UK Championship 2018 – Day 3

There we go … yesterday we lost one of the poster boys as Mark Selby crashed out to amateur James Cahill. Probably the biggest shock of the round, although Mark Selby hasn’t done great in Triple Crown events over the last year; in fact he has now lost in the first round he played in all three of them. It’s all the more bizarre because Mark has already won a ranking tournament in China earlier this season.

Here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Morning and afternoon sessions

Flu-stricken Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted he could “barely focus on the balls” during his first round tie with Luke Simmonds at the Betway UK Championship but he still managed a 6-1 victory.

O’Sullivan won this title for the sixth time last year to equal the record set by Steve Davis so one more would put him out on his own with seven. He is also level with Stephen Hendry on 18 Triple Crown titles so another piece of history is up for grabs for the Rocket in York.

And despite a slow start today the 42-year-old had little trouble in booking a last-64 match with Ken Doherty, on Sunday at 1pm.

Amateur Simmonds, who works part-time in a factory making car parts, looked as if he could manufacture a massive shock when he took the first frame with a break of 56. But O’Sullivan gradually took control, taking two scrappy frames to lead 2-1.

The 33-time ranking event winner then stepped up a gear and rattled through the last four frames in just 50 minutes with breaks of 97, 118, 112 and 77. The brace of centuries brought his career tally of tons to 980.

“I must have a virus because I felt awful today, at one point I wasn’t sure if I could get through the match because I couldn’t even focus on the balls,” said O’Sullivan, who has already won the Shanghai Masters and Champion of Champions this season. “I had to just grind it out. It felt like one of the hardest matches I have ever had to play.

“Every shot felt like a black ball in the world final. My back hand was shaking and I kept thinking I was going to feather the white because I couldn’t focus. I am struggling now just to keep my eyes open. I know I’m good but I can’t avoid getting flu!”

As for his opponent, O’Sullivan added: “I can’t believe Luke is a factory worker because he’s got more shots than 80% of the players on the tour. He’s got talent and he would beat a lot of players. He played as if he had nothing to lose today and played some lovely stuff.

“I could have lost today and if I had done I would have had to accept that’s how snooker is now. I’d take losing in ten first rounds this season if it meant winning three trophies. I’m not a quarter-finals or last 16 man, for me it’s all about wins and there are probably only a handful of players who have that attitude. Once the wins dry up then you won’t see me around.”

Sam BairdSam Baird enjoyed a tremendous come back from 5-1 down to beat Liang Wenbo 6-5 with a top break of 90. “At 5-1 down I was thinking about my first pint,” said world number 105 Baird. “Liang played so well to go 5-1 up, he potted every long ball and made big breaks. I was just admiring him, thinking there was nothing I could do about it.

“Usually I would fall apart, it’s easy to do that when you have no rhythm. But I still felt I could do something if I got chances. When I started coming back at him I knew it would be a horrific feeling for him. At 5-4 I knew he’d be panicking. It’s got to be my best ever come back.”

Stephen Maguire, the 2004 UK Champion, recovered a 3-1 deficit to beat Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg 6-3. Glasgow’s Maguire took the last five frames with a top break of 82.

Barry Hawkins beat Jamie Clarke 6-0 with a top break of 76 while 2003 UK Champion Matthew Stevens saw off Ross Muir 6-4 with a top run of 102.

Luca Brecel top scored with 103 as he came from 3-0 down to beat Fan Zhengyi 6-4 while Iran’s Hossein Vafaei edged out York’s Ashley Hugill 6-5.

China’s Yan Bingtao made a 106 in a 6-1 defeat of Lukas Kleckers while 2006 UK Champion Peter Ebdon made a 103 in a 6-2 win over Chris Totten.

Evening session

World number one Mark Selby was the victim of the one of the biggest shocks in Betway UK Championship history as he lost 6-3 to amateur James Cahill in the first round.

Three-time World and two-time UK Champion Selby was one of the favourites for the title but failed to even make it to the TV stages in York as he was outplayed by 22-year-old Cahill, who was handed a place in the 128-man field as one of the leading ‘top-ups’ from the Q School ranking list.

This is familiar territory for Cahill as he beat Ding Junhui on the way to the last 16 of the same tournament four years ago. He subsequently dropped off the pro tour in 2017 but showed today he still has the ability and temperament to compete on the big stage. The Blackpool cueman goes through to the last 64 to face Sunny Akani.

