Sam Craigie agrees with Ronnie about “snooker depression”

Phil Haig reports on Sam Craigie’s interview with WST:

Sam Craigie echoes Ronnie O’Sullivan: Snooker can be a ‘a recipe for depression’

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Five
Sam Craigie says a snooker career can be ‘ just bloody torture half the time’ (Picture: Getty Images)

Sam Craigie has described a career for snooker players outside the elite as ‘a recipe for depression,’ echoing the thoughts of Ronnie O’Sullivan, who said that is why he would not encourage his own son to take up the sport.

Craigie is the world number 41, an excellent player on the way up in the game, but the winning feeling is still hard to come by, even for someone at his position in the top half of the world rankings.

The 28-year-old has been to just one ranking quarter-final in his unbroken stint on the professional tour since 2016 and he says the constant hunt for improvement, with few results to celebrate can feel like torture.

I don’t really love snooker, I’m not really a snooker maniac,’ Craigie told the WST Podcast. ‘It’s just something I’m good at and there’s a living to be made from it. It’s the same as going to work.

It just gets under your skin, looking to perfect something that can’t be perfected when you go to practice.

You’re never happy and there’s always something to work on. I think that’s the reason I play, just trying to get better.

You do [enjoy it] when you’re playing well. Sometimes winning isn’t enjoyable. Playing well is the best feeling in the world, but how often does that happen?

I think it’s like a recipe for depression, it really is.

Anyone around my position in the rankings or lower, you’re always losing and it’s just bloody torture half the time.’

O’Sullivan has made the same point before, somewhat controversially, saying that he would not encourage his own son, or other youngsters into snooker.

While it ruffled some feathers that the six-time world champion was speaking of his chosen sport in that manner, he has spoken about the issues of the lower-ranked players, both mental and financial.

I’ll be honest with you, if I had a son I would not let him play snooker so maybe it is a good thing there isn’t the opportunity for him to play snooker,’ O’Sullivan told Eurosport at the Scottish Open in December.

I’d rather he played golf, football, tennis. I’d rather he played curling, I’m only joking! Personally if I had a child [that wanted to take up snooker] I would not want him to play snooker I really wouldn’t.

I’m not talking about the winners. I’m talking about the guys that are ranked 60, 70 in the world that are struggling. It’s not good for them. If you compared the 125th golfer and what he earns and the 125th snooker player then he’d make a million dollars on the golf tour. You can afford to miss a few cuts because you can make enough money to offset the losses you might make.

One way you could maybe remedy it is at least give the first round losers their expenses. A lot of these guys have not got the money. It’s unfair.’

Ronnie- gettyimages-862586958
Ronnie O’Sullivan has often spoken of suffering from ‘snooker depression’ himself (Picture: Getty Images)

In another interview with Eurosport last year, the Rocket spoke in similar terms to Craigie on the hours spent on the practice table – which he considers an unhealthy environment – which can be a mental strain when the rewards don’t materialise.

Everybody is at different stages of their careers,’ he said. ‘When you are in your pomp, and getting victories, trophies and are at number one you don’t mind taking the snooker depression because you think I’m getting rewarded for it.

But if you are putting that effort in and aren’t getting anything back, getting beaten in the first, second and third rounds all the time, and it’s still leaving you feeling like s**t, it’s a lot harder to take and handle.

I don’t think it’s healthy to be in a room hitting balls for four, five and six hours. That’s what snooker players generally do.

Players at all levels of the professional game can struggle with mental health problems, with current world champion Mark Selby speaking openly about his ongoing issues.

Many others have spoken out about poor mental health in recent years, including Gary Wilson, Dave Gilbert and Mitchell Mann, and have all seen things improve as a result. Hopefully talking about problems continues to be a route to recovery.

When Ronnie said those things he was crucified by many, allegedly damaging the sport that made him rich and discouraging kids to play snooker. Ronnie never said that kids shouldn’t play snoooker, his problem is with snooker as a profession, and it’s not about those at the top, it’s about all the others who struggle to just make a living out of it but without whom the circuit wouldn’t exist. They are the majority.

It’s courageous from Craigie to say those things, and it’s great fom Phil Haig to give him a voice in the media. The idea that “trophies are eveything and sport should be chosen just for the love of it” is a myth. The reality is that it’s also a job, and there are bills to pay, and food to be brought to the table. Sam has a young family, he has responsibilities towards them. His kids won’t live solely on thin air and dad’s rosy dreams. He knows it and it’s hard.

As for Ronnie, I totally understand his position. I wouldn’t want my children to embrace a profession that will, most likely, not allow them to earn a decent living despite the hard works they put in it. I would not want them to take a job that actually costs them, and puts them under extreme mental pressure. No parent in their right mind would want that.

The answer of course is that snooker needs to change, so that the prize money structure needs to be less top heavy, so that first round losers get a minimal wage, covering their basic expenses. Only then it will be able to truly grow.


2022 Tour Championship – provisional top 3 QFs schedule announced

WST has today published some information regarding the 2022 Tour Championship Schedule:

Top Three Scheduled For Llandudno

ronnie-CazooZhao Xintong, Neil Robertson and Ronnie O’Sullivan will contest their opening round matches on the first three days of the upcoming Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno.

The trio currently occupy the first three positions on this season’s one-year list, with only the top eight qualifying for the prestigious finale to the Cazoo Series. The event runs from March 28th to April 3rd at Venue Cymru.

The final cut off comes after next week’s BetVictor Gibraltar Open, with a number of players still battling to clinch a spot in Llandudno. John Higgins is perilously placed in 8th position as things stand.

First round matches take place over two sessions and the best of 19 frames. Session times are 1pm and 7:30pm.

