2022 World Championship – Day 9

Day 9 marks the middle point of the Championship although in terms of amount of frames to be played by the eventual winner, it’s still only the beginning. There are usually no matches played to a finish on that day unless someone wins with a session to spare. This didn’t happen this year.

Here are WST accounts on yesterday sessions

Morning session

Saengkham Rallies To Level With Higgins

Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham took the last three frames of the session to draw level at 4-4 with 31-time ranking event winner John Higgins in their second round tie at the Betfred World Championship.

Saengkham enjoyed a double celebration after his first round match, with the birth of his new daughter named Believe. That came shortly before his tournament opening 10-5 victory against Luca Brecel.

Scotland’s four-time Crucible king Higgins is still searching for a first ranking title of the season, having fallen short in four finals. He came through a tricky opening round clash 10-7 against Saengkham’s compatriot Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.

Saengkham had chances in all of the first three frames this morning, but it was Higgins who crafted breaks of 59 and 82 on his way to a 3-0 advantage. Saengkham crucially stole the last frame before the interval, punching the air after depositing a frame ball final black.

When play resumed, Higgins restored his three-frame lead thanks to a break of 90. That proved to be his last of the morning with Saengkham taking three on the bounce, including a 44-minute final frame, to end at 4-4. They return at 7pm to play the second session of this best of 25 clash.

On the other table, 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham opened up 5-3 lead over 2020 finalist Kyren Wilson.

The pair last met in a high quality encounter at the Masters earlier this year. It was Wilson who emerged a 6-5 victor at Alexandra Palace. The Warrior also leads the head-to-head standings between the pair 5-2.

Bingham made breaks of 75, 54 and 57 on his way to earning his 5-3 lead this morning. They will resume this evening at 7pm.

Afternoon session

Lisowski Edges Ahead Of Robertson

World number 14 Jack Lisowski is four frames from making the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time, leading pre-tournament favourite Neil Robertson 9-7.

The Gloucestershire cueman has appeared at the Crucible on five previous occasions, but is yet to go beyond the second round. He exited at this stage 12 months ago, at the hands of Robertson, and will be hoping to enact his revenge this time around.

Robertson has waited 12 years since his only Crucible victory thus far, when he was crowned 2010 World Champion. However, he is in top form this year and enjoying what he describes as his best ever season. The Australian has already landed silverware at the English Open, Masters, Players Championship and Tour Championship.

They came into today locked together at 4-4, following yesterday evening’s first session. Lisowski came flying out of the traps, with back-to-back century contributions of 119 and 122, to open up a two-frame lead at 6-4.

Robertson replied with a break of 60 to take the 11th, but it was Lisowski who took the last before the mid-session to establish a 7-5 cushion.

They continued to produce a scintillating standard upon the resumption and shared the remaining four frames, with each one containing a contribution over 50. A stunning break of 137 from Lisowski in the 14th was the highest of the match so far, but it was Robertson who made 69 in the final frame to end within touching distance at 9-7. The concluding session of this best of 25 encounter will be played tomorrow from 7pm.

On the other table, 2019 World Champion Judd Trump seized the initiative in his clash with Anthony McGill by moving 10-6 ahead.

The Ace in the Pack has recently shown signs of a return to form, having gone without ranking silverware for much of the season. Trump landed his first ranking title of the campaign last month with a 10-4 defeat of Matthew Selt in the Turkish Masters final, a match where he also made a 147.

McGill typically produces his best snooker in Sheffield. He made the semi-finals back in 2020, where he lost an epic encounter with Kyren Wilson 17-16. The Glaswegian also defeated Ronnie O’Sullivan 13-12 at this stage last year, but lost his quarter-final with Stuart Bingham.

They started the afternoon level at 4-4 and shared the first two frames, before Trump claimed two on the bounce to lead 7-5 at the interval. The Bristolian then won a 33-minute frame when play got back underway to stretch his advantage to 8-5, but McGill pegged him back by taking the 14th thanks to a run of 97.

A break of 79 saw Trump regain his three-frame cushion and he added the last of the session to end four in front at 10-6. They will return for the concluding session tomorrow at 7pm.

Evening session

Wilson And Bingham Set For Grandstand Finish

Kyren Wilson and Stuart Bingham are all-square at 8-8 heading into the final session of their second round tie at the Betfred World Championship.

Wilson battled back to take the final three frames of the session and draw level. They will return tomorrow afternoon at 1pm for the climax of this enthralling best of 25 encounter. The winner will face either Judd Trump or Anthony McGill in the quarter-finals.

Kettering’s Wilson has produced relentless consistency levels in recent times to secure his position at world number five, but hasn’t captured ranking silverware since the 2020 Championship League. He has a superb Crucible record, having made at least the quarter-finals each year since 2016, including a run to the 2020 final where he lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Bingham made the semi-finals 12 months ago, when he clinched thrilling deciding frame wins against Ding Junhui and Anthony McGill, before bowing out 17-15 against Mark Selby. The 2015 World Champion is aiming to avenge a 6-5 defeat to Wilson in their most recent meeting at the Masters in January.

Bingham came into this evening’s second session with a 5-3 advantage. He extended his cushion after the first four frames, making breaks of 78 and 104 on his way to an 8-5 lead. He then had an opportunity to pull further clear, but broke down on 44. Wilson stepped up and showed his steel to make 66 and pull within two.

A break of 59 helped 30-year-old Wilson to secure the 15th frame, before a dramatic last of the evening. The Crucible crowd were almost treated to a maximum break, but Wilson missed the 13th red to end his break on 96. Nevertheless he will be delighted to end level at 8-8.

On the other table, John Higgins dominated the evening session of his last 16 clash with Noppon Saengkham, to move two from victory at 11-5.

The pair were locked together at 4-4 following this morning’s opening session, when Thailand’s Saengkham rallied from 4-1 behind to restore parity. However, 46-year-old Higgins ruthlessly pressed home his advantage this evening.

The Scot is bidding for a first World Championship title in 11 years. He claimed his fourth Crucible crown back in 2011, when he beat Judd Trump 18-15 in the final. Higgins has 31 ranking titles to his name, but is yet to add to that tally this season, having lost four finals.

Saengkham celebrated the birth of his new daughter, named Believe, shortly before his 10-5 first round victory over Luca Brecel. He is aiming for a first ever quarter-final appearance at the Crucible, but he will now require a colossal comeback to achieve that.

Higgins crafted breaks of 125, 60, 69 and 100 on his way to taking the first seven frames of the evening. Saengkham ironically celebrated after potting a frame ball brown in the last, to end six behind at 11-5. They return tomorrow afternoon at 1pm for their final session.

Once again, I didn’t see much at all.

I was impressed though that Noppon managed to come back from 3-0 and 4-1 down to go to the evening session all square with John Higgins. Unfortunately for him, Higgins was able to up his game in the evening – as you would expect – and Noppon now faces an almost impossible task.

Stuart Bingham seems to be in good form which makes him very dangerous. He’s always a heavy scorer and doesn’t lack stamina over the long distances. Kyren is a big figther, he proved it yesterday by drawing level. I look forward to their final session today, hoping that, this time, nothing will come in the way of snooker…

Judd Trump is now 10-6 up on Anthony McGill and will probably finish the job today. I’m not sure what form he actually is in. Apparently he played well in the evening session but Nick Metcalfe assessment of the morning session was this …Nick Metcalfe - Trump v McGill "dentist" session




2022 World Championship – Day 8

Day 8 at the 2022 Crucible saw the departure of the defending champion and some records being broken.

