Players Championship 2017 – (Very) Provisional draw and format

Worldsnooker has disclosed a bit more about the event draw and format:

Friday 24 Feb 2017 06:32PM

The Ladbrokes Players Championship takes place in Llandudno from March 6 to 12 and Ronnie O’Sullivan will headline the opening night.

The event sees the top 16 players on this season’s one-year list battle it out to become Players Champion and secure the £125,000 top prize.

Five-time World Champion O’Sullivan is sure to draw a big crowd for the opening session of the tournament at the Venue Cymru in North Wales, which will be at 7pm on Monday March 6th.

Recently crowned Welsh Open Champion Stuart Bingham will also be in action on Monday evening. Tuesday’s 1pm session sees world number one and World Champion Mark Selby kick off his campaign, with Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins featuring at 7pm.

Click here for the provisional event format. The full draw will be made available once the final qualifying places been confirmed following the conclusion of this week’s Jojobet.com Gibraltar Open

15 of the 16 spots are already taken, with only Ryan Day in danger to miss the event in case Joe Perry makes it to the final in Gibraltar or Mark Williams wins the title on the Rock. All details here.

Players Championship 2017 – Ronnie’s participation confirmed

Although the complete line-up isn’t know yet – results in the Gibraltar Open might still change the one year list top 16 – Worldsnooker has today confirmed Ronnie’s participation in the event:

Friday 24 Feb 2017 06:32PM

The Ladbrokes Players Championship takes place in Llandudno from March 6 to 12 and Ronnie O’Sullivan will be in action on the opening night.

The first session of the tournament at Venue Cymru in North Wales will be at 7pm on Monday March 6th.

The tournament field will be the top 16 on the one-year ranking list after the Jojobet.com Gibraltar Open.

The full draw and format for the event will be released when available.

 

Honouring Ray Reardon

Six times World Champion and Welsh legend Ray Reardon was at the Welsh Open 2017 to present the Ray Reardon Trophy, and Worldsnooker took the opportunity to honour his career and contribution to the sport by publishing this great article.

Ray of course was Ronnie’s mentor in 2004 when he won his second World title and it’s a time that left both Ray and Ronnie with fond memories as you will read hereafter …

Sunday 19 Feb 2017 07:51PM

A look at the career of a snooker legend, who is being celebrated at the Coral Welsh Open by having the trophy named after him, which he will present to the winner…

The charismatic Welshman, Ray Reardon, was one of the driving forces behind snooker’s rise in popularity during the 1970s. In a sport which has been hallmarked by great champions – from Joe Davis in the pre-war years to more recently Ronnie O’Sullivan – Reardon was the first player of the modern era to take a stranglehold on the game.

His route to snookering stardom was certainly humbler than today’s superstars. Having grown up in the coal mining community of Tredegar, he left school at the age of 14 to follow in the footsteps of his father and work in the mines. During his time as a coalminer, the Welshman spent every spare moment he had in the local Workman’s Institute honing his snooker skills.

Eventually Reardon moved his family to Stoke on Trent, where he became a policeman. Despite being one of the most prolific amateur snooker players on the planet, it wasn’t until the age of 35 that he turned professional. It was around that moment that the profile of the game took a dramatic upturn.

In 1969, the then controller of BBC Two, David Attenborough was searching for a new programme to showcase the advent of colour television. The one-frame Pot Black programme was commissioned and was an instant success. Overnight snooker had become household television around the country and it was Reardon leading the baize-based bandwagon.

Reardon said: “I was fortunate enough to win the very first Pot Black. It was a funny experience because it was filmed in November time of 1968 and wasn’t shown on television until May of 1969. I had to keep it quiet that I’d won, you weren’t allowed to disclose it. When the programme came out, it was great publicity for me because I won my first world title not long after, a double whammy.

“Everyone who took part in it was gambling really, because it was the main snooker on television. Your reputation was determined by a one frame match. You could do yourself more harm than good entering it. The guys who lost often struggled to get exhibition work. I was lucky because it was a great thing for me winning the first one.”

reardon-griffiths-1024x768Reardon with fellow Welsh legend Terry Griffiths

Reardon’s maiden world title, which came a year later, was over a considerably longer distance. He faced the seven-time World Champion John Pulman, in a marathon best of 73 encounter, at the Victoria Hall in London. Reardon emerged from the clash as a 37-33 victor.

