2023 UK Q-School Event 2 and Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 1 – Day 4

The action continued in the UK and in Thailand as amateurs and relegated pros try to earn/regain professional tour cards. Here are the WST reports on what happened yesterday:

UK Q-School Event 2 – Day 4

Hitman Still Gunning For Tour Return

Michael Holt kept his hopes of avoiding another year away from the professional circuit alive, thrashing Muhammad Aurangzaib 4-0 at Q School event two in Leicester.

Former Shoot Out champion Holt was relegated at the conclusion of the 2021/22 season and subsequently was unable to secure a return through 2022 Q School. Having lost in event one this year against Hayden Staniland, he must be successful this time out if he wishes to be on tour next season.

Over the last year he has turned to coaching amateur players to earn a living, as well as setting up his own YouTube channel. However, the Nottingham cueman is determined to regain his place on the professional circuit. He played well this afternoon and crafted break of 57, 81 and 68 on his way to victory. Next up is a third round meeting with Belgian Daan Leyssen.

“It has been a big part of my life for so long. It has been tough watching. I have to deal with that situation and crack on. The coaching is going alright. Ultimately I still see myself as a player, because when I practice the level is more than there. I will keep going,” said 44-year-old Holt.

“I have to think about things because I have a family and that is life. I might not get back on. I am aware of that, but until I can’t play to the level I always have to try. I know there is a big world out there, so we will see.”

China’s World Women’s Championship runner-up Bai Yulu scored a thrilling 4-3 late night win over Joshua Thomond. The 19-year-old sensation had trailed 3-2 but came through to win on the final black. She faces Simon Bedford tomorrow.

Ukrainian 17-year-old Iulian Boiko staved off a fightback from India’s Laxman Rawat to progress as a 4-3 victor. Boiko had led 3-1 before being reeled back into a deciding frame. He held his nerve and got over the line to book a third round clash with Zachary Richardson.

World Seniors runner-up Alfie Burden progressed with a 4-2 defeat of Andrew Tapper, while talented Welsh teenager Liam Davies succumbed to a shock 4-0 defeat against Stephen Kershaw.

There are three players from outside the UK/Ireland already through to round 4, and 8 more still competing in round 3. Of those 11, 10 are from mainland Europe. And I’m not counting Eden Sharav, who plays for Israël but who has always been UK based.

Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 1 – Day 4

Asia-Oceania Q School Update

Malaysian former professional Thor Chuan Leong is through to the penultimate day of Asia-Oceania Q School event one after scoring a 4-1 win over India’s Kreishh Gurbaxani in Bangkok.

Thor crafted breaks of 62 and 79 on his way to victory. Next up he faces a last 16 clash with Thailand’s Narongdat Takantong.

Lei Peifan continued his bid for an immediate return to the professional circuit with a 4-2 defeat of Yu Kiu Chang. Lei made contributions of 128 and 66 during the tie and will now play Tawan Pooltong, who edged to a 4-3 win over Raza Mubashir Faraz.

Filipino Jefrey Roda made breaks of 105 and 56 on his way to a 4-0 victory against Prin Ratmukda, while Manasawin Phetmalaikul secured a 4-2 defeat of Alvin Barbero.

The last 16 and quarter-finals will take place tomorrow, with the final round being played on Tuesday. There are two tour cards up for grabs in each event.

All four winners mentioned above have already won their first match today, as did Ka Wai Cheung who is a very fine player. Having a Filipino on tour could be interesting. Filipinos have a strong tradition in cue sports, mainly pool. Of course, wether Jeffrey Roda, should he qualifiy, will be able to afford to move to UK to play on the main tour, remains to be seen.

2023 UK Q-School Event 2 and Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 1 – Day 3

Again WST shared short reports on day 3 at both ongoing Q-Schools

2023 UK Q-School Event 2 – Day 3

Nuessle Flying The Flag

Austria’s Florian Nuessle admitted he is determined to become his country’s first ever professional, after whitewashing Welsh youngster Riley Powell 4-0 at Q School Event Two in Leicester.

