Race to Llandudno – how things stand

Worldsnooker has today published this:

The field for the Coral Players Championship is now set, with the top 16 on the one-year ranking list going through to the Guild Hall in Preston next week (March 4 to 10). Click here for the draw and match schedule.

The final event of the 2019 Coral Series is the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 19 to 24) with a line up of only eight players in North Wales. There are three counting events still to go before the cut off falls: this week’s Indian Open, next week’s Coral Players Championship and then the Gibraltar Open (March 15-17).

No one outside the top 16 of the one-year list can make it to Llandudno; even if 17th-placed Martin O’Donnell won the top prizes in India (£50,000) and Gibraltar (£25,000) that would still not be enough to put him into the top eight. However those currently ninth to 16th who have made it to Preston can still qualify for Llandudno, with a top prize of £125,000 up for grabs at the Guild Hall.

David Gilbert is clinging on to eighth place with £170,000  but Stuart Bingham continued to gain ground with a run to the quarter-finals of last week’s BetVictor Shoot Out and he’s now just £3,000 behind. Both players are in India this week looking for a deep run to improve their position. Then Bingham and Gilbert go head to head in Preston next Wednesday, and that match could be an important moment in the race to Llandudno.

There are three players – Ali Carter, Joe Perry and Jimmy Robertson – who are inside the top 16 of the one-year list and outside the top 16 of the official two-year list. Gilbert is the only player inside the top eight of the one-year list and outside the top eight of the two year list. John Higgins is officially fourth in the world but lies 13th on the one-year list, £59,000 behind Gilbert.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh win his first ranking title at the BetVictor Shoot Out, and his £32,000 pay day sees him jump 12 places on the two-year list to 41st. Michael Holt was runner-up and climbs from 46th to 40th. Tour rookie Jamie Clarke reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time and he’s up nine spots to 116th.

There are five counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible and 16th-placed Gilbert now has a buffer of £23,000 over 17th-placed Ryan Day.

With £50000 for the winner in India, and only £25000 in Gibraltar, it’s obvious that the results in the Players Championship will be key to the qualification for the Tour Championship. Except for Jack Lisowski and Stuart Bingham, all the others need to win the title unless they can have a deep run in India and/or Gilbraltar.

Ali Carter, Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire are not in India. Mathematically Ali and Barry could still qualify for Llandudno by being runner-up in both Gilbraltar and Preston, but only if David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski and Stuart Bingham have a relatively poor run in all India and Preston and Gibraltar. Otherwise they will need the title in Preston. Maguire didn’t enter Gibraltar so he needs the title in Preston to stand any chance.

Worldsnooker has just published the draw for Gibraltar. 

Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Ronnie, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire all giving it a miss.

The World Champion is doing a Charity Exhibition

Mark Williams  is doing a charity exhibition in Cleethorpes, on April 12, 2019. This was brought to my attention by Nigel Coton, a player competing on both the Disability Snooker Tour and the Seniors Snooker Tour. Thank you Nigel!

Here is the information available in the press

Mark Williams at Beachcomber, Cleethorpes

April 12 @ 7:30 pm

£25 – £45

Poster for Mark Williams at Beechcomber Cleethorpes

Food available on the night and a great selection of beers, wines and soft drinks.

All proceeds go to health tree foundation trust and special baby care unit.

Mark will play 12 frames on the night. (Local players.)

Snooker competition will be held at Ray Edmonds snooker centre on dates to be arranged. £10 entry. Winners will play a frame on the night.

Raffles
Name cards on going to raise funds.

Details

Date: April 12
Time: 7:30 pm
Cost: £25 – £45

Venue

Beechcomber, Cleethorpes

208 North Sea Lane
Cleethorpes, DN36 4ET United Kingdom
Get Directions
Phone: 01472 812666

Nigel was able to give me a bit more information.

As mentioned, the exhibition is in support of the Health Tree Foundation . It is  organised by Jamie Barrett, a former pro, who sadly lost his wife 3 years ago far too young. Jamie is from Grimsby, only a couple of miles away from Cleethorpes.