Monday 28th March

Zhao Xintong vs TBC

Tuesday 29th March

Neil Robertson vs TBC

Wednesday 30th March

Ronnie O’Sullivan vs TBC

Thursday 31st March 


The Tour Championship ranking/seeding could yet change but the top three is relatively safe.

  • Zhao can’t be caught no matter what happens in Gibraltar.
  • Only Ronnie could overcome Neil Robertson but he would need to win the event.
  • Judd Trump, currently 4th, could overcome Ronnie, and even Neil Robertson, but again, he would need to win the title.
  • Luca Brecel winning the title, could overcome both Ronnie and Judd.

All this means that Zhao, Neil and Ronnie will definitely be in the top 4 whilst Judd may not and this is surely why only those three have their first match schedule already decided.

Judd Trump wins the 2022 Turkish Masters

Judd Trump won the 2022 Turkish Masters yesterday evening, beating Matthew Selt by 10-4 in the final. This was Judd’s ranking title number 23… To the delight of  the Turkish crowd, he made a maximum in the process.

Congratulations Judd Trump


Here is the report by WST:

Magnificent Trump Reigns In Turkey

Judd Trump won his first ranking title in a year by thrashing Matthew Selt 10-4 in the final of the inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters, and thrilled the crowd with a brilliant 147.

In the final of the first ever professional event staged in Turkey, Trump came from 2-1 down to win nine of the last 11 frames. And he lit up the contest with a marvellous 147 – only the tenth maximum ever made in a final – which brought the enthusiastic fans in Antalya to their feet.

Trump shares his triumph with the fans

Though Trump won the invitational Cazoo Champion of Champions in November, it had been a disappointing season for the 32-year-old in ranking events until this week, but he now ends a barren spell which had stretched back to March last year. His career tally of ranking crowns moves to 23, putting him sixth on his own in the all-time list, one ahead of Neil Robertson.

When this new tournament was first announced in May last year, Trump was the first top player to commit to it, and true to his word he has supported the event and ended up with the silverware. Fans in the region have enjoyed the opportunity to see their heroes in the flesh, and to see the gigantic trophy lifted by a player who is well on his way towards becoming one of the sport’s all-time greats.

When he lost to Joe Perry in the final of the BetVictor Welsh Open a week ago, Trump was tired and deflated, but summoned enough energy to make the trip across Europe and play seven matches in six days. He struggled with his game and rode his luck in the early rounds, notably in 5-4 wins over Liang Wenbo and Zhou Yuelong, but his willpower could not be faulted. Not just a flamboyant potter, Trump has an abundance of deep-down determination.

The £100,000 top prize lifts him to fourth place on the one-year ranking list – having languished in 17th just two weeks ago – and cements his place in the Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month. From there the action moves to the Crucible, in just 34 days time, and this is a timely reminder from Trump to his rivals that form is temporary, class is permanent.

In the biggest match of his life, 2019 Indian Open champion Selt missed the chance to double his tally of ranking titles and become the 40th player in snooker history to win more than one. After a bright start he failed to score heavily enough when chances came his way, and his strong tactical game wasn’t enough to hold down his opponent. The 37-year-old from Essex still earns a hefty £45,000 and jumps from 31st to 22nd in the world rankings.

Trump led 5-3 after the first session, and the evening got off to a peculiar start as, in the opening frame, he gave away 60 points in fouls after being trapped in a difficult snooker. The Bristol cueman then made an 88 clearance to win a frame which had a combined points tally of 189, just short of the all-time record of 192.

His superb 147 came in the tenth frame and he added the 11th with a run of 73 to lead 8-3. In the 12th, Selt led by 51 points with three reds left when he touched the cue ball and sportingly called a foul on himself, which handed world number three Trump a window to edge back into the frame. But he couldn’t get position on the final brown, and Selt eventually potted the brown after two failed attempts, and later added the blue to trail 8-4 at the interval.

Selt had an early chance in frame 13 but made just 7 before missing the blue to a centre pocket and Trump punished him with 82. And a cracking long red at the start of the next frame set him up for a match-winning 114.

It was the first time I have really enjoyed my snooker this season,” said Trump, who has now beaten Selt in nine of their 12 meetings. “I managed to find a bit of form in my semi-final last night. To come out of the first session today 5-3 up was a big relief as it gave me a bit of a cushion.

Tonight I was back to the game I have had in the last two or three seasons so it was nice to get that feeling back. The clearance to go 6-3 up settled me down and after that I felt relaxed. My goal for the rest of the season is just to play like I did tonight.

It has always been a dream of mine to travel the world and play snooker in different countries. Putting on a good show tonight and making a maximum in the final will hopefully inspire Turkish players to pick up a cue and a few kids to start playing. Maybe in the future there will be a top Turkish player.

Matt is progressing and getting a lot more consistent and he has the belief that he can do it out on the main stage.

Selt said: “There were a few frames in the first session I could have won. I let him off the hook too many times, you can’t do that against the best player in the world. If I could have finished that session 5-3 up I could have won the match. It’s a missed opportunity because these matches don’t come along very often where you can jump so many places up the rankings.

Tonight I didn’t do anything to put him under significant pressure. He played miles better than me and deserved the win, it’s great to see him back winning tournaments.

I wasn’t nervous at all, I felt great. I struggled to see certain shots because the lighting on the main table is different to the outside tables. If I can learn to play well on the TV table I will be a force.

Here is Judd’s maximum as shared by WST:

The crowd was understandably delighted and this will give a big promotional boost to the event next year. It has been a good event and all players who expressed themselves on social media were delighted with the experience.

Unfortunately it’s in “short form”. I absolutely hate this recent trend on YouTube. Do people really have such short attention span that they can’t watch something unforld properly because it would cost them a few minutes more of their time?