Cahill won the first four frames with a top break of 70. Selby pulled one back and had chances in frame six but missed a short-range final pink to a centre pocket, allowing his opponent to go 5-1 ahead.

A scrappy seventh frame went Selby’s way then he made a 103 to close to 5-3. The ninth came down to a safety battle on the final pink, and Cahill converted a brilliant pot along the length of a side cushion to seal victory.

“Mark didn’t play as well as he can, but even at 5-1 up against him you know there’s still a match on,” said Cahill. “In the last frame I thought if I got a chance on the pink I’d just go for it because you don’t want to be in a safety battle against Mark. I didn’t feel nervous after the first frame, there was more pressure on Mark.

“In my last season on tour I used 11 different cues, I was all over the place and losing games. After that I had some time away from snooker because I had been playing every day for ten years. Now I’m back into it, I’ve got good people around me and I’m practising hard. I feel I am playing better now than I have done in the past. I feel as if I am good enough to compete with the best and I have proved that a few times, I just need to show more consistency.”

Selby is now in danger of losing his world number one spot for the first time since February 2015. If Mark Williams goes all the way to the title in York he will go top of the rankings.

Leicester’s Selby said: “I was rubbish all match, I didn’t get going at all. I’m devastated because it’s a big tournament. I felt flat and couldn’t get myself up for the match which is strange because it’s such a big event. If I had potted the pink to go 4-2 I probably would have won because he was wilting at that stage. I have been playing really well lately so to perform like that is a real surprise for me.”

World Champion Williams had no such trouble as he beat Adam Duffy 6-2 with a top break of 68.

“This will probably be my last tournament of the year so I’ll try to have a good run,” said Williams. “The last few months have been a bit of a party for me. I’m going on holiday in December and then when I get back before the Masters I will have to knuckle down and get back to normal.”

Ali Carter saw off Thor Chuan Leong 6-3 with a top break of 96 while Anthony McGill squandered a 5-2 lead as he lost 6-5 to Lu Ning.

Daniel Wells set up a match with fellow Welshman Williams by beating Zhao Xintong 6-5. China’s Zhao led 5-4 and potted the final brown to go 23 points ahead in frame ten, but then hit the blue so hard that it flew off the table.

Wells cleared the table, won the frame on a respotted black, and went on to take a tense decider by potting the final pink. He described it simply as: “The maddest match I have ever played.”

You can of course read more about Ronnie’s win here

So, that’s three of the top 16 out: Ryan Day, Shaun Murphy and Mark Selby.

Overall the top players have not been at their best in the first round. It’s a bit of a banana skin for them, playing opponents who have very little to lose and play with freedom, whilst they are expected to win easily.

Today, there is no play as the BBC install their lighting and stuff before their actual broadcasting starts tomorrow.

UK Championship 2018 – Ailing Ronnie wins his last 128 match

Ronnie, who is the defending champion, beat Luke Simmonds by 6-1, this afternoon in York.

UKChamps2018ROSL128_Scores

Luke Simmonds, an amateur, won the first frame with a good 56. The next two frames were a bit scrappy. Luke looked like making it 2-1, but broke down with just one red left on the table, tight to the cushion, between the yellow pocket and the middle pocket. Ronnie played a great double and stole the frame. This proved to be a turning point as, from there, Ronnie started to score heavily whenever he got in.

 

Going by what Matt Huart reported on twitter  Ronnie was full of praise for his opponent, who, indeed, played better than some of the pros I watched on the TV tables earlier this week.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is through to the second round in York following a 6-1 win against Luke Simmonds, very complimentary of Luke as a player. Ken Doherty next for Ronnie at the weekend meanwhile.

Ronnie also revealed that he wasn’t feeling well and hoped to be able to rest and get better before his next match.

A typically busy media room for the defending champion – Ronnie saying that he’s feeling a bit under the weather, will be looking to rest up ahead of the weekend.

According to BBC on twitter, this is what Ronnie said:

Ronnie O’Sullivan said he was struggling with a virus in his 6-1 win over Luke Simmonds in the first round of the UK Championship. “I was really struggling. I feel tired, I had the shakes. It was one of the most difficult matches I have played.”

