International Championship 2019 – Day 7 – Shaun Murphy joins Judd Trump in the Final

Shaun Murphy celebrated his 37th birthday with a win over his close friend Mark Allen.

IntChamps2019-Murphy37

Here is the report by Worldsnooker on the first session:

Shaun Murphy took control of his International Championship semi-final with defending champion Mark Allen by establishing a 6-2 advantage after the first session in Daqing.

They will play the best of 17 match to a conclusion in this evening’s session, with the winner going on to face Judd Trump in the final for the £175,000 top prize.

This afternoon’s opening exchanges threw the form book out the window in terms of how the players have fared this week.

2018 Masters winner Allen came in to this match having won 30 of the 38 frames he has contested in the event. By contrast 2005 World Champion Murphy has had his metal under pressure tested with two deciding frames and two 6-4 wins.

Despite that Englishman Murphy, who is celebrating his 37th birthday today, stormed out of the blocks to pull clear of his opponent. Breaks of 92, 76, 84, 54 and 88 helped him to establish a 6-0 advantage.

However, Northern Ireland’s Allen showed great resiliency in the final two frames of the session to keep his chances alive. A break of 66 saw him snatch the seventh, before a sublime run of 117 saw him take the final frame to end four behind at 6-2.

And here is the report by Worldsnooker on the second session

Shaun Murphy survived a Mark Allen fightback to win 9-6 and reach the final of the International Championship in Daqing.

2005 World Champion Murphy faces current Crucible king Judd Trump in tomorrow’s final, where the pair will do battle over the best of 19 frames for the £175,000 top prize.

It will be Murphy’s first appearance in a ranking final since losing the title match at the Scottish Open back in December against today’s opponent Allen by a 9-7 scoreline.

This week’s impressive run has been much needed for Murphy, who had been under threat of falling out of the top 16 after struggling to nine first round exits last season. His performance in Daqing has solidified his position in the world rankings and ensured qualification for the upcoming Shanghai Masters, with the cut off at the end of this week’s event.

Defending champion Allen lifted the title last year with a 10-5 defeat of Neil Robertson in the final. The Northern Irishman will have to settle for a semi-final exit this time around.

Murphy had put himself in a strong position after a fine first session display had him 6-2 up coming into this evening. However, Allen had given himself hope by claiming the final two frames of the session, having trailed 6-0.

As they got back underway, Murphy extended his lead to 7-2 by taking a tense ninth frame on the colours. From that point Allen began to ramp up the pressure. He claimed two on the bounce to close within three at 7-4.

Murphy then moved one from victory. However, a fine contribution of 94 kept Allen in the contest and made the score 8-5.

A dramatic 14th frame then came down to the pink. Murphy broke down on a run of 52 after he failed to get good position on the second last ball. A safety battle ensued and eventually Murphy left the pink at Allen’s mercy. He deposited it and the black to make it 8-6.

Murphy then finally got himself over the line thanks to a break of 66 which put the seal on his 9-6 victory.

Mark Allen had been in great shape all week, but, unfortunately for him, his form deserted him today. Form isn’t a tap the players can turn at will and today wasn’t Mark’s day. He deserves a lot of credit for the way he fought back, but victory never looked likely to me as there were far too many unexpected mistakes even in the second session.

Shaun Murphy is playing a lot better than he did for most of last season, but still looks vulnerable. When a player goes through a long lasting bad spell, it damages their confidence and rebuilding it usually takes time.

Something he confirmed in his post-match

So, this is our line-up for tomorrow:

IntChamps2019-FinalLineUp

I think that Shaun Murphy needs a really good start tomorrow. He has the game to give Judd Trump a serious challenge – he showed this in the first six frames of today’s match – but he can’t afford his opponent – who is brimming with confidence – to take a big lead in the first session. Judd Trump will be favourite but hopefully we will have a real match to enjoy, and not just a one man show.

The “man in the middle” … will be a woman. Indeed Lyu Xilin – Queenie Lyu – wil be the Final’s referee and it’s her first ranking final.

She was interviewed by Worldsnooker:

Good luck Queenie, and enjoy your moment!

 

 

International Championship 2019 – Day 6 – Judd Trump is first through to the Final

Judd Trump beat Mark Selby by 9-4 to book his place to the Final of the 2019 International Championship in Daqing.