“It was a very different sort of game because it was a week’s worth of play,” said Reardon. “It was very enjoyable, I didn’t get tired during it. I often hear people nowadays saying they are tired. I’ve never seen a tired winner. I’ve seen a tired loser, but certainly not a winner.”

The Welshman would go on to win a further five world titles, including a 25-18 win over South Africa’s Perrie Mans at the Crucible Theatre in 1978. His last appearance in the world final came in 1982 and was a memorable meeting with the enigmatic Alex Higgins, which he lost 18-15.

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From that point on, Reardon began to struggle with his game due to his eyesight deteriorating. His final match came at the 1991 World Championship, where he called time on his storied career following a 10-5 defeat to Jason Prince. The next world title he was involved with wasn’t his own, but that of a player he was mentoring: Ronnie O’Sullivan. Reardon mentored the Rocket in the lead up to the 2004 World Championship. With Reardon’s help, O’Sullivan clinched the second of his five world titles. The six-time World Champion felt that he could add another string to O’Sullivan’s bow.

“The problem was that he didn’t enjoy the tactical side of the game. He was a nice aggressive and open potter who thought he could just pot all the balls and win. Of course that was exactly what he did most of the time. But you want to be the best you can be. You want to be impregnable. He became that as a result of developing his tactical game. Suddenly he liked tactics and enjoyed it. It was a very gratifying feeling.

“It was fabulous to work with him. It gave me an extra ten years on my life. I felt as if I was playing again and it was a real buzz. I had the privilege of watching the best player I’ve ever seen up close.

“When I finished playing Steve Davis came along and I thought he was the best. Stephen Hendry then came along and I felt he was the best. They were the best of their era and I was the best of mine but when he is on form, Ronnie is the greatest of them all.

“If I was playing today I would definitely hold my own, but I wouldn’t dominate. Nobody does now because the standard is so high. There are a few outstanding players that win more often than others, but nobody just completely takes over. That will never happen again.”

Welsh Open 2017 – Stuart Bingham is your Champion!

Exactly as I expected, the Final went to a decider, although it didn’t look likely when Stuart Bingham lead 4-0 after the first mini session. But that’s the beauty of longer matches: there is time for twists and turns, for form to build and doubts to creep in.

Here is the match report on Worldsnooker:

Sunday 19 Feb 2017 11:53PM

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Snooker legend Ray Reardon presented Bingham with the trophy

Stuart Bingham beat Judd Trump 9-8 in a thrilling Coral Welsh Open final to win his first title since becoming World Champion 21 months ago.

Bingham let slip a 4-0 lead and fell behind at 8-7, but won the last two frames to clinch the £70,000 top prize and the Ray Reardon Trophy. It was gripping stuff for a packed Motorpoint Arena in the closing stages as a succession of frames came down to the colours, and Bingham won just enough of them before making an excellent match-winning break in the decider.

The 40-year-old from Basildon landed the fourth ranking title of his career and ended a long wait for more silverware since his Crucible triumph in 2015.

By winning his first Welsh Open crown, Bingham buried the memory of the 2013 final in Newport when he was edged out 9-8 by Stephen Maguire. He stays at number two in the world rankings, still well behind Mark Selby.

Trump missed out on the chance to win two ranking titles in the same season for the first time, having landed the European Masters in October. He has now lost seven of his 13 ranking finals and six of his 11 meetings with Bingham. The 27-year-old from Bristol still moves up one place in the rankings to third thanks to his £30,000 runner-up prize.

Trump, playing in his first Welsh Open final, trailed 5-3 after the first session but quickly halved the gap tonight by dominating the first frame of the evening. He was first among the balls in frame ten but missed the black off its spot on 48 and Bingham punished him with a 63 clearance to go 6-4 up.

Runs of 41 and 27 gave Trump the next frame and he also won the 12th after laying a snooker on the final yellow, to draw level at 6-6 at the interval. Trump looked favourite in frame 13 until he went in-off while escaping from a snooker on the last red, and Bingham made a cool clearance to regain the lead.