Here is the report by BBC

UK Championship: Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘felt awful’ but eases through to round two

Well that’s not great. Ronnie plays next on Sunday afternoon. Hopefully he will feel a bit better by then.

And here the report on Worldsnooker: (excerpt)

Flu-stricken Ronnie O’Sullivan admitted he could “barely focus on the balls” during his first round tie with Luke Simmonds at the Betway UK Championship  but he still managed a 6-1 victory.

UKChamps2018ROSL128-3

And despite a slow start today the 42-year-old had little trouble in booking a last-64 match with Ken Doherty, on Sunday at 1pm.

Amateur Simmonds, who works part-time in a factory making car parts, looked as if he could manufacture a massive shock when he took the first frame with a break of 56. But O’Sullivan gradually took control, taking two scrappy frames to lead 2-1.

The 33-time ranking event winner then stepped up a gear and rattled through the last four frames in just 50 minutes with breaks of 97, 118, 112 and 77. The brace of centuries brought his career tally of tons to 980.

“I must have a virus because I felt awful today, at one point I wasn’t sure if I could get through the match because I couldn’t even focus on the balls,” said O’Sullivan, who has already won the Shanghai Masters and Champion of Champions this season. “I had to just grind it out. It felt like one of the hardest matches I have ever had to play.

“Every shot felt like a black ball in the world final. My back hand was shaking and I kept thinking I was going to feather the white because I couldn’t focus. I am struggling now just to keep my eyes open. I know I’m good but I can’t avoid getting flu!”

As for his opponent, O’Sullivan added: “I can’t believe Luke is a factory worker because he’s got more shots than 80% of the players on the tour. He’s got talent and he would beat a lot of players. He played as if he had nothing to lose today and played some lovely stuff.

“I could have lost today and if I had done I would have had to accept that’s how snooker is now. I’d take losing in ten first rounds this season if it meant winning three trophies. I’m not a quarter-finals or last 16 man, for me it’s all about wins and there are probably only a handful of players who have that attitude. Once the wins dry up then you won’t see me around.”

And in case you missed it …

and Ronnie’s postmatch

UK Championship 2018 – Day 2

There weren’t any big shocks on day 1, but that all changed yesterday in York as Ryan Day and Shaun Murphy both lost to tour debutants. John Higgins also was given a scare.

Read here the accounts on Wourdsnooker:

Morning and afternoon sessions:

Shaun Murphy, champion ten years ago, suffered a shock 6-3 defeat against world number 124 Chen Feilong in the first round of the Betway UK Championship.

Murphy has had a disappointing start to the 2018/19 campaign, failing to go beyond the last 16 of a ranking event, but this was the most surprising defeat of his season so far. He took the UK title in 2008 and was runner-up in 2012 and 2017, but this time the world number nine misses out on the TV stages in York.

Chen, age 36, is playing on the pro tour for the first time this season and had only won one match previously, but he played some excellent snooker today. From 3-1 down, he knocked in breaks of 54, 88, 54 and 49 to go 5-3 ahead, before sealing victory in a tense ninth frame by potting the last blue and pink. He goes through to the last 64 to face Martin O’Donnell.

Murphy said: “I didn’t see that coming because I have been practising so hard, my preparation for this event has been fantastic. I have had a terrible season so far but that has left me a lot of time to practise and I feel my game is in such good shape. But I’m still waiting for that to come through.

“Chen played some great snooker after the interval and he deserved it in the end. He potted some outrageous balls when I had him in the long grass. I thought he might twitch a bit towards the end, but he didn’t. I can’t wallow in self-pity and give up, I have to keep on going.”

Ryan Day, ranked 12th, was another top 16 player to head for the exit door as he lost 6-2 to world number 121 Joe O’Connor. Leicester’s 23-year-old O’Connor, another tour debutant, made a top break of 55 as he got the better of an out-of-sorts Day.

O’Connor said: “It’s definitely the best win of my career so far. Surprisingly I didn’t get nervous towards the end, I have played on the match table here a couple of times before so that helped. It’s massive for my confidence because it shows I can beat the top players. I will always think back to this day.”

Marco Fu kept up his hopes of a place in the Masters by beating Hammad Miah 6-0 with a top break of 101. As it stands, Fu is 17th in the Race to the Masters so he must reach at least the last 16 in York otherwise he will miss snooker’s biggest invitation event for the first time since 2013.

