Players Championship 2019 – Day 4

Once again, I missed the action yesterday, completely this time!

So here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson scored a 6-4 win over Mark Williams at the Coral Players Championship – then revealed he is on red alert as his partner could go into labour with their new baby at any moment.

Robertson and his fiancé Mille are due to have their second child on March 20th. And the Aussie hopes the baby will not come early while he is battling for the title this week in Preston. He faces Judd Trump in the semi-finals at the Guild Hall on Friday evening, needing just two more wins to take the £125,000 top prize (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).

“If the baby comes early then I will have to dash off home, maybe Judd is hoping that happens!” said the 37-year-old. “It is strange, it could happen at any point and I have to prepare myself for that. The fortunate thing is that I’m in the UK and only a few hours drive away. Hopefully the baby will come when it is due in a couple of weeks.”

Robertson, who has been in fine form this season having won the Riga Masters and Welsh Open, lost the first two frames today against World Champion Williams, but then stormed back to take five in a row with top breaks of  63, 62, 95 and 75.

Welshman Williams made a 56 to take the next then got the better of a scrappy ninth frame to close to 5-4. And he had chances in the tenth but couldn’t take advantage. Robertson came to the table 17 points behind with the black, pink and baulk colours all safe on cushions. But he fashioned an excellent break of 54 by potting eight reds with blues, and that proved enough for victory.

“At 2-0 down it wasn’t looking good,” said 15-time ranking event winner Robertson. “I battled my way back to 2-2 then after the interval I managed to find some kind of rhythm. I was delighted to get through in the end.

“My game is really good. Myself and Judd are two form players. He is going for the big  jackpot (£500,000 prize money available for winning all three Coral Series events) but this tournament is big enough as it is so he won’t be thinking about that. It’s a chance to get to a final. He got me in the semi-finals of the Masters in a close one so hopefully I can return the favour.”

Evening session:

Mark Allen recovered a 3-0 deficit to beat Stuart Bingham 6-4 and reach the semi-finals of the Coral Players Championship in Preston.

Allen topped this season’s money list with £364,000 coming into this week and he is now guaranteed at least another £30,000 having made it to the last four at the Guild Hall. He will face either Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins on Saturday evening  (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).

Last month at the Coral World Grand Prix, Allen rashly conceded his match against Ali Carter when he was 3-1 down with 11 reds still on the table in the fifth frame. He admitted he had lost his appetite for snooker, but he has since regained his enthusiasm and tonight he showed determination in abundance as he fought back after a slow start.

Bingham raced into a 3-0 lead with top breaks of 71 and 76, before Allen hit back to take four frames in a row with top runs of 72, 108 and 54. Frame eight also looked like going Allen’s way until he ran out of position on 51 with two reds left, and Bingham later cleared for 4-4. Northern Ireland’s Allen regained the lead by taking frame nine with breaks of 35 and 29, then clinched victory in the next with a 75.

“I made a good break in the fourth frame which settled me down,” said 33-year-old Allen. “Stuart was on top before that, then after the interval it turned. Once I got back to 3-2 it was game on. I felt as if I played better than I have done in the last couple of tournaments, though there is still much improve on. I’m happy to win because Stuart is a very tough competitor.

“I have been fighting myself over the last few months. With a lot of chat on the phone to Terry (Griffiths) in the last week or two, I am in a better place now. I am giving it my all. I feel I am slowly coming into form and if I can keep improving match by match then I will be excited about my chances next month in Sheffield.

“No matter whether it’s Ronnie or John next, I know I am going to have to perform. They are two of the best three of all time in my opinion, along with Stephen Hendry. It will be a classic between those two tomorrow.”

It isn’t the first time in his career that Mark Allen has to battle depression and lack of motivation. Clearly Terry Griffiths is doing a great job in supporting him with the mental side of the sport.

