2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers – Day 6

Yesterday was the last day of the 2021 Scottish Open qualifiers and here is the (short) report by WST:

Crafty Ken Through After Carter Drama

Ken Doherty won the deciding frame on the final black to beat Ali Carter 4-3 and qualify for the final stages of the BetVictor Scottish Open.

Despite turning 52 this month, world number 73 Doherty remains competitive on the pro tour, and his victory over Carter – ranked 51 places higher – puts him through to the televised phase of the tournament in Llandudno in December.

Carter led 2-0  and 3-2, making breaks of 53, 66, 50 and 69. Irishman Doherty made 74 to level at 3-3, then in the decider he came from 67-40 down to clear from the last red and clinch a fine victory.

Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans suffered a 4-2 defeat against Mitchell Mann. From 2-1 down, Evans took the fourth frame and then built a handy lead in the fifth with a break of 44. But Mann fought back to take that frame on the colours before sealing the result in the sixth.

Chang Bingyu top scored with 109 in a 4-1 win over Jimmy White, while Hammad Miah came from 3-2 down to edge out Ashley Carter 4-3.

Chang Bingyu was really excellent against Jimmy White. He’s only 19 and still learning of course but if his safety game improves a bit – not much – he will be a danger to anyone. His potting and positional play were very good yesterday.

Hammad Miah beat Ahsley Carty of course, not Ashely Carter. It really annoys me how often players names are mispelled in recent WST reports. I usually “correct” them … but not this time.

As usual, some matches have been “forgotten”…

Craig Steadman beat Chen Zifan by 4-2. Going by the frames scores it must have been hard-fought.

David Lilley completely outplayed Dean Young: the veteran scored a 102 and a 82 en route to victory, whist young Dean was restricted to 38 points in total. Here is another one who is clearly not ready for the main tour. He hasn’t won a match yet – he played seven – and he has only won 5 frames from the 28 he played. And that, despite the fact that he hasn’t actually faced any top player yet: the highest ranked player he faced was Scott Donaldson, his practice partner. Scott is ranked 35 in the World.

There is clearly something wrong in the structure of the sport.


2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers – Day 5

This is WST report on Day 5 action at the Scottish Open Qualifiers in Barnsley:

Hallworth Books Llandudno Spot

Steven Hallworth made four breaks over 50 as he beat Ricky Walden 4-3 in a high quality match in the qualifying round for the BetVictor Scottish Open.

World number 70 Hallworth needs results this season to keep his tour card, and today’s performance against three-time ranking event winner Walden certainly keeps him on track.

Breaks of 66, 52 and 70 gave 25-year-old Hallworth three frames in a row to put him 3-1 ahead. Walden battled back to 3-3 with 121 and 87, and he had first chance in the decider, making 32. But Hallworth’s excellent 73 put him into the final stages in Llandudno in December.

Martin Gould made breaks of 104, 55 and 96 in a 4-2 win over Zhang Jiankang, while Scott Donaldson beat Jak Jones by the same scoreline, his top break 65.

Michael Georgiou made a 125 in a 4-0 thrashing of Farakh Ajaib while Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown saw off Barry Pinches 4-1. Sam Craigie came from 2-1 down to beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 4-2 with runs of 78, 54 and 70.

It was a good match indeed between Steven Hallwort and Ricky Walden.  In frame 5, Ricky made the only century of the match; it was his 300th competitive century and he became only the 25th player to reach that milestone. Knowing Ricky, who absolutely HATES losing, I doubt that this brought him any kind of solace!

No mention in this WST report of the fact that Chris Wakelin, playing at a swift 20 seconds AST, whitewashed Mark Joyce 🤔? Chris scored heavily as well: he had three breaks over 50: 52, 64, 60. Maybe he was too fast and his win went unoticed by whoever was supposed to write the above report?

Sam Craigie played OK, and improved as the match went on, but Thepchaiya was far from his best and that was obvious from the very start. He was missing pots he would usually get and didn’t look happy!

