German Masters 2019 – Qualifiers – Last 64

So, yesterday was the last day of action at the tables for this year. The last 64 round of the German Masters qualifiers came to a conclusion. The highlight of the day was certainly Judd Trump’s 147, that came in frame three of his match vs Lukas Kleckers.

This was the 146th official 147 in snooker history. Who will make the 147th 147, and when?

Other than that, the last 64 yielded no real surprise, although some matches were very close. In particular Chris Wakelin could, and IMO should, have beaten John Higgins.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Judd Trump made the fourth maximum break of his career during a 5-0 win over Lukas Kleckers in the second qualifying round of the D88.com German Masters qualifiers on Friday evening.

Trump’s perfect break came in the third frame of the match at the Barnsley Metrodome. The world number five also fired runs of 75, 74 and 137 as he booked his place in the last 32 in Berlin.

The 29-year-old from Bristol becomes the eighth player to make more than three official 147s, joining Ronnie O’Sullivan (15), Stephen Hendry (11), John Higgins (9), Ding Junhui (6), Shaun Murphy (5), Stuart Bingham (4) and Marco Fu (4).

It’s the seventh 147 of the season and 146th in snooker history.

The final stages of the £396,500 world ranking event will take place at the famous Tempodrom venue in Berlin from January 30 to February 3.

John Higgins came through a tough battle against Chris Wakelin, winning 5-4. Wakelin led 53-24 in the decider but four-time World Champion Higgins snatched it with a 41 clearance.

World number one Mark Selby has been top of the rankings since he won this title in 2015 and he secured his return to Berlin with a 5-1 defeat of John Astley, making breaks of 100,100, 68, 77 and 70.

Matthew Stevens made four centuries in a 5-2 win over Ken Doherty. After losing the first frame, Welshman Stevens took five of the next six with runs of 70, 136, 111, 115 and 119.

Jack Lisowski made a 145 in the fifth frame of a 5-4 win over Gary Wilson. The deciding frame came down to the colours and Lisowski potted the blue for victory.

China’s Ding Junhui made a 101 in a 5-2 win over Kuldesh Johal while Kyren Wilson saw off Oliver Lines 5-2.

Barry Hawkins made a cool 62 clearance, from 57-4 down, to beat Stuart Carrington 5-4 while Neil Robertson made 135 and 102 in a 5-2 win over Gary Wilson.

Last year’s runner-up Graeme Dott misses out this time as he was edged out 5-4 by Michael Georgiou. Peter Ebdon made a 64 in the decider to beat Mark King 5-4.

Mark Williams and Shaun Murphy were among the winners on Thursday evening, for more details click here.

And this is the account, by Wotrldsnooker, of the matches played on the previous evening:

Defending champion Mark Williams secured his place in the final stages of the 2019 D88.com German Masters with a 5-1 win over Jak Jones in the second qualifying round in Barnsley on Thursday.

Williams won the title for the second time at the iconic Tempodrom venue last season, beating Graeme Dott 9-1 in the final. And he goes through to the last 32 this time, beating fellow Welshman Jones with top breaks of 103, 106, 62 and 61.

Shaun Murphy made a remarkable seven centuries in his two matches in Barnsley. Having knocked in four tons in his first round tie against Martin O’Donnell, Murphy then saw off Jimmy White 5-2 with top runs of 124, 131 and 105.

China’s Zhou Yuelong made a 136 in a 5-2 defeat of Dominic Dale. That result means Zhou will go to Berlin still in with a chance of qualifying for the Coral World Grand Prix – for more on that race click here.

Ryan Day made breaks of 75 and 83 in the last two frames as he came from 4-3 down to beat Sunny Akani 5-4.

