The world ranking event will feature 128 players battling for the Stephen Hendry Trophy. Televised by Quest, Eurosport, Matchroom.Live and a range of other broadcasters worldwide, it will be the third in the season’s Home Nations Series. Judd Trump has already won the first two events, the English Open and Northern Ireland Open.
World number one Trump will meet Alexander Ursenbacher in the opening round while World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Allan Taylor.
Scotland’s top star John Higgins will play Soheil Vahedi while legend Jimmy White will be up against Mark Allen.
The Scottish Open will be the final counting event for the World Grand Prix, with only the top 32 on the one-year ranking list earning a place.
Full details of how to watch the event will be released soon.
Ronnie will play his first match on the Tuesday evening.
Those are the first round matches of interest to me, other than the obvious one, Ronnie vs “Pretzel”:
Jack Lisowski v Oli Lines
Ricky Walden v Pang Junxu
Iulian Boiko v Joe O’Connor – this is likely not to be on the TV table and slightly more “winnable” for Iulian. I don’t see him win but I would love to see him compete
Kyren Wilson v Simon Lichteberg – Simon is fast improving, should be interesting
Louis Heatcote v Si Juahui
Yan Bingtao v Jak Jones
Zhao Xintong v Rod Lawler aka the Hare and the Tortoise
Judd Trump v Alex Ursenbacher
Shaun Murphy v David Grace
Aaron Hill v Peter Devlin
Scott Donaldson v Michael White
Aaaand … Lee Walker v Fergal O’Brien … but we’ll probably discuss that one next year.
Ronnie starts his 2020 UK Championship campaign tonight against Leo Fernandez. Leo is a very capable player, but has suffered a lot of injuries during recent years. It’s hard to predict what form he will show coming into the match
There’s no reason why Ronnie O’Sullivan cannot compete at the very top of snooker for another decade, believes Chris Henry.
The Rocket won his sixth World Championship title this year at the age of 44, climbing back up to number two in the world rankings.
He turns 45 in December, which would traditionally be long past the age of a player challenging for the biggest prizes in the sport.
However, the world champion shows few signs of slowing down and is among the favourites to win the UK Championship over the next two weeks in Milton Keynes.
Henry, who coaches Mark Selby and Shaun Murphy among others, believes that if O’Sullivan continues to look after himself physically, as he has been doing, then he still has many years in the game.
The renowned coach has also worked with top golfers, including Lee Westwood and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, and it is an example from the world of golf that has convinced him the Rocket can continue to soar for a long time to come.
‘If these guys look after themselves…I was talking to Mark Selby about this the other day. I was in Holland a few years ago and I had about an hour with Tom Watson, talking about all kind of things,’ Henry told Metro.co.uk.
‘Look at what he did, he almost won the Open at 59! 59 years of age and he missed out by one shot [at the 2009 Open].
‘Snooker isn’t anywhere near as physical, you’ve got to be strong physically because it helps mentally, but if Tom Watson can do that at 59, there’s no reason why Ronnie O’Sullivan can’t be very competitive in his mid-50s.
‘Bernhard Langer, he was going round with [Rory] McIlroy at the Masters, he’s 63! Fantastic! If you look after yourself, and you’re still motivated to put the practice and work in, snooker and things like golf, there’s no reason you can’t go into your 50s and be competing.’
Not only does Henry feel O’Sullivan can keep going for another 10 or more years, but parts of his game will continue to improve with time and he may be even harder to beat than he is now.
Mentally the Rocket appears in as good a place with his game as ever and the safety and tactical side of his game is not far behind his incredible break-building.
‘I think as he gets older his temperament will get even better,’ Henry explained. ‘I think he’ll calm down a little more, I think he’ll stop taking it as serious and just go out and enjoy it a little bit more.
‘That’s when he’ll play his best, when he’s feeling relaxed.
‘He’s a brilliant safety player. He’s not just playing safe, he’s putting side spin on, he’s coming off two or three cushions, he’s always trying to get you in serious trouble, not just playing safe.
‘He plays a lot of safety shots completely like anyone else, he’s very clever.’
O’Sullivan has predicted similar longevity for himself in the past, saying at last year’s Scottish Open that he can see himself still competing at 55 years old.
‘I can probably do it till I’m about 55, to be honest with you,’ said O’Sullivan after a whitewash win over James Cahill.