Here are the various reports by WST:

Departure of the defending champion and a record that maybe Yan and Selby didn’t really want…

Yan Bingtao v Mark Selby – morning session

Yan Leads Defending Champion Selby

China’s Yan Bingtao needs just four frames to knock out reigning Crucible king Mark Selby, leading 9-7 ahead of this evening’s concluding session.

World number 16 Yan is attempting to reach his first ever Crucible quarter-final, in what is his fourth appearance at the Theatre of Dreams. He defeated Chris Wakelin 10-6 in the opening round.

Yan has the upper hand on Selby in meetings between the pair. The 22-year-old has won their last three encounters to lead the head-to-head standings 4-3.

Englishman Selby claimed his fourth world title here last year, after beating Shaun Murphy 18-15 in an enthralling final. He got his 2022 Crucible campaign underway with a hard fought 10-7 defeat of Jamie Jones.

They began play locked level at 4-4 and Yan opened up with a break of 101 in the first frame this morning, before adding the next two and moving 7-4 ahead. Selby responded with a run of 132 to head into the mid-session with a 7-5 deficit.

When play resumed, Yan looked to press home his advantage and a break of 91 restored his three-frame cushion at 8-5. The 2021 Masters champion then had a chance to move four ahead, until he fell out of position on 44. Selby hit back with 64 to make it 8-6.

The steely Leicester cueman then cranked up the heat with a break of 131, to close within a single frame. A tense last of the session went on for 36-minutes, before Selby eventually took on a tricky last red, which he missed to allow Yan to step in and end with his 9-7 advantage.

They return for the final session of this best of 25 clash at 7pm this evening.

Yan Bingtao v Mark Selby – evening session

Selby Reign Ended By Yan

Selby congratulates Yan at the end of the match

Yan Bingtao reached the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the first time and established himself as a genuine contender for the title, knocking out Mark Selby by a 13-10 scoreline.

China’s 22-year-old Yan produced a performance which Selby himself would have been proud of, showing determination, patience and the ability to pot crucial balls at the key moments. After seeing the defence of his title end, Selby admitted being full of admiration for Yan’s excellent all-round game.

Aside from victory over John Higgins in the final of the 2021 Masters, this is the best win of Yan’s career as he outlasted four-time champion Selby on snooker’s biggest stage. The world number 16’s reward is a match with Mark Williams on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Yan, who is based in Sheffield, rises to the occasion when he plays Selby as he has now won their last four meetings. Tonight’s contest was a fascinating slow-burner between two warriors of the baize, neither giving an inch.

Trailing 9-7 going into the concluding session, Selby had a golden chance to reduce the deficit in the opening frame tonight, but missed the pink to a top corner when he led by 19 points with two reds left. Yan cleared to go three ahead.

Yan’s only ranking title came at the 2019 Riga Masters

Frame 18 lasted 46 minutes and came down to a safety battle on the brown. A safety exchange ended with a rare error from Selby, and his opponent knocked in superb pots on the brown, blue and pink to go 11-7 up. Back came Selby with breaks of 86, 117 and 88 to close to 11-10.

Frame 20 was the longest played in 45 years of snooker at the Crucible, lasting 85 minutes and 22 seconds. After a series of safety exchanges, Selby had a chance to clear the colours to level the match, but missed a difficult pink to a top corner. Both players failed to convert chances at the black, before Yan slotted it into a centre pocket for 12-10.

And that proved the decisive moment as Yan finished in style with a break of 112.

It’s an incredible win, I can’t believe I have beaten Mark Selby, the defending champion, in a best-of-25 match,” said Yan. “It was very difficult today. It was a long match, there was a lot of safety. During the longest frame I was very tired. Mark missed the chance to make it 11-11. In the last frame I told myself I just need one more chance. I concentrated on every pot. Mark Williams is looking very strong and confident. But I’m the same. I can give him trouble and pressure.

Selby now looks unlikely to finish the season as world number one – for more on that race click here. The 39-year-old from Leicester said: “All credit to Yan because he showed what a good player he is, he has a fantastic all round game. I felt as though I scored better than him during the match, but there were five or six scrappy frames and he won all of them. He is a very clever player and puts you in a lot of trouble with his safety.

Selby has experienced mental health problems this year and withdrew from two tournaments before heading to Sheffield. He added: “A few months ago I was not really enjoying the game and mentally I wasn’t in a great place. To come here with little bit of positivity and enjoying the game again, for me that’s the biggest bonus I can take away from this.

I feel like I’m definitely on the right path and I can see improvements which is great. I am still working with doctors and the aim is to have more good days than bad.

I came here having not played a match for six or seven weeks so I didn’t know how I was going to play. Overall I have surprised myself with how I played.

As for the pigeon which flew into the arena during Friday’s second session, Selby joked: “It nearly took my head off, I didn’t know what was happening. I heard all the commotion when I was backstage and then I got to the top of the steps and it flew by me at 100mph!

During that evening session they set a new Crucible record, but I’m not sure they are actually thrilled about it

Selby And Yan Play Crucible’s Longest Frame

Mark Selby and Yan Bingtao played a frame lasting 85 minutes and 22 seconds during their second round match on Saturday night – the longest in 45 years of snooker at the Crucible.

The previous record was 79 minutes and 31 seconds, set by Luca Brecel and Gary Wilson in 2019.

Defending champion Selby and 16th seed Yan had a succession of extended safety battles on the reds and colours. It came down to the final black, and both players missed chances before Yan slotted the black into a centre pocket to go 12-10 ahead.

The frame was still well short of the record for the longest in a pro match: 123 minutes and 41 seconds, set by Fergal O’Brien and David Gilbert in the final qualifying round 2017 World Championship. The longest televised frame was 93 minutes and 12 seconds, in a match between Shaun Murphy and Dave Harold at the 2008 China Open.

Tatiana Woollaston was the marker and took a picture of her screen…


What happened to those 41 seconds?

Also in the morning, Stephen Maguire booked a clash with Ronnie 

Safety-First Maguire Outsmarts Zhao

Maguire reached the semi-finals at the Crucible in 2007 and 2012

Stephen Maguire put his experience and tactical nous to good use as he scored a 13-9 victory over young sensation Zhao Xintong to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship.

China’s 25-year-old Zhao has enjoyed a breakthrough this season, winning his first two ranking titles at the Cazoo UK Championship and German Masters. He was considered a genuine contender for the title at the Crucible, given his talent for long potting and fluent break-building. But Zhao had never previously played a best-of-25 frame match, and he was outfoxed by an opponent 16 years his senior.

I kept it tight, I’m not going to out pot Zhao, I knew that from start to finish,” said Maguire. “So I wanted to keep him in the long grass and hoped the big long fancy shots he goes for didn’t go in.

If they do go in and he makes big breaks, I’d shake his hand and say well played. But I thought it was going to be tough for him to  pot them all, over a best of 25. Snooker is hard, it’s not easy.

Maguire is through to the last eight in Sheffield for the seventh time and could face a blockbuster clash with Ronnie O’Sullivan, if the Rocket can convert a 12-4 lead over Mark Allen into a quarter-final place.

A poor run of form over the past two seasons has seen Maguire slip to 40th in the world rankings, which meant he had to win two qualifying matches just to make it to the Crucible. Armed with a new cue and improved confidence, he looks much more like the player who has won six ranking titles. The £50,000 he is guaranteed from this event almost doubles his prize money for the current season and the Glaswegian is back up to 24th on the provisional end of season rankings.

Maguire led 11-5 overnight and had a chance to take the opening frame today but, trailing 42-24, he missed a red to a centre pocket, gifting Zhao the chance to reduce the deficit. A break of 85 saw Zhao cut the gap to 11-7, but Maguire responded with an 81 to go five up with six to play.

