Nothern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 4

Day 4 in Belfast yielded quite an extraordinary line-up for the quarter finals that will be played today. That’s how it pans out:


We have only one top 16 player in there, Mark Williams, who, quite extraordinarily, faces a player in Mike Dunn who has never reached a final in his 26 years as a pro, whose highest ranking ever was n°32, but who has defeated him four times in five previous encounters, Mark’s only victory coming in the Shootout of all events! .

We also have four Chinese players in this, three of them members of the Vic Snooker Academy. Yan Bingtao and Lyu Hao Tian are still in their teens. And also there we have Elliott Slessor who defeated Sam Craigie on the back of his win against Ronnie.

Ronnie who was back in the Eurosport studio ahead of the evening session was full of praise for his young conqueror in the preview of the coming matches:


Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Mark Williams is the only top 16 ranked player through to the quarter-finals the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open after defeating David Gilbert 4-2 in Belfast.

Seeds tumbled in day four’s earlier last 32 clashes. Ronnie O’Sullivan’s hopes of the £1 million pound bonus for winning all four Home Nations events were ended by world number 82 Elliot Slessor.

John Higgins was defeated 4-3 by Gary Wilson in a superb tie and Neil Robertson lost out 4-3 to Robert Milkins.

Williams earned his spot in this evening’s last 16 with a 4-1 win over Sunny Akani. That was the first frame the Welshman had lost this week, but he faced a sterner test this evening against Gilbert.

They went blow for blow in the early exchanges, with a break over fifty each of the first five frames. Gilbert fired in contributions of 67 and 74, but Williams made breaks of 52, 79 and 63 to move to the verge of victory at 3-2. He got himself over the line and booked a quarter-final clash with Mike Dunn.

“I’m sure everyone left in the event is thinking that this must be their best chance to win a tournament,” said the two-time World Champion. “You try and win every tournament you play in. If I win here on Sunday brilliant. If I Iose tomorrow it doesn’t make any difference. You just have to try your best.”

Robert Milkins followed up his superb win over Robertson with a 4-2 defeat of three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden.

Milkins has reached ten ranking quarter-finals in his career and appeared in a further six semi-finals. However, he admits that with several big names falling by the wayside this week is a chance to go further.

“There’s a big opportunity, but there is a long way to go and I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” said the 41-year-old. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is win a tournament, even then I’m feeling nervous and this is just the last 16.”

Teenager Yan Bingtao came through late night thriller against Ryan Day 4-3 and will now face Milkins in the last eight.  Mike Dunn set up his showdown with Williams thanks to a 4-1 defeat of 2014 Players Champion Joe Perry.

Elliot Slessor backed up his defeat of O’Sullivan with another 4-1 win, this time over Sam Craigie. Liam Highfield’s run was ended by China’s Lyu Haotian.

And here is the Mark Williams vs David Gilbert review on ES:

So here are my predictions for the semi finals (for what it’s worth)

Elliot Slessor vs Mark Williams

Yan Bingtao vs Lyu Hao Tian



Nothern Ireland Open 2017 – Elliot Slessor ends Ronnie run.

Elliot Slessor put an end to Ronnie’s great run of late as he beat him fair and square in the last 32, this afternoon in Belfast. Elliot played really well and held himself together really well too. To say that Ronnie was out of sorts is an understatement. He was visibly tired – rubbing his eyes and stifling yawns – and missed some balls he would never miss normally. He did try, and now and again potted great balls, only to miss the easy one a couple of shots later.


He’s clearly fatigued, physically and mentally and his quotes, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, confirm that.

“I am so happy the chance of the £1million is gone, all the silly headlines, it was ridiculous. I went along with it, but you have more chance of winning the lottery,” said O’Sullivan.

“Elliot played really well and handled the situation well. He potted some good balls, and was solid and sometime solid is good enough.

“I am a bit fed up with playing, all the travelling and going from one hotel to another, one country to another. It’s greed really, and I’m not greedy, and haven’t done my training camps.”

Over-playing has never done Ronnie any good and I just hope that he now gets some rest and can bounce back in a not too distant future.

It was already clear yesterday that this was coming sooner than late and it may well also explain the state of mind that leads to this interview.

This is the preview

Here is the match:

and the review:


To say they got it all wrong is an understatement. And, sorry Joe Johnson, but saying that you don’t feel tiredness if you win is ridiculous. When you have traveled to China and back twice in a month, and made it to 3 finals in 4 tournaments played, you are tired, even if your name is Selby or O’Sullivan. They are only human and the schedule has been ridiculous!

