2021 Q-School Event 3 – Round 2

Round 2 of the third and last 2021 Q-School concluded yesterday.

Here is what WST reported about it:

Wells Sunk By In-Form Muir

Former Scottish Open semi-finalist Daniel Wells faces a year away from professional snooker as he lost 4-2 to Ross Muir in the last 128 of the third and final Q School event.

All results

Welshman Wells has been on the pro tour since 2015 but was relegated at the end of last season and has won just one match in the three Q School events.

Scotland’s Muir has made five centuries over the three events and impressed again today as a top break of 103 helped him set up a last-64 tie with Saqib Nasir. He needs four more wins to guarantee a tour card by reaching the semi-finals, and Muir is also in contention for the two cards available for the next two highest ranked players on the Order of Merit.

Women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna came from 2-0 down to 2-2 against Ross Bulman but eventually lost 4-2. Bulman now meets Lewis Gillen.

James Cahill made a 112 in a 4-0 win over Labeed Ahmed while Sanderson Lam, who lost narrowly to Barry Pinches in the final round of event two, got back on track with a 4-1 defeat of Jack Bradford.

France’s top player Brian Ochoiski top scored with 74 in a 4-1 victory over Carl Mottershaw, while Belgium’s Ben Mertens made breaks of 55, 58, 56 and 118 as he beat Evan Munro 4-0.

Mitchell Mann top scored with 111 in a 4-1 defeat of Umut Dikme, while Kishan Hirani came from 3-1 down to beat Michael Collumb 4-3.

There were also victories for non UK/Irish players Niel Vincent (France), Rodion Judin (Latvia), Mateusz Baranowski (Poland), Yu Kiu Chang (Hong Kong), Soheil Vahedi (Iran), Lei Peifan, Luo Honghao, Bai Langning, Si Jiahui (China), Florian Nüßle (Austria) and Brian Cini (Malta).

Unfortunately a number of them are set to face each other in round three. At the time of writing, Ben Mertens has beaten Niel Vincent and Soheil Vahedi has beaten Rodion Judin, whilst today, Luo Honghao is set to face Bai Langning and Si Jiahui will play Daan Leyssen (Belgium) who had a bye through round two.

Lei Peifan won his third round match and is currently on top of the Orfer of Merit list. In round four he will face Ben Mertens…

If you wonder what happened to Tony Knowles … as for once WST failed to report on him … fear not. He’s through to round four and the main feature of WST report on round three. Seriously, it’s quite remarkable what Tony achieves, and all credits to him, but he’s hardly the future of the game.

 

2021 Q-School Event 3 – Round 1

The third and this season’s last Q-School event started on Tuesday and round 1 is now completed.

This is what WST reported after the first day 

Wins For Kenna And Knowles

Rebecca Kenna and Tony Knowles both scored impressive victories in round one of Q School event three in Sheffield.

All results

This is the third and final event, with four semi-finalists to earn tour cards next Sunday, plus two more who finish highest on the Order of Merit.

Women’s world number four Kenna won a Q School match for the first time last week, before losing in the second round. She has another success under her belt this time, beating Philip O’Connor 4-0, setting up a tie with Ross Bulman on Thursday.

Veteran Knowles, who turns 66 this week, scored a 4-0 win over Garry Coulson with a top break of 39. He now meets Ryan Roberts.

Ross Muir top scored with 62 in a 4-1 defeat of Connor Benzey, while Sean O’Sullivan fired runs of 89, 52, 64 and 83 in a 4-0 defeat of Samuel Lee-Stevens.

Hong Kong’s Yu Kiu Chang came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to beat Harvey Chandler 4-3, taking the deciding frame by potting the final pink and black.

Top break of the day was a 119 from George Pragnell, who beat Stan Moody 4-2.

and although most of the second day was spent playing round one matches, WST report is all about the round 2 evening session, with the focus on Tony Knowles again.

Next to nothing about non British/Irish players, nothing at all about mainland Europeans … that’s very disappointing and once again shows that we are very far away from a “Global” sport.

So here goes…

France’s Niel Vincent and Belgium’s Daan Leyssen both won their first round matches, but Julien Leclercq was beaten by James Sylverwood in a deciding frame. Daan is through to round three as he was due to face Barry Pinches who has just regained his tour card last Monday. There were wins for Umut Dikme (Germany) and Maris Volajs (Latvia) as well.

The only Japanese in the draw, Keishin Kamihashi lost to Jenson Kendrick.

