Tour and Players News – 27/08/2021

A few interesting things have been published over the last couple of weeks.

WST has published the result of the last disciplinary hearing:

Disciplinary Hearing Outcome 2021

And the rankings/seedings “cut-off” points” for this season

RankingPointsCut-Offs 2021:22

Despite a terrible performance in his second match last week, Stephen Hendry is determined to persist and extend his career:

Stephen Hendry planning to extend snooker comeback beyond this season: ‘I’m not putting any time limit on it’

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry is hoping for an extended stay on the main tour (Picture: WST)

Stephen Hendry is hoping that his snooker comeback lasts beyond this season, expecting another wildcard to stay on tour if he doesn’t stay on through the rankings.

The seven-time world champion picked up a 3-2 win over Chris Wakelin in the opening round of the British Open this week, his second victory since returning to the main tour earlier in the year.

There were some encouraging signs in that contest, with some impressive long pots going in, although he could not conjure up that form again in the next round as he lost 3-0 to Gary Wilson.

Hendry was handed a two-year tour card at the start of last season by then-WST chairman Barry Hearn, meaning it comes to an end at the climax of the current campaign.

It seemed more than possible that the 52-year-old would just play those two years, but he has been encouraged by his improvement since playing the game regularly again and intends to continue past the end of this season.

His aim is to play at the Crucible in the World Championship once again, and he will keep plugging away until he returns to the iconic venue.

Speaking after his win over Wakelin, Hendry told Metro.co.uk: ‘That’s the goal [playing at the Crucible], whether it’s this year, next year or the year after, I’m not putting any time limit on it.

‘If it doesn’t happen this year that’s not the be all and end all, but that’s the end goal. I’ve always said I don’t want that defeat to [Stephen] Maguire [in 2012] to be my last match at the Crucible, but there’s a long way to go to get there.

‘If my game keeps improving there’s no need to suddenly stop playing again. I’ve not said I’m going to come back, start winning tournaments and be a top player again, I just want to get back to enjoy playing snooker, playing well and see what happens.’

Hendry must reach the top 64 in the rankings, or survive on the one-year money list to stay on tour past this season thanks to his performances.

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry battled past Chris Wakelin in Leicester (Picture: Zhai Zheng)

His other options would be to go to Q School or to get another wildcard and the latter is what he expects to happen as Jimmy White continues to be given that very opportunity.

‘I would hope I’d get another wildcard,’ he said. ‘Jimmy keeps getting them, nothing against Jimmy he’s one of my best mates, but I would hope that the fact I’m competing that I would get another one.

‘Barry [Hearn] did say to me that as long as I play then I’ll get one, the only reason he’d take it off me is if I didn’t play at all. So I’m playing so I’d like to think I’d get one.’

Hendry confirmed that he has not entered the Northern Ireland Open but will be playing in the Scottish Open, with qualifiers played next month, although he is disappointed that the main stages are in Wales rather than Scotland over last-minute issues with the arena in Glasgow.

‘I didn’t enter Northern Ireland but I’m going to enter the Scottish, but it’s going to be strange playing the Scottish Open in Llandudno,’ he said.

‘I actually don’t even know the reason I’m not playing Northern Ireland, I just didn’t fancy it, to be fair. No special reason, I just didn’t enter it. My comeback was never going to be full time, it was always going to be picking and choosing the events I wanted to play in, rather than being full time.’

I totally understand why Stephen doesn’t want that match to be his last at the Crucible. I was there. He started well, then played a couple of bad shots and basically gave up. It was painful to watch, and I’m certain that his opponent, Maguire felt extremely uneasy out there at the time. That’s not how a great champion wants to be remembered, nor is it how they want a brilliant career to finish. I’m sure that Stephen Hendry isn’t proud of that one. He deserves a better closing and I hope he gets it.

And finally … there is this a bizarre, unsettling interview with Mark Allen

Troubled Mark Allen sensationally reveals he may be forced to QUIT snooker

 
Troubled Mark Allen sensationally reveals he may be forced to QUIT snooker

Troubled Mark Allen sensationally reveals he may be forced to QUIT snooker

TROUBLED snooker ace Mark Allen has sensationally revealed he may be forced to quit the sport.

Former Masters champion Allen has been plagued with off-table problems during the past year, which he hinted are close to coming to a head.

The world No 10 is locked in a bitter custody battle with his soon-to-be ex wife Kyla McGuigan.

And added to that unwanted stress the five-time ranking-event winner declared bankruptcy earlier this season.

The Northern Irish potter was forced to play former flame Reanne Evans in the first round at this week’s British Open amid their recent legal disputes.

And Allen revealed: “It’s tough at the minute and I need to get some things sorted.

“I don’t know which tournament is going to be my last at the minute.