‘I feel better now than when I did in my 20s and 30s so, for another 10 years I can’t see a reason why I can’t play like that.
‘Which is nice, I’m not going to be sat at home getting bored, at least I can go out and hit a few balls and enjoy myself. If I feel like I can continue to play like that, I don’t find the game difficult sometimes.’
The second day at the 2020 UK Championship started in a weird way. The first two matches scheduled on the streamed tables started as planned, but all other morning session matches were delayed by quite some time. It transpired that this was because the Covid tests results arrived late. Not sure how they where still able to start the two streamed matches as planned under the circumstances …
Kettering’s Wilson came into the UK Championship full of confidence, having won the recent Championship League ranking event by beating Judd Trump in the final. By contrast Hugill has been struggling so far this term. The York cueman, who regained his professional status this year by winning the WSF Open, is yet to win a match this season.
Despite the rankings gulf between world number four Wilson and world number 126 Hugill, there was little to choose between the players this afternoon.
Wilson asserted his authority in the early stages, composing a run of 107 to take the opener. Hugill subsequently got his first frame on the board, but it was Wilson who claimed the third and fourth to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.
Hugill pulled within a frame upon the resumption, before Wilson made his sublime 147 contribution to lead 4-2. From that moment of perfection, the Warrior’s standards slipped as Hugill upped his game to make it 4-4 with breaks of 65 and 51.
From there Wilson surged to the finish line, making breaks of 50 and 92 to wrap up the win.
Wilson said: “The 147 break kind of came out of nowhere. I felt in really good form coming here. You never know how it is going to pan out. There were numerous kicks for myself and I just felt a bit edgy. To then create snooker perfection, just shows how topsy turvy this game can be. I’m delighted to do it here, that is my first in a Triple Crown event.
“You know that everyone is watching back home, especially on the TV table. It is something that makes you proud to build up in your career. 147 breaks are hard to come by. There are many great players that have never had one. To have now had three, I am obviously chuffed with that.”
Thai number one Thepchaiya Un-Nooh took a massive step towards Masters qualification with a 6-2 win over Germany’s Lukas Kleckers.
Former Shoot Out champion Un-Nooh made breaks of 65, 77, 86 and 51 on the way to today’s victory. He faces Duane Jones or Joe O’Connor next.
Un-Nooh said: “This victory means a lot for me. I dream of playing at the Masters at least one time. This is a great opportunity to qualify. I just need to keep concentrating for the next round and keep winning. All of the top 16 are great players. If I qualify, it will be the honour of my professional career.”
Scotland’s Stephen Maguire surged to a 6-1 defeat of 15-year-old Ukrainian Iulian Boiko.
Maguire reached the final last year, but was runner-up to Ding Junhui. Few would bet against another big run from Maguire this year following today’s display. The 2004 UK Champion fired in runs of 96, 113, 128, 80, 65 and 67 to win in just one hour and 27 minutes.
Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy came through a thrilling clash with Lee Walker, sealing a 6-5 win with the clock just past 12:40am. Murphy had moved a frame from victory, leading 5-3, before Walker mounted a steely fightback.
After pulling within a frame, Walker then edged an epic 50 minute tenth frame to force a decider. Murphy got in after a sublime safety shot in behind the yellow forced an error from his opponent. From there, the Magician compiled a match winning run of 54.
Gary Wilson’s hopes of Masters qualification were left hanging by a thread after a 6-4 defeat to Oliver Lines. If Jack Lisowski beats Farakh Ajaib in his first round tie on Thursday, then Wilson will definitely miss out on a place.
Gary Wilson defeat is no surprise given how his season has gone so far.
Kyren Wilson produced a rather inconsistent performance: there were lots of mistakes, lots of great shots, and this magical moment:
Kyren Wilson 147 Triggers Betway £10,000 Donation To Jessie May
Kyren Wilson made a fantastic 147 maximum break on the second day of the Betway UK Championship, triggering a donation of £10,000 from tournament sponsor Betway to Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home.
Betway announced before the tournament that it would donate money for every century break made during the 13-day tournament, up to £10,000, but the full donation would be activated if a 147 was made.
And world number four Wilson potted 15 reds with blacks and cleared the colours during his first round match against Ashley Hugill.