World number seven Zhao took the session to an interval by making a break of 67 in frame 20 and when they resumed he dominated the 21st to close to 12-9. But Maguire quickly snuffed out any glimmer of a fight-back as a run of 59 helped him clinch the result.

Asked about changing his cue, Maguire said: “When I played Shaun (Murphy in the first round) I was rubbish. I felt like I had no chance in the second round. I went to Glasgow and borrowed my mate’s cue, and had a couple of days practice with it. I liked it and it seems like the good move now.

Any professional snooker player that says they can’t change their cue is off their head more than me, of course you can change your cue.

And asked about the prospect of playing O’Sullivan next, Maguire added: “I have played him here three times and never beaten him, which is not a terrible result because he will be spoken about as one of the best players in the world. If I play well I can put up a fight.

I know how good I can play but I also know how bad I can play, so we will see what one turns up on Tuesday.

Zhao said: “Stephen is a great player, in the first two sessions he played so well and put pressure on me. He has played for many years at the Crucible. I missed easy balls and gave him lots of opportunities to win the frames. I need to change my thinking in the way I play.

This is my first time as a seeded player at the Crucible and this year it was all about the experience for me. Next time I will do better and hopefully win this tournament. I still have confidence.

At the time of the above interview, Ronnie was not yet through to the QFs but he was leading Mark Allen by 12-4. He duly got the frame he needed at the start of the afternoon. He also broke two records in the process. You can read about all that here.

Also that afternoon, Judd Trump started his last 16 match against Anthony McGill. They finished the session all square.

On the other table, 2019 Crucible king Judd Trump finished his opening session against Anthony McGill tied at 4-4.

The first three frames lasted 90 minutes in total and neither player made a break over 30, McGill taking two of them. The Scot, who reached the semi-finals in 2020, then made a 129 to lead 3-1.

World number four Trump hit back after the interval, winning three consecutive frames with a top run of 103 to go 4-3 ahead. But a break of 68 from McGill in the last frame of the session leaves them all square overnight.

The start of that match was pretty terrible. I have seen club players play better. But, hey! This is the Crucible and the pressure is on!

Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski played their first session in the evening and finished all square: 4-4.

Robertson And Lisowski Share Spoils

Neil Robertson and Jack Lisowski couldn’t be separated after an intriguing first session of their Betfred World Championship last 16 encounter, which saw the pair end locked level at 4-4.

Australia’s Robertson made four centuries in a 10-5 opening round defeat of debutant Ashley Hugill. That was a continuation of his superb form this season, which has seen him capture a sixth Triple Crown title at the Masters in January and secure ranking silverware at the English Open, Players Championship and Tour Championship.

Lisowski is bidding for a first ever quarter-final appearance at the Crucible. The Gloucestershire potter bowed out at this stage last year at the hands of Robertson, succumbing to a 13-9 defeat. Lisowski battled past Matthew Stevens in 10-8 in the opening round this year.

Pre-tournament favourite Robertson imposed himself in the early stages of this tie. A break of 62 gave the Melbourne cueman the opener. Lisowski had then had a great chance to level up, before a loose positional shot ended his run on 55. Robertson stepped in and crafted a contribution of 76 to lead 2-0.

Lisowski pulled a frame back by taking the third thanks to a break of 65, before winning the fourth on the pink to restore parity at 2-2. He looked to have the momentum at that point and added two more to make it four on the bounce and establish a 4-2 advantage.

However, 2010 World Champion Robertson summoned an important charge before the close of play, taking the final two frames with back-to-back century breaks of 117 and 138 to end level 4-4.

Don’t ask me anything… I didn’t see a ball all evening. Actually didn’t see a thing: we had a power failure that lasted most of the evening and the whole village suffered a several hours black-out …



2022 World Championship – Ronnie beats Mark Allen by 13-4 in the last 16

Ronnie needed just one frame after the first two sessions of his last 16 match against Mark Allen duly obliged.

Here is the report by WST:

Ronnie O’Sullivan completed an emphatic 13-4 victory over Mark Allen to reach the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship for the 20th time, beating the record of 19 he had previously shared with Stephen Hendry.

Allen could have been a tough second round draw for O’Sullivan, but the world number one dominated throughout and looked close to his best as he rattled in two centuries and eight more breaks over 50. He has now won 71 matches at the Crucible, more than any other player.

The Rocket faces another test against a six-time ranking event winner, Stephen Maguire, on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. Having won the title in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2020, O’Sullivan is just one away from Hendry’s most coveted record of seven crowns.

Most matches won at the Crucible
Ronnie O’Sullivan 71
Stephen Hendry 70
John Higgins 61
Steve Davis 60
Jimmy White 50

Having broken the back of the contest in the first two sessions by taking a 12-4 lead, making breaks of 87, 131, 69, 96, 57, 93, 67, 88, 53 and 100, O’Sullivan soon wrapped up the match this afternoon, winning the first frame in three scoring visits.

In these long matches you try and do as well as you can in each session and try not look for the finish line because it’s a long way off,” said 46-year-old O’Sullivan, winner of 38 ranking titles. “I try to enjoy it and just relish every moment. I’ve had years of practice, years of dedication, just trying to be the best version of myself that I can be.

Crucible2022ROSL16PresserYou can make it look easy but it’s certainly never easy. When you sign up for the job, part of it is going to get tough and there are going to be other great players with big hearts and big desires in your way, and you have to overcome that. Even when I won it in 2012 and I just steamrolled everyone, it still wasn’t easy.

I could probably not play in this event and not play the Masters and still have a great life. But I think I owe it to myself, I owe it to the snooker fans, I have been given a gift and a talent and I have to try and use it as much as I can. It’s not going to last forever so I just try and enjoy it as much as I can.

Looking ahead to his next match, O’Sullivan added: “Maguire is a brilliant player and should have been World Champion, he has a World Champion game and he is still playing a very good level of snooker. It was only two years ago he was tearing everyone apart in the Tour Championship. He’s a class player and another tough match.”

Allen said: “Coming back at 12-4 was not a lot of fun to be honest. I have never had to experience that before. I have never given up in my life but mentally I had nothing left today, which is probably understandable given how poor I was yesterday.

Sometimes when you play Ronnie you don’t get a shot, you don’t see a ball. He pots all the long ones and scores heavily, and you go away sometimes thinking ‘am I a snooker player?

I know I have the game to win any tournament I enter but I just haven’t found that secret recipe for Sheffield yet.

Here is the end of the match, as shared by Eurosport on their Youtube channel:

as well as Ronnie’s postmatch interview:

Ronnie will now face Stephen Maguire in the quarter-finals on Tuesday and Wednesday. It should be a good match. They go along well and are both attacking.





2022 World Championship – Day 7

The second round – last 16 – continued at the Crucible yesterday. Two members of the “Class of 92” were in action – Willo and Ronnie – and both produced outstanding performances on the day … but it was a pigeon who stole the show!

Morning session:

Williams Makes Six Centuries In Page Rout

Williams and Page are practice partners

Mark Williams equalled the record for the most century breaks in a best-of-25 match at the Betfred World Championship, firing six tons as he crushed close friend Jackson Page 13-3 to book a place in the quarter-finals.

Williams closed out the match with a session to spare as he showed no mercy to an opponent he describes as like a “fourth son.” Having appeared at the Crucible 24 times and lifted the trophy on three occasions, this was among Williams’ best ever performances at the Theatre of Dreams. The 47-year-old is clearly a strong contender for the title this year as he looks ahead to a match with Mark Selby or Yan Bingtao on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Selby is the only player to have previously made six centuries in a 25-frame match, back in 2011 when he beat Stephen Hendry 13-4 in the second round. World number eight Williams has now made ten tons in two matches and if he goes all the way to the final then the record of 16 in a single Championship, set by Hendry in 2002, is under threat.