“This one could very well be my last with the way things are going.

“I don’t want that to be the case. I love playing snooker, it’s the only thing I’m good at in life.

“Let’s hope that’s not the case, but I’m not sure what’s around the corner.”

When asked why it could be his last tournament, coy Allen replied: “I’d rather not say, but it might be out of my hands.”

Earlier this week Allen beat former girlfriend Evans in a highly-publicised battle of the exes.

The clash had extra spice given the pair’s acrimonious break up and Evans asking her ex partner to provide extra maintenance for their 12-year-old daughter.

But it’s also believed Allen, who has pocketed almost £3.5m in a stellar career, is worried about the shared care for other daughter Harleigh as legal proceedings ramble on.

Allen, who has suffered with depression in the past, cryptically revealed he doesn’t know which direction his troubled career is heading after unwanted family issues.

Allen crashed out of last season’s World Championship with a whimper. And even then he said he would “take a break” from the green-baize game.

Allen started this season in promising form by reaching last week’s Championship League final.

But despite beating Evans on Monday, in a match he called “horrible” Allen was stunned 3-2 by Hossein Vafaei on Wednesday night.

And Allen stressed he was relieved to be sent home after the ordeal of his first-round tie.

“It’s a bit of a relief this tournament’s over if I’m honest,” admitted Allen.

“I think Monday night took a bit more out of me than I was prepared for.

“I saw bits and pieces that were written. As you know I’m very active on social media and it’s hard reading what’s being said about you when 99 per cent of the people saying it don’t know what they’re talking about.

“It’s a blessing to be going home really.”

The only certainty here is that Mark is in a dark place, I can’t imgaine why he would be FORCED to quit snooker if he doesn’t want to.

 

2021 British Open – Mark Williams is your Champion!

Mark Williams beat Gary Wilson by 6-4 yesterday evening to win his 24th ranking title.

Congratulations Mark Williams!

Here is how the match unfolded (WST):

The Final: Frame By Frame

Frame by frame updates as Mark Williams takes on Gary Wilson in the final of the matchroom.live British Open. First to six frames takes the trophy and £100,000…

Frame one
Williams makes breaks of 24 and 19, running out of position on both occasions. Wilson, trailing 43-8, then plays a loose safety and this time he is punished. Williams adds 39 to draw first blood.
Williams 1-0 Wilson

Frame two
A trio of scoring opportunities allow Wilson to build a 48-0 lead. Williams has half a chance to counter but misses a tough long red to a top corner, letting his opponent back in to add 24 and level the tie.
Williams 1-1 Wilson

Frame three
Wilson is aiming to win his first ranking title tonight and he could do without this kind of misfortune. Trailing 15-1, he attempts to go into the pack off the black, but flicks a lone red and the cue ball goes in-off. Williams clears with 111, his first century of the tournament, to regain the lead.
Williams 2-1 Wilson

Frame four
Williams leads 18-11 when he fails to convert a tough long red to a top corner. The black is close to a side cushion, but Wilson uses blue and pink to construct a fine break of 62 which leaves them all square at the interval.
Williams 2-2 Wilson

Frame five
Wilson has grown into this match and now looks the stronger player. A red to middle sets up an excellent break of 101 to put the Geordie ahead for the first time.
Williams 2-3 Wilson

Frame six
Wilson has an early chance but makes just 13 before missing a red to centre. Williams leads 50-24 when, on a break of 40, he overcuts the pink to a top corner, with two reds remaining. A brief safety exchange is resolved when Williams converts a superb long red to a baulk corner. He adds the black, doubles the last red to a centre pocket, and clears the table to restore parity.
Williams 3-3 Wilson

Frame seven
Is this the Williams surge? The three-time Crucible king fires in another sizzling long red to initiate a run of 75, putting him back in front and two away from victory.
Williams 4-3 Wilson

Frame eight
A missed red to a top corner from Williams, trailing 27-26, hands his opponent the chance to go 31 points ahead with two reds left. Williams later fails on a difficult long pot on the last red, and Wilson adds the points he needs. We’re all square again.
Williams 4-4 Wilson

Frame nine
Williams makes 25 before running out of position, but gets back in with a fabulous long red to a baulk corner. He goes on to make 115, his second ton of the match, to go one up with two to play.
Williams 5-4 Wilson

Frame ten
All over – Mark Williams is the 2021 matchroom.live British Open champion! Wilson has a chance to force a decider but makes only 10 before missing the pink to a top corner. A run of 44 from Williams puts him 52 ahead with two reds left, and when Wilson fails to pot the blue after taking one red, he offers the handshake. That’s a 24th ranking title for evergreen Williams.
Williams 6-4 Wilson

And here is the post-match report (WST):

Williams Lands 24th Ranking Crown

Mark Williams defeated Gary Wilson 6-4 in the final of the matchroom.live British Open to claim the 24th ranking title of his illustrious career.

