Barry Hearns Crucible announcements

As per usual  during the World Championship, Barry Hearn took the opportunity to make some announcements to the assembled media. There will be an increase in prize money, with £500000 for the WC winner, but also interestingly more money for the second and third rounds losers. There will also be more events.

New 8 players ranking event added 

http://www.worldsnooker.com/tour-championship-added-itvs-series-snooker-events/

The new Tour Championship will be added to World Snooker’s calendar for the first time in 2019, televised by ITV4.

The event will run from March 19 to 24, with the leading eight players from the one year ranking list, after the seeding cut off point, competing for total prize money of £375,000 and a top prize of £150,000.

This follows in the series incorporating the World Grand Prix, which is for the leading 32 players on the one year list, and the Players Championship which is for the top 16.

All three world ranking events will be televised by ITV4 for the next three years.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to add the Tour Championship to our global calendar, it will be a highly prestigious event for the best players in the world.

“The race to qualify for this series of tournaments begins from the very first moment of the 2018/19 season, and every pound earned counts. All players will be striving throughout the season to move up the one-year ranking list and make it to these three crucial and highly lucrative events.

“We’re also thrilled to be working with ITV on this series for the next three years. They are a great team to work alongside, with fantastic production values. The viewing figures they receive for snooker are outstanding and growing year on year so their appetite for broadcasting our sport is growing in tandem. This is great news for snooker fans as the amount of coverage on television throughout the season continues to increase.”

The venue and ticket details for the Tour Championship will be announced soon, as will the calendar and seeding cut-off points for the 2018/19 season.

That’s excellent news. ITV coverage is always excellent. However I hope it will be available on Eurosport somehow as well because ITV is not easy to access if you are not in the UK. Speaking to John Parrott and Stephen Hendry during the MSI of this afternoon match, Hearn said that matches in this event will be long format: best of 17, best of 19 and best of 25.

The Shoot-out to stay and be covered by Eurosport

http://www.worldsnooker.com/snooker-shoot-stay-eurosport-quest-agree-take-host-broadcaster/

EurosportSnooker’s Shoot Out event will be televised live by Eurosport and Quest for the first time next season.

The world ranking tournament, which has been running since 2011, has a unique set of rules, with matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes and a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

Broadcast of the event has now been incorporated into World Snooker’s long-term partnership with Eurosport and Quest, which runs until 2026. The Shoot Out brings the total number of events broadcast by Eurosport to 19 (17 in the UK) with qualifying rounds and other events available on Eurosport Player.

The 2019 Shoot Out will run from February 21-24, at the Watford Colosseum, with Eurosport and Quest as the host broadcaster.

The tournament features 128 players in a flat draw, each needing to win seven matches to take the title. Michael Georgiou captured the trophy for the first time in 2018, beating Graeme Dott in a dramatic final.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to be working with Eurosport and Quest on the Shoot Out for the first time. We have established a fantastic partnership with them in recent years. Eurosport really is the Home of Snooker, broadcasting to 137 million homes in 54 countries. We have also seen incredible viewing figures on Quest since they first televised snooker in 2016.

“The Shoot Out is a wonderful event which has become one of the highlights of the season for fans who enjoy the fast and furious pace of play. The 2018 Shoot Out was the best I have ever seen, with so many matches going down to the last few seconds, including the final which was a great moment for Michael Georgiou. It’s a chance for up and coming players to make a name for themselves.

“I’m sure snooker fans will be thrilled that the Shoot Out will stay on the calendar and will be televised both on Eurosport and free-to-air on Quest.”

The agreement to broadcast the Shoot Out supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker throughout the season. The pan-European broadcaster already screens in excess of 800 hours of live snooker action throughout the season.

Laurent Prud’homme, Senior Vice President Rights Acquisition and Syndication at Eurosport, said: “The idea of making snooker quicker and more appealing to a wider viewership through the Shoot Out concept aligns neatly with our own objective to appeal to new and younger and audiences.

“We’re delighted to secure the rights to showcase the Shoot Out on Eurosport and Quest in the UK and are already looking forward to seeing the best players in the world go toe-to-toe – not only playing against esteemed opponents, but also playing against the clock.

“The agreement supplements Eurosport’s coverage of world-class snooker, where we already offer fans in excess of 800 hours of live action from around the world throughout the season.”

Ticket details for the 2019 Shoot Out will be released soon.

I couldn’t care less if I’m honest…

And, finally, Hearn vows to clamp on slow play… 

Now that average shot times are available, Hearn wants to use that data in order to speed up the game in an attempt to make it more entertaining. If I understood correctly, players who get an average shot time above 30 seconds in a match, will be warned at first, get a “yellow card” (whatever that means ???) if they do it again, and get fined if they persist…

I’m not sure I’m convinced about this approach. There are basically two types of slow play. One is the slow pace dictated by the situation in the match and on the table and I strongly disagree with any attempt to “clamp” on that. It would only cut off a very important aspect of snooker, the battle of wits and encourage negative shot selections. The other is the deliberate and unnecessary slow play in an attempt to disrupt the opponent concentration and rhythm. That one is tackled by the section 4 of the rules: such behaviour is gamesmanship. That part of the rules is rarely enforced and that has to be addressed by encouraging the referees to use their discretion when they see it happen. Nothing more or different is needed. Some will tell you that this type of deliberate slow play isn’t an issue in snooker. I believe it is. There aren’t MANY culprits, but there are a few players who often resort to this. I have witnessed a prime example of it in the World Championship qualifiers last season, by a player who eventually DID qualify having used these tactics in the last two rounds.