Nuessle has been attempting to get on the circuit since his Q School debut in 2019, but the 21-year-old believes his game is now ready to mount a serious bid to take a place at snooker’s top table. He nearly staged a sensational fightback at World Championship qualifying back in April. After trailing 8-0 he pushed Chinese sensation Si Jiahui hard before, losing out 10-7. Si would go on to make the semi-finals.

The Graz cueman put on a strong showing this afternoon, crafting breaks of 64, 84 and 56 on his way to victory. Next up he faces India’s Lucky Vatnani in round three.

I’ve been trying really hard to get on tour for the last three or four years. The experience is coming, that is what I need to get on. I am getting more ready each year,” said Nuessle.

I would be the first from Austria and it would be great for the country. Like Luca Brecel did by winning the World Championship for snooker in Belgium, it would explode (in Austria), if I could do that.”

Welsh 16-year-old Liam Davies earned a third round berth with a 4-1 win over Stuart Watson.

Davies became the youngest player ever to win a match at the World Championship in 2022, when he defeated Aaron Hill at Crucible qualifying. Since then Davies has continued to showcase his potential with some notable results, including a win over Noppon Saengkham at the Welsh Open.

He made breaks of 53 and 58 on his way to this morning’s victory and will face Stephen Kershaw in the next round. Kershaw staged a surprise 4-2 win over Peter Devlin.

Recently relegated professional Steven Hallworth survived a scare to beat Malta’s Aaron Busuttil 4-3, while Hayden Pinhey continued his good form with a 4-0 win over Jordan Shepherd. Leicester’s Louis Heathcote is still in line for an immediate return to the tour after beating Paul Deaville 4-1.

It’s good to see WST finally giving more visibility to non-UK/Irish players and young players. That’s what snooker needs: attracting more young exponents and finally working at deserving the tag “World” Snooker. There is still a lot to do towards those goals but it has to start somewhere and these latest pieces give me a bit of hope.

2023 Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 1 – Day 3

Gong Dumps Out On Yee

Gong Chenzhi put on a fine display to beat three-time Women’s World Champion Ng On Yee 4-0 on day three of Asia-Oceania Q School in Bangkok.

China’s Gong crafted breaks of 67 and 94 on his way to victory and will face Indian Ishpreet Singh Chada in the next round.

On Yee will now have to turn to event two to try and gain her place on the circuit. She was relegated from the tour at the end of last season and narrowly missed out on a fresh card on the women’s world rankings.

Former professional Lei Peifan continued his bid for an immediate return to the World Snooker Tour with a 4-1 win over Singapore’s Kingsley Tian Yi Ang. Chinese cueman Lei top scored with 60 and now plays Yu Kiu Chang.

Malaysian Thor Chuan Leong beat Hamza Akbar 4-3 in a battle of the ex professionals, while Filipino Jefrey Roda defeated Sattar Noor 4-0.

I hate the way the word “dump” is so often used. People are not rubbish that you put in the bin, no matter how poor their performance was and On Yee was very poor indeed. I wonder if the situation with the funding of the sport in Hong Kong is putting additional pressure on her. But also, fundamentally, I believe that she would benefit from playing a more aggressive/instinctive brand of snooker as well as playing a bit faster. It’s impossible to find any fluency when you are constantly overthinking. Also, as I heard Ken Doherty once saying as a conclusion after delivering a long explanation about the art of safety: “But at the end of the day you shouldn’t forget that to win you have to pot those balls… “

Several matches are streamed on the Billiards Sport Association of Thailand facebook page

They also shared an album with over 400 snooker action pictures

And, as usual, you will find live scores and detailed results for both event on snooker.org

2023 UK Q-School Event 2 and Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 1 – Day 2

You will find day 2 results for both events on snooker.org as usual: UK Q-School Event 2 and Asia-Oceania Q-School Event1.