Young Chris Totten from Scotland apparently didn’t show up for his match.

I’m glad that Rebecca Kenna was able to win a second match. The women’s tour isn’t yet at the required level, we know that. On Yee Ng, who was offered a two years tour card is well aware of the challenge she faces. She has been speaking to WST:

Good luck On Yee!

Snooker and Tour News – 10 June 2021

WST has published some more information about the first ranking event of the 2021/22 season:

Championship League Snooker’s ranking event will return this summer as 128 players compete for the title at Morningside Arena, Leicester.

The tournament takes place over three stages, starting on Sunday, July 18. Winners’ Week will run from Monday, August 9, concluding with Finals Day on Friday, August 13.

Championship League Snooker Ranking Event 2021
Stage 1:
18-23 July
26-30 July
2-6 August

Stage 2:
August 9-12

Stage 3:
August 13

Details of how to watch will be announced soon.

The CLS isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I’m glad it’s back on the calendar as the first event of the season. I believe that this is the best possible start for the young and rookies. It may be just one day for most of them, it’s still seven matches, and at least 14 frames, against 7 different opponents, including some of the best. And they have a real chance to win a little something too. Even if it’s not much, it’s definitely better for those who need to gain experience than playing just one best of seven, getting beaten and go away, penniless.

Corrigendum: Mr Rerack correctly pointed out in comments that I was getting confused and the format I descibed above was the format of the WST Pro Series. So, if the format here is the same as for last year ranking CLS, the groups are four players groups and the matches best of 4. It’s still better than just one best of 7.

WST also reported on the team event in China:

Shanghai Success At CBSA Cup

The ‘One Belt, One Road’ Shaanxi 2021 CBSA Cup National Snooker Team Championship was won by a Shanghai team represented by Tian Pengfei, Lu Ning and Zhao Jianbo, following a 4-2 victory against the Sichuan team of Zhou Yuelong, Zhang Jiankang and Cai Wei.

Held at the Shaanxi Tennis Centre, the competition saw 35 teams contest the title, won previously by Team Guangdong last December.

This year it would be Team Shanghai that would emerge victorious, a 4-3 semi-final victory against Team Lanzhou secured on the final pink, followed by a 4-2 final success against Sichuan in the title match enough to secure the 150,000 RMB top prize.

There were seven centuries made during the event in all, with a high break of 140 compiled by Cao Yupeng. Notably, there was also a break of 110 by Zhang Anda and Cao Yupeng in a doubles frame.

Ding and Yan Bingtao are the only “big names” who did not enter. Yan actually stayed in the UK after the World Championship: he’s in Sheffield with his girlfriend.

And here is the google translation of the report published by the CBSA via weibo

Taiwan Association Cup ends Tian Pengfei leads Shanghai team 4-2 and Sichuan team wins championship

​​News from the official website of the China Billiards Association On June 9, 2021, the “Belt and Road” Shaanxi China Taiwan Association Cup National Snooker Team Championship entered the final match day. In the finals, Tian Pengfei, Lu Ning and Zhao Jianbo represented The Shanghai team defeated Zhou Yuelong, Zhang Jiankang, and Cai Wei’s Sichuan team 4-2 and raised the championship trophy.

c10c56f6ly4grc5mhdeuvj20u00k13zt

The China Taiwan Association Cup National Snooker Team Championship has been held in Xi’an, Shaanxi for two consecutive years. Last year, the Guangdong team composed of Fang Xiongman, Huang Jiahao and Browning broke through 32 teams to win the championship. This year, the number of teams in the event has increased to 35, and the participation of professional players such as Liang Wenbo, Xiao Guodong, Zhou Yuelong and others has also enhanced the viewing of the event.
According to the schedule, the two semi-final competitions ended this morning. In the upper half, the Shanghai team composed of Zhao Jianbo, Lu Ning and Tian Pengfei played against the Lanzhou team represented by Wu Yize, Xu Si and Lu Haotian. Both teams are full-professional lineups, and this game was inextricably played. It was not until the deciding game that Zhao Jianbo scored the last pink ball on the table.
In the lower half, the Sichuan team consisting of three Sichuan players Zhang Jiankang, Zhou Yuelong and Cai Wei played against last year’s champion team player Fang Xiongman and the Foshan team represented by Long Zehuang and He Guoqiang. The Sichuan team played well in singles and doubles in this game. In the round, there were no opponents and finally reached the final with a score of 4-1.

