World Championship 2018 Qualifiers – Taking stock of round 2

Today, in the EIS, the third and last round of the World Championship 2018 will start, and all matches will come to a conclusion tomorrow. Tomorrow has been branded “Judgement Day”, but to me, all the previous six days have been Judgement Days, as many players lost their professional status as the tournament unfolded.

Matt Huart is keeping us updated on his “Tour Survival Blog” One particular scenario deserves our attention.  Should Lyu Haotian win tomorrow , and with Oliver Lines losing tonight, Lyu would climb into the top 64, whilst Oliver would drop off that bracket. Should that happen, Oliver would still keep his professional status, via the one year list, at the expense of Sam Craigie who would be relegated.

Here are Worldsnooker accounts of round 2 results

15 April 2018

1997 World Champion Ken Doherty is one match away from a return to snooker’s Theatre of Dreams after defeating Gerard Greene 10-4 at Betfred World Championship Qualifying.

Doherty hasn’t appeared at the Crucible since 2014 and his run this week is in stark contrast to the scenes at qualifying for last year’s event. The Irishman dropped off the tour following a 10-4 loss to Ben Woollaston.

After being handed an invitational tour card Doherty appeared in a semi-final at the 2017 Riga Masters and has fared well throughout the campaign, reaching the last 16 stage on a further two occasions.

Doherty came into this evening’s session with a slender 5-4 advantage. However, he forced himself over the line at the earliest possible opportunity by taking five consecutive frames.

The victory sees him renew an old rivalry with two-time World Championship finalist Matthew Stevens, who came through 10-9 in a final frame decider against Chinese teenager Yuan Sijun.

“There’s one more match to go so I’m not getting too excited. I’m just pleased to have played very well,” said the six-time ranking event winner. “Matthew and I have had some fantastic matches over the years. I’ve played him at the Crucible and he beat me in the final of the Masters. He is a class act, so it will be a tough match against him.

“I think it is very hard to put the Crucible out of your mind. You can feel the tension in the players lounge, you can feel the tension in the arena and these matches are like no other on tour. It is good and gets the juices and adrenaline going. It makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.”

Joe Perry ended Jimmy White’s ambitions of a Crucible return with a 10-5 victory. Like Doherty, the Gentleman held a narrow 5-4 lead after the first session and mounted an instant charge to the finish this evening.  He compiled runs of 61, 62, 62 and 74 on his way to securing five out of six frames and sealing the win.

Perry faces Mark Davis in the next round, who has dropped just one frame this week. The former Six-Red World Champion defeated Sanderson Lam 10-1 in his opening round and whitewashed Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou 10-0 this evening.

China’s Tian Pengfei claimed a shock victory against his compatriot and one of the brightest prospects in the sport Yan Bingtao. The former Ruhr Open finalist came through a deciding frame to win 10-9.

Graeme Dott booked his place at Judgement Day thanks to a 10-2 demolition of the popular Thai Sunny Akani. The 2006 World Champion will face Mike Dunn for a Crucible spot, after the 46-year-old thrashed Dominic Dale 10-3.

Alfie Burden secured a huge victory in his bid for tour survival. He came through a nerve jangling deciding frame to defeat David Gilbert 10-9 and will face either Adam Stefanow or Thepchaiya Un-Nooh for a place at the Crucible.

16 April 2018

Jamie Jones has survived a colossal fightback from Yu Delu to claim a 10-7 win at Betfred World Championship Qualifying in Sheffield.

The Welshman had stormed to a 9-1 advantage and looked set for an early finish, before his Chinese counterpart came charging back. With the score at 9-3, Yu required a six-point snooker, which he got when Jones hit the black on an escape. He went on to win the frame and claimed a further three to pull within two of the Welshman at 9-7.

Eventually, the relieved former World Championship quarter-finalist got himself over the line with a gutsy break of 34. He faces Liang Wenbo for a spot at the Crucible after the Firecracker beat compatriot Zhao Xintong 10-5.

“At 9-1 up I was coasting,” said Jones. “I lost a couple of dodgy frames and in the end it was just momentum against me. I was trying and trying. To be honest the game was going away from me. I made a good break in the last frame and I was pleased to hold myself together after all of that pressure.

“I’m looking forward to the next round now. I just couldn’t see a way I was going to get a chance at the end of today’s match. The pressure was building and I am just relieved to get through. I’ll try and sleep tonight, but I don’t know if I will.”

Ryan Day progressed to Judgement Day after Mitchell Mann conceded their tie due to ill health. Day, who has picked up three titles this season, had already established a 7-1 lead when Mann was forced to withdraw.

Day will face a tough test against 2002 World Champion Peter Ebdon on Judgement Day. Ebdon overcame Robbie Williams 10-5.

Five-time ranking event winner Stephen Maguire defeated Hammad Miah 10-4 to book his spot in the final round. The loss for Miah sees him lose his professional status.

Maguire will face Iran’s Hossein Vafaei for a Crucible berth. Vafaei secured an impressive 10-5 win over Noppon Saengkham to reach Judgement Day and is attempting to become the first Iranian to reach the final stages of the World Championship.

