On Day 11 at the 2020 Crucible

The first day of the quarter finals wasn’t a great day for me, as a Ronnie fan and as an European … Ronnie trails by 6-2 to Mark Williams after their first session and it wasn’t a case that Ronnie was playing badly or taking reckless shots or rushing things … No, it was a case of Mark Williams playing very much the way he did when he lifted the trophy in 2018. Kurt Maflin is in an even worse situation as he trails Anthony McGill by 7-5.

Anyway … here are WST reports

Kyren Wilson leads Judd Trump by 10-6

First session of that match (morning):

Kyren Wilson established a 5-3 lead over defending champion Judd Trump after the opening session of their quarter-final clash at the Betfred World Championship.

The pair have fought out a keenly contested rivalry over the last few years. Trump triumphed 4-3 in their most recent meeting in the Gibraltar Open final. That earned the world number one a record breaking sixth ranking title of the campaign. However, Wilson holds the overall upper hand, leading 7-5 in the head-to-head.

World number eight Wilson, who reached the Crucible semi-finals in 2018, got off to a quick start this morning by taking the opening frame with a break of 74. Trump responded immediately, crafting runs of 85 and 76 to lead 2-1.

Wilson claimed the last frame before the mid-session to restore parity. The Warrior then stole the fifth on the black and fired in a break of 72 in the sixth to lead 4-2. Trump pulled one back, but a break of 79 in the last frame of the session saw Wilson seal his 5-3 lead.

Second session of that match + Selby v Robertson (evening):

Judd Trump needs a dramatic turnaround from 10-6 behind in the concluding session of his Betfred World Championship quarter-final with Kyren Wilson.

Trump won the title for the first time last year but will become the latest victim of the Curse of the Crucible if he can’t successfully defend the crown. He needs to win seven of the last nine frames against Wilson when they resume at 2.30pm on Tuesday. The world number one has looked well below his brilliant best so far and will surely need to raise his game to survive.

Wilson is aiming to reach the semi-finals in Sheffield for the second time, having lost to John Higgins in the last four in 2018.

Trailing 5-3 after the first session, Trump took the first frame tonight with a break of 73. Wilson took the next with a 65 then Trump’s 70 made it 6-5. Frame 12 came down to the colours and Wilson missed the pink of its spot, but was then relieved to see Trump fail to pot the black to a baulk corner. World number eight Wilson won a safety tussle and slotted the black into a centre pocket to make it 7-5 at the interval.

Trump, winner of six ranking titles this season, made a 64 to win frame 13, but then saw the contest slip away from him in the later stages of the session. Wilson’s breaks of 94 and 80 stretched his lead to 9-6. In frame 16, Trump led 47-22 when he missed a mid-range red to a top corner, and his opponent punished him with an excellent 63 clearance.

On the other table, three-time Crucible king Mark Selby opened up an 11-5 lead over Neil Robertson. They are back on the baize at 10am with Selby needing just two frames to reach his sixth world semi-final.

Leicester’s Selby took a scrappy opening frame tonight to lead 6-3 then made a 92 to extend his advantage. Australia’s Robertson cleared from the last red to steal frame 11, but Selby took the next in three scoring visits to make it 8-4 at the interval.

In frame 13, Selby cleared from the penultimate red to force a respotted black, but then made a safety error to gift it to his opponent. World number six Selby bounced back by taking the next with runs of 35 and 32.

Second seed Robertson led 30-23 in frame 15 when he missed a red with the rest to a top corner, and Selby punished him with a run of 46 to go 10-5 up. The Englishman finished the session strongly with a break of 76, leaving Robertson in need of a monumental fight-back.

Mark Williams leads Ronnie by 6-2

(first session of the two matches – afternoon):

Mark Williams is on course for a surprise win over Ronnie O’Sullivan as he leads 6-2 after the first session of their Betfred World Championship quarter-final.

Five-time champion O’Sullivan will need to win 11 out of 17 frames over the last two sessions on Tuesday to go through to the semi-finals. Welshman Williams has looked the stronger player so far, producing perhaps his best form since he won this title two years ago.