Here is an interview with Jamie, ahead of the 2016 UK Championship

As explained above, “Willo” will take on 12 “local” players, including Nigel Coton himself. Nigel can only play with one hand and will (try to) challenge Mark Williams to play him one-handed as well. This is something Mark occasionally does even in ranking events, although only for the odd shot. Here is a recent example.

Hopefully Willo will accept the challenge. Should be great!!!

If you have the opportunity, get yourself there, have fun and support a good cause!

 

Players Championship 2019 line-up confirmed.

Worldsnooker have published this today:

The field of 16 top snooker stars has now been confirmed for the Coral Players Championship in Preston, which runs from March 4 to 10.

Only the leading 16 players from the one-year ranking listhave qualified for the £380,000 world ranking event at the iconic Guild Hall. The ITV-televised tournament is the second of three events in the 2019 Coral Snooker Series.

Top stars in action in Preston will include Coral World Grand Prix champion Judd Trump, five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, world number one Mark Selby, World Champion Mark Williams, four-time Crucible king John Higgins, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson and many more.

The first round matches are below (seedings in brackets):

The first round matches are below (seedings in brackets):

Mark Allen (1) v  Stephen Maguire (16): Monday March 4 at 7pm
David Gilbert (8) v Stuart Bingham (9): Wednesday March 6 at 1pm
Ronnie O’Sullivan (5) v Barry Hawkins (12): Monday March 4 at 7pm
Mark Selby (4) v John Higgins (13): Wednesday March 6 at 1pm
Neil Robertson (3) v Joe Perry (14): Tuesday March 5 at 1pm
Mark Williams (6) v Ali Carter (11): Tuesday March 5 at 1pm
Kyren Wilson (7) v Jack Lisowski (10): Tuesday March 5 at 7pm
Judd Trump (2) v Jimmy Robertson (15): Tuesday March 5 at 7pm

Quarter-finals
QF1 Allen / Maguire v Gilbert / Bingham: Thursday March 7 at 7pm
QF2 O’Sullivan / Hawkins v Selby / Higgins: Friday March 8 at 1pm
QF3 Robertson / Perry v Williams / Carter: Thursday March 7 at 1pm
QF4 Wilson / Lisowski v Trump / Robertson: Wednesday March 6 at 7pm

Semi-finals
SF1: Saturday March 9 at 7pm
SF2: Friday March 8 at 7pm

The tournament starts at 7pm on Monday March 4, and concludes with the showpiece final on Sunday March 10.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: “It’s an incredibly strong field with the great names of modern snooker in the draw. And some of the first round matches would grace the final of any tournament, in fact Mark Selby and John Higgins met in the World Championship final two years ago!

“We are delighted to be heading back to the Preston Guild Hall, where major snooker tournaments have been staged since 1978. We know how much the fans in Lancashire love our sport, and the players know it is one of the best arenas on the circuit.

“This is an extremely prestigious event with an elite field. As well as battling for the title and top prize of £125,000, players are also competing to secure a place in the top eight on the one year ranking list and qualify for the third and final event in the Coral Snooker Series, the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 19-24).

“Judd Trump could be the man to beat having won the Coral World Grand Prix, if he can win the next two events he’ll complete the ‘Coral Slam’ and earn a massive £500,000. It is going to be a week of snooker of the highest quality in Preston, and we strongly urge fans to get tickets booked quickly because certain sessions will sell out.”

Ronnie’s draw is not particularly easy! But he looked happy and balanced in Watford. Barry Hawkins is never easy to beat, especially during the last part of the season, and it will be eiter Mark SElby or John Higgins next should Ronnie win. Fingers crossed.

