2020 English Open – Day 2

Day 2 at the 2020 English Open started the same way as day 1 with a WST statement aboud Covid-19 positive tests … as I expected.

Peter Lines has tested positive for Covid-19 at snooker’s Matchroom.Live English Open in Milton Keynes and has been withdrawn from the event.

He had come into contact with his son Oliver Lines, so Oliver has also been withdrawn.

Peter Lines was due to play Luo Honghao in the first round on Tuesday, so Luo receives a bye to the second round of the world ranking event.

Oliver Lines tested negative then beat Noppon Saengkham 4-1 in the first round on Monday. He was due to play Anthony McGill in the second round, so McGill receives a bye to round three.

All other players and officials tested at the event on Monday had negative results.

Peter and Oliver Lines will now undergo a period of self isolation and will receive the support of WST.

Since WST events restarted in June, strict Covid-19 regulations have been and continue to be followed, under UK Government guidance.

It’s a real shame for Oliver who had won his first match. He didn’t take it too well and it’s understable. But his fathere Peter was maybe even more unhappy. Here is what he had to say to Phil Haigh:

Peter Lines laments ‘kick in the teeth’ for son Oliver as Covid-19 ends their English Open campaigns

2017 UK Championship - Day 8
Peter Lines and son Oliver were forced to withdraw from the English Open (Picture: Getty Images)

Peter Lines returned a positive Covid-19 test at the English Open on Tuesday morning forcing him out of the event, but he has been hit harder by the ‘sickener’ of son Oliver having to withdraw as well, despite returning a negative test result.

It is a desperately unfortunate situation for both, but Oli will feel especially aggrieved in sporting terms as he had already won his first round match with an impressive 4-1 defeat of Noppon Saengkham.

Oliver tested negative before his first round match on Monday, with Peter only arriving in Milton Keynes later on Monday and a positive result confirmed on Tuesday morning.

The father and son, who live together in Leeds, had not seen each other since Saturday morning, but that was enough for Oli to be forced to withdraw.

Peter, who fortunately is showing no symptoms, explained the story to Metro.co.uk: ‘No, no symptoms I feel fine. The test came through about 7 o’clock this morning.

‘It’s a weird one, it’s a bit raw at the moment. Not so much for me, but for Oliver who has passed the test, to have to pull out is an absolute sickener.

‘Oliver has no symptoms, his test came back negative, he played his first round match and won, but obviously because he spent some time with me last week, they’ve said he had to pull out.

‘I hadn’t seen Oliver since Saturday morning and I didn’t get there till yesterday. There’s a 48 hour period where they ask if you’ve seen anyone and I hadn’t, but because we live together they went back further.

‘We suggested him getting tested again but they said no because it could take four or five days for it to come out for him

‘Even if you passed again tomorrow, it could not show up till Wednesday or Thursday so he had to pull out, which is an absolute sickener for him because he’d won and played well.’

Oliver had made breaks of 110 and 70 in the impressive win over the Thai star, which followed some encouraging performances in the recent Championship League.

The 25-year-old won back his tour card through Q School over the summer and is starting to show some form, so this is especially frustrating for the Yorkshire family.

‘He’s been working really hard to get his game back on track so it’s a kick in the teeth for him,’ said Peter.

‘He’s been working really hard the last few months, he’s sort of teamed up with Ken Doherty, working with him a little bit for some pointers and advice and it’s going really well.

‘He’s really knuckled down, he’s started to show the benefits of it, but it’s another kick in the teeth but he’ll be alright and he’ll be back.’

Lines, 50, is certainly not arguing the decision, it is just a frustrating one for him and his son as their early season is disrupted by the positive test result.

Not only are both out of the English Open, but both must now go into 14 days of isolation.

‘It is what it is, they can’t risk shutting the whole tour down, so there’s nothing you can really do about it. We won’t be the last ones this season, there’ll be a few others,’ said Peter.

‘It’s unprecedented times, they’ve got to make decisions on the spot, some will be right, some by wrong but they’ve got to try and do the right thing.

’14 days we’ll be at home from now, not do anything, not even leave the house, nothing.’

2017 World Snooker International Championship - Day 2
Oliver Lines has been forced out of his second round clash with Anthony McGill (Picture: Getty Images)

Stuart Carrington had tested positive for Covid-19 on the opening morning of the tournament and both he and Sam Craigie, who he had come into contact with, were forced to withdraw as well.