O’Sullivan impressed in wins over Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Ding Junhui in the first two rounds but has made errors against Williams, an opponent he has been playing for some 34 years.

Three-time Crucible king Williams took the opening frame with a break of 70 then O’Sullivan hit back with 101 and 70 to lead 2-1. Two scrappy frames went the way of Williams and he made a 72 to lead 4-2.

O’Sullivan was on a break of 41 in frame seven when he missed a straight-forward pink to a top corner. Williams replied with 56 then got the better of a safety exchange on the colours to go 5-2 up. And the Cwm cueman finished the session in style with a 130 to lead by four overnight. They resume at 2.30pm on Tuesday.

On the other table, Anthony McGill opened up a 7-1 lead over Kurt Maflin in the battle of two qualifiers.

Before this match McGill had already played 44 frames this week having beaten Jack Lisowski 10-9 in round one and Jamie Clarke 13-12in a marathon contest which finished after midnight last night. But the Glaswegian is showing no signs of fatigue and will hope for a more comfortable victory this time.

The 29-year-old, a two-time ranking event winner, is playing in his second Crucible quarter-final and hoping to reach the semis for the first time.

Breaks of 53, 63 and 78 gave McGill a 3-0 lead before Maflin got the better of a scrappy fourth frame. Norway’s Maflin was outstanding in a 13-11 defeat of John Higgins in the second round but could not replicate that standard today. McGill took two fragmented frames to lead 5-1 then made a 92 in the seventh.

In the last frame of the session, Maflin made 54 before missing  a short range red to a centre pocket. There were three reds on side cushions but McGill crafted a brilliant 81 clearance to extend his advantage ahead of the second session on Tuesday morning.

The two scrappy frames really kept Ronnie cold, especially as they came right after the MSI. He completely lost his rhythm. That missed pink was a costly mistake, although Ronnie appeared to get a kick as the pink ball jumped a bit. You can read more about that Ronnie v Willo session here

Mark Selby leads Neil Robertson by 11-5 

First session of that match (morning):

Mark Selby won the first five frames of his quarter-final against Neil Robertson at the Betfred World Championship on Monday morning, though it was Robertson who finished the session strongly as he clawed his way back to 5-3.

Two of snooker’s all-time greats, with 35 ranking titles and four world crown between them, are playing at the Crucible for the second time, and first since the classic 2014 semi-final when Selby won 17-15. This time the winner will go through to a semi-final with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Mark Williams.

The opening frame lasted 58 minutes and was settled when Leicester’s Selby potted blue, pink and black. Breaks of 73, 63, 72 and 66 helped the Englishman go 5-0 up.

Robertson finally got going in frame six with a break of 81 and he made an excellent 66 clearance in the next to reduce his arrears to 5-2. Selby led 55-0 in the last frame of the session but his opponent fluked a red and made 65 to take it to the colours. Australia’s Robertson then got the better of a safety battle on the brown and cleared for 5-3.

They return at 7pm tonight for  eight more frames, with the concluding session on Tuesday morning at 10am.

I’m not sure if the title of this article is sarcastic… the first frame lasted nearly an hour!

The account on the second session is included in the evening session report above.

WST also published a long and interesting article about Kurt Maflin:

Norway’s number one Kurt Maflin has enjoyed a rollercoaster journey from his London roots to becoming snooker’s top Scandinavian. Now he’s flourishing on the sport’s grandest stage, preparing for the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

Having represented England as an amateur, Maflin switched London for Oslo in 2004. He moved there to live with wife Anita, who was representing Norway when they met at the 2001 European Amateur Championship in Riga.

Since then Maflin has become fluent in the language, had a son in Oslo named Neon and now proudly plays as a Norwegian on the professional circuit. He admits that, although the move was initially both a daunting and exciting prospect, he was ready for a change.

“It was quite nerve-racking,” said three-time ranking semi-finalist Maflin. “I was fed up of London by that point. Oslo is quite a big city, but it has a relatively small population. It is a great place to live and I settled in pretty quickly.