For Stuart Bingham this defeat means that he will need to perform in Gibraltar and that his spot in the Tour Championship also depends on Kyren Wilson and David Gilbert results there. Kyren is only 500 points behind him. He would only need to go one round further than Stuart in Gibraltar  overcome him. David is 6000 points behind Stuart, which means that whatever happens David will need at least a semi final to catch up with him or Kyren, but in a rather depleted field it’s certainly not impossible.

And the there is John Higgins. He needs the title to get past any of the three above, but if he does he will get ahead of all three, meaning only one of them can still qualify for Llandudno. John faces Ronnie this afternoon, he seems to get back to form and Ronnie always finds it difficult against John. Should John win he would face Mark Allen next, and then possibly Judd Trump or Neal Robertson.

 

Players Championship 2019 – Day 3

Yesterday saw the last two first round matches played in the afternoon and the first quarter-final played in the evening.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

John Higgins continued his return to form by knocking world number one Mark Selby out of the Coral Players Championship, his 6-4 victory setting up a showpiece match with Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Higgins and O’Sullivan, two of snooker’s all-time greats, will meet in the quarter-finals on Friday at 1pm at the Preston Guild Hall (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here). It’s a repeat of their 2005 Grand Prix final at the same venue, when Higgins won 9-2 with four consecutive centuries.

It has been a patchy season for  Wizard of Wishaw Higgins, with surprise early exits from several tournaments. But in recent weeks he has shown glimpses of his best, with runs to the quarter-finals of the Welsh Open and the semi-finals of last week’s Indian Open. And today’s win over Selby keeps his momentum going.

After sharing the first two frames, Higgins went 3-1 up with breaks of 68 and 58. Selby responded with 67, 76 and 121 to take three in a row to lead 4-3. But the Englishman didn’t pot a ball in the last three frames as Higgins dominated them with top runs of 58 and 68.

“I’m delighted because I haven’t beaten Mark for a couple of years and I have lost some big games against him,” said 43-year-old Higgins. “At 3-1 in front I was bracing myself to go close with him because you always know he’s going to come back at you. At 4-3 I was still trying to stay positive. In India last week I felt I was starting to hit the ball a bit better so that gave me confidence.

“I have made a drastic change to my practice situation, I’m playing at a unit in Glasgow now with Stephen Maguire and Anthony McGill. Hopefully that will give me impetus for the rest of my career. Before that I was getting really down in the dumps in the house and not practising. You need to put the work in to do well in this game. Hopefully I can give myself a chance now looking ahead to Sheffield.”

Higgins needs to win the tournament in Preston to earn a spot in the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month. He added: “That’s not on my mind because every game is tough here. If I had won the tournament in India it might have made it a bit easier. But I’m just trying to play my best in each game.”

Stuart Bingham beat David Gilbert 6-4 in a match which has vital implications in terms of Coral Tour Championship qualification. Bingham is now up to seventh on the one-year ranking list, with the top eight after the Gibraltar Open to make it to Llandudno, while Gilbert will need a deep run in Gibraltar to have a chance (for more on that race click here).

A run of 86 gave Gilbert the opening frame before English Open champion Bingham took three in a row with 60, 71 and 68. Gilbert stole the fifth frame on the black then added the next two to lead 4-3. But Basildon’s Bingham looked in control for the remainder of the contest and sealed it in frame ten with a break of 57.

“The race to get to Llandudno has been on my mind since Christmas,” said Bingham, who now plays Mark Allen on Thursday evening. “It was a big match for both of us and a good win for me. I messed up a chance to go 4-1 up, then he had the momentum at 4-3. I just tried to dig in and eventually got it done. I’ll need to improve in my next match.

“If I do qualify for Llandudno, the extra £20,000 (guaranteed to first round losers) will also help in terms of making sure of my Crucible place. The win today might have been worth something like £50,000. That will help me do the garden up – I need to put fake grass in because when my son kicks the football around he gets mud everywhere!”

Evening session:

Judd Trump came from 5-2 down to beat Jack Lisowski 6-5 at the Coral Players Championship, becoming the first player into the semi-finals in Preston.

