Welsh Open 2017 – Cymraeg cronig – Day 4

It was another strange day in Cardiff as more top players exited the tournament.

Two rounds were played: the last 32 and last 16.

At the start of the last 32 only 6 players were standing from the top 25; at the end of it only 3 remained from the top 30 …  Stuart Bingham, Judd Trump and Barry Hawkins. All three won their matches and will be in the QF, where one at least will depart as Trump and Hawkins are set to meet.

Here are the big results in the last 32:

Hossein Vafaei Ayouri beat Ali Carter by 4-1

The match wasn’t on television so I can’t comment much on it. However it’s worth to remember how much problems Hossein faced before he was eventually allowed a visa to play in the UK. He’s now training in the academy in Sheffield. His game is developing nicely. He’s a big scorer when on song: he finished this match with 136 and 123. Hossein wasn’t really able to do himself justice in the evening against Judd Trump: this was his first match on the television table and he obviously struggled with the pace of it, and maybe the tension of being in the spotlights as well, as he was regularly over-hitting the balls. But we will surely see more of him, if the manages to stay on the tour. Yesterday’s win was a big step towards that goal.

Welsh interests in the tournament came to an end yesterday as Judd Trump beat Jackson Page (4-0),  Robbie Williams beat Michael White (4-2) and Igor Figuereido beat Dominic Dale (4-1). Regarding Jackson Page, yes, it’s a great story, and, yes, the boy is only 15 and he’s got talent, and he’s a fighter. But I’ve not been overly impressed with his game: he’s still very, very raw and absolutely not ready for the main tour IMO. That’s nothing personal against the young man at all, he’s the victim from the fact that the amateur game is not properly managed and promoted and there are not strong enough structures in place to coach and support budding talents. As for Igor, it’s a shame he hasn’t the money to develop his career properly. He can only play part-time. He may be able to secure another two years card, and I wish he does: the World qualifiers will be all important in that respect. Finally Lee Walker, the only Welshman standing went out in the last 16 at the hands of Zhou Yuelong, another teenage Chinese talent, and another one coached by Ronnie …

Mark Allen went out to Mei Xiwen (4-2) and I can only guess that this was another case of Mark getting bored and frustrated with a grinder type opponent.

Stuart Carrington beat Robin Hull, knocking in two centuries to finish.

And of course Yan Bingtao beat World n°1 and World Champion Mark Selby by 4-2 just watch below…

I won’t comment much on the last 16. Most results went the way expected. After his win against Mark Selby, it was to be expected that Yan had a bit of an anti-climax, and Kurt Maflin a deadly scorer. Also, Scott Donaldson who stayed very much under the radar beat Mark Davis in a decider. Not a real surprise to me because Scott is much better than his ranking suggests and if I’m correctly informed, practices with John Higgins. So he’s n all-rounder with a decent tactical game and this match was always going to be close.

Videos of interest

Last 32 and last 16 day preview:


At the start of this one, Ronnie reflects on his defeat to Mark Davis and explains why it isn’t the same as what happened in Berlin. He also reflects on the format and how so many top seeds going out early shouldn’t be such a surprise to anybody.

Watch Yan Bingtao beat Mark Selby by 4-2


and the pundits reflect on his win, his talent, game and future, the state of the game in China and the UK


Welsh Open 2017 – Cymraeg cronig – Day 3

It was a day of shocks in Cardiff yesterday as top players stumbled and tumbled out. So much so that in the last 32 round, today, only six of them still stand: Mark Selby, Stuart Bingham, Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins, Mark Allen and Ali Carter.

One could argue that maybe those who are safe in the top 16 already have their eyes on the Crucible and aren’t really geared up for this best of 7 affair. It could be the case for some, but then, it certainly does not explain why those chasing a top 16 place, in order to avoid the dreaded World Qualifiers in Ponds Forge, are also suffering early exits. Yet, no player between rank 12 to and included 25 in the provisional seeding list is still in the tournament.

I have already written my thoughts about Ronnie’s defeat.

So, what else did we get?

Ross Muir 4-0 Marco Fu

The match wasn’t on television, so it’s hard to understand what happened there. Ross Muir is a decent player, but by no means a top one and Marco had been excellent for the last two months … Any idea anyone?

