Judd Trump wins the 2020 Northern Ireland Open

Judd Trump won the Northern Ireland Open for the third time running yesterday evening. In all three instances he beat Ronnie by 9-7, which is quite extraordinary. This is Judd’s 19th ranking title, one more than Mark Selby and Neil Robertson. 

Congratulations Judd Trump

Ronnie fought with all he had. He actually lost that match in the first mini-session. He was struggling badly and nothing worked for him. But he never gave up. 

Here are the reports by WST

Afternoon session

Trump Leads The Rocket

World number one Judd Trump leads World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-3 heading into the evening session of their Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open final.

They will return at 7pm to play the best of 17 tie to a conclusion, with the winner pocketing a top prize of £70,000 and the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Incredibly, this is the third consecutive year Trump and O’Sullivan have contested the Northern Ireland Open final. It’s the first time that has happened in a specific ranking event since the 1994 World Championship, when Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White contested their third straight final.

Trump, having won the previous two finals 9-7, is aiming to make his own piece of history this evening by becoming the first player to win a specific ranking title three years in a row since Hendry at the 1996 UK Championship.

The opening stages were unexpectedly cagey from both players, but it was Trump who managed to establish a 3-1 advantage at the mid-session after just under 90 minutes of play.

The pair traded frames upon the resumption, before Trump fired in a superb break of 128 to lead 5-2 after the first century of the match. That seemed to kick O’Sullivan into gear, who duly responded with a run of 130 to leave the tie hanging in the balance at 5-3.

Evening session

World number one Judd Trump beat World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 to win the Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open for a third successive year.

Victory for Trump sees him become the first player to win a specific ranking title three years in a row, since Stephen Hendry completed the feat at the 1996 UK Championship. It’s the 19th ranking title of 31-year-old Trump’s career and he has now won 11 of his last 12 ranking finals. O’Sullivan remains on a record breaking 37 career ranking titles.

Trump’s achievement is all the more remarkable, given the last three finals in this event have all seen him beat O’Sullivan by a 9-7 scoreline. It’s the first time the same two players have contested a specific ranking final in three consecutive years, since Hendry and Jimmy White at the 1994 World Championship.

Trump now edges ahead of O’Sullivan in their head-to-head standings, leading 12-11. He’s also been the stronger of the two players in finals against each other, leading 7-3 in title matches.

The Ace in the Pack leaves with the £70,000 top prize, as well as £5,000 for the high break after he made his fifth career 147 earlier in the week against Gao Yang. It is two Home Nations titles out of two this season for Trump, who beat Neil Robertson 9-8 in the English Open final last month.

A tightly contested afternoon session saw Trump emerge with a 5-3 advantage heading into this evening’s concluding frames.

Trump made an authoritative start tonight, composing breaks of 89 and 55 to move just two from victory at 7-3. However, O’Sullivan refused to give in and hit back to claim the 11th, before a run of 63 helped him to make it 7-5 at the mid-session interval.

When they returned the match burst into life, as Trump fired in a sublime 115 to move one from victory at 8-5. O’Sullivan immediately responded with a break of 93 to reduce his arrears and a further contribution of 74 saw him pull within a frame at 8-7.

O’Sullivan had the first opportunity to force a decider in the 16th frame, but broke down on a run of 32. Trump ruthlessly stepped in and made a nerveless break of 89 to secure the title.

“I’m delighted. It was a tough game. I felt confident at 8-5. I felt like I was going to get chances and that didn’t happen. I played a couple of bad safeties, he forced me into a couple of errors and before I knew it the score was 8-7 and looking like 8-8.” said Bristol’s Trump. “I was wondering if I was even going to get a chance to win the match. I made a brilliant clearance, it was up there with one of the best clearances I’ve made.

I can’t remember anyone else in the history of the game even getting close to my record in finals against Ronnie. To have a winning record of 7-3 now is absolutely incredible. He is probably the best player that’s ever lived and I’ve got a record like that against him.

“The World Championship is the biggest tournament in our sport and an amazing achievement, but it is one tournament over a whole season. I won six events last year, none of them the World Championship, every tournament for me is the same. Although the World Championship is a little bit more difficult. I still put myself up there as the one to beat. It just shows in my level of consistency and how far in front I am in the rankings, to keep doing it again and again. It is nice to have that matchup, that he is the World Champion and I’m the world number one.”

NIOPen2020ROS-11O’Sullivan said: “I’m not disappointed. I’ve had a great week and a fantastic time. I played some good snooker and enjoyed it. I’d have taken quarter-finals all day long. This is a bonus.

