The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 2

The second day at the EIS in Sheffield saw two batches of 8 first round qualifying matches played to a finish.

Here are the two reports by WST:

The afternoon session

Boiko Storms To Second Round

Ukrainian 18-year-old Iulian Boiko thrashed Pakistan’s Muhammad Asif 10-2 to make the second round of Cazoo World Championship qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

Boiko’s World Championship qualifying debut came back in 2020, when he became the youngest ever player to compete in the event, aged 14. Months later he joined the professional circuit and was snooker’s youngest professional. However, Boiko’s time on the tour ended in relegation last season.

Competing as an amateur, Boiko looked assured against Asif, firing in breaks of 55, 100, 126 and 86 during the tie. Today’s impressive victory sees Boiko earn a meeting with Stuart Carrington in the second round.

Given the ongoing war in his home country, Boiko feels especially motivated to try and earn a place at the Crucible and fly the flag for Ukraine.

Boiko said: “I’m dreaming big. I really want to make it to the Crucible and since I am now an amateur I don’t feel like I have that much pressure. My next opponent needs points to stay on tour and that will make a difference.

I am so proud to represent my country, Ukraine, everywhere. I want to raise the Ukrainian flag in the Crucible. Getting there would be a dream and I really hope play to my best standard.

Austria’s Florian Nuessle stormed to the second round with a 10-2 win over Irishman Michael Judge. The win sees Nuessle progress to face Si Jiahui in the next round, while Judge is relegated from the circuit.

Sheffield’s Adam Duffy earned a narrow 10-8 win over Billy Castle to progress and will now face a tricky assignment against Welshman Jak Jones in the second round.

Cypriot Michael Georgiou beat China’s Peng Yisong 10-4, while Pakistan’s Asjad Iqbal beat Jenson Kendrick 10-3.

The morning/evening sessions

Poomjaeng Defeats Valiant Mink

Thailand’s Mink Nutcharut became the first female player to craft a century break in the Cazoo World Championship for 21 years, but succumbed to a narrow 10-7 defeat against compatriot Dechawat Poomjaeng at qualifying in Sheffield.

Poomjaeng earned a return to the professional circuit through Asia-Oceania Q School last year. One of his career highlights saw him make the last 16 of the 2013 World Championship. He faces Matthew Stevens in the second round of this year’s event.

Mink is currently competing in her debut season on the World Snooker Tour, having won the Women’s World Championship in 2022. She enjoyed a golden moment by capturing the maiden World Mixed Doubles title alongside Neil Robertson earlier in the campaign.

Poomjaeng had led 7-3 this evening, but breaks of 73 and 100 helped Mink to claw her way back to 8-7 behind. The last century run made by a woman in the World Championship was composed by Kelly Fisher in 2002.

Despite that rally, Poomjaeng regained his control of proceedings and took the next two frames to emerge a 10-7 victor.

Elsewhere, current Women’s World Champion Baipat Siripaporn succumbed to a 10-3 defeat against Ireland’s Aaron Hill and women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna went out 10-3 to Alfie Burden.

Hill will now face a tough assignment against Michael White in round two, while Burden plays Swiss number one Alexander Ursenbacher.

I chose to watch the women’s games.

Mink trailed by by 6-2 and 7-3, but put a really good fight on to get back to 8-7. She couldn’t finish the job, but earned huge praise from Neal Foulds who was commentating.

She wasn’t looking forward to that match, as she had explained to Phil Haigh ahead of the encounter

Mink Nutcharut didn’t want Thai derby with Dechawat Poomjaeng but would love Crucible spotlight

Phil Haigh Tuesday 4 Apr 2023 6:55 am

BetVictor World Mixed Doubles Championship - Day 1
Mink Nutcharut is in one of the ties of the first round of World Championship qualification (Picture: Getty Images)

One of the most eye-catching contests in the opening round of World Championship qualifying sees Mink Nutcharut take on her compatriot Dechawat Poomjaeng in an all-Thai affair that she would rather have avoided.

The former women’s world champion and the man known for his unpredictable showmanship practice together at Victoria’s Academy in Sheffield so know each other well from their time in England.

Their ties run deeper than that, though, as they are both from the Saraburi in Thailand, making their clash in Sheffield a genuine derby which will have plenty of people watching back home.

Mink would rather see all the Thai players do well, so would have preferred a different draw, but is still looking forward to a meeting with the outlandish fan favourite.