It’s the second time that 46-year-old Williams has lifted the British Open trophy, 24 years after his first in 1997 when he defeated Stephen Hendry 9-2 in the final.

This evening’s victory sees three-time World Champion Williams move from 11th in the world rankings to 8th, courtesy of the £100,000 top prize.

Having racked up 24 ranking titles, only Steve Davis (28), John Higgins (31), Stephen Hendry (36) and Ronnie O’Sullivan (37) have won more. This is Williams’ first title in a traditional knockout format event since the 2018 World Open.

Defeat for Wilson extends his wait for a maiden ranking title. He’s now lost both of the finals he has appeared in during his 11 seasons on the professional circuit. Wilson’s only other title match came at the 2015 China Open, when he was defeated 10-2 by Mark Selby. The Wallsend cueman leaves Leicester with the consolation of the £45,000 runner up prize.

It was Williams who got off the mark first, taking a tightly contested opening frame. Wilson responded by winning the second to restore parity at 1-1, before a superb century run of 111 moved Williams ahead once more.

The steely Wilson refused to wilt and ensured they went into the interval all square, after composing a break of 62 to make it 2-2.

When play resumed Wilson moved up a gear with a century run of 101 to lead for the first time at 3-2. A superb long red to the baulk corner from Williams helped him to claim the sixth frame and claw himself back level. He then regained the lead after making 75 to take frame seven and lead 4-3.

It was all square once more when Wilson took a fragmented frame which lasted 32 minutes. However, Williams moved to the verge of victory after converting a run of 115, from a fine long red, to lead 5-4. Wilson had the chance to force a decider, but spurned his opportunity by missing a pink. Williams punished him with a break of 44 to get over the line.

“I honestly thought my career was finished five years ago. Another five years on and I’m 46 years old and number eight in the rankings,” said Welshman Williams. “I am a little bit fortunate to win it really. There were two, maybe three matches that I should have lost. I managed to win them and it was as if the tournament was destined for me.

“Everything seemed to go my way. Each time I looked like I’d get beat, someone would miss something and I’d do good clearances at the right times. I played really solidly tonight. I missed a few balls, but overall I played really well.

“I felt good out there every match, even when I was just whacking 20 breaks in. I made a few good breaks today. I’m just over the moon to get over the line in the end.”

Wilson said: “It is very difficult to take the positives straight after losing, but obviously getting to the final in one of the first events of the season is a great start. I can get some money on the board straight away and push myself up the rankings. It does take some pressure off, but I am bitterly disappointed. I was so determined to win this tournament.”

Mark Williams is an authentic character and he has been excellent value in this tournament on and off the table. Mark seems to have this gift to be able to take all snooker things, good or bad, as they come. He doesn’t seem to beat himself up when not playing great. In general he’s grateful for the life snooker has given him. He likes to remind himself how his father, who was a miner, took him down the pit one day when he was about 15, how scared he was, how hard that work felt. He didn’t want this to be his life and worked extremely hard to make the most of his talent. He deserves everything he gets. He’s also giving a lot back to the sport that gave him a good life.

I was very critical of the format at the start of the tournament but it actually worked rather well. I’m still of the opinion that it should not be named the “British Open” though as it has nothing in common with that prestigious comp of the past. But it did deliver tension aplenty, we got to see many players lower down the rankings on television and I was impressed by many of them. Because the matches are so short, they were often quite tactical, the complete opposite of the Shoot Out. It’s a shame that – by all accounts – the conditions were not great.

And, whilst Mark got to happily drive home last night …

BritishOpen2021WilloCarTrip

Other players were heading to Leicester for the 2021 Northern Ireland Open qualifiers that start today.

 

 

2021 British Open – Day 6 – QFs and SFs

The 2021 British Open final – a best of 11 match – will be played between Mark Williams, going for his 24th ranking title and Gary Wilson going for his first.

Here are WST reports about how we got there.

Afternoon – QFs

Slessor And Wilson Set Up Tyneside Derby

Gateshead’s Elliot Slessor and Wallsend’s Gary Wilson won deciding frames to set up a Tyneside showdown against each other in the semi-finals of the matchroom.live British Open.

World number 49 Slessor defeated China’s Zhou Yuelong 4-3, claiming an epic deciding frame on the final black. Zhou spurned two chances to pot it, with Slessor missing a tricky chance as well. Eventually Slessor was left with the black at his mercy and deposited it to reach his second ranking event semi-final.

Wilson defeated last week’s Championship League winner David Gilbert 4-3 in their quarter-final. Having trailed 2-0, Wilson claimed four of the next five frames with a top run of 106 to reach the semis.

