Crucible 2019 – Day 8

Yesterday we lost both the defending champion, Mark Williams, and the man who had been World n°1 for more than four years and who, with Ronnie’s early exit, had an opportunity to regain that spot, Mark Selby. Both were poor but their circumstances are very different. We are only half through the second round and seven of the seeds have gone already, including the top three.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Morning session

World number 32 Gary Wilson secured the biggest win of his career, defeating three-time Crucible king Mark Selby 13-10 to reach the last eight of the Betfred World Championship.

Wilson will now turn his attentions to a first ever Crucible quarter-final. The former taxi driver from Wallsend faces either Ali Carter or Zhou Yuelong for the right to compete in the one-table setup. That means a qualifier is guaranteed to make the semi-finals.

33-year-old Wilson has now secured the biggest payday of his career, with £50,000 assured for reaching the quarter-finals. That supersedes his previous best, which came for reaching the final of the 2015 China Open where he picked up £35,000. On that occasion he faced Selby and succumbed to a 10-2 defeat.

Defeat will be a big blow for Selby. The 15-time ranking event winner lost his world number one spot to Ronnie O’Sullivan last month, having held the position since February 2015. He has now failed to win an event in the UK for two years, dating back to his victory at the 2017 World Championship.

Wilson claimed the final three frames of yesterday’s second session to emerge with a 9-7 advantage. However, Selby turned up the heat when play got underway today. A break of 81 saw him take the opener, before claiming the 18th frame to level at 9-9.

Despite Selby’s strong start, Wilson refused to buckle in the Crucible cauldron. He traded frames with his illustrious opponent to reach 10-10. As they entered the business end of the encounter, it was Wilson who looked the most comfortable.

A break of 86 saw Wilson move 11-10 up. The following frame was a fragmented and tactical affair. Wilson gained the upper hand and won a 49-minute frame to edge one from victory at 12-10. He crossed the line in style with a fine break of 92.

Wilson said: “It wasn’t so much the best performance of my career, but it’s the best result of my career so far. I’m absolutely over the moon to have won that game. Mark missed a few, I missed a few and it got a little bit scrappy at times. But, I held my nerve quite well and that basically got me over the line.

“There are other players on the tour that you look at and think, there’s no reason I can’t do as well as that. It’s just about doing as best I can. This is the biggest stage we play on, and I want to play my best snooker.

“I don’t mind who I face next, it’s just about playing the opponent and hopefully I’ll get the result and go through. I don’t feel like I’m playing well enough yet to do well in the tournament. I’ve got through a couple of great games and I’m really proud of myself, but I know I’m going to have to play better.”

Selby said: “It was a strange match all the way through. I was in and out of focus. In the last few years, when it has come to the crunch, I’ve fancied the job. I felt a little bit edgy out there and I think that is probably because of the season I’ve had. I probably lacked a little bit of confidence. Gary played well and he deserved to win.

“I won’t go back to the practice table too soon that’s for sure. I’ll have a good month off, go on holiday and then come back to practice only a week or two before the season starts again. It’s such a long season. You need to try and forget everything and just go again next season.”

Gary Wilson deserves every credit. He very simply was the better player all match. He has been playing remarkably well since the start of the competition, both at the EIS and at the Crucible. Actually, against Mark Selby, Gary’s performance, still excellent, wasn’t quite as good as against Luca Brecel, but it was more than enough. Gary is set to play the winner of Ali Carter v Zhou yuelong, and I certainly don’t put it past him to reach the one table set up this year.

Afternoon session

Stephen Maguire came through a nerve shredding encounter with James Cahill to win 13-12 and clinch his place in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

Scotland’s Maguire will now face either Judd Trump or Ding Junhui in the last eight. It’s the sixth time that world number 15 Maguire has reached the Crucible quarter-finals. However, he hasn’t done it the easy way. Both his matches this year have now come down to a deciding frame, having already edged out China’s Tian Pengfei 10-9 in round one.

Cahill’s fairytale run comes to an end. The Blackpool potter became the first ever amateur to compete at the Crucible by qualifying. In doing so he also secured his professional tour card for next season by virtue of the one-year list. Cahill then produced a seismic shock in World Championship history, when he knocked out world number one Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-8 in the opening round.