Lee Walker 4-3 Neil Robertson

This one I watched and I’m still baffled. Neil lead 3-1 and the match could easily have been over as Lee had actually stolen the first frame on the last balls. Neil had looked unstoppable: he had made a 143, the current tournament highest break, a 133 and a 55 in building his lead. And then … it went scrappy. Lee Walker is a good player, with a lot of experience, he’s been around since the 90th. He’s also a coach, he’s Mark Williams coach actually. But he’s never been a top player. And yet, he won all the close frames, crucially, and finished with a brilliant 130. Stephen Hendry always speaks about winning frames in one visit bein key to winning matches: well … I wonder what he’d say about this one.

Josh Boileau 4-2 Shaun Murphy

Josh is a rookie, this is his first year as a pro. He’s not really set the scene alight until now . Again, there was only one 50+ break in the match, a 71 by Shaun. This is a very, very good result for the Irish boy but what was going on here?

Igor Figueiredo 4-2 Anthony McGill

I like the way Igor usually plays, he goes for his shots, he’s got a smile as big as himself on his face. Samba snooker? Yes, usually. But yesterday he showed how good he is tactically too. It wasn’t about big breaks, he beat Anthony at his own game: tactical thinking and properly executed safeties.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-1 Ryan Day

Ryan showed none of the form that brought him to last week final. “Theppy” wasn’t at his very (potting) best either, but he won convincingly, and patiently. He even stole the only frame where Ryan had a 50+ break (58). I read that he’s now working with Terry Griffiths. That could well be his best career move so far.

Of course some of the top guys did win , but it was not always plain sailing.

Mark Selby trailed Mike Dunn by 1-0 and 2-1 , before pulling away to a 4-2 win. Mark isn’t a fan of the best of 7 BTW, branding the format “a leveller” and suggesting it was the cause of this abnormal amount of upsets.

Judd Trump had to work hard to beat veteran Alex Borg from Malta by 4-2. Alex is a fantastic player on his day although his scoring power is no more what it once was. But he gave Judd a good a old school game. Judd made a 60 in the first frame and still lost it, a sign of things to come. Alex is not afraid to win in bits and pieces, no is he of messing up the table, sendng colours on the rails and picking balls one by one. He took Judd completely out of his usual game patterns and it was fascinating. Credits to Judd though, he was very patient, adapted and eventually won.





Welsh Open 2017 – Ronnie goes out to Mark Davis in the last 64

Ronnie’s title defence and bid for a record fifth Welsh Open title came to an end in the last 64, as he lost by 4-3 to Mark Davis, from 3-0 up.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Wednesday 15 Feb 2017 11:23PM

Ronnie O’Sullivan let slip a 3-0 lead as he lost 4-3 to Mark Davis in the second round of the Coral Welsh Open in Cardiff.

On a day of shocks at the Motorpoint Arena, O’Sullivan joined Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Marco Fu as casualties in the last 64 of the world ranking event.

O’Sullivan had been seeking to win his fifth Welsh Open title and defend the crown he captured last year. But he lost focus after winning the first three frames, allowing world number 31 Davis to take advantage and set up a third round meeting with Fergal O’Brien.

Five -time World Champion O’Sullivan looked in full control when he knocked in breaks of 97 and 74 to go 2-0 ahead, then dominated the third frame. But Davis launched his fight back with a run of 65 then got the better of a scrappy fifth frame, O’Sullivan crucially missing the final green to a centre pocket. Davis kept his momentum going and fired breaks of 81 and 64 to take the last two frames.

At 3-0 down it wasn’t looking good,” said Sussex’s 44-year-old Davis. “I just dig in, I never give up, you never know what can happen. You just battle on, even against Ronnie. I know I can win it if I play my game – there is no point talking about it, you have to go and do it. I have known that for a long time, I know how good I am, there is no reason I can’t win it.

Now I won’t deny that this is a bit worrying, not so much the fact that Ronnie lost, but the way he did, after a similar defeat to Mark King in the German Masters.

