeting when she was house-hunting and viewed his house.

She recently said: “I’m so proud of him and think he’s very capable of handling his depression these days. He’s been strong enough to seek help, brave enough to talk about the problem, and is so positive and upbeat about life.”

So, is the wedding imminent?

“You never know, but we’re happy at the moment. She’s in no rush, I’m in no rush, we’re happy together – that’s the most important thing,” he responds.

The couple prefer a quiet life away from the spotlight.

“She can’t stand red carpet events and nor can I. We like to keep a low profile. She likes to be at home or to go to the theatre in London.”

He turned 40 last year, but didn’t want a big party, he reveals.

“I never celebrate my birthdays, I hate them, want to get them over and done with. I don’t like people making a fuss. I’m quite shy and like to slip under the radar.”

But he did turn out to receive his OBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace earlier this year.

“What a fantastic day that was! One of the best days ever. Charles presented it. I was looking at him a bit star-struck, it was a surreal moment.”

Family loyalty has been a major force in his entire life, he agrees, and while his novel is set in a violent criminal underworld, it also emphasises the loyalty involved within close-knit families, no matter what.

“My father was big on that. If you were his friend, he’d back you to the hilt and I grew up around that kind of culture, which rubbed off on me a little bit. It’s OK to be loyal, but sometimes you can be loyal to the wrong people and that’s what got my dad into trouble.

“I’ve tried to learn from that and be a bit more loyal to the right people.”

It felt strange when his father was released from prison, he observes.

“I’d been used to seeing him on a visit once a month and phone calls. All of a sudden, I felt the responsibility was on me again to make sure that he was all rig

ht. It was difficult for him, but absolutely put more pressure on me.

“I felt sorry for him because I could see that he didn’t feel comfortable and I was worried about him. He used to say, ‘It’s harder out here than it was in there’ and it’s sad to hear someone who’s got their freedom back say they feel more comfortable in a cell.”

Today, the O’Sullivan family remains close. He’s hoping his debut novel will lead to further books and possibly even a TV adaptation.

And could he be snooker world champion again?

“The honest answer is probably no, but I wouldn’t count it out,” he says.

Framed by Ronnie O’Sullivan is published in hardback by Orion, is available from Eason from €17.99.

UK Championship 2016 – Ronnie wins his last 128 match in a blitz

This is how Ronnie prepared for his first-round match at this UK Championship: pies and mash …


And this is the result:


Before the match, Ronnie had a weird spree on twitter, about God and retiring from snooker, that got many of his fans worried. Knowing he’s no religious person I was a bit taken aback, but my reading of it is that this was his way to release some of the tension; I’ve seen him very anxious before tournaments and I believe this was his way to lower the pressure of expectations. Later, he was back to his usual self on twitter, discussing fitness, food and how to deal with a bad stomach (probably caused by stress rather than anything else, in my view)

In the press room Ronnie dismissed any thoughts of immediate retirement though.


The official report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Ronnie O’Sullivan took just 56 minutes to beat Boonyarit Keattikun 6-0 and reach the last 64 of the Betway UK Championship at the York Barbican.It was a blistering display of attacking snooker from the Rocket as he fired breaks of 63, 129, 80, 90, 103 and 106. His victory took just three minutes more than his 53-minute 6-0 whitewash of Dominic Dale at the 2006 Northern Ireland Trophy, the quickest ever best-of-11 match.

O’Sullivan has lifted the UK Championship trophy five times, most recently in 2014 in York, and if he carries tonight’s form into the televised stages he’ll take some stopping. He now meets Rhys Clark, who won a black-ball deciding frame to edge out Li Hang 6-5.

I got three centuries in my last match and lost, so it just goes to show that centuries don’t mean anything,” said 40-year-old O’Sullivan, who won his first UK crown back in 1993. “I don’t really read too much into it, you just play one match at a time and see what happens.

I played alright, I am just treating it a bit like a knockabout. I have other things in my life so snooker is a bit of a distraction and getting my cue out is a pleasure. When it was all I had to do, I felt like I was trapped in a prison, now it is a bit exciting. Trying to be too serious about what you do is harmful to you.

This article in “the Guardian” (excerpt):


Ronnie O’Sullivan won 6-0 in the first round of the UK Championship at York but said ‘I have conversations with God and he said to me, “Jack snooker in mate, you’re better off as a pundit”’. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

Ronnie O’Sullivan said he no longer feels “trapped in a prison” and played down retirement talk after a dazzling 6-0 first-round win over Boonyarit Keattikun at the UK Championship in York on Wednesday.

The 40-year-old is looking for the 29th ranking title of his career and started in emphatic fashion, needing only 56 minutes to complete a whitewash victory over an overwhelmed Thai opponent.

The five-times UK champion made three centuries during the match and revealed he is enjoying having to juggle playing with his Eurosport punditry role.

