Judd Trump successfully defends his Northern Ireland Open title.

NIOpen2019Final-Scores

Judd Trump beat Ronnie by 9-7,  again, to win the Northern Ireland Open 2019. It was a match of the very highest quality as you can see by the above scores.

Congratulations Judd Trump!

NIOpen2019Final-JudTrumpWin

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Session 1:

Defending and World Champion Judd Trump leads Ronnie O’Sullivan 5-3 after the first session of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open final in Belfast.

The clash is a repeat of last year’s final, where Trump emerged a 9-7 victor in a thrilling encounter. The first player to reach nine frames this evening will pick up £70,000 and the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Victory for 36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan would see him overtake Stephen Hendry and become snooker’s outright most prolific ranking event winner.

If Trump were to take home the title he would become the first World Champion to win three ranking titles in the season following their maiden Crucible win, since Hendry achieved the feat in 1990/91.

This afternoon’s session was played to a remarkable standard, with eight breaks over 50 in the eight frames played. That included two century contributions.

Trump started fastest with runs of 68 and 56 to move into an early 2-0 lead. The Rocket got his first frame on the board with a sublime 126.

However, Trump wasn’t to be denied the lead at the mid-session, crafting his own century break of 123 to make it 3-1.

O’Sullivan pulled within a frame when they returned, continuing the streak of single visit snooker with a break of 88. Trump moved 5-2 ahead by claiming two on the bounce, before O’Sullivan secured the final frame of the session to finish 5-3 down.

Session 2:

World Champion and world number one Judd Trump has defended his 19.com Northern Ireland Open title, defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in a scintillating Belfast final.

It’s a 14th ranking title win for Trump, moving him ahead of Ding Junhui the all-time ranking event winner’s list. His victory, in what was professional snooker’s 350thranking event, earns him £70,000 and sees him retain the Alex Higgins Trophy.

The rivalry between the sport’s two biggest modern day superstars, Trump and O’Sullivan, couldn’t be a more tightly contested one. With them now being locked together at 11-11 in their head-to-head record.

This evening’s blockbuster final was a repeat of last year’s showpiece clash in Belfast. 30-year-old Trump also got the better of O’Sullivan on that occasion, winning again by a 9-7 scoreline. This was the first back-to-back repeat final since Paul Hunter and Ken Doherty at the 2001 and 2002 Welsh Opens.

Bristol’s Trump has further solidified his place at the summit of the sport, following his first World Championship title in May. This evening’s victory, along with titles at the International Championship and World Open, has made him the first player since Stephen Hendry in 1990/91 to win three ranking titles in the season after maiden Crucible win.

36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan will have to wait for another chance to surpass Stephen Hendry and top the all-time ranking event winner’s list on his own.

Trump established a 5-3 advantage after a high quality afternoon session at the Waterfront Hall.

The pair continued to produce fireworks when the action resumed this evening. O’Sullivan immediately pulled within one, taking the opening frame to make it 5-4.

Trump then turned up the heat to pull three clear at 7-4. A fine century run of 104 was then followed up by a spectacular 147 attempt. Two intricately played plants along the way put him in position for the perfect break, but he missed a tricky 15th black to break down on 113.

Despite that Trump onslaught, five-time World Champion O’Sullivan refused to wilt. Breaks of 72 and 76 saw him pull within one at 7-6.

The exhilarating standard continued under intense pressure as the duo traded centuries. First Trump fired in a break of 124 to move a frame from victory. O’Sullivan then kept his hopes alive with a 135 to make it 8-7. However, it was Trump who wrapped up a superb victory with a break of 84. Next up Trump will travel to York aiming to win the UK Championship and complete consecutive victories in all three of the sport’s Triple Crown events.

Trump said: “It was an amazing atmosphere out there at the end. Both times I have played him here in the final it has been unbelievable. The arena is made for snooker. I managed to save my best for the final. I wasn’t feeling particularly great in the matches leading up to that. The end of that semi-final against John Higgins inspired me and that gave me the confidence to go out there against Ronnie and play my best.

“I think for the fans we do bring the best out of each other. We have had some amazing games recently. It is always pretty close. When I have played him recently, I have played my best. That is what you have to do against him. If you miss chances he walks all over you.

“I can’t wait to get started at the UK Championship now. I am full of confidence after the last few events. It is one I’ve had my eye on since winning the World Championship. I’d love to be able to win all three in a row.”

O’Sullivan said: “I’ve had a good week. I’ve enjoyed it. There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser. That is sport.

“As far as Judd is concerned there is nobody out there to compete with him. You look at Ding, he isn’t doing much. There’s nobody out there. All you have is me, Higgins and Selby that seem to be lingering about.

