English Open 2018 – Last 64 – Ronnie wins with a maximum

Ronnie beat Allan Taylor by 4-0 in the last 64 round of the English Open 2018. The defending champion was far from his best, missing long pots and running out of position quite too often for his liking. But he had his moments of brilliance too: he made a great 135 in frame two, and finished the match with a flawless 147, his 15th in professional competition. But what please me even more was the way he managed to steal the third frame, having struggled badly for most of it. That’s the kind of frame that he would probably have lost a few years ago, and that would have left him angry at himself and unable to get over the disappointment, never mind making a 147 on the back of it.

and if you can’t wait until the last frame here’s the shortcut!

Ronnie was quite down on himself in the postmatch considering he just won. Such patchy performance will never please him. But he’s through to the next round and will play either Jimmy White or Matthew Stevens.

Big thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these images

This is the report on Worldsnooker

Ronnie O’Sullivan made a brilliant 147, the 15th of his career, to wrap up a 4-0 win over Allan Taylor at the BetVictor English Open.

EnglishOpen2018-ROSL64-2

O’Sullivan has now made four more 147s than any other player, with Stephen Hendry behind him on 11 maximums, followed by John Higgins on eight.

Today’s 147 was his second of the year having made one at the China Open in April. It’s the 143rd maximum in snooker history and second of the week; Thepchaiya Un-Nooh having made one on Tuesday. They will share the £17,000 bonus prize, earning £8,500 each as long as the break is not equalled this week.

Defending champion O’Sullivan had already made a 135 in the second frame against Taylor, also taking two other scrappy frames as he went 3-0 ahead. In the fourth he was barely out of position as he potted 15 reds with blacks then cleared the colours. The blue was a thin cut to a centre pocket, coming in and out of baulk to keep position, and he played it to perfection before slotting in the pink and black.

It’s nice to get a 147 for a good crowd,” said the world number three, who now meets Jimmy White or Matthew Stevens in the last 32 on Thursday. “The last time I played really well was at this tournament last year in Barnsley. Since then I have been hit and miss. I started working with (coach) Stephen Feeney because I felt I had to try something. It’s the last throw of the dice. I had a really good six or seven years before that working with Steve Peters.

The game evolves and gets better. New talent brings fresh ideas so you have to try to learn from that. For me as a purist it’s all about feeling as if I am capable of winning tournaments.

Clearly Ronnie isn’t in the most optimistic mood right now, but things can change, and most probably will. Ups and downs have been the story of his career and his life.

And on a lighter note this…

 

English Open 2018 – Last 128 Round-up

The 128 became 64 and only one top 16 player fell by the wayside: Kyren Wilson who lost to Sunny Akani by 4-3. This certainly is unexpected given Kyren’s form of late, but, of course, Sunny is a very good player; he has proven that in the past, notably by  giving Ronnie a right scare last season. Yet, Kyren lead 2-0, with two big breaks and, at that stage,  Sunny had potted just one ball. In the next frame though, the young Thai made a great 133, a new career high break, and got on the scoreboard. Kyren took the next, to lead three one … and then lost three on the trot, and the match.

The highlight from day 2 though came thanks to “Theppy”. Thepchaiya Un-nooh made a 147 … on a side table. But you can still watch it here:

So it was a great day for the Thais!

Here are the reports on the last 128 by Worldsnooker:

Day 1

World number one Mark Selby took just 49 minutes to beat Sanderson Lam 4-0 in the first round of the BetVictor English Open in Crawley.

Selby is looking for his second title of the season, having won the China Championship last month, and looked in fine form against Lam as he knocked in breaks of 78, 106 and 79. He now meets Ben Woollaston on Wednesday (tickets available – click here for details).

“I only played one or two bad shots in the match so it was nearly faultless,” said Leicester’s 35-year-old Selby. “I made a good break to win the first frame then after that I played well.

“Last season I won two big tournaments in China but lost early doors in the big BBC tournaments. This season I am working harder and hoping to change that in the BBC events. So to get a tournament win under my belt in China gives me the confidence to kick on for the rest of the season. I feel in good shape.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan began the defence of his title with a 4-1 victory over Kurt Maflin. O’Sullivan, playing in a ranking event for the first time this season, set up a second round match with Allan Taylor by knocking in breaks of 104, 70 and 82.

Shaun Murphy top scored with 66 in a 4-1 win over Mike Dunn while World Champion Mark Williams eased to a 4-1 win over Dominic Dale, firing breaks of 116, 54 and 109. Neil Robertson made breaks of 100 and 112 in a 4-2 win over Ross Muir.