Barry Hearn’s Full Press Conference

 

World Championship 2018 – Day 9 – Higgins and Ding in a rush

The “Middle Sunday” was supposed to be a quiet day for the media with no match scheduled to a finish, but John Higgins had other ideas…

John Higgins completely outplayed Jack Lisowski, beating him by 13-1 and finishing with a session to spare. The funny thing is that, as Alan McManus reflected, John wasn’t playing all that well: Jack had occasions aplenty, especially in the first session. There has never been a whitewash at this stage at the Crucible but yesterday it looked like a real possibility until Jack managed to salvage some pride by winning frame 11. John who played without pressure towards the end of the match made a 146 in frame 13; he was on a maximum, but having lost position on the black, chose for the pink with red n°13.

Ding looked in a hurry as well when he finished the first session 8-0 ahead of Anthony McGill. But Anthony made a fight of it in the evening session, managing to win four frames. It wasn’t pretty, but he’s still in the match. As they return today Ding needs only one more frame…

Mark Williams now leads Robert Milkins by 10-6, neither of them playing well. Ricky Walden and Judd Trump are locked at 8-8. Ricky was the better player out there, or at least the most consistent certainly. Judd had moments of brilliance but overall was quite inconsistent. And his mood appeared to swing from confidence to anxiety all the time. It was quite strange to watch and I don’t think Judd is a contender for the title unless he finds some consistency both in his game and his mood.

There is no play this morning as the tables are recovered.

Afternoon session report by Worldsnooker

John Higgins sealed a crushing 13-1 win over Jack Lisowski to book his place in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

The illustrious Scot will be making his 14th appearance in the last eight at the Crucible. He will now face either Judd Trump or Ricky Walden for an opportunity to compete in the one-table setup for the ninth time.

Today’s landslide result has matched the record for the biggest winning margin in a second round tie. The extent of the defeat for Lisowski will be a bitter pill to swallow for the Englishman, although he will be able to look back on a fine 10-7 win over 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham in the first round.

Higgins came into this session having secured a clean sweep of the preceding frames, leading 8-0. He ruthlessly charged towards the finishing line this afternoon, picking up where he left off by taking the first two frames and extending his advantage to 10-0.

Lisowski prevented the whitewash thanks to a break of 81 in frame 11. However, Higgins restored his ten-frame lead at the mid-session after composing a run of 100.

When they returned the four-time World Champion dramatically embarked upon making his first maximum break at the Crucible. However, having potted 11 blacks he fell out of position and was forced to take the pink. Not to be denied a slice of history, Higgins continued with the break and completed a 146 total clearance. It was just the fourth run of 146 at the Crucible and puts Higgins in position for the £10,000 high break prize.

The 30-time ranking event winner then fired in a contribution of 73 to confirm his 13-1 win.

Higgins said: “I don’t think I’ve ever won 13-1. It is probably one of my best results. Jack dismantled me 6-2 at the China Open so I was really up for the game. Next season will be big for him, he’ll be competing and winning in big events.

“It was a bit disappointing I didn’t get the position on the black for a 147. There were people in the crowd saying to try and double the black, but I went for the 146 to try and take the high break prize. £10,000 is a lot of money and if I manage to win it it’ll be great. I know there could still be a 147, so I’m not counting my chickens yet!

“I know you try and stay professional and be ruthless, but I feel for him a little as well. A couple of years ago I played Stephen Hendry and lost heavily, it’s the worst feeling in the world. It’s very tough venue when you’re struggling, the harder you try the worst it gets.”

Afterwards a disappointed Lisowski said that he is hoping that he can learn from the experience.

“I should embrace what happened. I didn’t feel as bad as when Barry Hawkins beat me here in 2013, when I wanted the room to swallow me up. I just had to stick in there, and keep going into the pack and see what happened. I couldn’t get anything going,” said the 26-year-old. “The whole game I thought that I could rattle off a few frames if he started missing. If I could have got some luck, something might have happened, but obviously it didn’t.”

Mark Williams holds a commanding 10-6 lead against Robert Milkins after their second session.

The two-time World Champion Williams came into today with a 5-3 lead. He built upon that this afternoon, taking five out of eight frames with a top break of  69 to edge towards the winning line.

They will play their concluding session tomorrow at 7pm.

Evening session report by Worldsnooker

Judd Trump and Ricky Walden are locked together at 8-8 after two intriguing sessions of snooker at the Betfred World Championship.

Their last meeting came in the 2016 China Open final when Trump eased past Walden with a 10-4 win. This match looks to be destined for a rather closer finish.

They came into tonight’s session tied at 4-4 and the nip and tuck trend continued as the duo once again shared the frames.

It was Walden who set the early pace, taking the first two of the session to move 6-4 in front. The Juddernaut then kicked into gear, making back-to-back century runs of 100 and 103 to restore parity at the mid-session interval.

When they returned Walden took to the front after nailing an incredible double to the middle pocket on the final blue, which was situated on the top cushion. From there they continued to trade frames and will go into tomorrow’s concluding session level. They will play to a finish at 1pm.