Another match that is absent from the WST account account is the last match on the day… thatt actually finished today. It lasted about 4 hours! Mark King beat Rory McLeod by 4-3. Rory is not the fastest player, but he was not the sole responsible for the late finish. Indeed this match started after the Jordan Brown v Barry Pinches match and that one was particularly slow-going as well: it took them nearly 3 hours to complete 5 frames. There was also a bit of “needle” in this King v McLeod match, and a lot of muttering from both players. It all culminated in frame 5, after Rory had the frame won having potted the green and Mark King stood up, indicating that he wanted to concede. Rory however wishes to play further. It all became a bit heated and Ben Williams had to step in. Rory then returned at the table and immediately missed the brown…

We are seeing more and more of those concessions when the opponent is still at the table and in a break. Of course, the said opponent doesn’t have to accept the concession but it’s still a disruption. There may be many reasons why a player wants to pot a few more balls even if no century is on. This is especially true for the player who is behind as Rory was. They may wish to get more table time, build some confidence or just keep their opponent cold in their seat for a bit longer.



2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers – Day 4

So here is WST account on yesterday’s action and, this time, all matches are mentioned.

Taylor Whitewashes Hendry

World number 75 Allan Taylor scored an impressive 4-0 qualifying win over seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry to secure his place at the final stages of the BetVictor Scottish Open.

Taylor came into today’s encounter having enjoyed a positive start to the campaign. He made the last 32 of the matchroom.live British Open and has already qualified for next month’s BetVictor Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

Hendry, who is in the second year of an invitational tourcard, had cause for optimism ahead of this afternoon. He defeated Michael White 4-1 in BetVictor English Open qualifying last week.

When play got underway Taylor, 36, showed no signs of nerves against his illustrious 52-year-old opponent. He swiftly stormed to victory in just 55 minutes, making breaks of 60, 59 and 71 along the way.

Belgian number one Luca Brecel got the better of Switzerland’s top player Alexander Ursenbacher by a 4-1 scoreline to qualify. Ursenbacher had started the better, compiling a break of 67 to take the opening frame. However, Brecel controlled the tie from then on. He claimed four frames on the bounce, including a run of 85, to seal victory.

Former Players Champion Joe Perry earned his place in Llandudno with a 4-1 defeat of Andrew Pagett, while Jackson Page won a battle between two young prospects by defeating Aaron Hill 4-2.

Ryan Day won a fiercely contested clash with China’s Lyu Haotian 4-3. The Welshman took the decider on the final black to seal his progression. Former WSF Junior Open winner Gao Yang defeated Peter Devlin 4-1.

Michael Judge made two century breaks of 100 and 133 on his way to a 4-1 defeat of Graeme Dott, while Matthew Selt scored a narrow 4-3 win over Ashley Hugill.

What can I say about the Taylor v Hendry match? Well, first of all, “Pretzel” played very well: his long potting was good and he scored heavily when in the balls. Now, what about Hendry? What indeed?

This. I’m not in Stephen’s head, but, going what I saw yesterday, I have the feeling that he still wants to play the way he did when he turned pro, some 36 years ago, a fearless lad who went for everything. If that’s the case, it will not work and it will not end well.

Why? First of all because he’s 52, his eyesight certainly isn’t what it used to be, and he’s been 9 years out of competition. Next, and maybe more importantly, because the game has changed, and, he, Stephen Hendry, is actually the man who triggered that change. This is one of his greatest legacy: he has forever changed the way snooker is played. When he came on the scene, gluing the cueball on the baulk rail was a good enough safety. Players weren’t going for pots from there, unless forced into it. Stephen did take them, and was getting them pots more often than not. He also went into the pack much earlier than his contemporaries used to, often from the blue, a shot he’s often credited by commentators to have invented. His style was a novelty at the time.

But of course, the opposition adapted. The (then) young players coming through in the early 90th learned from him, and took it to the next level. Other players, like Ken Doherty in the 1997 World final, neutralised his game with superior safeties. Hendry didn’t change, and reading his book my feeling is that he didn’t want to change, didn’t accept that he HAD to change and evolve. This, and not “being past it”, is why his winning “rate” dropped significantly when he was still in his early 30th.

From what I saw yesterday, he’s still not wanting to compromise. If my feeling is right, he will not get anywhere that way and will soon get frustrated.