I don’t think I can play any better than that at my age,” admitted Williams, who won the title in 2000, 2003 and 2018 and is into the quarter-finals for the 11th time. “Lee Walker has been doing a bit of work to my game, picking it apart and putting it back together again. Players these days don’t just roll the ball, they punch it. We’ve been trying a few different things with my technique including hitting the ball a bit harder and making more breaks.

Us older players have got to adapt our games in order to keep up with the younger ones. I know I’m going to fall down the rankings eventually, so I’m doing all I can to ensure I can stay up the top for as long as possible. I knew coming here that I got a chance at the title because I’ve played well for most of the season.

Williams led 7-1 overnight having made breaks of 125, 100 and 121 in the first session. Any hopes Page may have had of a fight-back this morning were quickly doused when his opponent made a 110 in the opening frame. Crucible debutant Page looked set to pull one back in frame ten but failed to get position on the last red, on a break of 69. After a safety exchange, he overcut a tricky pot on the red to a baulk corner, handing Williams the chance to make a superb clearance and go 9-1 in front.

Two runs of 65 extended that advantage, before Page pulled one back with a 47 in frame 12. Back to back centuries, 117 and 127, equalled the centuries record as Williams went 12-2 ahead. Page made a 63 in frame 15 to raise his hopes of taking the contest to a concluding session this evening, but Williams then wrapped up the result in the 16th with a 56.

It’s a difficult one for me, beating Jackson with a session to spare,” added Williams, who won the British Open earlier this season. “But I played well and kept him under pressure for the vast majority of the match. I was in the same position last year, losing to Selby with a session to spare. It’s a learning curve and it’s all about how you can bounce back from it.

I wanted to go out there and destroy him, like I do with everyone else I play. I feel a little bit disappointed for him because he wanted to have a better performance than that. I didn’t give him many chances. I don’t think he’ll be too disheartened by it.”

World number 90 Page, who won four qualifying matches before beating Barry Hawkins in the last 32, said: “It started off in the first session, he was unbelievable, and it just set the tone of the match really. It takes the very best in the game to even compete with that, he was just ridiculous. I don’t think I have seen a performance like that since John Higgins won the Players Championship last season.

It has been an unbelievable experience for me. I started three weeks ago at the qualifiers in round one so to get through and win a game here has been fantastic and I can take the positives from it.

Afternoon session:

Maguire Takes Flight Against Zhao

Stephen Maguire is just two frames away from a place in the quarter-finals of the Betfred World Championship having taken an 11-5 lead over Zhao Xintong.

There was a brief interruption towards the end of the session when a pigeon flew into the Crucible and landed on the table where Mark Selby was up against Yan Bingtao. The bird – which fortunately did not feather the cue ball –  was ushered out of the arena, caught and safely released outside without being harmed.

Maguire started the day 5-3 up on China’s Zhao and took six of the eight frames to close in on a match with Ronnie O’Sullivan or Mark Allen. The Scot had to come through qualifying to reach the Crucible, having slipped to 40th in the world rankings, but is now on the brink of his first quarter-final appearance since 2019.

China’s Zhao lost the opening frame today but hit back in the next when he got the snooker he needed on the final pink with an excellent shot to trap his opponent behind the black, then converted a thumping long pot on the pink and added the black.

But Cazoo UK Champion Zhao then lost his rhythm and made several unforced mistakes as Maguire pulled away. Breaks of 64 and 82 put the Glaswegian 8-4 ahead at the interval. Zhao pulled one back with a run of 72, but Maguire dominated frame 14 then won the 15th with a break of 61.

In the last frame of the session, Zhao led 42-12 when he missed a straight-forward pot on the third-last red to a top corner. Maguire punished him with a 44 clearance to extend his advantage. They return at 10am on Saturday with first to 13 to reach the last eight.

On the other table, defending champion Selby came from 4-2 down to level at 4-4 against Yan. China’s Yan is aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, while world number two Selby is looking to continue his quest for a fifth world title.

Selby took the opening frame with a break of 54 and he led 67-0 in the second, but Yan clawed his way back and took it with a 38 clearance. Former Masters champion Yan made a 104 in frame three and took the fourth on the colours to lead 3-1.

After the interval, Selby pulled one back, but a fine 36 clearance from his opponent made it 4-2. Leicester’s Selby battled to win a scrappy seventh frame, and finished the session with his highest break of the day, 83, to draw level. They return on Saturday at 10am for eight more frames. Mark Williams awaits in the next round.

Zhao was unable to reproduce the form he had shown in the first round and Stephen Maguire is a top player with bags of experience. He needs only two frames today to get through to the quarter-finals where he is likely to face Ronnie who currently leads Mark Allen by 12-4.

The Selby v Yan match was a hard-fought tactical affair. Yan dominated the first part of the match, but, as was to be expected, Selby rallied and restored parity.

Here is the pigeon incident… the bird was rescued by Chris Barnes, one of the fitters. The whole story triggered a pun-fest on social media!

My account and comments on the Ronnie Allen match can be found here.


2022 World Championship – Ronnie leads Mark Allen by 12-4 in their last 16 round match

Ronnie will need just one frame this to book his place in this year World Chamionship, Mark Allen will need to win nine on the trot to deny him. It’s not impossible, but it’s a task of Dantesque proportions.

Here are the WST reports on the two sessions played yesterday:

Morning session

Rocket Powers To Lead Pistol

Crucible2022ROSL16-2World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan put on a superb display to establish a 6-2 lead over 2018 Masters champion Mark Allen after the opening session of their second round clash at the Betfred World Championship.

O’Sullivan is seeking a record equalling seventh world title, which would match Stephen Hendry’s tally. By competing in this year’s event, he has already levelled Steve Davis’ record of 30 Crucible appearances.

The Rocket and the Pistol have only previously met once at the Theatre of Dreams. On that occasion Allen overcame O’Sullivan 13-11 in the second round and went on to make the single table semi-finals, where he lost to John Higgins. Allen hasn’t made the last four since then.

The pair both enjoyed relatively comfortable first round wins this year. O’Sullivan defeated David Gilbert 10-5, while Allen beat Scott Donaldson 10-6.

O’Sullivan had a packed Crucible crowd on tenterhooks in the opening frame this morning, where he had a good opportunity for a maximum break. However, he landed on the wrong side of the 10th red and elected to play for the pink. His run eventually broke down on 87.

Allen responded with a contribution of 68, but it was at that moment that 38-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan found his top gear. Breaks of 131, 69, 96 and 57 helped him to five on the bounce and a 6-1 lead. O’Sullivan had a chance to add the last frame of the session, but fell out of position on 22 and Allen claimed the frame to end just four behind at 6-2.

They will return for the second session of this best of 25 encounter this evening at 7pm.

Those are the match stats after the first session:


Here is Ronnie’s 131 in frame three

Something very unusual happened there. After Mark Allen fouled and about every ball on the table moved, there was nothing available for Ronnie, and initially Olivier Martell was asked to replace the balls. It was a nearly impossible task and it would definitely have taken some time. The players had merci on the referee and agreed to ask for a re-rack…

Clive Brown is a very experienced referee. Here is his opinion on the decision to go ahead with the re-rack:

 I can’t say I’ve seen that happen before, but if both players were happy to take that course of action, I guess there’s nothing to prevent it. Strictly frames should only be re-started in a stalemate situation, but I guess if both players thought it was the fairest solution in the circumstances then I don’t think I’d have objected. After all, when you’re replacing numerous balls they’re never going to be millimetre perfect when replaced and will interact differently to what they would have done originally, so definitely a good decision in the interests of fair play IMHO.