Ding Junhui is on the verge of a fourth consecutive quarter-final appearance, leading Anthony McGill 12-4 and requiring just one more frame for victory.

China’s number one produced a scintillating display of snooker this morning to establish an 8-0 advantage. However, McGill was able to share this evening’s frames and avoid losing with a session to spare.

The Scot battled hard this evening despite the hefty deficit and top scored with a run of 97. However, a superb century break of 113 in the final frame from Ding means McGill will now need to win all of the remaining nine frames when they return tomorrow afternoon at 1pm.

 

World Championship 2018 – Day 8 – Kyren Wilson and Barry Hawkins go through, Ali Carter beats Ronnie.

Crucible2018Day8Results

It was a rather eventful day at the Crucible yesterday.

It started quietly though, with Barry Hawkins efficiently finishing the job and booking his place in the quarter finals. His young opponent, Lyu Haotian, did impress though. He trailed by 5 frames at a point, came back and stayed with Barry until the very last mini session. Lyu is a perfectionist who is easily harsh on himself and that drags him down sometimes. But he should take a lot of positives from his Crucible debut and, if he does, he will be very dangerous next season.

Kyren Wilson was equally efficient against Jamie Jones and he’s certainly a contender for the title. He did damage his tip in the frame before the last, but he should be ok as he has a spare, bedded, tip ready. He will face Mark Allen in the QF and I’m certain that both players will be fired up for this.

John Higgins completely outplayed Jack Lisowski in their first session. I didn’t see any of it, but was told by a reliable source that Jack was missing all sorts and John capitalising on the mistakes. The first session between Robert Milkins and Mark Williams was a rather disjoint affair featuring a lot of careless snooker. I struggled to stay focused on the “action”: it was poor and watching it on Eurosport with French commentary added a touch of surrealism. Here is just one of the gems they came up with: “Robert Milkins reminds me of Cliff Thorburn” … now if you can explain this to me, please do in commentary!

Ali Carter beat Ronnie, fair and square, playing as well as I have ever seen him play. He was absolutely determined to win and it showed. There was a minor incident in the match as Ronnie “barged” Ali’s shoulder and allegedly called him Mr Angry. The press made a big fuss of it, but here is Neal Foulds (on twitter) sensible assessment of the incident

Heat of the moment, nothing worse. Don’t underestimate how much everyone wants to win at Crucible. Quality handshake at the end of the match between two blokes who played it tough. That’s the game

Neal has been a top player himself, he knows first hand how much pressure are on the players and how high emotions can run. Actually, Ali quite often looks angry, and he certainly did again yesterday at the table. Both him and Ronnie are quite emotional guys, and Ali had to face an awful lot over the last years. Crohn disease is extremely draining and painful; it does nothing for anyone’s good mood. Ali was in hospital again only the week before the tournament. He deserves a lot of credit for his performance yesterday and Ronnie was only full of praise afterwards. As Neal pointed out, the handshake was friendly and both players downplayed the incident. But Ronnie wasn’t happy with the press making a big deal of it and I can understand why. Putting the focus on a minor heat of the moment clash, rather than on the positive things happening at the table may be selling papers, and appealing to chief editors, but isn’t the best way to promote the sport. Why not put the focus on how well Ali played out there instead? Why not big up the preview of the Allen v Wilson rematch of the Masters final? Why not do a feature on young Lyu, who at 20 looks like a real prospect despite going through some terrible times when he came first on the tour at 15, far too young and lost in an alien culture?

Oh … and Mark Williams “barged” Brendan Moore. Where is the press coverage???

You can read my take on Ali’s victory over Ronnie here

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Morning session

Crucible specialist Barry Hawkins reached the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the sixth consecutive year with a 13-10 victory over rising star Lyu Haotian.

Hawkins looked in danger of a surprise defeat when China’s 20-year-old Lyu came from 8-3 down to level at 10-10. But experience told for 39-year-old Hawkins as he won the last three frames to book a meeting with Ding Junhui or Anthony McGill in the next round.

World number six Hawkins is the only player to have got to the last eight in Sheffield every year since 2013. He was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan that year, and has since got to the semi-finals three more times, including 2017 when his run was ended by John Higgins.

After a slow start to the current season – his game affected by a family tragedy – Hawkins has shown improved form in recent weeks, reaching the final of both the Welsh Open and the China Open.

The Londoner looked to be cruising to victory at 8-3 up against Lyu, but finished the second session just 9-7 in front, and this morning Lyu started strongly with breaks of 91 and 100 to draw level at 9-9.

Hawkins regained the lead in frame 19 and in the 20th he led by 18 points with just pink and black left. But, trapped in a tough snooker, he went in-off after hitting the pink, handing Lyu the chance to pot pink and black and level at 10-10 at the interval.

World number 68 Lyu, who beat Marco Fu on his Crucible debut in the first round, also had first chance in frame 21 but could only make 46. Hawkins replied with 54, then converted an excellent pot on the penultimate red to a centre pocket, and added 23 to go 11-10 up. That proved the turning point as he fired runs of 132 and 76 in the next two frames to cross the winning line.

“I’m really pleased to win that match,” said three-time ranking event winner Hawkins. “He wouldn’t go away. I missed a couple of balls at 8-4 yesterday and he just kept potting balls. I couldn’t shake him off, it was a really good standard.