Judd Trump played very well in the evening session, but Matt Selt was totally unable to string anything together and there really was not much pressure at all on Judd in that second part of the match. In the afternoon session he had struggled like he had all week and indeed all season. We’ll see what happens in the next event(s).

Snooker heading to new grounds is great of but not at any cost. As far as we know the event(s) in Saoudi Arabia is/are still on. Yesterday the news came through that the Saoudi regime executed 81 persons in just one day for various reasons, including “deviant” beliefs. Amongst them were 41 young people who peacefully protested against the brutal regime. I honestly hope that WST will reconsider …






The 2022 Turkish Masters – Day 6 in Antalya – SFs

The afternoon match yesterday saw Matthew Selt beat Ding Junhui by 6-5.

Here is the report by WST:

Selt Downs Ding To Reach Antalya Final

Matthew Selt remained on course to double his tally of ranking titles by springing a surprise 6-5 victory over Ding Junhui in the semi-finals of the Nirvana Turkish Masters.

In the 27th match this week to go to a deciding frame, Selt kept his nerve in the closing moments to upset three-time UK Champion Ding, who was looking to get back to winning ways having taken the last of his 14 ranking titles three years ago.

Selt and Ding were watched by the biggest crowd of the week so far at the Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel

World number 31 Selt is into the second ranking final of his career, having won his first at the Indian Open in 2019. The 37-year-old has scored fine wins this week over the likes of Zhao Xintong and Martin Gould, showing composure and an excellent tactical game.

Sunday’s best-of-19 final in Antalya will be the biggest match of his life as he takes on Judd Trump or Shaun Murphy. He is already guaranteed £45,000 but victory would bring a career-high pay day of £100,000, doubling the £50,000 he earned in India when he saw off Lyu Haotian 5-3 in the final.

The top prize would lift him into the top eight of the one year ranking list and almost certainly give him a place in the Cazoo Tour Championship later this month, and also bring him into contention for a place among the top 16 seeds at the Crucible.

The opening frame came down to the last red and Selt laid a clever snooker to set up the chance to take the lead. Breaks of 40 and 33 helped Selt double his advantage, then in the third, Ding cleared the colours to force a respotted black, but played a loose safety and Selt clipped in a long black for 3-0.

Ding’s fight back started with breaks of 97 and 60 to reduce his deficit to 3-2. In frame six, Selt led 56-0 when he missed a straight-forward red to a centre pocket. He was handed another chance but failed to convert a mid-range red to a top corner, and this time China’s Ding punished him with a 90 clearance to level the tie.

Selt turned pro in 2002

Selt held a 34-27 advantage in the seventh when he over-cut the green to a baulk corner, and again Ding capitalised with 41 to take the lead for the first time. Romford’s Selt dominated the next two with runs of 46 and 59 to edge 5-4 ahead, then Ding responded with a superb 84.

In the decider, Selt led 33-10 when he missed the black off its spot, trying to split the pack, and was fortunate to leave Ding snookered. Selt later potted an excellent long red and trickled up behind the yellow, and from the chance that followed he added the points he needed.

It’s a pleasure to beat Ding in such a close match in a major semi-final,” said Selt, who had reached just one ranking quarter-final this season, prior to this week. “At 3-0 I let him back into it with a few mistakes. At 4-3 down it wasn’t looking good, I just wanted to book a flight and go home. But I stuck in there and managed to get over the line. I felt good in the last frame. In the end I had a tricky blue to win the match and I was so pleased to see it go in.

I could have gone out in the first round here, Alexander Ursenbacher had chances to beat me 5-4 but luckily for me he didn’t take them, and now I’m in the final. I get more worried about playing matches in the first round than against the big names. The first round games are huge for all of us, every bit of money that you win is a real help to the livelihood. I find that the further you get in a tournament, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. If you include the (2014) PTC event in Portugal, I have won all three semi-finals I have played in.

Shaun and Judd are the type of people I want to be playing in finals. I have never played a best-of-19 final before. Anthony Hamilton told me that ranking event wins don’t count unless you have slept the night before (Selt’s semi-final and final in India were on the same day). So if I win this one then hopefully Anthony will credit me with one ranking victory.”

This was a good match. There were a few mistakes – that is to be expected of course – but both played well and both got good support from the crowd. It is great to see a big crowd for this event this week-end. Over the last few years, Ding often appeared to give up on matches when things weren’t going his way, but there was none of that yesterday, or indeed all week. That’s good to see.

A win today for Matthew Selt would have huge implications: it would see him provisionaaly climb to 8th place in the one year list, overtaking John Higgins, and that would – provisionally – get him in the Tour Championship draw. Remember that there are 20000 points available just the qualify for that event, and those 20000 points would, provisionally, put Matt Selt on the top 16, at the expense of Yan Bingtao. He then would not need to qualify for the Crucible. But of course there is still the Gibraltar Open to compete in. That said, Yan Bingtao has not entered it …

Jud Trump beat Shaun Murphy comprehensively, if not convincingly in the second semi-final. Here is the report by WST:

Proud Trump Digs Deep To Set Up Selt Clash

Judd Trump arrived at the Nirvana Turkish Masters low on energy, but with plenty of willpower he has reached his second consecutive ranking final, thanks to a 6-2 defeat of Shaun Murphy.

Just six days ago, Trump lost to Joe Perry in the final of the BetVictor Welsh Open, and he has set aside that disappointment and played six matches since Tuesday to give himself another chance of a title. The world number three has ridden his luck along the way – both Liang Wenbo and Zhou Yuelong missed clear opportunities to knock him out – but Trump insisted that no one tries harder as he looked ahead to his 35th ranking event final.

Over a possible 19 frames on Sunday he will face close friend and former practice partner Matthew Selt, for the trophy and £100,000 top prize in the inaugural staging of this tournament in Antalya. Trump is looking for his 23rd ranking title and first since the BetVictor Gibraltar Open a year ago.