And this concludes the year as far as snooker is concerned. Tomorrow, I’ll do a feature about the highs and lows as I see them…

 

Germans Masters 2019 – Qualifiers – Last 128

The first round of qualifiers for the German Masters 2019 was played over three days earlier this week. Among the “casualties” we have Ali Carter and Anthony Hamilton, two former German Masters Champions, Anthony McGill, Luca Brecel, Marco Fu, Daniel Wells who was semi-finalist last week in Belfast and Andrew Higginson.

Yesterday, the evening session saw the start of the last 64 qualifiers round.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker

Day 1 – December 18, 2018

Judd Trump was off to a winning start with a 5-2 victory over Robbie Williams as the D88.com German Masters qualifiers got underway in Barnsley.

 

All players need to win two matches this week to make it to the final stages in Berlin (January 30 to February 3).

World number five Trump was the highest ranked player in action on day one and he fired breaks of 82 and 114 in a comfortable win over Williams. His next opponent will be Hammad Miah or Lukas Kleckers.

Ken Doherty beat Alan McManus 5-0 in a match between two players with a combined age of 96. Doherty, who turns 50 next year, made top breaks of 71 and 90 as he set up a match with Matthew Stevens. Welshman Stevens scored a 5-3 win over Luca Brecel.

Kyren Wilson came from 1-0 down to beat Ian Burns 5-1 with breaks of 76, 56, 64 and 75. Stephen Maguire top scored with 107 in a 5-3 defeat of Daniel Wells.

China’s Zhou Yuelong edged out Zhang Anda 5-4 to keep alive his hopes of a top 32 place on the one-year ranking list and a spot in the Coral World Grand Prix – for more about that race click here

Sam Craigie impressed in a 5-2 win over Ali Carter while Dominic Dale saw off Michael Holt 5-1 with runs of 54, 70, 64, 58 and 78.

Entry to watch the qualifiers at the Barnsley Metrodome is free and fans can gain access to the arena on a first-come-first-served basis.

Day 2 – December 19, 2018

Shaun Murphy made four century breaks in a 5-2 win over Martin O’Donnell in the first qualifying round of the D88.com German Masters in Barnsley on Wednesday.

All players need to win two matches this week to make it to the final stages in Berlin (January 30 to February 3).

Murphy enjoyed a welcome return to form at last week’s Scottish Open, reaching the final, and he showed his break-building class again with runs of 129, 103, 136 and 137 in a superb display against O’Donnell.

In the second round Murphy will face veteran Jimmy White, who beat Harvey Chandler 5-2 with a top break of 84.

Defending champion Mark Williams was pushed hard by China’s 17-year-old Fan Zhengyi, but pulled away from 3-3 to win 5-3 with breaks of 119 and 135 in the last two frames. Williams now plays Jak Jones.

Australia’s Neil Robertson needed just 65 minutes to beat Jamie Clarke 5-0, making top breaks of 66, 64 and 118. He now meets James Cahill.

China’s Ding Junhui fired runs of 59, 54, 63, 104 and 77 as he beat Nigel Bond 5-0 to set up a match with Kuldesh Johal.

Germany’s Lukas Kleckers moved within one win of qualifying for his home tournament with a 5-2 win over Hammad Miah. Kleckers will face Judd Trump with a place in Berlin at stake.

Gary Wilson beat Chen Zifan 5-4 with a top break of 120. As it stands, that result keeps Wilson in the the top 32 of the one-year ranking list in the race to qualify for the Coral World Grand Prix – for more on that story click here

Jordan Brown edged out Anthony McGill 5-4 with a top break of 109 while Barry Hawkins made a 143, the highest break of the tournament so far, during a 5-1 victory over Michael White.

Jack Lisowski top scored with 110 in a 5-1 win over Mark Joyce while Anthony Hamilton, who won this title in 2017, suffered a 5-1 defeat against Luo Honghao.

There was no report by Worldsnooker on the last 128, played on day 3, December 20, 2018.