Betway Spokesperson Chad Yeomans said: “Congratulations to Kyren Wilson, whose 147 has triggered our £10,000 donation to Jessie May. The first maximum break seems to happen earlier each year and surely it’s only a matter of time before it’s done on Day One!”
Lindsey Horton, Corporate Partnerships Officer at Jessie May, added: “We can’t believe it. We were sitting here with baited breath watching the centuries and then BOOM…Kyren made a 147! We’re so excited and can’t thank Betway (and Kyren) enough for their remarkable generosity. Our families and Nurses thank you so much. You’ll never know the difference it makes!”
Jessie May Children’s Hospice at Home has been WST’s official charity partner for the past four years. Their nurses provide vital respite and palliative care for terminally ill children, and their families across the South West of England.
The Betway UK Championship runs until December 6th, featuring all of snooker’s top stars.
After beating the 15 years old Iulian Boiko, Stephen Maguire said this:
He’s absolutely right. Iulian has a huge potential, but he’s not ready. He’s also only a young teenager. Adolescense a difficult period in the life for everyone. Living in the UK as an expat isn’t that easy either, even for an adult. Things are hard enough for Iulian without the additional stress and disappointment of going through soul destroying defeats tournament after tournament. He’s still only a kid. This could destroy his confidence and, in the longer term, his chances to build the career that his talent promises.
Please WST … consider to go back to a tiered system, at least for half of the events. Offer the young a smoother development path. It doesn’t “protect” the higher seeds if, as it is already the case in the World Championship, there are no ranking points for losing the first match, no matter the stage it is played at. And with the current technology, there is no reason why the early stages wouldn’t be streamed, if not televised. You currently do cover eight tables for the Chinese audience…
Anthony Hamilton and Ryan Day have tested positive for Covid-19 at the Betway UK Championship in Milton Keynes and have been withdrawn from the event.
Hamilton was due to play Xu Si on Monday morning and Day was due to face Jak Jones on Monday evening. Xu and Jones both receive a bye to the second round of the world ranking event.
All other players and officials tested at the event so far have had negative results.
Hamilton and Day 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.
This is particularly worrying for Anthony Hamilton, who suffers from asthma and has been shielding. But as cautious as you might be, and surely Anthony was very cautious, you still need to go out at times, get some food or other essentials, and, if you go out, you inevitably come into contact with other people. It only takes a few reckless ones to infect a lot of persons. Think about it … even if wearing a mask is no fun, it DOES protect the vulnerable.
Mark Selby booked his place in the second round of the Betway UK Championship with a hard fought 6-4 defeat of Welshman Michael White in Milton Keynes.
Selby, 37, is seeking his first Triple Crown silverware since winning the World Championship in 2017. The Jester from Leicester has won the UK Championship on two occasions. Selby beat Shaun Murphy to lift the title in 2012 and Ronnie O’Sullivan in an epic 2016 final.
White, a two time ranking event winner, suffered a shock relegation from the circuit at the end of last season and subsequently failed to regain his place at Q School. However, playing as an amateur, he provided a stern test for world number five Selby this afternoon.
The pair traded the first two frames, then a superb total clearance of 140 saw Selby take a 2-1 lead. White cleared the colours to win the fourth on the black and head into the mid-session level at 2-2.
When they returned, Selby encountered problems with his right eye after getting something caught in it. Despite that he still built a 5-3 advantage, before White claimed the ninth thanks to a break of 57 to keep his hopes alive. Selby wasn’t to be denied his victory and composed a run of 75 to seal a 6-4 win.
Selby said: “He’s a tough player. I’ve played him at the Crucible before and only came through that 10-9. It was only two and a half years ago he was in the top 16 and winning tournaments himself. He should probably still be in the top 32 on the tour. How he fell off I’ll never know.
“I think since 2017 this is probably the best chance I’ve had coming to a Triple Crown tournament, with the way I’ve been playing. In 2018 and 2019 I wasn’t playing well enough heading into the UK Championship and didn’t believe I could win it. Whereas this year I feel I’m playing a lot better and believing I can win. Whether I do or not is a different thing.”
Scotland’s John Higgins breezed through his first round tie with Fergal O’Brien, winning 6-1 to book his progression.
Higgins is a former three-time winner of the UK Championship, but hasn’t tasted silverware at the event since his epic 10-9 final win over Mark Williams in 2010.
