World Open 2019 Qualifiers – Day 2

There were  a few unexpected results again yesterday, and again Chinese players were involved…

The first “shock” came when Mei Xiwen beat Gary Wilson soundly by 5-2. Mei is a competent, well respected, player but he’s never been a top player, and he’s never been past the top 16 in any tournament and he’s 36. Yesterday though he scored heavily: he had four breaks over 50 including a 136. Certainly  unexpected.

Next Xu Si came back from 3-0 down to beat Mark Joyce, the Riga Masters runner-up, by 5-3. Mark Joyce had started the match with a 96 break, then stolen the second frame despite a 51 by Xu. Without seeing the match, it’s quite hard to explain what happened there.

Not really a surprise but still shocking, Micael White was beaten, again, and quite comprehensively. This time by Jordan Brown, who won 5-2. Jordan is clearly improving in recent months, but Michael White spiralling down that is still surprising and worrying. Michael is still only 28, he was in the top 16 at the end of the 2015/16 season. He was a big prospect as a junior. Now he’s in serious danger to drop off the tour. What happened there? We know that he has suffred bouts of depression in the past, and I suspect there has been some heavy drinking on occasions as well. Is that it? If so it’s very sad.

Finally Nigel Bond beat Daniel Wells by 5-2. At 53 Nigel remains an excellent tactitian, but his consistency and potting tend to let him down rather often nowadays. It was a hard fought match, going by the scores. This is a very good win for the veteran.

You can find all detailed results on snooker.org.

 

World Open 2019 Qualifiers – Day 1

BarnsleyWOQualsRig

The potters are back in Barnsley for the 2019 World Open qualifiers. For many of them it’s been nearly two months since they last had the opportunity to play competitively. That’s a long gap for those who aren’t well-off financially.

Ronnie has entered the event, but isn’t playing in Barnsley: his last 128 match – against Dominic Dale – is held over to the main venue.

The qualifiers are run over four days, and yesterday was the first of these days. It yielded a couple unexpected results.

Barry Pinches beat Robert Milkins by 5-3. This is the first win for Barry this season, outside the Q-school. Barry is 49. He dropped off the main tour at the end of the 2015/16 season. However, he continued to play in amateur comps, because he just loves his snooker. Last season, he played on the WSS tour – the Seniors tour – were he enjoyed some nice success. He reached the final of the Seniors Masters 2019, losing to Joe Johnson on a respotted black. I am convinced that playing on the WSS tour – against some very good opposition – contributed to Barry’s return to the main tour. He came to the Q-School sharp and yesterday he beat a very dangerous opponent.

Chang Bingyu, who only turned 17 last August, beat the experienced Tom Ford in a decider. Tom lead 3-1 at the MSI. It was an entertaining match to watch, both players opting for an attacking game. Chang is still extremely young. He’s a very dangerous potter, but his positional game is not the best yet. He did however play some excellent safeties and it was a telling factor in the match. He impressed me.

Other than that, Marco Fu continues to blow hot and cold. He found himself 3-1 down to Brandon Sargeant at the MSI, seemingly struggling badly, only to win all four frames after the MSI, with a break over 50 in each of them. Very strange.

Kyren Wilson v Chen Feilong produced nine breaks over 50 in eight frames played. The final score was 5-3 to Kyren. Neither was faultless but once in they both scored heavily.

All detailed results can be found on snooker.org

 

English Open 2019 – Draw and Format

Worldsnooker has today published the draw and format for the English Open 2019

Judd Trump faces a tough draw against former World Champion Peter Ebdon in the first round of the 19.com English Open in Crawley.

Click here for the draw

Click here for the format

The draw and format for the world ranking event has been announced, with crowd favourites Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan both in action on the opening day at K2 Crawley on Monday October 14th.

World Champion Trump will take on Ebdon at 1pm on that day, with O’Sullivan to play Jamie O’Neill at 7pm.

Defending champion Stuart Bingham has been drawn against Poland’s Kacper Filipiak, with that match to be played on the Monday afternoon.

Sussex’s Mark Davis, who reached the final last year, faces former World Champion Graeme Dott on the evening of Tuesday October 15.

