2021 English Open Qualifiers – Day 4

Here is the report by WST:

Un-Nooh Blitz Secures English Open Spot

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh produced a stunning display to whitewash Jamie O’Neill 4-0 and clinch a place in the final stages of the BetVictor English Open.

Un-Nooh, who is renowned as one of the fastest players on the circuit, wasted little time this afternoon. He averaged just 14.5 seconds per shot and required only 38 minutes to get over the line.

Thailand’s Un-Nooh was also in supreme break building form, firing in runs of 123, 82, 139 and 105 to secure the win. The final stages take place in Milton Keynes from November 1st to 7th.

World number 22 Ali Carter eased through with a 4-1 defeat of China’s Fan Zhengyi.

The Captain has enjoyed a strong start to the season, having made the final group of the BetVictor Championship League, reached the last 16 of the British Open and also qualified for the BetVictor Northern Ireland Open.

He continued that run of form this afternoon, securing his win in just one hour and 17 minutes, making breaks of 91 and 76 along the way.

Peter Devlin scored an impressive 4-3 defeat of former UK and Masters Champion Matthew Stevens, while Jamie Clarke sealed his place in the final stages with a 4-2 defeat of Zak Surety.

Not a word about the two last matches on the day? Hum…

Un-Nooh didn’t waste time indeed: he finished the job just 5 minutes after the Devlin v Stevens match had concluded and this is a match that had started in the previous session…

Regarding that Stevens v Devlin match, I’m not sure where to start. Stevens looked good in patches. He won the first two frames easily with fluent big breaks. Peter didn’t give up and started grinding his way back. It was not pretty. There were loads of mistakes on both sides. But Peter stuck in there. I wasn’t impressed by his snooker but I was impressed by his resilience. In frame 6, he missed a red with the rest that was effectively “match ball”. OK, he still needed a colour, but that looked like a formality. Peter’s expression after that miss was one of despair, mixed with disbelief and anger at himself. Matthew cleared to win by one point and it wasn’t an easy clearance by any means. After that, I expected Matthew to win the match: he had the momentum and his oppenent looked a bit ragged. The way Peter regrouped and fought to win deserves high praise.

The Carrigton v Miah match was a very close, hard fought one.

 

 

Farewell Alan Chamberlain

Yesterday WST shared this sad news:

Alan Chamberlain

Alan Chamberlain, one of snooker’s leading referees who took charge of a wide range of the sport’s biggest finals, has sadly passed away at the age of 78.

Chamberlain was widely respected among snooker’s top players, directors and fellow referees and will be much missed by everyone in the sport.

He first refereed on the pro tour in 1983 and enjoyed a career lasting nearly 30 years. His high point was officiating the 1997  World Championship final at the Crucible when Ken Doherty beat Stephen Hendry. He also donned the white gloves for no fewer than eight Masters finals in London, including the 1998 epic when Mark Williams beat Stephen Hendry on a respotted black in the deciding frame.

Chamberlain was also the man in the middle for seven maximum 147 breaks, and he holds the unique honour of being the only man to have refereed a break over 147 in professional competition: Jamie Burnett’s 148 during the 2004 UK Championship qualifiers.

In 2010, he became a director of snooker’s global governing body the WPBSA, and spent six years in that role. He also served as Chairman of the WPBSA Rules Committee and Chairman of World Billiards Limited (WBL).

Chamberlain retired in 2016 in order to spend more time with his wife and family.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news today about Alan. He was a lovely man, a fantastic servant to our sport for well over 30 years and made a great contribution.

“As a referee, he was one of the very best we have ever seen. His ability to take control of the biggest matches with a calm demeanour set a perfect example for the younger generation of referees who followed in his footsteps.

“Once he put away his gloves for good, he became a much-admired director, and put his vast experience and knowledge to excellent use both in snooker and billiards.

“Our sincere condolences go to Alan’s family and friends.”

