The 2023 Tour Championship – Day 3

Yesterday, in Hull, Shaun Murphy came back from 5-1 down to beat Robert Milkins by 10-8.

Here is the report by WST:

Murphy Reaches 50th Ranking Semi-Final

Shaun Murphy recovered a 5-1 deficit to beat Robert Milkins 10-8 and reach the last four of the Duelbits Tour Championship, gaining revenge for defeat in last month’s Welsh Open final.

Murphy is through to his 50th ranking event semi-final and will take on Mark Selby or Ryan Day in Hull on Saturday. He has played fabulous snooker over the past few weeks and is looking for a second consecutive title in this series having won the Duelbits Players Championship last month, making 11 centuries in four matches.

He also reached the Welsh Open final – firing a 147 en route – before finishing runner-up to Milkins. A repeat result looked likely today when Milkins surged into a 5-1 lead, but Murphy took nine of the last 12 frames, finishing with a classy century, to reach the semi-finals of this event for the first time. The 40-year-old started the season with his top 16 ranking in doubt, but he now has a chance to climb into the world’s top four if he can take the £150,000 first prize this week.

Milkins led 5-3 after the first session and stretched his advantage in the opening frame tonight with a break of 68. In the next, Murphy potted eight reds with blacks before missing the ninth red to a top corner, but still took the frame to close to 6-4. His momentum gathered as breaks of 64, 106 and 67 helped him take the next four frames to go 8-6 ahead.

Back came Milkins, taking two in a row for 8-8. In frame 17, Murphy led 57-0 when he played a push shot, but he then got the better of a safety exchange, potted a mid-range red and added enough points to regain the lead. And the best shot of the match, an exquisite long red along a side cushion to a top corner, set him up for a run of 128 to seal the result.

This afternoon at 5-1 I felt I had done the game,” admitted the Magician. “Somehow I managed to scrape the last two frames of the session. I went off for a walk and a hot chocolate between sessions, and at that point I believed I was going to win the match. If I had been 6-2 or 7-1 down it might have been too big a deficit to overhaul. At 5-3 I had a foothold, I was in the game.

I have belief in myself and my technique. I have a decent CV to fall back on. All of those things come into play when you are out there in the pit. I worry about things a lot less than I used to and that has freed me up to play my game. But Rob also played with the freedom of a man who has won £300,000 in the last few weeks. He’s so gifted and talented, he went for his shots and he got a lot of them. I managed to stay somewhere near him and was relieved to get to ten first. I had a lot of help from lady luck – every flick and kiss went my way, otherwise Rob would probably have come out on top.

I have a couple of days off now to get my head right and prepare for the semis. I love performing to crowds, I love putting on a show, I am an entertainer, anyone who has been to one of my exhibitions knows that. I am looking forward to Saturday.”

Milkins said: “I was terrible tonight. I struggled with my tip, it was getting harder and harder. Anything from distance with side was just slipping off the tip.”

Many players are reluctant to talk when they struggle with an issue, especially after a defeat. They are afraid that, no matter how real the issue might be, it will be seen as an “excuse”. Robert Milkins is not that way. He’s a very simple, direct person. I like that. It’s a shame that he struggled with his tip, and because of it, with his game, especially in the evening. He fought with all he had and eventually the match was a close one. That was a first this week.

In other news … good news!

It was announced yesterday that the BBC has a change of mind and John Virgo will be back commentating, for the foreseeable future.

John Virgo told he’s staying on BBC snooker coverage for ‘foreseeable future’

Phil Haigh Wednesday 29 Mar 2023 4:14 pm

2015 Betfred World Snooker Championship - Day 15
John Virgo is not heading off into retirement just yet (Picture: Getty Images)

John Virgo will be involved with the BBC’s snooker coverage for the ‘foreseeable future’ having previously been told that his time in the commentary box was coming to an end.

The legendary commentator, player and former host of Big Break expected last year’s World Championship to be the last for both him and Dennis Taylor after decades covering the game on television.

Speaking to the Talking Snooker podcast in September 2021 Virgo said: ‘Listen, you never know what’s round the corner in life, but it looks like this will be my last season. Not my choice, theirs [the BBC]. Along with Dennis (Taylor) apparently.

‘That’s what we’re getting, that this will be our last season. I think that’s definite. The World Championship will be our last one. It’s not my decision, I love the game and everything else. But I understand, nothing lasts for ever, I understand that.’

However, it appears the BBC have had a change of heart of the much-loved commentators, with Virgo saying he has now been told things will remain as they are for some time.

The 77-year-old was appearing on new BBC podcast Snookered, set to be released in April, and asked how he felt about his commentary career coming to an end, he revealed that it actually isn’t.

‘Well from what I’ve heard recently that’s not going to happen,’ Virgo told hosts Des Clarke and Amy Matthews. ‘I spoke to one of the producers and I said “well you know it’ll be my last year…” and he said “no no no, we’re not going to do that now. We’re going to stay as we are for the foreseeable future.” Which was fantastic. 

How I felt about it when I first heard that it could be our last year… It’s like a sabbatical for us. We go there, Thursday morning’s no play we play golf; myself Dennis Steve Stephen Hendry, Alan McManus, John Parrott, Ken Doherty. 

I’d have missed that terribly you know. Just going there. So for the foreseeable future, now whether that’s this year, next year and that’ll be it? So that was great, it was music to my ears….

That’s what was said to me at the UK [Championship] in York and I was absolutely delighted to hear it and however long it goes on for I don’t mind but it was good news, it was music to my ears.’

World number 31 Joe Perry is very much still competing on the table but has also moved into the commentary box and called for the veterans to stay on when it appeared they were set to be moved on.

I’ve noticed a lot of sports are gradually bringing in newer, younger, more up-to-date people,’ Perry told after the initial decision from the BBC. ‘I’ve worked with Virgo and Dennis and what they know, doesn’t come cheaply, that’s years and years of experience. They might miss a few tricks with some shots that some boys play today but they do know their stuff and they’re excellent at their job.

2022 Cazoo British Open - Day 3
Joe Perry has experienced first-hand the quality of the experienced commentators (Picture: Getty Images)

Commentary isn’t just what’s going on on the table, there’s introducing the frames, closing the frames out, creating the drama and they’re excellent at that. We might understand the modern game a bit better, but we’ve got a lot to learn from them on that part of the job.

The odd one comes along and is exceptional, like Alan McManus. He’s so good that he can be the anchor role in the commentary box already. He steered Jack Lisowski into being a decent commentator, but throw Jack in with someone else it could have been a car crash. Alan is exceptional, but some people are naturally good at it. It would be a shame to see them go, though, because it’s easy to forget the impact they’ve had on snooker and get caught up in the moment.’

One thought on “The 2023 Tour Championship – Day 3

  1. Is it because the campaign by fans to keep Virgo on?

    The first match I saw (we came back from Madrid on Tuesday night) and at least it was competitive, which in general is good to see for the neutral. On the other note somewhere I read Ronnie wrote he was told earlier in his career not to say he played rubbish after a win, because how does that make the opponent feel. Which is reasonable. But today he jus goes out of his way after a defeat to credit even mediocre play by the opponent, even if he himself played awful or had other troubles.

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