Ronnie and Mark Allen, winners of the last two tournaments did not enter. This is always a difficult slot in the calendar. Players are tired, the environment in qualifiers in unappealing and the holidays are just around the corner. Moreover, as Rolf Kalb stressed on twitter, there are no held-over matches for this one, with the risk that the World Champion and the Defending Champion might not make it to Berlin. He will this time as it’s the same players, the one and only mark Williams.

But there were wildcards involved as well and both lost. If the idea is to promote local/European amateurs, this is not the way to do it.

One of the wildcards was young Ben Mertens. Ben is Belgian, he only turned 14 mid October and he is the reigning under-16 World amateur Champion.

Ben Mertens

He was pitted against Yuan Sijun, one of the best and most improved young Chinese players. Ben lost heavily. He’s never played in pro environment, and I’m not sure how often he has played on a star table. His father was full of praise for Yuan, but also said that Ben was a bit overawed, which surely isn’t surprising. He’s still only a child. Yuan BTW will be in Berlin, having beaten Noppon Saegkham yesterday evening.

Snooker is for all, from babies to grannies

Whilst action continued in Barnsley this week for the German Masters qualifiers (two rounds), Ronnie met fans and signed books yesterday in Bluewater.

It was covered by the local press 

Snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan delights one of his oldest fans at Bluewater – Sheila Ulph from Chatham

By Lynn Cox

Five-time snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan delighted fans young and old when he popped into Bluewater.

The top sportsman was at the WHSmith store signing copies of his newest book, Soho Nights thriller, The Break.

Pensioner Sheila Ulph who is from Chatham, is probably Kent’s oldest Ronnie fan.

Mrs Ulph, 91, got a signed card from him because by time she got there yesterday, all his books had sold out.

She was delighted as her daughters had not told her they were taking her to meet him.

Mrs Ulph said: “As far back as I can remember watching snooker with my husband (I have been a fan).

“I didn’t know I was going to meet him – it was a total surprise from my two daughters.

Sheila with the card signed by the snooker champion
Sheila with the card signed by the snooker champion

“My grandson met him before and got his book but I was too late to get the book, but we will buy one.”

However, she said he would treasure the signed Christmas card she had received from him.

Her daughters say their mum has also turned down days out with them and opted to stay in to watch Ronnie play in matches and finals.

“She also put bets on him winning whenever he played.

Ronnie O'Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book
Ronnie O’Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book
Ronnie signed a Christmas card for Shelia (6117463)
Ronnie signed a Christmas card for Shelia 
Ronnie O'Sullivan also met a young fan at the book signing
Ronnie O’Sullivan also met a young fan at the book signing

Mrs Ulph added:”Every time I saw him whether he won or lost, it was good.

“Just watching him is enough for me, he’s absolutely superb.”

Hundreds of people went along to meet the sportsman turned author including a young baby which he held and posted for photos with.

His book explores the gangland world of ’90s Soho.

Set in 1997, when Cool Britannia’s in full swing and 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 that’s on a high, life’s looking up for Frankie James too – the main character in the book. Frankie’s paid off his debts to London’s fierce gang lord, Tommy Riley.

His Soho open snooker tournament is about to kick off at his club.

Ronnie O'Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book
Ronnie O’Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book

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 and it is enough to get him killed or banged up for life.

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, written by O’Sullivan.

Since turning professional in 1992, he has clocked up number of awards and trophies, including the UK Championship, the China Open, the Regal Championships, the Benson and Hedges Masters and the British Open.

In January 2000 O’Sullivan won the Nations Cup for England, boasting the best record of any player, 13 wins from 15 frames played.

In 2016 he turned his hand to fiction, publishing his debut novel Framed.

The last part of the article is just a cut and paste from the “trailer” on Amazon and what they chose to “highlight” regarding Ronnie’s record just baffles me … but there you have it. Whoever wrote this trailer probably isn’t a snooker fan.

This was my own review of the book.

As for the German Masters qualifiers, I’ll cover the first round outcome tomorrow.

