John Higgins wins the Indian Open 2017

Yesterday, John Higgins beat Anthony McGill by 5-1 to win his 29th ranking title. Congratulations John.

Here is the report on WPBSA:

Higgins Wins in India

16th September 2017

John Higgins won his 29th ranking title, putting him ahead of Steve Davis and Ronnie O’Sullivan, by beating Anthony McGill 5-1 in an all-Scottish clash at the Indian Open final in Vishakhapatnam.

View the updated seeding list following the Indian Open

Higgins won his first ranking title back in 1994 and, 23 years later, has finally overtaken the tally of his boyhood idol Davis, as well as fellow legend O’Sullivan. Stephen Hendry remains well out in front with 36 but Higgins remains a regular tournament winner at the age of 42, and could yet catch him.

He moves up from third to second in the world rankings thanks to the top prize of £50,000 at the first event staged in Vishakhapatnam on India’s east coast.

Higgins, whose 28th ranking title came at the 2015 International Championship, won seven matches in this event, albeit without facing a player ranked among the top 16.

The final was a case of master beating apprentice as Higgins outplayed his fellow Glaswegian and practice partner, who had been defending the title. McGill, 26, missed out on his third ranking title but still picked up £25,000 and is up to 18th in the world.

Higgins won the first two scrappy frames with a top break of 42 then McGill made a 49 in the third to pull one back.

A run of 71 from four-time World Champion Higgins, the highest break of the final, put him 3-1 up at the interval, and he made a 49 in frame five before sealing it on the colours. And he dominated the next with runs of 37 and 34 to secure the title.

“It was a scrappy final, I was lucky that Anthony was nowhere near his best,” said Higgins. “I didn’t play great but I made things difficult for him.

“It’s a great feeling to win a tournament because you don’t know when your next one is going to come. I’ve had some tough games this week and it’s a short format so there’s a lot of pressure when you are favourite.

“Steve and Ronnie have both won more invitation events than me, and I’m sure Ronnie will win more ranking events. But just to go above Steve, who was my hero growing up, is a feather in the cap for me. It’s an unbelievable feeling.

“Anthony has got his head screwed on right and he’s a hard worker. He hasn’t changed at all since he was a boy, he’s a lovely guy. He’ll win a lot more titles.

“I can’t enjoy this one tonight because I’m going straight on the Yushan World Open so I don’t want to get there with a sore head! I’ll celebrate when I get back from China.”

Earlier in the semi-finals, McGill edged out Mark King 4-3 while Higgins scored a 4-2 win over China’s 19-year-old Xu Si, putting an end to the teenage rookie’s best run in a ranking event.

Indian Open winners
2013 Ding Junhui
2015 Michael White
2016 Anthony McGill
2017 John Higgins

There’s a few more things to be said about this tournament. The first is that the feedback of the players was extremely positive: they were made very welcome and the hospitality was fantastic. The field was somehow depleted, with many top players giving it a miss, including Mark Selby, Judd Trump, Ronnie and Ding among the “box office” boys. That of course opened things up for less fancied players and it was remarkable that at the QF stage we had players like Zhang Anda, Liam Highfield, Elliot Slessor and the 19 years old Xu Si still in the draw. All credits to them for making the most of the opportunity and showing what they are capable of: Elliot beat Shaun Murphy fair and square and Xu Si went one better, reaching the SF with wins over Ricky Walden and David Gilbert. Xu Si is one to watch: to do this in his first season as a pro is anything but ordinary. He is also one of the players working at the Vic Snooker Academy. Victoria and Nigel Bond are doing a great job there!

A few players were invited to join the Indian commentary team in the commentary box, which is always great as they of course give professional insight.

So now, John Higgins is one ahead to Ronnie and Steve Davis in ranking titles. I must say I’m not reading too much in this except that it’s  the mark of a remarkable career. What I feel uncomfortable with when it comes to these stats, is that things are compared that aren’t comparable as I tried to explain in this earlier post.  Steve Davis won the UK twice when it wasn’t ranking, at a time when only the World Championship counted as ranking. A number of today’s ranking tournaments are no different, or barely different from the now defunct PTCs, with only the final being best of 9 instead of best of 7 in some. Yet the PTCs  are not taken into account … but the Shootout is (Don’t get me started!). If the PTCs counted, Mark Selby would be on 19 ranking titles, just one behind Mark Williams who would be on 20. And, for the record, this is not about Ronnie as it would change nothing in the “order” as both him and John have won 3 PTCs, and been runner-ups in 3.

All detailed Indian Open 2017 results are on Cuetracker


147 Attempts … and a few questions

Ronnie was with Eurosport UK today, doing some filming ahead of the home nations series


… and attempting to make a 147 live on FB and answering a few questions.

Here is the video shared  by ES UK on FB

Despite not succeeding, Ronnie is confident that his game is in good shape. Regarding his concerns regarding the future of the game in the UK and Europe, one can only agree as yet another tournament has been won by a 40+ last week in Thailand

Mark Williams won the Sangsom Six Red World Championship for the first time by beating local favourite Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 8-2 in the final in Bangkok.