China’s promising Luo Honghao came from 3-0 down to beat Adam Duffy 4-3 with a top break of 128. Ryan Day made a 141, the highest break of the tournament so far, in a 4-0 win over Ashley Hugill.

Day 2

Judd Trump and John Higgins were among the first round winners as snooker’s top stars thrived at the BetVictor English Open in Crawley on Tuesday.

Trump beat Robin Hull 4-1 with a top break of 104 to set up a last 64 match with Zhao Xintong. World number five Trump hasn’t won a ranking title for over a year but hopes he is coming into form.

“I played some good stuff in spells, we both struggled a bit,” said 29-year-old Trump. “I feel as if my scoring is coming back. For me it’s about enjoying my snooker, practising hard and trying to learn from some of the other top players while they are still around.”

Higgins beat Li Yuan 4-1 with top runs of 75 and 88 to set up a second round match with Nigel Bond.

“I have been struggling this season and that was probably as well as I have played,” said Higgins, who was runner-up to Mark Selby at the recent China Championship. “I haven’t been practising or playing well since the start of the season. I was surprised that I got to the final in China because my play was terrible. I can try to win matches this week and build a bit of momentum and confidence.”

Highlight of the day was a 147 for Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh in the first frame of his 4-1 win over Soheil Vahedi, earning him a possible £17,000 bonus. Read more on that story here.

European Masters champion Jimmy Robertson kept his momentum going with a 4-1 win over Michael Holt, making breaks of 81, 71 and 68.

“I’m on a bit of a roll at the moment and full of confidence,” said Bexhill’s Robertson. “I played really well tonight. I know a lot of people in this area, when I was growing up I was playing in clubs all over Sussex. Quite a few people are here to support me.”

Veteran Jimmy White scored an impressive 4-2 win over China’s Lyu Haotian. That made it back-to-back wins for 56-year-old White as he beat Fergal O’Brien in last week’s International Championship qualifiers. Today, the Whirlwind fired breaks of 81, 74 and 63.

World number nine Kyren Wilson became the only top-16 ranked player to lose in the first round as he went down 4-3 to Thailand’s Sunny Akani. From 3-1 down, Akani took the last three frames with top runs of 78 and 62.

Luca Brecel top scored with 109 in a 4-0 win over Niu Zhuang while Mark Allen beat Anthony Hamilton 4-2 with a top break of 91. Jack Lisowski came from 2-1 down to beat Fergal O’Brien 4-2

One thing that Worldsnooker didn’t report though was that Higgins, speaking to the ES pundits, very bluntly said that losing two World finals has “taken the stuffing out of him” and that he isn’t enjoying his snooker one bit. He actually said he “hates” it at the moment.

Shaun Murphy didn’t play well – and honestly acknowledged it – but still won. Judd Trump played some fantastic snooker mixed with some bad shots, he needs to find consistency; the 104 he made in frame 2 however was truly remarkable.

Jimmy White beat Lyu Haotian, by 4-2, with three big breaks. I have a feeling that Jimmy has been working his socks off in preparation of his Seniors UK Championship defence next week in Hull. Should he and Ronnie win today, they are on course to play each other!

Of course Ronnie won on day 1 and you can readd all about his win and what happened next here

With Jimmy playing, Ronnie was in the studio for the afternoon and evening sessions.

Quite a few interesting points made in this discussions too.

Regarding his comments on Monday, Ronnie didn’t back-off but clarified what he meant, and it’s hard not to see his point. Also, despite claims by WS that other players were unanimously happy, it became clear that this isn’t the case, with Maguire and Allen expressing similar concerns as Ronnie did, and sure enough, Peter Ebdon, even if he didn’t say anything, must not have been too amused either.

It’s also interesting that Ronnie believes that Higgins in fact feels burnt-out and that this is why he’s so negative. It could well be the case. Jimmy went the same way when he observed that lower ranked players, not getting to the latter stages of tournaments, don’t play that much and therefore probably feel OK with the busy calendar, but that indeed top players are at risk of burn-out unless they pick and choose.

Ronnie, on twitter, had launched two polls.

This one in particular sparkled a discussion in the studio

Ronnie's poll

Barry Hearn replied that “top 16 are seeded”. Yes, they are, but it takes a good dose of bad faith not to understand what Ronnie meant, which was s”eeded into the last 32″,  like it was earlier. That’s a quite overwhelming majority and it was over 5000+ votes. It’s clear that the fans want to be guaranteed to the best players at the latter stages. My guess is that the broadcasters and sponsors would agree too. Yes, it’s a form of protection… unless it’s, like at the Crucible, and whatever money the top players might get in the last 32 wouldn’t count towards the rankings if they lose. In that case it’s actually added pressure.