Former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson is through to just the second ranking semi-final of his career after a 4-2 defeat of Lu Ning and he will face three-time World Champion Mark Williams, who edged out Ricky Walden 4-3.

Evening – SFs 

Wilson Into Second Ranking Final

Former Crucible semi-finalist Gary Wilson edged close friend and fellow Tyneside cueman Elliot Slessor 4-3 to reach a ranking final for the second time in his career at the matchroom.live British Open.

Wilson, 36, is now just one match away from claiming his maiden ranking title. The Wallsend potter’s only final appearance so far in his 11 seasons on the circuit came at the 2015 China Open, when he was beaten 10-2 by Mark Selby.

Tonight’s victory for Wilson ends a streak of three consecutive semi-final defeats, at the 2018 Welsh Open, 2019 World Championship and the 2020 European Masters. He will take on Mark Williams in the final tomorrow evening over the best of 11 frames.

Defeat sees 27-year-old Slessor fall short of a first ranking final after a superb week in Leicester. Gateshead’s Slessor defeated the likes of Judd Trump, Ali Carter and Zhou Yuelong on his way to the semis.

It was Slessor who took a tightly contested opener and he was soon two to the good after a fine run of 73 to make it 2-0.

Wilson then burst into life, consecutive runs of 67, 68 and 100 saw him register three on the bounce and move 3-2 ahead. Slessor forced a decider with a fine century break of 125. However, it was Wilson who took the tie after firing in a match winning contribution of 54.

Wilson said: “Everybody knows me and Elliot are really close pals. We are both quite like minded. We both went into that game really wanting to beat each other. It was a massive occasion for us and we both want a tournament on our CV.

“It would mean everything. It is the performance as well for me. The title is massive and that is why I am battling so hard. You can’t play perfect, but as long as I can feel good and like a proper player. That is all I am after. If I can do that and get the result as well it would be the icing on the cake.”

Williams clinched his place in the final with a 4-1 defeat of Jimmy Robertson. The three-time World Champion is aiming for a 24th career ranking title tomorrow. Only Steve Davis, John Higgins, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan have won more.

Welshman Williams top scored this evening with a break of 73, having already defeated Ricky Walden this afternoon for his place in the last four.

Williams said: “That was a lot better. It was probably the best I’ve played all week to be honest. Jimmy had a few chances, missed and let me in. I had a great clearance to go 3-1 up and that broke the backbone of the match for me really.

“I’m just happy to be in the final. If I win 6-0 or lose 6-0, I can’t grumble. I should never ever be here. I could have gone out first, second, third or fourth round. I am very lucky to be here. Hopefully I can get a bit more luck with one more match to go.”

I have to make Mark Williams favourite today because of the way the week has gone. Basically, despite claiming to be “excited” (not!) as well as claiming to need “kebab” in order to feel OK, Willo has been hard as nail at the table.

He hasn’t played well, except in patches yesterday evening, but, match after match, he has found ways to win despite not scoring heavily at all for most of the week. He knows what is required and he’s been there before.

I was happy to see Ricky Walden coming back to some form after years of struggles with back injuries. He’s still far away from the form that got him to number 6 in the World in 2015, but he’s getting better. Ricky is very good to watch when on song. He’s a nice and friendly lad but he absolutely HATES losing … the last years must have been extremely difficult!

Whist they were doing battle in Leicester … Neil Robertson was getting married!

NeilRobertsonGetMarried

He posted this on twitter, saying “Dad and I ready for the big day.”. Hopefully the big day went well! Nothing else transpired… he may have been a bit busy.

Congratulations Mille and Neil!

Wishing you and your family loads of happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2021 British Open – Day 5 – Last 32 and Last 16

Yesterday was the British Open equivalent of the Home Nations’ “Moving Day” with two rounds – last 32 and last 16 – played to a completion.

These are yesterday’s “highlights”

  • Elliot Slessor defeated Judd Trump in the last 32, and then Ali Carter in the last 16.
  • As a result of Judd Trump’s last 32 exit, Mark Selby will regain the World number one spot at the end of this tournament, despite bowing out in the lat 64.
  • Ali Carter made a maximum, his third, in the second frame of his last 16 match against Slessor. Quite remarkably, each time Ali has made a maximum, there has been another one in the same competition and he had to share the “maximum bonus” each time, This time it’s with John Higgins.
  • Jimmy Robertson played really well to beat Stephen Maguire in the last 16.
  • Mark Williams is the only member of the top 16 still in the tournament and he was “lucky” to come out the winner of his last 16 match against Zhang Jiankang. Zhang should have won the match, but inexperience of playing at such stage on the main table and pressure got at him.
  • Zhou Yuelong beat Joe O’Connor by 3-2 in a very hard fought match. Joe was the last player from Leicester still standing and, probably, for a short while, Zhou became the most hated player in Leicester on that evening.
  • Lukas Kleckers became the first German player to reach the last 16 of a full ranking event, but lost to Lu Ning at that stage.