World number 17 Williams dominated the final against Thailand’s Un-Nooh to take the top prize of 3.5 million Baht (around £81,000).

It’s a first title for Welshman Williams since he won the World Seniors Championship in 2015.

Un-Nooh, who won this invitational title in front of his home crowd two years ago, started well with a break of 71 to take the opening frame, and was tied 2-2 after four frames. But two-time World Champion Williams then took control and won the last six frames with a top break of 50, restricting his opponent to just 30 points in that spell.

“When I came here I didn’t have any great hopes of winning this,” said 42-year-old Williams, who is using a new coaching methodthis season in a bid to regain his best. “I battled away and I’m so pleased to win an event. Today was the best I played all week. I wasn’t looking to make any big breaks, just to win frames.

“I think over the years I haven’t got any further than the last 16 of this event so I suppose I’ve surprised myself this week. I’ve won a lot of money playing in Thailand and China and I’ve become a good traveller.”

World number 39 Un-Nooh, who earned 1.3 million Baht, said: “Mark played very well. I couldn’t take any chances and when I missed he had all the answers.”

Polapatr Suvarnazorn, advisor to the president and CEO of the Thai Beverage Public Co.Ltd, presented the winner’s cheque while WPBSA chairman.Jason Ferguson handed over the runner-up prize.

Frames (Williams first) 0-71(71); 49-0;55-1;32-37; 39-0; 38-9; 54-0; 50(50)-0, 49-6;43-15.

The Bulgarian Tour 2017 – Burgas

Ronnie won the fourth and last leg of the Bulgarian Tour 2017, beating Stephen Hendry by 6-4. He wins the series by 3-1.

I was due back to Greece, and I missed the action. So there will be no pictures from me this time. Judging by images shared by Jason Francis on twitter, they had a hard day of preparation:

The match was played outdoor, which must have been nice in the Bulgarian weather, but very unusual. It has to be said, playing under the lights, when the outside temperature is near 30°C isn’t that great. On the previous days, both players came out of the arena totally wet through with sweat.

I haven’t seen the match (yet) obviously but if Jason Francis’ report on twitter is anything to go by, it was another high quality affair:

  • Outdoors tonight in Burgas, first time for everything


  • 57 from Ronnie 1-0
  • Hendry 116 to go 1-1. Playing like a dream in the balls
  • Ros century 104 leads 2/1
  • 87 from Hendry and its 2-2 at the break. Great standard
  • Hendry goes 3-2 up but Ronnie 50 up in frame 6
  • 3/3 here in Burgas
  • Another century from 125 to lead 4-3


  • 87 from Ronnie 4-4 now. Ridiculous standard here. Maybe outdoors is the future 😎
  • Ronnie 5-4
  • Ronnie wins 6-4 and takes the series 3/1

And some more pictures of the setup shared by Stephen Hendry on Instagram

And of the action, shared on twitter by fans

And here is the match:


and this mini clip about the show

I’m very happy that the series wasn’t one-sided. It would have been if Stephen had played like he did last season in Scunthorpe. But it’s obvious that he’s been working hard on his game and he will be a handful for everybody on the Seniors tour this season. It’s also great to see him enjoying the game again.

The Bulgarian Tour 2017 – Varna


The Bulgarian Tour hit the beautiful city of Varna (picture shared by Jason Francis).

In the third leg, Ronnie beat Stephen Hendry by 6-4. The boys went serious last night as for each of them there was only one goal: to win. The result? A high quality encounter that got tense towards the end, Ronnie had two centuries, 107 and 100, Stephen hit breaks of 90 and 97.  They went for 3 maximum attempts between them too.  Ronnie built a 3-1 lead before the interval, but was pegged back to 4-4; he looked set to go 5-3 ahead when he potted the final black, only to go in-off and hand the frame to his opponent. Both made probably more mistakes in the last 2 frames than in the first 8, but it was Ronnie who prevailed eventually by 6-4.

Here are the pictures I took on the night:

Stephen Hendry played really well in Sofia and in Varna. He’s a totally different player now than he was last spring in Scunthorpe. He said on twitter last night that he enjoyed playing despite the defeat. That said, we shouldn’t expect a return to the main tour. Stephen was interviewed before the match yesterday and asked the question. The answer was immediate: a unequivocial NO. But he might play in the odd event if offered the opportunity.

Here is the match:


and a mini clip about the show

The first part of the first frame is missing. Stephen was on a maxi attempt after knocking in a long red.

Tonight they will be in Burgas for the final leg. It will be either 2-2, in which case Oleg Velinov, the promoter might request a decider, or 3-1 to Ronnie. Your pick?

But before that, yesterday evening, it was time to relax…

The Bulgarian Tour 2017 – Sofia

Day 2 of the Bulgarian Tour 2017 started with a visit to the National stadium and a great lunch in Sofia, with friend Oleg Velinov and his family.