No #SPOTYforRonnie

Once again snooker has only got minimal coverage in the SPOTY show and neither Ronnie nor Mark Williams have been considered.

Here is Desmond Kane take of it. Desmond is writing for Eurosport

Feature – Ronnie O’Sullivan SPOTY snub reeks of ignorance, snobbery and borders on national disgrace

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s latest snub for the BBC Sports Personality of the year award is a total farce that is either genuine ignorance or a weird old case of class snobbery, writes Desmond Kane

And so the incurable malady of the Sports Personality ceremony lingers on.

The disgraceful decision to again ignore Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker’s greatest player of all time, from SPOTY, hit a worst note than David Baddiel trying to sing Three Lions at the smug, self-satisfied annual jamboree.

The decision-making to somehow omit O’Sullivan from the shortlist is as much of a waste of space as filling Birmingham’s Genting Arena with 15,000 to celebrate a closed shop. This is an event that completely lost its sense of decorum a long time ago. Probably when blokes like Harry Carpenter and big Frank Bruno were putting golf balls around the old BBC TV Centre back in the 1980s.

SPOTY is no longer for the people who watch sport, but soiled by people who think they know what the public like or want. Who think they know better than the great viewing public.

VIDEO – ‘Absolutely ridiculous!’ – Allen slams Ronnie’s SPOTY snub

00:44

It has as much credibility as the haggard Brexit diatribe “the will of the people” by disconnected eccentrics who have completely lost any sense of what the public actually want or like.

“What has anybody done in British sport done that Ronnie hasn’t done,” said an animated Mark Allen after his 9-7 win over Shaun Murphy in the Scottish Open final in Glasgow.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that he gets overlooked time and time again.”

O’Sullivan was priced at 14-1 for the top award last night behind only Tottenham and England forward Harry Kane, and it must be said a deserving winner in Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.

Even when the six names were trotted out by host Gary Lineker, who weirdly invited them to trudge onto the stage if they heard their name like some sort of sixth form teacher, O’Sullivan was still ahead of Lizzy Yarnold and James Anderson in the betting.

But how can he win if he isn’t allowed a place on the shortlist?

VIDEO – O’Sullivan lifts seventh UK Championship

01:06

Like him or loathe him, at the ripe young age of 43, O’Sullivan has personality, longevity and continues to be a magnificent champion at a stage of his career when other players are reaching for the horlicks.

The latest judging panel who opted against O’Sullivan for the final list of six nominees for the top award are guilty of failing to properly appreciate one of this country’s most talented sports people of all time.

Since he turned professional in 1992, O’Sullivan has astonishingly never been nominated. Yet on he goes, continuing to not only compete with age, but actually improve with 19 major events carried off from the sport.

He has enjoyed a wonderful time in 2018, finishing the year with a record seventh UK title while winning the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship, the Shanghai Masters and the Champion of Champions amid a smorgasbord of runs to the latter stages of events.

If he cannot make it onto the shortlist, you can well and truly forget the biggest snooker story of the year: the rejuvenated world champion Mark Williams winning a third world title at the age of 43, 15 years after his second gong at the Crucible. This miracle on the Sheffield mound occurred a year after the Welshman was thinking of retiring for failing to qualify for the tournament.

How can such world-class individuals be overlooked when they have spades of personality, charisma, dedication and a winning mentality?

VIDEO – When Mark Williams went NAKED to celebrate his world title – Eurosport Advent Calendar

01:43

Snooker is a game that was huge in the 1980s when it was transported from darkened spaces in working men’s clubs to mainstream TV.

It made icons of men like Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, Steve Davis and Jimmy ‘The Whirlwind’ White, but it is interesting that snooker has been treated with more disdain at a time when standards have never been higher. At a time when the standard-bearer is an English bloke who performs such a tough, unremitting game like he is potting pool balls down the pub.