c10c56f6ly4grc5mhar4fj20u00k176v

In the first single game of the final, Lu Ning played against Zhang Jiankang. In the final stage of the black ball, Zhang Jiankang scored the goal and won a point for his hometown. In the second game, Zhao Jianbo faced Zhou Yuelong. In the game, Zhou Yuelong made consecutive misunderstandings and gave his opponent a free kick. Zhao Jianbo took the opportunity to tie the score.
In the doubles game, Tian Pengfei and Zhao Jianbo played against Zhang Jiankang and Cai Wei. In this round, the Sichuan team spent more time sitting on the bench than playing time. The score came to 1-2, and the Sichuan team lost another round. In the fourth game, Zhou Yuelong seized the opportunity to tie the score using Tian Pengfei’s mistake. In the fifth game, Lu Ning defeated Cai Wei and the Shanghai team got the match point.
In the sixth round of doubles, the Shanghai team was played by Tian Pengfei’s partner Lu Ning, and the Sichuan team’s lineup remained unchanged. Under pressure, Lu Ning succeeded in attacking the red ball in the remote station and opened the situation smoothly. Then the two consecutively scored around the black ball, keeping the initiative firmly in their hands. In the midgame stage, the two sides launched a long safety ball battle. As you come and go, the difficulty of the situation has also increased step by step.
At the end of the game, Cai Wei’s defensive mistakes became the Sichuan team’s “sweet sing” in this tournament. In the end, Tian Pengfei and Lu Ning teamed up to complete the overscore and set the score at 4-2. While winning the championship, they received a bonus of 150,000 yuan.
This tournament produced a total of 7 strokes and broke 100 points. Sichuan team Zhang Jiankang scored 112 points on the first day of the game, and Suzhou team Zhang Anda scored 117 and 134 points on the 7th. After entering the single-loss match, Cao Yupeng (140), Mei Xiwen (127), Lu Ning (101) and Lu Haotian (101) completed the break one after another on the same day. Among them, Cao Yupeng’s 140 points helped him sit on the single-stroke list Top of the list. In addition, in the group stage, Zhang Anda and Cao Yupeng worked perfectly to score 110 consecutive points in a one-man-one doubles game. (Xiao Fan)

c10c56f6ly4grc5mh9fw8j20k00qj3zc

2021 Q-School Event 2 – The Outcome

Lewis worst fears were vindicated yesterday as all four Event 2 laureates are veterans and former pros.

Here are the reports by WST:

The Last 16

Q School Event Two – The Final Eight

These are the eight players through to the quarter-finals of Q School event two in Sheffield. The four winners will earn a World Snooker Tour card for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.

Barry Pinches. Age 50 from Norwich. Played on the pro tour from 1989-97, 1998-2016 and 2019 onwards. Relegated from the tour at the end of last season. Former world number 18. Won a PTC event in 2010, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final. Reached the quarter-finals of the 2003 UK Championship and the last 16 at the World Championship in 2004.

versus

Sanderson Lam. Age 27 from Leeds. Played on the pro tour from 2015 to 2019. Reached the last 16 of the Gibraltar Open in 2017.


Hammad Miah. Age 27 from Hertford. Played on the pro tour from 2013 to 15 and 2016 to 20. Reached the last 16 of the 2018 Paul Hunter Classic.

versus

Craig Steadman. Age 38 from Farnworth. Played on the pro tour from 2009-10 and 2012-20. Reached the semi-finals of the Shoot Out last season while competing as an amateur. Played Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Crucible in 2015.


Michael Judge. Age 45 from Dublin. Played on the tour from 1992 to 2011. Reached the semi-finals of the Grand Prix in 2004, and the last 16 at the Crucible in 2001. Former world number 24. Runner-up in the 2011 Nations Cup for Ireland, alongside Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien. Won the UK Seniors Championship in 2019.

versus

Kuldesh Johal. Age 40 from Huddersfield. Played on the pro tour in 2008-09 and 2010-11. Won three events on the old Pontins International Open Series.


Alfie Burden. Age 44 from London. Played on the pro tour from 1994 to 2008 and 2010 to 2020. World Amateur Champion in 2009. Made a 147 at the 2016 English Open. Quarter-finalist at four ranking events. Played at the Crucible in 1998.

versus

Michael Collumb. Age 32 from Motherwell. The only potential rookie left in the field. Played as a wild card in the Scottish Open last season, losing 4-3 to Thepchaiya Un-Nooh. Won the Scottish National Championship for the first time in 2019.