Shoot Out 2019 – Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is your Champion

“Theppy” won his first ranking event  yesterday evening, playing exceptionally well at the Colosseum in Watford. As much as I disagree with the ranking status of the Shoot Out, I can’t help to feel happy for Thepchaiya. It’s never easy for the Asian players, who have to live away from their families, in an alien culture. He was overwhelmed with joy and emotion when receiving his first trophy, and he deserved it, he had been the best over the four days, but especially yesterday. The record-breaking 139 he made in the semi final is an extraordinary break. In the final, his opponent, Michael Holt didn’t have a telling shot. Theppy played a good safety, forced a mistake, and about 5 minutes later it was over! Michael Holt took it philosophically.

Here is the report on Worldsnnoker:

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, snooker’s fastest player, won his first ranking title by beating Michael Holt in the final of the BetVictor Shoot Out.

All results 

Bangkok’s 33-year-old Un-Nooh became the only Thai player other than James Wattana to win a ranking title with a stunning display of natural talent at Watford Colosseum. The world number 53 made the highest break in the eight-year history of the Shoot Out, 139, in the semi-finals to beat Jamie Clarke, then scored a quick-fire 74 in the final to earn the £32,000 top prize.

The tournament has a unique format with all matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five. That suited Un-Nooh’s game as his average shot time of under 17 seconds is the fastest on the tour. He had never previously been beyond the last 16 of the event, but this time his game clicked.

Un-Nooh turned pro in 2009 and had never previously played in a ranking final. He won the invitational Six Red World Championship in 2015 in his native Thailand, but to join the circle of players to have won a ranking title is surely his proudest moment. He climbs 12 places to 41st in the world.

Holt, age 40 from Nottingham, was also seeking his first ranking title, having played in one final before. He made an excellent break of 56 to beat Michael White from 21-0 down in the semi-finals. But a loose safety shot early in the final gave his opponent a chance, and a few minutes later the match was over. World number 46 Holt earns £16,000.

Un-Nooh said: “I am so proud of myself. I have worked hard and have been looking to win this tournament. I told myself I could win this event many years ago. I haven’t been close before, but this format is perfect for me. I can easily play with ten or 15 seconds. That is normal for me.

“It has been a long time since James Wattana was the last player from Thailand to win a ranking title. I hope that this helps to make snooker more popular in Thailand. It would be good if this helps the Thai association to encourage more young players in the future.

“The 139 break was fantastic and very important in terms of my career. It was my best ever break. To do it in only six minutes was brilliant. I won’t be able to sleep tonight.”

Ronnie was in the studio most of the day …

Great coverage by Eurosport.

Ronnie really enjoyed the event as a pundit. He went on twitter saying this event is tha way forward and would definitely play next time. Hum… He did play in it years ago, made it to the SF in 2011, and didn’t really enjoy it that much. But then he wasn’t in a good place mentally at the time.

Shout Out 2019 – Watford Day 3

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Jimmy White came through a tightly contested clash with John Astley to reach the last 32 of the BetVictor Shoot Out in Watford.

All results

The legendary ten-time ranking event winner is a firm favourite with the raucous Shoot Out crowd, who willed him on this afternoon. However, it was a scrappy battle for the Whirlwind as he edged through with a 32-18 victory.

Michael Georgiou saw the defence of his title ended by a 45-28 defeat against China’s Li Hang. Georgiou had a chance to snatch victory in the closing seconds but missed a red to a top corner when just eight points behind.

World number seven Kyren Wilson secured his passage to the last 32 by defeating Elliot Slessor 41-18. Following his victory the German Masters champion celebrated with son Finley at the table.

Belgium’s Luca Brecel fired in the highest break of the tournament so far, a run of 133, to see off Ricky Walden. The sublime contribution pipped Walden’s previous break of 132 from the first round.

English 16-year-old Ryan Davies continued a dream run, making some dazzling pots in a meeting with fellow teenager, 14-year-old Ben Mertens from Belgium. The Oldham cueman controlled the frame and came through a 37-12 victor.

Amateur Barry Pinches beat Ben Woollaston 51-44 in a dramatic finish. With a few seconds left, Woollaston potted the last red, and just needed a colour for victory, then potted the pink as the clock ticked to zero. But referee Brendan Moore correctly called a foul as the brown ball was still rolling when the shot was played. Moore consulted a video replay before confirming Pinches as the winner.