O’Sullivan brings a spiritual element to snooker that has never been seen before and is perhaps unlikely to be witnessed again. O’Sullivan has made it more of an art form than a game. Van Gogh of the green baize. Quite possibly.

Well, the working class roots of snooker are obviously sneered at, and a general ignorance about the talent levels involved in the game make a mockery of the SPOTY panel of judges. Once again.

The SPOTY judging panel have made a barmier call than the trio who thought Deontay Wilder drew with Tyson Fury in their heavyweight contest last weekend.

Like O’Sullivan, Fury does not fit into the politically correct crew who put false, manufactured persona above proper working class heroes.

Like O’Sullivan, he has suffered from a cliquish interpretation of what the man or woman in the street likes.

SPOTY will continue to be run by a cabal of misguided snobs, but it completely lacks any credibility when it decides to omit great personalities for being great. And more importantly, for being true to themselves.

Follow the link above to watch the actual videos.

Desmond’s article only expresses the sentiments that countless others shared on social media yesterday evening.

Scottish Open 2018 – Mark Allen is your Champion!

Congratulations to Mark Allen, 2018 Scottish Open Champion

ScottishOpen2018AllenChampion

Mark Allen bounced back from the disappointment of losing to Ronnie in the UK Championship final a week ago, by winning the next event in Glasgow yesterday evening. He beat Shaun Murphy by 9-7 in the final. Congratulations.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Mark Allen defeated Shaun Murphy 9-7 in a thrilling BetVictor Scottish Open final in Glasgow to secure his fifth ranking title.

The match had looked set to go all the way to a decider, before Murphy miscued on 29 whilst among the balls at 8-7 down. Allen pounced and went about compiling a match winning break. However, he had appeared to have missed a pink to the middle, only to fluke it in the corner. The Northern Irishman made the most of his good fortune and completed a clearance of 83 to take home the title.

Allen is currently enjoying the best form of his career. He’s now claimed two ranking titles in 2018, having already tasted silverware at the International Championship. Allen was also runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at last week’s UK Championship.

The £70,000 winner’s cheque cements his place at the top of the one-year money list. The 32-year-old has now earned £353,000 in ranking competition so far this season.

The Pistol now turns his attentions to the defence of his Masters title next month, when he returns to Alexandra Palace in London for the elite 16-man invitational event, which he won at the start of the year.

This week represents a significant return to form for 2005 World Champion Murphy. The Magician had looked to be in trouble in the race to be at February’s World Grand Prix. Only the top 32 players in the one-year list qualify, with Murphy coming into this week ranked 65th. However, the £30,000 runner-up prize will act as big boost to his chances, moving him up to 31st.

It was Northern Ireland’s Allen who took command in the afternoon session, he fired in breaks of 82, 64 and 70 to come from 3-2 down to lead 5-3 heading into tonight.

The evening saw Allen extend his advantage by taking the opening frame. However, Triple Crown winner Murphy wasn’t going down without a fight. He claimed three frames on the bounce, including a sublime 115 break in the 12th to go into the last mid-session interval all-square at 6-6.

The Magician then took to the front making it 7-6, but it was the Pistol who found another gear as the finish line came into sight. Breaks of 66 and 134 took him one from victory and he secured the win with that dramatic run of 83 to win 9-7.

“As the match went on, I got stronger. At 7-6 down I produced some good snooker,” said Allen. “Shaun will probably rue a few missed chances, as his long game was ridiculously good today. He created a lot of good opportunities which he didn’t quite convert into frame winning chances.

“I was playing with my little girl in the mid-session interval. I just kept her occupied for 15 minutes. I miss her a lot and she obviously misses me a lot given her reaction when I came in. It actually completely relaxed me.

“We all know how good every player is when it comes to the Masters. There are no easy matches and I will need to perform to my very best to try and defend my title.”

Afterwards a disappointed Murphy looked to his miscue in the 16th frame, when in position to take the match into a deciding frame.