Jack Lisowski put on arguably the performance of the day as he thrashed David Grace 10-3, a result which relegated the Yorkshireman from the tour.

Lisowski fired in breaks of 56, 122, 100, 111, 75, 55, 57 and 73 on his way to a dominant win.

Michael Holt progressed courtesy of a hard fought 10-7 defeat of Gateshead’s Elliot Slessor.

After a fine season in 2016/17, which saw him reach his maiden ranking final at the Riga Masters, Holt has struggled to find his top form this campaign.

In contrast Slessor has enjoyed his best season on the World Snooker Tour, securing two wins over an in-form Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Northern Ireland Open and the China Open. However, it was Holt who showed his experience to book a third round spot.

The Hitman is anticipating a difficult two days of snooker to come, as he attempts to seal his qualification for snooker’s biggest event.

Holt said: “It is very hard. Every player that has been in this last match will tell you it is a very twitchy game. Even if you get a big lead it can swing. It means so much for everyone and they want to get through to the Crucible.”

His opponent in the final round will be Robert Milkins who overcame Perth’s Scott Donaldson 10-8. Victory against Holt would see Milkins appear at the Crucible for the eighth time.

Adam Duffy has remained on course to become the first player from Sheffield to play at the Crucible. He’s defeated Matthew Selt 10-6. While Alan McManus was victorious in a late night thriller with Oliver Lines, winning 10-9.

Now a few thoughts about what I saw at the EIS over the last two days…

Amongst the players most, including me,  expected to make it to the Crucible was young Yan Bingtao. He won’t be there, he lost from 6-1 up to Tian Pengfei, and my feeling is that Yan actually cracked under the pressure big time. He’s still very young of course, we shouldn’t forget that it’s a lot of expectations to cope with for a teenager. But crack he did, and that reminded me of Ronnie’s comments after he beat Yan in the World Grand Prix, questioning his temperament under pressure. At the time I thought that those comments were a bit harsh, but maybe not. Maybe it’s something Yan’s entourage has to take note of and work with him on that specific mental aspect.

Yesterday, Mitchell Mann conceded his streamed match against Ryan Day, citing “ill-health”. This triggered loads of comments on twitter, mostly very sympathetic, suggesting that the issue was related to the well documented bouts of depression Mithchell has suffered in the past. This goes to show how mentality has changed over the last years, and I’m glad it did. But I can’t help to think back at what happened when a certain player, with well documented mental health problems, “cracked” and conceded: he was crucified on social media and in the press, there were talks of ban, and he got a hefty fine. Times a changin… Coming back to Mitchell, he will be relegated from the tour and, maybe, it’s for the better. Snooker is very demanding mentally and emotionally, and, contrary to what happens in more physical sports, there is no possible release of the tension when you are sat in your chair. The most important thing for Mitchell is to get well again, and in a sustainable way too. That’s almost mission impossible when you are competing, and traveling around the globe. Surely, he’s good enough to re-qualify and come back once he’s fit again. In his case relegation might be a blessing in disguise. I’m wishing him the best.

Another pre-Crucible interview with Ronnie

This time in the Daily Mail

Ronnie O’Sullivan is winning so many snooker tournaments, he has started rating them on how much fun he had: ‘A sad face means that it was s***’

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan heads to the Crucible with five 2018 rankings titles to his name
  • But the renowned perfectionist is far from content with his form around the table
  • He’s come up with a way to remind himself he can still win when he plays badly 
  • O’Sullivan uses emojis to rank his  victories, happy for good and sad for ‘s***’  

Ronnie O’Sullivan reclines on a sofa. In terms of results he is in form, winning five ranking events this season to bring his tally to 33, three behind record-holder Stephen Hendry.

But — and this may not come as a surprise — the renowned perfectionist is far from content with his snooker.

‘I’ve written a thing on my phone after each tournament. If it was a good tournament I put a smiley face,’ he says.

Ronnie O'Sullivan heads to the Crucible in Sheffield with five 2018 titles to his name

 Ronnie O’Sullivan heads to the Crucible in Sheffield with five 2018 titles to his name

 

‘If it’s just a plain face it means it was all right, and a sad face means that it was s*** and I didn’t enjoy it. At all,’ he emphasises.
‘Two of my victories have got smiley faces and three have got a sad face because I didn’t actually feel like I performed well or enjoyed it. But I still got the result.

‘It’s a reminder that I can still play badly and win. I’m not going to let my perfectionism stop me.

‘But at the end of the day it still is about winning and losing. I can’t get away from the fact that there are three sad faces in there that have won tournaments.’

The World Championship begins on Saturday and O’Sullivan’s preparations are underway. He is in a snooker hall in the middle of an industrial estate on the outskirts of Romford, not far from his home.

On the first floor of an anonymous brick building is a spartan room with five snooker tables under fluorescent lights. In a corner lurks a sink, kettle and microwave.

Owned by his former manager Django Fung, O’Sullivan is free to practise here at will. Its anonymity and lack of distractions are ideal. But O’Sullivan still struggles.

‘If I had to graft to win them tournaments, I wouldn’t be sitting here now feeling fresh and relaxed,’ he says. ‘The way I have to do it has to come instinctively.