Other matches to look out for in the first round include:

Snooker legend Jimmy White against China’s Bai Langning – Tuesday October 15 evening session

Kyren Wilson against former English Open champion Liang Wenbo – Tuesday October 15 afternoon session

China Championship winner Shaun Murphy against Chang Bingyu – Monday October 14 evening session

Neil Robertson against Kishan Hirani – Tuesday October 15 evening session

Mark Williams takes on Jamie Clarke – Tuesday October 15 afternoon session

Mark Selby faces Barry Pinches – Monday October 14 afternoon session

Up-and-coming talents Jack Lisowski and Jackson Page go head to head – Tuesday October 15 afternoon session

In all there will be 128 players in the field, each needing to win seven matches to capture the Steve Davis Trophy and a top prize of £70,000.

The tournament runs from October 14 to 20. It’s the first Home Nations event of the season, followed by tournaments in Belfast, Glasgow and Cardiff, with a £1 million bonus available for any player who can win all four. All events are televised by Eurosport and Quest.

Tickets are ON SALE NOW and there are still seats available, but now that the match schedule has been released they will sell fast so fans must book quickly.

Special offers include all-day tickets for students for £8 and an event pass for every session of the tournament for just £160.

For details CLICK HERE or call 0871 620 7052.

There are a few matches in the first round that Worldsnooker isn’t “bigging” but that are more interesting than most of those listed above:

Anthony MgGill v Chris Wakelin … both have gone deep in the last event, the China Championship

Scott Donaldson v Zhao Xintong, both young but a right clash of styles

David Gilbert v the always hard to scrap off the table, methodical, Stuart Carrington

Kurt Maflin v Noppon Saengkham, both extremely capable on their day

Stephen Maguire v Thepchaiya Un-nooh, could be explosive

Luo Honghao v Sam Craigie, both young but very different styles

 

China Championship 2019 – Shaun Murphy is your champion!

ChinaChampionship2019-MurphyWinner

Congratulations Shaun Murphy!

Having finished runner-up of both the 2019 International Championship  and the 2019 Shanghai Masters, Shaun Murphy came out the winner of a quality and dramatic final at the 2019 China Championship. He beat Mark Williams by 10-9, having been 9-5 up before his opponent went on to win four frames on the trot to force a decider! Scary!

shared by Worldsnooker on twitter

It is Shaun’s first ranking title since the 2017 Gibraltar Open. Between then and today he had lost in no less than six ranking finals.

Here is Worldsnooker’s report on the first session

Shaun Murphy has emerged with a slender 5-4 advantage after a superb afternoon session at the Evergrande China Championship final against Mark Williams in Guangzhou.

The 2005 World Champion is competing in his third consecutive final, but is still searching for a first title of the season after previous losses to Judd Trump and Ronnie O’Sullivan at the International Championship and Shanghai Masters respectively.

44-year-old Williams is aiming to become the oldest winner of a ranking event since Doug Mountjoy won the 1989 Classic at the age of 46.

The pair will return to play the best of 19 frame match to a conclusion at 12:30 UK time, with the winner picking up £150,000.

Murphy claimed the opening two frames today, stealing the second on the final black to secure an early 2-0 cushion. However, three-time World Champion Williams forced himself back to parity with breaks of 73 and 70 to make it 2-2 at the mid-session.

They traded frames when they returned, before a sublime break of 143 saw Williams take to the front at 4-3. Murphy was undeterred and compiled runs of 64 and 133 to claim the last two frames and secure his 5-4 lead.

And on the second session:

ChinaChampionship2019-MurphyWinner-5Shaun Murphy won his first ranking title for 30 months by beating Mark Williams 10-9 in the final of the Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou.

In a dramatic finish, Williams came from 9-5 down to 9-9, but Murphy kept his composure and took the deciding frame with a break of 69 to secure the £150,000 top prize.

It’s a relief for England’s 37-year-old Murphy to get his hands on a trophy as he had lost six ranking finals in a row since winning the Gibraltar Open in March 2017.

Murphy endured a poor 2018/19 season, which he described as the worst of his career, but has regained form in emphatic style this term. He was runner-up at the International Championship and Shanghai Masters, and has now gone one further to land the eighth ranking title of his career.

The spin-offs include a place in November’s ManBetX Champion of Champions, almost certain qualification for all three lucrative Coral Series events later in the season, and a leap of six places to eighth in the world rankings.