Higgins was in fine break building form this evening, composing runs of 72, 52, 56, 123 and 70 on his way to the win.
“It was a difficult first round game,” said 30-time ranking event winner Higgins. “Any win is a good one against Fergal. He is always going to make it tough. He’ll be disappointed, as he never really turned up at all there.
“My long game was non-existent for the first few frames and I tried to change something. Then I started potting a few long ones. In about the balls I scored alright, so all good”
Germany’s world number 110 Simon Lichtenberg secured a huge 6-3 win over world number 23 Scott Donaldson.
Mark Williams stormed to a 6-0 whitewash win over tour rookie Ben Hancorn to book his place in the second round, while Barry Hawkins thrashed Riley Parsons 6-1.
The Mark Selby v Michael White match was actually a good one, a rarity on the TV table in the UK championship first round with the draw going strictly by seeding.
The Mark Williams interview is interesting in that what he says is so similar to what Ronnie has been saying. At this stage of their career, practice is hard to sustain for long hours and he doesn’t feel that he needs it. But enjoying his snooker is key to be able to continue playing, and playing well.
Simon Lichtenberg has found a way to win… not for the first time, his match was extremely slow going for the first 5-6 frames, then he produced three breaks over 50 in the last four frames to get the job done. It’s a good win for him over Scott Donaldson. For Scott of course it’s a dissapointing result especially after the form he showed last week.
Not mentioned in WST report but another young player, Pang Junxu, had an excellent result, beating Tom Ford by 6-4.
Yan Bingtao started well but had to battle hard in the end to beat young Sean Maddockx by 6-4.
Jamie Clarke confirmed his good form with a 6-5 win over the “Minister of Defence”, Martin O’Donnell, as did David Grace with a 6-4 victory over Ian Burns. Ben Woollaston however suffered a 6-5 defeat at the hands of Andy Hicks. Ben has lead by 5-3.
There is a possiblility that crowds could return from December 2 on, just a possibility but Mark Selby would love that it seems
Snooker’s oldest ranking event outside of the World Championship, the UK Championship will be the first Triple Crown Series tournament of the season with a top prize of £200,000 to be won.
Last year it was Ding Junhui who claimed the title for a third time following a 10-6 victory against 2004 champion Stephen Maguire and both will be among those returning to contest the title once again in 2020.
Once again, the tournament will be held at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, rather than its traditional home in York due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions. The event will however be televised in full for the first time after it was announced that Eurosport will cover the opening round matches for the first time.
As in previous seasons, the draw has been made strictly in accordance with seeding, meaning that the top seed will play number 128 in the opening round, the second seed will player number 127 and so on. This can often throw up a number of ultimately key matches in the battle to stay on tour at the end of the season, with big money to be won and players close to each other around the crucial ‘top 64’ cut-off drawn to play each other in the first round.
All matches up to and including the semi-finals will be played over the best of 11 frames, increasing to 19 for the final (8/11).
Once again, the overwhelming majority of professional players will be involved, with all but five (Mei Xiwen, Marco Fu, Bai Langning, Stephen Hendry and Steve Mifsud) in the main draw.
As well as being a highly prestigious event in its own right, as has become tradition in recent seasons the UK Championship also acts as the decisive tournament in the battle to secure one of the richly coveted 16 players at January’s Masters tournament.
A full analysis detailing all of the permutations and key matches to follow will be posted here at WPBSA.com shortly.
PLEASE NOTE: PREVIEW WRITTEN PRIOR TO THE NORTHERN IRELAND OPEN SEMI-FINALS.
THE TOP QUARTER
The draw is led by defending champion Ding Junhui with the former world number one looking to capture his first ranking title since his victory 12 months ago in York.
First up will be a first career meeting with Jamie Curtis-Barrett, with Northern Ireland Open semi-finalist David Grace or Ian Burns awaiting the winner in the second round.
Opposite Ding in the quarter is three-time champion John Higgins, with the Scot handed a tricky opener with veteran Irishman Fergal O’Brien. The pair met earlier this year at the European Masters in January, Higgins emerging a 5-2 victor.
Elsewhere ahead of Higgins in the draw could come the likes of Scott Donaldson or Ryan Day, with Champion of Champions winner Mark Allen a potential last 16 opponent.