Lisowski looked set to beat his close friend but missed chances in the closing stages as Trump battled back and sealed victory with a century in the decider.  The Ace in the Pack goes through to meet Neil Robertson or Mark  Williams at the Guild Hall on Friday evening (limited number of tickets still available, for details click here).

Bristol’s Trump is enjoying the best season of his career having won the Masters and two ranking titles, including last month’s Coral World Grand Prix. Victory this week and at the Coral Tour Championship would see him complete the Coral Slam and earn a total of £500,000 – he is now just five matches away from that cash bonanza.

Lisowski made a top break of 81 and won several scrappy frames as he went 5-2 ahead, Trump’s only responses coming with runs of 106 and 70 in frames three and six. The tide turned as world number five Trump made breaks of 75 and 51 in recovering to 5-5.

Early in the decider, Lisowski had a scoring chance after his opponent had gone in off, but after potting one red he attempted a risky thin cut on the black to a top corner and missed his target. Trump made him pay with an excellent 113.

“At 5-2 I felt the game was going against me, Jack had the run of the balls,” said 29-year-old Trump, who has now made 62 centuries this season, more than any other player. “In the last couple of frames it turned around.  The break in the last frame wasn’t easy, the balls were awkward.

“I take massive pleasure from beating anyone from 5-2 down, but it is bittersweet against Jack. I’m disappointed for him because if he had beaten me he could have gone on to win the title and that could have been his big break through. But I still have to try my heart out when I’m out there and do anything possible to try to come back and win. It’s nice to be in with a chance of winning another tournament.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be on this winning run, I don’t know how long it’s going to last. To have sustained this form over nearly a whole season is very pleasing. I love the challenge of competing against top players and World Champions so I’m looking forward to my next match.”

Asked about the tough black Lisowski went for in the last frame, Trump said: “You have to weigh up your options at the time. He had been shut out for three frames so maybe he didn’t have the confidence to really go for it. I’ve done it plenty of times in the past and people have questioned my shot choices. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. Maybe he could have studied the situation and what had happened before and picked another shot, but I’m not going to criticise his shot choice.”

The result means that Lisowski is now out of the running in the race to qualify for the eight-man Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno, which runs from March 19-24.

Really Jack could and should have beaten Judd. But the signs were there already early in frame eight: he started to miss balls he potted easily before. He looked tense and indecisive over the shots. Jack has found it difficult to beat top players on the big stages in the past. Maybe he could benefit from some help with the mental aspect of winning. That said, Judd was very patient and applied himself, he didn’t take any flashy shots before frames were definitely won.

I didn’t see much of the Higgins v Selby match, just the last frame and a half, so it’s difficult to comment. From what I saw Higgins was very solid tactically. From the commentary it seems that both players got to a slow start. It will be important for Ronnie to start well and put Higgins under pressure early in their quarter-final. In my opinion Ronnie tends to give Higgins a bit too much respect.

Players Championship 2019 – Day 2

Day 2 in Preston saw wins from Mark Willams, Neil Robertson, Judd Trump and Jack Lisowski. Mark Williams is returning to form as was to be expected with the Crucible starting next month. There were still a few unexpected misses here and there – and Ali didn’t punish him – but overall he was very good. Judd Trump did play some incredible balls in a total demolition of Jimmy Robertson. The truth however is that Jimmy Robertson didn’t give him any sort of opposition. In frame 3, Judd missed a red in the top right pocket and looked shell-shocked for a split second. All reds were in the open, no ball was safe and there was more than enough on the table. At that level you would expect your opponent to clear, but Jimmy didn’t and Judd made it 3-0. That must have given him all the confidence he needed that his opponent wasn’t going to punish him. Again in frame 5, Judd needed four visits to win it, Jimmy had chances, didn’t take any. Personally, I’m not so sure how the match would have gone, had Jimmy taken frame 3, as he should have, and maybe planted seeds of doubt in Judd’s mind. Jack Lisowki beat Kyern Wilson quite convincingly: Kyren continues to struggle.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Afternoon session:

Neil Robertson and Mark Williams will go head to head in the quarter-finals of the Coral Players Championship, as they both came through their first round matches on Tuesday.