“I lost a big frame to go 10-10, and it was a horrible way to lose it. I knew the in-off was on but I didn’t want to under-swerve it and miss it on the other side. That was tough to take but I’ve got to give myself credit for coming out and winning the next three frames. I showed a little bit of bottle out there and finished off the match really well.

“There’s no better place to play than the Crucible. I’m up for it more, my focus seems to be better here. It’s a nice feeling to be able to chill out now for a couple of days, watching everyone else slog it out.

“Lyu is unbelievable. If he carries on like that he’ll go far. When he’s at the top of the game I’ll be long gone!”

Lyu said: “At 10-10 I had a good feeling but the frame after that was the key moment. My choice of safety led to a mistake and Barry played well. I had my chances but didn’t take them.

“I have done well here but my lack of experience, shot selections and safety lost me the match. I will be working on those to try and catch up.

“I was feeling fine throughout the game, not that nervous. I was feeling up for the job. I’m looking forward to coming back, it’s a great atmosphere. The crowd are really enthusiastic and different from any other event.

“I’ve had a good season, but I hope next season can be even better. I want to improve my skills and stay more competitive.”

Meanwhile, Kyren Wilson took control of his second round match with Jamie Jones, surging 11-5 ahead. Ninth seed Wilson is looking to reach the quarter-finals for the third year in a row and needs just two more frames when they resume at 7pm.

Kettering’s Wilson made a 63 clearance in the first frame today to go 6-3 up, then Welshman Jones hit back with an 80 clearance in frame ten. Wilson won the 11th and led 37-0 in the 12th when he missed a black off its spot. Jones punished him with an 83 clearance to trail just 7-5 at the interval.

Wilson made a yellow to black clearance to win a scrappy 13th frame, then pulled away to take the next three with a top run of 67.

Evening session

Kyren Wilson is through to his third successive Crucible quarter-final after brushing Welshman Jamie Jones aside with a 13-5 victory at the Betfred World Championship.

The Warrior made the last eight in 2016 with a run which was ended by the eventual winner Mark Selby. Last year he defeated 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham, before struggling against John Higgins in the quarter-finals after requiring a tip replacement.

Wilson, 26, will be hoping that he can clinch a place in the one-table semi-finals for the first time. He appeared in his maiden Triple Crown final at the Masters in January, where he lost out to Mark Allen. The pair will meet again in the last eight here in Sheffield. Allen booked his quarter-final berth by beating Joe Perry 13-8 in their second round tie.

World number 51 Jones will be able to look back on a memorable run. He came through qualifying in the most emphatic fashion possible, hammering Liang Wenbo 10-0 to clinch his place at the Theatre of Dreams. Jones went on to beat 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy 10-9 in round one.

Much of the damage was done in the first two sessions. Wilson came into this evening with an 11-5 advantage and it didn’t take long for him to cruise over the line.

He made a break of 79 in the opening frame, although did take a chunk out of his tip on the final shot of that run. Wilson then took a 15-minute break to attend to the damage. However, he played on with the same tip and got himself past the finishing post in next.

Wilson said: “I have to keep putting in the performances now. This is my third consecutive quarter-final here and that speaks volumes of how much my game has improved. I do genuinely believe that I belong at this level. I work very hard, I’m very dedicated, and I keep my feet on the ground. You reap the rewards when you do the right things.

“I’ve taken a big chunk out of my tip. I can see it when I’m down on the shot, so the tip has got to be changed. Luckily for me it happened at a very good time, being at the end of the match.

“I learned from last year’s mistake against John Higgins. Straight after the Masters final this year I changed my tip, took it off and preserved it in case this ever happened again. I’m very confident that I have one that’s ready to go on and is bedded in.”

Jones remarked: “Looking back, I won three good games at qualifying last week, so it’s not a bad tournament for me really. It’s not been a great tournament either, but I won three in qualifying and one here, so it’s not a disaster I suppose.

“Kyren’s stepped up a level. He looks like he belongs up there. He plays the game the right way. You can’t pot all the balls all the time, and Kyren’s tactical  game is very good and he can score heavily. He’s got it all really.

“One thing I need to work on in these longer games is that when I’m being shut out, I need to control my game around that and not get frustrated. I went missing for four or five frames in that match and you can’t do that against these top players.”

Meanwhile, Mark Williams established 5-3 lead in his last 16 clash with Robert Milkins.

The Welshman is enjoying his best campaign on the World Snooker Tour in several seasons, winning his first ranking title since 2011 at the Northern Ireland Open and adding another piece of silverware at the German Masters.

Williams put himself in the driving seat of this tie tonight, making breaks of 65, 87 and 53 in the process.

The pair will return for their second session tomorrow at 2:30pm.

World Championship 2018 – Ronnie goes out to Ali Carter in the last 16

It was a bit of a disappointing end of an otherwise brilliant season for Ronnie as he lost by 13-9 to Ali Carter in the last 16 this afternoon. Ronnie did actually play better than he had in the last 32 against Maguire, but Ali played really, really well and he deserved the win 100%. The pundits on BBC, Steve Davis and John Parrot said that this was probably the best ever they had seen from Ali.

Ronnie had no complaints in his post-match press conference

Crucible2018ROSL16-Presser

Ronnie’s full press conference is here:

There appeared to be at bit of needle between the players as Ronnie appeared to “barge” Ali’s shoulder whilst going back to his seat. But both players downplayed the “incident” after the match and the final handshake looked friendly enough. The baseline is probably that they were both so intense that it got a bit out of hand in the heat of the moment but nothing more.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Ali Carter came through an ill-tempered clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-9 at the Betfred World Championship to book his place in the quarter-finals.