There was no surprise whatsoever on in the first round of the European Event. WST daily report focusses on an interview with young Vladislav Gradinari from Moldova:

Gradinari Books Second Round Slot

Moldova’s talented 14-year-old star Vladislav Gradinari eased to the second round of Q School Event Two, thanks to a 4-0 whitewash win over Simon Bevz in Leicester.

Gradinari and his family moved to the UK in 2021 for him to pursue a career in snooker. He has already reaped the rewards of that, having won the English Under-14 Championship and made the last 32 of the Shoot Out earlier this year.

The Moldovan closed today’s win out with a break of 57 in the fourth. He now faces a tricky test in the second round against Ireland’s Ross Bulman. Although he’s aware of his family’s sacrifices to get to this point, Gradinari is keen to stay in the moment and enjoy his development as a player.

We have sacrificed everything in our lives, my parents especially, just to get here and play near some professionals at the best level. I want to get as much experience as I can from these players. I need to enjoy playing at this age, because it is going to be difficult to enjoy it later,” said Gradinari.

The Shoot Out was different. I have never felt anything like this. I was shaking in the first match. I couldn’t feel the crowd because there was so much space between the crowd and the table. It was like a practice table with sounds. I tried to enjoy it. The tournament was so much fun and it is perfect for kids to get some experience playing on the TV stage.

Ukrainian 17-year-old Iulian Boiko bounced straight back from the disappointment of defeat in the final round of event one, defeating James Height 4-0. Boiko fired in breaks of 68, 90 and 56 on his way to victory.

Craig Steadman and Stuart Carrington, who were relegated from the professional circuit at the end of last season, scored wins to earn second round slots. Steadman came from 2-1 down to beat Jake Crofts 4-2, while Carrington whitewashed Pommy Kang 4-0.

WST also reported on the first day at the Asian event but I must confess that I know nothing about most of the players involved in that competition first round.

Two female players are in the draw: On Yee Ng and Cheung Yee Ting. On Yee was seeded in round 2 and lost this morning by 4-1 to Gong Chenzhi. Cheung Yee Ting got a walk-over is her opponent didn’t show up and, at the time of writing, is yet to play in the second round.

Gong Chenzhi had played really well to beat Wang Yuchen in the first round and if he kept that level in his second match the outcome is no surprise to me. All the same it’s a terrible result for On Yee.

2023 Q-School Event 2 and 2023 Asia-Oceania Q-School Event 1 started

The second 2023 European Q-School event and the first 2023 Asia-Oceania Q-School started yesterday.

WST eventually published the draws for both 2023 Asia-Oceania Q-Schools held in Thailand.

Thursday 1 Jun 2023 07:03AM

Asia-Oceania Q School kicks off on Thursday. Click below to see the draws.

Click here for event one draw

Click here for event one match schedule

Click here for event two draw

Click here for event two match schedule

The event will run from June 1-12 in Bangkok. There will be two tournaments, with the finalists from each tournament earning a place on the professional tour for the next two seasons.

About time… the first event had started already!

And whilst the European Q-Schools are only streamed in China, the Asia-Oceania Q-School is streamed on Facebook by the Billiards Sports Association of Thailand (BSAT). Yesterday there were quite a few issues with the streaming but today that seems to work well although the scores are not shown on some streams. Tell me about an oxymoronic situation…

On the other hand, live scores are available on the WST site for the European Events, whilst following live scores for the Asian events is trickier. BSAT publishes various files with draws/live scores/results but it’s not easy to follow.

As usual the snooker.org team does everything in their power to keep fans up-to-date with both events

WST has published reports on what happened yesterday …

In the UK

Powell Powers To First Win

Welsh 14-year-old Riley Powell secured his first ever Q School victory, beating Bradley Cowdroy 4-2 in the opening round of Event Two in Leicester.