This was in answer to a question by a fan on a facebook forum dedicated to snooker rules and referees.

Evening session

O’Sullivan On The Verge

Crucible2022ROSL16-3World number one Ronnie O’Sullivan is on the cusp of a quarter-final spot at the Betfred World Championship, after moving 12-4 up on Mark Allen following their second session.

The Rocket requires just one frame for a 20th Crucible quarter-final appearance, which would be a new record and move him ahead of Stephen Hendry. Victory would also eclipse Hendry’s record of 70 match wins at the Theatre of Dreams.

The only previous meeting between Allen and O’Sullivan in the World Championship came 13 years ago back in 2009. On that occasion Northern Ireland’s Allen won 13-11 en route to the semi-finals. O’Sullivan looks to be on course to avenge that defeat this time around.

O’Sullivan put on a superb display in this morning’s first session to gain a 6-2 stranglehold on proceedings. It was 2018 Masters champion Allen who took the first frame of the evening to spark his hopes of a fightback. However, six-time World Champion O’Sullivan began to turn the screw and breaks of 67 and 88 moved him 8-3 ahead.

The 12th frame left the Sheffield crowd anticipating a potential maximum break, when O’Sullivan deposited 11 reds and 11 blacks. He nudged a red safe on the cushion and a failed attempt at a double ended his run on 88.

A clearance of 53 then saw O’Sullivan steal the 13th on the black and kept alive his chances of wrapping up the tie a session early. Those chances were quickly extinguished when Allen fired in a fine century run of 110 to make it 10-4.

O’Sullivan came from 49 points down to win the penultimate frame and 30 points behind in the final frame, where he made a century run of exactly 100, to end one from the win at 12-4.

They will return for the concluding session of this best of 25 encounter tomorrow at 2:30pm.

Those are the scores so far:


I was, for the best part of it, a masterclass in break building by Ronnie.

In the evening they had the arena for themselves after Mark Williams had beaten Jackson Page with a session to spare.




2022 World Championship – Day 6

We had only two sessions yesterday – the last first round matches concluded as the first last 16 matches started –  and here are the reports by WST:

Afternoon session

Daddy Cool! Double Celebration For Saengkham

Noppon Saengkham became a father for the first time this week – but he’ll have to wait a while to see his new baby in Thailand as his 10-5 victory over Luca Brecel put him into the second round of the Betfred World Championship.

Saengkham’s wife was due to give birth in mid-May, but went into labour three weeks early on Wednesday morning. He decided to stay in Sheffield and compete in snooker’s biggest event and he now has a superb victory to celebrate as well as at least £30,000 in prize money. The 29-year-old will return to his home in Thailand to see his new daughter – named Believe – after the tournament.

For now, world number 38 Saengkham will be fully focussed on his second round match against John Higgins which starts on Sunday. There are good omens for Saengkham as he has won three of their last four meetings, including a 5-2 success at this season’s German Masters.

The former world under-21 champion, who came through two qualifying matches, is through to the last 16 at the Crucible for the second time, having beaten Shaun Murphy in 2020 before a narrow 13-12 defeat against Mark Selby.

The season ends in disappointment for Belgium’s Brecel, who enjoyed a golden spell in December when he reached the Cazoo UK Championship final and won the Scottish Open, but has since gone off the boil. The world number 11 has now appeared five times at the Crucible without winning a match.

Leading 6-3 overnight, Saengkham dominated the first three frames today with top breaks of 56 and 54 to extend his advantage to 9-3.  He led 52-0 in frame 13 when he ran out of position, and Brecel countered with 26. After a safety exchange, Brecel made a 51 clearance to take the session to an interval.

A tremendous run of 109 from Brecel raised his hopes of a fight back as he reduced the deficit to 9-5. And he had a clear scoring chance in frame 15 but missed the blue off its spot when he trailed 18-8. Saengkham’s run of 45 booked his second round place.

I’m very happy, my daughter was born yesterday at 7am UK time,” said Saengkham. “I haven’t seen her yet as she is still in the hospital. I speak with my wife every day, I’ll see my daughter on a video call tomorrow so everything will be ok.

Today I performed very well and tried to enjoy every moment I was at the table. I was surprised about the scoreline but overall, I am very happy. I’ve been to the Crucible three times now. The first time I came here I performed badly because I was very nervous. I could not control my mind and lost 10-4 to Neil Robertson.

The second time here I won my first ever match in the Crucible, but without out a crowd – so there was less pressure, and I could concentrate more. I had to learn how to play in a rowdy Crucible – learn how to keep control of myself and learn how to enjoy the experience. I felt less pressured when I was out there because of that.

I’ve beaten John Higgins before, but this will be a tough game – especially over a best-of-25. He’s a four-time World Champion, it will not be easy to play him here. I can only learn from him, and I’ll try my best to enjoy it out there.

Brecel said: “He played amazing – what a great player he is. I hope he goes really deep because he is so nice so polite, and I like Thai people in general so I hope he does well. I’ve had an unbelievable season, a dream season so hopefully I’ll have another good one next year. I’m in the top 16 and that was the aim before the season.

I don’t know why I haven’t done well at the Crucible. I felt a bit dizzy today in the first couple of frames – at one point I thought I was going to fall down to the floor. But yesterday I felt good and didn’t play well.”

On the other table, three-time World Champion Mark Williams compiled a string of big breaks as he established a 7-1 lead over his 20-year-old protégé Jackson Page.

Williams fired in four centuries during a 10-3 demolition of Michael White in round one while Page enjoyed a dream Crucible debut, beating Barry Hawkins 10-7

Williams described Page as being like a “fourth son” but showed no mercy today as he took control of the second round match. The 47-year-old Welshman limited his younger compatriot to just 143 points in the session, scoring 789 points himself at a pot success rate of 93%.

Breaks of 125, 74, 53, 50, 100, 75, 51 and 121 gave Williams a 7-0 lead. Page avoided the ignominy of a session whitewash by making a 43 clearance in the last frame. They return for a possible eight more frames on Friday at 10am, with the best-of-25 clash to conclude on Friday evening.

Congratulations to Noppon’s family and all the best to the little one. Noppon was solid indeed and Luca was poor. It’s as simple as that.

Mark Williams was scary … for seven frames he never looked like missing. It was mesmerising. If he produces more of the same today he may well win with a session to spare.

Evening session

Trump Ends Vafaei’s Historic Run

Hossein Vafaei’s moment in the limelight as the first Iranian player to compete at the Crucible came to an end as he was beaten 10-4 by Judd Trump in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.

Trump’s passage into the last 16 was comfortable and, despite struggling with his game for much of this season, he remains one of the favourites for the title. The 2019 Crucible champion faces Anthony McGill in the second round in a match which starts on Saturday.

James Maddison met players including Stephen Hendry, Mark Selby and John Parrott backstage

Supporting Trump in the arena was his friend James Maddison, the England and Leicester footballer. “He spoke to me a few weeks back – it was his dad’s birthday and he messaged me asking if he could get some tickets as a present for him,” Trump explained.

It’s nice for him to be here supporting me. This is such a big event. It stands out from the rest. It’s a different atmosphere here compared to the other tournaments. I’m more than happy if anyone want to come and support me here. Anything we can to do grow the game and get people from different backgrounds involved is only a positive thing for the sport.”

