Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 2

It was an eventful day in Belfast as some more big names fell at first hurdle: Judd Trump, Barry Hawkins went out at the hands of Stuart Carrington and Zhao Xintong respectively. That leaves us with just 7 of the top 16 still in as we reach the last 64. The full ‘Class of 92″ is still there though and Mark Williams in particular deserves praise for being fully professional when he’s having serious concerns about his wife’s health. I sincerely hope that Jo is ok and will fully recover soon.

In contrast Judd Trump wasn’t exactly the model professional yesterday. He wasn’t playing well (understatement), he probably was jet-lagged and still disappointed about the final in Shanghai; he allowed frustration to get the better of him. He conceded the match, with still enough on the table to win the frame in progress and, afterwards, didn’t show up for his press conference. He’s only human and we all have those moments of course, but he will no doubt be punished for this. Especially as it comes in stark contrast with Mark Williams dedication to give it 100% despite his wife circumstances, or Ronnie flying to China last week on the back of the Coventry defeat and bouncing back to win the Shanghai Masters.

Today we have a few interesting clashes:

John Higgins will play Hossein Vafaei, and he will need to play better than yesterday if he is to avoid an early exit.

Ricky Walden, who seems to be on the up again, clashes with Jack Lisowski. Both are champagne when on form and this could be very entertaining to watch.

Ben Woollaston meets Sam Craigie, who, equipped with his new trendy glasses, is establishing himself as a very dangerous player when on form.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Wednesday 22 Nov 2017 12:26AM

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Ronnie O’Sullivan emerged with a 4-2 win in an intriguing clash with Germany’s Lukas Kleckers on day two of the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open, to keep his hopes of snooker’s £1 million bonus alive.

The Rocket is the only man left in the running for the jackpot, which comes with winning all four Home Nations events. He was victorious at the recent English Open, where he demolished Kyren Wilson 9-2 in the final to lift the title.

Just last week the in-form O’Sullivan added a 30th ranking title to his collection after defeating Judd Trump 10-3 in the final of the Shanghai Masters. Despite the quick turnaround, the Rocket showed no signs of tiredness in his play this evening.

The match got off to an electric start as O’Sullivan burst out of the blocks, making a break of 91 to take the lead, before following that up with a run of 126 to move 2-0 in front. The German then showed great character and responded with a superb break of 137, before a contribution of 60 helped him to restore parity at 2-2.

O’Sullivan took the next two frames to reach the line at 4-2. However, afterwards he admitted he didn’t expect the world number 127 to produce the standard he did this evening.

O’Sullivan said: “I took a bit of a liberty going for a long red at 2-0 – I don’t know who he is and have never seen him play. Then I’m sitting down for two frames, thought what’s going on, and had to dig it out.

“I didn’t think he could make 20 or 30, and he’s knocked in a 137. Lesson learned, I won’t take liberties again.”

Stuart Carrington secured a shock 4-2 defeat of world number two Judd Trump to book his place in the last 64.

There were doubts as to whether Trump would be able to play this evening, having had trouble getting his cue back from the Shanghai Masters. He was eventually able to pick it up from the airport and make the trip over to Belfast.

World number 52 Carrington had lost out to Trump their only two previous meetings, however the Grimsby potter crafted breaks of 56, 79 and 52 on his way to the win.

Carrington said: “I’ve faced him about 50 times since playing him as a junior and I think I have only beat him once. Judd is right up at the top of the game now and so it is nice to get a win over him.”

John Higgins secured a 4-2 victory over 1995 world finalist Nigel Bond to book his place in the last 64. While fellow Scot Stephen Maguire secured a 4-0 whitewash against Egypt’s Basem Eltahhan.

Jack Lisowski continued his great run of form with a  4-0 win over Sean O’Sullivan. The 26-year-old will be hoping to go deep in the event, having reached his first ranking semi-final at last week’s Shanghai Masters.

2016 English Open winner Liang Wenbo defeated young Welsh star Jackson Page 4-1 and Mark Williams eased to a 4-0 win over James Wattana.

Chinese teenager Zhao Xintong overturned World Grand Prix champion Barry Hawkins in a final frame decider winning 4-3.

For full results click here.