I didn’t want to play with a Thai player because I want us all to win,’ Mink told ‘He’s from the same home town as me but I think this will be a good experience for me.

We have been practicing together. He is a good player, very good player. I went to watch him at the Shoot Out, I was like, “Oh my God, he has so many fans in the crowd!” He was very funny.

When we practice I try my best. If I can do anything I want to do it when I play in tournaments. I just try my best for myself.’

Dechawat Poomjaeng
Dechawat Poomjaeng is one of the great showmen of snooker (Picture: Zhai Zheng)

Mink is coming off something of a disappointing return to Thailand where she relinquished her women’s world title, defeated in the semi-finals by eventual champion Baipat Siripaporn.

‘It was nice to go back home but there was a lot of pressure because last year I was women’s champion and this year we go to play at Hi-End Snooker Club, my sponsor, Thailand is my country so I felt the pressure,’ she said.

‘I felt sad when I lost because I wanted to defend my championship and when I lost, the next day I realised it was gone and I couldn’t get it back. But I can move on and learn what I did wrong.’

One plus for Mink, though, is that Baipat earned a place on the main tour and will be another Thai player joining her for much of the season in England, something the 23-year-old is looking forward to after coming over alone from Thailand for the majority of this campaign.

She’s coming to play the World Championship qualifiers but she’ll stay in Q House in Darlington,’ said Mink. ‘But it’s good, I want more Thai players to come. I want snooker to be more popular in Thailand

I’m excited for her, when she comes on the main tour it will be a nice experience, and for me, she’s is my best friend.

I think she can win, she is a good player, she can compete with the men.

Baipat Siripaporn
Baipat Siripaporn is also playing World Championship qualifying this week, facing Ireland’s Aaron Hill (Picture: Matt Huart/World Women’s Snooker)

Mink’s first season on the professional tour has seen her win the first edition of the World Mixed Doubles alongside Neil Robertson and pick up a first win in a ranking event against Mitchell Mann at the Northern Ireland Open.

Needing to win four matches to reach the Crucible this month is an enormous ask, but she would love to return to the iconic venue having played there once before.

The Women’s Tour Championship was played at the Crucible in 2019, which featured Mink, Reanne Evans, Ng On Yee and Rebecca Kenna, and it was an experience that the Thai star absolutely loved.

I want to play at the Crucible again. I felt when I played there before like I’m world champion and everyone is watching me,’ she said. 

I like that feeling of a big tournament, like the Mixed Doubles, I like the big crowds. First time I was nervous but the more times I do it, the better I can be.’

BetVictor World Mixed Doubles Championship - Day 2
Neil Robertson and Mink Nutcharut memorably won the first World Mixed Doubles (Picture: Getty Images)

Mink has another year to come on her current two-year tour card, which means another few stints in Sheffield, which she has become fond of, but not for the reason you might expect.

When I come back here I like it, I like the weather here, in Thailand it’s too hot,’ she said, in a stunning revelation that South Yorkshire weather could be better than Bangkok. 

It’s not the same as Thailand, sometimes I miss home but I feel a little bit at home here now. I like Sheffield, I think it’s a good city. When I miss home sometimes I can just eat Thai food or go and eat with Noppon [Saengkham].’

After watching her yesterday, I believe that she will have a good second season on tour. Whether it will be enough to stay on tour, I’m not sure. She has a lot to do for sure and lack of cue power remains an issue of course. She is petite. But I think that she will get some good results and she’s good to watch.

Baipat was beaten by 10-3, but up to 6-3 she was actually competing well with Aaron Hill: six of those nine frames were extremely close. Towards the end of the match, she lost her way a bit and looked frustrated. Of course, she never competed in those conditions, she probably never played a multi session match before, so it’s all new to her.

About multi session matches … I really wish we would return to best of 17 as the format for the UK Championship. Having to pounder about the state of a match between sessions, maybe even having to sleep over it, is a challenge that most players never experience before the World Championship theses days. It puts them at a disadvantage. The psychology of a multi session match is different to a that of a single session match, players have to learn how to deal with it.

Today is a bit “Legends Day” at the EIS …

Ken Doherty will face Reanne Evans over two sessions today. Those two have met only once, in 2015. It was in the first round of the World Championship qualifiers that time as well. Ken prevailed but only by 10-8. He will be well aware of Reanne’s capability.

