2021 Q-School Event 3 – into the last day

Today is the last day of the 2020/21 season and by tonight six more guys will have earned a fresh two years tour card.

This is WST report on what happened yesterday:

Pinches Junior Into Last 16

Luke Pinches is just two wins away from following in the footsteps of father Barry and earning a tour card through Q School.

All results

Luke Pinches

Norwich potter Pinches, age 19, is through to the last 16 of Q School for the first time and will face Mark Lloyd next. The four quarter-final winners on Sunday in Sheffield earn a two-year tour card, as do the next two highest players on the Order of Merit.

Luke’s father Barry, age 50, came through event two earlier this week. If Luke successfully follows him, they will join Peter and Oliver Lines as father-and-son duos on the pro circuit. In the last 32, Pinches beat Callum Beresford 4-1.

Lloyd ended the hopes of Tony Knowles with a 4-2 success. From 2-0 down, Lloyd took four in a row with a top run of 56.

Ian Burns came from 3-1 down to beat Soheil Vahedi 4-3, taking the last three frames with breaks of 56, 63 and 106.

Veteran David Finbow, who reached number 28 in the world during his 1990s peak, could return to the tour for the first time since 2004. The 53-year-old came from 3-1 down to beat Dylan Mitchell 4-3.

Joshua Cooper – nephew of Shaun Murphy – beat Robbie McGuigan 4-1, setting up a match with China’s Si Jiahui. Duane Jones saw off Michael Georgiou 4-1 and will now face a Welsh derby against Michael White. Two-time ranking event winner White let slip a 3-0 lead against Hammad Miah 4-3, but made a 74 in the decider to win 4-3.

Also through to the last 16 are Simon Blackwell, Lei Peifan, Sanderson Lam, Billy Castle, Ross Bulman, Haydon Pinhey, Mitchel Mann and Dean Young.

There are only two non British/Irish players amongst the remaining 16, two young Chinese, both relegated pros, Lei Peifan and Si Jiahui. Other than those two, we a have some young talents still in this draw: Mark Loyd, Luke Pinches, Haydon Pinhey, Dean Young, Ross Bulman and Josuah Cooper are all under-25. The way the draw pans out at least three of them will be in the quarter-finals.

Hammad Miah is currently on top of the order of merit. He’s not mathematically “safe” but would need a lot of results to go against him today to miss out on a fresh two years tour card. Lei Peifan, who is still in the tournament, is second and the same is true for him should he lose to day.

Michael White is still in the draw and I hope that he makes it through because his chances to get a fresh tour card via the order of merit are extremely thin: he would need Sanderson Lam to lose by 4-0 in the last 16, Ian Burns to lose in the last 16, and Lei Peifan, Duane Jones and Mitchell Mann to be amongst today’s laureates.

Amongst those who bowed out yesterday are Michael Giorgiou, Soheil Vahedi, Ross Muir, Bai Langning and Luo Honghao.

Michael, Ross, Bai and Soheil are high in the order of merit and will probably  get opportunities to play via the top-up system if they so wish and if it’s actually possible.

Of course, for Soheil who is Iranian, there are additional questions about his status in the UK and how he can support himself and his family. He must be able to stay and work in the country for this to be a realistic option. I hope that it will possible if that’s what he wants.

As for Michael Giorgiou, if his FB page is anything yo go by, he hates the game … for now at least.

For Luo, who is only 21, was rookie of the year in 2018, qualified fot the Crucible on his maiden season, I fear that this could be the end of the road and it’s a real shame. Lewis and myself were there, at the EIS, when Luo qualified for the Crucible. He had so much battling spirit and passion in him back then. What happened that turned him into the anxious bag of nerves we have seen over the last couple of years? It’s very sad.

This was shared by James and relayed by Michael Day on twitter (*):

EnglishJuniors2009:10

It’s an order of merit of the English juniors in 2009/10. Mot many have made it and been able to stay on the main tour. Only two have been really succesful: Jack Lisowski and Kyren Wilson: they were both 18 years old at the time, and both turned professional in 2010. Stephen Craigie, who topped that list by some distance, completely disappeared from the snooker map.