 

 

Videos of interest:

Ronnie vs Lukas Kleckers

The preview:

The match:

The review:

The preview is fun but i found the review more interesting. Ronnie candidly admitting that he underestimated his opponent and that it nearly cost him is a great example of sporting honesty. Lesson learned he said. I hope so. Today he faces Duane Jones, another one of those players he probably doesn’t really know. Duane was joking on Facebook yesterday, saying that he was looking forward to the match, and asking “TeamNumpty” to support him, the “Numptyseoaurus”. Another thing that pleased me in the interview was that he was having none of Colin Murray’s nonsense and said that, should he win the bonus, he would give it to feed the homeless or another deserving charity.

Northern Ireland Open 2017 – Day 1

So it all kicked off in Belfast yesterday and it was quite eventful indeed.

NIO2017Programme

Luca Brecel’s presence was in doubt, following an article in the Belgian press stating that he was suffering from a right arm injury and he did actually withdraw.

Two more top players who are due to play today have cast doubts about their presence as well. Mark Williams’ wife, Jo, has been worryingly unwell in recent weeks, she is back in hospital, and, of course, Mark is deeply concerned and she will be his priority. Judd Trump’s cue got lost on the way back from Shanghai and the last we know is that Judd might withdraw if his cue hasn’t arrived in time for his match.

There were also a number of surprises at the table … but first here is the event intro by Colin Murray, a Belfast boy himself:

Now onto the results:

You can follow the tournament here or here

The two guys, other than Ronnie, were in action yesterday evening and it wasn’t easy for either of them.

Mark Allen emerged the winner of a terrible match against Sanderson Lam, by 4-2. The standard of this match was absolutely horrible. Mark had spoken before how the pressure of playing in front of his home crowd had got to him last season and vowed to handle it better this time. Not sure he did that yesterday at all. He was lucky to face someone who played really badly. The other two Northern Irish players involved in the tournament, lost their opening match, both beaten in a deciding frame: Joe Swail lost to Lyu Haotian, whilst Gerard Greene was beaten by Joe Perry.

Mark King was clearly tense when coming to defend a title for the very first time of his long career. He had never been there, he’s an emotional person, and it was clear for all to see that he was feeling it. In Mat thew Bolton he was facing a player who is still to win a match since he turned pro. It wasn’t pretty and Bolton sure had chances, but . eventually King did enough. He wasn’t helped by the fact that his match started very late, after Allen’s one, and the crowd largely deserted the venue or turned to the next table where another Northern Irish, Gerard Greene, was playing. I can understand why the defending champion wasn’t put up in the opening match of the event – it was not on television – but that he wasn’t offered the first in the evening session is beyond my understanding.

Veterans Jimmy White and Ken Doherty both won their last 128 matches, getting the better of Dominic Dale and Peter Lines respectively.

There were also two “shock” results. Kyren Wilson was beaten by 4-1 by Sam Craigie in a very high quality match that had a break over 80 in each frame, including 3 centuries. This for me isn’t a “proper” shock. Sam is a very, very good prospect, and now, fitted with new glasses, giving him a vintage 60th fashion touch, he looks even more dangerous than before. Shaun Murphy, who won the Champion of Champions in Coventry only ten days ago, went out to Chen Zifan, a rookie, by a damning 4-1 scoreline. THAT is a shock. I watched the match and Chen played well, no question, but Shaun was absolutely nowhere near the form he showed in Coventry. Shaun doesn’t seem to have anything to fall back on when is A game isn’t there.

 

 

The Northern Ireland Open 2017 is coming …

The Northern Ireland Open is starting tomorrow and ironically, Mark Selby who features in this poster, isn’t there. I think they have now a newer version featuring Ronnie…

Selby is not the only top player giving it a miss. Ding has not entered, and Fu has withdrawn. There are also rumours, unconfirmed, that Luca Brecel could withdraw, suffering from an injury: he was having pain in his right arm during his last match in China last week.

Anyway, fitters are hard at work  in Belfast:

And here are two little videos for you… shared on social media by Eurosport UK. the message to the numpties is hilarious!

Ronnie speaks about Steve Davis …

Ronnie speaks very fondly about Steve Davis in this interview by the Express

Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals why THIS photograph is his favourite

CHAMPION Ronnie, 41, recalls a chance meeting with his idol Steve Davis when he was 10 and a snooker match he’ll never forget.