Murphy said: “A miscue is a bad shot. There is nothing unlucky about that. I had my chance to make it 8-8 and I scored 29 points. If you look at the great champions and legends they seize those opportunities. Perhaps that is why I don’t have the same trophy cabinet that some of them do.”

“Losing hurts. It doesn’t matter what level you are at. It doesn’t matter who you are. We are playing to win. That is what champions do, they find a gear. I had Mark Allen banged to rights at 7-6 and he found a way to win.”

The Scottish Open 2018 is the last televised event of 2018. Eurosport  is doing a great job.

Thank you guys!

EurosportTeam2018

Ronnie was in the commentary box, with Phil Studd, for the first four frames of the final.

ScottishOpen2018ROSStuddComs

Now there is only one more snooker event left this year and it starts tomorrow: the qualifiers for the 2019 German Masters.

Worldsnooker has published the draw and format last week

The draw and format for the qualifying rounds of the D88.com German Masters is now available.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The qualifiers will run from December 18 to 21 at the Barnsley Metrodome and admission for fans is FREE!

All players need to win two matches to make it through to the final stages at the famous Tempodrom venue in Berlin, to run from January 30 to February 3.

Mark Williams will be defending the title and other top stars in the field include Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy and Kyren Wilson.

Ronnie didn’t enter, unsurprisingly, but should be in Berlin as a pundit and commentator. Players need to win two matches, and this event usually throws a few surprises as top players are tired after a very busy first half of the season and often find it difficult to find motivation for a qualifying event so close the Xmas break.

Scottish Open 2018 – Day 6

Semi Finals day in Glasgow delivered this Final line-up: it’s Mark Allen v Shaun Murphy. So, despite the top 3 players skipping the event and any number of early exits, we still have two of the top 16 in the Final.

Here is how we gor there (source Worldsnooker)

Mark Allen 6-5 Daniel Wells

Masters champion Mark Allen staged a dramatic fightback to reach the BetVictor Scottish Open final, winning the last four frames to defeat Daniel Wells 6-5 in their last four clash.

The Pistol is now through to his third ranking final of the season so far, having won the International Championship and been runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan at last week’s UK Championship. Allen will face either Judd Trump or Shaun Murphy tomorrow as he aims to pick up just his second ever ranking title on British soil.

Welshman Wells will leave Glasgow disappointed at not being able to convert his lead and reach a maiden ranking final. However, he will still be able to reflect positively on making his first semi-final appearance.

Wells looked by far the stronger player in the opening stages. He capitalised on a slow start from Allen, establishing a 4-0 advantage at the mid-session.

When they returned Allen crucially got his first frame on the board, coming from 55-0 down to steal. A break 59 then helped him to move within two of world number 66 Wells.

Wells had looked to have halted the fightback after a 31 clearance saw him take the seventh on the black to move within a frame of victory at 5-2. However, at that point it was Allen who upped his game to go on a four-frame blitz, making breaks of 79, 106 and 129 on his way to the 6-5 win.

Allen said: “I feel for Daniel. He was dominating that match right up until 5-3. He hit the ball with his arm on a rest shot and everything turned from there. I didn’t give him any chances after that and started playing well myself.

“He was so positive in the early part of the match. I felt as the match went on he sort of went into his shell. He turned a few shots down and I sensed that and got a bit more confidence myself. I’m sure when he looks back at that he will regret not taking a few on and closing the match out earlier.”

Wells was understandably disappointed at missing out on the final, but says that today’s match will be an important experience in his career.

“It is a tough learning curve. It has been a huge experience for me and to be honest I am proud of how I handled myself,” said the world number 66. “I felt comfortable throughout the match and fair play to Mark. It takes a top player to come back from 5-2 down and do it the way he did, not really giving me a chance.”