Based on the way both had played in earlier rounds, I expected Mark Selby to cause Judd Trump problems. Judd had scored more centuries than anyone else in the tournament, but he had also been guilty a countless unexpected errors, especially when the frames became scrappy. Scrappy frames are precisely Mark Selby’s forte. He doesn’t mind playing them and is usually very strong at winning them. This is why I thought that Mark started slightly favourite in this one. I was very wrong.

If anything though, the first mini-session only confirmed me in my opinion. Judd started with a century, but found himself 3-1 down at MSI, as Mark was able to control the frames as soon as his opponent failed to finish them off in one visit.

I’m not sure what kind of “tea” Judd had at MSI but he came back another player. The first frame after the MSI proved to be the turning point of the match. Mark looked set to go 4-1 ahead, but Judd fought hard and managed to take it on the final black. This boosted his confidence whilst it clearly depleted Mark’s confidence. From there Judd applied more and more pressure on his opponent and finished the session 5-3 up.

2019 International Championship: Judd Trump steal – Mark Selby

Here is Worldsnooker report on the first session

Judd Trump came from behind to wrest control of his International Championship semi-final from Mark Selby and lead 5-3 after the first session in Daqing.

World Champion Trump is currently riding the crest of a wave, having secured a return to the world number one spot earlier in the week with his last 16 win over Joe Perry. His opponent Selby was ousted from the top of the world rankings for the first time in four years by Ronnie O’Sullivan back in March.

Following an opening frame century run of 113 from Trump, it was then world number six Selby who seized the early initiative. Three frames on the bounce saw the Leicester cueist move 3-1 ahead at the mid-session interval.

When they returned, Trump crucially claimed the fifth frame on the final black to reduce his deficit to one. Further breaks of 60 and 97 helped him on the way to taking a further three on the bounce to secure his 5-3 cushion.

The second session pretty much started the way the first had ended. Judd looked more confident with every shot, Mark looked more a beaten man with every unsuccesful long pot or failed safety. He managed to save some pride by taking the last before the MSI, but it’s as good as it got for him. On resumption Judd promptly finished the match aided by two half centuries.

This is Worldsnooker report on the second session

World Champion Judd Trump produced a dominant display to defeat Mark Selby 9-4 and reach the final of the International Championship in Daqing.

Trump, 29, now progresses to the final in his first appearance on the professional circuit since lifting a maiden World Championship title in May.

The Ace the Pack will go on to face either defending champion Mark Allen or Shaun Murphy in Sunday’s final over the best of 19 frames for the £175,000 top prize.

Trump, who won the inaugural International Championship back in 2012, has already secured a significant accolade this week having ensured his return to the world number one spot, following his last 16 defeat of Joe Perry.

Selby, a two-time winner of the International Championship, was deposed as world number one by Ronnie O’Sullivan, having held the position for four years consecutively.

The opening session saw Trump emerge with a 5-3 advantage, despite having trailed 3-1. A blistering display this evening allowed Trump to pull clear and ease to the line.

Trump produced an imperious spell of break building, firing in 440 unanswered points to leave three-time World Champion Selby trailing in his wake. That included consecutive breaks of 108, 97 and 116 this evening, as he claimed the first three frames to move 8-3 up.

Breaks of 50 and 59 helped Selby to take the match to the mid-session, but he still trailed 8-4. When they returned Trump swiftly finished off the match to run out a 9-4 victor.

If Judd plays that way, he will be hard to beat on Sunday.

He gave this very good post-match interview:

 

International Championship 2019 – Day 5 (QF)

This is Worldsnooker report on the quarter finals day 

Mark Selby and Judd Trump secured quarter-final wins at the International Championship in Daqing to book a mouth watering last four meeting against each other.

World Champion Trump earned a return to the world number one spot yesterday after his last 16 win over Joe Perry. World number six Selby was deposed at the top of the world rankings back in March, having held the position for four years.

Leicester’s Selby overcame Gary Wilson 6-5 in a pulsating quarter-final clash to seal his progression and remain in the hunt for the £175,000 top prize. The match was a repeat of their recent last 16 match at the World Championship, where Wilson came out on top with a 13-10 win. Selby exacted his revenge today.