“I’m looking forward to the UK Championship. The coffee is good up there and I enjoy York so it will be good to get up there and have a bit of fun.”

Judd played extremely well all day. His potting was scary – it usually is when he is on form – and his safety game was excellent as well. If there is one weaker aspect in his game it’s the cue ball control. Ronnie won most frames he won because Judd made a mistake at some point, and more often than not because he kept running out of position and was forced to take increasingly difficult pots to stay at the table. Also Judd had a number of kicks during the match, with Neal Foulds commenting that “he didn’t cue that one very well”. Kicks are not just random bad luck, a lot of them are related with how the player cues the ball.

Ronnie didn’t play badly by any means. His breakbuilding was excellent, sublime at times. His main weakness at the moment is clearly his long potting: around 40% success isn’t good enough. This means that he has to rely on his opponent’s mistakes to get in. He did take the opportunities he got very well. Make a mistake … he will punish you. That of course puts pressure on his opponents. I can’t help to wonder what would have happened if the match had gone to a decider. Judd made a mistake at the beginning of the last frame and was very lucky not to leave a starter for Ronnie … Oh, and Ronnie’s attitude was totally professional. Some may say that he should have played more conservatively, but that’s not his game, never has been, and his game has won him the record he has. Despite the defeat, there are a lot of positives to take: his form has improved massively and h’es played himself into the one year list top 32 bracket.

One last remark: Ronnie is right when he points out that there isn’t anyone to stop Judd right now, at least anyone in his generation or younger. This season he’s been beaten only by Neil Robertson (37), Joe Perry (45), Lee Walker (43) and Mark Allen (33). In the finals he won he met Ronnie (43), Theppy (34) and Shaun Murphy (37). ALL those players developped through the tiered system. For me the flat daw system is a plain failure and, with the shoter formats that come with it, a cash cow for the bookies.

Coverage:

Session1

Session 2

 

Huges thanks to Tai Chengzhe for those wonderful images

 

Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Ronnie books his place in the SF

Ronnie beat Shaun Murphy by 5-1 yesterday evening and booked his place in the semi finals where he will play Joe Perry.

NI Open 2019 - ROS QF Scores

Despite a highest break of “only” 78, it was breathtaking snooker from Ronnie.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Five-time World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan produced a sublime display to beat Shaun Murphy 5-1 and reach the semi-finals of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

It’s a fifth consecutive win over 2005 Crucible king Murphy for O’Sullivan. He also now commands a 13-3 lead over the Magician in their head-to-head record.

This week comes as a big boost to O’Sullivan’s chances of qualifying for the Coral Series later on in the season. He’s currently ranked 83rd in the one-year list and requires to move up to 32nd position to gain a place in the World Grand Prix. He will now have his eyes on the £70,000 top prize on offer this week and the Alex Higgins Trophy.

Murphy, who won the China Championship earlier in the season, will turn his attentions to the upcoming UK Championship as he aims to add to his Triple Crown silverware collection.

The Rocket came flying out of the traps this evening. A run of 76 saw him take the opening frame to move 1-0 ahead. Murphy led in the second frame, but a crucial clearance of 42 allowed O’Sullivan to steal it on the black and double his advantage.

Further breaks of 52 and 78 helped him into a 4-0 lead at the mid-session.  When they returned Murphy got off the mark with a fine century run of 104. However, it proved to be nothing more than a consolation, with O’Sullivan stealing the sixth frame on the black to clinch a 5-1 victory.

O’Sullivan said: “I just went for everything and waited to see what happened really. If they went in great. If they didn’t then I would have expected Shaun to do some damage. It just was what it was.

“Sometimes if you are enjoying it then win or lose it doesn’t really matter. You have to look at the bigger picture. The more you can enjoy it the better. It is either a passion or a job and for me it is a passion.”

O’Sullivan will face Joe Perry in the last four.

Coverage:

NI Open 2019 – Day 5 evening session review with ES pundits

And some lovely pictures thanks to Tai Chengzhe

The other winners on the day were Judd Trump, John Higgins and Joe Perry.

Here is the report on Worldsnooker (excerpt):

O’Sullivan will face Joe Perry in the last four. The Gentleman booked his semi-final spot with a 5-3 win over Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher.

World number 15 Perry had trailed 3-1, but battled back after the mid-session to turn the match on its head.

Perry said: “I’m confident in my own game. Whether it is good enough to beat Ronnie I don’t know. I’ve played Judd Trump three times this year and for me he is the best player in the game at the moment. I’ve beat him once, given him a game once and been annihilated once. They are the best players in the world. If they turn up and fire you will be watching. If not then you have a chance.”

John Higgins emerged victorious in an enthralling quarter-final clash with Mark Selby, winning 5-4 to reach the semi-finals and book a meeting with World Champion Judd Trump.