Williams, age 44, had hoped to become the oldest winner of a ranking event since fellow Welshman Doug Mountjoy landed the 1989 Classic at the age of 46. He was aiming for his 23rd career ranking title and first since the 2018 Yushan World Open when he came from 9-5 down to beat David Gilbert 10-9.

This time, he couldn’t quite complete the fight back, and goes home with £75,000, remaining third in the world.

Murphy led this battle of two former World Champions 5-4 after the first session. Williams nicked the opening frame of the evening session on the final black, before Murphy surged ahead with breaks of 75, 76, 103 and 79 to lead 9-5.

A run of 73 saw Williams spark his recovery and he got the better of two fragmented frames to close to 9-8, before compiling a superb 132 to force the decider.

A rasping long red set Murphy up for his 69 to take control of the frame. Williams replied with 30 and needed a snooker on the last red, but his hopes ended when Murphy fired the red into a baulk corner to clinch the title.

“I was getting very uncomfortable as he came back to 9-9, admitted Murphy. “It was horrible – I felt sick, I couldn’t breathe or see straight. Winning isn’t easy.

“I played a shot to nothing on the first red in the last frame, it worked out perfectly and the 69 I made was one of the best breaks of my life bearing in mind what had gone on before. To stand up there under the pressure and take my chance – I’m very proud. It has to go down as one of my best performances.

“If you wrote a list of the ten players you don’t want to make a run at you, he is one of them. He’s one of the best players we’ve ever seen. I had him in a lot of trouble all the way through and still I just scraped through in the end. When he was coming back at me, all the bad memories of the last 18 months came flooding back.”

Here is Shaun’s reaction after the match…

This is the “victorious red …

China Championship 2019 – Day 6 – SF

So, we will have Mark Williams v Shaun Murphy in tomorrow’s final.

In the first semi final today Mark Williams beat Hossein Vafaei by 6-5 in an excellent match. Hossein came back fro 5-2 down to force a decider and deserves a lot of credit. Both players players some fantastic shots.

As Mark Williams mentioned in his post-match interview, although he won quite a few matches, he hasn’t played really well for a very long time, even in this tournament. Today he was markedly better though.

Quite remarkably, Hossein Vafaei had not lost a match this season before today. In both previous ranking tournament this season, the Riga Masters and the International Championship he had been forced to withdraw because of visa issues. He is provisionally ranked n°31, his better ranking to date and a 10 place improvement from his current n° 41. However, every season he’s missing several tournaments because of visa issues and he should be higher really.

Here is the report by Worldsnooker:

Mark Williams held off a Hossein Vafaei fightback to clinch his place in the final of the Evergrande China Championship with a 6-5 win.

Tomorrow will be the 35th time Williams has graced a ranking event final. He will be up against either Shaun Murphy or Mark Selby over 19 frames, with the winner picking up £150,000.

22-time ranking event winner Williams hasn’t appeared in a final since the Yushan World Open at the start of last season. On that occasion he mounted a remarkable comeback to beat David Gilbert 10-9 from 9-5 down.

Vafaei will have to wait in his quest to reach a maiden ranking event final. The Iranian number one has now lost all three of his semi-final appearances, having also bowed out in the last four at the 2017 China Open and the 2019 Welsh Open.

It had looked as if Williams was in for a comfortable afternoon today when he took the opening three frames to lead 3-0.

The Welshman then appeared to be in position to go four up at the mid-session. Vafaei was trailing in the frame and came to the table with the white stuck perilously underneath the jaws of the left hand baulk pocket. However, he deposited a sensational long red to set up a clearance of 42 which made it 3-1.

They then traded frames, with Vafaei composing a superb break of 134 to stay in touch at 4-2 down.

Williams made it 5-2, before three frames on the bounce from Vafaei forced a decider. Three-time World Champion Williams showed his metal by potting an incredible cut back red to the top right to set up a break of 91 which wrapped up victory.

“He was looking stronger towards the end. I pulled out a fantastic red. I thought I had to go for it,” said 44-year-old Williams. “I could have played that shot another 20 times and not got it. I am glad to get over the line.

“Apart from four frames on the bounce against David Gilbert I have been playing my C game. I have just been sticking in there. I haven’t had a century break since I have been here. I’ll have to play better to win the final. Even if I lose the final who cares, I am amazed I am still here.”