One target he has already fulfilled this week is that – with £45,000 guaranteed – he is into the top eight of the one-year ranking list and almost certainly assured of a place in the Cazoo Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month.

Murphy had won his last three meetings with Trump, including a 13-11 success in the quarter-finals at the Crucible last year, but made too many errors tonight after a bright start.

Trump took the opening frame with a break of 79 then Murphy hit back with 99 and 91 to go 2-1 up. In frame four, Murphy had a scoring chance but made just 17 before missing the black off its spot. Trump replied with 59, then Murphy had a chance to clear but failed to pot the last red along the top cushion, allowing his opponent to square the match at the interval.

Another miss to the same corner pocket along the top cushion, on a break of 13, cost Murphy again in frame five as Trump capitalised to take the lead. In frame six, Murphy had a chance to clear from 42-0 down, but missed the pink when he led by 15 points, with half an eye on dislodging the last red from a side cushion. Trump punished him for 4-2.

Again in the seventh Murphy had a scoring opportunity but ran out of position on 37, and again Trump took advantage with a run of 58 which proved enough to go three up with four to play. In the eighth, Murphy trailed 50-0 when his attempted red to centre hit the far jaw, and that ended his hopes of a fight-back as Trump rounded off the tie with a series of crowd-pleasing pots.

It was very cool to be out there in the one-table set up,” said Trump. “There was a big crowd and a special atmosphere. It’s exciting to get to the final of an event in a new territory. I missed a lot of balls tonight and I am nowhere near my best but throughout the tournament I have been making important clearances. Shaun started well and he was 2-1 up when he missed a black, I pinched that frame otherwise I could have been 3-1 down.

Getting to finals is good but it’s never nice being stood clapping your opponent at the end. When I got here I was super tired and mentally it was very draining. I can take an immense sense of pride from getting to the final again. This season hasn’t gone well and I knew I needed to dig in over the last two events to get into the Tour Championship.

I had some shocking performances early this week but managed to survive. My will to win is second to none, I had to give it absolutely everything to get through those games.

Two of the closest people on the tour to me are Matt Selt and Oli Lines and we could have all been in the semi-finals. It’s an amazing win for Matt to beat Ding in the semi-finals of such a big occasion. This season he has mental strength and belief, he’s a whole different character. It’s going to be a very tough game but I’m happy to be playing one of my close friends.”

Shaun Murphy was poor, really poor. Judd Trump didn’t play well but he dug deep. I’m not a Judd fan but I must say that he deserves credit for the way he fought all week. He also deserves credit for putting on a great show for the crowd once the match was won. The really loved it and that’s important especially as, for live professional snooker, this is a new country.

Matt Selt played better than Judd this week, but Judd has a lot of experience when it comes to playing big finals. I make him favourite.

Now … before Csilla sinks in despair … here is something for her: Judd is currently set to play Ronnie in the Tour Championship first round. If he won today he would climb to the 4th spot and Ronnie would be set to play Willo…






The 2022 Turkish Masters – Day 5 in Antalya

Day 5 in Antaly saw two rounds – the last 16 and the QFs – played to a conclusion.

Here are the reports by WST:

Morning session – L16

Dott Holds Nerve To Stun Higgins

Graeme Dott made an excellent clearance in the deciding frame to beat John Higgins 5-4 and set up a quarter-final with Ding Junhui at the Nirvana Turkish Masters.

Victory in the all-Scottish clash sees Dott continue his recent run of form as he reached the semi-finals of the recent BetVictor European Masters.

Higgins made a 141, the highest break of the week so far, in the second frame and later came from 3-2 down to lead 4-3. He had a chance of victory in frame eight but missed a tricky pot on the final brown to a baulk corner when he trailed by 19 points. Dott potted the brown to a centre pocket for 4-4.

First chance in the decider went to Dott and he made 28, then Higgins replied with 32 before running out of position and playing safe. When Dott knocked in a long red it didn’t look like a match-winning opportunity as there were two reds tight to cushions, but he picked them off and went on to make a superb 50.

It was a good break,” admitted Dott, chasing his first ranking title since 2007. “I always enjoy playing John because he’s the best ever, and you find out where your own game is. To beat him when he has been playing well gives me a lot of confidence. I will need to play well again tonight.

The result leaves Higgins uncertain of his place at the Cazoo Tour Championship later this month. He is currently seventh on the one-year ranking list but other players could overtake him this week.

Ding showed glimpses of the form which has won him 14 ranking titles as he edged out amateur Si Jiahui 5-4 in an high quality battle. China’s Ding compiled breaks of 64, 93, 73, 127 but still trailed 4-3, then hit back with 105 and 97 to take the last two frames and reach his first ranking event quarter-final since the 2021 German Masters.

In yet another match which went to a decider, Martin Gould beat Lu Ning 5-4 thanks to a run of 61 in the decider. He now faces Matthew Selt, who knocked out Zhao Xintong in the previous round and kept his fine run going with a 5-1 defeat of Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, scoring breaks of 72, 80 and 61.

I’m glad to see Dotty playing well again. He’s a straightforward no-nonsense guy who always speaks his mind honestly. He has an undeserved reputation of being a “slow, boring player”. He’s an attaquing player and he’s not slow. That tag came with the 2006 World Final, whih he won, beating Peter Ebdon at ungodly hours. They were both exhausted and you can trust Ebdon to turn any match into a slog fest if he thinks it will derail his opponent.

Ding is improving with every match and I’m very happy with that as well.

Afternoon session – L16

Trump Survives Again

Judd Trump continued his quest to win the inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters as he recovered from 4-3 down to beat Zhou Yuelong 5-4 and reach the quarter-finals.