As you can guess, most headlines in the press revolved around Ronnie’s comments.

Hector Nunns though made this niece piece about Luo Honghao and his talent as a pianist

 

 

English Open 2018 – Ronnie wins his opening match, but criticises the venue

Ronnie won his opening match at the English Open 2018 today, beating Kurt Maflin by 4-1.  This earned him his first ranking points this season. Here are the frame scores:

English Open ROS L128 Scores

Ronnie wasn’t at his absolute best, but played well considering he’s not played much this season at all. He certainly isn’t match sharp just yet, but should improve as he plays more matches.

 

 

And Andy Goldstein couldn’t resist: he had to mention their “Olympics”

 

Other than the postmatch there was also another interview with Eurosport that they shared on their website

 

Ronnie however was far from happy with the venue, as you can read in this article by the BBC

Ronnie O’Sullivan: Defending champion critical of English Open venue

Ronnie O'Sullivan
Ronnie O’Sullivan won the 2017 English Open in Barnsley

Ronnie O’Sullivan has described the venue for this year’s English Open as “a hellhole” and urged World Snooker to spend more money on tournament hosts.

The five-time world champion, 42, won his first-round match at the K2 Leisure Centre in Crawley against Kurt Maflin but was unhappy with conditions.

“It’s such a bad venue, it demotivates you to want to play. This is about as bad as I’ve ever seen,” he said.

World Snooker said other players’ feedback was “overwhelmingly positive”.

O’Sullivan is the defending English Open champion, having beaten Kyren Wilson in Barnsley in 2017.

But after defeating world number 50 Maflin in just over an hour, he did not hold back on his thoughts on the Sussex venue.

“I don’t know what this gaff is but I’ve just done an interview and all I can smell is urine,” he added.

“It’s just got no atmosphere in there. I’m practising and I’ve got wires all around the table. There’s no security, you’ve got people running at you left, right and centre.

“It’s not the fans’ fault. They [World Snooker] obviously haven’t got the budget to run it properly.

“I don’t know where their budget is but they’re cutting corners. I think they should invest in good venues. Players deserve better.”

A statement from World Snooker said: “We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities.”

And here is part of the interview…

After those comments Worldsnooker responded with this statement

In response to comments from Ronnie O’Sullivan at the BetVictor English Open on Monday, World Snooker said: “We are surprised to hear these comments from Ronnie given that he has made no formal complaint and the feedback from the other players has been overwhelmingly positive. And the partners we are working with on the event agree with our view that K2 Crawley is an excellent venue with very good facilities. There was a fantastic crowd in the arena today and the ticket sales for the event have already surpassed the total sales for 2016 and 2017. We look forward to seeing Ronnie play in the next round.”

K2 Crawley, the host venue for the tournament, added: “We are sorry and disappointed to hear that Ronnie has voiced some concerns over the venue, especially after feedback from everybody else has been so positive. We have been working closely with World Snooker to make this competition the best it can be and they are extremely happy with how the first day has gone, and in fact, we hear that ticket sales have already surpassed total numbers sold for all previous English Open venues. To be involved with this event is a privilege and we are pleased that K2 Crawley’s great accessibility and facilities will mean that more snooker fans than ever before can enjoy the tournament – we are certainly excited to see what the rest of the week holds!”

This reminds me of Ronnie’s comments when the Welsh Open moved to Cardiff for the first time… Of course, the previous English Open venue, Preston, has a lot of history; it was the home of the UK Championship, and it’s  where Ronnie won his first ever ranking event, the 1993 UK Championship ,at only 17. Maybe another venue was always going to be at a disadvantage in his eyes because of this.

That said, comments about Crawley on social, even before this outburst, weren’t particularly nice. And Shaun Murphy who represents the players and heads the “Players Commission, was very “diplomatic” in his answer when interviewed by Andy Goldstein after his win over Mike Dunn. Basically he explained that finding venues, large enough to accommodate eight tables, with good viewing space in the main arena, plus practice tables, plus space for the officials, the players between matches, the sponsors and the media, is a real challenge and that this leisure centre was ticking the boxes. However he didn’t directly respond to Ronnie’s criticisms.

English Open 2018 – starting today

We are only a couple of hours away from the start of the English Open 2018 and of course the build-up has brought new features and articles.