Four-time World Champion Higgins is now through to his second ranking semi-final of the season. His other came at the World Open where he also faced Trump, losing out 6-5.

19.com English Open champion Selby’s hopes of the £1 million bonus associated with winning all four Home Nations events in a single season have come to an end.

Higgins stormed to a 4-1 lead before Selby mounted a comeback charge. A century run of 109 made it 4-2. Selby then compiled a run of 62 on his way to taking the seventh frame, which included a shot which he deliberated over for six minutes and 13 seconds as the pressure mounted at the Waterfront Hall.

Further breaks of 62 and 52 saw Selby force a decider. However, Higgins composed himself and sealed victory with a sublime 110 break to close out the match.

World and defending champion Judd Trump came through in the opening match of the day with a 5-1 defeat of 2017 German Masters winner Anthony Hamilton.

The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 106, 66, 73 and 105 on his way to a comfortable victory this afternoon.

Trump said: “I think since winning here last year I have gone on to win quite a few. It was a real turning point and a special atmosphere here last year. This is somewhere that I enjoy coming back to.”

I expected Anthony Hamilton to give Judd Trump a bit more resistance, but I had overlooked something rather important: Anthony had never played on that match table before; in fact he had not even played in the main arena before this match. This means that he had to compete against Judd under conditions that were very different to what he had known all week whilst his opponent had played on that table every day. I think that it would be only fair under such circumstances to allow the player to have five to ten minutes practice on the match table before the start of the match.

During the Higgins v Selby match, there was a strange incident. Mark Selby was leading by 66 with 67 on in frame 7. He pondered his next shot for 6′ 13″ … He could have attempted a pot along the top cushion, but it was very akward cueing over the black. Now John Higgins needed a black with every remaining red to win and there was no particular problem for Mark to play a safety, which he eventually did. This triggered harsh criticism from the commentators

Eurosport commentator Neal Foulds led the backlash against Mark Selby after he took six minutes and 13 seconds to play a shot during his Northern Ireland Open quarter-final defeat to John Higgins.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Mark Selby trailed John Higgins 4-2 in their Northern Ireland Open quarter-final when he suffered an almighty brain freeze in the seventh frame.

Selby returned to the table with a 66-0 lead when Higgins fluffed a shot, leaving a selection of simple safety shots available to the English Open champion.

Higgins needed to clear the table perfectly – five reds, five blacks plus the colours – to pinch the frame, but Selby decided to deliberate… and deliberate… and deliberate over his next shot.

What followed was one of the most bizarre passages of snooker as Selby cut a baffled figure, eyeing up various angles without committing, while the referee stood silently alongside him.

Six minutes and 13 seconds passed before a shot was finally taken – 53 seconds more than Ronnie O’Sullivan’s fastest 147 maximum in 1997 – as Selby’s hopeful red found the jaws of the top pocket and ricocheted away.

However, Selby soon returned to wrap up the frame as he steadied to threaten a comeback. Ultimately though, and perhaps justly, Higgins came through 5-4 to book a date with Judd Trump in the semi-finals.

‘IT’S OUTRAGEOUS’ – FOULDS BAFFLED

Eurosport commentator Neal Foulds couldn’t believe what he was watching.

At 3:20: “Mark has just tangled himself up in knots here for no reason. If he doesn’t fancy a pot, he’s got to play safe. That’s all there is to it. This is ridiculous in my opinion, it’s much too long over a situation where he’s not in any trouble whatsoever.”

At 4:40: “It’s unacceptably long. I’m a big fan of Mark, but this is just not on I’m afraid… it’s outrageous.”

At 5:45: “He’s just got to play a shot. It’s stupid. He’s taken root here. How many more times is he going to sit on the table, look at that red and not play it? If only he knew this is six minutes.”

‘MAYBE HIS MIND WENT TO MUSH’

Higgins was diplomatic about the situation in the Eurosport studio.

“I was just thinking it was going to be a long shot for me to get back into it [the frame],” he told Andy Goldstein and Jimmy White.

“He played the shot to nothing and put the white behind the red, which was probably the shot all along really. Listen, when you’re out there, that’s what can happen, your mind can go to mush and that’s maybe what happened to Mark.”

When asked about whether the referee should have intervened, he added:

There will be people back home in the qualifiers that are being warned by the referee after two or three minutes. They might now turn around and say, ‘why are we getting warned?’ when someone is taking six minutes.

 

Now, to be fair, Mark wasn’t looking his usual self in that match and I never was under the impression that it was some weird tactics. It’s just as if Mark’s brain froze and he couldn’t think clearly. Maybe the referee should have told him something, not necessarily a formal warning, to take him out of this bizarre state.