Jimmy White takes on Martin O’Donnell. They haven’t played for a while and Jimmy won only one of their four previous encounters. But this is a long format, it’s a different match and we have a different Jimmy this year. I’m not getting carried away but I’m not writing Jimmy off either. He will have the crowd on his side.

Stephen Hendry will play James Cahill. Stephen has won only one frame this season. He has missed several events while appearing in the “Masked Singer”. Some fans believe that he shouldn’t get an invitational tour card. Usually their reason for it is that Hendry takes a spot that could be given to a young player. Actually, that’s not really the case: the invitational cards come in addition to the 128 regular spots. Ronnie certainly believes that he has earned the right to play as long as he wants to, as he explained to Hector Nunns:

Snooker Legends Bringing Stardust To Wednesday’s World Championship Qualifiers

Legends Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty are bringing a bucket-load of stardust to Wednesday’s World Championship qualifiers.

The illustrious trio, with eight world titles and 18 Crucible finals between them, will be battling it out in front of a mere handful of spectators at Sheffield’s English Institute of Sport.

The challenging goal – to try and make it back just one more time to the greatest stage in snooker. Hendry and Doherty need four wins – and the Whirlwind three.

Hendry is the joint-record seven-times winner, and has an intriguing and awkward clash with nephew James Cahill, the son of the sister of the Scot’s ex-wife.

Hendry’s comeback in 2020 after eight years retired has been underwhelming. He has played little with his wildcards, won three matches in three years, and only a single frame this season.

But his incredible achievements in the game have seen rival, world No1 and defending world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan insist Hendry’s status puts him beyond criticism.

The Rocket said: “Listen, Stephen does what Stephen wants. He is a seven-time world champion. If he wants to turn up and play, then great.

If he doesn’t then he has won it all. He is an absolute legend of the sport. He can come in here and play in his underpants if he likes. We should all bow to him. He is a hero of mine.

Others probably see him as just another player, but I don’t. I see him as one of the greatest sportsmen I have ever known. He is like Tiger Woods.

He puts them all to shame. He has got balls, as we say. Big trousers. It is highly unlikely he will win four best-of-19 matches – but never write Stephen off.

And no-one should criticise him. Even if he got beaten 10-0 and the highest break was 12, no-one has the right to criticise Stephen Hendry.”

seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry

seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry 

The evergreen White, now 60, never won the World Championship but lost six finals at the Crucible – four of them to Hendry.

And the Whirlwind has been blowing a bit harder this season, showing some good form and picking up excellent wins over the likes of Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire.

Ahead of a clash with fellow Londoner Martin O’Donnell, White said: “My main thing is to carry into this some of the form I have shown this season.

My tour card is on the line, I need a win or wins to try and make sure of that. If I do miss out there I might have a chance of a wild-card tour place. But I would much rather do it on my own merit.

You can get in the habit of losing and the habit of winning, and at the moment because I am playing well I am getting through matches and the confidence is growing.”

Doherty has arguably the tie of the first round against record 12-times women’s world champion Reanne Evans – though he may have lost the battle for table one and the main TV cameras to Hendry.

The 53-year-old from Dublin, and 1997 world champion, only just edged past Evans at the same stage in the world qualifiers 10-8 eight years ago and knows he is in for another very tough test.

He said: “It feels like a very special day, with the three of us all in action. Both for the fans who do come along, and also for us out there.

It feels unusual for the three of us to be there on the same day in this tournament trying to get to the Crucible.

I have been having a lot of banter with Stephen in the past few days about which of us would be on the main table – him against James, or myself against Reanne.

They are both really attractive games. I was winding him up something terrible that he would be relegated to table two, and I’d be ahead of the seven-times world champion!

Let’s call it eight world championships between us out there…a festival of snooker, anyway. Let’s hope that we can give them a 50 break or two.”

And Steve Feeney believes that he is still capable as he explained to Phil Haigh:

‘In practice this man can still play shots I haven’t seen others play and that includes Ronnie.’ That’s the verdict of Steve Feeney on Stephen Hendry as the legendary Scot bids to return to the Crucible for the first time since 2012.

First thing was to get Stephen enjoying playing again,’ Feeney told ‘He didn’t retire the happiest of players [in 2012]. Get him enjoying practicing and playing.

