On Day 8 at the 2020 Crucible

Here are the reports by WST:

Mark Williams beat Stuart Bingham by 13-11 (morning session):

plus Trump v Yan second session

Three-time Crucible king Mark Williams insisted that no one can question his ‘bottle’ after beating Stuart Bingham 13-11 in the second round of the Betfred World Championship.

Williams came from 9-8 down to win five of the last seven frames and book a quarter-final meeting with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Ding Junhui. At the age of 45, he is the oldest player to reach the last eight in Sheffield since Steve Davis in 2010.

“There was a lot of pressure in that session and I produced my best stuff,” said Williams. “People can question my game but they can’t question my bottle. It’s not easy out there but I stuck in there. I threw away a few frames and missed easy balls but that’s my game now – when I miss I have to put it out of my mind.”

The Welshman won this title in 2000, 2003 and 2018 – one more victory would bring him level with John Higgins on four crowns. Williams has shown few signs of form in recent months – his only ranking final this season came at the China Championship last September when he lost to Shaun Murphy. But, like all of the greats, he has a habit of coming alive at the Crucible.

Masters champion Bingham made a break of 70 in the opening frame today to go 9-8 ahead, then Williams took the next two with 67 and 90. Bingham’s 51 made it 10-10 at the interval, then world number three Williams won frame 21 with a run of 74.

The 22nd came down to a safety battle on the pink and 2015 World Champion Bingham outfoxed his opponent to level at 11-11. In frame 23, Bingham trailed 55-44 when he went full-blooded at a long pot on the penultimate red, and missed his target. Williams added 23 points to edge 12-11 ahead.

An excellent break of 75 put Williams in control of frame 24, and while Bingham battled hard for snookers, when Williams potted yellow and green the game was up.

“I would love to play Ronnie in the next round because we grew up together as juniors and we haven’t played here for a while,” Williams added. “I would have to play out of my skin and even if I did it still might not be enough. What’s the worst thing that could happen? If I lose 13-0 I’ll just go home. All the pressure would be on Ronnie and I would just enjoy the experience.”

Meanwhile, defending champion Judd Trump wrestled the initiative away from Yan Bingtao to take a 9-7 lead going into their concluding session, which starts at 7pm tonight.

Trump trailed 5-2 at one stage, then won seven frames in a row before losing the last two of the session. He needs four more frames tonight to earn a quarter-final against Martin Gould or Kyren Wilson.

The first two frames today lasted 77 minutes in total and world number one Trump took them both to level at the match at 5-5. He then stepped up the pace as runs of 88, 73 and 93 helped him win the next four to lead 9-5.

China’s Yan won the 15th on the colours and made an 89 clearance in the last of the session to keep his hopes alive.

Mark Selby bests Noppon Saengkham by 13-12 (afternoon session):

plus McGill v Clarke first session

Mark Selby once again proved his calmness under pressure as he made a century in the deciding frame to beat Noppon Saengkham 13-12 in the second round of the Betfred World Championship.

A tremendous match featured five centuries and 15 more breaks over 50, and Saengkham gave as good as he got as he battled all the way. But in the end it was three-time Crucible king Selby who produced his best at the key moment. He goes through to meet Barry Hawkins or Neil Robertson in the quarter-finals; Selby’s first appearance in the last eight since he won the title in 2017.

Thailand’s Saengkham, the world number 42, came through the qualifying rounds and then scored an excellent win over Shaun Murphy in the last 32. He came so close to keeping the run going and his only regret might be a loose safety in the decider which let his opponent in for the kill.

Selby took the first frame of the concluding session to lead 9-8, and he made a break of 53 in the next, only for Saengkham to steal it with a 54 clearance. A scrappy 19th frame lasted 48 minutes and went Saengkham’s way, then Selby compiled a run of 77 to make it 10-10 at the interval.

Leicester’s Selby dominated frame 21 to edge ahead, and came from 48-0 down to take the 22nd with a 92 clearance to lead 12-10. Saengkham battled back, taking the 23rd in fragments before making a superb 90 for 12-12.

In the decider, Saengkham had two early chances but twice ran out of position and managed only 9 points. A brief safety exchange ended when Saengkham left a red over a top corner, and that proved his last shot as Selby’s marvellous 124 put him into the quarter-finals for the eighth time.

“I’m really proud to have made that break in the last frame,” said 37-year-old Selby. “It was a great match – that was as well as I have played in a while and I still just scraped through. I have been tested and that could help me later in the event.

“I have lacked a bit of confidence lately so I’ve been working with (coach) Chris Henry to help me belief in myself. We have done a bit on the technical side but it has mainly been mental and it seems to be working.

“I’m sure my next game could go all the way as well because Neil and Barry are both great players.”

On the other table, Crucible debutant Jamie Clarke opened up a 6-2 lead over former quarter-finalist Anthony McGill. Welshman Clarke won three qualifying matches to make it to Sheffield and his dream run could continue as he needs just seven of the last 17 frames to book a quarter-final with Kurt Maflin.

