The qualifiers for the 2021 Northern Ireland Open just concluded.
Gould Downs Doherty
Martin Gould finished with a century as he beat Ken Doherty 4-2 to qualify for the final stages of the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open.
The qualifying round runs until Friday this week in Leicester, with places in Belfast at stake – the televised phase to take place in October.
Former German Masters champion Gould shared the first four frames against Doherty, but then crucially took a scrappy 31-minute fifth frame before sealing victory in style with a run of 110 in frame six.
Liang Wenbo top scored with 104 as he beat Pang Junxu 4-1 in a Chinese derby, while Luca Brecel saw off Michael White 4-0 with top runs of 97 and 83.
Pakistan’s Farakh Ajaib came from 3-1 down to beat Andrew Higginson 4-3, winning the decider on the final pink after getting the better of a safety battle. Elliot Slessor also recovered a 3-1 deficit, beating Ross Muir 4-3 with a 35 clearance in the decider.
Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg saw off Wu Yize 4-2 while Andy Hicks beat Aaron Hill by the same scoreline. Jak Jones fired breaks of 70, 112 and 71 as he beat Soheil Vahedi 4-2.
I feel sorry for Soheil Vahedi. Don’t get me wrong, Jak Jones was the better player and deserved the win. What I can’t get out of my mind is Soheil Vahedi looking absolutely devastated in his seat after losing at the World qualifiers last April, and losing his professional status as well. He and his wife sacrificed so much in the hope to fulfill his dream of a succesful career in snooker. They have a very small child, a son born last spring.
In an interview given shortly after losing his professional status he had said that he was going to bounce back, but, so far, he has not really succeeded in doing that. He lost at the last 32 stage in each of the Q-School events, and each time to someone who went all the way and regained their tour card. He is yet to win a match in a professional event this season.
There is also absolutely no sign of Michael White getting back to form. He was completely outplayed by Luca Brecel, scoring just 42 points in the whole match.
Today we had only five matches and all but one were one-sided. The exception saw Louis Heathcote beat Craig Steadman by 4-3 in a quality match that featured six breaks over 50, including a 107 by Steadman.
David Gilbert beat Ian Burns by 4-0; the first frame was a closeaffair, but after that the “Farmer” ran to victory with breaks of 52, 116 and 108. Rory McLeod surprisingly beat Dominic Dale by the same score (the surprise is the severity of the score, not the win). David Grace whitewashed Jimmy White (sorry!) and Liam Highfield, who played well, scored breaks of 54, 86 and 77 in beating Reanne Evans by 4-1.
Snooker’s Super Sunday In Belfast
The world ranking event runs until October 17th, at the fantastic Waterfront Hall venue in central Belfast, featuring a wide range of the sport’s leading stars. It is part of snooker’s BetVictor Home Nations Series, with the winner to lift the Alex Higgins Trophy.
The tournament has 128 players all starting in round one. The top 16 seeds, as well as Jordan Brown, have had their opening matches held over to Belfast, while all other players compete in a qualifying round.
Matches to look out for on Sunday October 10th include
World Champion Mark Selby v Mark Davis
John Higgins v Joe O’Connor
Northern Ireland’s top player Mark Allen v Si Jiahui
Neil Robertson v Barry Pinches
Defending champion Judd Trump v Andrew Pagett
Kyren Wilson v Jamie Clarke
Local favourite Jordan Brown v Gary Wilson
Ronnie O’Sullivan v Stuart Carrington
Mark Williams v Mark Joyce
Trump is aiming to win the tournament for a fourth year in a row – remarkably he has beaten O’Sullivan 9-7 in the final in each of the last three seasons.
The full first round match schedule will be confirmed after the completion of the qualifying round. Tickets for all sessions including the final on Sunday October 17th are currently available.
The event begins with a 7pm evening session on Saturday October 9th, with tickets at just £5.
The event will be televised by Eurosport, Quest and a range of other broadcasters worldwide.