The quarter-finals

Judge / Burden / Steadman / Pinches Regain Tour Spots

Michael Judge regained a place on the World Snooker Tour after a ten year absence by beating Kuldesh Johal 4-0 in the final round of Q School event two.

All results 

Judge, Alfie Burden, Barry Pinches and Craig Steadman all secured tour cards for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons.

Irishman Judge was a familiar face on the circuit for almost two decades from 1992 to 2011, notably reaching the semi-finals of the Grand Prix in 2004 and the last 16 at the Crucible in 2001, and spending several seasons ranked among the top 32. He enjoyed one subsequent moment in the limelight in 2019 when he won the UK Seniors Championship, beating Jimmy White in the final.

He was not at his best against Johal but breaks of 45 and 43 helped him to a comfortable win. “It feels great,” said the 45-year-old Dubliner. “After I fell off the tour ten years ago, I put the cue away and sorted out my life. I was doing a bit of work at the Q Club in Wicklow. I played on the amateur scene just for the enjoyment, and after five or six years I decided to give it another go. Then my wife had a baby boy so I put snooker on hold for a couple of years.

“During lockdown I was thinking I wouldn’t mind giving it a go, and a friend said he would back me. I started practising hard and things have fallen into place. Here I am, back on tour for more torture! I always felt I was good enough to get back on if I gave it a proper go. Whether I can hold my own, we’ll soon find out. I’m just looking forward to seeing what it brings me.

“Winning the UK seniors final against one of the all-time greats in Jimmy White in a packed arena really inspired me. That has given me the confidence that I can do it on any stage. I know I can beat anyone on my day once I get sharp. The tour will suit me because there are so many tournaments you don’t need to practise that much.”

Alfie Burden also regained his tour card, after a much shorter hiatus of 11 months. The 44-year-old Londoner recovered from the loss of the first frame to beat Michael Collumb 4-1 with a top break of 70.

Former World Amateur Champion Burden has 24 seasons as a pro behind him and has reached the quarter-finals of four ranking events. After relegation in 2020, he missed out on a return via Q School, then took time away from snooker. He admitted in this recent interview that he had missed the thrill of competition and camaraderie on the circuit so decided to give the qualifying minefield another try, this time successfully.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Burden. “I only had three weeks preparation for this so I didn’t have much expectation. I didn’t know how I would deal with the pressure. In this school my experience goes a long way. I have enjoyed being back out there. I didn’t play great, but dug in.

“During the pandemic I got very bored and missed the game, so I decided there was no harm in giving Q School another try and rolling the dice. I’m looking forward to two more years on the tour. They thought the hell-raiser was gone, but he’s back! I don’t fear anyone, I’ll just enjoy it.

“I have always been fiercely competitive, I never give up. I have always believed in my ability. I have probably under-achieved but that’s my own fault because I didn’t live in the right manner. Hopefully my son can look at me and think ‘the old man doesn’t give in, he comes back for more.’ If he carries that into his career (footballer son Lene has just signed for Bristol Rovers) when times are hard then that will be a good example for him. I’ll be doing a lot of miles to Bristol to watch him play.

“I’d like to thank my coach Alan Bell, Whetstone Snooker Club and everyone there for their support, and finally my daughter Bow who is like an angel on my shoulder, I am so lucky to be her dad.”

Craig Steadman survived some nervous moments to beat Hammad Miah 4-3. From 3-0 up, Farnworth’s Steadman lost the next three frames then trailed 34-0 in the decider. But breaks of 48 and 28 gave him victory and a place on the circuit which he had previously held from 2012 to 2020.

“I should have won 4-1, then it all went wrong,” admitted 38-year-old Steadman, who reached the semi-finals of the Shoot Out last season while competing as an amateur. “I felt very nervous at 3-1 but then in the last frame I felt quite calm. I had an unbelievable fluke in the decider so I feel for Hammad because he stuck in well from 3-0. The relief is massive, I’m stunned. There’s a lot on the line, no one wants to come back tomorrow and start it all again.

“It was nice to have a run at the Shoot Out, and that gave me the motivation to start playing again. I practised really hard for this, but as soon as I got here I felt as if I had not played a proper match for ten years. It felt really tough.

“My personal life has been fantastic over the past year as my wife had a baby and I spent four or five months helping renovate the house. So that took my mind off not playing snooker. But then I started missing it, so I’m happy now that I’ll be back playing.”

