World Championship 2018 Qualifiers – half way in the first round …

We are half way through the first round at the English Institute of Sport and we had a couple of unexpected results already. Adam Duffy sending Mark Joyce home certainly came as a surprise to me, I actually fancied Mark Joyce to make it to the third round and possibly to the Crucible. Jimmy White win over Sam Craigie yesterday was another – nice – surprise. Jimmy still can play but often failed to keep the consistency over the distance in recent years. He did, and I’m happy for him. Joe Perry awaits and that’s not gonna be easy though…

You can read here the reports on Worldsnooker

April 11, 2018

Adam Duffy kept his hopes of becoming the first Crucible participant from Sheffield alive with a fine 10-4 victory over Mark Joyce in Betfred World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport.

The local cueman came within two frames of reaching the Crucible in 2015, when he suffered a 10-8 loss in the final round of qualifying against Jamie Jones.

Today the world number 99 faced a tough task against Joyce, who is ranked 59 places above him in 40th. The victory holds deep significance for Duffy, who must win all three qualifying matches to stand a chance of staying on tour and maintaining his professional status.

Duffy led 6-3 after this morning’s opening session and he wasted little time in surging to the line this evening. He rattled off four out of five frames with a top score of 119 to secure the victory.

Duffy’s opponent in the next round will be Matthew Selt, who eased to a 10-1 victory against Women’s World Champion Ng On Yee.

Selt’s victory means that he has secured his place in the world’s top 64 and in turn has ensured his prize money will stay on his ranking next season.

“It was a very anxious weekend for me waiting to see what the draw produced,” said world number 57 Selt. “I didn’t know I was as low as I am in the world rankings. I had a bad season last year, it put a strain on my ranking and I’ve paid for it. It was nice to win comfortably.

“It would be fantastic to get back to the Crucible. I have great memories of playing there. The last session I played at the Crucible in 2015, I was 7-2 down against Barry Hawkins and got it back to 9-9 before going out. I’ve got a long way to go, I have two matches and 20 frames to win. This is the World Championship, it is the biggest event of the year and I’ve got to get ready.”

Elliot Slessor is enjoying one his best seasons on the World Snooker Tour. The Gateshead potter has beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan on two occasions, at the Northern Ireland Open and last week’s China Open. He remains on course for a Crucible debut after a 10-7 defeat of Eden Sharav.

2016 German Masters champion Martin Gould secured his place in the second round with 10-4 defeat of Paul Davison. He fired in consecutive breaks of 75 and 79 to get over the line.

Robert Milkins stormed through by defeating World Seniors Champion Aaron Canavan 10-1. He will face Scott Donaldson next, who defeated Welsh teenager Tyler Rees 10-5.

Stuart Carrington came through a late night epic against 1995 world finalist Nigel Bond. The pair slugged it out until 2am, with Carrington eventually coming through a 10-9 winner.

April 12, 2018

Jimmy White defeated Sam Craigie 10-6 in their Betfred World Championship Qualifying clash at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

It was the six-time World Championship finalist’s 100th match in the event and the result sees him move just two wins away from a first appearance at the Crucible Theatre since 2006.

The Whirlwind has reached the final round of qualifying twice since then, most recently in 2013 where he bowed out against Robert Milkins. If White is to secure his spot on Judgement Day this year, he must negotiate a stern test against Joe Perry. However, he is relishing the prospect of a showdown with the world number 22.

White said: “Joe has been watching me since he first started! I’ve been around a bit longer than him. We’ve had some great battles over the years and I’m sure we will have another on Sunday.”

Perry progressed courtesy of a 10-1 demolition of Scotland’s Ross Muir. Afterwards the former Players Champion stated that he felt Craigie could have been overawed by the occasion of facing the Whirlwind.

“I’ve had my eye on their game. I think Sam was struggling with occasion a little bit. That won’t bother me,” said the 43-year-old. “I’ve played Jimmy in all kinds of venues. It’s not going to affect my performance playing Jimmy here. I’ve got a job to do and it is just down to me at the end of the day.”

Dominic Dale battled hard to overcome a resolute 11-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 10-7.

The former Crucible quarter-finalist hasn’t appeared at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams since 2014, but victory today sees him close within two matches of a return.

It was a hard-fought performance from Evans, who won her first ever World Championship match at last year’s qualifying against Robin Hull. However, it wasn’t to be this evening for the 32-year-old.

The clash had looked set to end this afternoon, when Evans trailed 9-6 and 54-0. However, she fired in a brilliant clearance of 55 to snatch the frame, before they were pulled off. When they returned this evening Dale clinically got himself over the line with a break of 65 to progress.

“I’m so relieved. I didn’t settle for the whole match and I was a nervous wreck,” said Dale. “Reanne’s performances here over the last couple of years have shown that she is a worthy competitor on the circuit. It’s not like power sports like tennis or cricket, in snooker the power game doesn’t really come into it and men and women can be equal.

“I think Reanne is the best female player I have ever seen. Her safety game and knowledge of the sport really impressed me.”

Liang Wenbo came within inches of snooker history in his 10-2 victory over Rod Lawler.

The Firecracker compiled a sublime 147 break in the tenth frame to go 9-1 up and put himself in position to claim the £10,000 prize for a maximum break.

In extraordinary scenes, he then went on to string together a run of 140 two frames later, before missing the final black for a second 147. It would have seen the 31-year-old become the first player in the history of the sport to make two 147 breaks in an official match.

Rory McLeod kept alive his hopes of tour survival with a 10-8 win over Preston’s Ian Burns. McLeod dramatically claimed victory on a re-spotted black in the 18th frame.

Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou overcame former World Billiards finalist Matthew Bolton 10-4. Georgiou had trailed 3-1, but won nine out of ten frames to burst to the finish line and book his spot in the second round.

Li Hang defeated Yorkshire’s Ashley Hugill 10-9 thanks to a break of 92 in the deciding frame. While Ricky Walden overcame Joe Swail by a 10-8 scoreline.

I didn’t watch much of it, despite being in Sheffield, as I was mainly busy with the World Seniors Masters 2018, won yesterday evening by Cliff Thorburn. But one match I did watch was Robert Milkins v World Seniors World Champion Aaron Canavan and it wasn’t as one-sided as the score suggests. Aaron Canavan competed well in the tactical department and lost a few close frames from being 30 something ahead. The key issue for Aaron, who was playing in a professional tournament for the very first time, was that he couldn’t keep the white under control as well as he needed to. He struggled with the pace of the table, as did Milkins too at the start of the match. The table played actually very slow, as it was cold and damp in the arena (*) But Milkins was able to adapt much better to the tricky conditions, aided by his 20+ years experience as a pro.


(*) this was told to me by both players, separately.