Two-time Shoot Out finalist Graeme Dott beat Xiao Guodong 61-22 while Stuart Bingham beat Shaun Murphy 72-22 in a battle of two former World Champions.

Alan McManus trailed Jimmy Robertson 33-20 with less than two minutes to go but the Scot grabbed victory with a run of 20.

China’s Zhao Xintong knocked out Ali Carter and can still qualify for next month’s Players Championship if he wins the tournament (read more on that story here).

Dominic Dale secured an important win in his bid for tour survival. The Spaceman enjoyed a 57-18 win against Malaysia’s Thor Chuan Leong. Germany’s top player Lukas Kleckers made breaks of 25 and 36 as he beat Ken Doherty 71-26.

The last 32 takes place on Sunday afternoon from 1pm, with the rest of the tournament to run from 7pm.

Ronnie was behind the counter in the evening.

Never seen Alan Mc Manus so animated! Naughty Andy Goldstein…

As for Ronnie’s assessment of Zhao Xintong, it didn’t go unnoticed! Here is Victoria’s reaction on twitter:

Now, seriously, dropping off the tour and having to re-qualify seems to have done Zhao a world of good. He looks much more focused and mature this season.

Shoot Out 2019 – Watford Day 2

Here is the report on Worldsnooker about yesterday in Watford

Ryan Davies, a talented 16-year-old wild card, grabbed his chance in the spotlight at the BetVictor Shoot Out by beating experienced pro Robbie Williams.

All results

Oldham potter Davies, the English under-18 champion , is through to the last 64 of the world ranking event in Watford, which has a unique format with all matches lasting a maximum of ten minutes.

A break of 21 gave him control, though Williams then had a chance to snatch victory in the last few seconds, but missed a tricky red when trailing 24-18.

Irish under-21 champion Stephen Bateman was another of the eight wild cards to book a second round place as he knocked out Mark Davis.

But former women’s world under-21 champion Emma Parker went out in the opening round, losing to India’s Laxman Rawat who made a break of 48.

Dominic Dale, who won this event in 2014, got the better of Yuan Sijun while Michael Holt made a break of 61 to beat Zhou Yuelong.

Former World Champion Stuart Bingham compiled a run of 55 to get the better of Matthew Stevens, while another former Crucible king also progressed as Graeme Dott knocked out Martin O’Donnell. That ended O’Donnell’s hopes of qualifying for the Players Championship – read more on that story here.

Shaun Murphy got the better of Mark King while Luca Brecel made a superb break of 74 to beat Farakh Ajaib. Martin Gould, Shoot Out king in 2013, made an even 100 as he beat Liam Highfield.

Tour rookie Kishani Hirani knocked out Yan Bingtao, with a scoreline of 55-54. Yan had a chance for victory in the closing seconds but missed a tough double on the yellow.

Amateur Peter Devlin beat Ross Muir 35-16, sparking a jubilant celebration from the charismatic Londoner and his small army of fans in the crowd. Barry Pinches was another amateur to make it to round two as he beat 2017 Shoot Out winner Anthony McGill.

Ronnie was behind the counter in the evening

Martin O’Donnell and Noppon Saengkham are now out of the race to the Players Championship. Zhao Xintong and Xiao Guodong still have a chance but must win the event.

I was recording the scores for snooker.org yesterday evening and I had to watch it. I must say that the crowd really got on my nerves. Maybe it’s because my hearing is so bad and that makes noise very tiring for me, but it was painful. I’m not sure if or how it would be possible to get the crowd involved without the whole thing turning into a drunken circus.

Shoot Out 2019 – Watford Day 1

I have very mixed feelings about the Shoot Out. I have been at the tournament in the past and it was nice to see the players relaxed, having some fun, and coming along with their families. Especially in the early years, players were not used to the alternate rules, or the short shot-clock, which brought up some hilarious “mistakes”. It didn’t matter then as everyone was able to have a laugh about it. That was before it became a ranking event. But even in those days, I hated the drunken idiots in the crowd, throwing beer and broken glass at Janie Watkins and me whilst we were trying to take pictures.