Robertson, in action for the first time since he won the Welsh Open in February, scored a 6-3 win over Joe Perry in Preston. The Melbourne native was content with his own performance, but less impressed by the Australian accent used by Ronnie O’Sullivan in his post-match interview on Monday night.

“Ronnie’s Aussie accent was way off, I don’t know what it was,” said Robertson. “You have to go deep into the bushes to find something like that back home. He could do with watching a bit more Chopper Read or some Aussie films to improve his accent.”

World number eight Robertson took a 5-2 lead over Perry with top breaks of 80, 107 and 101. Perry pulled one back and had chances in frame nine, crucially missing the final yellow when he looked set to make it 5-4. A relieved Robertson took advantage to seal victory.

“There were a couple of tactical frames but in the others I had some good breaks,” said Robertson. “Joe struggled a bit early on so I knew I had to get a good lead. It looked like going 5-4 in the end so I was pleased to finish it off.

“After the Welsh Open I had four or five days off to recharge the batteries. It’s a big part of the season coming up with massive tournaments, all at really good venues which is exciting, that’s what we play the game for.

“This event is the top 16 on the one year list so it’s the players in form, even more so than the Masters. A lot of the players in the field have won titles this season. It will be really tough to win. It’s fantastic to have best of 11 matches from the first round.”

On Thursday afternoon he’ll be up against Williams, who scored a 6-2 victory over Ali Carter. World Champion Williams has struggled to find his best form in recent months, admitting his dedication to practice has wavered. But breaks of 118, 131, 51, 70 and 79 today suggested he has regained his appetite, with the defence of his Crucible crown just a few weeks away.

Williams is close to guaranteeing a place at the Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later this month which is only for the top eight players on the one-year ranking list – for more on that raceclick here.

“That’s probably the best I have played all season,” said the Welshman. “I felt good out there, I have been practising hard for the last few weeks and it showed. My break building was good, my safety was good and I enjoyed it.

“My main aim this season was to qualify for the Tour Championship, I am on the border of doing that now. I won a tournament at the start of the season (the Yushan World Open) which almost put me into Llandudno and that was my downfall because I haven’t played much since.”

Evening session:

Judd Trump crushed Jimmy Robertson 6-0 at the Coral Players Championship and is now just six wins away from a possible £500,000 pay-day.

Trump is through to the quarter-finals in Preston for a Wednesday evening showdown with close friend Jack Lisowski, who beat Kyren Wilson 6-4.

Bristol’s 29-year-old Trump won the Coral World Grand Prix last month, one of three events in the 2019 Coral Snooker Series, along with this week’s tournament and the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno later in March. If he captures all three trophies to complete the Coral Slam, he’ll have his prize money for those events rounded up from £375,000 to a massive £500,000.

And the world number five looked at the peak of his powers tonight as he whitewashed Robertson in just 81 minutes. Breaks of 105, 71, 50, 104 and 115 helped him to an emphatic victory.

“I started off well, scored heavily and my long potting was good,” said Trump, who has also won the Masters and Northern Ireland Open this season. “When you are winning tournaments, playing well and practising hard, you can relax from the start of matches, rather than worrying about how you are going to play as I have done in the past.

“This is an enjoyable period of the season with a lot of big tournaments and a lot of prize money. I really enjoy playing when there are one or two tables and longer matches, the atmosphere is a bit more special and there is prestige attached to these events.

“Jack has been consistent this season and when he wins his first title he will shoot up the rankings and you’ll see another level to his game.”

Asked about the possible £500,000 jackpot, he added: “Six matches is less than you would need to win a home nations event so it is reasonably close. But to do it I’ve got to beat six top players so it will be tough. If I can keep playing consistently the same way I will have a chance, or at least it will take someone playing unbelievably well to beat me.”

Lisowski reached the quarter-finals of a ranking event for the sixth time this season with an impressive display against Wilson.