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Bingham became a dad for the second time last month when wife Michelle gave birth to daughter Marnie

Frame 14 also came down to the last red, and this time Bingham escaped from a snooker but left the red over a baulk corner, allowing his opponent to level at 7-7. Trump then took the lead for the first time by winning an edgy 15th, potting the thinnest of cuts on the final green to a centre pocket and clearing to the pink. But Bingham hit back to win a tense 40-minute 16th, laying a snooker on the brown then making a clearance which included a doubled pink to a centre pocket.

Both players had chances early in the decider, and Trump was unlucky not to open the pack when potting the yellow when he led 25-24. After a brief safety exchange, Bingham fired in a long red and then kept his composure in a run of 55 which got him past the winning line.

I’m just thankful to get my hands on this trophy,” said Bingham, who has won four of his seven ranking finals. “I don’t know how I did it, maybe true grit and determination.

“I started really well but then Judd came out showing his true class. He came out all guns blazing tonight, I didn’t know where to put the white ball in the end. He plays one way and that is attack, that is why he is a big hit with the fans and a great snooker player.

“I honestly don’t know what got me over the line tonight, but I did it somehow.

“It means a lot to me, I had a tear in my eye when I was clearing up. All the practice, the determination and the friends and family supporting me. It has been a tough road from winning the World Championship, but that makes it ever sweeter to get my hands on another trophy.”

Trump said: “It isn’t too bad to take. At 4-0 down I was disappointed, but the rest of the match I was quite good. I dominated most of the frames, but threw away a few and that changed the match.

“You get punished at this level if you miss easy balls. I just fell a little bit short today. It was just the odd shot here and there that could have gone right and I would have won. I had my chances in the last frame and messed them up.

“I was probably the better player in tonight’s session. I just didn’t score heavily enough.

Congratulations Stuart Bingham!

And you have to watch this fantastic preview with Ray Reardon:

And the great interview with the winner by the ES pundits

Welsh Open 2017 – Cymraeg cronig – Day 6

Yesterday saw the semi finals played in the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and we are in for a good final between Stuart Bingham and Judd Trump. The tournament was strange, with a lot of shocks early on: there were only 3 players within the top 30 in the QFs but, eventually, it’s World n° 2 vs World n°4 in the Final.

Both finalists played well in the semi finals. It’s fair to say that Stuart wasn’t put under any pressure by a rather terribly poor Robert Milkins; the result 6-0 says it all. Judd had to work harder: young Scot Donaldson, who was in his first ever semi final, held himself quite well, especially considering he had never been past the last 16 of any ranking tournament before this week. But as it is, if both finalists play today the way they did yesterday, I can only see a very close match, going to a deciding frame despite Brendan Moore not being in charge (if he was, 9-8 either way would be a certainty!).

Both players had a good season so far: Judd has won a ranking event already, the European Masters, made another final and two semi finals. He will want to win a second ranking title, something he’s never done before in one season. Stuart has already been in 4 semi finals, and two finals but is still to win one this season. And Stuart has another incentive: despite those excellent results: he’s in danger to drop off the top 16 after the Crucible as his points for winning the World Championship in 2015 will come off at that point.

It will be Colin Humphries in the white gloves today. Good luck to him and to both players.

 

 

 

Welsh Open 2017 – Cymraeg cronig – Day 5

Quarter finals day in Cardiff and we had two very different sessions.

Both afternoon matches were interesting.  Scot Donaldson played very  well, very composed to reach his first semi final; it’s bit of a shame though that Zhou had a bad day in office. Seeing two young lads compete at this stage of a tournament doesn’t happen that often recently and it’s nice to see. Trump-Hawkins was high quality and went to the wire.Judd will now face Scot in the semis and it should be interesting: Scot is a huge underdog, but he’s very capable and the pressure will be on Judd.

You can read about the afternoon session on Worldsnooker here

Friday 17 Feb 2017 06:59PM

Barry Hawkins missed match-ball yellow in the deciding frame as he lost 5-4 to Judd Trump in a pulsating quarter-final at the Coral Welsh Open.