Barry Pinches got the better of a dramatic deciding frame to beat Sanderson Lam 4-3. From 2-0 down, Pinches took three frames in a row with a top break of 100, before Lam won the sixth for 3-3. Both players had chances in the decider and it came down to the colours. Lam potted the last red, brown and yellow but then missed the green and Pinches took green, brown, blue and pink to win it 63-54.

The 50-year-old from Norwich first turned pro back in 1989 and was once ranked 18th in the world. He becomes the second player aged 50 or over to come through Q School this month, joining Peter Lines who qualified through the first event.

“I have played in big matches at the Crucible and all the main venues, and the pressure just doesn’t get any bigger than that,” said Pinches. “When the next two years depend on one shot, it’s so hard. He missed an awkward green. My adrenaline was pumping but I managed to take the last few balls. I tried to fist-pump where Sanderson couldn’t see me because I was psyched. It’s pure relief.

“I have always taken the view that if you enjoy playing and you can manage financially, you should keep going. All of the guys who got through today are all older players. Snooker is not an easy game to get good at! There are so many good, hardened pros age 35, 40 or even 50. It’s so difficult for the younger players to get through Q School.

“I’d like to get back to the standard I was at in the early 2000s when I was pushing for a place in the top 16. I’m not saying I can get that high, I’d just like to get back close to that level because I haven’t done myself justice for the past two years.”

Later on Facebook, Barry Pinches came up with this:

I’m sick to the back teeth of seeing these
‘ why aren’t the young players winning through q school statuses ! ‘
I’ll tell you why .
It’s because this isn’t the 1980s or early 1990s when there were virtually no good players around aged over 30.
There is alot of very good young talent at q school it’s just that they are up against alot more tougher opposition than there was years ago .
The amateur game needs a very significant boost or the Professional tour needs to be made a tad bigger soon if not we may be in danger of losing a generation of young players .
Snooker is an extremely tough game to get very good at and it’s not easy for the young generation coming through and throwing tour wild cards at them or seeding them for upcoming amateur tours is neither fair nor the answer either in my humble opinion.

To which I answered this:

Barry above is right: one of the main issues is the severe decline of the amateur game. The young ones are not ready and the level between amateurs and pros has widened. It’s even worse this year with the coronavirus putting the amateur game to a complete stop. I know that Barry will disagree but for me part of the answer is to go back to a tiered system. Give the lower ranked players/debutants a more winnable first match, a progressive route allowing for development. There would be no protection if, no matter the round, a player losing their opening match gets 0 ranking points. On the other hand, financial pressure should be eased by paying everyone who actually plays, including the first round losers. By playing they bring value to the tournament, the sponsors, the venue management and the viewers. Paying them for a work done is only right, it’s not “rewarding mediocrity”. Playing should not cost them. And it can be easily done at no additional cost for the governing body: just make the prize money structure a bit less top heavy. It would be fairer as well. Returning to a tiered system doesn’t not need to be returning to cubicles with nobody watching in Pontins or whatever. It should be all played at the final venue, in one go, as one tournament, with a crowd, with streaming or television. There is no reason nowadays for not doing that. It’s actually already done: even at qualifiers 8 tables are currently streamed in China.

 

I can understand Barry’s frustration but at the same time it’s a big worry for the future that next to no young player is able to qualify/survive on the main tour. The current structure of the calendar leaves very little space for Pro-ams. Contractual restrictions on streaming limits the “exposure” of the few surviving. Do we really need that many pro tournaments? I’m not sure. I would gladly have fewer, maybe 12-15, with longer formats, tiered structure, proper exposure, more fairly distributed prize money,  and quality venues/hospitality for the players. I would gladly have gaps in the calendar for pro-ams, seniors and juniors events with proper exposure and fairly geographically spread. Let’s revive the true Paul Hunter Classic en August, lets get it back to what it was: a true Pro-Am, without ranking points attached, convivial, a huge snooker feast. Let’s revive the Pontins festivals, and the Pink Ribbon – even without Paul Mount – and have it moving around Europe. If possible, let’s get the General Cup back in Hong-Kong ahead of the “Asian leg” of the snooker season. Bring back some team events, with mixed gender/mixed age groups teams. Bring back some non-ranking pure fun into our sport. Enjoyment is what keeps us all going, no matter what we do for a living.