‘To me the snooker part is the easy part. The hard part is getting me to practise. And getting me in the right frame of mind. Once I work on that, then I’m excited to be at the tournament and playing.’

Yet the five-time world champion is taking his snooker as lightly as he ever has done

 

O’Sullivan is waiting for his friend Judd Trump. But until he arrives, Ronnie has things on his mind.

‘Really, snooker is something I do because I want to do it, not because I have to do it. I’ve got snooker just where I want it right now,’ he says.

In between sips of herbal tea, the five-time world champion talks about his passions away from a game which has dominated his life since he was eight.

‘Anything where there is no pressure is fun. Come the tournaments, that’s a different ball game. Every time I put myself on the line I’m there to be criticised if you play badly; if you play good they think you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

‘There’s a working life outside of snooker whereas before I thought, “What else am I going to do?” I could never visualise what my life would be like without snooker.’

Now an author, TV personality, snooker pundit for Eurosport and self-confessed foodie, O’Sullivan’s enthusiasm is infectious.

Take his opinion on Flappy Bird, a mobile phone game which he credits with curing his fear of flying. ‘I absolutely love it. It’s the only thing that gets me on the plane. If I get a bit of turbulence and I’m able to get through it without picking up Flappy Bird.

Reclined on the sofa, O'Sullivan talks to Sportsmail about how he ranks his tournament wins

 

‘But if it gets that bad, then I just pick up the game and I play it and the turbulence goes after a minute or two. And I’m all right.’

He’s also fallen in love with snooker again.

‘I love the punditry,’ he says. ‘It’s one of the best things I do now. I never used to watch snooker but I was forced to watch it because of work. And me and Jimmy [White] and Neal [Foulds] would be watching the game and talking about it.

‘You get so involved in it. You’ve got the one that you want to win it because you’ve followed it through. You think, “I’d love to see him win it because of the journey”.

‘But when you’re playing in it or you’re dipping in and out of it you don’t really know if they’ve had a hard match or what they’ve been through during the tournament.

‘You follow it from start to finish and you get so into it. It’s important just to talk and see the game. And give the viewer an insight of what’s going on and how he’s thinking.

‘You’re just telling it through your eyes really. It would be interesting for me to hear another sportsman that was playing, say Tiger Woods commentating on golf, I’d love to hear how he would be assessing it.’

O’Sullivan heads to Sheffield this week searching for an elusive sixth world title that would bring him alongside Steve Davis and his former coach Ray Reardon. Hendry has seven, a tally O’Sullivan thinks is out of his grasp.

‘I never get to tournaments and think, “I need to meditate and do my practise”. I used to, but now I can’t be bothered. It’s like a roll of a dice for me. Take my chances.’

But Sheffield is a special place.

‘I stay in a hotel right by the river. But I’ve got a houseboat there as well. So I cook on my houseboat, and I sit and chill and watch my TV. I just use the hotel to sleep in and there’s all my clobber there.

I’ve got that safety blanket that if Sheffield’s not going too well you’re either better off going out early, first round, second round, and then enjoying your punditry and getting home and having a few days at home. Or win it. No in between.’

O’Sullivan’s natural talent has been chiselled by two mentors.

He coupled with Reardon in 2003 for two years and he has worked with sports psychologist Steve Peters since 2012.

‘Ray and Steve are the two best things that have happened to me in my career,’ O’Sullivan says.

‘Ray taught me stuff on a snooker table which I will never forget, he made me into the all-round player.

‘Steve Peters has helped me not sabotage my own chances. Whereas before I’d get into a match and think, “I don’t feel like this today, I’m going to have an early bath,” now I give everything I can.

‘I always believe my best game is good enough to beat anybody else’s.’

If he manages to take that to the Crucible, perhaps another smiley face will appear on his phone.

World Championship 2018 Qualifiers – Taking stock of round 1 outcome

In a nutshell, most of the the “top” players won but we still lost some on the way: Gary Wilson, Sam Craigie, Cao Yupeng, Mark King, Fergal O’Brien, Mark Joyce and Anthony Hamilton although the latter has been suffering from back and neck injuries for a while so his defeat comes as no real surprise.

Someone who got beaten but played really well is Jamie Cope, a former pro, but currently an amateur. I hope that he can get back on the tour. He’s better than a lot of players who are on it actually.

April 13, 2018 – Worldsnooker report

Yan Bingtao came through an enthralling battle between two of snooker’s brightest prospects, as he defeated Welsh teenager Jackson Page 10-7 to progress at Betfred World Championship Qualifying in Sheffield.

The 18-year-old from China is slightly further along his career path than Page, having already picked up silverware when he lifted the World Cup alongside Zhou Yuelong for China. He has also appeared in a ranking final at the Northern Ireland Open, where he narrowly lost 9-8 to Mark Williams, and has spent two seasons as a professional.

16-year-old Page has predominantly showcased his considerable talent at his home tournament, the Welsh Open. The teenage sensation, who practises with Mark Williams, has won three matches over the last two years at the Cardiff event. He is also a former World Under-18 champion and the reigning European Under-18 champion.