Defeat for Wilson ends his hopes of qualifying for the upcoming Shanghai Masters. The top 16 in the world rankings will secure a place in Shanghai, with the cut off at the end of this week’s event.

Three-time World Champion Selby had opened 3-0 and 5-2 advantages, before Wilson clawed his way back into the match.

Breaks of 79, 49 and 126 helped world number 20 Wilson to force a deciding frame at 5-5. Wilson was first in with a chance to win, but missed a red to the top right corner. Selby stepped in to produce a typically steely run of 83 to seal victory and set up a best of 17 frame semi-final meeting with Trump tomorrow.

Selby said: “Judd is the best player in the world at the moment, hence why he is world number one and World Champion. His confidence will be as high as it is ever going to be, but I’ll be looking forward to it and try my best.

“It was one of my goals as a professional to try and get to number one in the world and that is something I managed to do. To stay there as long as I did was more than I expected, especially with how high the standard is. Hopefully Judd has only got it for a little while and I can get it back. I’ve just let him borrow it for a little while!”

Trump sealed his semi-final place with a 6-3 win over Tom Ford, who has now also had his hopes of Shanghai Masters qualification ended.

The Ace in the Pack’s ascension to world number one has seen him top the rankings for a third time in his career. The most recent run ended in March 2013.

Bristol’s Trump closed out his victory with a top break of 94 in the final frame and afterwards admitted that he wasn’t going to settle with his world number one status.

“It is always good to be world number one. There is no difference though. Today I just wanted to win again. It is nice to be number one, but the main thing is you really want to win tournaments,” said 29-year-old Trump. “It is exciting to be back in the semi-final. It is a tournament that I really want to win and a good event. It will be a tough match. I think Mark lost his confidence a bit, so he will really want to win this one.”

Close friends Shaun Murphy and Mark Allen will contest the other semi-final after the pair secured victories in the evening session. The showdown will be a repeat of last season’s Scottish Open final, where Allen came through a 9-7 winner in Glasgow.

2005 World Champion Murphy earned his place in the last four with a 6-4 defeat of 2006 Crucible king Graeme Dott. The first eight frames were tightly contested and there was never more than one between the pair, as they emerged level at 4-4. Murphy moved one away from victory at 5-4. He then stormed over the line with a sublime run of 106 to secure victory.

The result means that Dott’s hopes of qualifying for the Shanghai Masters are ended and Murphy’s position is assured.

Defending champion Allen booked his place in the semis with a 6-3 defeat of China’s top star Ding Junhui.

The Pistol has been in superb form this week, having won 30 of the 38 frames he has contested. After eventually taking an epic re-spotted black in today’s opener, Allen took control of proceedings by winning the following two frames to move 3-0 up.

Ding hit back and after getting on the scoreboard he then stole the fifth frame on the final black to move within one at 3-2. However, from there Allen secured three of the following four frames to come through a 6-3 victor.

There isn’t much to add except…

There is certainly a case to state that Judd Trump is the best player in the World considering his results over the last season. However form is always fluctuating and I’m not convinced that he is the best of the four remaining on course in Daqing right now. Actually, based on what I have seen, I would even say that it’s just the opposite. His match today was an error strewn affair against Tom Ford, a player who seems to struggle badly on big occasions and on TV. Had he played that way against any of the other six players involved in the QF round, he would have lost. But of course sometimes when one player struggles it breaks the rythm of the match and affects their opponent as well; therefore maybe today’s match isn’t really an indication of Judd’s current form. Tomorrow however, against mark Selby, he will face a telling test.

Other than that, this the crucial moment in the Shaun Murphy v Graeme Dott match. It was 4-4, and Graeme lead 66-0 with 67 on. Then this happened:

2019 International Championship: Shaun Murphy steal – Graeme Dott

 

International Championship 2019 – Day 4 (L16)

The main headline yesterday was that Judd Trump will be world n°1 at the conclusion of the tournament, overcoming Ronnie who sits now at n°2. With Ronnie only playing in a few tournaments that was always going to happen. Judd was at the top of the rankings before, last time in 2013, for a very short period of time. He wants to stay there much longer this time around and as there is a huge gap between him and the n°3, he’s get every chance to succeed.