Powell made his World Snooker Tour debut at the Shoot Out earlier this year and scored a sensational maiden win over world number eight Kyren Wilson, before bowing out against compatriot Daniel Wells.

The talented youngster practises with legendary three-time World Champion Mark Williams, who advised him to savour his Q School experience and not put too much pressure on himself. That is a philosophy which Powell is determined to adopt. He faces a tricky test in the second round against Austria’s Florian Nuessle, who beat Jedd Mann 4-1.

Powell said: “You just learn so many things from Mark. He is so much better than people think he is. In practice he is unbelievable and I am so thankful to him for helping me with my journey so far. Before I came up here, he just told me to go out there and enjoy it. All I am here for is a bit of experience. I want to win, but if I lose I will go back to the practice table and come back next year.”

China’s 19-year-old Bai Yulu won her second Q School match with a 4-1 defeat of Zac Cosker. She will now go straight through to the third round, with her scheduled second round opponent Andrew Pagett having already earned a tour card through event one.

Bai has showcased her talent on the World Women’s Tour this season. She was runner-up in the World Championship and won the British Open. Bai composed breaks of 50 and 61 in today’s victory.

Steven Hallworth recovered from the disappointment of losing in the penultimate round of event one, beating Jeremiah Connors 4-0. Former Shoot Out quarter-finalist Hallworth crafted breaks of 69 and 55 on his way to the win and now faces Malta’s Aaron Busuttil.

Fraser Patrick earned his second round spot with a 4-2 win over Ian Barlow, while English pool player Jordan Shepherd beat Andrew Robson 4-1.

I don’t doubt young Riley’s talent but at fourteen I think he’s far too young to be thrown into the cut-throat competitive environment that is the main tour. It is NOT true that if you are good enough, you are old enough. We hear so many stories about adult snooker players suffering from mental health issues because it’s such a hard and lonely sport. Exposing a 14 years old kid to that – no matter how good he might be technically – is irresponsible and potentially extremely damaging.

In Thailand

Lei Off To Winning Start

Former professional Lei Peifan made a strong start to his Asia-Oceania Q School campaign in Bangkok, whitewashing Pakistan’s Zulfiqar Abdul Qadir 4-0 to reach the second round.

Lei lost his tour card at the end of last season and is seeking an immediate return to the professional ranks. His best performance on the circuit to date saw him make Judgement Day at 2022 World Championship qualifying. Lei came within a single frame of the Crucible, but lost out 10-9 against Hossein Vafaei.

The Chinese 20-year-old crafted breaks of 55 and 62 on his way to victory. He now faces Singapore’s Kingsley Tian Yi Ang in the last 64.

India’s Asutosh Padhy showed his steel with a gutsy final frame to edge out Hong Kong’s Kai Sang Yeung 4-3. Padhy had led 3-0, before being hauled into a deciding frame. However, he fired in a break of 82 to get over the line.

Filipino Jeffrey Roda booked his second round slot with a 4-2 win over Shrikrishna Suryanarayanan. Roda top scored with a contribution of 122.

For full scores click here

For match schedule click here

For draw bracket click here

And BTW, BSAT has completely outplayed WST when it comes to the “glamour” of the environment and the look of the players seats … at least on table 1!

2023 Q-School Event 1 – The Laureates

The four players who emerged from the 2023 UK Q-School Event 1 are Alexander Ursenbacher, Andrew Higginson, Andrew Pagett and Liam Pullen. Congratulations to them!

Here is the report by WST:

Ursenbacher, Higginson, Pagett and Pullen Clinch Tour Cards

Alexander Ursenbacher, Andrew Higginson, Andrew Pagett and Liam Pullen came through Q School Event One in Leicester to earn two-year cards for the World Snooker Tour.

All four players now have the right to compete on the pro circuit for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 seasons.