Maguire came into this afternoon’s concluding session with a 9-7 advantage, after producing breaks of 83 and 121 to take the final two frames of the second session. When play got underway today, Cahill quickly reeled him in with runs of 63 and 74 to draw level at 9-9.

A contribution of 65 helped Maguire to edge back in front. However, Cahill ensured parity at the mid-session by taking the next frame to make it 10-10.

When play resumed Cahill took the lead for the first time in the match, making the most of a table length double to clear with 25 and steal the frame. Maguire then levelled at 11-11 thanks to a break of 71, before a dramatic 23rd frame.

Cahill appeared to be in a strong position among the balls, before fouling the pink with his waistcoat. Both players then spurned opportunities to move one from victory. Eventually Cahill crucially missed the final brown. A safety battle ensued, with Maguire depositing the brown first to get over the line in the frame and move one from victory.

Cahill clinched a tense 24th frame to force a decider. However, it was Maguire who held his nerve with contributions of 29 and 30 to book his quarter-final spot.

“I’m not enjoying it. Two deciders and two matches I could have lost easily, but I’m still in it,” said 38-year-old Maguire. “I’ll hold my hands up, I was gone out there, my cue action went to bits and I didn’t believe I could pot a ball in the end. Somehow I managed to muster up a decent last frame. I don’t know where that came from.

“I’m shattered at the moment. I’m going to change my tip tonight and then I’ve got two days off. I’ll smash in the new tip, work on a bit of technique and try and improve for that next match.”

Cahill said: “It’s swings and roundabouts. I was in a bit of a flow, but then the interval came and sort of took it away from me. It’s hard to keep that flow going, but if you can then it is possible to reel off a few frames with the momentum. It was a good game and I wish him all the best.”

To be honest this was a completely crazy match. It wasn’t great snooker, it was even a bit slapstick at times, but it was quite eventful and dramatic. Stephen Maguire was extremely honest in his postmatch interview – he always is – and I like him for that. He’s playing Judd Trump or Ding Junhui next. That match has only just started and it’s also not going as expected, albeit in a different way.

here is the decider

2019 WSC: Stephen Maguire – James Cahill (final frame)

On the other table John Higgins came back from 3-1 down to finish the session all square with Stuart Bingham on a 4-4 score. I didn’t see a ball of that, so can’t comment.

Evening session

Mark Williams saw his reign as Betfred World Champion ended by a 13-9 defeat against David Gilbert at the second round stage.

Williams, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby, the top three ranked players in the world, have all left Sheffield within the first two rounds.

Three-time Crucible king Williams was in the emergency department of the Northern General Hospital until late last night suffering from chest pains and he was clearly off-colour today, both in his demeanour and performance.

But that takes nothing away from former tractor driver Gilbert, who is competing as a seed at the Crucible for the first time and has broken new ground by reaching the last eight. His next opponent is either Barry Hawkins or Kyren Wilson.

A strong run at the Crucible caps off a career-best season for Tamworth’s 37-year-old Gilbert; this term he has reached two ranking event finals as well as climbing into the top 16. One of those finals, at the Yushan World Open, ended in cruel defeat as he let slip a 9-5 lead against Williams, losing 10-9. He admitted that was in his mind tonight, but this time there was no surrender.

World number three Williams trailed 9-7 going into the final session and took the first frame tonight to halve his deficit. But Gilbert quickly quashed his opponent’s hopes of a fight back as breaks of 62, 52 and 139 gave him three frames in a row and made it 12-8 at the interval.

World number 16 Gilbert might have sealed victory in frame 21 had he not missed a tough final red with the rest along a side cushion. Williams took advantage to pull one back and he had first chance in the 22nd but could only make 33. This time Gilbert punished him with a match-winning run of 89.

“I really enjoyed the match from start to finish,” said Gilbert, who had won just one match at the Crucible before this year. “In the last session I was so comfortable and calm within myself and it was one of my best ever performances. I really felt like I deserved the win, I stuck to my guns all day.

“It means everything. It wasn’t so long ago I was struggling to get through the qualifiers and now I’m at the Mecca of snooker and I’ve just beaten the defending champion. I feel like if I play the way I did there and keep that up I can cause people some grief.

“When Mark nicked the frame to go 12-9 it reminded me of the Yushan final, but I just had a chuckle to myself and thought keep going. I was prepared to go for my shots all day. I wasn’t going to back down no matter what happened.”