And here is the report on Worldsnooker:


Elliot Slessor produced a career best display to defeat 30-time ranking event winner Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 at the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

The loss to the world number 82 ends O’Sullivan’s hopes of earning snooker’s £1 million bonus attached to winning all four Home Nations events. He was the only man in the running this week after his victory at the Dafabet English Open.

Slessor came close to causing an upset against John Higgins in Barnsley at the English Open, where he lost out 4-3 . Today the 23-year-old once again looked to be at ease in the big match situation.  He compiled a run of 62 in the opener and dictated the remainder of the clash to secure the victory.

NIO2017ROSL32-2Slessor said: “I like playing these sort of matches. I’ve played a lot of the big names and I am quite comfortable out there. I enjoy playing in front of big crowds. I like that feeling of trying to impress.

“I would say it has to be the best win of my career. Especially because of the packed crowd.”

I will cover day 4, tomorrow morning, but it’s already been a strange tournament. There is only one top 16 player in the last 16: Mark Williams ranked n°16. Neil Robertson was beaten by Robert Milkins, John Higgins was beaten by Gary Wilson despite making 3 centuries. And both veterans Jimmy White and Ken Doherty are out too.

The last 16 round will be played tonight.

What happens next?

Hustle or Crucible?

Ronnie also spoke yesterday with Desmond Kane (Eurosport) and hinted that he could – possibly – miss the World Championship 2018.

So here is the article:

Ronnie O’Sullivan threatens to miss World Championship for reality TV

Desmond Kane

Ronnie O’Sullivan has revealed he could forfeit the chance to bid for a sixth World Championship due to his business interests off the table.

O’Sullivan has said he could be filming a second series of reality TV programme Hustle in Australia – where he plays pool against local players – when the sport’s biggest tournament begins on April 21 in Sheffield.

He has not missed a World Championship since his first appearance as a teenager at the event in 1993.

“Eurosport events are a priority for me,” said O’Sullivan after his emphatic 4-0 victory over world number 113 Duane Jones at the Northern Ireland Open. “The China events are a priority for me because of my commitment to sponsors.

“If I wasn’t to play in this year’s World Championships, or play in the UK. Or play in any of those tournaments like the German Masters, don’t be surprised. Because I know I can’t play every week.

“For me, I don’t need another UK, another world or another Masters. If my agent thinks it is right for me to go, I’ll go.

” It is a toss up whether I’ll do another Hustle or play in the World Championship in May. I can’t do both. “

“If I do another Hustle, I can’t really play in the World Championship.”

O’Sullivan is the sport’s leading money winner this season having won the English Open in Barnsley and the Shanghai Masters on Saturday. He has also lost finals at the Hong Kong Masters and the Champion of Champions.

“It is good that I’m doing well now because then it doesn’t really matter about the World Championships,” said O’Sullivan. “We’ll just have to wait and see. It is nice to have a safety net.

“I have to prioritise the events I play in. I want to do another Hustle because that is something away from snooker that I can do. There are no restrictions there.

“It is about getting the balance right. 17 days at Sheffield is okay if you win it, but if you don’t win it is a waste of time.

“For me, it is just about managing my time and my diary. I don’t think it is going to be possible to do the show and the World Championships because I have a few things I want to do at the end of May.

“I’ve got some other stuff to do in early June in China. I have a really great relationship with the people in China. It is more important that I put Hustle and that first.”

O’Sullivan has hinted that he would be open to sitting down and listening to a sponsor if there is the incentive of appearance money, a principle World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn has publicly rejected.

“For me, the World Championship is just another tournament. It is about doing what is right for Ronnie, not just being too focused on titles. That is the old me,” said O’Sullivan.

“If the terms are right and we can agree to certain stuff, there should be a way round it. If not, then Hustle is something that is on the table. Everyone enjoyed the last one in America. “

“There is loads of people who want me to do another one in Australia; I have to look beyond snooker. For me, this is just a shop window. It is tournaments rather than doing I’m A Celebrity. It is just keeping playing and having fun.

“I know people want to see my playing snooker, but there are other things I like to do away from snooker. Those are the reasons I’m happy today so why would I turn my back on something that has made me happy?

“If people can get round the table and come to some common sense..but it is difficult sometimes to come to that middle ground. You have to make some tough decisions.