Switzerland’s Ursenbacher bounced back from dropping off the tour last month, by defeating Barry Pinches 4-3 in a thrilling clash. The result continues his impressive record in Q School, which he’s now successfully negotiated three times.

Ursenbacher showed promising signs early on last season, when he beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-1 at the British Open. However, difficulties with the psychological side of the sport plagued his game and a poor run of form saw him lose his place on tour.

Despite this, Ursenbacher showed his steel this afternoon. The Basel cueman fired in a nerveless break of 69 in the final frame, having been pegged back from 3-1 up, to secure a vital victory.

Ursenbacher said: “I just didn’t want to play another week of Q School. What it does to you, it is not healthy. I know I am guaranteed two years now and I am going to make some changes, because I can’t do that again.

I guess many players have a back up plan with studying, having a job anyway or sponsors. I have none of this. I know what I am capable of so that puts a lot of pressure on myself. I just didn’t want to disappoint myself, my family, my girlfriend and my friends. I am really pleased.”

Former Welsh Open finalist Andrew Higginson secured his return to snooker’s top table, after whitewashing Hayden Pinhey 4-0.

Higginson dropped off the tour at the end of the 21/22 campaign and spent the last year off the circuit. The Widnes cueman came agonisingly close to securing a tour card at World Championship qualifying last month. He battled through three matches to make Judgement Day and move one win from the Crucible and a professional return, but lost 10-5 to David Grace. However, that loss is a distant memory now and he is delighted to be back.

I didn’t have a lot of high hopes coming into it, but if you have the right frame of mind and tunnel vision that stands you in good stead. Having the year off tour was probably something that I needed,” said 45-year-old Higginson.

For years I have been putting too much pressure on myself. The game is hard enough. I think when you relax and you are happy you play your best snooker. I am enjoying the little bits of practising I am doing now. It will be nice to meet up with my mates on tour again.”

Welshman Andrew Paggett recovered from tour relegation to earn an immediate return with a 4-2 defeat of Ukrainian teenager Iulian Boiko.

Pagett won the European Amateur Championship in 2020 to gain professional status. However, he had his tour card deferred due to illness with Diverticulitis. Pagett eventually took up his place two years ago, but fell off the circuit at the end of last season.

I’m just relieved really. It is hard work here. It is tough. There are lots and lots of good players and it is a short format. It is brutal basically,” said 41-year-old Pagett.

I’ve never been right over the last two years, since the illness. Two or three months back I found the right cue. I have gone back to the basics and feel like I can play the game again. I am just so relieved to get through. I couldn’t think of anything worse than another six days of hell out there.”

English teenager Liam Pullen earned a dream maiden place on the World Snooker Tour, beating Alex Taubman 4-0 to qualify.

Pullen had already came close to securing his place on tour earlier this year, but he was beaten 5-1 by Stan Moody in the final of the WSF Junior Championship in Sydney.

The 17-year-old showcased his mental fortitude by beating Q School veteran Craig Steadman 4-3 last night to make the final day, having trailed 3-0. This afternoon’s win was a more comfortable one and he becomes the first rookie to qualify from 2023 Q School.

Pullen said: “I’m looking forward to the next two seasons. After losing to Stan, who was by far the better player in that final. I learned a lot from that and if I didn’t get to that final I wouldn’t have qualified this week. Grit, determination and staying calm was huge.

I wanted it so bad. It was really hard for me after Australia. I practised really hard when I got home. I shouldn’t have done it and I should have had a week off and a mental break. It was an emotional time.”

Andrew Higginson is a lovely character, well appreciated by fellow players and fans alike. I’m really happy for him. I’m also happy for Alex Ursenbacher. It’s much harder for the non UK/Irish players in this sport and the more players from mainland Europe we have on tour, the better. I’m not a fan of Andrew Pagett and I would have preferred Iulian Boiko to come through but Andrew had a very tough two years, he’s been very ill – his condition was life threatening at one point – so all credits to him and best wishes, in particular with his health. As for Liam Pullen, I hope that he will be able to enjoy his rookie years as a pro, learn and progress. It’s great to get young players on the tour and I hope he’s got the right people around him because it won’t be easy. It never is.