Ronnie-O-Sullivan-and-Steve-Davis

This is me, aged 10, meeting my snooker hero, Steve Davis for the first time. I’d been playing in a snooker competition at my local club in Barking that day and my dad suggested a Chinese takeaway on the way home.

When he rang the restaurant, the owner said they had snooker player David Steven dining with them.

Dad, who’d never heard of a snooker player by that name, asked if he meant Kirk Stevens, but he insisted it was David Steven.

When we got there, it turned out it was Steve Davis. Dad urged me to say hello and ask for his autograph.

I was very nervous, but I summoned up the courage to shake his hand and Steve asked what my name was.

When I told him, he said, “Oh, you’re that young kid who has just had the century break.”

It had been in all the snooker magazines because I was the youngest player ever to have made 100, but I was still gobsmacked.

Steve Davis had heard of me. Fortunately, my dad had his camera so he took a snap of me and Steve. Mum later had it enlarged and it’s now displayed at her house alongside my trophies.

It’s mad when you think about it – Steve was the then world champion, little suspecting that the boy pictured next to him would also go on to become world champion. I

have huge respect for Steve and I’ve studied his game a lot. I’d watch him on television and mimic everything he did. I still do to a certain extent.

Steve was a machine. A lot of players didn’t play with much confidence and you didn’t fancy their chances, whereas Steve would pot one ball after another – bang, bang, bang – and you thought he was never going to miss.

Part of his secret was that he spent hours practising, perfecting his technique. A few players would try tricky shots, but often the secret to successful snooker is getting the basics right.

Steve was better at that than anyone. If you were going to model your game on anyone, I’d say model it on him.

We first played together when he invited me to practise with him at Romford Snooker Centre when I was 15. I felt honoured and kept telling myself I mustn’t embarrass myself, if I stole one frame that would be great.

So when he beat me 5-3, I was quietly pleased. I’d given him a good game.

Looking back, I wish I’d been a bit more brutal, but it’s difficult when you’re in complete awe of someone.

One of our most memorable professional games was in 1997 when he beat me in the Benson and Hedges Masters final. I was 8-4 up at the interval, and I thought there was no way he would catch up. He beat me 10-8 and I didn’t get a shot.

It was sad to see him retire after a 38-year career in the spring of 2016. We’ve never seen much emotion from Steve, but it was obviously a massive thing for him, particularly as his decision came a month after the death of his father, Bill.

He admitted he’d continued playing as long as he had partly for him. All the players knew Bill. He was a lovely guy. He fitted my first snooker table with his other son, Keith.

He and Steve were like an old married couple. I can relate to that because although my dad is a very different character, we also have a close bond. Both dads wanted the best for their sons.”

There is also a very different interview in the mirror, where Ronnie speaks about how he felt when Laila was trapped in the Barcelona attack, how she helps him to stay away from drinking and how he leaves it to his father to decide if and when he should retire.

Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals horror moment fiancée called while hiding from terrorist in freezer

The snooker star has told how he felt ‘helpless’ as his fiancée hid from the attacker in a restaurant after a van ploughed through the busy Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring 80

21:47, 18 NOV 2017

Of all the dark moments in troubled snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan ’s life, this was the most chilling.

His mobile went off as he headed back to his hotel from a match – and on the other end of the line was distraught fiancée Laila Rouass : she was hiding in a restaurant freezer room during August’s Barcelona terror attack.

She had run for cover with her 10-year-old daughter Inez after a van ploughed through the busy Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring 80.

Armed police were combing the tourist area looking for the murderous driver, 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub.

And Ronnie, 42, knew a similar attack on London Bridge in June had seen more people killed after the terrorists had abandoned their vehicle.

Today, for the first time, the 41-year-old five times world champ speaks of his despair and fear as he took the call.

“I felt helpless,” he says. “I just wanted them both to be safe.

“We just kept talking. I was very nervous for them. She then started making her way back to her hotel amid the pandemonium. We kept talking until she got back into the room.

“It hit me later when I started watching it on CNN live. I thought ‘s**t this is serious’. It was a huge relief to know they were both safe. That’s the times we live in now.”

