The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 4

Here is the report on what happened yesterday at the EIS

O’Donnell Downs The Whirlwind

Amateur Martin O’Donnell ended six-time world finalist Jimmy White’s bid for a Crucible return, beating him 10-4 at Cazoo World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport.

O’Donnell will regain his professional status next season after topping the Q Tour standings this term. He’s now two more wins away from a Crucible debut, having beaten Marco Fu in the previous round. The former UK Championship quarter-finalist now faces Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham in round three.

White will leave devastated not to have made the Crucible and will have to wait at least another year to compete in the final stages for the first time since 2006. He looks to be in a healthy position to retain his tour card via the one-year list after a positive season.

The Whirlwind thrilled fans with a run to the final stages of the UK Championship before Christmas, but he couldn’t repeat the feat here in Sheffield.

O’Donnell came into this afternoon’s session with sizeable 7-2 advantage. White took the first two of the session to give himself hope, but the deficit proved to be too much. O’Donnell won three on the bounce and secured his third round berth.

He was my hero growing up. It was really hard to play him. Everyone wants him to win and I want him to win. It is mixed emotions,” said 36-year-old O’Donnell.

I haven’t played a game out in the spotlight for that for a good while. I was a bit rusty and lacked a bit of composure in parts, but I’m glad I held myself together at the right times. My focus kicked in and I’ll look forward to the next one.

There probably isn’t a tougher draw out there than the one I’ve had this year. They probably don’t want me either though. I’ll look forward to playing Noppon, I hope it is a good game and the best player will come out on top.”

Ukrainian 17-year-old Iulian Boiko scored a superb 10-5 win over Stuart Carrington to move within two victories of a dream Crucible debut.

Boiko’s first trip to world qualifying occurred 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.

If he were to win his next two matches and reach the Theatre of Dreams, he would also receive a two-year tour card to return to the professional ranks next season. Boiko’s third round opponent is former European Masters winner Fan Zhengyi.

Dominic Dale took a huge step towards tour survival with a 10-6 win over Asjad Iqbal. However, the Welshman was unaware so much was riding on the tie

Dale came into the match provisionally ranked 64th, but today’s victory gives the two-time ranking event winner clear breathing space in the battle to stay on the circuit. Next up he faces former Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown.

Dale said: “Coming here I thought I was absolutely dead safe (for tour survival). That was why I didn’t even bother checking whether I needed to win that match. I suppose I am safe now. I don’t know but we will see.

Playing at the Crucible is the Mecca of the game. I’d love to play there again in front of an audience. It has been too long and it has been so long now it might be a bit of a problem. The memories of the atmosphere and the feelings that are evoked are a bit distant now really.”

Si Jiahui averted what would have been the greatest ever comeback in a best of 19, holding off Austrian Florian Nuessle to win 10-7. China’s Si had led 9-1, but Nuessle roared back to within two frames. In the end Si got over the line and will play Tom Ford in the third round.

Ireland’s Aaron Hill scored an impressive 10-3 win over Michael White to set up a third round meeting with Chris Wakelin, while Halifax 16-year-old Stan Moody’s run was ended by Zhang Anda in a 10-3 loss. Zhang faces Chinese compatriot Xiao Guodong next.

The Jimmy White v Martin O’Donnell match was hard to watch. It was plain for all to see how badly Jimmy wanted this, and how frustrated he was at his own poor performance. The truth is quite simply that he put far too much pressure on himself. He looked nervous, anxious and devastated by his own failure to perform in the event that matters most to him. His love for the game can’t be questioned and he will always be loved by the fans for that. Martin said that it was hard for him as well, I totally believe him. It must have been horrible out there for both of them.

I was very pleased by Iulian Boiko’s victory. Iulian got on the tour far too young, and didn’t succeed. That was to be expected. Other players who got on tour very young also failed. Some suffered badly from the experience, and never fulfilled their potential. Iulian appears to be a very strong character who is able to bounce back. He play an attractive brand of snooker. I’m firmly in favour of restoring a minimum age to be eligible to play on the Tour and I would put it at 18, the same age that is accepted in International instances as the start of adulthood. It is not true that if you are good enough, you are old enough. The age limit used to be 16. That may be OK for the players who have their family around them to support them, but not for those who are forced to live on their own in the UK as expats. That is hard even for the adult players, never mind children.