“I was really nervous today because the UK Championship is a big event and I have been struggling so far this season,” said Hong Kong’s Fu, who missed several months of snooker after having laser eye surgery earlier this year. “Sometimes you can try too desperately to do well. After the first couple of frames I settled down a bit, tried to play a bit quicker and just let it happen rather than worrying too much.

“My eyes are still recovering from the surgery, I am waiting for the retina to settle. I still see black spots, some days it’s worse than others. I try to take it easy on my eyes by not practising too much but at this level you have to be 100% ready for every tournament. So it’s difficult, but I just need to win a few matches, a good run might be around the corner. I am not thinking about the Masters, if I’m not in it will be my own fault because I haven’t been playing well.”

Stuart Bingham ended a run of three consecutive defeats by beating James Wattana 6-0. Bingham won the English Open last month then suffered a dip in form but looked back in shape today as breaks of 92 and 78 helped him to a comfortable victory.

Joe Perry was another 6-0 winner as he white-washed John Astley with a top run of 143 – the new front-runner for the £5,000 high break prize.

Perry reached the final of the European Masters last month before losing to Jimmy Robertson.  “I was really disappointed to lose that match,” Perry reflected today. “Not because they way I played, just because I lost. It was the first final I had ever started as favourite and it was a big opportunity. That knocked me back a bit and I’ve had a few poor results since. But today was the best I have played in a long time.”

Joe Swail came from 5-3 down to beat Michael White 6-5 while Tom Ford made a 119 in a 6-5 win over Craig Steadman. Eden Sharav came from 5-1 down to 5-5 against Sunny Akani, only for Thailand’s Akani to win the decider with a run of 67.

Evening session:

John Higgins admitted he was fortunate to win a late-night battle against Dechawat Poomjaeng 6-5 to reach the second round of the Betway UK Championship.

After the shock exits of Shaun Murphy and Ryan Day earlier in the day Higgins looked in danger of becoming another high profile casualty in the first round in York when he frittered away leads of 4-1 and 5-3. He made a break of 101 in the fourth frame but otherwise struggled for fluency as Thailand’s Poomjaeng battled back to 5-5.

Amateur cueman Poomjaeng had two early chances in the deciding frame but missed one red to a centre pocket and another to a baulk corner. Gritty Higgins made a crucial break of 60 which proved enough for victory in a match which finished at 12.30am. Three-time UK Champion Higgins now faces a tartan tussle against Alan McManus in the last 64.

“That’s the way I have been playing all season, it’s no surprise to me how badly I struggled there,” said 43-year-old Higgins. “I was really lucky because Dechawat had a good chance in the last frame, if he had potted the red to the middle I would have fancied him to make a frame-winning break because all the balls were there.

“I don’t know how I’ll play in the next game against Alan but I’ll look forward to it. There is no one who has more respect for Alan than me, I have learned a lot from him and I know how tough he is.”

Mark Allen enjoyed a comfortable 6-2 win over Basem Eltahhan, compiling runs of 97, 126, 73 and 128. His next opponent will be Peter Lines or Rory McLeod.

“It’s a potential banana skin out of the way,” said world number seven Allen, who won his fourth ranking title at the International Championship earlier this month. “I scored when I got chances but I will need to play a lot better in the next round.  I feel as if I am one of the contenders this year, which I haven’t been over the last few years. I just hope I am still here this time next week.”

Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh beat Jimmy White 6-3 with top breaks of 81, 84, 83 and 110. Local favourite Paul Davison, from Pickering, saw off Stuart Carrington 6-1 with a top run of 77.

European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson made a 133 in a 6-4 win over Jordan Brown while Yushan World Open finalist David Gilbert top scored with 128 and 122 in a  6-3 win over Ashley Carty.

Chen Feilong looked all at sea before the MSI, probably because he had never been in that situation, playing a top player on the main streamed table. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he adapted and held himself together. There were posts on twitter along the line  “I’m not impressed by Murphy’s opponent”. Well I am, because Chen went for and did pot some very hard balls under pressure in the second part of the match. He just won five frames on the trot, mind.

Stuart Bingham enjoyed an emphatic win over James Wattana, without playing fantastic. I must say that I found this match hard to watch. It’s never nice to see a great player, decline and James was a great player. I will never say “he should retire” because that should always be the player’s choice and if James still wants to play and is given the opportunity, he should play. There were glimpses of his tactical astuteness but his potting is gone.