I had the privilege to meet Alan during the years I was taking pictures on the main tour. On the table he was an exceptionally good referee. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he was what a referee should be: strict, meticulous and precise. His knowledge of the rules was immense. He also expected the players to know the rules. This should be obvious, but it’s not always the case … as this famous incident proves:

The players were nonplussed but Alan was rigth there of course. The ball didn’t leave the bed of the table, and Dott “interfered” with it. So it was a foul, but not an in-off. Mark Selby thought that this was an in-off – as it would have been had Dott not blocked the white. So he picked the ball … prompting Alan to call another foul, against him this time, again for interfeering with a ball in play. Mark Selby hadn’t spotted the clue: Alan had not picked that white and had not put it close to the bottom rail, as referees always do after an in-off. You can her Alan explaining all this to the players…

Off the table, he was a soft-spoken affable man and always a pleasure to talk to.

Farewell Alan, sleep tight. We are already missing you. 

 

2021 English Open Qualifiers – Day 3

This is WST report about what happened yesterday on the baize:

Chris Wakelin trailed Michael Holt three times in the qualifying round of the BetVictor English Open, but eventually won 4-3 thanks to a century break in the deciding frame.

Wakelin was 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 down but each time fought back to square the tie, then his superb 106 in the last frame booked his place in the final stages in Milton Keynes, which will run from November 1-7.

Ricky Walden made a 126, the highest break of the tournament so far, in a 4-0 thrashing of Michael Judge. Liang Wenbo, who won this title in 2016, won’t be at the televised phase this time as he lost 4-2 to Rory McLeod.

Former World Champion Graeme Dott beat Farak Ajaib 4-2 with a top break of 86, while Mark Davis top scored with 95 in a 4-1 defeat of Lukas Kleckers. Cypriot Michael Georgiou scored an impressive 4-1 win over Elliot Slessor.

 

It was a good win for Chris Wakelin indeed. Chris has really struggled over the last years but now seems to be in a good place. I’m also pleased to see Ricky Walden playing well again after being plagued by back and neck pain for years.

Liang Wenbo, on the other hand, seems to have lost his way completely.

The match between Dotty and Farakh Ajaib was an entertaining affair. It was attacking snooker from start to finish and played at a good pace too. Really, this match is one to watch by all those who are stuck with the “Graeme Dott is slow and boring” line. They probably never watched Graeme except, maybe, in the last session of the 2006 World Final, a tense session played by two exhausted men until ungodly hours.Also, Ajaib showed huge ability but if wants to make the most of it, he will need to learn that – sometimes – a safety is the best option.

Michael Georgiou played well. This is actually the best I’ve seen him play for a long time. Maybe not having the pressure of the ranking system is helping him to produce his best.

2021 English Open Qualifiers – Day 2

This is WST report on Day 2 at the 2021 English Open Qualifiers:

Super Soheil Stuns Perry

Iran’s Soheil Vahedi scored one of his best career wins as he beat Joe Perry 4-2 to qualify for the final stages of the BetVictor English Open.

Former World Amateur Champion Vahedi dropped off the pro tour at the end of last season and is back among the amateur ranks, but will gain entry to main tour events this term having finished sixth on the Q School ranking list.

And the 32-year-old took advantage today with a fine display against world number 21 Perry. Breaks of 72 and 68 helped give Vahedi a 2-1 lead. Perry won frame four, only for his opponent to take the next two with 54 and 63. Vahedi goes through to the final stages of the world ranking event, which will run from November 1-7 in Milton Keynes.

China’s Cao Yupeng maintained his excellent start to the season as he thrashed Mitchell Mann 4-0. Breaks of 52, 60 and 125 helped Cao to an emphatic victory.

Ashley Carty scored a 4-2 win over Welsh Open champion Jordan Brown, while Chang Bingyu top scored with 111 in a 4-1 defeat of Dominic Dale.

Xu Si came from 2-1 down to beat Jamie Jones 4-2 with a top run of 67, while Gary Wilson rounded off a 4-2 win over Craig Steadman with a break of 101.

The action continues on Sunday with Liang Wenbo, Ricky Walden and Graeme Dott among the players on the baize.