It has been a tremendous breakthrough season for Vafaei as he won his first ranking title at the Shoot Out in January, and won two qualifying matches to achieve another of his career goals of competing at snooker’s most famous venue. He briefly threatened to give Trump a genuine test when he came from 3-0 down to 3-3, but after that he took only one more frame. Still, the Prince of Persia can be proud of his achievements and the impact he is making on snooker in his homeland.

Leading 6-3 after the first session, world number four Trump won the opening frame tonight, then came from 43-0 down to take the second with a break of 58, going 8-3 in front. Vafaei pulled one back with an excellent 121, his highest break of the match.

Frames 13 and 14 both came down to the last red, and on both occasions Trump trapped his opponent in a snooker, then clinched the frame from the chance that followed. The 32-year-old from Bristol is through to the second round for the 11th time.

At 3-3 it was looking dangerous, but getting that 6-3 lead overnight essentially finished the match off,” Trump added. “I wasn’t at my brilliant best but there was a lot of good long potting and I gave myself a lot of chances which I took. It’s just about improving as the tournament goes on.

Trump’s form has been mercurial this season but he has won the Champion of Champions and Turkish Masters

It’s going to be a tough against Anthony. He always plays his best snooker at the World Championship. The games he’s had in this tournament, the atmospheres he’s experienced – he’s someone who struggles to get up for the other tournaments because of that. He feels at home in this event and has a lot of self-belief. He’s a good test to have at this stage.

World number 18 Vafaei said: “It was great, I enjoyed it. Judd played fantastic, he was the better player over the two days. I’m happy to make history for my country, that was a very good moment for me and snooker. It was a great journey and I really enjoyed it. It doesn’t matter that I’ve lost. Life has ups and downs. I will come back stronger, the same as always. This is just the beginning.

As a snooker player, we all dream to play at the home of snooker which is the Crucible. It was fantastic, a very big achievement for me and my country. The fans were amazing. I come from a country with very little snooker history. I came to the UK with one suitcase, one cue, no coach. Imagine how odd it was for me. It was tough but few people understand me because they have never been in my position. Hopefully, I can be a good model for the Iranian players and people.

On the other table, Stephen Maguire earned a 5-3 lead over China’s Zhao Xintong after the opening session of their second round clash.

Scotland’s six-time ranking event winner Maguire was forced to qualify this year, after sliding down to 40th in the world rankings. He defeated Zhao’s compatriot Zhou Yuelong in the final round to reach the Crucible and battled to a 10-8 win over Shaun Murphy in the last 32.

World number seven Zhao has enjoyed a breakthrough season to earn his place as a seed at this year’s event. He won a maiden Triple Crown and ranking title at the UK Championship in December and followed that up with a second victory at the German Masters in January. Zhao put on a superb display in round one to thrash Jamie Clarke 10-2.

This evening’s play began with a 24-minute frame, which Zhao eventually finished off in quickfire fashion, firing in a run of 72. Maguire immediately hit back with a century break of 102 to restore parity at 1-1. The Scot then took to the front by claiming the third, before Zhao made it 2-2 heading in for the mid-session after a run of 86.

When play resumed Zhao fired in a stunning break of 132 to take the lead at 3-2, but that would prove to be his last frame of the day. Breaks of 65, 107 and 80 helped Maguire to take three on the bounce and end 5-3 ahead.

I didn’t watch any of the Trump v Vafaei conclusion therefore I can’t really appreciate how much Judd Trump improved from his poor performance at the start of the match.

Zhao’s long potting was nowhere as reliable as it had been in his first round match and it clearly affected his confidence. Maguire duly took advantage. He looked frustrated at times but that’s almost always the case. Overall he played well.

Ronnie starts his second round match against Mark Allen today and there’s clearly some needle in there, certainly from Allen’s “side”. Last time they played, Allen won after Ronnie clearly lost patience and got distracted and frustrated, accusing his opponent to repeatedly stand in his eyeline. The match footage showed that he was right, but the referee sided with Allen nevertheless.  That said, Ronnie didn’t handle the situation well: he should have spoken to the referee first, not getting involved in an argument with his opponent.

Anyway, Allen seems determined to try and get under Ronnie’s skin right from the start:

Mark Allen wants to ruin the Ronnie O’Sullivan show at the World Snooker Championship

The Dafabet Masters - Day Five
Mark Allen is hoping to send some Ronnie O’Sullivan fans home unhappy from Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

A documentary is being made about Ronnie O’Sullivan during this year’s World Snooker Championship and Mark Allen would take pleasure out of ruining it by beating the Rocket in the last 16.

O’Sullivan has a crew filming him during his stint at the Crucible this year, following almost his every move as he bids for a seventh world title.

The film makers will certainly be hoping that is how their production finishes, but Allen will obviously be trying to stop that happening when he takes on the Rocket in the second round, starting on Friday.

He is motivated to ruin the Rocket party, as he believes many other players would be as well.

Ronnie has his documentary crew here and they may want the footage of him equalling the record and lifting the trophy,’ said Allen. ‘Of course I want to ruin that, and so will other players. It’s not the Ronnie O’Sullivan show here at the Crucible, even if that’s what his documentary might be. There are other players battling it out, it’s not all about him.

We appreciate how good he is and what he brings to the game, but there are players standing in his way before he can even think about the title. If he is still there by the semi-finals, he may be hard to shift. But playing him you know you have to play well, and that can free your mind up.

This will be the second time the two men have met at the Crucible after Allen beat O’Sullivan at the same stage back in 2009. The Pistol found himself 7-9 down in that match to bounce back and win 13-11, which will give him confidence 13 years later.

It’s what we play the game for – to play the best on the biggest stage,’ he said. ‘I’ll have to play very well, but you could say about others in the second round. I beat him in our only previous Crucible meeting so I’ll try and take those good memories into the match. If I play well and control myself, who knows?

Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day Three
Allen beat Scott Donaldson 10-6 in round one, while O’Sullivan downed Dave Gilbert 10-5 (Picture: Getty Images)

And who knows how he is feeling – a day in the life of Ronnie O’Sullivan, I’m not sure I’d want to be in it. Ronnie is Ronnie, he will always bring off-table stuff with him.

He is probably the only one in our game that can create the column inches he does. He looks in a good place so far, but we all know how quickly that can change with him.

So it is up to me to go out there Friday and Saturday, try to play well and maybe get under his skin a little bit and change that.

When they met in 2009, Ronnie was not in a good place at all, and it’s a long time ago. I’m not sure that really means anything. Their more recent match, and spat, however may still be fresh in both players’ memories.

Yesterday was also the 25th anniversary of Ronnie’s most famous 147… Ronnie revisited it with Alan McManus:



2022 World Championship – Day 5

The last 16 round starts today at the Crucible. The tables are being recovered. That’s why we have only two sessions scheduled.


We still have two first round matches in progress. They will finish today whilst two second round matches will start.

Meanwhile here are the WST reports on what happened yesterday.

Morning session:

Nervy Higgins Overcomes Un-Nooh

John Higgins admits he had “crazy thoughts” after a shocking error towards the end of his first round clash with Thepchiaya Un-Nooh at the Betfred World Championship, but the four-time champion composed himself in time to win 10-7 and reach the last 16.

Higgins recovered a 5-4 overnight deficit to win six of the last eight frames, booking his eighth consecutive appearance in the second round at the Crucible and a match against Luca Brecel or Noppon Saengkham.

Higgins has lost five finals this season, though he did win the Championship League

But it was not straight-forward for legend Higgins as he suffered a nervous spell after letting Un-Nooh back into the match in frame 15. Poised to go 9-6 ahead and leading by 21 points after potting the last red, Higgins took the black and attempted to screw back for position on the yellow, but sent the cue ball into a centre pocket. The Scot lost that frame and then made several more errors in the 16th as tension took hold. But Un-Nooh couldn’t capitalise and Higgins was able to regroup.