O’Sullivan said: “This is like a bit of a hobby. Getting my cue out is a bit of a pleasure whereas before, when that’s all I had to do, I felt I was trapped in a prison. Now I feel like it’s a bit exciting and I treat it as a bit of fun.

My proper job is my punditry and doing all my other bits – that’s my salary but this is a bit of a bonus now.

Hours before the match, O’Sullivan tweeted that God told him to give up the sport, but the five-times world champion later had a positive response for his fans.

He said: “I have conversations with God and he said to me, ‘Jack snooker in mate, you’re better off as a pundit’ and I was like, ‘Hold on, we will have to have a proper conversation about that’.

“It’s not my last tournament until God puts his foot down, he is the boss and I don’t want to take liberties with him.

O’Sullivan is no fan of the Barbican Centre’s four-table setup in York but was satisfied with his opening performance.

I played all right, I wasn’t too sure what this guy was like – he looked good at the start but missed a couple of balls,” he said.

“It’s a bit of a weird setup so I’ll try not to get too serious about the tournament unless I can get to the two-table setup.

And here is the match:

Ronnie played extremely well but clearly didn’t want to stay around more than necessary. Later he praised the good crowd, but also said there was no atmosphere in the Barbican, same as Judd Trump. Having been there, I understand what they mean. Before the television stage, the arena is rather dimly lit, the players’ “introduction” is minimal, and, in my opinion, the sponsor’s grey setup isn’t particularly “mood-enhancing”.

UK Championship 2016 – Day 1

Sixteen matches were played yesterday in the York Barbican and you can see the results above. The official report on Worldsnooker is here:

Tuesday 22 Nov 2016 10:35PM

Ding Junhui needed a tremendous clearance in the deciding frame to win 6-5 and avoid a shock defeat against Igor Figueiredo as the Betway UK Championship got underway in York.



Figueiredo, one of the two Brazilian ‘samba snooker’ potters on the pro tour, looked on course for the best win of his career when he came from 4-1 down to lead 5-4, with a top break of 105.

World number five Ding won the tenth frame then came from 61-4 down to snatch the decider with a superb 74.

I didn’t play very well and I missed a couple of very easy shots,” said China’s Ding, UK Champion in 2005 and 2009. “From 4-1 up to 5-4 down I kept telling myself it wasn’t finished yet and I just needed to carry on. I was still confident and I wanted to take it to a decider because I think I have played more of them than him.

“I want to try and ignore the pressure, I don’t want to think ‘this is the UK Championship, this is a big event’. I just need to go in, try hard to win matches and play the best I can. Every time I make a mistake, I need to forgive myself and that is one of the hardest things for me. I still have some emotions and anger in the matches but I try to keep them down and just wait for my next chance.”

Mitchell Mann spring the biggest surprise of the opening day by beating world number 13 Kyren Wilson 6-3. Birmingham’s Mann, ranked 115th, built a 3-0 lead with a top run of 92 and eventually clinched the tie in the ninth frame with a break of 73.

It’s just a massive relief because I’ve been losing matches lately and that damages your confidence,” said Mann. “It takes the pressure off me and hopefully I’ll be much more relaxed in my next match.”

Judd Trump, winner of this title in 2011, eased to a 6-2 win over James Wattana. From 2-1 down, world number three Trump won five frames in a row with top runs of 90, 90 and 109.

Marco Fu top scored with 114 in a 6-2 win over Josh Boileau while Ryan Day saw off Jimmy White 6-2 with a top run of 126. Northern Ireland Open finalist Barry Hawkins also enjoyed a comfortable passage into round two as he beat David John 6-0 with a top break of 129.

Anthony McGill came from 3-0 and 5-3 down to edge out Craig Steadman 6-5, taking the last three frames with breaks of 52, 67 and 104. “I played badly but I kept fighting and believed I could win,” said Glasgow’s McGill. “I made a nice break in the last frame and there are positives I can take. No one wants to lose in the first round here before the TV stages start.

Kyren Wilson was the biggest casualty on the day. It’s hard to tell why his form seems to have deserted him all of a sudden after beating Ronnie and Mark Williams last week. Of course, Mitchell Mann is a hard match player and he did play very well, but this is still a big surprise.


“Framed” – a personal review

Having just finished reading Ronnie’s last book, I’d like to share my personal views on it.

“Framed” is a crime novel, but does not exactly follow the conventional genre where the police, or a detective are investigating to solve a murder. Indeed, young Frankie James, the main protagonist, is neither. He’s the brother of the main suspect, Jack, and neither does he believe that his young sibling could ever do what he’s accused to have done, nor does he trust the police to try and solve the case in a fair way. The James family has been on the wrong side of the law only too often in the past, and Frankie very much has developed  an “us against them” attitude when it comes to the authorities and the justice system. So he takes things in his own hands, and starts investigating his own brother case, backed by a boss of the local mafia. This will bring him to do things that aren’t exactly lawful and, although he succeeds in proving Jack’s innocence, it’s not exactly a happy end. Frankie will also have to face some serious consequences on a personal level. I won’t say more, I don’t want to spoil you.