Oh … and then maybe, think about an inclusive rating system instead of a rigid, money linked, ranking system. It works for other sports.

End of rant. For now … 😉🙄

Congratulations Barry Pinches, Alfie Burden , Craig Steadman and Mick Judge!

PS: one additional concern for me is that the game is now owned by Matchroom. The new boss, Eddie Hearn, is not particularly interested in snooker, unlike his father: his big passion is boxing and if he has to set priorities, snooker will not come first.

 

2021 Q-School Event 2 – Rounds 3 & 4

And so today is the last day of the 2021 Q-School already.

I have to admit that the last couple of days have been painful from my fan point of view as none of the ones I really wanted to do well are still in the draw.

Here are the reports by WST

Saturday

Ross Muir made the highest break of 2021 Q School so far as he thrashed Fergal Quinn 4-0 to move into the fourth round of event two in Sheffield.

All results

Scotland’s Muir played on the pro tour from 2013 to 2019 and will earn a return if he can win three more matches on Sunday and Monday.

His break of 140 against Quinn tops the century charts, and he also fired runs of 53, 63 and 64 in a superb display. He now meets Simon Bedford, who made a 103 in a 4-3 defeat of Ross Bulman.

Two-time ranking event winner Michael White came from 3-2 down to edge out Ben Fortey 4-3. He now faces Barry Pinches, who came from 3-1 down to beat Ryan Davies 4-3 in a marathon match which lasted five hours.

Michael Georgiou compiled runs of 93, 62, 66, 85 and 68 in a 4-3 defeat of Samuel Lee-Stevens. Alfie Burden’s top break was 77 at he saw off Mark Ganderton 4-0.

Belgium’s promising Julien Leclercq top scored with 80 in a 4-1 win over Niel Vincent, while James Cahill made a 105 in a 4-1 win over Dave Finbow.

Veteran Rod Lawler beat Chen Feilong 4-2 with a top run of 82, while World Seniors champion David Lilley suffered a 4-1 defeat against Jenson Kendrick.

Sunday

Potential Rookies Chase Tour Dream

Robbie McGuigan, Liam Pullen, Michael Collumb, Mark Lloyd and Daniel Womersley could all earn a place on the World Snooker Tour for the first time when they play in the business end of Q School event two on Monday.

All results

Just 16 players remain in the second of three events in Sheffield. The last 16 will be played from 10am on Monday, followed by the quarter-finals from 1pm. Those four winners will receive a place on the pro circuit for the next two seasons.

Robbie McGuigan

Promising Northern Irishman McGuigan, who turns 17 next month, edged out Ross Vallance 4-3 in the last 32 with a top break of 88. He now faces Michael Judge, who beat Soheil Vahedi 4-3.

York’s 15-year-old Pullen, playing in Q School for the first time, beat James Cahill 4-3 with a superb break of 72 in the decider. He will now play Scotland’s 32-year-old Collumb, a 4-2 winner over Dylan Emery.

Womersley, age 29 from Leeds, whitewashed Rod Lawler 4-0 and will now face veteran Barry Pinches, who scored a 4-1 victory over two-time ranking event winner Michael White.

Lloyd, age 21 from Portsmouth, beat Julien Leclercq 4-2 and now meets Hammad Miah, who beat Paul Davison by the same scoreline.

China’s Lei Peifan top scored with 109 in a 4-1 defeat of Michael Georgiou. His next opponent is Alfie Burden who came from 3-2 down to beat Joshua Thomond 4-3, making breaks of 113 and 88 in the last two frames.

Sanderson Lam edged out Harvey Chandler 4-3, setting up a tie with in-form Ross Muir, who fired runs of 135 and 111 in a 4-0 win over Simon Bedford.

Craig Steadman beat Luo Honghao 4-2 and now faces Duane Jones, who top scored with 86 in a 4-1 win over Jenson Kendrick.

John Astley saw off Leo Fernandez 4-2 with a top break of 96, setting up a tie with Kuldesh Johal, who came from 2-0 down to beat Liam Graham 4-2.

It’s not all bad of course: Lei Peifan, Robbie McGuigan, Mark Lloyd and Liam Pullen are all young players and I hope that they will qualify. Liam Pullen is not one of the hyped youngsters and he has been impressive so far. Ross Muir has lost his professional status after suffering health issues, he’s only 25, and I hope that he can get back on the tour.