Here is Worldsnooker report on yesterday action:

World Champion Judd Trump will move to number one in the world rankings after beating Joe Perry 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the International Championship in Daqing.

The Ace in the Pack moves ahead of Ronnie O’Sullivan, who had reached the summit of the world rankings in March, ending the four-year reign of Mark Selby. However, Trump thrust himself into contention for the top spot by claiming a maiden World Championship title, and the £500,000 top prize that went with it, back in May.

This is the third time that 29-year-old Trump has assumed the world number one spot, with the most recent spell ending in March 2013. Next up Trump faces Tom Ford, who defeated Andrew Higginson 6-4 in their last 16 clash.

Defeat for Perry ends his hopes of qualifying for the Shanghai Masters. The cut off for qualification comes at the end of this week’s event, with the top 16 players in the world rankings earning a place. Ford remains in the hunt after his victory, but must win the event to stand a chance.

Trump produced a performance worthy of the world’s top player this afternoon, firing in breaks of 62, 101, 111, 74, 76 and 52 on his way to victory.

“It is always good to be on top of the world. Mark Selby held it for such a long time and it is nice to get back there,” said Trump. “Anyone that says they don’t want to be world number one is lying. It is always good to be on top of your sport so I am very happy with that achievement.

“When anyone asks you it is always nice saying you are number three or four in the world, but there is no other feeling like being world number one. I’m happy with that and I still have a job to do here, I would love to go out and win the first tournament I’ve played in this season.”

Two-time International Champion Mark Selby had to battle from 5-3 down to defeat this year’s Crucible semi-finalist David Gilbert 6-5 in a tense deciding frame.

His opponent in the quarter-finals will be Gary Wilson, who defeated Welshman Jak Jones 6-3. The victory for Wilson keeps him in the hunt for a top 16 place and Shanghai Masters qualification.

Scotland’s 2006 World Champion Graeme Dott also retains hopes of a place in Shanghai. He put on an excellent performance to defeat compatriot 30-time ranking event winner John Higgins 6-2.

Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy will face Dott in the quarter-finals after he completed a thrilling 6-5 win over Neil Robertson. The Magician came from 5-4 down with breaks of 83 and 91 in the last two frames to progress.

Defending champion Mark Allen kept his impressive week going with a 6-2 defeat of Ali Carter. The Pistol has now won 24 out of the 29 frames he has played in the event.

Carter is left perilously in 16th position in the latest live rankings and will have to hope results go his way to earn a place in Shanghai.

Allen’s opponent in the last eight will be China’s number one Ding Junhui, who came through a deciding frame to beat compatriot Liang Wenbo 6-5.

There are a few players returning to form in this tournament and it showed again yesterday.

Maybe the most impressive is Graeme Dott, who always seems to be kept off the radars. Even as a World Champion in 2006/07 he was often sent playing on an outside table (!!!) Dotty is a massively under-rated player. People forget that he’s been a finalist at the Crucible three times, and is a former World Champion. He has a reputation of being boring and slow; he’s neither, he’s an attacking player who gained that undeserved tag because, for many in the press, the only occasion they saw him play, was the 2006 World Final, against Peter Ebdon. Both were absolutely shattered and pressure did the rest. Yesterday, he absolutely trashed John Higgins – 6-2 – in a match that featured eight breaks over 50. Greame’s AST was 21.7 sec, John’s was over 25 and nobody ever suggests that John is slow.

Here is the very interesting last frame, concluding on a re-spotted black:

2019 International Championship. John Higgins – Graeme Dott (final frame)

Shaun Murphy also is returning to his old self, no doubt mightily motivated by the prospect of losing his top 16 status unless he starts winning again. Both himself and Neil Robertson made some suprising errors in what was overall a good match and I suspect that the conditions are difficult.

Liang Wenbo is another one who is playing well again it seems. He came back from 4-1 and 5-3 down to force a decider against Ding. He was beaten 6-5 eventually. It’s never easy to play Ding in China, especially for a Chinese player.

Finally, Mark Allen, who had a poor second half of the last season, looks in great shape and very determined to defend his title.

International Championship 2019 – Day 3 (L32)

This is Worldsnooker report about yesterday in Daqing:

Defending champion Mark Allen produced a dominant display to ease past Mark Davis 6-1 in their last 32 clash at the International Championship in Daqing.