I have no doubts that his game is in good shape; Jimmy White said it earlier this week as well: he played a lot of fantastic shots in both matches, but made a number of bad mistakes too as his attention seems to be fickle and it costs him. It’s hard to know why, unless he speaks out. It may be anything really: off the table concerns, unhappiness with how Worldsnooker handles the media side, tiredness caused by sleeping problems, or lack of confidence and anxiety. All of these are possibilities – it all happened before, and been overcome – but they are no more than just possibilities. Only he will know … if he knows. I just hope he can tackle it before the Crucible. He now has a break for about three weeks to work on his game and any issue he may have before the Players Championship. Let’s hope for the best.

One important point is that, with a lot of shocks in this tournament, including among those chasing the top 16 spots, Ronnie’s Crucible place is now fairly safe whatever happens until April.

Anyway here are a few pictures courtesy of Tai Chengzhe (Thanks Tai!)

And the match:

It was actually a very good match for the neutral. Mark Davis played really well.

Tai has been kind enough to also provide a few images from Ronnie’s last 128 match. Check this updated post.

Welsh Open 2017 – Cymraeg cronig – Day 2

Tuesday in Cardiff wasn’t a happy day for the Welsh fans … or the Chinese fans who had come in numbers to watch their favourite. Both Mark Williams and Ding Junhui lost their opening match. There were more surprises as well.

Elliott Slessor 4-3 Mark Williams

Mark Williams was extremely critical of his own performance and quite down on himself. “Mr Lead Back” was so frustrated at a point during the match that he punched the table rather violently. He also was very negative on twitter later. But we shouldn’t forget that there were two players in that match and young Elliott Slessor played very well to lead 3-0, and more impressively, after the two times World Champion and crowd favourite had pegged him back to 3-3, he held himself remarkably well in the decider, making a 90 to win. So congratulations Elliott! (and that comes from a huge Willo fan!)

Robin Hull 4-2 Ding Junhui

I didn’t see the match but I know one thing: Robin Hull is a hard match player and he also scores given the opportunity. So this result isn’t maybe a big surprise. I doubt that Ding had much time, and appetite, for practice so soon after his mother passing. I’m delighted for Robin whose career nearly came to an end a few years ago because of health issues. But Dong deserves a lot of respect and credit, not just for playing under the circumstances but for having a lot of time for his fans after the match. This picture, shared by Worldsnooker, tells it all.


Anthony McGill 4-3 Joe Perry

Anthony came out the winner of this high quality, hard-fought match that featured 3 centuries and a lot of good safety battles as you would expect from those two. Once again it’s a pity that they had to meet in round 1. Perry is out, without a penny,  when many players who played a lot worse than him are through.

There were wins for Judd Trump, Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins and Ali Carter (against Zhao Xintong): none of them had any trouble.

However, speaking of surprises …

Matthew Selt lost by 4-3 to the relatively unknown Mei Xiwen, Michael Holt lost by 4-1 to young Mitchell Mann (young but hard as nail at the table it must be said), Boonyarit Keattikun from Thailand beat Ken Doherty by 4-1 (the professional future of the Darling of Dublin is seriously at risk now), Yan Bingtao beat Daniel Wells by 4-1, a result that will not please the Welsh fans, but will delight Ronnie. Daniel was very impressed and was full of praise for his young conqueror on twitter later in the evening. And veteran James Wattana defeated Xiao Guodong by 4-3 …

Ronnie won his match against Tom Ford by 4-1. 

But not happy with Liang Wenbo…

MissingClip 2017 Welsh Open: Ronnie not happy about Valentine’s Day snub from Liang (Eurosport)


Welsh Open 2017 – Ronnie beats Tom Ford by 4-1 in the last 128

Ronnie won his opening match yesterday afternoon against an ailing Tom Ford.

WelshOpen2017ROSL128-2.pngThere is always a lot of pressure on the defending champion in the first round and the conditions are always a bit of an unknown. Ronnie’s performance was patchy, despite a good 101 in frame 3, as Jimmy White said on Eurosport, it was a mixed bag of excellent shots and schoolboy errors. But he is through and it’s all that matters. This evening he will face Mark Davis in the last 64.


One thing that’s definitely positive is Ronnie’s attitude: he kept trying and stayed patient all along … and his patience was seriously tested, by his own mistakes and by the referee’s inability to replace the balls at one point in the match.

Ronnie also stood by his word and kept his postmatch press conference with Worldsnooker minimal. He was, however, more open in the studio later in the evening.