Elsewhere in this quarter, Jack Lisowski and Gary Wilson are also in close proximity, with the pair on course to meet in what could be a hugely significant last 16 encounter. This is because the pair are separated by just £1,250 in the latest Race to the Masters standings, with Wilson currently on course to qualify at Lisowski’s expense.
Finally, there is also a 21st career meeting ahead between Alan McManus and Jimmy White, the latter currently leading their respective head to head record 13-7.
THE SECOND QUARTER
The second section is bookended by two-time UK champions Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, with the pair both set to begin against amateur opposition.
For Robertson, an opening-round clash with promising Frenchman Brian Ochoiski could precede a meeting with either Chris Wakelin or Louis Heathcote, with Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao among those potentially standing between him and a first quarter-final appearance in the event since his 2016 victory.
Selby too has not reached the last eight of the tournament since he lifted the trophy in 2017 and has been handed a potential banana skin in the opening round with a match against former ranking event winner Michael White to begin.
Selby could then face Liam Highfield, Michael Holt, and David Gilbert should the tournament progress according to seeding. Gilbert in particular is among those looking to make certain of his place at the Masters, currently 13th in the standings [UPDATE: Gilbert is already mathematically certain of Masters qualification].
Among those in the chasing pack are Anthony McGill (19) and Barry Hawkins (22) who can also be found in this section.
THE THIRD QUARTER
At the time of writing prior to the Northern Ireland Open semi-finals, world number one Judd Trump comes into the tournament in a rich vein of form following his fifth career maximum break last week and victory at the English Open last month.
Despite his victory in York back in 2011, Trump has only once more reached the quarter-finals of one of snooker’s most historic events and begins his latest bid with a clash against Paul Davison – a recent winner against Mark Williams at the German Masters qualifier.
Either Dominic Dale or Luo Honghao will await the winner, with potentially Liang Wenbo and Williams himself – the Welshman looking to seal his Masters place – to follow en route to the quarter-finals.
Also among those still in with a chance of a place at the Masters is Ali Carter, who has made significant ground on the top 16 following his deep run at the Northern Ireland Open. He could play Williams as early as the last 32.
Not for the first time this season, Championship League winner Kyren Wilson finds himself as the highest ranked player in Trump’s quarter, looking to reach the last eight for only the second time in his career.
First up for Wilson will be WSF Open winner Ashley Hugill, with two-time UK quarter-finalist Mark Joyce, Kurt Maflin and Stuart Bingham among those between him and a meeting with Trump.
THE BOTTOM QUARTER
Record seven-time UK Championship winner Ronnie O’Sullivan heads up the bottom section of the draw as its second seed following his strongest performance of the season at the Northern Ireland Open.
First up for the reigning world champion will be experienced amateur Leo Fernandez, who three years ago earned a famous win against Ding Junhui from 5-1 down at the same stage of the event in York.
Ahead of the winner will be either Alexander Ursenbacher or Nigel Bond, with Matthew Stevens and Masters-chasing Thepchaiya Un-Nooh potentially to come.
At the opposite end of the section is 2008 champion Shaun Murphy, who having lost his opening match at the tournament during each of the past two seasons will be looking to avoid an unwanted hat-trick when he opens against Welshman Lee Walker.
Ahead of the winner could be Elliot Slessor, Matt Selt and old rival Stephen Maguire ahead of any potential meeting with O’Sullivan.
Elsewhere in the section can be found Joe Perry, currently 20th in the Race to the Masters and a potential last 16 opponent for O’Sullivan.
Let us know who will take home the trophy at our social media platforms linked at the top of the page!
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.
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.
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.”
O’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
The Eurosport pundit discussed two peculiar aspects of this match
NORTHERN IRELAND OPEN SNOOKER 2020: ‘SURELY NOT!’ – WHY DID RONNIE O’SULLIVAN MAKE BIG MISTAKE?
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.”
‘I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND HIS DECISION THERE!’
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:
“SURELY NOT, ARE YOU KIDDING? HE WILL SURELY GET IT THIS TIME. I AM AMAZED HE HAS HAD THAT PUT BACK. JUDD IS A LITTLE CONFUSED THAT HE HAS BEEN ASKED TO PLAY THIS AGAIN. I WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND O’SULLIVAN’S DECISION THERE – IT WASN’T A PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT SHOT BUT HE HAS ASKED TRUMP TO PLAY IT A SECOND TIME.”