Northern Ireland’s Allen looks to be in superb touch this week. The 33-year-old’s win today is a third successive 6-1 victory in the event.

Last year Allen put on a break building masterclass in claiming the title, with 14 centuries throughout the tournament. He displayed impressive scoring form again today, composing runs of 101, 64, 63, 54, 56 and 64 on his way to the win. The Pistol will face Ali Carter in the last 32, who came through a 6-3 winner against Kurt Maflin.

World Champion Judd Trump is just one match away from becoming world number one for the first time since March 2013 after a hard fought 6-4 win over Scott Donaldson.

The Ace in the Pack won his maiden Crucible title back in May with a stunning 18-9 demolition of John Higgins in the World Championship final.

He is now within one match win of taking Ronnie O’Sullivan’s place at the top of the world rankings, with the Rocket having not entered this week. Next up for Trump is a meeting with Joe Perry in the last 16.

2006 World Champion Graeme Dott came from 3-0 down to beat 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham 6-3.

Scotland’s Dott admits that a fist pump from Bingham when he claimed the third frame acted as a catalyst for the fightback.

Dott said: “When he won the third frame on the black, he punched the air and that gave me a gee-up that I didn’t think I was going to get. Until that moment I was kind of accepting my fate that it was going to be one of those games for me. At 3-0 up in a first to six I thought it was a little bit strange. There is nothing wrong with it. It helped me though.”

Triple Crown winner Shaun Murphy held off a spirited fightback from teenage Riga Masters champion Yan Bingtao to come through a 6-4 victor.

The Magician had stormed to a 5-0 advantage, restricting his opponent to just eight points in the process. However, Yan battled back to trail by just a single frame at 5-4 before Murphy got himself over the line.

Victory for Murphy acts as a significant boost to his chances of staying in the world’s top 16 and qualifying for the Shanghai Masters, with the ranking cut off at the end of this week’s event.

Click here for the latest on the Shanghai race.

Mark Selby, twice a winner of the International Championship, produced an impressive display to see off fellow Leicester cueman Ben Woollaston 6-3. While China’s top player Ding Junhui thrashed compatriot Xiao Guodong 6-1.

Neil Robertson edged out Ricky Walden 6-5 in a thrilling contest and John Higgins defeated Elliot Slessor 6-3 to progress.

And this is the article about the race to the Shanghai Masters mentionned in the article above:

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy defeated China’s Yan Bingtao 6-4 to reach the last 16 of the International Championship in Daqing.

The win strengthens Murphy’s bid to keep his place in the world’s top 16, with the cut off for Shanghai Masters qualification coming at the end of this week’s event.

Click here for the latest live rankings.

The elite Shanghai tournament consists of the world’s top 16 players, the next four highest ranked Chinese players, two from the CBSA China Tour and two from China’s Amateur Masters series.

Defeat for Riga Masters winner Yan ends his hopes of qualifying as part of the world’s top 16. However, he is already assured of a place in Shanghai as one of the next four highest ranked Chinese players.

Joining Yan in those four places are Xiao Guodong, Lyu Haotian and Liang Wenbo. All four are now guaranteed a place in Shanghai after Liang edged Zhou Yuelong out of the top four by beating Daniel Wells 6-4 in his last 32 tie this evening.

Ali Carter has forced himself into the top 16 of the live rankings after a 6-3 win over Kurt Maflin. While Joe Perry remains hot on his heels after securing a 6-2 victory against Stephen Maguire.

Next up for Carter is a meeting with defending champion Mark Allen. Perry faces World Champion Judd Trump in the last 16.

However, with a £175,000 top prize on offer this week a number of players can still clinch a top 16 spot. Gary Wilson, Graeme Dott and Tom Ford all remain in contention. While Liang could still upgrade his qualification to a top 16 spot by winning the event.

I didn’t have much opportunity to watch yesterday so can’t comment really. I’m pleased to see Ricky Walden and Liang Wenbo playing well again. Ricky lost but ran Neil Robertson mightily close. Liang will face Ding today, in fact he’s the third Chinese player in a row to face Ding. Strange how the draw works sometimes…

 

International Championship 2019 – Day 2

It’s only the second day, and only the conclusion of the last 64, but it already feels like a long tournament, with so much happening after a long break.