The young Welsh star showed his battling qualities today. He trailed Yan 6-1, but hit back to restore parity at 6-6. From there the extra experience garnered by Yan came to the fore. He eventually progressed in the 17th frame on the final pink and will face compatriot Tian Pengfei in the next round.

1997 World Champion Ken Doherty kept his hopes of reaching the Crucible alive with a hard fought 10-8 win over compatriot Josh Boileau.

Doherty was never behind in the tie and had led 5-1 at one stage. However, 22-year-old Boileau stuck to the task and fought his way back into the match, eventually pulling within one at 9-8.

Boileau had led the 19th frame 50-0, but a fine counter-clearance of 71 from the Darling of Dublin helped him to get over the line.

Afterwards the 48-year-old Doherty admitted that if he were to qualify for the Crucible, it may be the finale to his storied career.

“It would be nice walking out into the arena as a player rather than a pundit,” said Doherty, who works as an analyst and commentator for BBC Sport. “When I am coming near to retirement, I think one last time playing at the Crucible would probably be my final swansong. Whether it is this year or next year, I don’t know. I am still in the tournament, I’m still battling away and I love the competition.”

Doherty’s opponent in the second round will be Gerard Greene. The world number 90 produced a superb late night win over Mark King, coming through in a deciding frame 10-9.

Adam Stefanow recorded shock 10-8 win over world number 39 Gary Wilson and is a step closer to becoming Poland’s first Crucible participant.

Stefanow took the decision to hang up his cue a couple of months ago. He has now moved back to Poland from Sheffield. He had based himself in the Steel City for his snooker career, which he carried out in conjunction with a part-time restaurant job.

Stefanow gained his place for this week thanks to a run to the final of the recent WSF Championship and as things stand, this will be his last tournament.

“I think a bit of pressure came off for me. I just wanted to improve so quickly and now I have started to enjoy the game,” said the 24-year-old. “At the moment this is my last professional event. I didn’t enter Q School.

“I think it would be absolutely mental in Poland if I could qualify. I have a big support in my country. I am over the moon to win that match.

“I just can’t believe it. I remember three years back when I arrived in Sheffield, I went to watch at the Crucible. I said to myself that if I could play there it would be amazing. I am two matches away which is a lot, but this is what I am aiming for.”

Alfie Burden kept his hopes of tour survival alive with a 10-6 defeat of Jamie Curtis-Barrett. That victory leaves him in position to regain his card via the one-year list. Defeat for Curtis-Barrett means he will lose his tour card.

Two-time Crucible finalist Matthew Stevens saw off Australia’s Ryan Thomerson 10-5. While Chinese youngster Yuan Sijun defeated Fergal O’Brien 10-5.

April 14 morning/afternoon Worldsnooker report

Hossein Vafaei produced a crucial four frame burst to come from behind and beat Jamie Cope 10-8 in Betfred World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

The Iranian came within two frames of becoming the first player from his country to grace the Crucible baize last year. He was defeated 10-8 by Tom Ford in the final round of qualifying.

Vafaei has already become Iran’s first professional player and made an impact on his debut season in 2016/17, reaching the semi-finals of the China Open and beating Judd Trump on the way. The 23-year-old has now been joined by compatriot Soheil Vahedi, who is the World Snooker Tour’s second Iranian player.

Two-time ranking event finalist Cope, who is now playing as an amateur, never trailed until he fell 9-8 behind. However, he will return to the English Institute of Sport later this week to compete for a tourcard at the EBSA Playoffs. He can take solace going into that from a strong performance, which saw him top score with 141.

Vafaei claimed victory by surging to the line from 8-6 down, compiling consecutive breaks of 66, 118, 58 and 41. He will face Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham next, who thrashed Chen Zifan 10-1.

Sam Baird maintained his hopes of tour survival by securing a fine 10-5 win over Vafaei’s fellow Iranian Vahedi.

Baird, who qualified for the Crucible in 2016, needs to progress at least beyond the next round to stand a chance of keeping his professional status.

Sam BairdBaird said: “I was a bit nervous to get over the line and there is a lot riding on this week. It is going to be nerve wracking in the upcoming games, but I managed to play well.

“It would probably be my best achievement to reach the Crucible with all of that at stake. I’d love to be able to just enjoy it and have a go, but the next games are so important.”

His opponent in the next round will be Jimmy Robertson, who was first to progress this afternoon thanks to a crushing 10-2 defeat of Malta’s Alex Borg.

Tom Ford continued his good form with a 10-2 defeat of Leo Fernandez. Ford recently reached the quarter-finals of the lucrative China Open and came through World Championship qualifying at Ponds Forge last year.

April 14 evening Worldsnooker report

Ryan Day produced an impressive performance to defeat Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo 10-2 and progress to second round of Betfred World Championship Qualifying in Sheffield.

38-year-old Day summoned a tremendous blitz at the end of the first session, which realistically ended Figueiredo’s hopes of a shock victory. Day compiled breaks of 64, 66, 70, 90, 107 and 51 in consecutive frames to record an 8-1 scoreline. He got himself over the line this evening with a century run of 100.

The Welshman has enjoyed the best campaign of his career this term. He won his maiden ranking title in the very first event at the Riga Masters and he sensationally claimed back-to-back titles at the Gibraltar Open and the European Masters last month.