These are the players who, so far, face relegation, barring Q-School: Marco Fu, Michael Judge, Dean Young, Craig Steadman, Stuart Carrington, Jamie O’Neil, Gerard Greene, Alexander Ursenbacher, Reanne Evans and Ng On-Yee.

On Yee or Reanne will be “redeemed” via the tour card allocated to the WWS number one player. Currently, it’s Reanne holding that number one position. There is one more event to be played on the Women’s tour though and On Yee still has a chance to become number one. I hope she does, first because she did significantly better than Reanne on the main Tour, but also because the loss of both Marco Fu and On Yee Ng could be a huge blow for snooker in Hong Kong as it could lose its “Elite Sport” status, and with it, it’s funding by the Hong Kong government.

In other news … Brendan Moore will referee the 2023 World Championship final and it will be his last match as a snooker referee

Here is the announcement by WST:

Moore To Bow Out With Crucible Final

Brendan Moore will retire from refereeing on the World Snooker Tour at the conclusion of this season and he is set to bow out by taking charge of the 2023 Cazoo World Championship final.

The Sheffield referee has enjoyed a career as one of the top officials on the circuit since he started in 2004, officiating in seven Triple Crown finals so far. This year’s Crucible showpiece will be his third time refereeing snooker’s biggest match. Moore will then transition from snooker to pool, becoming the Tournament Director for Matchroom Pool.

Having already refereed the 2014 and 2018 world finals, this year’s title match will be Moore’s last ever professional game. It will also be the first Crucible final he has taken charge of since the passing of his father Derek Moore. Those two factors mean it is set to be an emotional occasion.

“I’m quite an emotional person anyway and I’m not afraid to put my heart on my sleeve. It will be bittersweet moment. What a way to finish, you can’t go out on a higher match than the world final and it will be my third,” said 51-year-old Moore.

“I am getting emotional now even thinking about it. Walking out for the very last time will be a surreal experience, especially with my dad not being there. I won’t let the situation get the better of me though, I will do the job and then whatever comes after comes. I’m looking forward to a new chapter and a new challenge.”

WST would like to thank Brendan for his 19 years of dedicated service to snooker and wish him all the best for his new role at Matchroom.

The “bold” highlight in the text above is my doing. I’m afraid this is one more piece of evidence that Matchroom’s main focus, when it comes to cue sports, is shifting from snooker to pool. That said …

Congratulations Brendan and all the best for the future!

4 thoughts on “The 2023 World Snooker Championship Qualifiers – Day 4

  1. I really like to see how Iulian improved. It would be great if he could regain his card and he is one who doesn’t have much choice now, but live as an expat.

    Reanne wrote some tearful letter of good-bye. I don’t know what happened out of her control, but despite being such an illustrious women’s champion, both Monk and On Yee fared better on the tour.

    And heartbreaking about Jimmy, hope he can hold on to his card.

    • Jimmy White will indeed qualify for a new tour card from the 1-year list. But even if he hadn’t, he would have been awarded an invitational tour card. There was never any question of the ‘ranking pressure’ that others have to play under.

      • There is still the matter of pride though and it was plain for all to see how tense Jimmy was yesterday. I don’t think it was about the tour card, although he said that he wants to get back on tour on merit, rather, IMO, it was about getting to the Crucible again after all those years.

  2. I spent almost the whole day on the outer tables.

    Michael White started well, but then went off the rails. Aaron Hill played well, but he was picking up the pieces – he frequently came to the table with an easy pot on, and the balls spread everywhere.

    I’d hoped the Nuessle-Si game was going to be close, but not after Si raced to 8-0! He played good safety, but whenever he had a chance of a pot, he hammered it in. But in the second session he seemed to get stuck, and allowed a comeback. Nuessle is a fine prospect: hopefully he will get a chance on the main tour, especially after the demise of Arnie Ursenbacher.

    There was also a good competitive match between Allan Taylor and Wu Yize. Wu is a very fine attacking talent, but he makes mistakes. Fortunately, he doesn’t dwell on setbacks. Taylor played some strange shots at times, but was generous in defeat.

    In a match which started on Wednesday, Zhang Anda simply outclassed Stan Moody. Zhang’s a highly skilful player, although obviously limited. The win should be enough to keep him on tour.

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