Here is Worldsnooker report on what happened yesterday:

World number 75 Jak Jones recorded a shock 6-2 defeat of three-time World Champion Mark Williams to reach the last 32 of the International Championship in Daqing.

Welshman Jones had lost all three of his previous meetings with legendary compatriot Williams. However, it was Jones who looked more at ease in today’s clash and his win sets up a meeting with Robert Milkins in the next round.

22-time ranking event winner Williams did take the opening frame. However, Jones made breaks of 95 and 118 on his way to claiming six of the next seven to progress.

“Mark is probably the most successful Welsh player ever so to beat him is a really good win,” said Jones. “Hopefully I can be the same as players like Mark and Matthew Stevens in the future and be as successful as them. Obviously Matthew has started playing well again now and it is good for the game that the Welsh players have started playing better.”

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy came through a dramatic deciding frame on the final black to defeat talented Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun 6-5.

Murphy is in need of a strong showing this week in Daqing, with it being the final event before the cut off for Shanghai Masters qualification. The Magician is currently ranked 15th in the provisional seedings, with the world’s top 16 gaining a place.

His spot in the elite 16 has come under threat after a dip in form last term and Murphy will be hoping today’s thrilling win can kick start a revival for him.

Triple Crown winner Murphy had trailed 4-2 and 5-4, before forcing a final frame where a clearance of 32 was required to come from behind and snatch victory on the last ball.

Murphy said: “It was unbelievable for a last 64 game. He played like a regular tournament winner. I was sat there thinking about what I was going to say afterwards when he was ahead. He played fabulously well. He played great snooker, he scored well and was clinical in the balls. I’m not really sure how I’ve won that game.

“After last season I need a good week every week. I’m used to needing to play well. Unfortunately I can do nothing about the ranking list. All I can do is prepare well for each game. It is a bit of a cliché, but all I can control is what I do out there and my attitude.

“Last year was the worst of my life. It is my job to try and turn that around. It is one match at a time, one ball at a time, one break at a time. I come to these tournaments to try and win them. I’m not here to make the numbers up.”

Defending champion Mark Allen booked his last 32 place with a 6-1 demolition of Sam Craigie.

Allen lifted the title last year after a 10-5 win over Neil Robertson in the final. He remained in the hunt for another Daqing title courtesy of today’s win over Craigie, which included breaks of 66, 141 and 66.

World Champion Judd Trump is still in the running for silverware on his first appearance of the season, thanks to a 6-2 win over China’s Zhang Anda. While Asian number one Ding Junhui overcame Zhao Xintong 6-4.

Three-time Crucible winner Mark Selby progressed after a 6-3 win over Liam Highfield and Riga Masters winner Yan Bingtao beat compatriot Chang Bingyu 6-3.

The big news is indeed Mark Williams exit, but considering the kind on “preparation” Mark is getting  – if his twitter feed is being trusted anyway – it isn’t really surprising that he isn’t in stellar form. Jak Jones on the other hand has surely been working hard over the summer as his good run in Riga already showed ealier.

Everyone was as baffled as Shaun Murphy to see him emerging a winner yesterday. Here are the frame scores for that match:

Int Champs 2019 - L64 - Yuan v Murphy

Yuan should never have lost that match, even if Murphy was surely giving it his all, if only because his top 16 spot is in danger after a disaster last season.

Django Fung once told me that his Chinese players, when he was managing them, were always feeling a lot of pressure when playing at home. Only too often, they lose matches they dominated for most of the playing time. Zhao Xintong was another example against Ding yesterday. And Xiao Guodong won his match, but did this to himself, triggering a decider that he could maybe have avoided:

Mark Allen looked very solid. Judd Trump played a lot of brilliant pots but didn’t look fully at ease in broken, defensive play. Zhang had not what it takes to really put him under pressure, but IF there is a way to derail the Trump train, it clearly is by messing up the table and breaking his rythm. Easier written than done…

Liang Wenbo, who also badly needs results, managed to beat Duane Jones by 6-5 from 4-1 down, and going by the scores played very well. Jack Lisowski,  on the other hand, was 4-1 up against Andrew Higginson and managed to lose by 6-5. Andrew’s HB was 56 and it was the only break over 50 he made all match. It’s hard to be a Jack fan!