Nothern Ireland Open 2019 – into the QFs

We are at the QF stage in Belfast, just two tables, and best of 9.

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker on what happened in the last two days.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Mark Allen booked his place in the third round of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open with a 4-0 win over Jamie O’Neill in Belfast.

Northern Ireland’s number one Allen has strongly contended for silverware in recent weeks, but fallen narrowly short. He was pipped 6-5 by Mark Selby in a thrilling semi-final at the 19.com English Open and lost out 6-4 against Judd Trump in the semis of last week’s Champion of Champions.

Five-time ranking event winner Allen has admitted to suffering from nerves in front of his home crowd, having lost out in the first and second rounds in the last two years. He will be hoping for better this week as he continues to push for a maiden Northern Ireland Open title.

This evening Allen composed breaks of 53, 71, 64 and 63 on his way to a quickfire victory in just 54 minutes. Allen now faces Scott Donaldson tomorrow afternoon, with the winner progressing to a last 16 tie in the evening.

“That’s probably the best I have played in Belfast so far,” said 2018 Masters champion Allen. “There is a long way to go. Tomorrow is the big day because we have two matches. You feel like you are part of a big event if you get through to Friday and the one table setup. I feel the pressure every match, more so than every other tournament, but I am starting to handle it better.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan came through an entertaining encounter with Chinese 16-year-old Lei Peifan, winning 4-2.

The Rocket claimed silverware earlier this season at the invitational Shanghai Masters, which he won for a third consecutive year. However, he needs deep runs in ranking events if he is to qualify for next year’s Coral Series, as he currently sits in 83rd position on the one-year list. Only the top 32 will qualify for February’s World Grand Prix.

Tour rookie Lei made an impressive start to this evening’s encounter. He compiled a run of 87 to take the opener. O’Sullivan responded with a break of 84 to make it 1-1.

O’Sullivan then fired in a century run of 101. However, Lei, who recorded his first victory on tour in the opening round against Louis Heathcote, refused to back down. He made his first professional century to level at 2-2 with a break of 100.

36-time ranking event winner O’Sullivan then charged for the line, making breaks of 95 and 54 to round off the win. He averaged just 13.94 seconds per shot over the course of the match.

“He’s a good player and he pots a lot of good balls,” said O’Sullivan. “I’ve got a son and a daughter older than him. I don’t want to keep playing people like him, he is terrifying.”

Defending and World Champion Judd Trump produced a fine display to sweep aside Zhang Anda 4-1.

The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 64, 125, 76 and 90 on his way to the routine victory.

Shaun Murphy booked his place the third round with a 4-1 win over Luo Honghao, while Stuart Bingham knocked out Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown by a 4-1 scoreline. John Higgins was another 4-1 winner, seeing off Poland’s Kacper Filipiak.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Switzerland’s Alexander Ursenbacher sprung a shock to reach the quarter-finals of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open, beating home favourite Mark Allen 4-3 in Belfast.

World number 102 Ursenbacher dropped off the tour at the end of last season. However, the former English Open semi-finalist narrowly regained his place on the circuit through Q School, by earning a victory over Peter Lines in the final round of event three.

Northern Irish number one Allen will have to wait another year for his maiden Belfast title. The five-time ranking event winner will now turn his attentions to the upcoming UK Championship in York, where he was runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan last year.

This evening, breaks of 62 and 64 saw Ursenbacher move 2-0 up and silence a passionate home crowd in the early stages.

However, 2018 Masters champion Allen got himself off the mark with a century run of 101. He then clinched a tense fourth frame to restore parity at 2-2 and delight his fans at the Waterfront Hall.

A steely contribution of 72 allowed Ursenbacher to move one from victory at 3-2, before Allen forced a decider with a stunning run of 103.

It was Ursenbacher who took his chance, making 68 to book a quarter-final meeting with Joe Perry, who beat Robbie Williams 4-1 to secure his last eight spot.

“It was amazing, I knew the crowd was going to be on his side. If I got involved with the emotions it would have been tough. I just tried to stay focused,” said Ursenbacher. “I know what I have done wrong in the past. So it wasn’t really surprising to me that I dropped off the tour. That is what you deserve if you don’t put the hard work in. I don’t want to play Q School again and I will do everything in my power to prevent that.”

Defending and World Champion Judd Trump booked his quarter-final place with a 4-0 defeat of former Northern Ireland Open finalist Yan Bingtao.

World number one Trump looks to be in ominous form, having also whitewashed Si Jiahui 4-0 in his last 32 match earlier today.

The Ace in the Pack composed breaks of 62, 56 and 70 on his way to this evening’s victory. He’ll face Anthony Hamilton in the last eight after the Sheriff of Pottingham came through a hard fought battle with Kyren Wilson 4-3.