Now it’s a ranking event, which is a travesty, as it isn’t even snooker. As Ronnie put it yesterday, it’s “snooker played under pool rules”. And it does certainly “kill” the fun for those players struggling for ranking points. Some mistakes aren’t “hilarious” anymore, the consequences are very serious. And when, two years ago, Mark Williams found himself at the qualifiers for the Crucible – and failed – just because Anthony McGill had won this “ranking event”, I felt outraged and gutted. I didn’t mind Michael Georgiou winning it last year; Michael is a nice guy, it was great for him, and Cyprus, and it didn’t impact anyone else career. But even so, this should not be a ranking event. End of rant – for now.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker:

Jimmy White ended the hopes of top women’s player Reanne Evans in the first round of the BetVictor Shoot Out in Watford on Thursday night.

All results

Evans, the 11 time World Women’s champion, was given a wild card entry to the quickfire one frame knockout tournament, becoming the first female player to compete in the televised stages of a ranking event in the UK.

And she had chances to beat legend White, particularly when she trailed by just eight points at 27-19, but mis-cued when attempting to pot the black. White later made a break of 21 to seal a 54-26 victory and a place in the last 64.

“If Reanne had beaten me tonight I wouldn’t have been that disappointed because she’s a good friend of mine and I know what a good player she is,” said 56-year-old White. “We both had chances and it was lucky for me that she mis-cued at a vital time. I’ve played her many times in exhibitions and she’s a lot better than that.

“The Shoot Out is fun, the atmosphere is like darts. The dart players are used to it while we have to try to blank it out and just pot balls.”

Ben Mertens, a 14-year-old amateur wild card from Belgium, reached the last 64 with the most dramatic win of the opening day.

Up against former world number three James Wattana, a player 35 years his senior, talented potter Mertens built a lead of 29 points at 60-31. Wattana had a chance to clear up and got within a point at 59-60, only to run out of time when he just needed to pot the pink for victory.

“It’s crazy, it was lovely,” said Mertens, who practised with Luca Brecel to prepare for the tournament. “I just wanted to enjoy the match, but I won. It’s very nice to have a wild card for this event and I’m looking forward to my next match. Luca is one of my idols and I learned a lot from playing with him. He told me to enjoy it.”

Michael Georgiou got the defence of his title underway by beating Peter Ebdon 67-37. “I have come here with fond memories of last year, so to get into the second round is a good feeling,” said Cypriot cueman Georgiou. “You can’t really prepare for this tournament, however the balls go you just have to get on with it.”

Kyren Wilson came from 60-0 down to beat Ian Burns by a single point. Wilson made 45 before missing the yellow, but got another chance and potted green, brown, blue and pink to go 63-62 ahead. Burns tried twice to double the black but missed his target before the time ran out.

Ricky Walden made a fantastic break of 132 to beat 12-year-old Liam Davies. That was the second highest break ever in the Shoot Out, topped only by the 135 from Martin Gould in 2012.

Zhao Xintong, one of the four players who can earn a place in the Players Championship by winning the tournament (for more on that story click here) beat Joe O’Connor 59-2 while former World Champion Ken Doherty made a break of 59 to beat Adam Stefanow.

Barry Hawkins, who won this event in 2012, beat Simon Lichtenberg 68-7 while European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson made a 63 to beat Zhang Jiankang. Germany’s top player Lukas Kleckers beat Jamie O’Neill 64-0.

The world ranking event at the Watford Colosseum runs until Sunday. All matches last a maximum of ten minutes, with a shot clock of 15 seconds for the first five minutes and ten seconds for the last five.

The event is on Eurosport for the first time, and the usual gang – Ronnie, Jimmy, Fouldsy and Andy Goldstein – are in the “studio”, or rather behind a counter, doing their best to do their job in promoting the event. Jimmy though has hinted – more than once – that for him it’s not that much fun. He needs those ranking points…