However, Day failed to qualify for the lucrative China Open and that ultimately allowed Masters champion Mark Allen to pip him to the 16th and final automatic place at the Crucible. He now hopes that he can come through qualifying and secure his place in the main stages to cash in on his fine form.

“I’d like to have a crack at the Crucible again this year,” said the world number 17. “It’s been a breakthrough season if you like, 19 years after I started on the tour! I’ve had a good season, but it would be disappointing not to get through to the Crucible.

“I’m playing better than I have done for the last few years. I haven’t really done myself justice at the World Championship recently. That is something that I would like to put right.”

World number 18 Stephen Maguire saw off a strong challenge from Allan Taylor to come through 10-5. The Scot led by just one frame at 5-4 after the first session. However, he pulled away this evening to book his place in the second round.

Paul Hunter Classic champion Michael White avoided a shock defeat against world number 107 Niu Zhuang, emerging a 10-9 winner.

White was never ahead until the very last frame, where he forced himself over the line to secure his place in the second round.

“The first round here is massive. If you lose you have no ranking points or money and if you win it is £9,000,” said White. “I know I can hold myself together if it does get close. I’ve won without really playing my A,B or C game.”

Oliver Lines secured a huge win in his bid for tour survival. He defeated European Amateur Champion Harvey Chandler 10-6 to edge towards maintaining his professional status.

David Grace was another to move towards remaining on tour. He came through a massive match with Wang Yuchen 10-6, which saw the Chinese player relegated from the tour.

Ronnie’s interview with Eurosport ahead of the World Championship

Ronnie speaks to Eurosport ahead of the World Championship

Ronnie O’Sullivan: I can win sixth world title, but Mark Selby is favourite

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes his main threat to lifting a sixth world title is old foe and defending champion Mark Selby, who will chase an incredible fourth success in five years at the Crucible.

Since denying O’Sullivan the chance to win his sixth world title in 2014 with an 18-14 win in Sheffield, O’Sullivan has never been back to the final while Selby has progressed to win twice more at the game’s blue-chip event with victories over Ding Junhui (18-14) and John Higgins (18-15) over the past two years.

Leicester’s Selby enters the event having lifted the China Open with a 11-3 win over Barry Hawkins in Beijing last Sunday. He starts the tournament a week on Saturday as the game’s undisputed number one.

But world number two O’Sullivan is enjoying the best season of his career having won five titles and made 70 century breaks. He is number one in the world on the one-year list, and will become the first man to surpass £1m in prize money in a season if he can win the £425,000 winner’s cheque.

There is the tantalising prospect of a best-of-35 frames final between the game’s two top players on May 7.

“Of course I can win, I’m one of 10 players who can win it,” said O’Sullivan.

“But like I said, until the tournament starts. Until you get into it, you never really quite know what’s going to happen. The first round is a difficult one because it’s the first one. But once you get going and you get in your stride anything is possible.

“I think Mark Selby is obviously (the favourite). He’s won it three times out of the last four. Great match player. If he gets it right every player in the tournament knows he’s a proper handful. And obviously Judd Trump as well. If he gets it right he’s a handful for anybody. “

“He’s a very different player to Selby and John Higgins. I love watching John Higgins, he’s the ultimate player. And I love watching Judd Trump play because he plays snooker in a way nobody else plays.

O’Sullivan feels Higgins, Judd Trump, Ding Junhui and Mark Williams are also worth watching in the endurance race of this year’s 17-day event in Sheffield.

“I think obviously Selby, John Higgins, I think Mark Williams is playing very well,” said O’Sullivan. “Ding Junhui has had some good results there the last few years. But like you say, snooker is so wide open today.

“There are so many players capable of winning tournaments. It could be anyone of seven, eight or ten people who could win this year’s WC. It’s just another tournament that happens to be the WC. So there are no guarantees of who could be picking up that trophy.”

At the age of 42, O’Sullivan would be the oldest champion since Welsh icon Ray Reardon lifted the world title at the age of 45 in 1978.

A victory for the sport’s biggest name would be hugely popular, and would see him equal Steve Davis’ and Reardon’s haul of six. It would leave him one behind Stephen Hendry’s modern record of seven.

O’Sullivan feels he is fit enough to last the pace after a season that has seen him win the UK title, Shanghai Masters, English Open, World Grand Prix and Players Championship.

“There’s load in the tank. I haven’t exerted much at all, obviously other than having to go through winning tournaments,” said O’Sullivan.

“That’s the easy part I think, the in between part, I don’t do too much practice. I do enough just to get me on the starting line and I spend a lot of time with my family and my friends.

“I’m really enjoying life you know. I feel like I have a really good balance. For me, if something gets a bit too hard then it’s not for me.

“So like I said, there’s been two or three times throughout the season where I knew I had played too much and I knew losing early in the tournament was the best thing that could happen to me. You lose early, have a few days off, recover for the next tournament. “

“Trying to go deep in every tournament you’re just going to leave yourself feeling shattered. I think at this stage of my career, you want to preserve yourself as much as you can.”