The other player who got me bot frustrated and sad yesterday was Lyu Haotian. Lyu had won this match: Day needed a snooker and only pink and black remained on the table. Then Lyu played a baffling shot, an incredibly bad shot, a shot that left Day in a position to get a guaranteed nasty snooker. Why? He could simply have put a maximum distance between pink and black, he had the whole table to find a good spot, instead he left the pink right next to the black. Day didn’t need a second invitation: he snookered Lyu, and Lyu, not only failed to get out of the snooker but left a rather simple pink… That’s how he lost the match.

2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers – Day 3

Here is WST report on what happened yesterday in Barnsley:

Boiko Off The Mark

Iulian Boiko scored his first win of the season with a 4-2 victory over Louis Heathcote to qualify for the final stages of the BetVictor Scottish Open.

Ukraine’s 16-year-old Boiko turned pro last season and is currently ranked 104th so faces a battle to keep his tour card, but showed his potential today with a fine display in Barnsley.

A break of 74 in frame four put Boiko 3-1 ahead, then he lost a tight fifth frame on the black. The teenager then came from 65-0 down to win frame six, clinching it with a 33 clearance to secure his place in the televised stages in Llandudno in December.

Robbie Williams top scored with 130 in a 4-2 win over Soheil Vahedi, while Sunny Akani made a 98 in a 4-0 defeat of Lukas Kleckers.

China’s Wu Yize saw off Kurt Maflin 4-2 with breaks of 76, 68, 53 and 50. Hossein Vafaei closed with a run of 68 as he beat Fan Zhengyi 4-2, while amateur Sanderson Lam edged out Jamie Clarke 4-3 with a 58 clearance in the decider.

First of all once again two matches are “absent” from the report.

Xu Si beat Lu Ning by 4-1 in the morning. It wasn’t “high scoring” scoring but it was a very solid professional performance from Xu.

Li Hang beat Nigel Bond by 4-0, Nigel had a 61 break in the first frame but still lost it. After that it was pretty much one-way traffic. Li finished with a 58 and a 92.

Also not mentioned in the above report is the fact that Fan Zhengyi was docked the first frame for being late. Fan found himself 3-0 down despite scoring a break of 50 in frame 3. He really made a figth of it: he came back to 3-2 with breaks of 133 and 65, before Hossein put the match to bed with a good 68.

Iulian Boiko should have won his match by 4-1, his opponent needed snookers in frame 5. Iulian’s inexperience showed during the conclusion of that frame: his shot selection during the battle on the colours was not the best and Louis Heathcote dug down, got the snookers he needed and won the frame.  What happened in that frame is an example of  what Ronnie means when he says that the youngsters can’t play professionally: they rely mainly on their potting power, which is enough at amateur level, but they struggle with situations like this one. It’s not their fault, they turn pro without much experience of these situations. When Ronnie was 10-15 years old, the amateur game in the UK was very strong. Until the game “opened” in 1991, the likes of Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon were “amateurs” and the talented kids, notably the class of 92, had opportunities to play such opponents nearly every week. They learned a lot from them. The kids coming through nowadays don’t have many such opportunities. Now … end of digression… what really impressed me is how Iulian won the sixth frame. Louis looked set to win that frame, he built a substantial lead and Iulian looked dispirited in his chair. But given the opportunity, he stepped up to the plate: he needed a snooker, got it, and held his nerves to clear and clinch victory. Well done!


2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers – Day 2

This is WST account about day 2 at the 2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers:

China’s Si Jiahui knocked former UK and Masters champion Matthew Stevens out of the BetVictor Scottish Open with a fine 4-1 victory in the qualifying round.

Si, competing as an amateur having dropped off the pro tour last season, goes through to the final stages in Llandudno in December. Having shared the first two frames, he compiled breaks of 105, 76 and 81 to secure an impressive result.

Mark Davis came from 2-0 down to beat Michael White 4-3, making an 81 in the decider. Tom Ford rounded off a 4-2 win over Peter Lines with a run of 115.

Elliot Slessor made a break of 114 to lead Liang Wenbo 3-2, but it was China’s Liang who came back to take the last two frames to snatch a 4-3 success.