The tension was palpable in a fiery Crucible atmosphere. The pair exchanged words after clashing shoulders in the 19thframe, with Carter leading 10-8. Referee Paul Collier interjected and asked the two players to calm down.

Just the previous evening Carter had neglected to shake Collier’s hand at the end of the second session. However, he later apologised to the official, stating that he forgot due to being so focused on the match.

Carter came into the tie with the odds stacked against him. This victory was his first in 14 meetings with the Rocket. The pair have previously met in two World Championship finals, with O’Sullivan lifting the title in 2008 and 2012.

On this occasion Carter imposed himself from the off, finishing the first and second sessions with 5-3 and 9-7 advantages.

O’Sullivan attempted to apply the pressure in the early stages this afternoon. Carter had taken a 37-0 lead in the opening frame, but missed a yellow with the rest. That allowed the 33-time ranking event winner to step in and clear with a sublime break of 66 and make it 9-8.

Carter refused to flinch and a run of 63 helped him to restore his two-frame advantage. Following the altercation in the 18th, the Captain secured the frame to move three ahead at 11-8.

Breaks of 59 and 71 saw O’Sullivan claw his deficit back to 11-9 at the mid-session. When they returned Carter struck a critical blow.

The five-time Crucible king O’Sullivan had looked set to take the frame, but broke down on 54 when he missed a regulation blue. The Captain stepped up to the plate and made a steely clearance of 51 to take the frame on the black. He then won the next to seal a famous victory and he roared with delight in the aftermath. Carter will now face either two-time Crucible winner Mark Williams or Robert Milkins in the quarter-finals.

On the incident in the 18th frame Carter said: “He will do anything he can to win, and so will I. He barged me, but I’m sorry, I’m not going to be bullied by anyone. I’ve been through a lot in my life, much harder things than a shoulder barge from someone. If I was going to fall over and roll on the floor, that’s not me as a person. It’s impossible. He didn’t exactly head-butt me and put me on the floor. The Crucible is really tight, it’s packed in there. We brushed shoulders and that’s all there is to it. There’s no malice there from me.

“I’m not intimidated by Ronnie like other players are. I’ve been through harder things than that in my life, so I won’t let myself down.

“There was a barge. I’m walking to the table and he’s walking away from the table. I might have invaded his space and he might have invaded mine. It’s heat of the moment stuff, there’s not a load of room out there. We had a little shoulder barge and a laugh about it, there’s no malice there.

“It’s a great win. I’ve got the utmost respect for Ronnie and what he’s done for the game. He’s under huge pressure and expectation, and to beat him today is very special. I’m only in the quarter finals, the job’s not done yet, so I’ll go home for a day or two and come back for the next match which will be even harder.”

O’Sullivan said: “There’s not a lot of space out there, it’s the Crucible and if it was about three inches smaller I doubt you could hold the event here. There were a couple of collisions out there and sometimes you just touch each other. Formula One has it all the time, they have contact in cars and we have contact with humans. It was nothing, just heat of the moment stuff and it’s forgotten about.”

“There’s no hard feelings between me and Ali. We’ve known each other since we were ten and practised together. I’m not sure many players speak to each other during matches. Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis didn’t chat. I’m not one for chatting anyway. It’s quite superficial stuff really if you’re trying to create a relationship and a chat with an opponent. They are my rivals and competitors, I don’t want to get too friendly with anyone.”

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these pictures

 

 

And just to lift our mood a bit …

and true to his word Ronnie cooked his friend breakfast on the barge, setting the fire alarm off in the process!

 

Unfortunately Matt Smith prediction didn’t come true and Ronnie wasn’t a winner … and if I’m honest, I don’t think he will win another World title now. (trying a bit of reverse jinx …)

World Championship 2018 – Day 7 – Allen in the QF, Ronnie still fighting, Lyu HaoTian impressive.

Crucible2018Day7Results

Mark Allen produced a blistering performance in the third session of his last 16 match to become the first man through the Quarter Finals.

Lyu HaoTian was 8-3 down to Barry Hawkins at a point, but finished the second session only 9-7 down. He duly impressed the BBC pundits, Steve Davis and Ken Doherty. Both also stressed how much the environment provided by Vic Snooker Academy has been beneficial to the young Chinese players on the tour in recent seasons.

Ronnie really struggled against Ali Carter yesterday. Ali played very impressively for most of the two sessions, Ronnie was far from his best. After finishing the first session 5-3 ahead, Ali won the first three of the second session to lead 8-3. But Ronnie, still not playing great, managed to win four of the last five to trail only by 9-7.  During that “comeback” Ali Carter refused to look at the table and at the end stormed out of the arena without shaking the referee’s hand. Not sure that’s a clever message to send to your opponent under the circumstances.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker

Morning Session

Ali Carter came out on top in the opening session of his second round clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan to establish a 5-3 advantage at the Betfred World Championship.

The signs looked ominous for the Captain heading into this one. O’Sullivan is riding the crest of a wave, having claimed five ranking titles in a single season for the first time in his career. He has also never lost to Carter and holds a 13-0 head-to-head record.