Tonight’s Quarter-finals
Martin Gould v Matthew Selt
Graeme Dott v Ding Junhui
Oliver Lines v Shaun Murphy
Ali Carter v Judd Trump

It’s a second consecutive successful fight back for Trump as on Thursday night he battled from 4-1 behind to score a 5-4 success over Liang Wenbo. This time, Zhou failed to capitalise on several chances to knock out the world number three.

Bristol’s Trump is looking to end a year-long drought without a ranking title, though he has won the invitational Cazoo Champion of Champions this season.

Zhou took a 2-0 lead with a top break of 91, then Trump made a 71 in the third and took the fourth by potting a clever long double on the final pink. A break of 79 in the fifth put him 3-2 ahead.

In the sixth frame, Zhou had a chance to clear from 41 points behind and made it to the final black before missing a tough pot along the top cushion. Trump went for a risky thin cut on the black to the same corner but left it hanging in the jaws and Zhou potted it to square the tie. The Chinese cueman dominated the next to lead 4-3.

Zhou had opportunities to finish the match in the eighth, notably missing a thin cut on a red to a centre pocket when he led 47-26. Trump battled his way back into the frame and eventually sealed it on the colours after trapping his opponent in a tough snooker on the yellow.

The key moment of the decider came when Zhou, trailing 22-1, went for a difficult red to a centre pocket and narrowly missed his target, letting Trump in for a run of 30 which was enough for victory.

He will now face Ali Carter, who beat Sam Craigie 5-0 with a top break of 135 to reach his second consecutive ranking event quarter-final having made it to the same stage of the BetVictor Welsh Open.

Oliver Lines reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the first time with one of his best wins of his career, beating former Masters champion Yan Bingtao 5-4. Lines is now guaranteed £12,500 and his run has hugely improved his chances of keeping his tour card for next season as he is now up to 59th in the provisional end of season rankings.

Breaks of 77, 57, 59 and 50 helped put Lines 4-2 ahead, then Yan fought back to 4-4 with 116 and 119. But Leeds cueman Lines got the better of a scrappy 45-minute decider to earn a tie with Shaun Murphy.

Having decided not to enter the BetVictor Gibraltar Open, Yan is now out of the running for the Cazoo Tour Championship and faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will be among the top 16 seeds for the Crucible.

Murphy fired breaks of 51, 70, 69, 81, 61 and 65 to beat Jak Jones 5-3 and reach his second ranking quarter-final of the season.

This may sound harsh and a “dig” at Judd Trump but honestly it is not: Trump did not win that match, Zhou lost it from a strong winning position. It’s sad to see how Zhou now looks completely devoid of confidence and keeps losing matches he could and probably should have won. The young man needs help because the longer this pattern lasts, the harder it becomes for him.

I’m not sure why Yan decided not to enter the Gibraltar Open but it may well prove to be a costly mistake – literally. That said Oliver Lines was impressive, he has been all week. We all know that he has the talent to be a top player. Hopefully he’s coming to age now. He’s a very entertaining player to watch.

Evening session – QFs

Murphy Beats Lines In Last-Gasp Drama

Shaun ‘Magician’ Murphy pulled a marvellous deciding frame clearance out of his box of tricks to beat Oliver Lines 5-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Nirvana Turkish Masters.

Lines, playing in his first ranking event quarter-final, couldn’t take advantage of the chances he had in the last frame and had to watch from his chair as his opponent executed a series of brilliant pots in a break of 44 to snatch victory on the final black. In the semi-finals on Saturday evening in Antalya, Murphy will face Judd Trump, who scored a 5-3 victory over Ali Carter.

Former World Champion Murphy has struggled for form and fitness for most of this season, plagued by a persistent neck injury. But he proved tonight that he can still produce dazzling snooker when his game clicks into place. The 39-year-old, Crucible runner-up last year, is through to his first semi-final of the season.

The first four frames tonight were shared then Murphy took the lead in the fifth with breaks of 43 and 40. Frame six came down to a safety battle on the green, and when Murphy missed a tough long pot he handed Lines the chance to make it 3-3. Lines edged 4-3 ahead only for world number ten Murphy to respond with a 106.

The vital moment of the decider came when Lines, leading 48-9 and just two pots from the winning post, under-cut a tricky red to a top corner, playing with the rest. Murphy cracked in a mid-range red to start his clearance and never looked back.

I really feel for Oli because he’s a class player, he’s got every shot in the book, he’s had his best run this week and there is bound to be more to come,” said Murphy. “It was the biggest match of his career but also the biggest of my year. I got to the final in Sheffield last year but since then I have done nothing, it has been a terrible season, really frustrating. I have kept pushing and to win the way I did tonight – at least I know I have not forgotten how to do it. I pulled a rabbit from the hat.

Judd is so consistent, he wins a lot of matches on reputation, a lot of people are intimidated by him. I have proved that I’m not. We are both Triple Crown winners. I think it will be a really good game of snooker.

Trump’s victory over Carter kept him on course for a 23rd career ranking title and first since the 2021 BetVictor Gibraltar Open.

Carter made a 133 in frame six to level at 3-3, then in the crucial seventh frame had a chance to clear from 44-0 down. He potted the final brown to go 8 points ahead but left the cue ball on the baulk cushion, and missed a tough long blue to a top corner. Trump took blue, pink and black to go 4-3 ahead then closed out the match with an excellent 96 in frame eight.

This is probably the worst I have played for ten years, but I am trying my heart out and somehow getting through,” said world number three Trump. “It’s not pretty and there’s no way I can win the tournament like this, but I’m still here. It’s not enjoyable playing like this, it’s a struggle.

At 3-3 Ali went for a tough blue, I was surprised he went for it. There are no right or wrong shots but Ali is usually one to try to force a mistake with a safety, but he was obviously feeling great at the time. I made a good clearance to go 4-3 up and then in the last frame I took my chance well, that was the best I felt.