 

Follow the link above to watch the videos.
And about enjoying life Ronnie shared this yesterday…

World Championship 2018 Qualifiers – half way in the first round …

We are half way through the first round at the English Institute of Sport and we had a couple of unexpected results already. Adam Duffy sending Mark Joyce home certainly came as a surprise to me, I actually fancied Mark Joyce to make it to the third round and possibly to the Crucible. Jimmy White win over Sam Craigie yesterday was another – nice – surprise. Jimmy still can play but often failed to keep the consistency over the distance in recent years. He did, and I’m happy for him. Joe Perry awaits and that’s not gonna be easy though…

You can read here the reports on Worldsnooker

April 11, 2018

Adam Duffy kept his hopes of becoming the first Crucible participant from Sheffield alive with a fine 10-4 victory over Mark Joyce in Betfred World Championship Qualifying at the English Institute of Sport.

The local cueman came within two frames of reaching the Crucible in 2015, when he suffered a 10-8 loss in the final round of qualifying against Jamie Jones.

Today the world number 99 faced a tough task against Joyce, who is ranked 59 places above him in 40th. The victory holds deep significance for Duffy, who must win all three qualifying matches to stand a chance of staying on tour and maintaining his professional status.

Duffy led 6-3 after this morning’s opening session and he wasted little time in surging to the line this evening. He rattled off four out of five frames with a top score of 119 to secure the victory.

Duffy’s opponent in the next round will be Matthew Selt, who eased to a 10-1 victory against Women’s World Champion Ng On Yee.

Selt’s victory means that he has secured his place in the world’s top 64 and in turn has ensured his prize money will stay on his ranking next season.

“It was a very anxious weekend for me waiting to see what the draw produced,” said world number 57 Selt. “I didn’t know I was as low as I am in the world rankings. I had a bad season last year, it put a strain on my ranking and I’ve paid for it. It was nice to win comfortably.

“It would be fantastic to get back to the Crucible. I have great memories of playing there. The last session I played at the Crucible in 2015, I was 7-2 down against Barry Hawkins and got it back to 9-9 before going out. I’ve got a long way to go, I have two matches and 20 frames to win. This is the World Championship, it is the biggest event of the year and I’ve got to get ready.”

Elliot Slessor is enjoying one his best seasons on the World Snooker Tour. The Gateshead potter has beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan on two occasions, at the Northern Ireland Open and last week’s China Open. He remains on course for a Crucible debut after a 10-7 defeat of Eden Sharav.

2016 German Masters champion Martin Gould secured his place in the second round with 10-4 defeat of Paul Davison. He fired in consecutive breaks of 75 and 79 to get over the line.

Robert Milkins stormed through by defeating World Seniors Champion Aaron Canavan 10-1. He will face Scott Donaldson next, who defeated Welsh teenager Tyler Rees 10-5.

Stuart Carrington came through a late night epic against 1995 world finalist Nigel Bond. The pair slugged it out until 2am, with Carrington eventually coming through a 10-9 winner.

April 12, 2018

Jimmy White defeated Sam Craigie 10-6 in their Betfred World Championship Qualifying clash at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.

It was the six-time World Championship finalist’s 100th match in the event and the result sees him move just two wins away from a first appearance at the Crucible Theatre since 2006.

The Whirlwind has reached the final round of qualifying twice since then, most recently in 2013 where he bowed out against Robert Milkins. If White is to secure his spot on Judgement Day this year, he must negotiate a stern test against Joe Perry. However, he is relishing the prospect of a showdown with the world number 22.

White said: “Joe has been watching me since he first started! I’ve been around a bit longer than him. We’ve had some great battles over the years and I’m sure we will have another on Sunday.”

Perry progressed courtesy of a 10-1 demolition of Scotland’s Ross Muir. Afterwards the former Players Champion stated that he felt Craigie could have been overawed by the occasion of facing the Whirlwind.

“I’ve had my eye on their game. I think Sam was struggling with occasion a little bit. That won’t bother me,” said the 43-year-old. “I’ve played Jimmy in all kinds of venues. It’s not going to affect my performance playing Jimmy here. I’ve got a job to do and it is just down to me at the end of the day.”

Dominic Dale battled hard to overcome a resolute 11-time Women’s World Champion Reanne Evans 10-7.

The former Crucible quarter-finalist hasn’t appeared at snooker’s Theatre of Dreams since 2014, but victory today sees him close within two matches of a return.

It was a hard-fought performance from Evans, who won her first ever World Championship match at last year’s qualifying against Robin Hull. However, it wasn’t to be this evening for the 32-year-old.

The clash had looked set to end this afternoon, when Evans trailed 9-6 and 54-0. However, she fired in a brilliant clearance of 55 to snatch the frame, before they were pulled off. When they returned this evening Dale clinically got himself over the line with a break of 65 to progress.

“I’m so relieved. I didn’t settle for the whole match and I was a nervous wreck,” said Dale. “Reanne’s performances here over the last couple of years have shown that she is a worthy competitor on the circuit. It’s not like power sports like tennis or cricket, in snooker the power game doesn’t really come into it and men and women can be equal.

“I think Reanne is the best female player I have ever seen. Her safety game and knowledge of the sport really impressed me.”