This is the fifth time the Essex duo have met at the Crucible, that includes two world finals, where O’Sullivan picked up the third and fourth of his five world crowns, in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

It was world number 15 Carter who hit the ground running this morning, taking the opening frame. The Rocket emphatically responded, firing in a break of 121 to restore parity. They then traded frames and went into the mid-session level at 2-2.

When they returned Carter took back the lead in style, compiling a century run of 115 to go 3-2 up. O’Sullivan hit back with a break of 96, but it was the Captain who claimed the final two of the session to seal his 5-3 lead. They will return this evening at 7pm for the second of three sessions.

Mark Allen and Joe Perry are locked together at 8-8 after a fiercely contested second session of their last 16 clash.

Neither player is short on confidence on snooker’s biggest stage. Masters champion Allen picked up his maiden Triple Crown title at Alexandra Palace in January. While Perry inflicted defending champion Mark Selby’s first Crucible defeat since 2015 in his first round clash.

They resumed with Allen holding a 5-3 lead after the first session. Perry played some fine snooker this morning to claw his way back into the match. The Gentleman composed century breaks of 105 and 120 as he took five out of the eight frames, including the last two of the session, to ensure a grandstand finish when they conclude this evening at 7pm.

Evening Session

Mark Allen emphatically surged to a 13-8 defeat of Joe Perry to book a quarter-final place at the Betfred World Championship.

The pair came into this evening’s session with the tie finely poised at 8-8 and many would have predicted a late night battle, but as it transpired Allen swept up all five frames to ease to the finish line.

The victory sees Antrim’s Allen reach the quarter-final stage at the World Championship for the first time in seven years. The result is in stark contrast to the Pistol’s last 16 clash in 2017, which saw Allen ousted 13-9 against John Higgins, despite putting on an inspired display and firing in four centuries.

Allen composed breaks of 133, 74 and 122 this evening to brush Perry aside. The 32-year-old now faces either Kyren Wilson or Jamie Jones, as he attempts to secure a passage to the semi-finals and the one-table setup for only the second time after his initial run to the last four in 2009.

The Masters champion will head into the last eight in confident mood after claiming his first ever Triple Crown title with victory at Alexandra Palace in January.

Perry leaves disappointed after fading away this evening. However, he will be able to reflect on an event which saw him qualify for the Crucible for the first time in two years. The Gentleman also made a big impact in round one, inflicting defending champion Mark Selby’s first defeat at the Crucible since 2015.

“I felt like I needed to go for more shots, my game is about potting the long ones and scoring. I was aggressive this evening, but I was sensible. I turned down a few pots to keep him tight when he was 40 or 50 down in frames. Apart from one missed blue, I played perfect snooker for five frames tonight,” said the three-time ranking event winner. “This is the World Championship at the end of the day and you’re not going to have any matches handed to you, so I’m very happy with the way I closed it out.”

Perry said: “I’ve proved to myself that on my day I’m good enough to beat anybody. Unfortunately, inconsistency is probably what’s stopped me winning more trophies in my career. Every now and then I throw in one of these bad performances and fall short. I know that when it all comes together, I’m good enough to beat anybody and maybe win a tournament. I’ve got to take that and just keep working. Hopefully I’ll have another one of those dream days somewhere down the line.”

Ali Carter will take a 9-7 lead into the concluding session of his second round clash with five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The Captain has never defeated O’Sullivan and trails the head-to-head record 13-0, including two world final losses.

Carter had looked as if he was going to establish a big advantage when he lead 8-3. However, the Rocket claimed four of the remaining five frames, including breaks of 79 and 105 as he moved within two at 9-7. They will play to a conclusion tomorrow at 2:30pm.

When Ronnie and Ali resume their match today, playing to a finish, you feel that Ronnie will need to play better than he did until now to get through. Whether he will be able to do that remains to be seen. It would of course be a disappointing end of an otherwise brilliant season if his run in the World Championship was to end in the last 16. But we should all remember that there are things in life much more important than a match of snooker as this article by Hector Nunns in the Express timely reminds us.

Good luck Ronnie, go Jack! 

World Championship 2018 – Last 16 Preview

The last 16 round started yesterday of course, with two matches already underway, but I chose to wait until the conclusion of the last 32 before venturing into predictions. So here goes…

Joe Perry v Mark Allen

This is one of the matches that already started and it currently stands 5-3 to Allen. Really however it should have been 4-4 and I fully expect this match to be very, very close. Mark Allen is a big occasion player and I would normally make him favourite. But Joe Perry is playing very solid and should be under little pressure having already exceeded expectations by beating the Defending Champion and World n°1. I’ll sit on the fence here. Prediction: 13-11 either way.