‘RONNIE MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT IT WAS A FULL-BALL SNOOKER’
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.
“I AM NOT QUITE SURE HOW GOOD A LOOK RONNIE HAD AT IT – IF HE HAD KNOWN I BELIEVE HE WOULD HAVE CHOSEN ANOTHER SHOT.”
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.
NORTHERN IRELAND OPEN SNOOKER 2020 – RONNIE O’SULLIVAN ON DRAGGING OUT DEAD FRAMES
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.
‘IT’S LEGAL’ – MCMANUS AND WHITE WEIGH IN
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.”
For the third time in a row, it will be Judd Trump versus Ronnie in the Northern Ireland Open. It’s the World numberone versus the World number two, the defending champion versus the reigning World Champion … and WST got the poster right from the start 😉.
Defending champion Judd Trump defeated David Grace 6-2 in the semi-finals of the Matchroom.Live Northern Ireland Open, to set up a blockbuster final with familiar foe Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Trump has defeated O’Sullivan in each of the last two Northern Ireland Open finals, both by a 9-7 scoreline. In arguably snooker’s most compelling modern day rivalry, world number one Trump and World Champion O’Sullivan cannot be split. The pair have met 22 times, with each having won 11 times.
Tomorrow’s final will once again see the illustrious duo do battle over the best of 17 frames, for the Alex Higgins Trophy and a top prize of £70,000. It will be the first time the same players have contested a specific ranking final in three consecutive years, since Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White in the 1994 World Championship.
Defeat will do little to dampen what has been an important run for world number 67 Grace, who was appearing in just his second ranking semi-final. The Yorkshireman dropped off the tour in 2018, but regained his professional status last year by virtue of his performances on the Challenge Tour.
Grace made a confident start to this evening’s semi-final, taking the opener to establish an early 1-0 lead. However, from there Trump seized the initiative, making breaks of 57 and 91 on his way to three on the bounce to lead 3-1 at the mid-session.
Upon the resumption, Trump composed breaks of 101 and 59 to move a frame from victory at 5-1. Grace continued to battle away and reduced his arrears thanks to a run of 50 in the seventh frame. It was to no avail, as Trump fired in a contribution of 92 to wrap up the win.
“It was a tricky game. It is never nice losing the first frame, you never settle until you have your first frame on the board,” said 31-year-old Trump. “I was a bit fortunate. I played a bad shot at 3-1 and got away with it, I ended up getting in and making a break. That was kind of it then. At 4-1 up I felt confident.
“It would be nice to win 9-7 again tomorrow. It is incredible really, even for me to be in the final three times in a row. Against Ronnie it is very strange and not something that happens very often. There is probably something about this tournament that we both enjoy, even though it is here in Milton Keynes this year. It is still a special event for me. It would be nice to hopefully go out and play well, win the event and be able to defend my title back in Northern Ireland next year.
“I always enjoy playing him. I always look out for him in the draw and want him to get through so I can play him. Ever since I turned professional it is someone that I always want to play and someone I enjoy playing. He brings out the best in me. You know you have to play solid snooker and that is what seems to happen. I know I will have to be near my best to compete against him and he will know the same nowadays.”
What can we expect from this final?
On the season’s form there is no doubt that Judd Trump starts as strong favourite.
Ronnie hasn’t been at his best even if he reached the final this week, but he has been at his most determined and has applied himself in every match. He has battled through and through, never giving up. Will it be enough? I’m not sure. He needs to cut out errors and to find some kind of long potting.
That said, to get to the final, Ronnie has beaten Ding Junhui, ranked 10, Thepchaiya Un-nooh, ranked 15, and Ali Carter, ranked 19, twice a World finalist, and winner of their last encounter in the last 16 at the Crucible.
Judd, on the other hand, had a far easier route. Scott Donaldson, ranked 25, is the highest ranked player he faced. In his last two matches, he played opponents who hadn’t been on the television table in earlier rounds. Judd himself, in the ES studio, had explained how diffrent this table plays from the outside tables and what a massive advantage it is to play every match on it. I’m not sure how hard he has actually been tested. Today it will be different: his opponent is the World Champion and he has also played all his matches on the main table.