Liang Wenbo came within inches of snooker history in his 10-2 victory over Rod Lawler.

The Firecracker compiled a sublime 147 break in the tenth frame to go 9-1 up and put himself in position to claim the £10,000 prize for a maximum break.

In extraordinary scenes, he then went on to string together a run of 140 two frames later, before missing the final black for a second 147. It would have seen the 31-year-old become the first player in the history of the sport to make two 147 breaks in an official match.

Rory McLeod kept alive his hopes of tour survival with a 10-8 win over Preston’s Ian Burns. McLeod dramatically claimed victory on a re-spotted black in the 18th frame.

Shoot Out winner Michael Georgiou overcame former World Billiards finalist Matthew Bolton 10-4. Georgiou had trailed 3-1, but won nine out of ten frames to burst to the finish line and book his spot in the second round.

Li Hang defeated Yorkshire’s Ashley Hugill 10-9 thanks to a break of 92 in the deciding frame. While Ricky Walden overcame Joe Swail by a 10-8 scoreline.

I didn’t watch much of it, despite being in Sheffield, as I was mainly busy with the World Seniors Masters 2018, won yesterday evening by Cliff Thorburn. But one match I did watch was Robert Milkins v World Seniors World Champion Aaron Canavan and it wasn’t as one-sided as the score suggests. Aaron Canavan competed well in the tactical department and lost a few close frames from being 30 something ahead. The key issue for Aaron, who was playing in a professional tournament for the very first time, was that he couldn’t keep the white under control as well as he needed to. He struggled with the pace of the table, as did Milkins too at the start of the match. The table played actually very slow, as it was cold and damp in the arena (*) But Milkins was able to adapt much better to the tricky conditions, aided by his 20+ years experience as a pro.

 

(*) this was told to me by both players, separately.

World Snooker selection of “Best Crucible Finals”

In the build-up of the World Championship, Worldsnooker has published this article, with a selection of the “best Crucible finals” and some old footages.

 

With the world’s greatest players descending on Sheffield for 2018 Betfred World Snooker Championship, we take a look back at ten of the all-time great Crucible finals.


1977 saw the World Championship held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield for the very first time – a venue which would go on to establish itself at the very heart of snooker for the next 39 years. John Spencer became the first ever player to lift the trophy in the legendary arena after beating Cliff Thorburn 25-21 in the final, claiming his third world title and the £6,000 winner’s cheque.

  • 1977 was the World Championship since the world ranking system was introduced
  • Spencer became the first player to win a world title with a two-piece cue
  • John Virgo, Willie Thorne Patsy Fagan and Doug Mountjoy made their World Championship debut that year

Steve Davis won his first of six world titles in 1981, taking home the silverware in Sheffield on his third attempt. Having already claimed the scalps of Jimmy White, Alex Higgins, Terry Griffiths and defending champion Cliff Thorburn in the earlier rounds, Davis went on to beat Doug Mountjoy 18-12 in the final to become champion of the world.

  • There were 13 century breaks in the tournament, equalling the all-time record set at in 1979
  • Mountjoy made a 145 break to set a new World Championship high break record, beating the 142 of Rex Williams in 1965 and Bill Werbeniuk in 1979.
  • Making their world championship debuts were Jimmy White, Tony Knowles and Dave Martin

Ten years on from his first World Championship title, Alex Higgins made an emotional return to the top after beating Ray Reardon 18-15 in a spectacular 1982 final. At 15-15 in the final session, Higgins went on to win the next three frames, sealing the victory with a 135 break to claim his second world title. A tearful Higgins then summoned his wife and baby daughter from the crowd after the victory.

  • The previous three world champions – also the top three seeds – were all defeated in the opening round: defending champion Steve Davis, 1979 champion Terry Griffiths and 1980 champion Cliff Thorburn
  • Jim Donnelly became the first Scottish player to play at the Crucible

We couldn’t possibly leave this out, could we?

Finals don’t come better than this – Dennis Taylor won his only World Championship in 1985 after beating Steve Davis 18-17 on the last black in a final that would become one of the most famous sporting moments in history. Davis led 62–44 in the decider, with only the last four colours on the table… We’ll let the video tell the rest!

  • The final attracted 18.5 million viewers on the BBC, finishing at 12:25am
  • The 35th and final frame lasted 68 minutes

Stephen Hendry became the youngest player ever to win a World Championship in 1990, winning the first of seven titles at at the Crucible at just 21 years and 106 days. Hendry beat Jimmy White in the final, with the Scotsman holding just a two frame lead after the first day’s play at 9-7 up. Hendry then pulled away into a 13-7 lead, with White closing the gap to within four frames during the final session. At 16-12 up, Hendry then sunk 81 and a final 71 to seal his maiden world title and make his mark in the history books.


Another notable World Championship triumph for Stephen Hendry came in 1994 when he won his fourth world title, beating Jimmy White 18-17 in the deciding frame. This was White’s fifth consecutive world championship final – his fourth against Hendry – and he had first chance in the decider only to miss the black off the spot. Hendry then cleared to take home his fourth world title in five years.