Williams, asked about his chest pains, said: “I just couldn’t stick it yesterday, I didn’t know what it was. Mike Ganley (tournament director) phoned the doctor and said to go straight to A&E and get it checked out, so that’s what I did. I was there for a few hours. The doctors said they were 99 per cent sure it wasn’t a heart problem. I’m going to have some more tests when I go home now and see my own doctor.

“I just feel terrible, and I played how I feel, dreadful. I tried my best, but I just had nothing there for the whole match. I was needing two or three chances to win frames, and you’re not going to get them every frame. Dave played well, he made some cracking clearances and I couldn’t keep up with him.

“I have loved being introduced as defending champion, it’s just a shame I’ve got to go out this way. I tried my best, I could have easily given up and lost 13-3 or 13-4 but I stuck in there.”

On the other table Masters champion Judd Trump emerged with a 5-3 advantage against Chinese number one Ding Junhui.

World number seven Trump came through one of the matches of the tournament so far in the opening round, beating Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 10-9. While Ding booked his second round slot with a hard fought 10-7 win over Anthony McGill.

Trump composed breaks of 61, 57 and 50 on his way to earning a 5-1 lead. However, Ding will be happy to have kept himself in touch. He halted Trump’s run of four frames on the bounce by taking the fifth frame, before a break of 67 saw him end the session just two behind at 5-3.

Both Mark Williams and David Gilbert deserve huge praise. Gilbert for the way he won, the quality snooker he played, and his refreshing unsophisticated manners with the media. Mark Williams for battling it through valliantly whilst obviously unwell and tired. So much so that there wasn’t even a trace of mischief in his postmatch this time. It’s actually worrying. Chest pains can be a lot of things and I sincery hope that it’s nothing serious in this case. Get well soon Willo! And, finally, it was lovely to see Mark Williams’ son and wife very sportingly applauding David whilst he completed the win. Well done the Williamses.

On the other table, it finished 5-3 to Judd Trump. Baffling doesn’t even start to describe how it felt watching this match. Actually Ding could have been 7-1 up, or even 8-0 up had he taken the opportunities he was given, or should I write “gifted”. But Ding was making glaring mistakes, missing about everything that wasnt short-range, and another few that were short range. He found himself 5-1 down and, fortunately for him and the interest of the match, managed to play two decent last frames. Trump … where do I start? He played most of this session smashing the balls at full force/speed, most of the times totally unnecessarily. Opening the packs this way, he propelled the balls all over the table, often to find out that he was on nothing easy, and ending up breaking down prematurely, with enough on the table for his opponent to steal the frame … had the said opponent been equipped with his normal game. This was the case in each of the three frames Judd won with breaks of 61, 57 and 50  before the MSI. After the MSI there were no more breaks over 50 from him at all. But there was a very bad miscue whilst playing at full speed/force, after which he appeared a bit more subdued. I wonder if he damaged his tip. My husband, who is a “casual” snooker fan, was watching with me, and his reaction to what he saw was “Something isn’t right here, are they competing honestly?”. Enough said. I do believe that both were competing honestly BTW, only one with his usual arrogance at the table when he feels on top, and the other, either as a man under huge pressure … or one whose concentration has been left in the dressing room. To me Judd Trump playing that way is NOT exciting, it’s infuriating. I much more prefer to watch him play the way he can and does when facing an opponent he respects. Yesterday, at times, it was almost as if he was trying to physically intimitade his opponent. End of rant.



4 thoughts on “Crucible 2019 – Day 8

  1. Btw what’s up with Ronnie? he was supposed to do Eurosport during the Crucible, no? I don’t have Eurosport, but people say he is not there, went for a vacation…

  2. I wonder what you all think about Selby, who had 2 rather awful seasons and looked very annoyed yesterday at is interview when asked about who he thinks will win “I honestly couldn’t care less”. He missed easy balls and was very angry/frustrated when he missed the last one – did he just start declining? The only good match he played was against Ronnie at the NI Open.

    Trump I cannot watch, the character irritates me so much, and I am totally not surprised at the description of his game.

  3. Ding doesn’t believe in himself, so he can’t win. Both players know it, which is why the match is so messy. Trump will probably get himself sorted out when there’s a real contest, which could be when he reaches the final. I really can’t see past Robertson-Trump. The bottom half of the draw, which appeared so tough on paper, has collapsed like a house of cards.

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