Trump said: “This is the bit where you get excited. This is like a proper tournament. Looking back at the atmosphere last year it was amazing. It’s down to one table and there are a lot of good players still in. The Home Nations doesn’t always bring that. Sometimes a lot of big players go out early. This is a tournament which brings the best out of people with it being the Alex Higgins Trophy, I think everyone wants to win it.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan progressed to the quarter-finals 4-1 win over China’s Yuan Sijun.

The Rocket fired in breaks of 127, 78 and 57 on his way to victory and will now face a mouth watering last eight clash with Shaun Murphy tomorrow. The Magician booked his passage with a 4-2 defeat of world number 11 Barry Hawkins.

Afterwards O’Sullivan said that he plans to continue to play with an aggressive mindset over the weekend.

O’Sullivan said: “I enjoy it. I wish I’d have done this 20 years ago and I’d probably have enjoyed it more. Just go for your shots and if they go in, they go in. When they stop, it is time to turn it in. I was watching Selby on the other table. I love Mark and he is a great player. But I have been watching his games. They are hard games and scrappy. I couldn’t play like that.”

Selby overcame Ken Doherty 4-1 to set up a quarter-final meeting with John Higgins, who defeated fellow Glaswegian Stephen Maguire 4-3.

For some reason there was no treporting on the last 32 round.

You can read more about Ronnie’s last 64 win here, and about his last 32 and last 16 wins here. 

So this is our QF line-up::

Judd Trump v Anthony Hamilton

It’s hard to think about a starker clash of styles. I believe that, in this match, a lot will depend on who is able to dictate the pace. Judd is of course be favourite, however if Anthony is capable to impose his rhythm on the match, we could well have a surprise. Judd’s patience would be tested to a level he rarely experiences. Anthony is an excellent brealbuilder. If Judd can’t maintain his discipline, pushes the boat out and gives his opponent openings … anything can happen.

Mark Selby v John Higgins

Three times World champion v four time World champion. Both fine tacticians. Both improving on last season. I only expect one thing here: a decider. As to who is favourite, I will just sit on the fence.

Joe Perry v Alexander Ursenbacher

Now, this is certainly a match not many would have expected at this stage. Joe is – has always been – a very solid player. He has an extra motivation: he’s on the verge of the top 16, with a place in the Masters to be gained. It’s certainly something to fight for, but it’s also pressure in its own right.  Alex is hard to predict. For most of the time, he’s not doing much, then, now and again, he has a patch where he looks like top 16 material. He’s been that way this week so far. He will not be the favourite in this match and that in itself may give him a freedom that makes him even more dangerous. This match is probably the most interesting of the round and very hard to predict.

Ronnie v Shaun Murphy

Shaun has been excellent so far this season, in total contrast with last season terrible form. He’s aggressive and plays an open game. Ronnie has been up and down so far this season but he’s been fast improving through this week. He too plays an open aggressive game. Don’t expect too many safeties today. From what we saw earlier in the season, I have to make Shaun favourite, but only 60//40 …

 

 

Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Ronnie books his place in the QFs

Yesterday was the “moving day” in Belfast, the day where two rounds are played and 32 become just 8. Ronnie won his two matches and will meet Shaun Murphy in the quarter finals today.

Last 32

NIOPen2019ROSL32

Ronnie lost the first frame against Stuart Carrington yesterday afternoon, but then went on to win four frames on the trot to reach the last 16. Stuart Carrington is a very solid player, and he was in first in most frames. He certainly had chances, but not that many because Ronnie was ruthless at punishing mistakes. It was still a concern that Ronnie had to rely on his opponent mistakes to get in, rather than being able to create occasions for himself.

Worldsnooker didn’t report on the last 32 round.

Coverage:

NI Open 2019 – Day 4 afternoon session review with ES pundits

Thank you Tai Chengzhe for these lovely images

Last 16

NIOPen2019ROSL16

In the evening, Ronnie faced Yuan Sijun. Yuan is very talented and in the English Open 2019, last month, lead Ronnie by 3-1 in the last 64 round. That time Ronnie rallied. This time he never allowed his young opponent to get the upper hand in the match. The first frame was scrappy, as was the third frame, the only frame that Yuan won. In all other frames, Ronnie was excellent AND… his long potting was very good as well. His game seems to finally come together.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker (excerpt):

Ronnie O’Sullivan progressed to the quarter-finals 4-1 win over China’s Yuan Sijun.

The Rocket fired in breaks of 127, 78 and 57 on his way to victory and will now face a mouth watering last eight clash with Shaun Murphy tomorrow. The Magician booked his passage with a 4-2 defeat of world number 11 Barry Hawkins.