  • Losing 14–16 to Jimmy White in the semis, Steve Davis Davis failed to reach the final for the first time since 1982
  • After losing in the opening round, Alex Higgins punched an official in the stomach at the post-match press conference. This, along with a threat to have Dennis Taylor shot at the 1980 World Cup, led to Higgins being banned for the 90/91 season.

It was John Higgins’ time to shine in 1998 as he won his first of four World Championship titles, beating the then-defending champion Ken Doherty in the final 18-12. In doing so, Stephen Hendry’s eight-year reign as world number one was ended, Higgins rising to the top after a first round exit for his fellow Scotsman.

  • 1998 saw Hendry lose in the first round for the first time since his Crucible debut in 1986
  • Ken Doherty came closer than any other player bar Joe Johnson to breaking the ‘Crucible Curse’

2001 was the year that Ronnie O’Sullivan won the first of five world titles in Sheffield, overcoming John Higgins 18-14 in a spectacular final to take home the £250,000 top prize. Having already won the UK Championship twice and the Masters, O’Sullivan completed the Triple Crown.

  • Both Steve Davis and Jimmy White failed to qualify for World Championship for the first time in their careers since 1979 and 1981 respectively

Widely regarded as one of the greatest World Championship finals in recent history, 2013 saw Ronnie O’Sullivan beat Barry Hawkins 18-12 in the final to clinch his fifth world title. Despite having only played a single competitive match all season, O’Sullivan did not lose a session throughout the World Championship. The victory also meant O’Sullivan joined Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry as the only players to successfully defend their titles at the Crucible.

  • O’Sullivan became the first player to make six centuries in a World Championship final
  • O’Sullivan’s 103 break in frame 15 was his 128th century at the Crucible, breaking Stephen Hendry’s record of 127

The 2015 Betfred World Championship undoubtedly goes down as one of the most exciting in recent years. Stuart Bingham – a 50-1 outsider at the start of the tournament – rattled through a tough field including Graeme Dott, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and eventually Shaun Murphy to win his first world title in his 20-year career as a professional.

The tournament itself set a new record for the most century breaks at the Crucible – 86 beating the record set in 2009 of 83. The final was a strong reflection of this high standard, with six century breaks and 24 more over 50 in 33 frames.

In the opening session Murphy led 3-0, only for Bingham to fight back at 4-4. In the second, Murphy pulled away to move 8-4 up, but again Bingham came back to win four of the next five frames and reduce his lead to 9-8 overnight.

In the third session, Bingham led by 14-11 only for Murphy to level at 15-15 into the concluding session. Bingham eventually added three frames to seal the victory, making him the oldest player to win the world title since Ray Reardon in 1978, and take him to a career-high second in the world rankings.

 

Trump – Judd not Donald – gives his opinion on Ronnie …

Worldsnooker has published this interview with Judd Trump 

Judd Trump believes Ronnie’s O’Sullivan’s remaining goals in snooker are to break all of the major records he doesn’t currently own.

O’Sullivan has had one of the best seasons of his career, winning five ranking titles, earning £824,500 and making 70 centuries.

He already holds the records for most career centuries (944), most 147s (14) and is tied with Stephen Hendry on 18 Triple Crown titles. However O’Sullivan still lags two behind behind Hendry’s record of seven World Championship crowns, and three behind the Scot’s mark of 36 ranking titles.

Chigwell’s 42-year-old O’Sullivan has repeatedly insisted that he is not motivated by eclipsing Hendry. But world number three Trump is convinced that the Rocket is determined to achieve more.

“Ronnie wants to break every record and over the next three or four years I think he’s likely to get them, the way he is playing,” said Trump. “He’s getting a bit older and he wants to target those records and beat them before he retires. He says he’s not really bothered, but I think that’s the only aim he has left in snooker. If he does get to seven or eight world titles, that will be enough for him.”

Trump, who lost 6-5 when the pair met in the semi-finals of the Players Championship last month, feels that O’Sullivan will be hard to stop in this year’s Betfred World Championship, which runs from April 21 to May 7 in Sheffield.

He added: “Ronnie has been on a different level to anyone else this season. A lot of players have collapsed against him. With the way he’s playing, the confidence he has and the mood he is in, he will be massive favourite at the Crucible, even more so than any other year.

“There is an aura around Ronnie which means that only a few players can beat him. He is keeping himself fit and not a lot of other players are doing that so it’s a way for him to get one up on the rest of them. He knows he is the most talented player and if he works hard he’ll put himself in a good position.

“He’ll need to have his head right because if he comes up against one of the slow players and goes behind he’ll need to stick with it. If you come up against him you have to hope to catch him on a bad day.”

Hum…

Obviously you don’t become a great champion unless you are very competitive, and Ronnie is a great champion. However it takes a great deal of bravery … or naIvety … to claim to understand what Ronnie thinks and wants . Himself doesn’t always know from one day to the other!

It’s this time of the season again, and we will see mind games everywhere. Last year Judd Trump came at the Crucible claiming that “this was going to be his year”, only to collapse to Rory McLeod  in the first round. So, maybe, it’s good tactic this time to keep the focus and put the pressure on someone else.

Now, of course, I would be delighted if Ronnie did beat all those records before he retires, but it’s not that important.