From 1-0 down, world number 15 Lisowski took five of the next six frames with top runs of 50, 65, 121 and 59 to lead 5-2.  Wilson won a scrappy eighth frame then made an 83 for 5-4. But a superb pot on a red to a centre pocket early in frame ten set Lisowski up for a match-winning 110.

“I felt pretty calm,” said 27-year-old Lisowski. “I have been working on a few things to calm me down in the big arena. I managed to keep my concentration in front of the cameras. I’ve got great people around me and I’m listening to them to try to get better.

“I let Kyren off the hook a bit at 5-2 and it nearly cost me because he’s a great competitor and he wasn’t fazed by being behind. So in the end it was nice to pot a good red, get a bit of luck and make a century. My season has gone a bit quiet for the last few months so I’m not too high on confidence but I’m happy to be in another quarter-final.”

He and Trump are set to meet for the fourth time this season. Lisowski has only won one of the previous three, though that was also a best-of-11 meeting, at the International Championship when he scored a 6-2 success.

“He’s pretty much the best player in the world at the moment so it doesn’t get any harder than” said Lisowski, before heading with Trump to a late night pancake house in Preston. “If he has an off day and I can score then anything is possible. I’m looking forward to it.

“We’re so used to playing each other, we know it’s tough but we’re mates anyway. We’ll get some pancakes now then I’ll ignore him all day tomorrow.”

Today Mark Selby takes on John Higgins and it’s a hard one to predict: neither Selby nor Higgins have played their best snooker recently, and Higgins did go deep in India last week and might still be tired. Also Stuart Bingham and David Gilbert will meet in a match that may well decide who of the two will be in Llandudno. Stuart looked the stronger recently.

Later, in the evening, we will have the first quarter-final. Judd Trump will play Jack Lisowski and Jack has a good record against Judd.

Players Championship 2019 – Wins for Ronnie and Mark Allen on day 1.

Yesterday evening saw the start of the Players Championship in Preston. The number one seed, Mark Allen and the Defending Champion, Ronnie, were in action and both came out the winners.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Ronnie O’Sullivan battled to a 6-4 win over Barry Hawkins in the first round of the Coral Players Championship in Preston.

Defending champion O’Sullivan is through to the quarter-finals at the Guild Hall and will face Mark Selby or John Higgins on Friday afternoon (tickets still available – click here for details).

O’Sullivan may have been on top on the table, but he went Down Under for a post match interview, putting on his best Australian accent. “It was a very tough match and he made me work hard for it,” he said. “I’m just so pleased to get through in the end. It was a tough match against a tough opponent.”

World number three O’Sullivan started superbly with a break of 106, the 995th century of his career. Runs of 80 and 51 put him 3-0 ahead before Hawkins pulled one back with a 104.

After the interval, O’Sullivan made a 74 to go 4-1 up then shared the next two to lead 5-2. Hawkins battled back strongly with 65 and 110 to close to 5-4. But O’Sullivan, chasing his fourth title of the season, closed out victory in frame ten with a run of 64.

Mark Allen, the number one seed for this tournament as he tops the one-year rankings, eased into the quarter-finals with a 6-2 win over Stephen Maguire.

Breaks of 67 and 61 helped put Allen 5-0 ahead. Maguire pulled two back with 63 and 77 before Northern Irishman Allen settled the result with a 66 in frame eight.

“Playing Stephen is not very nice because he’s one of my best mates,” said Allen, winner of two ranking titles this season. “It’s good to get the win and move on. I was patchy, I made breaks at crucial times. There are plenty of positives to take though Stephen wasn’t at his best.

“I’m not quite where I want to be with my game. I didn’t play in India or the Shoot Out and I’m not going to play in Gibraltar so I’ve got time to prepare for the big tournaments. Something I have struggled with in recent years is finding the balance in terms of which tournaments to play in. Last year I was struggling to stay in the top 16 so I had to play in everything. Now I can pick and choose more but that brings its own pressure because you’re missing tournaments that others are playing in.”