Afterwards O’Sullivan said that he plans to continue to play with an aggressive mindset over the weekend.

O’Sullivan said: “I enjoy it. I wish I’d have done this 20 years ago and I’d probably have enjoyed it more. Just go for your shots and if they go in, they go in. When they stop, it is time to turn it in. I was watching Selby on the other table. I love Mark and he is a great player. But I have been watching his games. They are hard games and scrappy. I couldn’t play like that.”

Coverage:

NI Open 2019 – Day 4 evening session review with ES pundits

In the post match interview, Andy Goldstein tried to get a definite answer from Ronnie about his involvement in the triple crown events. He didn’t succeed. Ronnie confirmed what we already knew: he will play in the UK. He seemed still undecided on the Masters, saying that he doesn’t like the venue. But my feeling is that he’s likely to play there too. About the World, he’s clearly not too keen … at this stage of the season. There is still plenty of time though and in previous seasons, he’s been reluctant as well but eventually entered it. We’ll see.

And more great picture by Tai Chengzhe. Thanks Tai!

With these results, Ronnie has now climbed to n°58 in the one year list. A win today would propel him at n°33, just outside the top 32, which is important when considering the opportunities offered by the Coral Cup series. Shaun Murphy has been the man in form this season. Can Ronnie beat him? I think he has his chances, provided that he plays like he did for most of his last 16 match. It won’t be easy though.

Ronnie doesn’t intend to scrap it out. I’m certain that he will be criticised for it, should he lose. However, when players become older, they need a way to stay motivated. Mark Williams this season seems to have decided to let himself slide down the rankings in a slow retirement process. Last season, John Higgins looked totally dispirited for the best part of the season; this season a new cue and some good results have him back on the war path. Ronnie said that playing this way allows him to enjoy his snooker and keeps him going. That’s all good to me. These guys have done this for over 27 years as pros, they have nothing to prove.

 

Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Last 128

No less than four top 16 players went out in the first round of the 2019 Northern Ireland Open: Neil Robertson, David Gilbert, Jack Lisowski and Ding Junhui. Of course, Mark Williams did not enter, so that leaves us with only 11 members of the top 16 after just one round. To this, you have to add the unexpected demise of a good few top 32 members: most notably Ryan Day, Anthony McGill, Noppon Saengkham, Xiao Guodong, Lyu Haotian, Tom Ford and Gary Wilson … plus Hossein Vafaei who is n°33. That’s a lot of “upsets”.

Neil Robertson might have suffered from a kind of “hangover” effect after the heights of last week-end, but there is nothing to “explain” the other ones, other than the fact that it’s best of seven and top players are under pressure because they are expected to win. Ding’s defeat is particularly worrying. He’s spiralling down at an alarming speed. He was playing David Lilley, a former WSS player and a rookie on the tour.

Other matches were mighty close. Judd Trump lead 3-0, with three centuries, before being pegged back to 3-3 by James Cahill. Cahill played well, but he capitalised on Judd’s mistakes whose long potting went missing for a while. Stuart Bingham made a 147 – his sixth – in the first frame of his match but was still taken to a decider by the much improved Lu Ning. Barry Hawkins also had to play a deciding frame to overcome Eden Sharav.

This is Bingham sixth maximum:

Here are the reports by Worldsnooker:

Day 1 – Monday, November 11, 2019

Mark Selby came through a hard fought encounter with China’s Xu Si 4-2 to book his place in the second round of the 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

Selby remains in the hunt to cash in on the £1 million bonus on offer for any player who wins all four Home Nations events in a single season. The Jester from Leicester won the first tournament of this year’s series at the 19.com English Open.

His victory at the Crawley event saw him earn his first piece of silverware in over a year. Selby capped the week off with a stunning display in the final, missing only seven balls on his way to a crushing 9-1 defeat of David Gilbert.

This afternoon Selby looked to be in danger of a surprise exit when world number 97 Xu spurned a golden opportunity to move 3-1 ahead. He missed a black to the top right corner allowing Selby to draw level at 2-2.

Three-time World Champion Selby ruthlessly punished that error, making breaks of 64 and 73 to emerge a 4-2 victor.

Selby said: “The win in Crawley was really important. Especially for my mindset more than anything else. Even when he had the black to go 3-1 up, I still fancied myself to win the match. I am definitely in a better mindset so I have come here very confident.”

David Lilley secured his first victory as a professional with a shock 4-2 win over Chinese number one Ding Junhui.

Former World Amateur finalist Lilley is making his debut season on the World Snooker Tour after coming through Q School earlier this year. He fired in breaks of 96, 82, 84 and 71 on his way to victory this afternoon.