“I just play for a hobby now. I don’t have to play for a living. If I had to play this game for a living, I would be miserable as hell. I just play for fun and do my business off the table. I obviously would like to win. It is a tough school.

“I think I can play until I’m 60 now, with the way things are going. If I am fit and healthy, then I might not be on the tour, but I would be doing the exhibitions. I’m going to be like Jimmy White. I love playing, I just didn’t enjoy playing on the circuit as it was like hard graft. Now that is taken care of and it has become a hobby. It is like I am ten years old again. I wish I could have felt like this when I was in my prime.

I have put some quotes in bold.

The one by Judd might anger some of you, as Ronnie fans, but I see it as a big compliment. Judd is 31, at the peak of his powers, Ronnie will turn 45 in about two weeks, he should be nowhere near Judd’s level. When Stephen Hendry retired, at 43, he hadn’t won a title for more than 8 years, and  that last was the Malta Cup, a tournament that many players treated as a holiday … That Ronnie is still the World Champion, and still the benchmark by which the World number one player in the sport assesses his own performances, well, that’s quite something.

Judd is the man to beat currently, but that does not mean that he will win everything. Last season he won six titles – a record – but didn’t perform in any of the majors.

This is a twitter snippet by two of the best known bloggers in the sport

Gary Moss Michael Day 2020-11-23 at 07.46.02

The Eurosport pundit discussed two peculiar aspects of this match

Ronnie’s costly decision to put Judd back in after a foul


Ronnie O’Sullivan made what was considered a baffling mistake during the Northern Ireland Open final with Judd Trump on Sunday. O’Sullivan elected to put Trump back in after the Bristolian had fouled on the black when trying to play a swerve shot. Neal Foulds said in commentary that he couldn’t understand the decision while Alan McManus thought The Rocket may have misread the situation. 

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s decision to put Judd Trump back in after the world number one had fouled on the black sparked a discussion during their Northern Ireland Open final on Sunday.

The Rocket was trailing 55-15 when he elected to give Trump a second go at his missed attempt. Trump duly dispatched the red and then rolled the brown safe – the mistake would cost O’Sullivan the frame.

This is how the shot selection was reported on Eurosport’s live frame-by-frame coverage of the final:

TRUMP 1-0 O’SULLIVAN (56-15): “Trump fouls on the black when trying to swerve the white to pot it. With no path to the easy red, and no other pot on, O’Sullivan puts Trump back in; that’s really surprising, given that Trump has already had one go at it. It’s a risk, and it backfires; Trump pots the red, and then plays safe to baulk.”


It was a moment that Neal Foulds, in his role as commentator on Eurosport, found baffling, with the former world number three first saying:
“He is obviously not going to put him in again because he will get it.”
Before realising O’Sullivan’s intention and going on to say:



The decision to put Trump back in was addressed during the mid-session interval, with Eurosport’s Alan McManus suggesting O’Sullivan might not have understood the difficulty – or lack thereof – of the shot.

“Ronnie might have thought it was a full-ball snooker, as Judd missed it the first time. So Ronnie was probably thinking: ‘He aint going to hit that so I will give him another pop at it’, said McManus while chatting it through with Andy Goldstein and Jimmy White.


White would then go on to replicate Trump’s escape before going through other potential methods the defending the champion could have used to pot the red.

The decision would ultimately cost O’Sullivan the frame, even if the world champion would play on, as he has done all week, despite needing six snookers to win.

Ronnie playing on whilst not trying to get snookers


Ronnie O’Sullivan may have lost the Northern Ireland Open final to Judd Trump, but he has a new string to his bow – dragging out dead frames. The Rocket’s behaviour may have irked viewers and his opponent, but it is a tactic he intends to use “for the rest of my career” after stumbling upon it in Milton Keynes.

Ronnie O’Sullivan insists he will keep playing after a frame is dead to hone his skills on the green baize.

O’Sullivan regularly returned to the table needing an unfeasible amount of snookers during the Northern Ireland Open, which culminated in his 9-7 defeat to Judd Trump on Sunday.

It led to the bizarre spectacle of O’Sullivan clearing up the table, with no interest in pursuing the snookers required, only to finish well adrift of his opponent’s total and still lose the frame.

However, the current world champion said he would continue to do it for the “rest of my career” after admitting he rarely practises between tournaments.

“I don’t practise much at home so for me this is the best place to get practise,” O’Sullivan told Eurosport’s Andy Goldstein after losing to Trump.