Former Holby City and Strictly star Laila, 46, has been a rock for Ronnie.

The pair have been engaged since 2013 and he says they spend every night together when he’s not on tour.

Ronnie leans on Laila for support and credits her with helping him stay on the straight and narrow.

The star has battled depression and been in rehab for drug and alcohol addiction over the years, and praises her for helping him stay off the bottle.

“I’m with someone who doesn’t drink,” he says. “Once I start I don’t want to stop. If you surround yourself with positive people, hopefully they rub off on you.”

But one thing The Rocket isn’t ready to give up yet is his sport. He’s given that decision to dad Ronnie Snr who has served life for a gangland killing.

“I ring my dad up, saying, ‘I know I’m not young any more, but should I quit?’,” says Ronnie. “He’ll tell me I’m alright. He’s warned me he will tell me if he thinks I need to retire.

“And if he did, I would think seriously about it.

“But there is bit left in the tank. I just want to see if I’ve still got it.”

Aftermath of the Shanghai Masters 2017

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Following Ronnie’s win, he’s moved up in the rankings quite a bit!

He’s also now sitting on top of the “one year list” and has already secured his place in the Players Championship 2018 and in the World Grand Prix 2018.

I expect that the Shanghai Masters 2017 will also count for the Champion of Champions 2018 qualification: it was in the list for the 2017 edition but, being pushed later in the calendar, could not be considered. Also, I expect the promoters, Matchroom, to want Ronnie in it, as he is box office.

So, lots to celebrate  and I have put a photo gallery together

Enjoy! 

Ronnie wins the Shanghai Masters 2017

Congratulations Ronnie !

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He beat Judd Trump by 10-3 in the final, and got the highest break prize as well … with a trophy for it! This is his 30th ranking title, the second this season, but the first in China since he won … the Shanghai Masters in 2009.

 

This win puts him at the top of the current one-year list. He has already secured his spot in the Players Championship 2018 and the Grand Prix 2018.

Ronnie immediately came on twitter with this:

Thanks so much everyone for your support x

Here is the report on Worldsnooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Judd Trump 10-3 in the final of the Shanghai Masters to win the 30th ranking title of his career.

O’Sullivan did the bulk of the damage in the first session by going 7-0 ahead, and he shared the next six frames to secure the trophy and £150,000 top prize. The Chigwell cueman moves ahead of John Higgins – who he beat in yesterday’s semi-finals – to second on his own on the all-time list of ranking event winners.

It’s his second ranking title within a month having won the English Open in October, and he also reached the final of last week’s Champion of Champions where he lost to Shaun Murphy.

O’Sullivan turns 42 next month but given the consistent excellence of his recent form, coupled with his dedication to health and fitness, it may not be long before he overtakes Stephen Hendry’s record of 36 ranking crowns.

The opportunities to add to his tally come thick and fast as the Rocket now heads to Belfast to compete in the Dafabet Northern Ireland Open, followed by the Betway UK Championship and Scottish Open before Christmas (tickets for all of these events are still available – for details click here).

In winning his second Shanghai Masters title, O’Sullivan moves from seventh to fourth in the official world rankings and leaps to the top of the one year list.

O’Sullivan Milestones
First ranking title: 1993 UK Championship
Tenth ranking title: 2001 World Championship
20th ranking title: 2008 World Championship
30th ranking title: 2017 Shanghai Masters

Bristol’s Trump has now lost in the final in Shanghai three times having finished runner-up to Higgins in 2012 and Kyren Wilson in 2015, and overall he has lost nine of his 17 career ranking finals. He still banks £75,000 and he’s up to second in the rankings, behind only Mark Selby.

Breaks of 91, 76, 81, 56 and 70 helped O’Sullivan to win the first seven frames today. Trump finally got going with a run of 102 then cleared from blue to black in the last frame of the opening session to give himself hope of a fight back at 7-2.

O’Sullivan started the evening session strongly with a 108 to go 8-2 up. Trump made a 64 in winning frame 11 and looked set to take the 12th until he broke down on 63, allowing his opponent to clear from the last red for 9-3. And when O’Sullivan cleared the colours to win frame 13 the contest was over.