I’m very happy for Soheil who had a miserable few months on the baize. Hopefully he can build on that win and get back on the main tour come May.

Soheil Vahedi
Soheil Vahedi has forged a unique path in his snooker career (Picture: Getty Images)

Three of the four Chinese players in action won their match, the exception being Bai Langning who had been called in “last minute” to replace Zhang Jiankang.

I will be supporting Michael Georgiou today … 😉

 

 

 

 

2021 English Open Qualifiers – Day 1

Snooker was back yesterday with the 2021 English Open qualiers. Eurosport player and Matchroom.live both showed all the matches, which is great.

There were two withdrawals:

Zhou Yuelong and Zhang Jiankang have been withdrawn from BetVictor English Open qualifying due to being close contacts of a Covid-19 case.

Both players are to be replaced in the draw by the next available players in the Q School Order of Merit. Ross Muir will replace Zhou to face Dean Young this afternoon at 4pm.

Zhang’s replacement to face Jak Jones tomorrow at 1pm remains TBC and will be named as soon as possible.

Bai Langning is replacing Zhang.

This is WST report on the action:

Hallworth Fightback Floors Craigie

Steven HallworthWorld number 70 Steven Hallworth claimed the last three frames to secure a dramatic 4-3 win over Sam Craigie and earn his place in the final stages of the BetVictor English Open.

Victory for Hallworth books a spot at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes next month for the final stages. Qualifying for the event is taking place over the next few days in Barnsley.

Hallworth fired in the highest break of the match, a run of 83, on his way to setting up the decider. He then held his nerve to secure a 37-minute final frame and seal his progression.

Jimmy Robertson eased to an impressive 4-0 win over China’s Yuan Sijun. Bexhill’s Robertson was in fine break building form throughout the tie, composing runs of 53, 56 and 108.

World number 24 Tom Ford eased through with a 4-0 whitewash win against Sean Maddocks. Leicester’s Ford made breaks of 61,106 on his way to victory.

Alexander Ursenbacher sealed his place in Milton Keynes with a 4-2 defeat of former English Amateur champion Ben Hancorn. Swiss number one Ursenbacher compiled a break of 111 in the opening frame and added further breaks of 57 and 54.

Chinese teenager Wu Yize held off an Ashley Hugill fightback to progress 4-3, while his compatriot Xiao Guodong defeated Alfie Burden 4-2.

Oh my! That picture of Steven there is not quite up-to-date …

Yuan Sijun looked both out-of-sorts and quite dispirited out there. His game has disintegrated over the last couple of seasons and it’s sad to see really. Jimmy Robertson played well, but he didn’t have much opposition.

The match between Wu Yize and Ashley Hugill was an interesting one. It was hard fought, quality, and quite tactical. Wu showed maturity beyond his years; he’s only 17 and matched Ashley in the safety department. He seemed to have lost his way a bit after a bad miss in frame 5, but eventually managed to win the deciding frame. That last frame was a long one. You could clearly feel the tension and both players made unexpected mistakes. At one point Ashley Hugill took several minutes pondering over a shot. He was warned – quite firmly – by Olivier Marteel after playing it. I’m not sure what Olivier said but Ashley looked distraught. On a lighter note … I quite like Wu’s mullet. Somehow reminded me of Hendry in the early 90th.

Tom Ford won easily without playing particularly well.

News from the “Cues” planet – 17.09.2021

Snooker is back for us today as the 2021 English Open gets underway…

Meanwhile, this is (some of) what happened yesterday in our cuesports universe:

Judd Trump bowed out of 2021 US Open Pool Championship (report by WST)

Trump Bows Out Of US Open

Snooker’s world number two Judd Trump is out of the US Open 9-ball after an 11-10 defeat at the hands of South Africa’s Jason Theron.

Trump was making his 9-ball debut this week and started promisingly with comfortable wins in the first two rounds, before an 11-5 defeat of Saudi Arabia’s Abdullah Al-Shammari set up a clash with former US Open champion Jason Shaw. Scotland’s Shaw showed his class and highlighted that Trump still has much to learn in the discipline, charging to an 11-1 victory to send Trump to the loser’s side of the draw.