Here are a few images thanks to Tai Chengzhe

Videos of interest:

The match preview with the ES pundits, including an interview with Ronnie and some recollection of the infamous 146…


BBC Wales preview:

The match:

Ronnie’s interview with BBC Wales after the match:

The preview of the evening session. Ronnie is in the studio and, at the start of the preview, Ronnie honestly assesses his performance and speaks about his hopes for the remaining part of the tournament.


Welsh Open 2017 – Cymraeg cronig – Day 1

The Welsh Open 2017 started yesterday and we already had a few surprising results.

It’s worth noting that this tournament has a random draw: except for the top 16 who are kept apart in the draw, everyone else is placed randomly. This explains that we have some top players meeting early whilst we also have clashes between relatively unknown guys.

Worth noting are the defeats of John Higgins and Kyren Wilson.

John was facing Sam Baird, who is a very decent player but not a top one and who you wouldn’t expect to be able to compete with John tactically. Well, he didn’t need to: too many mistakes from Higgins and good solid potting from Sam did it: 4-2 it was.

Kyren Wilson lost to Sean O’Sullivan by 4-2. Sean is a good player, and a lovely lad, but he’s not a top player . I only watched the match in patches but … well it was patchy. Not one visit snooker by any means but Sean won’t care.

Other interesting results:

Ben Woollaston was playing Thechaya Un-nooh. “Theppy” has not been he great form recently and he wasn’t yesterday either, but Ben looked completely out-of-sorts and, eventually was whitewashed.

Stuart Bingham beat Matthew Stevens by 4-2 in a decent quality match. The Welsh crowd surely wanted it the other way around but Stuart was the better player and had the only century of the match, a 101.

Ryan Day beat David Gilbert by 4-3. This was actually a good match and one that was important for both players in the context of the race to the Crucible as they are both still in with a chance to break into the top 16. In a way it’s unfortunate that they had to meet so early.

Graeme Dott recovered from 3-0 down to beat Ricky Walden by 4-3. Again this was an important match for Ricky who’s chances to avoid Pond Forges look seriously thin now. For Graeme though who has been struggling recently, it’s an excellent result. According to comments by Clive Everton and other pundits recently, Ricky is suffering from a recurring back injury. if true, it’s very unfortunate. He’s champagne when on form.

Anthony Hamilton defeated Luca Brecel by 4-2. “The Sheriff” had a bit of an anti-climax last week but is clearly back in the saddle. This one also was a good match, extremely tactical, with loads of excellent safeties from both.

Neil Robertson beat Jimmy White by 4-1. A very unlucky draw for Jimmy who is battling to stay on the main tour and has been doing very well this season. But Neil had too much for him as you would expect. I sincerely hope that the “Whirlwind” can do it. He will be devastated if he drops of the tour. Nobody loves snooker more than Jimmy.

And finally …

Jackson Page beat Jason Weston by 4-3 in dramatic fashion. Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Monday 13 Feb 2017 06:45PM


Promising teenager Jackson Page scored a dramatic 4-3 win over Jason Weston in his first match in a professional tournament at the Coral Welsh Open.

By James Lloyd

The 15-year-old amateur was granted a wild card place in the event at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena and slotted a respotted black to take a last-gasp victory over Portsmouth’s Weston.

Page is a former World Under-18 Champion and learns under the wing of veteran Mark Williams – who has tipped the youngster for stardom.

The Ebbw Vale born potter showed signs of his talent with some outrageous pots, notably a stunning pink in the deciding frame.

Page won the first frame on the last black before experienced Weston, ranked 123rd in the world, won three frames in a row with a top break of 58. Page then fought back to 3-3 with a top run of 40.

Weston led by 27 points in the decider when he missed the final yellow, and Page made an excellent clearance which included a cracking long pink. And when his opponent played a weak safety on the respotted black, Page thumped it into a baulk corner to the delight of his army of fans in the crowd.

An ecstatic Page explained his joy after a memorable afternoon in the Welsh capital.

He said: “I had to dig deep. I played a bad shot on one of the reds and at that point I thought it was over as he was in. But when that last black went in, it was just unreal.

“I knew that it was in my favour (on the respotted black). He played a good shot at the start, but he eventually left it over the pocket which was great for me.