Here is the “main” report by WST:

Slessor Reaches Quarters

World number 49 Elliot Slessor is into the quarter-finals after claiming two huge scalps in a day of giant killing at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

Following a superb 3-2 defeat of Judd Trump in the afternoon, Slessor took on four-time ranking event winner Ali Carter in what proved to be a high quality encounter. Slessor defeated the Captain 3-1, but not before an evening of fireworks.

The opening frame went the way of Slessor thanks to a break of 76. What followed was a moment of snooker magic. Carter restored parity with the perfect frame, firing in the third 147 break of his career to make it 1-1. It’s the second maximum break of the week, following John Higgins’ effort in the opening round against Alexander Ursenbacher.

That did nothing to deter the Gateshead’s Slessor, who fired in runs of 74 and 63 to seal a significant victory. Next up Slessor faces Zhou Yuelong, who defeated Leicester’s Joe O’Connor 3-2.

“It was a good game and we both played pretty well. We barely made any mistakes at all,” said 27-year-old Slessor. “I’ve been working with Peter Ebdon to try and be more mentally strong in certain situations. I made a monster clearance after he made the 147. I thought if I could nick that frame I’d take the momentum. In this kind of game momentum is everything.

“I’ve always known I have ability. I can score, I can play safe, I can pot balls. The biggest problem I’ve always had is me. My attitude and me in general. I’ve ended up missing chances because I’m so annoyed at myself. What I’m doing now is a completely different outlook and I’m feeling really strong and comfortable.”

World number 11 Mark Williams is the only top 16 player left standing, after he defeated China’s Zhang Jiankang 3-2. The three-time World Champion will now face Ricky Walden in an intriguing quarter-final clash. Walden beat amateur Ross Muir 3-1 in his last 16 tie.

David Gilbert continued his hot streak of form with a 3-0 whitewash win over Hammad Miah. The Tamworth cueman won his maiden ranking title at the Championship League last week.

Gilbert composed breaks of 60 and 62 on his way to this evening’s victory. He now faces Gary Wilson who defeated Hossein Vafaei 3-2 to make the quarter-finals.

Former European Masters winner Jimmy Robertson clinched a quarter-final berth with a 3-0 defeat of Stephen Maguire. He now faces Lu Ning, who defeated Lukas Kleckers 3-0. Kleckers leaves Leicester with the consolation of becoming the first German ever to reach the last 16 of a ranking event.

and the “program” for today:

Afternoon session: Quarter-finals:

QF1: Lu Ning v Jimmy Robertson

QF2: Zhou Yuelong v Elliot Slessor

QF3: Mark Williams v Ricky Walden

QF4: David Gilbert v Gary Wilson

Evening session: Semi-finals

QF1 v QF3

QF2 v QF4

2021 British Open – Day 4 – Last 64 completed

Here are WST reports on yesterday’s action:

Morning  and afternoon sessions

Higgins Reaches Last 32

Scotland’s four-time World Champion John Higgins staged a fine fightback to defeat China’s Cao Yupeng 3-2 at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

Higgins produced a magic moment in the first round when he fired in the 12thmaximum break of his career in the first frame of a 3-1 defeat of Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher.

It was Cao who hit the ground running this afternoon, composing a break of 78 to take the opener and move 1-0 ahead. Higgins restored parity, before Cao edged one from the win at 2-1.

However, Higgins wasn’t to be denied and turned on the style just when required. A superb plant set up a break of 95 to force a decider. He the made contribution of 96, after a spurned long red from Cao, to take two on the bounce and secure the 3-2 win. The Glaswegian will now face Ricky Walden in the last 32.

Higgins said: “The plant could have gone wrong, but I didn’t have another shot on. Luckily I got the plant and managed to do the break. I was expecting him, being such a great long potter, to pot the red in the last. Fortunately for me he double kissed it and left it over the bag.”

Gary Wilson eased to a 3-0 defeat of seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry. The win sets up a last 16 encounter with Xu Si.

Hammad Miah earned his place in the last 32 with an impressive 3-1 win over former English Open winner Liang Wenbo. Next up he will face Belgium’s Luca Brecel.

Miah is returning to the tour after a remarkable showing to come through Q School. A holiday in Dubai saw him eventually end up stranded in Uzbekistan due to Covid restrictions enforced whilst he was travelling home.

Evening session 

Trump Through As Selby Falls

World number one Judd Trump remains in contention to stay at the top of the rankings after this week following a 3-1 defeat of Stuart Bingham at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

If Trump fails to make the quarter-finals he will surrender his world number one position to World Champion Mark Selby, who succumbed to a 3-0 loss against Ali Carter this evening. Trump faces Elliot Slessor in the last 32 tomorrow afternoon.