Anthony Hamilton won four frames in a row with a top break of just 29 as he beat Tian Pengfei 4-1. Jimmy Robertson eased to a 4-1 win over Jamie O’Neill, while Jamie Jones saw off Joe O’Connor 4-2.

Once again one match is bizarrely missing from this report: 18 years old Zhao Jianbo beat Liam Highfiled by 4-0 in the first match of the day and finished it off in style with breaks of 83 and 69.

Elliot Slessor had a 96 as well as the above mentioned 114 but still lost to Liang Wenbo who didn’t have any big break all match. Liang really surprised me there. He wasn’t playing well, his long potting was unreliable but he was tactically sound and extremely patient, very different from the player we used to see a few years back. Well done Liang.

The Hamilton v Tian match, 5 frames,  lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes… with the referee, Ben Williams, asking them to speed up a bit at one point as their AST had gone one 40 seconds. This prompted Shan Murphy to ask for a 30 seconds shot clock. To that, Phil Haigh, who has interviewed Anthony Hamilton a few times over the last season, observed that the players circumstances should be taken into account, and that Anthony has been in a lot of pain in recent years. Shaun then backed down, admitting that, having suffered from neck and back pain himself in the past, he wouldn’t have wanted to be hurried at the time. He admitted that he hadn’t thought of it. Good on him. Whilst Anthony’s circumstances are well documented, I wonder what happened to Tian. OK, he’s not the fasted player … but still … he was even slower than Antony in that match.

2021 Scottish Open Qualifiers – Day 1

I’ll be honest, the first day at the 2021 Scottish Open qualifiers failed to enthuse me, despite some good things.

The highlight of the day was Xiao Guodong first 147

Xiao Fires In Maiden Maximum

Xiao Guodong made the first 147 break of his career at BetVictor Scottish Open qualifying in Barnsley during the deciding frame of his 4-3 win over Fraser Patrick.

World number Xiao’s previous high break was 143. Today’s contribution puts him in line for the £5,000 high break prize on offer for the event.

The magic break is the 169th official maximum in professional snooker history and the third of the season so far. It came at the perfect moment at the end of a fantastic performance from Xiao, who also compiled runs of 57 and 108 on his way to victory.


WST published the video of the last three minutes of the break, and the match, on their Youtube channel:

And here is WST report on what happened during the day:

Gilbert Wins With Two Tons

David Gilbert finished with back-to-back centuries as he beat Simon Lichtenberg 4-1 to qualify for the final stages of the BetVictor Scottish Open.

The qualifying round runs until Wednesday next week, with all winners going through to the televised stages in Llandudno in December.

Gilbert has dropped out of the world’s top 16, down to 18th, despite winning the recent BetVictor Championship League. But if he continues today’s form he could soon be back among the elite. After sharing the first two frames with Germany’s Lichtenberg, he won a tight third on the colours then compiled runs of 131 and 113 to secure a comfortable victory.

Xiao Guodong finished his match against Fraser Patrick in perfect fashion with a 147 in the deciding frame to win 4-3 – read more on that story here.

Fergal O’Brien top scored with 61 in a 4-2 win over David Grace – the Irishman has won all three of his qualifying matches for BetVictor Home Nations series events over the past month.

Oliver Lines made a 116 in a 4-1 win over Gerard Greene, while Gary Wilson saw off Cao Yupeng 4-1 with a top break of 86.

One match that isn’t mentioned at all is 18 years old Lei Peifan excellent 4-2 win against the more fancied Zhao Xintong.

I was hoping for a good match between Gary Wilson and Cao Yupeng but it was disappointing. Cao had a rather bad day in office and Gary, who played well, had little opposition. Cao was visibly frustrated with his own performance.

Oliver Lines seems to have finally found some good consistency.

Snooker, media, charity and Ronnie news

As we have an “empty day” before the Scottish Open qualifiers, here are some snooker related news that  attracted my attention over the last week…

Having recently won the Asian Championship, Pankaj Advani won the 6-reds IBSF World Championship in Doha. Here is the account by the Times of India:

Pankaj Advani wins his 24th world title in Doha


DOHA : Star Indian cueist Pankaj Advani on Tuesday grabbed his 24th world title when he triumphed at the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup with a victory over Pakistan’s Babar Masih in the final.
Advani, who won his 11th Asian title last week, started the final with a comfortable 42-13 win in the opening frame.
Babar drew parity by winning the second 38-14.