Speaking of retirement, Domininc Dale who won his first match here  but is in real danger to drop off the tour at the end of the season, said that this season is very likely to be his last and that he would be gratefull if he could find a job in commentary or punditry. I’m not surprised. I last spoke to Dominic at SWSA last summer, at the Pink Ribbon. It was obvious that he was out of love with the game and, more than that, with the hectic way the tour is going.

Marco Fu’s concerns about his eyes must be a serious weight on his mind. I doubt that Marco read this blog, but if he does, here is my experience, having suffered a similar condition. The spots never go, but what happens is that your brain learns to “forget” about them. They are still there but you don’t “see” them anymore … most of the time. That’s what the ophtalmologist had told me during the first months after the accident, and he was right. However, when I very tired, or if I suffer a bout of migraine, they are back hindering my vision. Not great but manageable. Then of course, I’m not a snooker player and certainly don’t need the level of visual accuracy they need.

 

 

UK Championship 2018 – Day 1

The UK Championship started yesterday and Worldsnooker published this extended preview.

Except Ricky Walden being beaten by Jak Jones, there weren’t any real big surprises. There weren’t really any interesting matches on streaming either, all being firmly one-sided. None of the seeds on the streamed tables played really well either, Ding in particular was very poor; I suppose that it’s hard to get fully focused when the match is … a mismatch.

Anyway, here are the reports on Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui both made winning starts as the Betway UK Championship got underway in York.

Australia’s Robertson, champion here in 2013 and 2015, eased to a 6-2 win over Kishan Hirani with a top break of  110. He had a glimmer of an opportunity for a 147 in frame six but broke down on 72 after potting nine reds with blacks.

“The first round can be tricky here so I’m happy to get through,” said Robertson, who now meets Thepchaiya Un-Nooh or Jimmy White in the last 64. “It’s a bit strange coming here not knowing what to expect, because I had never seen Kishan play before.

“I had a great chance of a 147 but didn’t get a good cannon on the reds on 72, otherwise I probably would have made it. I am loving practice and coming to tournaments now, if I had won the International Championship final (which he lost to Mark Allen) it would have been my best ever season up to this point.

“There’s something a little bit different about the Triple Crown events, even on the way up to York I could feel it. The crowds are always good, the conditions are good and the top players all feel the importance of it.”

China’s Ding, UK Champion in 2005 and 2009, saw off Adam Stefanow 6-1 with a top run of 66 to earn a match with Matthew Selt or Zhang Yong.

“I didn’t play well today,” said Ding. “Adam had chances and it could have been different if he had taken them. I have been practising hard and hopefully I can get better each day.”

Jack Lisowski eased to a 6-1 win over Zhang Jiankang in just 89 minutes, knocking in breaks of 82, 120, 56, 53, 51 and 115. The result boosts Lisowski’s position in the Race to the Masters and his hopes of making his debut at Alexandra Palace in January. He remains in 16th place, now £11,100 ahead of 17th-placed Marco Fu.

“It’s a good start, the tables played well and it was easy to score,” said Lisowski. “Everyone is talking about the Masters race but I’m just focused on this one because it’s a massive tournament. If I get into the Masters that will be a bonus but I’m just riding the wave at the moment.”

Ken Doherty set up a last 64 match with either Ronnie O’Sullivan or Luke Simmonds thanks to an impressive 6-2 defeat of Yuan Sijun. From 2-1 down, 49-year-old Doherty reeled off five frames in a row with top runs of 130 and 82.

“It was nice to play well, it was good quality stuff,” said Doherty, who reached the UK Championship final in 1994, 2001 and 2002 but has never lifted the trophy. “You have to be on your game from the start in every tournament now, otherwise you’ll be at home watching it on TV or in my case sitting in the commentary box.

“If I do play Ronnie next I’ll really look forward to it. The last time I played him in this tournament was the 2001 final when he beat me 10-1 so I’ll try not to think about that because it’s a really bad memory. These are the type of matches I really want to play, and I’ve got nothing to lose because everyone expects Ronnie to win. I still love snooker and trying to compete and that’s why I’m still playing.”

Up-and-coming Chinese teenager Luo Honghao thrashed Michael Georgiou 6-0 with a top break of 74.