2023 Q-School Event 1 – Day 5

This is WST report on day 5 at the 2023 Q-School Event 1

Pullen Clinches Final Day Slot

English teenager Liam Pullen is just two wins away from earning a tour card, after a thrilling fightback saw him beat Craig Steadman 4-3 and make the final day of Q School Event One.

Pullen is just 17 years old and already came close to securing his place on tour earlier this year, but he was beaten 5-1 by Stan Moody in the final of the WSF Junior Championship in Sydney.

Steadman is well versed in the Q School gauntlet, having earned tour cards through the event on a record four separate occasions. He looked good in this evening’s tie, when he swept to a 3-0 lead.

However, Pullen fired in breaks of 70 and 69 on his way to forcing a decider. The talented youngster showed nerves of steel in the final frame, crafting a century run of 109 to make it four on the bounce and clinch victory. Next up Pullen faces Sydney Wilson.

Ukraine’s Iulian Boiko won a late night thriller against two-time ranking event semi-finalist Stuart Carrington 4-3 to clinch his place in the penultimate round.

Boiko had already beaten Liam Davies 4-2 earlier in the day and ended by defeating Carrington on the final black, with the clock just shy of midnight. He now faces Jamie O’Neill, who beat Joshua Thomond 4-3.

Hayden Pinhey beat former German Masters semi-finalist Duane Jones 4-3 to keep his hopes of a maiden tour card alive. He top scored with a run of 103 and will now play former professional Jamie Curtis-Barrett. Having lost in the final round of Q School in each of the last three years, Pinhey will is keen to go one step further tomorrow.

Pinhey said: “In the first two years that I lost in the final round, my opponents played really well. Last year I played against Jenson Kendrick and we both struggled. It was probably the lowest I’ve been after a snooker match. I was really struggling mentally. I had to get myself back up again and a month later I beat Matthew Selt 5-1 in a tour event. I know I have the game and it is just about doing it at the right time now.

Former professionals Andrew Higginson and Steven Hallworth earned final day berths. Higginson scored a 4-1 win over Hayden Staniland, while Hallworth beat Zachary Richardson 4-2.

Iulian Boiko is to be commanded for the fortitude and fighting spirit he shows under the current circumstances in his country. He’s showing a lot of character for someone so young. Yesterday evening he fought hard again, coming back from 3-1 down to beat the experienced and ever tough Stuart Carrington.

16 players remain, of which 4 will get a two years tour card at the end of today. This is the last 16 draw:

If I’m not mistaken, 6 of those players have never been professionals before: Whelan, Pinhey, Quinn, Taubman, Pullen, and Womersley. The ones who don’t have a (a) next their name have just been relegated and attempt to regain their professional status right away.

Two of the 16, Liam Pullen and Iulian Boiko are teenagers. Two, Alexander Ursenbacher and Iulian Boiko are from mainland Europe.

All the detailed results are on snooker.org

2023 Q-School Event 1 – Days 3 and 4

Over the last two days, the second round of the 2023 Q-School Event 1 was played to a finish and the third round started.

Here are the reports by WST:

Sunday 28 May 2023

Higginson And Castle Set Up Third Round Tie

Andrew Higginson and Billy Castle both secured safe passage into the third round on day three of Q School to set up a high-quality clash on Monday night.

Higginson made light work of Labeeb Ahmed, beating him 4-0 inside 47 minutes including breaks of 100 and 57 with an average shot time of just 14.9 seconds. Former Shoot Out quarter-finalist Castle defeated Mark Vincent 4-1 with runs of 128 and 58.

The pair are scheduled to play at 7pm on Monday but recently met as early as November in the final of the fourth Q Tour event in Stockholm. Castle took the match 5-4 via a re-spotted black in a deciding frame.