The Ace in the Pack put up a strong showing against Theron, but it wasn’t enough to avert the deciding frame defeat. Theron now progresses to face Japan’s Naoyuki Oi.

Trump said: “I think I will do it again, as a sport it is on the up. I like travelling to America anyway, and it is good to play a sport in another country.

I had a lot more support from fans than I was expecting, and there were enough positives to make me do it again. A week’s practice and I’d still be in the tournament.

I honestly think I was at about five per cent of the level I could reach so that gives you hope, and it was nice to play Jayson Shaw, one of the real top pool players.

You see the level in a match like that, and he could go close to winning it. But other top players who have won events recently went out in the same round I did.

5%? one week practice? Humble as usual… 😉 OK.

Judd will do it again, surely, if only because Emily Frazer, from Matchroom, announced that they will organise a similar tournament in London next year: the UK Open Pool Championship. If I got it correctly (*), this tournament will have a huge prize money and is provisionally scheduled to be played next May.

One thing I like about this tournament is the double elimination format and I would love to see this tried in snooker. Of course it’s only realistically possible with short formats and it requires more tables and a different, more complex, organisation. On the other hand, it would guarantee two matches for everybody and, the early rounds losers are bound to get easier, more winnable matches in the “losers” draw. This, I believe, would benefit the younger players massively: it’s an additional earning opportunity, even if it’s a modest one, some ranking points for the grabs, and another opportunity to play competitive snooker and learn. What’s your view?

Pankaj Advani won the 2021 Asian Championship

Pankaj Advani defends Asian Snooker Championship title in first tournament since 2019

Pankaj Advani had won the title in 2019 before the 2020 edition got scrapped due to the pandemic.

Press Trust of India  – September 16, 2021 
Pankaj Advani defends Asian Snooker Championship title in first tournament since 2019

Pankaj Advani poses with the winner’s trophy after he defended his Asian Snooker Championship title. Image courtesy: Twitter/@PankajAdvani247

Doha: India’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani on Thursday defended his Asian Snooker Championship title defeating Amir Sarkhosh of Iran here.

The Indian great was competing in his first assignment in almost two years due to COVID-19 .

Advani had won the title in 2019 before the 2020 edition got scrapped due to the pandemic.

His tally of Asian titles across both snooker and billiards now stands at 11, apart from the two Asian Games golds in 2006 and 2010.

I’m glad to defend this title and pick up from where I left off before the onset of the pandemic. The gap only increased the drive and hunger to compete and do well on return,” said Advani.

In the best-of-eleven final, Advani was up against former winner and a seasoned campaigner Amir who was in formidable form.

It was the Indian though who dictated most of the final in his 6-3 victory. Advani drew first blood by winning the first frame with a 55 break. After that a 50 break in the second and some fine potting in the third made the ultimate winner enjoy a 3-0 lead before the Iranian pulled one back.

At 3-1, the Indian employed his billiards knowledge to give his opponent limited scoring opportunity and capitalised on every opening he got to go 4-1 up. The next two frames were shared by the finalists with a remarkable display of quality potting from both players.

However, just when the Indian was one frame away from getting his hands on the coveted trophy, Amir found his touch and bridged the gap to 5-3.

A fine break of 43 gave Amir the lead in the ninth frame but the crowd got to witness a perfect climax from the 23-time world champion as he pieced together an exquisite championship-winning clearance break of 63 to end the match and a two-year wait for an international title.

Advani will stay back to compete in the IBSF 6-Red Snooker World Cup starting on Friday.

 

Pankaj competed on the main tour a few years back but wasn’t happy: he was home sick and he missed playing billiards, his favourite cuesport. He made the right decision for himself. As a person, he’s a quiet, friendly and very humble character despite a remarkable career. He’s a sporting hero in his country, India.