International Championship 2019 – Day 1

It was a long Sunday in Daqing as the last 128 qualifying round concluded with the held-over matches being played and as well as half of the last 64 first round matches.

Plenty happened, however the daily report by Worldsnooker mainly focused on Judd Trump, the reigning World Champion who was in action for the first time this season.

World Champion Judd Trump got his season off to a strong start by defeating Northern Ireland’s Jordan Brown 6-3 at the International Championship in Daqing.

It was Trump’s first appearance on the circuit since defeating John Higgins 18-9 to win his maiden World Championship title back in May.

The Ace in the Pack showed no signs of a Crucible hangover as he produced some scintillating snooker to overcome a valiant display from world number 80 Brown. Trump composed breaks of 93, 131, 100, 63, 100, 60 and 81 on his way to victory.

Trump said: “There is a big weight lifted off my shoulders now. It is nice to walk around as World Champion. That is a good feeling for me. It is important for me to do well this season. A couple of people in the past have won the World Championship and had a bad season after so it is important to get that confidence back.”

Defending International Champion Mark Allen got up and running with a fine 6-1 win over Peter Lines. The Pistol fired in breaks of 81, 52, 56 and 59 as he comfortably progressed.

Chinese number one Ding Junhui withstood a fightback from Germany’s Simon Lichtenberg to emerge with a tense 6-5 victory. Ding had led 4-0, but required a deciding frame to secure the win.

World number four Neil Robertson came through with a 6-2 win over 1995 Crucible runner-up Nigel Bond. While four-time World Champion John Higgins narrowly avoided a shock defeat, beating Chinese wildcard Wu Yize 6-5.

Judd Trump played very well and his scoring was impressive, no question, however it will be interesting to see how he fares when facing an opponent that is both stronger and more experienced than Jordan Brown. Jordan deserves a lot of praise for the way he fought back, but ultimately he was able to do that because a few mistakes started to creep into Judd’s game. That will always happen: very rarely, if ever, can a player sustain a nearly perfect level over a best of 11 or longer. I had the feeling though that Judd started to feel a bit uneasy at 4-3. All expectations are on him now. He responded well, but he wasn’t really pushed just yet.

Judd Trump’s ambition to regain the  n°1 spot is normal, he still has to prove himself, he’s not that far behind Ronnie and he knows that the latter is no more playing full time time.

Yan Bingtao, who, despite being the first winner of the season, doesn’t seem to deserve a mention in this report, was very solid against Alfie Burden. Nothing flash but good old solid stuff. Zhou Yuelong on the contrary seems to have lost his way a bit.

The Ding v Lichtenberg match was bizarre. Ding was cruising at 4-0. Came the MSI, and the match got lost in a quagmire. Ding forgot how to pot more than a few balls at a time, lost his concentration and looked bored out of his skull in his seat. Simon fought very hard, played some very decent safeties but remained error prone. As a result, the second half of the match was a long, broken play affair. Ding woke up just in time to grab the win.

In this mixed bag, Ding played this very remarkable shot

2019 International Championship: Ding Junhui shot – Simon Lichtenberg

I saw very little from the Higgins v Wu match, but from what I saw, Wu was really impressive, especially considering that he’s only 15. He took the game to John who eventually prevailed, largely because of his vast experience IMO.

There was this interesting controversial situation during the match

2019 International Championship: John Higgins – Wu Yize (free ball situation) from LOV 863 on Vimeo.

Other than that there were a few “casualties”: Barry Hawkins lost to Daniel Wells (who is now working with Sightright) and Ryan Day was beaten by Kurt Maflin despite the fact that Kurt arrived late for his match and was docked a frame.

Thepchaiya Un-nooh lost  heavily to Ricky Walden who had five breaks over 60 in the match. That’s not a shock at all. Ricky is top 16 material and it’s a shame that his career was crippled by recurring back problems. He’s coming back to form and that’s great. “Theppy” has no B game, and when he’s not on a good day he’s very vulnerable.

Gary Wilson and David Gilbert followed up on their Crucible form, Michael White, unfornately confirmed his spiralling down …