Trump has sensationally won 11 ranking titles over the last two seasons and has occupied the world number one spot since August 2019. However, the Ace in the Pack faces the prospect of the £175,000 he earned for winning the 2019 International Championship coming off his ranking at the end of this week. That leaves him vulnerable to world number two Selby.

It was Bingham who started fastest in this evening’s match, he fired in a break of 65 to take the opener. However, Trump turned the game on its head and breaks of 69, 75 and 65 saw him take three on the bounce and emerge a 3-1 victor.

Trump said: “Stuart made my job easy for me. He started off on fire and I knew every time I got to the table I had to clear up. He made it simple and took all doubt out of my mind. Go out and play amazing or go home.

“I came here not really paying any attention to the rankings. For me I just want to go out and win every tournament. If I go out and win five or six events every season then in my head I am the best player there is. That is my aim, to try and win five or six again this year.”

Carter was in impressive form during his 3-0 defeat of Crucible King Selby. The Captain fired in breaks of 107 and 57 on his way to the win and will face Oliver Lines in the last 32.

Carter said: “It was a good performance today. I’m really pleased to have won. It was a tough match and it is always a tough match against Mark. There were a couple of loose positional shots but on the whole my performance was good.

“I’m one of the best players in the world and this is a massive opportunity. It is a short format but all I’ve played since Christmas is short format matches so I’m used to it. Mark won the world title and probably had a few months off, whereas I’ve been in my snooker room and out hitting the road running. It has paid off.”

Leicester’s Joe O’Connor scored an impressive 3-1 win over 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty, while Lukas Kleckers defeated Louis Heathcote 3-2.

The match between Gary Wilson and Stephem Hendry was awful, they were both poor and Hendry in particular was really dire. Gary branded their performance “embarrassing”. It was. However saying it attracted criticism from Ken Doherty, who said this was a bit strong and lacking grace, and fans who claimed that he was being disrespectful to Stephen Hendry. Gary was just being honest and Stephen was equally blunt about what he tought of his performane: this is what he put on his Instagram:

Hendry Instagram - 21-08-20 at 00.27.27

Says it all.

Ali played well but reckons that Mark Selby didn’t put a lot of work in after his win at the Crucible last May. He’s right … as Mark Selby himself admitted ahead of the tournament. It’s perfectly understandable at this stage of Mark’s career and with a young family.

Anyway… this is the program for today morning and afternoon:

BritishOpen2021L32

Only four of the top 16 remain in the draw… not often you see that at this stage of a full ranking tournament (not counting the Shoot Out here).

 

 

 

2021 British Open – Day 3 – onto the last 64

Yesterday saw the end of the last 128 round and the start of the last 64 round.

Here are the reports by WST:

Morning and afternoon (L128)

Carter Sets Up Selby Showdown

Ali Carter came through a tight encounter with China’s Lei Peifan 3-2 to book a blockbuster second round meeting with World Champion Mark Selby at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

World number 23 Carter has beaten Selby in their previous two meetings at the Masters and the Championship League. However, there will be a strong home backing for Leicester’s 20-time ranking event winner Selby tomorrow night.

Carter, a winner of four ranking titles, is aiming to claim his first silverware for five years. His most recent victory came at the 2016 World Open. In stark contrast, Selby picked up his fourth Crucible title by beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in the World Championship final back in May.

It was Chinese 18-year-old Lei who took the opener this afternoon, composing breaks of 47 and 37 to move 1-0 ahead.

Carter then turned the match on its head. The Captain fired in runs of 51 and 63 to establish a 2-1 lead and move a frame from victory. Lei restored parity, but it was Carter who took the decider to wrap up the win.

Carter said: “It’s a dream draw for me really. I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m having a crack at the current World Champion. Not many people will think I have a chance to win, but one of the few people that thinks I can is me. I’ll turn up ten minutes before the match and have a go.

“The best of fives definitely do suit me. They are very cutthroat. Every frame is like a decider. You need to treat it that way and get the intensity level up. You also need to forgive yourself if you miss a ball, because we are all under a lot of pressure out there.”

Germany’s Lukas Kleckers scored an impressive 3-2 defeat of Masters champion Yan Bingtao. He had trailed 2-1, but a break of 61 forced a decider which he won to get over the line.

Belgium’s Luca Brecel defeated Barry Hawkins 3-2, while 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham beat Robert Milkins 3-1 to set up a second round clash with world number one Judd Trump.