In the third frame, Advani made a foul that only he knew he had committed. The 36-year-old won the third and fourth in quick succession to go 3-1 up.
The Pakistani cueist, in no mood to play second fiddle to his worthy opponent, crafted a wonderful 56 break to bridge the gap.
Advani shifted gears and then took the next three to be one frame away from getting his hands on his 24th world winner’s trophy.
Not going to go down without a fight, Babar brought the match to a precarious situation by winning the next three frames as a strong response.
At 6-5, it was touch and go. Babar had found his touch and Advani had more to lose at this point being within striking distance of the finish line. But a classy 32 break off the cue of the multiple world champion put paid to Babar’s hopes.
Pankaj ensured a clean slate of wins over the last fortnight in Qatar across two international championships – Asian Snooker and 6-red Snooker World Cup.
“I am living a dream. Being away from the table for so long, these two back-to-back triumphs assure me that my hunger and competitive skills haven’t diminished,” Advani said.
“Very fortunate to win both as I am aware there is still a lot of work to put into my game once I return. Happy to return home tomorrow with two gold medals for my country.”
Earlier, in the day, Pankaj got the better of the Asian Snooker finalist Amir Sarkhosh of Iran 6-3.

Congratulations Pankaj!

Phil Haigh and Nick Metcalfe had John Virgo as a special guest to their podcast.

John Virgo is always entertaining, but it was not all jokes and laugh as he revealed that the coming Word Championship at the Crucible will probably be the last for him and Dennis Taylor as BBC pundits. 

John Virgo expects next World Snooker Championship to be the last for him and Dennis Taylor

Composite image of Dennis Taylor and John Virgo
Dennis Taylor and John Virgo have been leading voices of snooker for decades (Pictures: Getty)

John Virgo believes the next World Snooker Championship will be the last for him and Dennis Taylor in the commentary box, expecting to be cut from the BBC’s coverage.

Virgo, 75, and Taylor, 72, have been voices of snooker for decades, with Virgo first commentating on the game way back in 1985 and becoming a huge television star through the ’90s thanks to gameshow Big Break.

While no decision has been confirmed by the BBC, Virgo seems sure that his next trip to the Crucible in April will be his last to work behind a microphone.

Speaking to the Talking Snooker podcast, Virgo said: ‘Listen, you never know what’s round the corner in life, but it looks like this will be my last season. Not my choice, theirs [the BBC]. Along with Dennis (Taylor) apparently.

‘Scoop or whatever it is, I don’t know, but that’s what we’re getting, that this will be our last season. I think that’s definite. The World Championship will be our last one. It’s not my decision, I love the game and everything else. But I understand, nothing lasts for ever, I understand that.’

The World Championship, played from 16 April-2 May, will likely represent the end of an era for two of the most significant commentators the sport has had, and Virgo says it will be hard to deal with when it comes around.

The former UK champion first played at the Crucible in the first year the venue hosted the World Championship in 1977 and it is a venue filled with fond memories for him.

That’s the decision they’re making, so yeah, I haven’t really felt it at the moment but I probably will do come the World Championship,’ he said.

There will be a lot of memories there, memories from when we first went there in ’77. So it will be hard, but as I say, nothing lasts forever, and I’ll give it my best shot and that will be it, yeah.

I think they’re probably looking for people who are more in touch with the modern day player. Although I think all players are the same aren’t they? They play shots, there’s not many shots that people play that I haven’t seen, you know. I’m not criticising the decision, I know nothing lasts for ever.

The BBC have been fantastic to me, in my commentary career, Big Break, if that’s the decision that’s the decision, we’ll just have to accept it and enjoy it on the telly.’

John Virgo at the World Snooker Championship
Virgo enjoyed a successful playing career in the 1970s and ’80s before moving into commentary (Picture: Getty Images)

2019 world champion Judd Trump called for broadcasters to make a change to their veteran commentary teams earlier this year, telling Metro.co.uk: ‘There’s not enough trying out new things in snooker for me at the moment, it’s all the same every season, not enough excitement, not enough different dimensions,’ he said.