I knew Judd was in good form because he has been playing well all week,” said O’Sullivan. “My mind has been as good as it has ever been this week. There were a few moments where it got a big edgy but I managed to think my way through. I wasn’t at my best today but mentally I was in the right place.

“I have had a fantastic last four weeks. I feel a bit tired but I don’t mind that if it means winning tournaments. I’ve got my titles in the bank and I can build on that.

“I’m not one for setting myself targets, but there’s nothing that can’t be done. If you said to me I would have another ten or 15 years playing snooker and be happy, but not get (Hendry’s) record, I would take that. I’d prefer that to playing for two or three more years and getting to 38 titles. It’s all about longevity for me. I enjoy the tour and the travelling and having a good life.

“People talking about beating Hendry’s records but it doesn’t really enter my thought process. The main thing for me is to enjoy playing and to keep it going as long as I can.”

Videos of interest:

The match – Session 1

The match – Session 2

Ronnie’s Interview by Worldsnooker:

It’s really great to see Ronnie so happy and wanting to play for years to come.

 

 

Shanghai Masters 2018 News

As the Final of the Shanghai masters 2017 is underway, Worldsnooker has published this news about the future of the tournament:

The Shanghai Masters will become the richest invitation event in snooker history next year.

The tournament has been a ranking event since 2007 but from 2018 it will become a 24-man invitation event with a total prize fund of £725,000.

A new five-year agreement between World Snooker, promoter Juss Sports and the Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association will see prize money increase to £750,000 in 2019, £775,000 in 2020, £800,000 in 2021 and £825,000 in 2022.

The 24 invited players will be the top 16 on the two-year ranking list, the next four players of Chinese origin, two players from the CBSA China Tour and two from China’s Amateur Masters series.

Round one of the new event will see players ranked 9-16 take on the eight Chinese amateurs and professionals with the winners taking on the top 8 professional players in Round two.

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are delighted to come to this agreement to secure the long-term future of the Shanghai Masters. With four major ranking events being held in China each year, the market is ready for a new concept event which rewards the top players. Creating a unique 24-man invitation event will give the tournament an exclusive identity.  A true “Shanghai Masters”.

“I am looking forward to the ‘Race to Shanghai’ when it reaches its home straight next year. Who will be in the top 16 to qualify? Will we find a new superstar from the Amateur Masters series?  I can’t wait to see the young Chinese professionals battling with each other for one of the four extra invitations.

“Snooker continues to grow at a rapid rate in China and our portfolio of major events provides great opportunity for the players, fantastic viewing for the fans and keeps our sport’s momentum going at grassroots level.”

Jason Ferguson, Chairman of the WPBSA said: “I cannot express in words the tremendous relationship the WPBSA and World Snooker has with the China Billiards and Snooker Association.  We share a global vision for our sport which has allowed for the unprecedented growth of snooker here in China and around the World. Through this co-operation we are excited about the future of all billiard sports globally. WPBSA shall continue the close relationship with CBSA and work on other projects outside of China, WPBSA will be the strong partner for CBSA during the structure revolution.”

This new agreement demonstrates the next step in the evolution of snooker here in China and with our new partners, Juss Sport, we believe we will take snooker to the next level. 

Mr. Fan Jianlin, General Manager of Shanghai Juss Sports Development (Group) Co. Ltd., says ‘Next year, a brand-new Shanghai Masters will be presented to you all. It is the initiative of active consultation and innovation by Juss Sports, World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, and Chinese Billiards and Snooker Association. It reflects our ambition to support snooker’s progression in China. It will promote the sport of Snooker and fulfill the wishes to of our fellow snooker lovers by inviting some of the top players in the world, providing more in-game opportunities for the Chinese professionals, and our elite amateur players to have a place to compete with other professional players.    Juss Sports’s philosophy to operate international tournaments is always to build top-level games and cultivate the market. In the future, we will continue to specialize in operation management and services, to further enlarge the tournament’s platform, and to enhance our audiences’ experience. We will continue to promote Snooker’s development in China, and help Shanghai to become the world’s most famous sporting city.’

Meanwhile Ronnie is 7-2 up to Judd Trump in the Final. Make no mistake, it’s a good lead for Ronnie but this isn’t over. Judd himself lost to John Higgins from that position in 2012, here in Shanghai precisely,