However, Niel Vincent, Julien Leclercq, Brian Ochoiski, Soheil Vahedi and Luo Honghao are all out of the competition, as is Michael White. Soheil is not badly placed in the order of merit. Even if he doesn’t requalify, he will likely get opportunities to play via the top-up system. That said, I’m not sure what his situation would be regarding visas and work permit. If he has to go back to Iran, it would be heartbreaking. Luo is incredibly talented and only 20 years old. The main toour needs the likes of him. As for Michael White, who recently opened up about his drinking problem, I fear that a “failure” to requalify might drive him back to alcohol. That would be terrible.

“Juju”, Julien Leclercq, has done well in this Q-School so far and it’s a valuable learning experience for him. What annoys me big time is that he got 18 points in the order of merit so far, having won four matches, yet, he’s behind Ben Mertens who also has 18 points without winning a match purely because Ben is seeded in the secound round in all events and on “count back” did better that Julien in event 1, winning three frames in round 2, whilst Julien lost by 4-0 in that round.  By the same mechanism, Julien is also behind Brian Ochoiski, who won only one match, whilst Julien himself finds himself behind the winless Ben! Something is clearly not right here! Surely, winning matches should have “precedence” over winning frames?

The above is nothing against Brian, nor Ben; I would love to see them both on the main tour. It’s just that it doesn’t feel right the way it is.

 

 

2021 Q-School Event 2 – Rounds 1 & 2

We are already in day 4 of Event 2 and round 3 only began this afternoon.Here are WST reports about day 2 and day 3:

Day 2

White Survives Wienold Test

Michael White came through a tough battle against Germany’s Richard Wienold at Q School event two in Sheffield, winning 4-2 to reach the last 64.

All results

Former Indian Open, Shoot Out and Paul Hunter Classic champion White was relegated from the tour last year and must reach the semi-finals of one of the two remaining Q School events to be sure of regaining a tour card.

He looked in danger of an early exit when Wienold made a break of 87 to lead 2-1, but Welshman White took the next two frames on the colours, then made a 52 in the next as he set up a third round match with Ben Fortey.

Former Crucible quarter-finalist Patrick Wallace made the highest break of the event so far, 138, as he saw off Adam Duffy 4-2.

Russia’s top player Ivan Kakovskii compiled runs of 60, 75 and 112 in an impressive 4-2 defeat of Hans Blanckaert. Japan’s Keishin Kamihashi came from 2-1 down to edge out Neal Jones 4-3.

Fight back of the day came from Latvia’s Rodion Judin as he recovered a 3-0 deficit to beat Manasawin Phetmalaikul 4-3 with a top break of 81.

Former pro Sean O’Sullivan top scored with 53 in a 4-1 win over Liam Davies. Michael Judge, a quarter-finalist at the Grand Prix back in 2004, beat Sergey Isaenko 4-0 with top runs of 76, 75 and 55.

 

Day 3 

Crash And Burns

Q School top seed Ian Burns suffered a surprise 4-1 defeat against underdog Ross Vallance in the second round of event two in Sheffield.

All results

Burns finished 65th in the official world rankings at the end of last season, missing out on keeping his tour card by just one place. He then lost to Peter Lines in the final round of Q School event one, and today’s defeat means he must reach the semi-finals of the third and last event to be sure of regaining a place on the circuit.

Scotland’s 33-year-old Vallance, who has never played on the pro tour, made a top break of 48 as he knocked out Burns and set up a third round tie with Haydon Pinhey.

Women’s world number four Rebecca Kenna couldn’t follow up her first round win over John Pritchett as she lost 4-1 to Phil O’Kane. Kenna won the opening frame only for Kane to take four in a row with a top break of 79.

Soheil Vahedi

Iran’s Soheil Vahedi top scored with 116 in a 4-1 defeat of Daan Leyssen, while promising Northern Irishman Robbie McGuigan made an 85 in a 4-1 win over Kishan Hirani.

Israel’s Eden Sharav top scored with 74 in a 4-0 victory over Ryan Thomerson while China’s Luo Honghao edged out Luke Simmonds 4-3 with a 79 in the decider.

World Seniors champion David Lilley beat Stephen Baillie 4-0 with a top run of 70 while France’s top player Brian Ochoiski saw off Daniel Kandi 4-0.

David Donovan came from 3-0 down to beat Ben Mertens 4-3. Harvey Chandler made a similar fight back, from 3-1 down to beat Si Jiahui 4-3. Former Scottish Open semi-finalist Daniel Wells went down 4-1 to Simon Bedford.

