UK Championship 2018 – Day 9

It was a day of deciders at the Barbican… The birthday boy, Ronnie had a swift win – 6-1 – over Jack Lisowski, but all three other matches finished on a 6-5 score line.

Everything about the Ronnie v Lisowski match is here.

Stephen Maguire was 4-0 down at the MSI and looked on hiw ay to Glasgow. But the MSI turned things on their head and the second part of the match offered the fans a thrilling come back that included three centuries and a 97 from the Scot. Indeed Stephen won five on the trot before Mark briefly rallied. But that was that, a 67 by Maguire in the decider sealed the fate of the match.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker: (excerpt)

Stephen Maguire made a brilliant clearance in the deciding frame to beat Mark Williams 6-5 in the last 16 of the Betway UK Championship.

Ronnie O’Sullivan also booked his place in Friday’s quarter-finals in York by hammering Jack Lisowski 6-1.

World Champion Williams let a 4-0 lead slip as his hopes of winning snooker’s two biggest ranking titles in the same year disappeared. Glasgow’s Maguire, who had told his father to “get the car ready” when he trailed 4-0 at the interval, produced one of the best fightbacks of his career as he set up a quarter-final with Mark Allen or Neil Robertson.

Maguire has struggled to find his best form in recent years, but has shown a significant improvement this season and is now guaranteed a place at the Masters for the first time since 2016 (for the Race to the Masters click here).

Welshman Williams made a top break of 81 in taking the first four frames, but Maguire was a different animal after the interval as he piled in runs of 122, 120, 109 and 97 to go 5-4 ahead. He had several chances to seal victory in frame ten, notably missing the final yellow when leading by 20 points. Handed a lifeline, Williams cleared for 5-5.

And two-time UK Champion Williams had first opportunity in the decider, making 33 before running out of  position and playing safe. Maguire spotted a plant among the pack of reds and executed it perfectly to set up his chance. The last red was tight against a side cushion but he doubled it to a centre pocket and went on to make 63 to clinch the result.

“I’ve never made a comeback like that,” said 37-year-old Maguire. “For the first four frames I couldn’t have been any worse. I told my dad to get the car ready at the interval. It was 2.20pm so I thought we could be finished by 3pm and back in Glasgow by 7pm. I decided to pull the cue right back and hope for the best. To get back to 4-3 I kept him off the table. I have been in his position and no one likes their opponent coming back at him.

“I twitched the yellow at 5-4 when I thought the game was done. When I had the double on the red in the last frame I just went for it because I had decided at 4-0 I was going to go for everything. I am free-rolling now because I should have been out. I am going to keep playing the same way in my next match.

“It’s a big scalp for me because I haven’t been challenging the top boys so to beat the World Champion when he has been playing well – it doesn’t get better than that.”

The evening session provided two more matches going the full distance, and late into the night as well.

The Mark Allen v Neil Robertson clash came across as a bit strange in my eyes in that, from the start Mark Allen looked the better player, but it didn’t really show in the score. Neil Robertson kept plugging away, and, quite extraordinarily found himself 5-4 up, with a mere 79% pot success. Mark Allen then stepped up a gear or two and finished with two centuries.

The players were also distracted by … a technical incident. Microsoft Windows interfering.

2018 UK Champs: Neil Robertson – Mark Allen match (Windows Updates are available to install)

I didn’t see anything from the other match, but it came as no surprise to me that it was extremely slow going despite the fact that both players actually made some very decent breaks; indeed Lu Ning is naturally a very slow player and, him not being used to the big stage surely wasn’t going to help the matter.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Mark Allen booked his place in the quarter-finals of the Betway UK Championship after emerging a 6-5 victor in a thrilling clash with Australia’s Neil Robertson.

Victory for the Pistol sees him reach the quarter-finals of the UK Championship for the first time since 2013. While 2010 World Champion Robertson continues a poor run of results against Allen, having now lost their last four meetings.

The Thunder from Down Under was first to get a frame on the board this evening. However, 2011 UK Championship runner-up Allen responded with breaks of 77 and 62 on his way to taking three frames on the bounce to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.

Robertson then clawed his way back into the tie by clinching a glut of tight frames. After claiming a 27-minute fifth, the two-time UK Champion won the following two on the final black, by a single point, to lead 4-3.

Allen restored parity, before 14-time ranking event winner Robertson extraordinarily won another frame by a single point to move one from victory at 5-4. However, it wasn’t to be for the Australian, as Allen summoned his best snooker at the crucial moment.

The Northern Irishman surged over the finishing line from behind in typically steely fashion, firing in back-to-back century runs of 102 and 114 to clinch an impressive victory.

The Pistol now faces Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals after the Scot came from 4-0 down to beat Mark Williams. However, Allen admitted to feeling the pressure this evening after celebrating prematurely when potting a long pink prior to match ball in the decider.

“It was a bit silly of me to celebrate when I did. I wondered what I had done,” said Allen. “It was the most pressure I have probably ever felt potting the final four balls, but luckily enough I did it.

“I felt like I was playing the better snooker this evening. Yes there were errors, but I thought I was the better player. You aren’t going to beat a class act like Neil too often from 5-4 down. He didn’t score a point in the last two frames so it was a good way to close out the match.”

Tom Ford booked his first ever Triple Crown quarter-final appearance with a late night 6-5 win over China’s Lu Ning.

There was never more than a frame between the pair in an epic clash which lasted four hours and 45 minutes. Ford top scored with a century run of 108. The Leicester potter will now face either Judd Trump or Joe Perry in the last eight.

Ford said: “I could see from the first frame that he was playing really slowly and normally when that happens my head goes and I find it really difficult to stay concentrated. So the thing I am most pleased about with this win, is that I hung in there and managed to get over the line.

“I honestly don’t think I have played particularly well so far in this tournament. I’ve had a few 6-5 wins and Alan McManus didn’t turn up in that match. The draw opened up a bit for me, but I know I will have to play better in the quarter-final.”

Speaking about “Slow play”, some journalist working for the BBC had reported that Jak Jones had been blaming Leo Scullion, the referee, for putting him off his game by asking the players to play “more attacking”.  That would have been out of order because, under section IV of the rules, the referee is entitled to intervene if they thing that a player is taking a unecessary long time over the selection or execution of the shots, but has no right to make any sort of call about the style of play itself. Yesterday, it transpired that Leo had spoken to the players about the time they were taking over their shot selection, which was perfectly within his rights. And Jak Jones himself came on twitter fuming because his quotes had been taken out of context, making it look a completely different story than what it was: he never blamed anyone for his defeat and honestly said – during his interview – that Akani deserved the win as he was the better player.

This happens quite often, media building a sensationalist story out of nothing or not much, by taking quotes out of context, or by reporting only part of what was said. And, it happens even more with the “high profile” players. Witnessing this was the reason why I started recording and publishing the entire postmatch interviews. It didn’t go down well, neither with some journalists, nor with WS, and it eventually got me in trouble.