Hawkins led by 24 points in the last frame when his attempted pot on the yellow to a centre pocket rolled across the lip but somehow stayed out. Trump cleared to the black to snatch victory and earn a semi-final against Scott Donaldson, who is through to the last four of a ranking event for the first time thanks to a 5-0 whitewash of Zhou Yuelong.

Defeat for Hawkins ends a run of nine consecutive matches won within ten days, as he captured the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix title last week.

Instead it’s world number four Trump who continues to hunt for his first Welsh Open crown and second ranking title of the season having won the European Masters in October. He will battle Donaldson over 11 frames on Saturday afternoon for a place in the final.

Bristol’s Trump led 3-1 at the interval then Hawkins fought back to 3-3 with breaks of 52 and 76.  Trump led 61-11 in frame seven but Londoner Hawkins snatched it with a 58 clearance, dropping the final pink into a centre pocket to go ahead for the first time. Trump took the next with runs of 41 and 48 to make it 4-4.

Trump had first chance in the decider but missed the yellow with the rest on 32. Hawkins missed a red to corner pocket on 30 but got another chance and added 27 before running out of position on the last red. It came down to the yellow and Trump looked to have blown his chance when he got a double kiss playing a safety shot. But Hawkins was left to rue his crucial miss.

Trump said: “I am still in a bit of shock because I thought it was all over when I left him the yellow. He seemed to hit it well, but somehow it stayed out.

“It is the bit of luck I’ve needed. I have played well the last few tournaments and gone out to amazing performances. For me to get a bit lucky today means the hard work has paid off. Every time I have lost I have gone back to the practice table the next day and that has really paid off for me now.

“Sometimes you play well and lose and today I didn’t play very well and managed to get through. There is a lot of skill in snooker, but you need a bit of luck to win tournaments.”

Hawkins said: “I am gutted to lose like that. I thought the yellow was going to go in, I can’t believe it. It rolled around the pocket about four times and stayed there for him. It obviously wasn’t meant to be.

“It was a good finish for the people to watch. My run has come to an end but there you go. I hope Judd goes on to win it now.”

World number 77 Donaldson, age 22 from Perth in Scotland, had never previously been beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, but is now into the last four and is already guaranteed a career biggest pay day of £20,000.

A break of 62 gave him the opening frame against China’s Zhou and he added the second by clearing from the last red. Frame three came down to a tactical battle on the yellow and Donaldson capitalised on a safety error from his opponent to go 3-0 ahead.

A drawn-out 43-minute fourth frame came down to the colours and 19-year-old Zhou – who was also appearing in his first ranking quarter-final – had a chance to win it but missed a tricky pink to a top corner pocket, leaving it in the jaws for Donaldson to extend his lead. And when Donaldson potted the last red in a scrappy fifth he was into the last four.

“I’m delighted to get through,” said the young Scot, who turned pro in 2012. “Zhou didn’t play his game – when he plays well he is a lot tougher than that. I played my game and luckily I won.

“I think everyone knows how good Zhou is. I have been playing a lot of TV matches recently and I think that helped me in the end.

“There is no reason I’ve played better this week. That is snooker, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and this week has been a good week for me, so long may it continue.

“My goal is to always win the first match and take it from there. I am happy at the moment, but I will go back to the hotel and calm myself down again and get ready for the next match. I have been pleased for about a year now with my game, I can’t pinpoint why, maybe it’s confidence.”

Maybe I was tired but I never could really get involved in the evening matches. I may be wrong but here is how it felt to me. Stuart Bingham didn’t play well in beating a fighting but probably tense Stuart Carrington and it was a bit tedious to watch. The contest between Robert Milkins and Kurt Maflin wasn’t great either as both were happily mixing crazy pots and terrible misses. Anyway, Stuart and Robert came through and will meet in the semi finals.

Ronnie’s American Hustles – Episode 4

This is the last episode of the series … alas. I hope there will a sequel of sort because I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the four episodes.

In this one Ronnie and Matt are in San Francisco, riding Steve McQueen Ford Mustang.

They try themselves at American Football, visit Alcatraz, get involved in virtual pool and the hustler is hustled. Ronnie gets knocked down, jailed, tricked by the virtual reality and finally “frozen” … but he loves the lot!

You can watch it here:

Enjoy!