Evening session:

Kyren Wilson has never been beyond the last 32 of the Betway UK Championship but hopes this year will bring his first deep run, having beaten Andy Lee 6-0 in the opening round in York.

Wilson is a multiple title winner and has reached the final of the Masters and the semi-finals of the World Championship, but surprisingly is yet to reach the last 16 of UK Championship in his six previous attempts. The Kettering cueman fired breaks of 94 and 101 today as he strolled into the last 64, where he will face Mike Dunn or Allan Taylor.

“This tournament is at the top of my list to do well in,” said Wilson. “I have done well at the World Championship and the Masters so now this is the one I am targeting.  From the second round the TV cameras come in and it gets more exciting.

“I am getting close to the big titles, I’ll keep knocking on the door and I’m sure they will come. Hopefully people enjoy watching me play because I wear my heart on my sleeve, it means so much to me and I try so hard every time I play.”

Judd Trump arrived in York at the top of his game having won the Northern Ireland Open earlier this month, his first ranking title in over a year. And he continued his winning streak by beating David Lilley 6-0 with top runs of 128 and 113.

“I didn’t think I played very well, I made a couple of important clearances but otherwise I felt rusty out there,” said 2011 UK Champion Trump, who now meets Dominic Dale or Gerard Greene. “I got a bit of luck and the scoreline was flattering. I just wanted to get through the first round so I can get into the tournament. When you win a tournament then you start the next one in the first round you are a bit deflated and you’re trying to get up for it again.”

It was a good day for the seeded players in York as all four top 16-ranked players made it through to the second round. There were wins earlier in the day for Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui.

Robert Milkins top scored with 82 in a 6-1 win over Sanderson Lam while Michael Holt saw off Chen Zifan by the same scoreline.

Surprise result of the day was a 6-5 win for world number 102 Jak Jones over three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden. From 5-3 down, Jones made breaks of 98 and 114 to recover to 5-5, then took a tense decider by clearing from green to pink.

Looking at the young ones, Luo Honghao confirms the quality he showed in winning the inaugural WSF Championship in Malta last spring. I was expecting a much closer match between Yuan Sijun and Ken Doherty, and, if I’m completely honest I expected Yuan to win it. I can only suppose that Ken had too much on the tactical side for the young Chinese. That said, Ken can still play; he will be Ronnie’s second round opponent, provided Ronnie gets through his first round match tomorrow.

Today, it’s exactly 25 years since Ronnie won his first ranking event, the Royal Liver Assurance UK Championship at Preston Guild Hall, in a time when not all events were backed by the gambling industry.

Today we are in for more mismatches on the stream, I’m afraid. One of the streamed matches though will be John Higgins v Dechawat Poomjaeng. I hope that “Poomy” is fully over the health issues he suffered over the last years, I’m wishing him well. At least that match could be very funny although I’m not sure that John Higgins will see it that way. I still remember a shocked and traumatised Stephen Maguire after his first round defeat at the Crucible in 2013

 

UK Championship 2018 – Before it starts

UKChampionship2018Header

The UK Championship start tomorrow in York, and Ronnie is the defending champion.

This is very special indeed, because it will be 25 years, almost to the day, that Ronnie won this event for the first time, still only 17 years old. On 28 November 1993, he beat Stephen Hendry, then firmly in his prime, by 10-6 in the final. It was Ronnie’s first ranking win, and, to date, he remains the youngest ever ranking event winner, never mind the youngest ever triple crown event winner.

And Eurosport made this short video where Ronnie remembers how it felt at the time

The rigging is well under way at the Barbican

The Barbican is a great venue although not exactly fit for a 128 players event. The BBC coverage will not start before the week-end, when the last 64 round starts. Meanwhile two tables will be streamed and shown on ES player.

Meanwhile Ronnie was again on twitter bickering with Barry Hearn. Ronnie feels that the top players shouldn’t have to play qualifying rounds, in cheap venues, against opponents that are often unable to make a real match of it. He also feels that the calendar is too packed and that the players would perform better if they had some time to prepare between events. Barry Hearn dismisses all this saying players have the choice not to enter. At which Ronnie answers that, yes they do, but at the cost of their ranking, and suggests that counting the 10 best performances for every player would be a fairer reflection. This time though, Ronnie got the support from Mark Williams, the World Champion. The thing is that the top players are the ones reaching the latter stages of tournaments more often than not, therefore having to cope with the biggest inconveniences when events follow each other without a break, especially when happening on different continents. They also are the ones who bring the audience, and the sponsors, hence the money. And, they have earned their status, climbing through the rankings.