When I went in-off in the middle bag, I felt numb at that point, as if someone had taken me out of my own body,” said Higgins. “That’s when some crazy thoughts go through your mind. But I managed to get to ten first. I’m delighted because I felt like I stood up quite well in the end.”

The business end of the tie was an uncomfortable reminder for Higgins of the recent Cazoo Tour Championship final when he let slip a 9-4 lead and lost 10-9 to Neil Robertson. But this time he crossed the winning line, which will boost the 46-year-old’s confidence as he heads into the last 16 in Sheffield for the 24th time.

Un-Nooh led 5-4 overnight and had first chance in the opening frame this morning but missed a red to a baulk corner on 32. Higgins punished him with a run of 75 to square the match. In frame 11 the roles were reversed as Higgins made 43 before missing the green to a baulk corner, and Un-Nooh capitalised with 77. Higgins dominated the next two frames with runs of 47, 53 and 100 to lead 7-6 at the interval.

In frame 14, Un-Nooh led 37-36 when he failed to pot the penultimate red, playing with the rest, handing Higgins the chance to double his lead. After his mistake in frame 15, world number six Higgins feared he had squandered the 16th as well when he missed the black when playing for the yellow. But crucially Un-Nooh rattled a tricky yellow in the jaws of one baulk corner, leaving it for Higgins to go 9-7 up. Another error from Un-Nooh, on the pink to a centre pocket early in the 17th, proved his last meaningful shot as Higgins compiled an excellent 65.

It’s always more nerve-racking in the first round because you just want to get through and get into the tournament,” said Higgins. “Every draw is tough but for Thepchaiya, it was almost like he had a free hit coming in after almost falling off the tour this season. I thought his scoring was great but he missed a couple of balls. Everyone does that – it’s difficult out there.

I feel as if I am hitting the ball well at the moment. That can get better the longer I stay in the event. It was amazing to have the crowds back, after what’s happened in the last couple of years. It adds to the tension and everything else you feel.

Un-Nooh has qualified for the Crucible four times and be drawn against Higgins twice, Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan, losing all four. He said: “John played well today, I didn’t get that many chances from him. I lost my focus near the end. The yellow I missed at 8-7, it was a really difficult shot to get the cue ball back to the green. I was thinking about where the white was going rather than aiming at the yellow. After that my head was gone, then I missed an easy pink in the next frame.

Hopefully next time I come here I can win a match. Having made it through the qualifying rounds I have a lot more confidence going into next season.

On the other table, China’s 14-time ranking event winner Ding Junhui opened up a 5-4 lead over world number five Kyren Wilson.

Ding has slid to 29th in the world rankings, requiring him to come through the qualifying stages for this year’s event. However, the last time he competed at the Crucible as a qualifier he went all the way to the 2016 final, when he was beaten by Mark Selby.

Wilson has been one of the most consistent World Championship performers in recent years, making at least the quarter-finals every year since 2016. The Warrior battled his way to the 2020 final, but fell short against Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Ding looks to have carried sharpness from the qualifiers and made an electric start this morning. Breaks of 64, 110, 51 and 55 helped him to move into an early 3-0 advantage. Wilson responded with a century contribution of 101 to remain in touch at 3-1 down heading in for the mid-session.

Wilson clawed another frame back on the black and he then levelled at 3-3 with break of 95. Ding took back the momentum and runs of 54 and 82 helped him to move 5-3 ahead. However, Wilson took a 31-minute last frame of the session to end one behind at 5-4.  They return at 7pm this evening to play to a conclusion.

Afternoon session

Lisowski: I Played With Fear

Jack Lisowski admits he tightened up and stopped playing with freedom at the business end of his match with Matthew Stevens in the first round of the Betfred World Championship, but he did enough to score a 10-8 success.

From 9-6 ahead, Lisowski needed several chances to cross the winning line, but eventually made it through to the second round at the Crucible for the third time in his career. The 30-year-old has never been to the quarter-finals, and will have to beat tournament favourite Neil Robertson to make that breakthrough.

There is no doubting Lisowski’s natural talent and break-building skills, but he acknowledges that he lacks a trait of the elite players: the killer instinct to consistently close out matches. He is working with 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon with a view to sharpening that part of his game. A best-of-25 match against Robertson, the player of the season so far, will be a fascinating test for Lisowski.

I am drained,” said the world number 14 after today’s contest. “I was gone at the end. I couldn’t see shots and couldn’t make my mind up. I had done some good things earlier in the game to get a lead, and I was able to hang on and fall over the line. I was playing with fear and expecting Matthew to come back, I was guarding the lead which is the worst thing you can do. I need to play freely, when I tighten up it just doesn’t suit me. Hopefully I can look back and learn from this game. If I had lost it would have been a dark one.

Stevens trailed 6-3 overnight but dominated the early exchange today, making breaks of 54, 99 and 69 as he fought back to 6-6. Lisowski regained the lead with a run of 78 to make it 7-6 at the interval.

The vital 14th frame came down to the colours and Welshman Stevens, leading 55-52, missed an awkward mid-range pink to a top corner. Lisowski slotted in pink and black to double his lead. An early chance for Stevens early in frame 15 yielded just 4 points before he failed to convert a red to centre and, after a rerack, Lisowski punished him with a break of 83 for 9-6.

Gloucestershire’s Lisowski had a match-winning opportunities in the next two frames, but missed a red to corner and pink to centre, and Stevens took advantage with 71 and 65 to close to 9-8.

Both players passed up chances in the 18th, Stevens notably missing the penultimate red to a top corner when he trailed 59-33. A relieved Lisowski potted red, blue, red and black for victory.

I was disappointed with the way I started today, but at the end I showed a bit of character to take a lead,” said Lisowski. “Peter Ebdon is making a big difference to my game – especially the mental side. He helped me last night at the mid-session interval when it was 2-2. I spoke to him and something clicked. I played three good frames and I owe that to him. I don’t know if I’d have done that without him.”

I’ve got to play very well to beat Neil. He’s going to make it difficult for me. His record is not the best here – this is his worst venue. If there’s anywhere I’d want to play him then it’s here. I’ve got to step up my game, got to play very good snooker to beat him. But I think I have it in me.

I pushed him to 13-9 last year, I think I’ve got what it takes to beat him now – my all-round game is better now compared to then. I’m still trying to win my first title, if it was to be at the World Championship then it would be fantastic – that’s what I’m gunning for.

Stevens, Crucible runner-up in 2000 and 2005, said: “I didn’t feel under any pressure. I could see he was feeling a bit because I started to come back at him. I know the feeling – it’s the worst in the world. I’m disappointed but I put up a good fight from 6-2 down.

Jack makes it look ridiculously easy, he pots them off the lampshades – and at a quick speed as well. I enjoyed the pace of the game, I enjoyed watching him, he is a tremendous player.

On the other table, 2019 World Champion Judd Trump established a 6-3 advantage over Crucible debutant Hossein Vafaei.

Iranian Vafaei is the first player from his country to compete at the Crucible, making Iran the 20th nation to be represented at the Theatre of Dreams. The world number 18 proclaimed during qualifying that he was “born to make history” and that he would give his last blood in a bid to earn a Crucible spot. He defeated Lei Peifan 10-9 in the final round.

Trump took an early 3-0 lead with a top break of 110, before Vafaei won frame four by clearing from green to pink. After the interval, the Prince of Persia added the fifth frame then made a 99 in the sixth to restore parity at 3-3.