“The crowd was great, especially being on one of the main tables. I definitely didn’t expect that, I thought I was going to be on one of the other tables, as you would expect being a 15-year-old.

“When I found out I was on one of the main tables, I thought: ‘this will be fun.’”

Page balances his time playing snooker and studying for GCSEs at Ebbw Fawr Community School.

And the whizzkid admits his academic ability is key to the school allowing him time off to enter tournaments and bump shoulders with snooker greats.

“I am quite lucky to be in the top set in school,” Page said.

“Without revising I can still manage to get a C grade which helps really. That’s why they give a bit of leeway with that.

“It is great to be good at both school and at snooker. Snooker is definitely the better one, though.”

Page also praised the impact of two-time world champion Williams on his playing development.

He said: “Mark is great. We have a lot of games; and he has helped me a lot. It is the way he goes about the game; that is where I learn.

“How he plays is unreal, his positional play around the black is superb, you couldn’t ask for better. When you see these players like Mark playing those shots, it triggers the way you play and you learn from it.”

All detailed results are available on Cuetracker.

World Grand Prix 2017 – Barry Hawkins is your Champion

Here is the report by Matt Huart on Worldsnooker

Hawkins Claims Guild Hall Glory


Barry Hawkins produced irresistible snooker to claim the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix title in Preston, but he had to withstand a heroic fightback from Ryan Day, eventually winning 10-7.

It’s a third ranking title for Hawkins, which brings him level with the likes of Mark Allen, James Wattana and Paul Hunter. Two of the Hawk’s wins have now come at the historic Guild Hall in Preston. He was victorious at the Lancashire venue in 2014, when he picked up the Players Championship Grand Final crown, beating Gerard Greene 4-0 in the final.

Day was seeking to become the fifth maiden ranking title winner of the season, having spent 18 years as a professional seeking silverware. He was faced with an opponent playing some of the snooker of his life in the opening session, but provided stout resistance to keep the deficit to 6-3.

Hawkins made a phenomenal five centuries, including four in the first session. He added runs of 128 and 85 at the start of the evening, as he moved 9-3 ahead and looked set for a short evening’s work. It was a remarkable burst which got him to the verge of victory, the 37-year-old scoring 315 unanswered points.

Hawkins had two gilt edged chances at the start of frame 13. He spurned straightforward reds and opened the window for the Welshman. Day ironically punched the air after potting an opening red following the onslaught. He went on to keep his hopes alive with breaks of 21 and 87.

The four-time ranking finalist showed incredible resolve by making breaks of 84, 92 and 75 to turn up the heat on the Hawk and close the gap to 9-7.

Day looked like he was going to pile even more tension on the Englishman, who let a 5-1 semi-final lead slip against Joe Perry in last month’s masters, when he led by 31 points in the 17th frame. Eventually Hawkins laid his opponent in a perilous snooker, which afforded him his chance. Hawkins cleared the table and dramatically clinched the title and the £100,000 top prize.

I’m absolutely over the moon. I felt so good at the start of the match and played so well. I didn’t feel like I could miss when I got in the balls,” said Hawkins. “I got ahead of myself thinking I was going to make another century to win.”

“If I had lost that last frame there I don’t know what would have happened. I just managed to hold myself together and I got a lucky kiss on the blue after potting the brown. You can miss absolutely anything under that kind of pressure. I’m so delighted to win another tournament. I feel like I’ve been knocking on the door for a little while. I’ve had a few disappointments on the way so I think I deserved that one.

Day said: “Every half mistake I had early on, he made a century break. That ramps the pressure up on your next visit, whether it’s a chance in the balls or a safety shot. He was relentless.

“If I had won the seventeenth frame, I think it was game on as Barry was starting to feel the pressure. I won four frames relatively quickly. I beat Alfie Burden from 9-5 down in World Championship qualifying last year so I was trying to draw on that.”

“I’m disappointed, but I’m happy with the week. I would have taken being a finalist at the start of the week. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say well done.

So, yes, congratulations Barry Hawkins!

Hats off too for Ryan Day who showed incredible fighting spirit. Surely his time will come soon.

Thanks to both players for an incredible final! Just look at the score sheet:


That’s just mental !

All detailed results are on Cuetracker.