Allen now meets Stuart Bingham or David Gilbert on Thursday evening. He added: “They are two of the in form players who have got to finals this season. They are both probably playing snooker than I am but I have belief in my ability.”

Here is the coverage of Ronnie’s match:

And Ronnie’s Ozzie interview with the sponsor … who, going by their reaction on twitter found it hilarious! The vowed that Ronnie would never change!

It wasn’t an easy match for Ronnie who got a bit frustrated as splits wouldn’t work and balls ran awkward. There was also a lengthy replacement of the balls after he failed to escape from a snooker. The referee was Terry Camilleri and it’s not the first time that Ronnie isn’t happy with Terry’s relative slow going when replacing balls.

Overall it was a good match though. There were nine breaks over 50 in the ten frames they played. Ronnie had one century, Barry had two and still lost. Ronnie isn’t really match sharp just yet, but he’s through and with the opportunity to improve and go further.

I can’t comment on the other match as I didn’t see anything of it.

This is what we have today

Players Championship 2019 - Day 2 schedule

Judd Trump has possibly the easiest first round match of the whole lot. I expect him to win easily. Neil Robertson should go through as well. Mark Williams v Ali Carter is harder to call. Willo hasn’t played great and Ali will be motivated as he needs the points if he wants to avoid to have to qualify for the Crucible. Kyren Wilson seems to have a dip in form and Jack Lisowski is unpredictable. So no predictions from me on that one!

Matthew Selt wins his maiden title in India

Congratulations to Matthew Selt the 2019 Indian Open Champion.

Matthew Selt beat Lyu Haotian by 5-3, to win his first ranking title, after 17 years of professional career in snooker. Both were competing in their first full ranking final, although Matthew had been finalist at the 2015 Lisbon Open, a minor ranking event.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Matthew Selt won the first ranking title of his career, 17 years after turning professional, by beating Lyu Haotian 5-3 in the final of the Indian Open in Kochi.

Romford’s 33-year-old Selt had never previously been beyond the quarter-finals of a ranking event. But he won seven matches this time, notably knocking out defending champion John Higgins in the semis, before coming from 3-2 down in the final to take the last three frames against China’s Lyu. The £50,000 prize is by far the biggest pay-day of Selt’s career.

Ranked 51st in the world, he is the second player from outside the top 50 to win a ranking title within a week. Thepchaiya Un-Nooh was 53rd when he captured the Shoot Out crown last Sunday. Selt’s victory sees him leap 16 places to 35th and he may have earned a spot in the Champion of Champions event in November.

The Essex cueman first turned pro in 2002 and was tipped for the top by mentor Robbo Brazier, a member of Steve Davis’s inner circle during the 1980s. He was relegated in 2005 before returning to the tour in 2007. Selt admits himself that his dedication to snooker has fluctuated over the years as he struggled to fulfil his talent.

In recent seasons he has shown more consistency with the help of coaches Chris Henry and Steve Feeney as well as friend Stephen Hendry. Becoming a father for the first time last year may have matured him on and off the table.  Still, this week’s success comes out of the blue for a player who has reached the last 16 of just one other ranking event this season; the Yushan World Open in August.

Lyu, age 21, had hoped to become the only Chinese player to land a ranking title other than Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo. Since winning the Asian Under-21 title in 2017 he has climbed the rankings rapidly and the £25,000 runner-up prize brings him to 32nd in the world. The gifted cueman will surely be lifting a trophy before long.

Selt won a tight opening frame by clearing from yellow to pink then went 2-0 up with a break of 84. Lyu fought back to 2-2 with runs of 115 and 56. After the interval, Lyu took the lead with a break of 66 then Selt restored parity with a superb 102.

Both players had chances in the seventh frame but Selt crucially took it with another yellow to pink clearance to edge 4-3 ahead. And a run of 72 in the next proved enough for the title.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Selt. “I still feel quite calm and relaxed but I’m really proud of what I have achieved. I went to bed last night thinking I could be going home with the trophy, and now it’s a dream come true to win such a prestigious event. I felt calm all week and I don’t know why.