Carrington and Craigie travelled to the tournament together, which is something the Lines men had avoided, but they all suffered the same fate.

‘Carrington and Craigie travelled together to the comp, we went separately,’ explained Peter. ‘Oliver had been down in London practicing and I got the train down there on my own, stayed on my own, done the right thing, but rules are rules aren’t they?

‘We’re in an awkward position as professionals who live together because if one fails the other is definitely getting kicked out, it’s an awkward one.

‘Our next tournament is in about four weeks so hopefully we’ll be okay by then.’

The Lines duo should be back and ready to play at the German Masters qualifiers in Milton Keynes on 10 November.

Meanwhile the beneficiaries in Milton Keynes were Anthony McGill who is into the third round with two byes as he was due to play Craigie and then Oli Lines, while Luo Honghao is into round two after Peter withdrew.

Now about what happened at the tables…

Here are the reports by WST

Morning and afternoon sessions:

Shaun Murphy was barely able to practise before his Matchroom.Live English Open meeting with Robert Milkins but showed his class in the final frame to win 4-3 and book a place in the second round.

Murphy lives in Dublin so every time he arrives in Ireland from the UK he has to self isolate for 14 days due to Covid-19 restrictions. That has left him short of table time, but he had just enough in his locker to fend off the challenge of Milkins in Milton Keynes.

Former World Champion Murphy made a break of 122 in the opening frame and went on to lead 3-1. Milkins made a 103 in frame five and took the sixth for 3-3, then had first clear chance in the decider but made just 11 before mis-cueing as he attempted to pot a red to a baulk corner. Murphy responded with 65 which proved the crucial contribution as he set up a last 64 match with David Lilley.

“I’m relieved,” admitted world number eight Murphy. “Rob had a good chance in the last frame, it surprised me when he miscued. There has never been anything wrong with my bottle. Sometimes I’m too aggressive but that’s the way I’ve always played, I’m 38 now and too old to go more negative. I’ve got six to ten more years in the game and I’m at the stage where I’m just going to enjoy it and go for my shots.

“For myself and the other players from Ireland, when we travel home from England we have to stay in our houses. I’ve had two weeks between the European Masters and this event without being able to hit any balls. It’s hard to then come here and try to perform to a high level. I came over a day early and had a couple of hours practice at a club in Sheffield. It’s not where I want to be as a sportsperson but it’s out of my control.

“When there’s a run of events in November and December I’ll potentially stay in England for a few weeks. No one wants to be away from their kids for that long but I’ll have to kiss them goodbye and see them when Santa comes.”

McLeod And Gilbert Bust-Up

Rory McLeod beat David Gilbert 4-2 in a bad-tempered clash which included a heated exchange towards the end of the fourth frame. After Gilbert fouled on the green, McLeod felt he should have been awarded a free ball. Referee Mark King disagreed, while Gilbert also felt it was not a free ball.

McLeod eventually accepted the decision and later cleared from green to black to win the frame for 2-2. He took the next two with breaks of 64 and 46 for victory.

Reflecting on the incident in frame four, Gilbert said: “He thought it was a free ball and it wasn’t. Rory tries to be intimidating all the time but it wasn’t a free ball and that was that – the referee called it right. He didn’t intimidate me – you can’t intimidate me – but he tried to put pressure on the referee.

“Rory said to me he was disappointed in me – he obviously wanted me to agree with him and I would have agreed with him if I thought he was right. I’m not a cheat in any kind of way. I think he’s bang out of order for saying that but I’m not too bothered either. That’s not the reason why I got beat today – I got beat today because I’m just playing awful and that’s it.”

McLeod responded: “It was clearly a free ball. I asked David to come round and have a look and he just flat refused to, he just said he’d take the referee’s word for it. I’ve known David a long time but the etiquette he had in that match, not just in that incident, was horrendous. I’ve never known him to be like that.

“I haven’t got issues with David now – it’s just a situation which could have been dealt with a lot better by all parties. Why would I try and intimidate him? That’s just not my way. He’s a top 16 player and he’s more intimidating than I would be in that position.”

Round-up

Kyren Wilson saw off Dominic Dale 4-2 with top runs of 51, 75 and 59, while Jamie Jones beat his namesake Duane 4-2 with a top break of 103.