The opening frame went to a respotted black and McGill missed a tricky thin cut to a top corner, gifting his opponent an easy pot. Glasgow’s McGill levelled but then couldn’t get any momentum going as Clarke, the lowest ranked player in the field at 89th in the world, surged ahead. Breaks of 60, 49, 52 and 60 helped the 25-year-old from Llanelli go 6-1 up.

McGill made a 57 in the last of the session to reduce his deficit to four frames. They return on Saturday at 2.30pm.

This was a fantastic match. Noppon Saengkham did himself and Thailand proud. He gained an illustrious fan in Stephen Hendry. This really is a case where it’s a shame there had to be a loser.

Judd Trump beats Yan Bingtao by 13-11 (evening session):

Judd Trump’s defence of his Betfred World Championship title remained on track as he came through an immense battle against Yan Bingtao by a 13-11 scoreline.

If Trump ends up with the trophy a week on Sunday he could be looking back on this as his toughest match, as he trailed 5-2 in the early stages and struggled to shake off a gritty opponent on the home stretch. The world number one is yet to find top gear so far in Sheffield – indeed since the tour got going again after lockdown he has not regained the form which saw him win six titles earlier in the season.

But the key for Trump is that he is still in the draw, still with a chance to find his rhythm. He faces a quarter-final against Kyren Wilson or Martin Gould on Monday and Tuesday.

China’s 20-year-old Yan saw his hopes of becoming the youngest ever World Champion disappear for now, though he will have one more chance next year to beat Stephen Hendry’s record, set at the age of 21 in 1990.

The first two frames of tonight’s concluding session were shared, then China’s Yan took the next to trail 10-9. In frame 20 he had a chance to clear from 45-1 behind and made 64 before missing a tricky pot on the final brown. Trump took advantage with excellent pots on brown and blue and he added pink and black to lead 11-9 at the interval.

Early in frame 21, Trump missed a tricky black on 9, and his opponent punished him with a run of 94. The next lasted 52 minutes and came down to a long safety battle on the blue. Yan got the two snookers he needed, then attempted a thin cut to a centre pocket but failed to make contact with the blue, and that proved the key moment as Trump went 12-10 ahead.

A missed red to centre from Trump in the 23rd let Yan in for a superb 130 to halve his deficit. Yan also had a chance in the next but made just 6 before missing a mid-range red. This time there was no mistake for Trump as he finished in style with a 127. That was his first century of the match and 101st of the season, bringing him within two of the record of 103 set by Neil Robertson in 2013/14.

“I’m over the moon to be in the quarter-finals,” said Bristol’s 30-year-old Trump. “I feel really involved in the tournament now and there are a lot of top class players in it. The break I made in the last frame gives me a boost and I can have a couple of days rest now and hopefully find my feet.

“No one plays well for the whole 17 days in this event. You are bound to have tough points, and it’s all about how you deal with them. Last year, when I played well in the final, no one was talking about the first couple of rounds when I struggled.

“If you have a bad session you don’t want to lose it 6-2, you have to stay in the game. In the first session against Yan it felt eerie out in the arena, very quiet. I didn’t feel involved in the match, Yan shut me out. I fought back well in the second session.

“I feel I can step my game up if I need to. I am confident that I have put the work in to prepare for this event and I am thinking positively.”

Yan really lost this match in the second session, losing seven frames on the trot against a player of Judd Trump’s calibre is usually damning. The two first frames this morning were disjointed, scrappy affairs; they could have gone either way. Yan fought with all he had in the end and should be proud of himself. But he will feel disappointed as well because he could have won the match had he not suffered such a bad second session in the morning.

And my take of the other evening match:

Ronnie and Ding are all sqare at 4-4 after their first session

4 thoughts on “On Day 8 at the 2020 Crucible

  1. Ronnie is suffering a lot. He is trying hard not giving up and with a strong will to go into next round. However he needs to find how to overcome Ding otherwise WC 2020 is over. Sometimes we are disappointed of his attitude but not this time. It is just that Ding knows how to play against ronnie and is well positioned in the battle. I am also afraid that ronnie may lost but tomorrow as supporters and fans of him we must push him and cheer him up as an ultimate goal. From ball one till last one we must believe and encourage him. The more he suffers the more we have to back him! And this is sport not giving up even when circumstances are against you. He might lose and break our hearts but i have faith! If he feels half of our hopes i am convinced he will move forward. Please have faith and think positive. Battle is not over yet… We all must be prepared ( ronnie included)…

    • Lovely words. I think many of us suffer with him. It is fine that Ding won the UK, but nothing remarkable this season, but plays strong against Ronnie. 😦 As a very thin lifeline, I hold on the thought that he was worse off at this stage in the 2017 disaster.)

  2. Trump could have lost to Ford, then he could have lost to Yan. But like last year, surviving close early matches doesn’t mean he can’t find his best form later on. Inconsistency is an issue for all the players with their disrupted preparations, so it isn’t possible to make any predictions. Of course he is under more pressure as defending champion.

    Yan Bingtao had chances in the third session as well, but made some poor decisions, and there were times his technique failed – a sign of nerves. This will improve, and he could become a formidable player once he gets used to these big matches. He should learn a lot from this.

  3. Snooker is a game where two players confront each other and JT wins, followed by an unbearable interview.

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