The “Olympics” continued and you can watch the whole stuff by following this link. Both failed the hugh jump at 146 cm, and Ronnie outran Andy on the 800m.

The there is this article as well, thanks to Mark who found it

MY BIG BREAK

Ronnie O’Sullivan has just three targets left – winning a record eighth world title, running with the fastest Kenyans and… becoming a Buddhist MONK in Thailand

The Rocket aims to complete his Bucket list as he scales down his playing activity and enters new phase of “reinvention”

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has three key items left on his Bucket List.

His first priority is to finish his career with EIGHT world titles — elevating him above Stephen Hendry (seven), Steve Davis and Ray Reardon (both six).

ronnie-english-open-2018

Ronnie O’Sullivan has just reached the £10m earnings mark and has spectacular targets for when he finally winds down his career to retirement

The bold part has been highlighted by me. This is because there is a huge difference between what the tittle suggests and what this quote actually says. Having heard it from Ronnie himself, he’s pretty confident that he will reach 1000 centuries and 36 rankers, winning more World titles, nevermind 8, is something else. Yes, of course he’d like to do it, but I’m very certain that if he wins a 6th he will be over the moon already. That’s his youth hero, Steve Davis, record.

English Open 2018 – build-up …

The first ranking event played on British soils starts tomorrow and it’s also the first ranking even Ronnie will be playing in. He’s the defending champion, but he’s not on the poster… probably because he entered it late-ish

EnglishOpen2018Poster

The event has a new venue, in Crawley, Sussex, and the WSS fitters are hard at work

EnglishOpen2018-Rigging

This is an Eurosport event, and, as ever, they will be keen to mix serious punditry, good interviews and some fun and banter.

A few things have already emerged on social media:

This is a very positive interview with Ronnie:

and on a lighter note, they now have a “room 101” feature. Apparently snooker “people” will be asked what, if given the opportunity, they would ban in “room 101”

here is Ronnie’s pick:

Also, it seems that Ronnie and Andy Goldstein will compete in some “Olympics” of their own. I suspect that this one will last through the whole Nations Series. Andy and Ronnie went to school together, they are very good mates even if their banter can get very “rough” at times … it’s still just boys teasing each other!

This was Ronnie’s reaction on twitter to his performance in the first discipline, long jump:

I Think I need to work on my long jump, I hope my snooker ain’t as bad as this next week 😂

Ronnie O’Sullivan added,

The full video is here, shared by Eurospoort UK 

Good luck Ronnie! 

And of course, Eurosport advertising for their snooker coverage itself is now all Ronnie

 

International Championship 2018 Qualifiers round-up

After four days of battling it out in Barnsley, you’ll find the results of the International Championship 2018 qualifier here on snooker.org

Three members of the top 16 didn’t make it: Luca Brecel, Shaun Murphy and John Higgins.

Luca hasn’t been in any sort of form for a long time, He was beaten 6-5 by Jordan Brown, a player who hasn’t exactly impressed until now. The only positive aspect as far as Luca is concerned is that he battled back valiantly, as he had done last week in Lommel.

Shaun Murphy is another one whose form has gome walkabout of late. He was beaten by 6-0 by Sam Baird. I suppose that moving to Ireland, and having a new baby who, unfortunately, suffered health issues, has taken priority over snooker and practice. Shaun was nowhere near his best, or even his average and his assessment of his match was “Mayday…” on twitter.

John Higgins was beaten, and well beaten, by 6-3, by Peter Lines. Now this is a weird one! John and Peter have played each other 8 times in total. Peter leads 6-2 in the head-to-head. Ok, two of Peter’s wins came in the Shootout, but still,  even discarding that, it’s 4-2 to Peter. Even more bizarre, the last time John had the upper hand was in 1994!

There were some high quality matches in those qualifiers. I picked these two:

Judd Trump beat Lu Ning by 6-4. Lu Ning played really well and so did Judd. There was none of the “taking things for granted” that we had seen over the last season in this one. Judd was focused, composed and playing the right shots.

David Gilbert had to come from behind to beat Sam Craigie by 6-5; Sam lead 4-0. Both played well, and hard.

I know that I might “sound” like a broken record, but it’s not right that Sam and Lu get nothing out of this match in terms of money and points. There was nothing mediocre in their performance, they fully played their part in an excellent match for the viewing public and the ones watching on the stream.

Those who see the World Seniors Tour as a pastime for pensioners better think again. The “veterans” did very well in those qualifiers.