(*) Michael observed that “the rivalry between Judd Trump and Kyren Wilson going back to their juniors days” is not credible, unless by “juniors” people mean “children”. Judd, who is nearly two and a half years older than Kyren, turned pro in 2005. Kyren was only 13 at the time and never competed against Judd on the amateur circuit after that.

 

 

When Ronnie gets scary … it turns nasty.

I stumbled upon this one… 

Anger as Ronnie O’Sullivan snooker scarecrow display trashed by vandals in Somerset village

The targeted attack has been branded “a disgusting act”

Ronnie O'Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port
Ronnie O’Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port

Residents of a Somerset village have been left horrified and disgusted after a life-size scarecrow of snooker sporting legend Ronnie O’Sullivan was vandalised in a front garden.

The rocket flames attached to the end of Ronnie’s cue were ripped off and vandals attempted to remove the scarecrow from the seat which he had been tied to.

The culprits then upturned a snooker table which had been placed beside the record-breaking snooker champ leaving the scene in disarray.

The annual scarecrow competition, run by the local community chose a sporting theme this year and were inundated with entries which now form an entertaining display in front gardens around the village.

However, mindless vandals went to several gardens overnight and trashed some of the displays leaving the owners angry.

Ronnie had been lovingly made by Milborne Port resident Mandy Chaffey along with the help of her husband Colin and 22-year-old son William who idolises the sporting hero (named The Rocket due to his style of playing).

Made in true Worzel Gummidge style, they spent hours stuffing pairs of tights with straw, making his outfit and laying out a snooker table display complete with coloured balls.

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The scarecrow display was trashed by vandals

She said that as soon as the competition organisers told villagers the scarecrows had to follow a sporting theme there was no question who they were going to make.

“My son is snooker mad and loves “Rocket Ronnie” and it was a joint effort between the three of us,” she said.

“When we opened our door that morning the display had been attacked and they ripped off the rocket flames we had put on the end of his cue and threw it on the ground.

“They then tried to removed Ronnie from his chair, but he was tied too tightly and ended up just lying there in a dishevelled heap.

“They then pushed the table right over which had a set of snooker balls glued onto it, and it narrowly missed hitting my son’s car that was parked in the driveway.

“Whoever did this just didn’t think, and it was a disgusting act.

“This is a community competition which we all put a lot of effort into doing and they obviously just ‘don’t get it.

“They also targeted a tennis player scarecrow in somebody else’s front garden, ripping off its arm and stealing the ball.”

Ronnie O'Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port
Ronnie O’Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port

Mrs Chaffey said that the actions of the vandals would not destroy their spirit and said they had managed to patch Ronnie up and return him to his former glory, however his rocket flames remain missing.

“It is a wonderful thing to do for our village, just to see the joy on everyone’s faces when they see the scarecrows is fantastic, even the recycling men have a laugh at them,” she added.

🙃 😎  …

2021 Q-School Event 3 – Round 2

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

Here is what WST reported about it:

Wells Sunk By In-Form Muir

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

All results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2021 Q-School Event 3 – Round 1

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

This is what WST reported after the first day 

Wins For Kenna And Knowles

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

All results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here goes…

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

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

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

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

Good luck On Yee!

Snooker and Tour News – 10 June 2021

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

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

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

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

Stage 2:
August 9-12

Stage 3:
August 13

Details of how to watch will be announced soon.

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

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

WST also reported on the team event in China:

Shanghai Success At CBSA Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2021 Q-School Event 2 – The Outcome

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

Here are the reports by WST:

The Last 16

Q School Event Two – The Final Eight

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

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

versus

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


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

versus

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


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

versus

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


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

versus

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

The quarter-finals

Judge / Burden / Steadman / Pinches Regain Tour Spots

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

All results 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later on Facebook, Barry Pinches came up with this:

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

To which I answered this:

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

 

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

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

End of rant. For now … 😉🙄

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

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

 

2021 Q-School Event 2 – Rounds 3 & 4

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

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

Here are the reports by WST

Saturday

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

All results

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday

Potential Rookies Chase Tour Dream

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

All results

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

Robbie McGuigan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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