“Going into the final, neither of us had been in that situation before, so it could have been a nervy, scrappy match. But I don’t feel I can play much better than that. In the balls I was clinical, and in the last frame I had a chance to win it and took it. It was a really enjoyable final.”

Asked about Hendry’s influence, Selt said: “It’s nice to have him there. No one was more used to winning than him. I haven’t spoken to him that much this week but little words here and there help me out. I’m known for being quite loud and outgoing but I feel very humble now because deep down I wasn’t sure I’d ever win a title. I can’t wait to get back and see what he says to me.

“I got to number 19 in the world a few years ago and then went down to 64th. It has been frustrating to see other players do what I wanted to do. There’s always a reason why it’s not happening. I made some drastic changes, I moved back to Essex (from Nuneaton) so I could be around better players. Working with both Chris Henry and Steve Feeney has been a big help. And a few weeks ago I spoke to (fellow pro) Peter Lines who always gives me good advice.  I changed something drastically in my technique which is helping me under pressure.

“I would love to win my next title with my son Parker in the crowd. At least I can go home now, give him the trophy and pay his nursery fees!”

Earlier in the semi-finals, Selt beat Higgins 4-2 with top breaks of 103 and 84, while Lyu came from 2-0 down to beat Anthony Hamilton 4-2 with a top run of 86.

The tournament was played over five days. John Higgins was the defending champion; he reached the semi finals. You will find all the detailed results on snooker.org.

I can’t comment on matches as I saw next to nothing of the action.

The tournament didn’t attract many top players and two of them, Neil Robertson and Mark Allen withdrew. Hamza Akbar from Pakistan was denied a visa and was a “no show”.  Of course that was to be expected given the difficult political situation between India and Pakistan but it’s a shame because as a sportsperson all Akbar wanted was to play, which he does for a living, and he’s unlikely to be involved in any way in such political conflict.

Zhou Yuelong made a 147 in his first round match against Lyu Haotian, but lost the match by 4-3. Unfortunately it happened on table 4, and until now, no footage of that maximum has emerged.

David Gilbert lost in round 1 whilst Stuart Bingham reached round 3. This means that Stuart is now ranked 8 in the one year list whilst David is now n°9. So, as it stands, Stuart is now “in” the mix for Llandudno and David is “out” of it. BUT the difference in points is small, only 1000 points. They play each other in the first round of the Players Championship, and should David win that match, he would immediately regain his “top 8 spot” at the expense of Stuart.

Finally, there were, once again, suggestions that an Asian player was not competing honestly. This time is was Zhang Yong from China. Those suggestions pop up regularly on twitter usually from the same group of people who are involved in betting. Zhang was playing Craig Steadman, and based on former results and experience, Steadman would be expected to win, and he did, by 4-3. Nevertheless it was suggested that Zhang somehow lost on purpose. This time however the club where Zhang practices, the Q House in Darlington, reacted firmly and demanded that apologies were presented to Zhang, on social media AND in a letter directly addressed to him. WPBSA Chairman, Jason Ferguson, also took on twitter to state that the match had been competed with perfect honesty by both players who had given it their best. Apologies were duly presented. I’m glad that this finally happened. The Q House is the practice base for several professionals: Mike Dunn, who is the head coach, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Xiao Guodong, Yun Sijun, Zhang Yong and Eden Sharav.

 

 

Race to Llandudno – how things stand

Worldsnooker has today published this:

The field for the Coral Players Championship is now set, with the top 16 on the one-year ranking list going through to the Guild Hall in Preston next week (March 4 to 10). Click here for the draw and match schedule.

The final event of the 2019 Coral Series is the new Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 19 to 24) with a line up of only eight players in North Wales. There are three counting events still to go before the cut off falls: this week’s Indian Open, next week’s Coral Players Championship and then the Gibraltar Open (March 15-17).