Frankie is supposed to be similar to Ronnie as a person, with a similar family background, and he is indeed similar to a large extend, but he’s definitely harder than the real Ronnie, who, to his own admission, is rather a softy. A lot of traits are common though, and not just the nice ones: it does ask for a lot of honesty to expose ones own foibles the way Ronnie does here, through the character of Frankie, a good guy at core, wearing his heart on his sleeve, but no always acting in the most sensible way. Ronnie also manages to make his real self appear in the book (wink).

There is a lot of strong language used in the book, and a lot of slang too, which contributes to the general atmosphere – Soho some 10 years ago, not exactly upper-class – but this may make it more difficult to read for non native English speakers, and it will certainly require a VERY good translator, if it’s ever translated, to faithfully render the peculiar style of writing used in the book. That said, “Framed” would certainly make an excellent plot for an action film. It’s dynamic and colourful. I enjoyed it.

Ronnie said it’s better than his biographies. I wouldn’t say that: it’s simply too different to compare. What’s tastier? Old cheese and wine or chocolate cream cake? Well it depends on personal tastes, and on the moment too for those who appreciate both… same here.

Northern Ireland Open 2016 – Mark King is your Champion

At 42 years of age, and 25 years as a professional, Mark King achieved his dream: he’s now a ranking event winner after a thrilling final that went to a deciding frame. Heartfeld congratulations Mark King.

It looked unlikely when Barry Hawkins lead 5-1, but Mark King held his nerves and won 6 frames on the bounce to lead 7-5. Only for Hawkins to reply and make it 7-7. King won the next, and, being gave himself a chance to win by 9-7 when he managed to force a re-soptted black in the 16th frame after an epic tactical battle. But It was Barry who took it. Decider it was …

It had excellent shots, mistakes, twists and turns … drama and emotions aplenty. A great, great advert for the sport we love.

Here is the official report by Worldsnooker:

Monday 21 Nov 2016 12:49AM

Mark King has won his maiden ranking title following a remarkable 9-8 victory over Barry Hawkins at the Coral Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.


The win had looked unlikely with King trailing 5-1 during the opening session. However, he crucially clawed it back to 5-3 at the break.

King then won the first four frames when they returned in the evening to lead 7-5 in a remarkable turnaround. He blasted to the front with breaks of 62, 100, 45 and 53. There were then scenes of pure drama as Hawkins fought back.

With King 8-7 ahead, he required one seven-point snooker on the colours to tie. The black ball had come to lie perilously over edge the bottom pocket and King ambitiously embarked upon trying to lay the object ball on top of it. He eventually achieved that thanks to one of the shots of the tournament, cross doubling the pink the length of the table. Hawkins fouled the black and his opponent forced a re-spot. King narrowly missed a double to middle for the title and allowed the Hawk in to force a decider.

After a match filled with fluent break building the final frame was understandably tense.  Both players had and missed chances. However, it was King who forced himself over the line and emotionally embraced his family as they entered the arena. The scenes were reminiscent of the man who the trophy was named after Alex Higgins, who had beckoned his then baby daughter Lauren onto the Crucible floor in 1972 after winning the world title. Lauren was present today, 44 years on, and handed over the trophy to an emotional King.

King said: “At 8-7 up my little daughter Polly was doing cartwheels outside and it just calmed me down seeing her happy. I thought to myself worst case scenario I have my three gems here and my wife. I left everything on the table and it is nice to come out and be a champ.

“I just thought all week my name was on the trophy. I haven’t said it but things were happening. People were missing game balls on the black. I just think it was meant to be,” said King. “The money is always nice. I came here and I don’t think I had a tenner in the bank. My dad and my mate lent me a few quid and hopefully I can build on it now.”

Enjoy the key moments here …

The battle for a respotted black in frame 16:

2016 Northern Ireland Open: Barry Hawkins – Mark King (respotted black battle)

The decider:

2016 Northern Ireland Open: Barry Hawkins – Mark King (final frame)

A very emotional Mark King after the match:

2016 Northern Ireland Open: Barry Hawkins – Mark King (Session2, trophy ceremony)

All the datailed tournament results are on Cuetracker as usual.

On a much lighter note, one thing we, non UK viewers, didn’t get to see is Ronnie very smartly dressed in the new gear he had bought specially for the final …


image source: Ronnie on twitter

Ronnie who before the final had tweeted this:

Looking forward to a good final today

He duly got it, and after the final congratulated Mark King, who, of course, is from Essex too …

@markking147 well done tonight well deserved

He also said he would rather be out there playing, in answer to a fan saying he looked comfy in the studio.