“I wanted to get as much table time as I can. I wasn’t trying to put balls safe and make the frame long, I just wanted to get a chance to clear the balls up.

“I’m just enjoying playing and when you’re enjoying playing you want to pot balls. You just love the game.

“If my table at the club played like this I would be over the moon, but this table just plays so lovely that I’ve come to the conclusion that this is as good a place as anywhere to get table time.

“I’ve done it every match this tournament and I’ll probably do it for the rest of my career now.

“I know the commentators are sitting there thinking ‘we want to go home’ so it’ll be the short straw if their drawn to commentate on me, they’ll be hating it.”

Having dragged out a couple of frames beyond their natural expiry date, O’Sullivan turned a 7-3 deficit to 7-5 and then 8-7 in the final to suggest it may have had a positive impact – although ultimately he was able to pull off a comeback.


O’Sullivan’s antics were debated during the mid-session interval in the final, with both Alan McManus and Jimmy White making a case in favour of the Englishman.

“Ronnie invents new ways of trying to keep himself in matches and trying to do different,” said McManus.

“Even if it’s only 1%, if that helps him get the job done in the end then he’ll do it. He’s entitled to do it, that’s alright.”

White added: “It’s legal. When it was 7-3 it looked a bit bizarre, but it ended up 7-5 so maybe he’s found something somewhere.”

12 thoughts on “Judd Trump wins the 2020 Northern Ireland Open

  1. Thanks, Monique. The fact that there is a table at his mother’s house might be the reason that I’ve been under the impression that he had his own table…And yes, it makes sense that he wouldn’t be using it out of concern for his mother’s safety. (That said, I seem to recall hearing that one of his recent interviews was being conducted at his mother’s house…)

    • I don’t know Mark. One recent interview was conducted at Jason Francis club, of that I’m sure. That club though is in Reading, not London. He might have done one at his mother’s house, safely, if everything was well prepared in advance. But practice normally needs to happen almost every day. Also now, he goes to tournaments so is in contact with various poeple, inevitably.

  2. I thought we’ve always known that Ronnie had his own table. I thought he was always on the list of (the small number of) players that did…?

      • Really? Wow, that’s a surprise to me. Even setting aside the fact that I would have sworn that I had heard before that Ronnie had his own table, now I’m left to be surprised that he would never have purchased his own table at any point during his career. If anyone were to have their own table, you would think that the best player in the game’s history would…

      • He still has one at his mother’s place. But not sure if he goes there now with the covid situation as she is a particularly vulnerable person. He would certainly not risk to infect her.

  3. I’m happy I wasn’t alone being absolutely taken aback by Ronnie’s decision of putting Trump back to play that ball in the corner instead of counting his blessings that it was missed the first time. And yes, the match was lost in the first mini-session when Ronnie made some very questionable choices and had misses that cost him dearly. But he put up an amazing fight and it was a perfectly winnable match, which makes it all the more painful and I have the feeling that Trump must be the punishment by the gods for some unknown crimes that angered Jupiter or Apollo or one of those.

    As to Ronnie’s primetime practice on TV, it is astounding and reminds me of the podcast from a few posts ago where people discussed if there should be rules to prevent playing on if a crazy amount of snookers is needed. Someone worried that of he continues, they won’t put him on TV table primetime, thought of course, he is Ronnie and he is the World Champion, so how could viewers not enjoy seeing him hit a few balls. 🙂 Bizarre nevertheless and indeed imagine Dominic Dale or even Selby doing it, the uproar would be tremendous. And it’s not only him clearing the table, but forcing the opponent to come back and play, so eventually some people will regard it as gamesmanship and complain, I’m afraid.

    • The worst one was a player in the World Championship qualifiers playing on needing 10 snookers, in order to get the match suspended at 4-4. He had let a 4-0 lead slip and didn’t want another frame to be played.

  4. Playing on when there is no chance of winning a frame is not ‘new’ – it happens all the time in junior events. In principle it’s a good idea, trying to play shots (pots or long-table safeties) to try and fine-tune technique and pick up the table conditions when there is no pressure. The trouble is, in top-level competition with millions of people watching it looks amateurish. I seem to remember Chen Zifan doing the same against Selby last season, and getting heavily criticised. Unfortunately that’s an example of double-standards. But if Ronnie isn’t going to practice then he isn’t going to win tournaments. But maybe the Northern Ireland Open wasn’t his priority.

    • He had been practicing the week before the NI Open, he said that in the studio after one of his early matches. But likely, the place where he practices isn’t open at the moment…

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