(*) Those who know me will know that my hearing isn’t the best and I rely on reading lips. This isn’t always easy …

Next Season Tour Cards Structure

WPBSA and WST have announced the 2022/23 provisional Tour Cards structure

2022/23 World Snooker Tour Cards

The WPBSA and WST have today jointly announced the provisional tour card structure for the 2022/23 World Snooker Tour.

Once again, the top 64 players on the official world ranking list following the 2022 Betfred World Championship will retain their professional status. They will be joined by players who are currently on the first year of a two-year tour card, as well as the top four players on the one-year ranking list, not already qualified for next season.

The tour will be completed by players who are able to successfully qualify through recognised tour qualification pathways. As was the case last season, these will include Q School, the CBSA China Tour, the World Women’s Snooker Tour and the Regional Federations recognised by the World Snooker Federation (WSF). Due to the timing of rescheduled regional events following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, additional places may be award for these tournaments.

There will also be places won via the planned staging of the WPBSA Q Tour and World Snooker Federation Championship tournaments, both of which were unable to take place last season but are now set to proceed.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “We are delighted to announce the tour structure for 2022/23. This is a golden era for snooker in terms of our strength in depth and the standard of play on our global tour gets stronger every year.

“We are particularly excited to bring back tour places for the winners of the fantastic amateur events staged around the world, providing incentive and opportunity for the best new talent from around the planet. It is so important to see the leading players from all continents, including Africa and the Americas, playing in the spotlight of our professional circuit, in order to help our sport grow in those regions.

“We are one of the few truly inclusive sports, with no barriers in terms of gender, age and nationality, and that is reflected in our tour structure.”

Full qualification list:

Top 64 from the two-year Prize Money World Rankings after the 2022 World Championship: 64

Players awarded a two-year Tour card for the 2021/2022 season (not already qualified): 31*

Top 4 players from 2021/2022 one-year ranking list following the 2022 World Championship (not already qualified)** 4

CBSA China Tour**: 2

Q School**: 12

WPBSA Q Tour**: 2

WSF Championship**: 1

WSF Under-18 Junior Championship**: 1

World Women’s Snooker Qualifiers**: 2

EBSA European Qualifiers**: 2

APBSF Asia Pacific Qualifier**: 1

PABSA Americas Qualifier**: 1

ABSC Africas Qualifier**: 1

*Final total subject to change if any of these players finish inside of the top 64 of the two-year prize money rankings after the 2022 World Championship

 **Players will receive a two-year tour card

In addition to these confirmed places, any players who qualify for the final stages of the Betfred World Championship at the Crucible, who otherwise would not earn a new tour card, will also receive a two-year tour card, as was the case last season.

Interestingly no mention of invitational cards …

Also worth noting that APBSF includes Oceania.

Players coming from some of these regions have consistently struggled on the main tour, some gave up before completing their two years, some even never showed up.

I’m certain that Jason Ferguson is aware that the level of the snooker in some areas is nowhere near what is required from main tour professionals and that the players coming from those areas have next to no chance to stay on tour after two years. It’s hard enough to have to move to the UK as an expat, to leave the family, to learn a different language, to adapt to a different culture without having to cope with the fact that you feel that you don’t have a proper chance to succeed. Ideally, there should be a true secondary tour, and this should be where all new pros start. The fact though is that there isn’t such a secondary tour for now … so why not offer those aspiring players one full year of scholarship under supervision of a mentor/coach and, only after that year, offer them a two years card PROVIDED that

  1. they still want one
  2. they have shown commitment and dedication throughout their scholarship
  3. they have played in most Q-Tour events available to them (*)

Also, just as WST/WPBSA have put structures into place to support those players who struggle with mental health, it would be a good idea for them to facilitate the access to English language courses for those who need them. Brits tend to assume that everyone speaks English (whilst themselves usually don’t speak any other language 😉) but this isn’t the case. Being able to communicate is essential in every aspect of our lives. It’s even more important when one is away from home and family. Isolation is a huge negative factor when it comes to wellbeing and mental health.

(*) If the Q-Tour becomes truly international, some of those aspiring players may find it difficult to secure visas and other required papers for some destinations.