“I probably have to give them six or seven weeks notice before they begin doing their research in Australia. They go out there and pick spots and places to go. Once the wheels in motion, you can’t let them down. Otherwise there won’t be another series of Hustle.

“Once I commit to it, I have to commit to it. If people want me there, they’ll get round the table sooner rather than later because it is never nice to leave it to the last minute.

“It is not just money, there are certain other things. My agent will sit down with me, and we’ll make the decision.”

O’Sullivan thumped Jones in a very one-sided encounter to reach the third round of the tournament and a last-32 meeting with Elliot Slessor on Thursday.

Obviously, as a fan, I want to see Ronnie play at the Crucible and it certainly wouldn’t be the same without him. But, at the end of the day, he’s nearly 42, it’s his life, his career, his future … and his happiness, therefore it’s his decision and his only. I still really hope things get sorted and that somehow he can do both.

And I don’t like the word “threatens”, he’s not threatening anyone.



Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 3

It was last 64 Day in Belfast and the biggest casualty was the local favourite, Mark Allen, who lost by 4-3 to Tian Pengfei. Quite ironically, Mark played a lot better than he had in his first-round match, but still got beat in what was a high-quality match. Allen, who can be outspoken at times and got criticism for it as he sometimes comes across as “rough”, is actually a very warm-hearted person and will donate his earnings to charities. Already two of the logos he was wearing were for charities. Hats off Mark!

The day saw another top 16 player going out to a Chinese lad as Ali Carter was well beaten by Xiao Guodong. The “Class of 92” is still in it as are Neil Robertson and Ryan Day, two players who need results to secure their spot in Alexandra Palace come January.

Mark King, the defending Champion is through as well and will now face Yan Bingtao. The defending champion was again playing at a time that wasn’t the best: in the morning, without television coverage, just streaming. That’s not right IMO.

The veterans, Ken Doherty and Jimmy White both won yesterday as well, which somehow gave the local crowd a bit of solace. Ken, of course, is very popular in Ireland and Northern Ireland and Jimmy remains the “Peoples’ Champion”.

Ronnie looked tired out there and struggled but found enough to secure a quick win. He will play Elliot Slessor today, someone with a similar game to Duane Jones but with a bit more experience.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Mark Allen’s hopes of winning his home event were ended by a 4-3 defeat against Tian Pengfei at the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

The Antrim potter’s exit finishes off the chances of a winner from Northern Ireland following first round defeats for Joe Swail, Gerard Greene, Declan Brennan and Jordan Brown.

There was never more than a frame between the players today. With the score at 2-2, Tian looked to be heading one from victory before missing a pink down the cushion to allow Allen the simplest of opportunities to clinch the frame on the black and go 3-2 up.

However, runs of 50 and 51 helped the world number 63 Tian to restore parity and force a decider at 3-3. He then burst to the win with a break of 109.

Allen said: “I’ve been playing well for the last two months. I’ll just try and block out these performances as I feel my game is in good shape. Hopefully some day I can lift the trophy for the people of Northern Ireland. I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself. Just because I am the home favourite it doesn’t mean those fairy tales are going to come true. Hopefully in years to come I will be able to handle it better.”

Allen has pledged to donate the £2,500 of prize money he has earned this week to local charities, the Welcome Organisation and Cure4Cam.


Ronnie O’Sullivan defeated Welshman Duane Jones 4-0 to ease into the last 32.

The 30-time ranking winner is the only man who has a chance to win snooker’s £1 million bonus attached to winning all four Home Nations events.  He claimed the title at the English Open in Barnsley after a 9-2 demolition of Kyren Wilson.

Welshman Jones had looked set to take the opener, but couldn’t get position on the final black and went in-off attempting to play safe, handing O’Sullivan the lead. From there the Rocket compiled runs of 65 and 81 as he booked a last 32 clash with Elliot Slessor.

John Higgins remains in the hunt for a 30th title after progressing to the last 32 with a 4-2 win over Iran’s Hossein Vafaei.

“I was concentrating a little bit better tonight. I knew I probably had to,” said the four-time World Champion. “It was a more free flowing game and I am pleased to beat him. He is a very dangerous player and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Defending champion Mark King booked a last 32 clash with Yan Bingtao thanks to a 4-1 defeat of Ashley Hugill and Neil Robertson continued his quest to qualify for the Masters with a 4-0 win over Billy Joe Castle.

Joe Perry secured an impressive 4-0 win over Matthew Selt, but agonisingly missed out on an opportunity for a 147 break.