“Norway isn’t that different to England in terms of the culture. I learned the language in about six months. I did it by reading the subtitles on television. They don’t dub over films in English like they do in other countries. They just put subtitles on the bottom. So I would try to read them and match things up. I wasn’t afraid to embarrass myself and I picked it up pretty quickly.

“I would never have dreamed that I would move to Norway, have a child in Norway and represent the country. Never in a million years. I take a lot of pride from it. I now also do some commentary for Norwegian Eurosport and I really enjoy that. My Norwegian fans and viewers all class me as Norwegian and they can’t hear any difference when I am talking. They see me as one of their own.”

In the years following Maflin’s leap to professional snooker, he endured an up and down time on the table. Between the 2001/02 season and the 2011/12 campaign he suffered five relegations from the circuit, but the world number 43 has since been a firm fixture on the tour.

He spent a few years away from the professional scene after his move to Norway in 2004 and had decided to hang up his cue, until a chance meeting with a potential sponsor at a national amateur event.

Maflin explained: “I moved to Norway and had basically stopped playing. Anita wanted to play in one of the Norwegian tournaments, so I thought I would go along. I got to the final and before I played I met a businessman called Knut Pedersen. He had been watching me play and said that if I made a century break in the final then he would sponsor me to start playing again. I made a 137 break in the first frame, won the final and that was that.”

Maflin went on to win the 2006 World Amateur Championship in Jordan, a feat which he describes as ‘one of the highlights’ of his career. However, after returning to the professional tour and suffering another relegation, he was hit by a bitter blow in 2010 when he broke his collar bone in a car accident.

“I was driving in Norway and found myself on pure ice. I was approaching a roundabout and lightly pressed down on the breaks, but I still started skidding. The car spun round and round and collided head on with another car coming in the other direction. There was a five or ten second period where I blacked out. The first thing I heard when I came round and got out of the car, was children screaming. I thought it was going to be very bad. Thankfully a man got out of the car and he didn’t have a scratch on him and neither did the children, they were just shaken up. I didn’t know I had broken my collar bone until I complained about how sore it was and showed another driver who had pulled over. He told me it was snapped in two and I went into hospital.

“I had a Challenge Tour event in London just a few days after that. The doctor told me that I needed an operation as it was quite a complicated break. I told him I couldn’t as I was in quite a good position in the rankings on the Challenge Tour and needed to play. I flew over and it was so painful that I couldn’t play any stun shots, all I could do was roll balls in. I somehow managed to win my first game and lost in the next round. It was a bit stupid really. When I got back I had the surgery and they did a really good job. I have a six to eight-inch plate in my shoulder with eight screws, but it hasn’t affected me really. I haven’t had to change my cue action. It just took quite a while to get fit again.”

Maflin enjoyed a special moment in 2015 when he competed for Norway in the World Cup, in a two-person team alongside his wife Anita. They bowed out in the group stages, but did register wins against Austria and Singapore.

“I know what it is all about in terms of the nerves and the TV, but for her it was an amazing experience and she did enjoy it. Originally we were told we were only going to have one game on TV against China. In the end we actually played four of the five. She handled it really well, even though I played terribly. It was a really good experience and is something that has never happened before, with husband and wife playing in the same team for their country. It was quite unique.”

Over the years Maflin has been very open about the fact he feels he’s underachieved in not winning a professional title to date. In the run-up to this year’s World Championship he dramatically upped his work ethic and has reaped the rewards at the Theatre of Dreams. Whether it be here in Sheffield, or in the future, the Norwegian is determined to capitalise and land silverware.

“I feel that I have underachieved in my career if I am honest and that is frustrating. There is nobody to blame but myself. My dad has coached me all of my life and he gives 150%, while for most of my career I was giving around 60%. I’ve started practising a lot harder since around April last year, so hopefully I can benefit. I now spend about half of the year in the UK. A lot of the top players talk highly of me and think I should be higher ranked. Even Ronnie said that in the studio, after my quarter-final loss to Neil Robertson at last year’s Welsh Open.

“I have always said that you can never truly believe that you have it in you to win that first tournament until you have done it. There is always that slight doubt in your mind. I know people say that once you get that first one you can go on and do more and I would love to try and do just that.”