Ding Junhui reached his first ranking event semi-final since the 2019 UK Championship by beating Graeme Dott 5-1. China’s Ding has been in tremendous form this week, making seven centuries and nine more breaks over 50, and tonight he fired runs of 72, 102 and 64.

His next opponent will be Matthew Selt, who reached the fourth ranking event semi-final of his career with a 5-3 defeat of Martin Gould. Essex cueman Selt won his first ranking title at the 2019 Indian Open and is just two matches away from doubling that tally.

From 2-0 down, he scored breaks of 89, 90 and 118 in taking a 4-2 lead. Gould pulled one back before Selt clinched victory in frame eight with a 58 clearance.

Saturday’s semi-finals (local time)
2.30pm Ding Junhui v Matthew Selt
8pm Judd Trump v Shaun Murphy

Baically nothing to add to the above comments… it was more of the same.

Regarding the race to the Tour Championship, WST had published this before yesterday’s matches:

Crucial Moments In The Race To Llandudno

The last three days of the Nirvana Turkish Masters are sure to have a significant impact on the battle for a place in the top eight of the one year ranking list and a spot in the Cazoo Tour Championship.

Only the elite top eight will head for Llandudno in North Wales for the final event of the 2021/22 Cazoo Series, which runs from March 28 to April 3. And after this week’s tournament in Antalya, only one counting event remains – the BetVictor Gibraltar Open (March 24 to 26).

Hossein Vafaei currently occupies eighth position but his 5-4 reverse against Jak Jones on Thursday means he can’t add to his tally this week. Hot on his heels is Yan Bingtao, just £4,500 behind, which means that if Yan beats Oliver Lines on Friday afternoon he reaches the quarter-finals and adds £5,000 to his total which would put him above Vafaei. However, Yan has decided not to enter the Gibraltar event so all of his eggs are very much in a Turkish basket.

Ricky Walden is tied with Yan but out of the running this week so he’ll need a deep run in Gibraltar. Next in line is Judd Trump, £10,500 behind Vafaei, so a semi-final run for the former World Champion could get him into the top eight, though Trump will no doubt be targeting the £100,000 top prize which would secure his place in Llandudno.

Ali Carter, Matthew Selt, Graeme Dott, Martin Gould, Shaun Murphy, Zhou Yuelong and Jak Jones are also in action today and all have a chance of moving into the top eight by winning the tournament.

The Cazoo Tour Championship could then have a crucial impact on the Race to the Crucible, as a spot in Llanduno comes with a guarantee of £20,000 for first round losers.

Basically, Judd Trump is now in the Tour Championship draw, and Yan is out of it. However, if Shaun Murphy were to to beat him today he would not be safe. Indeed both Matthew Selt and Shaun Murphy could overtake him by winning the tournament. Ding can’t get in the draw this week no matter what.

Regarding the race to the Crucible, a win today would see Judd Trump swap place with Neil Robertson. Even winning this tournament would not put either Ding or Selt in the top 16. But it would put them on 17th… a run to the Final in Gibraltar would see either of them overtake Yan Bingtao who would then need to qualify. Actually, if they were both to reach the final, Mark Allen could need to qualify as well.

The 2022 Turkish Masters – Day 4 in Antalya

We reached the last 16 at the end of day 4 in Antalya and here are WST reports on what happened at the table.

Morning and afternoon sessions

Murphy Revels In Chance To Help Snooker Grow

After scoring a 5-3 success over Jimmy Robertson in the third round of the inaugural Nirvana Turkish Masters, Shaun Murphy described the part he has played in developing snooker as a global sport as one of the most fulfilling elements of his career.

Former World Champion Murphy has won tournaments in countries including Brazil, China, Malta, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Bulgaria and Germany and is recognised as one of the sport’s finest ambassadors. He is enjoying the opportunity to compete in the first ever ranking event in Turkey.

This is a fabulous event, a really good addition to the tour,” said the 39-year-old. “I certainly enjoy taking snooker to new territories, I have been part of that group of players over the last 20 years who have tried to make the game better. When the end of my career comes, my dream is that I have helped make snooker a better tour than it was when I joined in 1998.

We come out to new countries like this where snooker is popular through Eurosport and other broadcasters and it’s great to be here and put on a good show for the fans. I came to Turkey on holiday soon after I won the world title in 2005  and was well aware that snooker was popular in this part of the world, so it’s no surprise to me that we have a big tournament here now.”

Today’s victory over Robertson put Murphy into the last 16 of a ranking event for only the third time this season. Having struggled with a neck injury for most of the campaign, he lies 38th on the one-year ranking list.

Trailing 2-1, Murphy made a break of 91 to level the tie then took the 43-minute fifth frame on the colours after Robertson had missed the brown to a centre pocket. A run of 95 from Robertson restored parity at 3-3, but he potted just one ball in the last two frames as Murphy closed out the tie and earned a meeting with Jak Jones in the last 16.

I am very relieved,” Murphy added. “I came here with very few wins under my belt this season, so each match is an opportunity for me to try a few different things. There’s still a distant chance of me qualifying for the Tour Championship, if everyone else retires! I’m trying my best as always and thrilled to still be here.

Ding Junhui came from 3-1 down to beat Kyren Wilson 5-3 and reach the last 16 of a ranking event for only the second time this season. China’s 34-year-old Ding hasn’t won a title since the 2019 UK Championship and has slipped to 32nd in the world rankings.

Breaks of 75, 103 and 100 put him 4-3 up today and he sealed victory in a 64-minute eighth frame, ending a long safety battle on the colours with a superb long pot on the pink to a baulk corner.

It was a good game,” said 14-time ranking event winner Ding. “Kyren played well at the start and I missed some chances. Then he got a bit angry because he was not scoring well. The game changed. There is a big pressure for me because I keep dropping down the rankings and it’s a long way to get back up. I have to focus on practice and concentrate in matches.