However, Trump regained control and breaks of 56 and 73 helped him to take the following three frames and end with a 6-3 lead. They return for the concluding session on Thursday at 7pm.

It’s worrying for Jack if he’s already drained at this stage of the competition. I can’t help to wonder how much damage the illness that almost killed him as a teenager has done to his body and to his mind. He often seems to struggle for concentration. If Peter Ebdon can help him, great … I just hope Jack doesn’t buy into Peter’s ideas outside snooker!

The Trump v Vafaei match was just terrible for most of it, although Judd improved after the MSI. They were lucky to play each other because ayone else I watched earlier in the week would have destroyed them, certainly during the first mini-session. So much for being “the best player”.  That said, it’s a long tournament of course and whoever goes through has time to improve. In 2019 Judd was very lucky that Theppy suffered a slice of misfortune in round 1, he would probably have lost that match otherwise but he won itand went on to win the tournament.

Evening session

Wilson Beats Ding In High Quality Tussle

Wilson was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in Sheffield in 2020

Kyren Wilson came from 3-0 down to beat Ding Junhui 10-8 in the best match of the Betfred World Championship so far, featuring five centuries and 12 more breaks over 50.

Wilson has been among the most consistent performers on the Crucible stage in recent seasons, having reached at least the quarter-finals every year since 2016. He’ll keep that record going if he can beat Stuart Bingham in the second round this time.

World number five Wilson saw his name pulled out of the hat against three-time UK Champion Ding when the random draw was made last week, but approached a difficult task with a positive attitude and reaped the rewards of an excellent performance.

It was awesome, I loved every minute of it,” he said. “When you’re both scoring well and feeding off each other, it’s going to produce good snooker. I felt like it was fast, attacking, flowing – a great match.

Some players wouldn’t have wanted to draw Ding in the first round. You can’t view it that way. I knew I’d have to play well and if I won it would set me up for the rest this tournament. That’s the way I viewed it and I’ve come out on top.

In fact Wilson’s game has been sharp for most of this season – only Neil Robertson has made more centuries. He hasn’t added to his collection of trophies – the runner-up spot at the Gibraltar Open was his best run – but he could yet end the campaign with the trophy he craves the most.

The opening frame of the concluding session came down to a long safety battle on the colours, and Wilson made a fine clearance from green to black to level the match at 5-5. The next four frames were shared, with high scoring from both players, as Ding fired runs of 96 and 122 while Wilson replied with 85 and 99. Wilson’s 126, the 40th century of the tournament, put him ahead for the first time at 8-7.

Looking to continue his momentum in frame 16, Wilson made 22 before missing a red to a centre pocket and Ding punished him with a 117 clearance. In the 17th, Ding had a chance to clear from 65-0 down, and got to the final pink before missing a mid-range pot to a top corner. There was more pain for the Chinese ace as, attempting safety, he went in-off the pink, handing Wilson a 9-8 lead.

A run of 62 gave Wilson control of frame 18, and Ding’s chance to counter ended when he missed a difficult pink to centre with one red left.

This must be up there with one of my best victories,” said Kettering’s Wilson. “I was involved in a similar game last year against Gary Wilson where I found myself down in the first session and I managed to win that 10-8. Sometimes those games are good stepping stones for what you would like to be a long tournament.

It’s going to be another tough game against Stuart. He knows what it takes to win this event, he got to the semi-finals last year, the same as myself. Every year I’m knocking on the door. I always come here believing that this is my year. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when for me. I’ll just keep trying.

Ding, who was runner-up in 2016, said: “I’m not disappointed, but I had a lot of frame winning chances which I didn’t take. Kyren is playing well.

I’m going to stick with my family, it’s easy to become a robot, doing the same things all the time. I’ve now got more time to be myself.

On the other table, Noppon Saengkham took a 6-3 lead over Luca Brecel in a battle between players from Thailand and Belgium. Saengkham’s wife gave birth to their first child on Tuesday night but he has decided to keep playing in the event and it could be a double celebration for the world number 38 if he can add the four frames he needs when they return to the baize on Thursday at 1pm.

After losing the first frame, Scottish Open champion Brecel had a golden chance to level at 1-1 but missed the final black from close range and instead fell 2-0 behind. He pulled one back but Saengkham cleared from yellow to pink to win frame four, then made a 110 in the fifth and got the better of a scrappy sixth for 5-1.

Saengkham, who beat Shaun Murphy in the first round in 2020 before a narrow 13-12 defeat against Mark Selby, threatened to run away with the tie when he made a 127 to lead 6-1. But world number 11 Brecel took the last two frames of the session to raise his hopes of a fight-back.

I couldn’t actually watch anything yesterday late afternoon/evening. So this is based on what I read and snippets I watched this morning.

As much as I feel that neither Trump, nor Vafaei deserve to win going by what they showed so far, I also feel that neither Kyren nor Ding deserved to lose yesterday. But it is what it is… Even if Ding never wins the World title, his legacy is already immense. He has really put snooker on the map in China and inspired the next generations of Chinese players. It took a bit more time than many expected, but we are seeing the results now with players like Zhao and Yan. What Ding has done for snooker in China is similar, if not bigger, than what Alex Higgins did in UK/Ireland in the 70th.

On another subject, the discusssions around the Crucible adequacy as a venue for the World Championship pop up every year, but seemed to have been even more present this year…

Now we have this in the press:

Barry Hearn reveals talks over new Crucible to host World Snooker Championship

World Snooker Championship - Day Ten
Barry Hearn does not want to see the World Snooker Championship leave Sheffield (Picture: Getty Images)

World Snooker Tour president Barry Hearn says talks have begun over the possibility of building a new Crucible in Sheffield, creating a bigger and modern venue for the World Snooker Championship.

There have been calls from some players for changes to the sport’s biggest tournament, with Neil Robertson suggesting playing it over two venues to avoid the cramped nature of the two-table set-up.

Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire have suggested the tournament moves to a bigger venue, allowing for larger crowds and, arguably, a better atmosphere. While Shaun Murphy believes the current venue lacks the hospitality services required for an elite tournament.

It must be said that many snooker fans would hate to see the World Snooker Championship leave the Crucible and there are economic factors – mainly WST not paying to hire the Crucible – that make it an ideal venue, despite its relatively meagre capacity of just under 1,000.

Anthony McGill and John Higgins are two players that have spoken out for the Crucible and want the World Championship to stay where it is.

Hearn has listened to all the arguments and feels that a new venue in Sheffield could be the best option and talks are underway with the city’s council over how that could work.

My heart tells me that Sheffield and snooker deserve each other – it is a wonderful marriage,’ Hearn told BBC Sport.

We have an agreement with the council for the next four years or so to stay here, and that of course will be honoured.

I think we are synonymous with Sheffield and the history we have created with the Crucible is without doubt a very important part of the brand of snooker.

Early talks at the moment with Sheffield council are why don’t we look at perhaps building a new Crucible in Sheffield so we do not have to think about going anywhere else?

If I could do anything on the existing site, of course I would. But there simply isn’t space.’

The Crucible
The World Snooker Championship has been held at the Crucible since 1977 (Picture: Getty Images )

It would be a serious undertaking, but Hearn, as ever, is confident. He would like to see some government funding, though, for the prestigious, iconic and global event.

I would rather stay here and my heart tells me this is where Sheffield and snooker deserve to be,’ he continued.

It just needs a little bit of understanding and investment of people’s time, people’s heart and maybe a few quid from central government.’

Now I can’t help to wonder … you know … like the egg and chicken story: what came first?  Where all those talks this year build-up into this announcement, or is this announcement an answer to the talks?