Shaun Murphy 6-3 Judd Trump

Shaun Murphy put on a superb display to defeat world number five Judd Trump 6-3 and reach the final of the BetVictor Scottish Open in Glasgow.

That sets up a mouth-watering showpiece clash between Murphy and one of his best friends Mark Allen.  It’s the Magician who has a 10-4 lead in their head-to-head record. However, their contrasting fortunes so far this season see the Pistol head into the clash as the form player.

Masters champion Allen is enjoying one of his most consistent campaigns on the World Snooker Tour, having already won the International Championship and been runner-up at last week’s UK Championship. While 2005 World Champion Murphy has suffered six first round exits so far this season. However, this evening’s performance showcased an emphatic return to form.

Murphy came out of the blocks at breakneck speed. Incredibly he mopped up the first three frames in just 25 minutes, making breaks of 89, 93 and 70 to establish a 3-0 advantage. A fine break of 69 saw Trump notch up his first frame and stay in touch at the interval.

When they returned Murphy reasserted his authority with a run of 82 to make it 4-1. The 2011 UK Champion Trump claimed the next, before a dramatic seventh frame.

Murphy found himself needing pink and black to move just one from victory. After doubling the pink, he missed a cut-back black. That afforded Trump the opportunity to pull within one, he duly obliged and made it 4-3.

Triple Crown winner Murphy won a tense eighth and then got himself over the line in style with a break of 71 in the ninth.

Murphy said: “To play like that, having improved each match, is beyond my wildest dreams. I came here this week just trying to turn things around. I didn’t expect to be talking about going into the final. I’m really excited.

“Working with Chris Henry again has been very important. He has come over from Bruges with our old notebooks from four or five years ago and we have made some technical changes. That was an immediate fix. Then it is about those six inches between your ears. You don’t realise how far you have let your mentality go until an expert in the field points it out to you. Then you can start looking yourself in the mirror and having some serious conversations.

“Mark and I are very close. We are really good mates. He is in the form of his life. Tomorrow when we shake hands we will want to beat each other, but immediately after there will be hugs and maybe a few drinks.”

Now this all looks so very serious in those reports but, regarding the Allen v Wells match, the reality is slightly more hilarious. The truth is that Mark Allen arrived in Glasgow determined to have a “good week” and “enjoy himself”, which basically means having a drink or ten with mates in evenings! And i’s exactly what he did. So yesterday, as he freely admitted afterwards, he came to his match badly hungover and couldn’t pot a ball for his life until the MSI. During said MSI, the pundits were discussing what was going on and what each player had to do, and Ronnie who had mainly kept silent until directly asked the question, advised “a few beers” for Allen. He may well have known exactly what state Allen was in because they are good mates. And whilst they were discussing it … Allen was  doing exactly that: having a few drinks. He came back like Lazarus after that! From 4-0 and 5-2 down! But Daniel Wells will kick himself because he could and should have won this match. What happened is that instead of taking his chances, he started defending his lead. That doesn’t work, not against a top player in the modern game. Daniel had the best run of his career, he has a lot of positives to take, and, hopefully, he will learn from the experience too. Allen’s postmatch was hilarious. He freely admitted to his “sins” and was totally unrepentant, clearly planning more of the same in the evening. And Jimmy, of all people, preaching moderation and trying to talk him out of this inebriated plan was quite amusing.

The Shaun Murphy v Judd Trump semi final was a bit more conventional. The way Shaun played in the first three frames was phenomenal. And then, all of a sudden, doubts crept in after Judd managed to win the last frame before the MSI. Shaun started missing all sorts. But Judd was missing as well, demonstrating once again that, under pressure, he’s vulnerable, especially when he is expected to win. No signs of Judd quotes after the match suggest that he didn’t take the defeat well.

And, of course, today is also SPOTY day. Let’s see if snooker gets more that a 15 seconds  mention this time. I wouldn’t hold my breath over it.

Shaun Murphy though thinks it’s all weird and a snobbish snub