Ken Doherty beat Chris Totten (6-4), Mark Davis beat Elliott Slessor (6-4), Alan McManus beat Jamie Clarke (6-5), David Lilley, an amateur who competes on the Seniors Tour, beat Ricky Walden (6-4), James Wattana beat Anthony Hamilton (6-5) AND Jimmy White, who will defend his Seniors UK title in a bit more than a week in Hull, beat Fergal O’Brien (6-5). Of course, Peter Lines, already mentioned above, is a former World Seniors Champion as well.

Finally, I was pleased  to see Luo Honghao finally getting some results: he beat Michael White very convincingly by 6-1.

As for Kurt Maflin, Ronnie’s first round opponent on Monday, he was scoring very heavily. This will definitely be a tricky opener for Ronnie, especially with the short format.

The good, the bad and the ugly … news

Ok … let’s start with the good news

Ronnie was on twitter again yesterday with this:

ROS TWITTER 2018-10-12 at 08.53.06

Ok, of course he isn’t n° 132 in the world, he’s third. He’s n° 132 in the one year list very simply because he hasn’t played, and won, a single “ranking” match yet this season. Hopefully that will change on Monday. What made me smile here are the banter between Ronnie and his Nemesis Elliott Slessor and the fact that Ronnie seems to be stimulated by the idea of winning a tournament from the very bottom in the rankings. Go for it!

Now the bad news is this, published by WPBSA

Following a WPBSA investigation into alleged breaches of the WPBSA Rules by David John, a decision has been taken today that Jamie Jones has a case to answer.

The allegation is that Jamie Jones was party to, or facilitated the manipulation of the outcome of David John’s match with Graeme Dott that was played at the International Championship Qualifiers in Preston on 29th September 2016.

Jason Ferguson, the Chairman of the WPBSA has taken the decision to suspend Jones from attending or competing on the World Snooker Tour with immediate effect. This suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter. Jones has the right to appeal his decision.

The WPBSA would like to make it clear that no matches played by Jamie Jones are under suspicion in this matter.

The matter will be referred to the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee where a formal hearing will take place at a venue and date to be confirmed.

WPBSA Rules extracts

Section 2 – Betting Rules

  1. Betting misconduct
    • Corruption:

2.1.2.1  to fix or contrive, or to be a party to any effort to fix or contrive, the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match;

2.1.2.2  to seek or accept or offer or agree to accept any bribe or other reward to fix or to contrive in any way or otherwise to influence improperly the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match;

2.1.2.4  to solicit, induce, entice, persuade, encourage or facilitate any Member to breach any of the foregoing provisions of this paragraph 2.1.2.

WPBSA Members Rules

 Reporting Breaches

4.1   In the event that a Member is approached or solicited in any way (whether directly or indirectly) to influence the outcome or conduct of any game of snooker or billiards whether or not in return for payment or any other form of remuneration or benefit (an “Approach”), that Member (the “Reporting Member”) shall report such an Approach to the WPBSA (via the Company Secretary or a Tournament Official) as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event not later than 24 hours after any such Approach being made. Further, the Reporting Member shall provide the WPBSA (via the Company Secretary or a Tournament Official) with all information in his or her knowledge relating to the Approach and shall co-operate in any subsequent investigation and/or other action(s) arising out of such a report.

4.2   Any Member becoming aware of an Approach (as defined in clause 4.1 above) being made to another individual shall report such Approach to the WPBSA (via either the Company Secretary, a Tournament Official or the Anti Corruption Hotline) as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event within 24 hours of becoming aware of such Approach.

The full WPBSA Members Rules can be viewed here.

Going by the wording, Jamie Jones isn’t actually under investigation for fixing matches himself, but rather for not having reported a case of match fixing that he was aware of, and even to having been part in it, likely by facilitating the meeting between David John and the fixers. David John at the time was certainly in a very bad position financially – he had won next to nothing – and it may be that Jamie Jones just wanted to “help” him, in which case he’s been both terribly naïve and terribly out of order. The fact that he has been suspended immediately suggests that there is  more than just not reporting an approach.

The ugly part in this is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it, despite the players being caught and punished and that’s because punishing the players doesn’t tackle the roots of the issue. When you read/hear that players under investigation have been beaten, that their flat are being arsoned, that their families are being threatened it’s obvious that the problem extends well beyond the guilty individuals, who are, at least in some cases, victims as well as culprits. And, quite honestly, I can’t see how it can be tackled. Of course, inflicting a lengthy ban to a player might well mean that you won’t see him play as a pro again, but then, the “mafias”, the underground organisers of match fixing, will just target someone else, likely someone they can pressure and scare into it, someone vulnerable who won’t dare to talk.