The Yan v Kleckers is only match I saw from those two sessions. After a reasonable start, Yan appeared to lose his way, his self-belief and his motivation completely. Lukas played well in patches but actually not well enough to beat a top player on form IMO. What he did though is apply  himself and keep his concentration. He didn’t allow his opponent’s struggles to drag him down, as we sometimes see. He came out a deserving winner. He will play Louis Heathcote today. This is an interesting match but I doubt that it will be on TV. Lukas may have to deal with a partisan crowd.

Evening (L64)

Williams Fightback Floors Spaceman

Mark Williams battled back from 2-0 down to defeat fellow Welshman Dominic Dale 3-2 at the matchroom.live British Open in Leicester.

The three-time World Champion, who won the 23rd ranking title of his career at the WST Pro Series last season, is a former winner of the British Open, having beaten Stephen Hendry 9-2 in the 1997 final. He got this year’s campaign underway with a comfortable 3-0 win over Tian Pengfei in round one, this evening was anything but comfortable.

Dale took a scrappy first two frames to move one from victory at 2-0, but Williams responded with breaks of 72, 44 and 48 on his way to restoring parity at 2-2.

The final frame edged into a potential stalemate situation, with Williams offering a re-rack. Dale declined and it cost him as Williams manoeuvred an opportunity, making 44 and eventually taking the frame to win the match.

“He should have won that match. Why he didn’t agree to a re-rack in that last frame I don’t know,” said 46-year-old Williams. “I was never going to play up the table and leave him something easy and I thought he was never going to either. I just suggested the re-rack, he said no and played up the table. Thank you very much.”

Iranian number one Hossein Vafaei defeated Northern Ireland’s former Masters winner Mark Allen 3-2 to book his place in the last 32. A break of 55 in the decider was enough to help Vafaei over the line.

Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown beat David Lilley 3-0, while Stephen Maguire pipped Martin O’Donnell 3-2.

I watched both matches reported on above.

The first one was a strange affair. Mark Williams was terrible for the first two frames: his highest break was 9! Then, in the next, he managed to piece a 72 break together and, from then always looked like the winner to me. The “re-rack” thing was bizarre. The commentators in the box reflected that neither player was going to play up the table, so the re-rack was on, if not immediately, within the scope of a few shots… then Dom refused the offer, played up the table and lost the match. They suggested that there was some shrewd psychology behind the timing and the tone of Willo’s offer to re-rack.

Allen looked the strongest player at the start of the other match but, as it unfolded, it shifted in favour of Vafaei. There was never much between the two players. This was a good match: despite the very short format both played their normal game and attacked.

Interestingly “Willo” would love to play Hendry in the next round:

Mark Williams wants Stephen Hendry clash in blockbuster British Open tie

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
Mark Williams is eyeing up a clash with the seven-time world champion (Picture: Getty Images)

Mark Williams is in no doubt who he wants to play in the next round of the British Open, his good friend and old rival Stephen Hendry.

Williams edged his way into the last 32 on Wednesday night, beating Dominic Dale 3-2 to put his name in the hat of the random draw which takes place on Thursday afternoon.

Hendry beat Chris Wakelin in round one and must still get past Gary Wilson to make it into the third round – no easy task – but Williams will be rooting for the seven-time world champion so he has a shot at playing him on Friday.

Asked if he would like to call anyone out for the third round, Williams said: ‘Yeah, Hendry. Absolutely.

‘I was bad and he was pretty bad as well. Not as bad as me. He started off alright, he started off like a train and finished like a snail.’

The pair are good pals and Williams knows full well he would be risking decades of abuse to come if he were to lose the match, but it would be worth it to take on the legend of the baize once again.

‘It would be the one I want, but obviously the stick I get if he beats me will be never ending,’ said the Welshman.

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Eight
Williams is one of the favourites to win the British Open this weekend (Picture: Getty Images)

‘It would be great to play him, though, I haven’t played him for many years now, it would be brilliant. Even if he turned me over 3-0, I’d never hear the end of it for the rest of my life but I’d still take that losing and playing him.

‘I don’t know if he’s going to play in loads of tournaments or whatever. I think everyone would like to play him. Not just because he’s not as good as he was, but just to get the chance to play him.’

The last time they did play was nearly 11 years ago at the 2010 UK Championship, with Williams beating Hendry 9-6 in the last 16.

I didn’t watch the Maguire v O’Donnell match but, if this report by Eurosport is anything to go by, Mags had to summon his whole reserve of patience – which doesn’t amount to much TBH – to get out of the match with a win instead of with a fine…


Stephen Maguire completed a 3-2 win over Martin O’Donnell in the British Open last 64 before blasting the go-slow tactics of the world number 47 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester.

The sickened former UK champion admitted he was on the verge of “smashing” the balls up and making a rapid return to his home city of Glasgow with O’Donnell averaging a tortuous 36.7 seconds a shot for the match.