Kyren Wilson v Jamie Jones

Everyone will remember Jamie Jones run to the QF in 2012. Can he repeat the same feat this year? Possibly. But Kyren Wilson is not nicknamed “the Warrior” for nothing and I believe that he will prevail. In fact I believe that he’s a serious contender to reach the Final. There is no doubt that he will want it, the question is about how he will be able to handle the Crucible pressure  and how the memories from the Masters defeat will affect him. Prediction: Kyren Wilson to win 13-9

John Higgins v Jack Lisowski

“Theppy” gave John Higgins a good run for his money. John branded Jack an “upgrade” on Theppy. In many ways is a great summary of why Jack might well cause an upset here. Just like Theppy, Jack is ridiculously talented and frighteningly attacking. However he’s shown in the first round that he also has a solid safety game and that he’s able to rein his attacking instincts in when necessary. On form he puts any opponent under huge pressure. I will be bold here. Prediction: Jack Lisowski to win 13-8 

Ricky Walden v Judd Trump

Ricky is on the mend but not at his best just yet, and his confidence is still fragile. Judd only just survived the last 32 and once again showed extreme vulnerability under pressure and a denial attitude afterwards. This could become a twitch fest if it goes to a third session. I really struggle to predict the outcome here. So I’ll go with what I’d like to see… Prediction: Ricky Walden to win 13-11

Ding Junhui v Anthony McGill

Anthony was realistic and totally honest yesterday evening: he will need to improve massively to stand any chance. Ding looks relaxed and happy as well. He seems to deal with the pressure of expectations much, much better than in the past. For all of Anthony’s fighting qualities, I think that Ding will prevail comfortably. Prediction: Ding Junhui to win 13-6

Barry Hawkins v Lyu HaoTian

Young Lyu HaoTian has already exceed expectations being the only debutant to reach the last 16. Yesterday evening he was 4-0 down at MSI, but finished the session only 5-3 down. Hopefully he will be able to enjoy the match and give a good account of himself. Can he win? I doubt it given Barry Hawkins record at the Crucible over the last years. There is nothing fancy nor fussy about Barry. Just rock solid. Prediction: Barry Hawkins to win by 13-9

Mark Williams v Robert Milkins

You can never be quite sure what you will get from Milkins. He can be extremely dangerous or he can miss all sorts. It’s largely on the day. Over three sessions I somehow doubt that he will maintain the consistency he would need to beat an old fox like Mark Williams, especially when said old fox seems to be back near his best and more hungry than ever. Prediction: Mark Williams to win 13-8

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ali Carter

Ali impressed me favourably in the first round. He played very well and there were no signs of impatience or surrendering to frustration at all. Ronnie came through, fighting hard  after a disastrous first session. This match should be close. The stats are massively in favour of Ronnie though. Prediction: Ronnie to win 13-10

World Championship 2018 – Day 6 – Drama! Judd Trump survives, Ryan Day collapses.

We had only two sessions yesterday at the Crucible, but there was drama aplenty as the last 32 round concluded. Anthony McGill fought like a lion to edge Ryan Day by 10-8. Anthony didn’t play well and was bluntly honest about his performance. Ryan Day was just equally honest about how he managed to lose from 7-3 and 8-5 up: “I collapsed” was his assessment when interviewed right after the match. I didn’t expect that to happen this time, after winning three events this season, and neither did Stephen Hendry who was commentating. But he did and that’s the Crucible for you.

There was none of those two honesty in Judd Trump’s press conference as you will read below. Anyone who watched that match will know that he was gone under pressure towards the end of his dramatic match against a wonderful Chris Wakelin. Chris looked dead and buried at 8-4 down but decided to go for the all out attack in an attempt to put his opponent under pressure, and, boy, he did! For Judd to claim that the misses weren’t caused by pressure is either completely dishonest or worryingly delusional. Neal Foulds on Eurosport seriously questioned Judd’s temperament and his chances to be a World Champion one day.  But Judd is through after Chris took a couple of risky shots too many in the decider.

The last 16 round started yesterday as well. I didn’t watch much of it, but from what I saw, 4-4 would have been a fairer reflection of the first session between Allen and Perry.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session

honAnthony McGill stormed back from four frames behind to stun Ryan Day 10-8 at the Betfred World Championship.

It’s another fine Crucible win for the former World Championship quarter-finalist McGill. The Glaswegian reserves some of his best performances for snooker’s Theatre of Dreams and inflicted the Crucible curse on Mark Selby in 2015. Although, he did suffer a crushing 10-2 defeat against compatriot Stephen Maguire last year.

Scotland’s McGill was pinned firmly against the ropes after a superb first session display from his opponent. Day became only the second player to compose two breaks over 140 in a single session at the Crucible, as he established a 6-3 advantage.

That cushion was soon added to this afternoon, as Day moved 7-3 up thanks to a break of 51. McGill then mounted a charge to eat into the Welshman’s lead and as he did so, a shroud of tension moved over the Crucible Theatre.

Both players started to miss straightforward shots, but it was the 27-year-old McGill who dug out consecutive frames to cut his arrears in half at 7-5.

Day moved further clear at 8-5, but McGill continued to reel him in. Three frames on the bounce saw him draw level at 8-8. The former Indian Open Champion McGill then fired in a break of 60 to move one from victory, before an extraordinary 18th frame.

It came down to the pink and black, with both players making glaring errors under extreme pressure.  Day spurned an opportunity to force a decider when he missed the pink off the spot. The Welshman eventually fluked the second last ball, but with the black glued to the top cushion a safety battle ensued.  Ultimately a misjudged shot from Day left the black over the corner and allowed McGill to get over the line and set up a last 16 clash with Ding Junhui.

McGill said: “It’s the World Championship, it’s a tournament worth trying in. You lose most of the matches from the position I was in, 99 percent probably. But you’d lose them all if you gave up and that kind of happened last year. I was playing Stephen Maguire and I was 7-2 down and never settled. I had a bit more fight in me this year and anything can happen.