Jack Lisowski made breaks of 67, 83, 55 and 65 in a 4-2 defeat of Li Hang, while Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg edged out Anthony Hamilton 4-3 with a match-winning 52 in the decider.

Nigel Bond was 3-2 down against Ashley Hugill and 60-0 down in frame six, but stole that frame with the help of two snookers, and then made an 86 in the decider.

The situation of the Irish players is a difficult one and surely explains some of the results we got in the first round over the last two days.

This is the Gilbert v McLeod incident:

It’s hard to judge from the camera angle.

You can only admire Nigel Bond even if he’s hard to watch at times. What a fighter!

Evening session:

Louis Heathcote couldn’t convert a 3-1 lead into a shock victory over Judd Trump as the world number one hit back to edge a 4-3 success in the first round of the Matchroom.Live English Open.

 

The clash between last season’s Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year proved an exciting battle as Heathcote looked to be in charge for long spells, but the 23-year-old wasn’t able to finish the job. Trump goes through to the last 64 to face Yuan Sijun.

Bristol’s Trump started well with a break of 75 in the opening frame, but then lost a scrappy second. Heathcote compiled breaks of 68 and 53 to lead 3-1, and he had a match-winning chance in frame five but under-hit a red to a top corner on 32, leaving it short of the pocket. Trump made an 86 for 3-2 then got the better of a fragmented sixth frame to force the decider. A run of 61 helped Trump over the winning line.

“Louis will be very disappointed because he had chances,” said 31-year-old Trump. “I started well but then it went scrappy. I made some good long pots in the last frame and fell over the line in the end.  At the last tournament (the European Masters) I blew everyone away up until the semi-finals but then lost. So it can be better to start slowly. I’m still in it and I can’t play worse than I did today.

“In terms of the season, we don’t know what’s around the corner. But one day we’re going to wake up and everything will be back to normal with lots of big tournaments, so I’ll be prepared for that.”

Titanium Helps Higgins Show Mettle

John Higgins, who has recently switched to a different chalk and titanium ferrule, scored a 4-2 win over James Cahill. The Scot now meets English wild card Connor Benzey.

Four-time World Champion Higgins made a 122 in the second frame to lead 2-0. Cahill, renowned for scoring wins over the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Selby, fought back to 2-2 with 78 and 92. But Higgins took the last two frames with 67 and 57.

“I changed to Taom chalk a while ago and I’m now playing shots I could never play before,” said 45-year-old Higgins. “Robert Milkins, who usually uses the same chalk as me, came up to me in the practice room and said I should give it a go. In the last couple of weeks in practice I have not had a kick or bad bounce so I am totally sold on it now.

“I am using the titanium ferrule now as well and that has also made a difference. Stephen Maguire had it and I noticed how well he played with it. I feel good about my game, if you can add these little things that make an improvement then it helps.”

Louis Heathcote should have won that match. In my opinion he collapsed under pressure. He was 3-1 up and in the balls, leading by 32-0. He badly underhit a red that did not reach the pocket, leaving Judd Trump bang in the balls, with a red nearly over a the pocket. Judd made only 9 from it, missing the blue off its spot only three shots later and leaving Louis in the balls, only for Louis to inmmediately miss a red with the rest. The red didn’t even get near the pocket. You can’t do that against a top player. They smell blood, they take confidence from it and crush you.

What WST did not report…

Simon Lichtenberg got an excellent win against Anthony Hamilton. There was a break over 50 in five of the seven frames they played, and most young players struggle against very experienced, hard match player like Anthony.

Alexander Ursenbacher also registered a good win: he beat Graeme Dott by 4-2. Alex seems to be playing faster recently.

Zhao Jianbo beat Michael White by 4-3. I watched that match and somehow I always felt that Zhao was the one in control. It’s sad, and hard to understand, what happened to Michael White. He won two ranking titles, at 24 years of age he was in the top 16 and now he’s lost his tour card and looks very unreliable at the table.

Jak Jones beat Elliot Slessor by 4-1. Elliot Slessor won the first frame, that lasted an eternity … maybe someone can find out how long exactly. Then Jak Jones took four on the trot – in what felt like less time than was required for the first frame alone – with breaks of 100, 105 and 80.

Mark Davis beat Daniel Wells by 4-1, but, without watching the match it’s hard to draw any conclusion from the score. Daniel Wells, who had tested positive at the European Masters about three weeks ago, had to self isolate and, probably, came to this match rusty and unprepared.

 

 

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