The Gentleman found himself in prime position to make the perfect break in the opening frame, but snookered himself on the blue behind the pink.

Perry said: “I was disappointed. It is one of the things I wanted to achieve, make a televised 147. I just have to keep plugging away.”

Jimmy White and Ken Doherty both secured their progress to the last 32. The Whirlwind whitewashed Welshman Jak Jones 4-0. While Doherty defeated China’s Niu Zhuang 4-1.

For full results click here.

Videos of interest:

Ronnie vs Duane Jones

Follow this link for the preview

The match:

The post-match review:

Ronnie once again insisted that it’s all about enjoying it at this stage of his career and that he wants a good balance in his life. It hasn’t worked badly for him this season…




Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 2

It was an eventful day in Belfast as some more big names fell at the first hurdle: Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins went out at the hands of Stuart Carrington and Zhao Xintong respectively. That leaves us with just 7 of the top 16 still in as we reach the last 64. The full ‘Class of 92″ is still there though and Mark Williams, in particular, deserves praise for being fully professional when he’s having serious concerns about his wife’s health. I sincerely hope that Jo is ok and will fully recover soon.

In contrast, Judd Trump wasn’t exactly the model professional yesterday. He wasn’t playing well (understatement), he probably was jet-lagged and still disappointed about the final in Shanghai; he allowed frustration to get the better of him. He conceded the match, with still enough on the table to win the frame in progress and, afterward, didn’t show up for his press conference. He’s only human and we all have those moments of course, but he will no doubt be punished for this. Especially as it comes in stark contrast with Mark Williams dedication to give it 100% despite his wife circumstances, or Ronnie flying to China last week on the back of the Coventry defeat and bouncing back to win the Shanghai Masters.

Today we have a few interesting clashes:

John Higgins will play Hossein Vafaei, and he will need to play better than yesterday if he is to avoid an early exit.

Ricky Walden, who seems to be on the up again, clashes with Jack Lisowski. Both are champagne when on form and this could be very entertaining to watch.

Ben Woollaston meets Sam Craigie, who, equipped with his new trendy glasses, is establishing himself as a very dangerous player when on form.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 12:26AM


Ronnie O’Sullivan emerged with a 4-2 win in an intriguing clash with Germany’s Lukas Kleckers on day two of the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open, to keep his hopes of snooker’s £1 million bonus alive.

The Rocket is the only man left in the running for the jackpot, which comes with winning all four Home Nations events. He was victorious at the recent English Open, where he demolished Kyren Wilson 9-2 in the final to lift the title.

Just last week the in-form O’Sullivan added a 30th ranking title to his collection after defeating Judd Trump 10-3 in the final of the Shanghai Masters. Despite the quick turnaround, the Rocket showed no signs of tiredness in his play this evening.

The match got off to an electric start as O’Sullivan burst out of the blocks, making a break of 91 to take the lead, before following that up with a run of 126 to move 2-0 in front. The German then showed great character and responded with a superb break of 137, before a contribution of 60 helped him to restore parity at 2-2.

O’Sullivan took the next two frames to reach the line at 4-2. However, afterwards he admitted he didn’t expect the world number 127 to produce the standard he did this evening.

O’Sullivan said: “I took a bit of a liberty going for a long red at 2-0 – I don’t know who he is and have never seen him play. Then I’m sitting down for two frames, thought what’s going on, and had to dig it out.

“I didn’t think he could make 20 or 30, and he’s knocked in a 137. Lesson learned, I won’t take liberties again.”

Stuart Carrington secured a shock 4-2 defeat of world number two Judd Trump to book his place in the last 64.

There were doubts as to whether Trump would be able to play this evening, having had trouble getting his cue back from the Shanghai Masters. He was eventually able to pick it up from the airport and make the trip over to Belfast.

World number 52 Carrington had lost out to Trump their only two previous meetings, however the Grimsby potter crafted breaks of 56, 79 and 52 on his way to the win.

Carrington said: “I’ve faced him about 50 times since playing him as a junior and I think I have only beat him once. Judd is right up at the top of the game now and so it is nice to get a win over him.”

John Higgins secured a 4-2 victory over 1995 world finalist Nigel Bond to book his place in the last 64. While fellow Scot Stephen Maguire secured a 4-0 whitewash against Egypt’s Basem Eltahhan.