‘You can see everything he’s doing in snooker he’s enjoying. His commentary, his YouTube channel and he really enjoys the practice sessions. The second goal was, God-willing and fair wind, a return to the Crucible, because he didn’t enjoy the way he got beat his last time there.’

In practice this man can still play shots I haven’t seen others play and that includes Ronnie [O’Sullivan],’ said the man behind SightRight. ‘His sat nav around the table, his positional play, even though his long-potting was phenomenal back in his hey day, the strongest part of his game really was his positional play, everything was always so easy

Times have moved on, conditions have moved on, things you can do with the cue ball have moved on. We’re enjoying the practice, but has he enjoyed his matches? Not really. I don’t think he’d mind me saying that. ‘

We’ll just wait and see how the World Championship unfolds. Is the pressure on Stephen or is it on James? They’ve got their own pressures in their own ways,’ he said.

James is seen as a giant-killer, I did some work with James, he’s a really nice lad, a vibrant lad. I don’t think he’s meant anything in terms of what he’s said and how it’s been portrayed. It’s family of sorts, it’s not the ideal draw, but maybe it will focus Stephen’s mind even more

The job is to get the win, there’s already people out there saying James is going to slaughter him, but Stephen didn’t enter not to play, there’s a good game in there in practice, we’ve just got to unlock the key for matches.’

His game is developing,’ said the coach. ‘The problem we have is we went through Covid, Stephen didn’t come back to play behind closed doors, he wanted to experience the crowd, the entertainment, to play in front of people, Covid really upset that. 

There was good practice going on behind the scenes, but behind closed doors, when you’re used to full arenas, it’s a different kettle of fish being in a cubicle in a back room

You could even see it at the Tour Championship with Ali [Carter] and Shaun [Murphy] struggling at times in front of a small audience. When you put superstars in a cubicle, I don’t think you can really expect to get the best out of them. ‘

It would be special getting Stephen back there because it would be so special to him. He wouldn’t deny that,’ said Feeney. ‘But we’ve got to get the fire in the belly in the matches, that’s what we’ve got to get going

Suddenly you can flick a switch with these guys and it’s just there. We’ve been working towards that end for some time now

You never know what could cause that. A good result? Someone firing him up by saying the wrong thing? I’m sure the fire in the belly is still there and ready to relight.’

Also in action today are On Yee Ng who plays Michael Holt and Ben Mertens who plays Victor Sarkis. I have very little hope that the latter match will be shown on the ES/Discovery platform.

5 thoughts on “The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 2

  1. I see that Cahill leads Hendry 7-2. If James were to win, he would become the 5th player in history to beat both Hendry and Ronnie in the World Championship…

    • With due respect to Ronnie: really not sure it is good vto give these cards to Henry. Even if it does not take away from someone who could be on the tour otherwise, because it’s a wildcard, someone else could have that wildcard who would actually use it and play, because Henry again said he was not interested in playing most tournaments. And even though Hendry is certainly not the player he used to be, personally I don’t like giving Cahill these scalps. He just said he “ticked it off”, playing or beating Hendry, I’m not sure, but I’m certainly not fond of him

  2. I saw some encouraging performances by young players, but most of them lost. Unreported was a fine win for Asjad Iqbal. Liam Pullen and Liam Graham showed promise, and we’ll see how the other Liam – Liam Davies – gets on today. Unfortunately Filips Kalnins got whitewashed; bizarrely the same thing happened to Rodion Yudin a few years ago.

    There was a welcome return to form by Nutcharut Wongharuthai. I believe it was the first century by one of the women under the new system. She competed well, while Dechawat Poomjaeng showed signs of craziness. After the first session, they went out for a meal together, so no hard feelings.

    The most dramatic match was on the adjacent table. Gao Yang, now playing brilliantly, was clearing up to lead 8-5 – probably a decisive lead. But he had a massive mis-cue on the brown, the sort that gives players nightmares. Gao was distraught, and lost the next 4 frames, but then Pagett got edgy. However, Pagett played some great safety in the decider. I do hope we see Gao again – he’s a hugely talented 18-year old, but his route back to the tour is not clear.

    For me, today will probably be the least interesting day of the qualifiers.

    • Yes, Neal Foulds, in commentary, was really struggling to make sense of some of Dechawat shots. I’m sorry to read what happened to Gao. He’s an attractive young player.

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