Here is a mini collection of great shots this match produced:

The second semi final saw Shaun Murphy beat Mark Selby by 6-3. Neither player played particularly well. Shaun struggled with the pace of the table from start to finish, regularlrly over-screwing shots. Mark Selby made two centuries … and countless unexpected, uncharacteristic mistakes, even in the safety department. Despite this it was quite entertaining in it own way.

It’s Shaun third final in a row this season, a complete contrast with the last season disastrous run.

Here is Worldsnooker report:

Shaun Murphy won a gruelling clash with Mark Selby 6-3 to book his place in the final of the Evergrande China Championship.

The Magician has enjoyed a supreme start to his 2019/20 campaign and is now into his third consecutive final. 2005 World Champion Murphy was runner-up in the previous two events, to Judd Trump at the International Championship and Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Shanghai Masters.

He will be hoping to go one step further tomorrow when he takes on 22-time ranking event winner Mark Williams for the title and the £150,000 top prize.

Defending champion Selby will leave Guangzhou disappointed at missing out on his first title since victory here last year. However, he will pocket £32,000 for his second semi-final appearance of the season, following a run to the last four at the International Championship.

Murphy carried over his red-hot form to the opening exchanges today as he surged to a 3-0 advantage, making a break of 96 along the way.

However, Selby forced himself into contention with back-to-back century runs of 101 and 100 to trail by just one at 3-2.

Murphy moved 4-2 ahead before nerves began to kick in for both players in a tense seventh frame. Eventually, after 53 minutes of play, Selby managed to clinch it and close within one at 4-3.

Triple Crown winner Murphy wasn’t to be denied and claimed the eighth frame, before a break of 88 sealed his spot in the final.

Murphy said: “I am delighted to be in another final. As you get older you get a bit of perspective. Things have come fairly easy to me during my career. I won the Triple Crown and other tournaments. Off the back of the worst season of my life last year I value things a lot more now.

“I’m really looking forward to the final. Any time you play those greats like Williams, O’Sullivan and Higgins it is a special moment. For it to be in a final it is doubly special.

“It would mean everything to win tomorrow. It is what all the hours of practice are for. It is to take those trophies home to your family.”

And Shaun’s postmatch interview

China Championship 2019 – Day 5 – QFs

Here is the report by Worldsnooker on what happened today

Iran’s Hossein Vafaei recorded a 5-3 defeat of Joe Perry to progress to the semi-finals of the Evergrande China Championship in Guangzhou.

World number 41 Vafaei was the first ever professional player from Iran and has been a trailblazer for the sport in his country. He was joined on tour by compatriot Soheil Vahedi in 2017.

Vafaei’s two other trips to the last four of a ranking event came at the 2017 China Open and earlier this year at the 2019 Welsh Open. He lost to Mark Williams and Neil Robertson respectively.

Tomorrow’s semi-final will be a repeat of that China Open clash, with Vafaei crossing cues with Williams once again. The Iranian will be hoping to go one step further on this occasion.

Vafaei kicked off this afternoon’s match in impressive fashion with a century run of 104. He then doubled his advantage, before Perry notched up his first frame of the match. However, a break of 71 saw Vafaei head into the mid-session interval with a 3-1 lead.

Perry forced his way back into contention with a stunning 134 break upon their return. They then traded frames, leaving Vafaei one up with two to play at 4-3.

Perry had chances to force the decider, but it was Vafaei who wrapped up victory with a break of 66 to reach his third ranking semi-final.

Vafaei said: “I have learned a lot about quarter-finals and semi-finals. I know what I have to do. In all of my matches, I know what I have to do. I have to find my form and find my rhythm.

“Snooker is getting bigger everyday in Iran. Every month or three months new snooker clubs are opening. With good facilities, snooker is getting very big in Iran. So many people like to watch and play. We have a lot of players, referees and coaches. If I can get good results it will get even bigger than it is now.”

Three-time World Champion Williams secured his progression with a 5-1 demolition of world number 12 David Gilbert.

The Welshman lost the opening frame, but from there produced imperious snooker. Williams composed breaks of 63, 93, 56 and 71 on his way to five frames on the bounce and an emphatic victory.

Defending champion Mark Selby won an epic encounter with Barry Hawkins 5-4 to secure his place in the last four.