Jack Lisowski continued his great run of form with a  4-0 win over Sean O’Sullivan. The 26-year-old will be hoping to go deep in the event, having reached his first ranking semi-final at last week’s Shanghai Masters.

2016 English Open winner Liang Wenbo defeated young Welsh star Jackson Page 4-1 and Mark Williams eased to a 4-0 win over James Wattana.

Chinese teenager Zhao Xintong overturned World Grand Prix champion Barry Hawkins in a final frame decider winning 4-3.

For full results click here.

Videos of interest:

Ronnie vs Lukas Kleckers

The preview

The match:

The review

The preview is fun but I found the review more interesting. Ronnie candidly admitting that he underestimated his opponent and that it nearly cost him is a great example of sporting honesty. Lesson learned he said. I hope so. Today he faces Duane Jones, another one of those players he probably doesn’t really know. Duane was joking on Facebook yesterday, saying that he was looking forward to the match, and asking “TeamNumpty” to support him, the “Numptyseoaurus”. Another thing that pleased me in the interview was that he was having none of Colin Murray’s nonsense and said that, should he win the bonus, he would give it to feed the homeless or another deserving charity.

Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 1

So it all kicked off in Belfast yesterday and it was quite eventful indeed.


Luca Brecel’s presence was in doubt, following an article in the Belgian press stating that he was suffering from a right arm injury and he did actually withdraw.

Two more top players who are due to play today have cast doubts about their presence as well. Mark Williams’ wife, Jo, has been worryingly unwell in recent weeks, she is back in hospital, and, of course, Mark is deeply concerned and she will be his priority. Judd Trump’s cue got lost on the way back from Shanghai and the last we know is that Judd might withdraw if his cue hasn’t arrived in time for his match.

There were also a number of surprises at the table … but first here is the event intro by Colin Murray, a Belfast boy himself.

Now onto the results:

You can follow the tournament here or here

The two guys, other than Ronnie, were in action yesterday evening and it wasn’t easy for either of them.

Mark Allen emerged the winner of a terrible match against Sanderson Lam, by 4-2. The standard of this match was absolutely horrible. Mark had spoken before how the pressure of playing in front of his home crowd had got to him last season and vowed to handle it better this time. Not sure he did that yesterday at all. He was lucky to face someone who played really badly. The other two Northern Irish players involved in the tournament, lost their opening match, both beaten in a deciding frame: Joe Swail lost to Lyu Haotian, whilst Gerard Greene was beaten by Joe Perry.

Mark King was clearly tense when coming to defend a title for the very first time of his long career. He had never been there, he’s an emotional person, and it was clear for all to see that he was feeling it. In Mat thew Bolton he was facing a player who is still to win a match since he turned pro. It wasn’t pretty and Bolton sure had chances, but . eventually King did enough. He wasn’t helped by the fact that his match started very late, after Allen’s one, and the crowd largely deserted the venue or turned to the next table where another Northern Irish, Gerard Greene, was playing. I can understand why the defending champion wasn’t put up in the opening match of the event – it was not on television – but that he wasn’t offered the first in the evening session is beyond my understanding.

Veterans Jimmy White and Ken Doherty both won their last 128 matches, getting the better of Dominic Dale and Peter Lines respectively.

There were also two “shock” results. Kyren Wilson was beaten by 4-1 by Sam Craigie in a very high quality match that had a break over 80 in each frame, including 3 centuries. This for me isn’t a “proper” shock. Sam is a very, very good prospect, and now, fitted with new glasses, giving him a vintage 60th fashion touch, he looks even more dangerous than before. Shaun Murphy, who won the Champion of Champions in Coventry only ten days ago, went out to Chen Zifan, a rookie, by a damning 4-1 scoreline. THAT is a shock. I watched the match and Chen played well, no question, but Shaun was absolutely nowhere near the form he showed in Coventry. Shaun doesn’t seem to have anything to fall back on when is A game isn’t there.



The Northern Ireland Open 2017 is coming …

The Northern Ireland Open is starting tomorrow and ironically, Mark Selby who features in this poster, isn’t there. I think they have now a newer version featuring Ronnie…

Selby is not the only top player giving it a miss. Ding has not entered, and Fu has withdrawn. There are also rumours, unconfirmed, that Luca Brecel could withdraw, suffering from an injury: he was having pain in his right arm during his last match in China last week.

Anyway, fitters are hard at work  in Belfast:

And here are two little videos for you… shared on social media by Eurosport UK. the message to the numpties is hilarious!