Event two runs until Monday at Ponds Forge, with the four winning quarter-finalists to earn a two-year tour card.

Round 2 concluded today.

Julien Leclercq (Belgium), Niel Vincent and Brian Ochoiski (France) all qualified for round 3. They are the three native French speakers in the draw and, being a native French spreaker myself I want them to do well. Snooker is quite popular in Belgium but mainly in Flanders. In France, the relevant Federation doesn’t give snooker much attention and the coverage provided by Eurosport FR isn’t great in that the quality of commentary is poor. So those are regions where success for a young local lad would really help the development of the sport. Unfortunately Julien and Niel are playing each other as I’m writing this. The winner could play Brian in round 5. This means that, at best, only one could reach the last round with a chance to qualify. And Luo Honghao, another young player I would really love to see back on the tour is also in that section.

Ben Mertens lost his opening match again: he lead 3-0 and lost 4-3. This can only be pressure. I stand by what I said after Ben’s defeat in event one: I don’t doubt his talent but too much hype is probably putting excessive pressure on this 16 years old. That said Ben has already amassed 14 “merit” points, with another 4 guaranteed, without winning a match. Julien Leclercq has won three matches already and even if he was to win the one that’s under way he wouldn’t be certain to get ahead of Ben in the order of merit. That’s not quite right. The “seeding” has solved one issue in that the best prospects can no more meet in the first round, but has created another one. Yes, it’s true that the players who previously got a bye to round 2 always “earned” 4 “free” points in the process, but they rarely got a bye in all three events…

Another young player who lost in this round is the 18 years old Si Jiahui. He lost by 4-3 to Harvey Chandler who, of course, is a former pro, and, who, at the time of writing is already through to round 4.

Soheil Vahedi, who became a father very recently, beat Daan Leyssen, another young Belgian, to progress to round 3. I hope that Soheil can return to the main tour. He has made so many sacrifices to make his snooker dream reality, and so did his wife, who joined him in the UK.

 

2021 Q-School Event 2 – Day 1

The 2021 Q-School Event 2 got underway yesterday and here is the WST report about the day’s outcome:

Rebecca Kenna won a match at Q School for the first time, making a superb break of 92 in the deciding frame to beat John Pritchett 4-3.

All results

Women’s world number four Kenna is through to the second round of event two in Sheffield and will meet Phil O’Kane on Friday. She will need another five wins to earn a two-year tour card.

This is Kenna’s second visit to Q School as she first played in the event in 2019, and the 32-year-old from Yorkshire now has an impressive win under her belt.

From 2-1 down, Kenna won a scrappy fourth frame, then made runs of 26 and 38 to lead 3-2. Pritchett made it 3-3 but Kenna finished in style by taking the decider in one visit.

Former world number eight Dean Reynolds lost 4-0 to David Donovan.

David Lilley let slip a 3-0 lead against Callum Lloyd but eventually got the better of a scrappy decider to win 4-3.

Germany’s promising Umut Dikme scored a 4-2 win over James Silverwood, knocking in breaks of 62 and 77

Belgium’s 18-year-old Julien Leclerqc, who knocked Soheil Vahedi out of the Betfred World Championship qualifiers in April, scored a 4-0 win over Evan Munro.

Event two runs until Monday.

Rebecca Kenna actually made a 92 in that decider. It’s good to see WST reporting about the only female player in the draw.

That said, the reason(s) if any that guide WST when it comes to what they decide to report on totally elude me.

Why on earth report on Dean Reynolds? Dean suffered severe health issues in recent years, including a stroke, and he’s now a disability player. Yes, he does have a lot of merit to continue to play, but he stands no chance whatsoever in this competition, and putting a heavy 4-0 first round defeat into the spotlight does him no favour. This time there was no reporting on Tony Knowles who, unsurprisingly, lost to Kishan Hirani, who was a professsional for two seasons in 2018/19/20.

Julien Leclercq (Belgium) gets a mention as does Utmut Dikme (Germany), which pleases me, but why ignore Niel Vincent? The young Frenchman reached round 4 in Event 1. He’s been doing very well so far, he’s one to watch here for everyone interested in the development of the sport in mainland Europe.

The 14 years old Stan Moody also won his first match. He is the EPSB nominee and WST wrote a feature about him last month. Now that he’s got a win there isn’t a word about it?

The first round continues today and will be played to a finish. the second round will start this evening.