“I was thinking during the match that my weakness is my potting. I’m good at the safety, but you don’t get any points for safety. My potting is just not good enough and the chances are I’ll get found out in the next game but it’s just good to be still involved.

“Ding is one of the best break builders there has ever been. He’s good at cannons around the black spot, just nudging balls out the way, it’s phenomenal. I’m in for a tough fight but at least I’m in one. I’ll need to pick it up because you can dig in and all that but eventually you have to play some good snooker.”

Day remarked: “It was scrappy. I think Anthony won a couple of frames where his highest break was 25 or something, it wasn’t great really.

“Next season is a long way away. It’s going to be a good month or so before I pick up the cue again, but I’m not really thinking about it now. I’m just going to have a bit of a break, and go again at the start of next season.”

On the other table, the second round got underway as Mark Allen took a 5-3 lead over Joe Perry.

World number 22 Perry knocked out defending champion Mark Selby in the first round and he started well today, taking the opening frame with a top break of 50.

Masters champion Allen hit back to win three in a row with runs of 94, 99 and 67. Perry’s break of 73 made it 3-2, then Allen also made a 73 to take frame six, before Perry nicked the seventh by clearing from yellow to black to halve his deficit.

The last frame of the session came down to the final pink. World number 16 Allen attempted a cross double and missed one centre pocket, but the pink rolled across the table and dropped into the opposite centre to give him a two-frame lead. They return for eight more frames on Friday at 10am, then play to a finish on Friday from 7pm, with first to 13 frames to go through to the quarter-finals.

Evening session

Judd Trump narrowly avoided a shock defeat in a thrilling clash with Crucible debutant Chris Wakelin, taking a final frame decider to win 10-9 at the Betfred World Championship.

For the second year in a row the Trump was involved in a tense and emotion fuelled battle with an underdog. 12 months ago the Ace in the Pack suffered one of the biggest ever first round upsets at the Crucible, when he was stunned by a 10-8 defeat against Rory McLeod.

On this occasion the 2011 runner-up was pitted against world number 55 Wakelin, who emphatically secured his place at the Crucible thanks to a 10-1 defeat of Tian Pengfei in the final round of qualifying.

Former delivery driver Wakelin assumed the role of the chaser from the off and trailed for the majority of the tie. Despite coming out of the first session 6-3 behind, he did enjoy a special moment when he compiled a run of 141 – the highest break of his career.

Breaks of 51 and 57 helped 28-year-old Trump to move 8-4 in front this evening and at that stage he had looked set for an early finish. However, Wakelin stepped up to the plate and ramped up the pressure on Trump and he dramatically buckled.

A run of 68 helped Wakelin to reduce the gap to 8-5. Trump then had the opportunity to quell any hopes of a fightback, but missed the final pink to allow Wakelin to close the gap to two.

The eight-time ranking event winner continued to misfire as Wakelin took the next two frames to draw level for the first time since the beginning of the match at 8-8.

Trump then moved 9-8 ahead and was in position to snatch victory in the following frame. After trailing 65-0, he strung together a run of 61 as he looked to come from behind to take the frame, but missed a tricky black to the middle and allowed Wakelin to deposit it and force a decider.

The emotional turmoil for both players was there for all to see amid sizzling tension in the Crucible arena.

Trump missed two straightforward blues and a simple red which afforded Wakelin opportunities to steal the match. He failed to capitalise, dramatically going in-off when potting the pink on the third chance. Eventually Trump got over the line on the final green and Wakelin failed in his attempts to get the required snookers.

“I had a big lead and almost threw it away, I knew the balls would punish me. I was surprised in the end to get another chance,” said Trump. “I’m relieved to get through, but I know I’m going to have to up my game. I don’t want to play like that in the next round and lose, or there would be no point winning today.

“Sometimes you miss under pressure, but a few of those misses weren’t down to pressure, they were just bad misses. On the last red there were two balls together, and it was an easy clearance but I completely took my eye off it. I think in the last frame the balls were so perfect that we got carried away a little bit and rushed at the table. Chris will be devastated to have lost that one, he dug in and played really well for his first time here.”

Wakelin said: “It’s been one of those days. I’ve tried my hardest, and have not left anything out there. The balls that I missed I put one hundred percent into, and the frames that I lost I tried my best. I did have chances in the decider which is probably the most important thing about it. All you ask for is one opportunity and I had plenty, so that’s very disappointing. You practise all those hours, days, weeks and years for that moment but sadly today I fell short.

“There are lot of positives to draw. I never gave in, I was trying right to the end. I made my Crucible debut, and it’s an amazing arena. You dream of playing here, even more you dream of winning here. It’s been a really good season for me, I’ve enjoyed practising and testing myself. We’re very privileged to play snooker. I try not to take that for granted at all.”

Meanwhile, Barry Hawkins took a 5-3 lead over Lyu Haotian as their second round match got underway.

Hawkins, runner-up in 2013 and a semi-finalist on three other occasions, was off to a tremendous start as breaks of 91, 71, 64 and 129 put him 4-0 ahead.

China’s Lyu, who knocked out Marco Fu in the first round on his Crucible debut, took the fifth frame with a 73 then Hawkins went 5-1 ahead with a 103. In a high quality session, Lyu responded with 95 to take the seventh frame and a 42 clearance to win the eighth.

They resume on Friday at 2.30pm.