Change the coverage, the commentators who have been around a long time, change the way the game is spoken about.

Asked about Trump’s comments, Virgo said: ‘I still think we’ve got something to offer.

‘I don’t think the shots have changed, I don’t think the mentality [has changed]. When somebody misses an easy shot you can put your finger on why they did it.

Day Ten at the World Snooker Championship
Judd Trump has been critical of some of the veteran voices on the BBC (Picture: Getty Images)

If someone’s in a spot of bother…Dennis is the best line-drawer in the business, if someone’s in a snooker.

Being younger, you might put an emoji on the bottom of it, but how are you going to better it?

But no, I understand. I think over the years we’ve had the experience to talk when we need to talk, to be quiet when we need to let the pictures tell the story.

‘It will change, sooner rather than later, but I won’t have any complaints because I’ve enjoyed it.’

The BBC has been approached for comment.

Well… I at least hope that the BBC will not got for the “excitement” bit. I’d absolutely hate “football style” commentary on the snooker. And indeed, their knowledge of the shots and understanding of the table situation are excellent and make for interesting commentary.

That said, I could do without the golf digressions, and discussions about “great players” from 50 years ago that most viewers never had the opportunity to watch except maybe in some blurry Youtube bit.  Also, too many times, there have been admissions that they had never seen this one or that one guy playing before. They don’t seem to watch much snooker unless it’s on the BBC. Their choice, but at least do some research.

Also, completely butchering overseas’ players names is not acceptable. I have been contacted by ITV pundits who wanted to make sure about the pronunciation of Belgian and French players’ names and I truly appreciated their efforts to get that right.

And then there is this bit about a great charity challenge initiative where Ronnie will play a very modest role:

Runners set to navigate all 315 London Underground and DLR stations on foot

Psychologist and author Dr Kevin Dutton and Great Britain rower John Collins are embarking on a brutal two-week challenge to raise crucial funds for charity

metro train at railroad station

On Sunday 19 September Dr Kevin Dutton, a psychologist and author, and Great Britain rower John Collins will embark on a unique leg-sapping challenge – navigating all 315 London Underground and DLR stations on foot, over a two-week period. But that’s not all. They’ll be sleeping rough in between legs and, on Day 15, they’ll conclude their challenge by running all 26.2 miles of the London Marathon. The pair have badged the 305-mile feat the ‘Metro Marathon Challenge’.

Combatting homelessness

So why are the pair taking on such a gruelling feat of endurance? Dutton and Collins are raising money for The Running Charity – a charity harnessing the power of running to support young people who are experiencing homelessness or managing complex needs.

The Running Charity believes that running is as good for your mind as it is for your body. Running builds resilience and self-esteem, and they use this to improve the lives of 16-25 year-olds who are homeless or at risk from homelessness.

‘The last year and a half has been tough on all of us,’ said Dutton, ‘but it’s been even tougher for those without a roof over their heads.’

Metro Marathon Challenge logistics

Dutton and Collins have called on a team of data scientists from Capgemini Engineering to help them plot the route. The data scientists have calculated the optimum start point and shortest possible route between the 315 stations, beginning in Chesham and ending in Lewisham, the station nearest to the London Marathon start line.

The pair will be sleeping rough for the entire duration of the challenge, mostly in parks along the route, but sometimes, in a friend’s garden. On Day 10, they’ll be dropping in on none other than snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan to refuel with some of his home-cooked pasta.

There will be a few other famous faces supporting Dutton and Collins on their journey, too. The pair will be started by former London Marathon winner Hugh Jones, and former SAS soldier Andy McNab will also be on hand to support them at various points along the route.

‘The Metro Marathon Challenge is eccentric, original…but genuinely bloody hard,’ said McNab. ‘It’s 50/50 in my book whether Kev and John manage to pull it off. I hope they do – it’s for a great cause. But it’s going to take a monumental effort of guts and willpower, not to mention extreme fitness.’

You can follow Dutton and Collins’ progress on Instagram here and donate to their Just Giving page here.

Ronnie left them a supporting message on his Instagram page