With the scores locked at 3-3 they played out a marathon 51-minute seventh frame. After an extended period of safety play on the colours, Hawkins finally got in with a chance to clear. He spurned a pink to the middle. Eventually Selby punished him by depositing a pressure black to move 4-3 up.

Three-time World Champion Selby had then looked set to wrap up the match before breaking down on 46 in the following frame. Hawkins stepped up and fired in a superb break of 73 to steal.

However, Selby wasn’t to be denied and produced a ice cool contribution of 98 in the decider to seal victory and set up a semi-final showdown with an in-form Shaun Murphy.

Selby said: “It was always going to be a tough game. We have become really close friends. It was a tough match, but I think that was down to us playing some really good safety and not giving each other a chance.

“Shaun had a season to forget last year. He has shown his class this year. You can’t ask much more than getting to two finals and here he is in another semi-final. It is going to be a tough game.”

2005 Crucible king Murphy secured his progression with a 5-2 defeat of Norway’s Kurt Maflin.

I can’t really comment about the matches, having seen very little of today’s action.

The semi finals line-up is quite remarkable though. We have there three former World Champions in Williams, Selby and Murphy who have all in common the fact that although they are all in the top 16, they came here on the back of a rather lean spell and none of them has yet secured his place in the Champion of Champions. Hossein Vafaei, of course, hasn’t either. This means that whoever lifts the trophy on Sunday, it will be a new name in the 2019 CofC draw. It also means that Jimmy White has still to wait and hope for a repeat winner in one of the two other remaining events: the World Open 2019 and the English Open 2019.

 

New venue for the Players Championship 2020

This the announcement made by Worldsnooker today:

Southport will host a snooker world ranking event for the first time early next year when the Coral Players Championship comes to the town.

The event will run from February 24th to March 1st in 2020 at the Southport Waterfront. Tickets for all three Coral Series events will be on sale soon.

The Coral Players Championship features the leading 16 players on snooker’s one-year ranking list. Ronnie O’Sullivan won the title last season, beating Neil Robertson in the final. The match had a memorable finish as O’Sullivan made the 1,000th century break of his career in the last frame.

Other top stars in the field last season, when the event was staged in Preston, included Judd Trump, John Higgins, Mark Selby, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson and Mark Williams.

The one-year ranking list started at the Riga Masters last July, and the cut-off point for the Coral Players Championship is the Shoot Out which finishes on February 23rd. The top 16 on the list at that point go through to Southport.

The 16 players will start in a seeded draw, with a knockout format. All matches will be best of 11 frames, until the final which is best of 19.

It’s the second of three events in the Coral Series, preceded by the 32-man Coral World Grand Prix in Cheltenham (February 3-9) and followed by the eight-man Coral Tour Championship in Llandudno (March 17-22). The player earning the most money across the series will receive the Coral Cup and a £100,000 bonus. All three events are televised live by ITV.

Total prize money in Southport will be £385,000 with the winner to receive £125,000.

A spokesman for World Snooker said: “We are very excited about bringing this prestigious tournament to Merseyside for the first time. We know there’s a lot of support for snooker in the area so we’re expecting big crowds, and once tickets are on sale fans must get them booked early as many of the sessions will sell out.

“The Southport Waterfront is a fantastic venue in a beautiful location on England’s North West coast. It’s will be a superb stage for snooker’s biggest names.

“The Coral Players Championship will bring together 16 of the best players on the planet. The great thing about the Coral Series is that all 128 tour players begin the season on zero as they start the race to qualify for the three lucrative events. So only those in form make it into the elite field.

“That race is well underway now and it will be fascinating to see whether all of the big names make it to Southport, or whether we get new faces and outsiders earning a place in the line-up.

“For fans in the area it’s fabulous news as it’s a chance to see live sport at its very best, and the value for money is exceptional.”

Emma Lloyd, Head of Creative for Waterfront Southport said: “This is huge for the venue and the town. We are delighted to be working with the team at World Snooker to bring it to the Waterfront and we hope it’s the start of a great working relationship. The North West is known for its love of snooker and Southport is no different!”

Ticket details will be announced as soon as they are available.

Ronnie will be the defending champion but this is of course no guarantie that he will qualify for it … he needs some ranking points mate!