Stephen Maguire recorded a 4-0 win over Declan Lavery despite currently suffering from a broken ankle.

The Scot picked up the injury while out in China at the recent World Open. He was forced to wear a protective boot for his 4-0 first round loss at the Champion of Champions last week.

Maguire had been given dispensation to play in trainers today due to the injury and produced breaks of 76 and 50 on his way to the whitewash win.

Maguire said: “I tried to play last week with the space boot on. It just wasn’t possible. My wife and family aren’t happy that I am playing without it because I might do further damage to it. The only way I can play is to use these trainers and give myself half a chance.”

Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown delighted the home crowd with a fine 4-2 win over Thai legend James Wattana. While Ken Doherty defeated Michael Georgiou 4-2.

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy whitewashed Fraser Patrick 4-0 and 30-time ranking event winner John Higgins emerged a 4-2 victor against Chang Bingyu.

What Mark Selby says there about confidence and mindset is very true, and very important. I think that Ronnie is a bit in the situation now where Mark was before the English Open, having suffered a few unexpected defeats and struggling for consistency. I’m sure he cares much more than he is willing to admit. The brazen attitude is just an attempt to lower the expectations on himself, and hence the pressure.

Day 2 – Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Defending champion Judd Trump negotiated a stern first round test against James Cahill to emerge a 4-3 victor at the 19.com Northern Ireland Open in Belfast

The Ace in the Pack lifted the title here a year, beating Ronnie O’Sullivan 9-7 in a thrilling final. That ended a run of 13 months without a ranking silverware and marked the beginning of a golden season for Trump, who picked up maiden Masters and World Championship titles.

Trump has solidified his position at the summit of the sport this season by becoming world number one after victories at the International Championship and World Open. He comes into this week off the back of narrowly losing a thrilling Champion of Champions final 10-9 to Neil Robertson on Sunday.

30-year-old Trump started off this afternoon’s match in blistering fashion. He fired in consecutive century breaks of 106, 122 and 111 to charge into a 3-0 lead.

From there Cahill, nicknamed the Giant Killer after defeating Ronnie O’Sullivan at this year’s World Championship while playing as an amateur, mounted a comeback charge.

The Blackpool potter stole the fourth frame on the black to keep his hopes alive. Cahill then made it 3-2, before breaks of 56 and 55 helped him to force a decider. Trump eventually edged his way over the line with a run of 75 to wrap up the 4-3 victory.

“I always felt in control and I always felt like I could score heavily throughout the whole game,” said Bristol’s Trump. “I think he is the sort of person that needs to be on the big stage to play his best and once again he proved it. He came back well.”

36-time ranking event winner Ronnie O’Sullivan booked his place in the second round with a hard fought 4-2 win over world number 80 Oliver Lines.

O’Sullivan claimed a tightly contested 35-minute tactical frame to take a 1-0 lead. However, Lines restored parity and then moved to the front by taking the third frame on the black to lead 2-1.

The Rocket secured three frames on the bounce, including a break of 87, to turn the match on its head and emerge a 4-2 victor.

O’Sullivan said: “I’d much rather just hammer people to be honest. 10-1 or 9-0, I love all of that. I don’t enjoy having to battle. Every match this year feels like it has been a deciding frame. I’m just happy to still be in the 19.com Northern Ireland Open, it is a great tournament and I still want to be in it.”

Northern Ireland’s number one Mark Allen got his campaign off to a solid start after a 4-2 win over Sam Craigie.

2018 Masters winner Allen, who exited in the first and second rounds in the last two years, has admitted to suffering from nerves in front of his home fans in the past.

However, he secured victory today with contributions of 74 and 77. After his match he admitted to adopting a different approach to the event to try and negate any nerves.

Allen said: “I tried not to get too involved with the crowd today. I’ve had a completely different approach to the tournament this year. I’ve tried to stay away from all of the tickets and phone calls. I have also done as few interviews as possible. I am just trying to treat it like any other tournament. I am even staying in a hotel and I only live 20 minutes away.”

“It would be a dream to win. This event was added to the calendar three years ago and it is definitely on my radar. I am a very proud Northern Ireland supporter and I want to do it for the fans. First and foremost I need to do it for myself though and I haven’t been doing that in previous years.”

Stuart Bingham fired in the sixth 147 of his career on the way to a dramatic 4-3 defeat of China’s Lu Ning. The 2015 World Champion had led 3-0, but was pegged back to a deciding frame which he eventually claimed on the pink.

You can read more about Ronnie’s win here (with some images and footages)

2019 Northern Ireland Open 2019 – Ronnie wins last 128 match

 

NIOPen2019ROSL128Win

Ronnie won his opening match in Belfast, beating Oliver Lines by 4-2. To be honest, it was a struggle, but, he is still in it and it’s all that matters.