Chinese players are winning tournaments now which is good for the snooker market. I am looking forward to seeing more of them winning titles. When I was first winning tournaments they were little boys. It’s good to watch them grow up and improve their game, and to have been their hero.”

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh improved his chances of keeping his tour card at the end of the season by beating Jordan Brown 5-1, compiling breaks of 92, 72 and 51. Un-Nooh is now guaranteed £7,500 this week and the result lifts the former Shoot Out champion into the top 64 of the provisional end of season rankings.

Jak Jones followed up yesterday’s 5-4 win over Mark Allen with another deciding frame victory, against Hossein Vafaei. Breaks of 102 and 101 helped put Vafaei 4-2 ahead and he had chances to finish the match in frames seven and eight, but it was Welshman Jones who won the last three with a top run of 94.

Martin Gould came from 4-3 down to edge out Jack Lisowski 5-4 while Oliver Lines saw off Andrew Higginson 5-3 with a top run of 113.

Shaun Murphy is indeed amongst the group of players who always liked to travel and play in “new” territories. I’m surprised though that he didn’t mention his late manager and friend Brandon Parker because Brandon played a big part in that too. Turkey though is not a “virgin” country when it comes to cue sports, although their “traditional cue sport” is 3-cushions billiard and they have many excellent players in that discipline. The best, and most famous of them is Semih Sayginer and he’s a true magician. Jason Ferguson is a great fan of Semih

Here is a video of Semih in action against Dick Jaspers from the Netherlands. Dick is currently the best in that business

For those who don’t know the rules of that discipline, they are quite simple: there are only 3 balls on the table, a white, a yellow and a red. One player uses the white as a cue ball, the other one uses the yellow. The goal for the player at the table is “simple”: they have to hit the red and the other player’s cue ball, in any order, and before hitting the second ball they must have hit at least three cushions as well. Simple? yes … but horribly difficult! Each successful shot earns them a point. If they miss, their opponent comes at the table. The goal is either to be the first to a certain number of points or to to get the most points in over a fixed duration. There is a shot-clock.

But back to snooker…

The best match in those two sessions was Ding v Kyren Wilson. It was really very high quality.

Here is the end of the match:

It’s a very unusual situation there: with only pink and black on the table, Kyren found himself snookered on the pink, and was awarded a free ball. Kyren could have snookered Ding behind the black despite the free ball situation as with only pink and black remaining this is actually allowed and it’s the only case when it’s allowed. He could also, maybe, have nominated the black as a pink, and planted the actual pink in the pocket off it. I write maybe because what you see on television can be misleading and the “true” pink was not right over the pocket. I’m not sure that shot was really on. But he did neither…  Maybe he didn’t remember that exception to the normal free ball rule. It would be interesting to hear from Kyren on this.

Evening session

Liang Succumbs To Trump Pressure

Judd Trump’s return to form gathered pace as he came from 4-1 down to beat Liang Wenbo 5-4 and reach the last 16 of the Nirvana Turkish Masters in Antalya.

Trump cited Liang’s tendency to make mistakes when close to the winning post as a key factor as he reeled off the last four frames to book a fourth round meeting with Zhou Yuelong. Bristol’s Trump hasn’t won a ranking title for a year but tonight’s result will give him a huge injection of confidence as he targets the £100,000 top prize at the first ever pro tournament in Turkey.

Former World Champion Trump reached the final of the BetVictor Welsh Open last week and he believes he is close to his best. As it stands, the 32-year-old is 11th on the one-year ranking list but if he reaches the final this week he’ll be into the top eight and on course for a place in the Cazoo Tour Championship later this month.

A break of 116 gave Trump the opening frame tonight but he spent most of the next four frames in his chair as China’s Liang fired runs of 55, 96 and 118. Trump made a 59 in frame six as he began the fight-back by making it 4-2.

Frames seven and eight both came down to the last red, and on both occasions it was Liang who made a safety error, handing his opponent the chance to recover to 4-4. Early in the decider, Liang went for a tough long red but missed his target, and that proved his last meaningful shot as Trump complied a match-winning run of 72.

It was looking bad at 4-1, he was playing unbelievable stuff, I only missed one or two balls,” said Trump, winning of 22 ranking titles. “That was the best I have seen him for a while, there wasn’t much I could do. I have seen in the past that he struggles to get over the winning line. After the interval I was just trying to keep it close and put him under pressure. He started to miss a few and I started to believe I could win. I tried not to give him any easy chances. In the last frame he went for a tough red and let me in.

I’m so happy to have got through that one, it feels like an achievement. I have got another life now. This is a big tournament for me, coming off the back of a good run last week and I am trying to find some form. It would have been difficult to lose early. I want to be at every event including the Tour Championship, I am here to try to win this one, but if I could do that it will come with that top eight place as a bonus.”

Zhou edged out Luca Brecel 5-4 to reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the third time this season. The Chinese cueman took the deciding frame with a break of 71.

Ali Carter came from 3-0 down to beat Matthew Stevens 5-4 in a tremendous match which featured a century and eight more breaks over 50. Stevens fired runs of 67, 104, 68 and 63 during the contest but was eclipsed by Carter who made breaks of 74, 78, 90, 98 and a vital 60 clearance in the decider.

Last 16 line-up

Lu Ning v Martin Gould
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Matthew Selt
John Higgins v Graeme Dott
Si Jiahui v Ding Junhui
Oliver Lines v Yan Bingtao
Jak Jones v Shaun Murphy
Ali Carter v Sam Craigie
Zhou Yuelong v Judd Trump

It is a good result for Zhou who needs to rebuild his confidence. Si Jiahui continues to beat the pros much to the anger of quite a few. Oliver Lines is also quietly improving. And Jak Jones is really showing how good he is this week. This tournament is turning into a seriously interesting one.