No one outside the top 16 of the one-year list can make it to Llandudno; even if 17th-placed Martin O’Donnell won the top prizes in India (£50,000) and Gibraltar (£25,000) that would still not be enough to put him into the top eight. However those currently ninth to 16th who have made it to Preston can still qualify for Llandudno, with a top prize of £125,000 up for grabs at the Guild Hall.

David Gilbert is clinging on to eighth place with £170,000  but Stuart Bingham continued to gain ground with a run to the quarter-finals of last week’s BetVictor Shoot Out and he’s now just £3,000 behind. Both players are in India this week looking for a deep run to improve their position. Then Bingham and Gilbert go head to head in Preston next Wednesday, and that match could be an important moment in the race to Llandudno.

There are three players – Ali Carter, Joe Perry and Jimmy Robertson – who are inside the top 16 of the one-year list and outside the top 16 of the official two-year list. Gilbert is the only player inside the top eight of the one-year list and outside the top eight of the two year list. John Higgins is officially fourth in the world but lies 13th on the one-year list, £59,000 behind Gilbert.

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh win his first ranking title at the BetVictor Shoot Out, and his £32,000 pay day sees him jump 12 places on the two-year list to 41st. Michael Holt was runner-up and climbs from 46th to 40th. Tour rookie Jamie Clarke reached the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time and he’s up nine spots to 116th.

There are five counting events to go in the Race to the Crucible and 16th-placed Gilbert now has a buffer of £23,000 over 17th-placed Ryan Day.

With £50000 for the winner in India, and only £25000 in Gibraltar, it’s obvious that the results in the Players Championship will be key to the qualification for the Tour Championship. Except for Jack Lisowski and Stuart Bingham, all the others need to win the title unless they can have a deep run in India and/or Gilbraltar.

Ali Carter, Barry Hawkins and Stephen Maguire are not in India. Mathematically Ali and Barry could still qualify for Llandudno by being runner-up in both Gilbraltar and Preston, but only if David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski and Stuart Bingham have a relatively poor run in all India and Preston and Gibraltar. Otherwise they will need the title in Preston. Maguire didn’t enter Gibraltar so he needs the title in Preston to stand any chance.

Worldsnooker has just published the draw for Gibraltar. 

Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Ronnie, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Neil Robertson, Ding Junhui, Mark Allen and Stephen Maguire all giving it a miss.

The World Champion is doing a Charity Exhibition

Mark Williams  is doing a charity exhibition in Cleethorpes, on April 12, 2019. This was brought to my attention by Nigel Coton, a player competing on both the Disability Snooker Tour and the Seniors Snooker Tour. Thank you Nigel!

Here is the information available in the press

Mark Williams at Beachcomber, Cleethorpes

April 12 @ 7:30 pm

£25 – £45

Poster for Mark Williams at Beechcomber Cleethorpes

Food available on the night and a great selection of beers, wines and soft drinks.

All proceeds go to health tree foundation trust and special baby care unit.

Mark will play 12 frames on the night. (Local players.)

Snooker competition will be held at Ray Edmonds snooker centre on dates to be arranged. £10 entry. Winners will play a frame on the night.

Raffles
Name cards on going to raise funds.

Details

Date: April 12
Time: 7:30 pm
Cost: £25 – £45

Venue

Beechcomber, Cleethorpes

208 North Sea Lane
Cleethorpes, DN36 4ET United Kingdom
Get Directions
Phone: 01472 812666

Nigel was able to give me a bit more information.

As mentioned, the exhibition is in support of the Health Tree Foundation . It is  organised by Jamie Barrett, a former pro, who sadly lost his wife 3 years ago far too young. Jamie is from Grimsby, only a couple of miles away from Cleethorpes.

Here is an interview with Jamie, ahead of the 2016 UK Championship

As explained above, “Willo” will take on 12 “local” players, including Nigel Coton himself. Nigel can only play with one hand and will (try to) challenge Mark Williams to play him one-handed as well. This is something Mark occasionally does even in ranking events, although only for the odd shot. Here is a recent example.

Hopefully Willo will accept the challenge. Should be great!!!

If you have the opportunity, get yourself there, have fun and support a good cause!