NIOPen2019ROSL128Scores

Here is the report on Worldsnooker (excerpt)

36-time ranking event winner Ronnie O’Sullivan booked his place in the second round with a hard fought 4-2 win over world number 80 Oliver Lines.

O’Sullivan claimed a tightly contested 35-minute tactical frame to take a 1-0 lead. However, Lines restored parity and then moved to the front by taking the third frame on the black to lead 2-1.

The Rocket secured three frames on the bounce, including a break of 87, to turn the match on its head and emerge a 4-2 victor.

O’Sullivan said: “I’d much rather just hammer people to be honest. 10-1 or 9-0, I love all of that. I don’t enjoy having to battle. Every match this year feels like it has been a deciding frame. I’m just happy to still be in the 19.com Northern Ireland Open, it is a great tournament and I still want to be in it.”

This is the preview of yesterdays evening session:

Ronnie O’Sullivan v Oliver Lines – NI Open 2019, last 128

The review of that match with Ronnie:

So, Ronnie is well aware that his break-off is a weak link in his game, but doesn’t know how to solve it… I remember him, a few years back, saying that getting a couple of balls lose was something desirable because he didn’t fancy getting involved in ten minutes plus going up and down the table before the frame actually started developping. On av erage though, players were less aggressive at the time and didn’t go for everything in sight.

And great thanks to Tai Chengzhe for these images

 

 

Neil Robertson is your 2019 Champion of Champions

Congratulations Neil Robertson!

CofCNeilRobertsonWin

Neil Robertson beat Judd Trump in a quite extraordinary match, winning by 10-9 yesterday evening. A quite emotional neil celebrated with his family.

CofCNeilRobertsonWinScores

Here is the official report

ROBERTSON WINS MANBETX CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS FOR SECOND TIME

Judd Trump 9–10 Neil Robertson
47-69, 0-112 (112), 86-8 (86), 50-71 (56), 121-0 (121), 127-0 (127), 119-0 (119), 0-96, 0-124 (111), 75-36, 0-104 (104), 70-58, 84-7 (84), 36-91 (81), 75-41 (62), 0-135 (135), 62-60, 69-76 (Trump 69), 0-137 (137)

Neil Robertson won a brilliant ManBetX Champion of Champions final, making his fifth century of the match in the deciding frame of the final against Judd Trump at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

It is the second time Robertson has won this title, after lifting the trophy in 2015, and it was the third match in the tournament which the Australian had won in the deciding frame. The final was one of the highest quality from both players, with eight centuries made in the 19 frames played, and it was fitting that the match went all the way.

Robertson had led 5-4 after the first session, in which Trump had made three consecutive centuries to lead from 3-1 down.

Trump soon made it 5-5 before Robertson’s lead was restored with a 104 which had the audience anticipating a maximum before the Australian missed his 14th red to the middle. Trump took the next two to lead again and from there they took alternate frames to 8-8. At the end of the 17th, Trump got the snooker he required with just three balls remaining and was one up with two to play.

His opportunity for the win came in the next fame and he looked set for victory until he missed on a break of 69. Robertson required one snooker, and the remaining balls, to tie the frame. With one red remaining he got the snooker required and subsequently forced the respot and then took the frame after Trump took on a tough long pot, missed it and left a cut to the middle with which Robertson held his nerve.

In the deciding frame The Thunder From Down Under made a brilliant 137 for the title, and £150,000 first price.

“To play a match like that, the pair of us, it is the best match I have ever been involved in and I’m sure a lot of people here would say it is probably the best match they have ever seen,” said Robertson. “The standard was incredible.

“There were a lot of centuries, a couple of frames went down to the black and I had to dig deep to force the decider. If you had told Judd and I before the match that this would be the standard we would play, against a lot of other players it would have been done and dusted halfway through the second session.

“It was a great credit to both of us; we never backed down, kept played the shots and that’s the sort of snooker people want to see. I am sure everybody watching got a great buzz. This is one of the few genuine occasions where you can say it is unfortunate to have a loser in the match.

“This is the first time [daughter] Penelope has seen me win. She doesn’t really know what’s going on, she’s only seven months old! It is really special for me. When she was born I wanted to win more tournaments so she could be there as well and it’s the best feeling in the world when you can win tournaments and share those moments with your family.”

The 2020 Champion of Champions will be staged at Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes from November 2-8. Tickets go on sale this Monday, November 11 priced from just £11 per session at www.championofchampionssnooker.co.uk.

Here are the last frames of the match, and the trophy ceremony with the interviews from both players.

Both spoke well and gave this great tournament the conclusion it deserved.