The 2022 Turkish Masters – Day 3 in Antalya

The last 64 round concluded yesterday in Antalya and the last 32 round started in the evening.

Here are WST reports:

Morning and afternoon session

Allen Knocked Out / Trump Survives

Jak Jones took one of the biggest scalps of his career as he registered a 5-4 victory over Mark Allen to reach the third round of the Nirvana Turkish Masters in Antalya.

World number 48 Jones scored a superb break of 79 in the deciding frame to beat the player ranked 37 places higher and earn a meeting with Hossein Vafaei. Welshman Jones has shown consistent form this season and is through to the last 32 of a ranking event for the fourth time in the current campaign.

Defeat for Allen leaves him uncertain of his place in the eight-man Cazoo Tour Championship later this month

It’s a big win for me particularly because I missed chances to close the match out earlier, but then made a good break in the last frame,” said 28-year-old Jones, who top scored with 129 in building a 4-2 lead before his opponent recovered to 4-4. “I missed a red on 34 in the previous frame and I was angry with myself, I felt I was making the game too complicated rather than getting on with it. In the last frame I had a chance at a long red and I had no doubt I was going for it because I’m a better player when I attack.

Before Christmas I was struggling with my game because I moved back to Wales from my previous base in Sheffield but I was practising on a club table. In the new year I had a Star table fitted which allowed me to replicate tournament conditions and that has made a massive difference to my performances. I feel I can really build on that for the rest of the season.”

Judd Trump was pushed hard by Chris Wakelin but came through 5-3 to set up a match with Liang Wenbo. Trump’s top break was just 47 but he secured the result by scrapping his way through a 48-minute eighth frame, getting the better of a long safety battle on the colours.

Jack Lisowski scored a dramatic 5-4 win over Martin O’Donnell in a match which came down to the final black.  Both players missed chances at the black before Lisowski slotted it home to set up a tie with Martin Gould.

It was looking as if I had lost a few times but in the end I managed to fall over the line,” said Lisowski, who reached the semi-finals of last week’s BetVictor Welsh Open before losing 6-5 to Joe Perry. “I’m really happy to get that first win under my belt and I can see how the week will progress now.

I was gutted to lose to Joe last week but I would have taken semi-finals at the start of the week having had a bad season. It’s nice to have a bit of momentum now. I have got something going and I want to keep building. The World Championship is going to be bigger than usual for me.”

Perry’s winning streak ended as he went down 5-2 to Liang, while Vafaei won a high quality encounter with Ben Woollaston by a 5-3 scoreline, knocking in breaks of 98, 91, 52, 69 and 70.

Matthew Stevens top scored with 93 as he won a Welsh derby with Mark Williams, a repeat of the 2000 World Championship final.

Wakelin will be very disappointed. He certainly could have won this match. Trump has a bit of luck here and there but that wasn’t the main thing. The most important factor was that Trump is used to win, Wakelin is not: that was the main psychological difference and it mattered in the latter stages of the match.

Matthew Stevens win over Mark Williams is a bit of a surprise. But only a bit. There are two factors here that probably explain this result: Matthew needed this win, he’s currently out of the top 64 “projected end-of-season” rankings, but this win pushes him to number two in the list of those to be redeemed via the “one year list”; Mark Williams is safe, has nothing to prove and is in Antalya with his family… totally different mindset.

Evening session

Selt Sees Progress On Snooker’s Long Learning Curve

Matthew Selt ended Zhao Xintong’s hopes of winning a third ranking title with a 5-2 success at the Nirvana Turkish Masters, before describing himself as a “poor man’s Mark Selby.”

China’s Zhao is undoubtedly one of the players of the season so far having won the Cazoo UK Championship and BildBet German Masters, but this time he falls at the last 32 stage. World number 31 Selt goes through to round four to face Jordan Brown or Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Selt took each of the first three frames on the colours, and later compiled breaks of 70 and 80 to record one of his best wins of the season. The Essex cueman won the Indian Open in 2019 but feels he is still well short of reaching his potential.

I am playing at 60 of 70 per cent of the way I can play in practice,” said the 37-year-old. “I am sensationally good on my own table when I practise with the likes of Ali Carter, Joe Perry and Shaun Murphy. When I start being able to play like that in matches, that when I’ll be enjoying snooker as a profession. That’s what separates the very best players, they are relaxed out there.

I am slowly getting there. If you collapse in matches a few times and learn from it, that’s part of the journey. The only time I have really felt good in a match was at the UK Championship this season when I went 3-1 up on Barry Hawkins, but I ended up losing.

Luckily I have got one of the best safety games, that allows me to win matches when I am not scoring well – I am a poor man’s Mark Selby.

I absolutely love snooker and I want to keep progressing. But it’s not the most important thing in my life, I have other passions. I hear certain other players say that and I think they are talking absolute nonsense. I genuinely have a lot more to my life and other things I enjoy.

John Higgins also booked a last 16 berth with a 5-0 demolition of Michael Holt, making breaks of 121, 54 and 69. That result leaves Holt still outside the top 64 in the provisional end of season rankings and needing wins in either the BetVictor Gibraltar Open or Betfred World Championship to keep his tour card.

Higgins will now face an all-Scottish clash with BetVictor European Masters semi-finalist Graeme Dott, who saw off Jackson Page 5-2 with a top break of 135.  Amateur Si Jiahui, recently crowned the the WSF Open champion, continued his blistering recent form by beating Tom Ford 5-1 with a top run of 93.

It was obvious to me that Zhao is working on his game, particularly the safety side of it. He still has a lot to learn though and, as always when a player makes changes, it may take some time before he finds the right balance and the changes start paying dividents.