“He was in the balls (in the fourth frame) and I think he only made 40. He missed something and played safe. That was his chance to win the match,” said world number nine Maguire, who came out at 28.4 seconds above his usual AST of 24.55.

“I thought I did really well to hold my patience out there. There were times I felt like smashing them up and getting out, getting home. I don’t like matches like that, I don’t enjoy them.

To be honest, I don’t think there is any need to be that slow. I’ve played the game for years. You don’t need to be that slow.

“It’s my fault for letting it get to me, but I did. Listen, I threw in the towel three or four times at tournaments last season, just lost the plot and gave the guy the match basically.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t do that, but I swear to God I was so close there. But I never so there you go.”

I’m not sure it’s a “tactic” by the “Minister of Defence” as he always plays that way. What I do know is that I don’t like to watch it. Why he does it, only he will know. He reached the SF at the Shoot Out so he can play faster.

2021 Northern Ireland Open Draw and Qualifiers Format + more Tour News

WST has published the draw and the qualifiers’ format for the 2021 Northern Ireland Open.

BetVictor Northern Ireland Open Draw

The draw and format for the 2021 BetVictor Northern Ireland Open is now available.

The qualifying round will run from August 23-27 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, followed by the final stages at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast from October 9-17.

The matches involving the top 16 seeds, two wild card nominations plus local tour player Jordan Brown will be held over to the final venue.

Judd Trump will begin his quest to win the title for a fourth consecutive year against Andrew Pagett. Ronnie O’Sullivan will face Stuart Carrington in the first round, while World Champion Mark Selby will take on Mark Davis. Northern Ireland’s top player Mark Allen will meet Si Jiahui.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

Neil Robertson will be back in action but Ding Junhui is still absent from the draw, as, unfortunately are On Yee Ng and Marco Fu.

WST has also published an updated version of their calendar:

2021:22 WST Calendar - 2021-08-18

As I expected after Jason Ferguson’s interview , the China Open has gone. Also, the top 16 players will not be in action at all until the 9th of October. That’s as big a break in the course of the season as I can remember. Also there are a lot of qualifiers to be confirmed in this calendar, but only one “potential ranking event” is mentioned. Also, no sign of the “traditional” Championship League.

Finally there is this in the press about the “handshake” incident at the start of the Allen v Evans match earlier this week.

Reanne Evans escapes punishment for handshake snub in bitter clash with ex Mark Allen

Reanne Evans ignored her former partner’s attempt at a fist bump before their fiery first round clash at the British Open but will not be punished for her actions

Reanne Evans has avoided any official punishment for her decision to ignore Mark Allen’s fist bump before they played at the British Open on Monday.

The pair had formerly been partners but broke up, making for a very awkward encounter only exaggerated by Evans’ move.

The draw for the British Open, which is being played for the first time since 2004, threw up the feisty encounter in the very first round. The two players have a daughter together, born in 2006, but split-up just two years later.

Evans recently asked for more maintenance money from Allen to support their child.

Reanne Evans will not be punished for refusing ex-partner Mark Allen's fist bump at the British Open in Leicester

Previously, players have been warned about conduct if there have been aggressive or angry exchanges, however given the relatively placid nature of Evans’ refusal of Allen’s peace offering, there will be no such action taken.

Reanne Evans will not be punished for refusing ex-partner Mark Allen’s fist bump at the British Open in Leicester

The crowd in Leicester were engrossed at the game, often becoming raucous in their support of the players.

While snooker players are expected to shake hands before any match, there is no strict obligation to do so. During the Covid pandemic such traditions have proved malleable given the obvious risks.

Evans is a 12-time women’s snooker world champion, and recently earned a two year professional tour card. Allen is a Masters champion and is currently ranked 10th in the world.

The pair put on a gripping contest, eventually going to a deciding frame in which Allen held his nerve to take the victory.

Both players commented on how unpleasant the so-called ‘Battle of the Exes’ was to play in after the match, with many onlookers also feeling the intensity of the duel.

Allen said after his victory: “It was horrible, and not something I really want to be doing again. I tried to stay professional and I think I did that and can hold my head up high.”

Evans was upset at her failure to convert a 2-1 lead in frames into a shock victory. She said: “No one wanted that match but you have to accept it, it’s sport and these things are going to happen.

“I am sick of losing these deciders. I couldn’t feel my arms or my legs by the end, with all the nerves and tension. I did settle a bit after the first frame and fancied the job.”

Stephen Hendry remarked while commentating on the affair: “Both players have shown great character. It’s been the most intense match I have probably ever witnessed.”

Allen takes on Hossain Vafaei in the second round of the competition on Wednesday evening.

This was basically a storm in a cup of tea over a non-issue. As the underlined part stresses, there is no strict obligation for the handshake and there was no aggression on either side.