In the evening, things got serious as Ronnie and Hendry treated the fans to a great match. The venue was packed! It was Stephen Hendry who emerged the winner by 6-5.

Ronnie started well, with a century. But Stephen was determined to prove that he can still play, and prove it, he did! He won 4 frames on the trot to lead 4-1, with a 115 in frame 5 (it could have been a 142 TC). Ronnie responded with 69, to reduce his deficit, only for Stephen to restore his 3 frames advantage and lead 5-2. With his back against the wall, Ronnie produced and forced a decider. Ronnie was first in the decider, and lead by 64. He was on a maxi attempt (not for the first time that evening!). His only option to keep the break going at that stage was a tricky plant in a middle bag. He missed it. Stephen came to the table with 83 on and nothing really safe. He duly cleared with 78 to win.

This was by far the best Stephen has been playing for a very long time. It’s absolutely clear to me that his pride has been hurt by the poor performances he produced in the Seniors World Championship last season, and in exhibitions. I have no doubt that he is out to put things right! The competitive animal has woken up.

Ronnie on the other hand was clearly in exhibition mood. He went for I-don’t-know-how-many maxi attempts during the evening, at the expense of winning at all costs but to the delight of the crowd. He was also in a hurry … helping Desislava Boshilova to reset the balls between frames, and even taking the white gloves away from her and offering her his cue for the break-off. She left Stephen in an absolutely horrific situation! Both players signed autographs for the fans.

The probable reason for Ronnie’s “hurry” became clear to me when, after the match, his first word coming back to the player’s room was “food!”.  More pictures of food can be found on Ronnie’s instagram, along with some funny/silly selfies with matching comments.

Here are the pictures I took on the evening:

The match was streamed on so maybe the videos will become available later today. Watch this space.

Here is a short clip about the show

Today, we all head to Varna for another great night of snooker.

The Bulgaria Tour 2017 – Plovdiv

Ronnie and Stephen Hendry arrived in Bulgaria yesterday for a 4 days tour.


They landed in Sofia, where they were made very welcome, before heading to Plovdiv for the first of four matches, played under the Eleven30 format (best of 11, 30 seconds shot-clock). Ronnie won by 6-1 but the players agreed to play some extra for the crowd.

Here are a few pictures taken at their arrival in Sofia and shared by Jason on Facebook.

There were about 1000 persons watching, more than in a packed Crucible, but they were seated in a 4000 capacity venue so it didn’t feel like a big crowd which is a bit of a pity.

The highlight of the evening was a 138 by Ronnie (well, a 131 in fact, as he went in-off). You can watch the second half of this break in this video shared by Jason on Facebook.

Ronnie had a 89 in frame 6 as well.

And, of course, the ref on duty was Bulgaria’s very own Proletina Velichova (pictures shared by Jacklina Simova)

Please check the comments section: great finds by krdlr! Thank you!

This is the match (Bulgarian commentary):

And there is also this short clip

About betting …

Yesterday, Ronnie took part in a panel about the relationship between betting and sport as reported here :

Snooker Betting Forum launches in London

Fifty betting executives came to Sports Bar and Grill in Marylebone, London, for SBC’s inaugural Snooker Betting Forum.

Snooker Betting Forum launches in LondonA panel talked about the relationship between snooker and betting with five-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, pictured left.

Hilly Ehrlich, CEO of BetCris, said: “We were looking for a passionate and well-known ambassador and Ronnie fitted the bill perfectly”. O’Sullivan said: “Snooker is interesting to punters around the world. A lot of people love the game and want to bet on something they love whether they play or not”.

Keith O’Loughlin, executive vice president of Sports at NYX/Openbet, added: “The timing of snooker is critical and yields a great content window. Combined with the amount of streaming and 50 markets betting on every single outcome makes snooker very appealing to consumers.”

The panel talked about match fixing. O’Sullivan noted that its hard to make a living in the lower echelons of snooker so “players are in a tricky situation to make a living,” but said “the UK has done a great job of cleaning things up”.

A good-humoured session ended with O’Loughlin joking: “Ronnie is the only player that breaks our trading algorithms.”

Rasmus Sojmark, founder of SBC, commented: “These events are part of our strategy to engage the sports betting community with all sports. Next week sees our Betting on Sports at Olympia in London. We have 1,200-plus senior execs and almost 200 speakers across 44 sessions.”

This once again shows how big the difference is between the perception on betting in the UK, and Asia, and what it is in most countries in Western mainland Europe.

I perfectly understand how important betting is for snooker nowadays in terms of sponsoring, but I’m still convinced that this strong tie is not helping its development in mainland Europe where betting is strongly regulated and doesn’t have a very positive image. And I’m also not convinced that the quasi monopoly of betting companies as sponsoring partners is safe. Remember tobacco?

Anyway… apparently there was some time too for a bite and a game… of pool.

And on that note … Worldsnooker has just announced that the German Masters 2018 has a sponsor, D88, an Asian company with business in betting and online gaming.