Ronnie also spoke to Eurosport about the influence the tobacco ban had on snooker

Snooker – Ronnie O’Sullivan: Smoking ban has killed game in UK

The five-time champion, who last month berated the English Open venue in Crawley as a ‘hellhole’, before saying he could smell urine in the interview area, thinks that the culture of the game has died since it was outlawed to smoke inside in 2007.

He told WestEndExtra: “The smoking ban killed off the clubs. It killed off snooker culture. There might have 100 clubs in London at one point but now there is just maybe five or six proper ones left.

“King’s Cross – that used to be a proper club, but now it’s got music and changed a lot.”

O’Sullivan also lamented that a members’ club in Dean Street, where he used to play, has now closed.

“It’s shut down now. We took two mirrors from there when it closed, they’re still at my mum’s place. If I go down there [Soho] people still say hello Ronnie, ask how my dad’s doing.

“It’s definitely cleaned up around there now, I’m not sure if the kind of characters are there anymore.”

I hate to say this, but again there is a lot of truth in there, although, other factors came into play as well. The younger generation has so many choices, and everything around in society today tends to favour fast paced entertainment. However, in Brussels where I live, most clubs have closed, and in Athens, where I’m often staying, the ones that are still succesful are the ones that blatantly ignore the ban regulations.

I don’t smoke and I hate to have to breathe other people smoke. I don’t like the smell, I don’t like my throat and eyes getting sore. But a fact is a fact, and the owner of the club where I play in Athens told me in no ambiguous terms that if he did he would have to close his club.

“The Break” – a review

TheBreakCover

The third volume of the “Soho nights” serries is out since November 15.

This is the “trailer” on amazon.co.uk

The Break explodes into the gangland world of 90s Soho, by snooker world champion and national superstar, Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It’s 1997 and Cool Britannia’s in full swing. Oasis and Blur are top of the pops and it feels like the whole country’s sorted out for E’s and wizz.

But it’s not just UK plc that’s on a high. Life’s looking up for Frankie James too. He’s paid off his debts to London’s fiercest gang lord, Tommy Riley. His Soho Open snooker tournament is about to kick off at his club. The future looks bright.

But then Frankie finds himself being blackmailed by a face from his past. They want him to steal something worth millions. It’s enough to get him killed. Or banged up for life if he says no.

Frankie’s going to need every ounce of luck and guile that he’s got if he’s going to pull off the heist of the century and get out of this in one piece.

The Break is the third, fast-paced Soho Nights thriller, by snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

I just finished reading it and here is my attempt at a review.

I quite liked the book, better in fact than “Double Kiss”. One reason is that the action starts right from page one, which is good. The plot is rather straightforward – not too many ramifications – but there are a few funny original ideas and characters along the way. I won’t say more, not wanting to spoil your read … The book will not  get the Nobel prize of  literature, but it’s fast paced, entertaining and the suspense – how the hell will Frankie get out of this mess? – sustained to the very end. Just what you want on holidays or for a chill out couple of evenings. The plot again would work well for an action film.

The psychological similarities between Frankie and Ronnie are once again obvious. The questions opened in the previous two previous books though aren’t answered, which probably means that there will be at least one more book to come. We still don’t know if/how Frankie’s father has been framed, and we still don’t know what happened to his mother.

Ronnie O’Sullivan will be at WHSmith in Bluewater next month.He will be signing copies of his newest Soho Nights thriller, The Break on Tuesday, December 18, from noon.

Hartlepool – 23.11.2018

Hartlepool - Mill House 23 November 2018

According to what transpired on social media, it was another great night, with Ronnie having 6 centuries in 8 frames he played… 

He also gave the fans plenty of time.

This is a short video that was shared on twitter:

This was Ronnie’s reaction – on twitter – to the night

Great night at Hartlepool last night, thanks for everyone who came out to watch, top crowd,🙏 I was on good form last night, and I don’t think it can get any better then that 😜

And when asked if he had a 147, he answered this

No, but some super snooker was played, cue ball was inch perfect all night😜 that’s what I love about this game😜

I’ll add more if/when I find it …