Ian Martin, who played several top-up matches on tour last campaign, is out of Event One after losing 4-1 to Poland’s Daniel Holoyda. The Warsaw-based potter last entered Q School four years ago but was triumphant on his return with two breaks over 50. He now faces Chris Totten in the third round.

I’m very happy to be back,” said the 24-year-old. “I was not satisfied when I saw the draw because Ian Martin is a very decent player but I think I accommodated to the venue very quickly and just played my snooker.

I love playing here at World Snooker Tour tournaments. For me, it’s a delight, a different world. Here everything is perfect. You can just barely touch the cue ball. Everything reacts, every spin matters. It’s like snooker heaven.

I started playing snooker nine years ago. I won the Polish Championship final with my handball team but I actually had a choice between football and snooker. Long story short I didn’t want to play football that much anymore so I transitioned to snooker, started playing, fell in love with the game and now I’m here!

Michael Holt and Alexander Ursenbacher had no such trouble in their games. The Hitman breezed past Jeff Cundy 4-1, while Ursenbacher hit four without reply against Belgium’s Tan Wang Chooi. The 27-year-old started the season in fine form with a shock victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan at the Cazoo British Open. But, after finishing the season 87th, he dropped off the tour.

Winning one match a tournament isn’t enough,” said the Swiss potter. “You really need to do something to keep your tour spot. I haven’t done that, that’s why I am here. It puts a lot of pressure on you but the key is to be calm and be yourself.

I didn’t really miss much after the first two frames today. I play even quicker in practice but I’m pleased with 18 seconds a shot. I’m just trying to play my game and I bet you’re going to see a lot more under 20 seconds a shot if I keep doing what I’m doing.”

Barry Pinches and Peter Lines will meet in the last 64 after securing victories earlier in the day. Pinches was made to work for his win, needing a decider to beat Nathan Jones 4-3. Whereas the 2017 World Seniors Champion, Lines, defeated Ben Robinson 4-2.

Looking at how the young did on that day there were wins for Bulcsú Révész (16), Oliver Sykes (17) and Paul Deaville (18) who beat Florian  Nüßle from Austria. Vladislav Gradinari on the other hand was beaten 4-0 by Ben Fortey. Vladislav is only 14 and any one having watched Ben in amateur events knows how good he is and wonders how he hasn’t done better.

Bulcsú Révész is from Hungary. Other non UK/Irish players who went on to reach round 3 that day are Daan Leyssen from Belgium and Aman Goel from India.

On the other hand the once much fancied Sean Maddock and Jamie Wilson both lost in the second round. I’m not sure that Jamie Wilson’s type of game is sustainable if he has ambitions to succeed as a pro.

Monday 29 May 2023

Boiko Wins Thriller Against Fellow Teenager Sykes

Iulian Boiko came through a thriller against 17-year-old Oliver Sykes needing pink and black in a decider to secure his place in the third round of Q School.

After losing the opening frame, Boiko, who is also 17, won three on the spin to move within one of victory. Sykes then hit back and drew level in frame six with a break of 56. The Hampshire-based potter was on the verge of victory in the decider with a 12-point lead and just pink and black left on the table. But Sykes missed match-ball, allowing Boiko to steal.

Boiko’s win sets up a fourth-round tie with Liam Davies, with the Welshman easing past Paul Burrel 4-0. Boiko defeated Davies 4-3 when the pair met in the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Federation Junior Championship in February, only for the latter to get his revenge a week later in the WSF Championship by the same scoreline.

Earlier in the day, Bai Yulu narrowly missed out on booking her place in the third round, losing 4-3 to Craig Steadman. The Women’s British Open champion led 2-0 and 3-2, but it was the Englishman who held his nerve in the decider to take the match.

Barry Pinches rolled back the years against Peter Lines claiming a 4-2 victory to earn a place in the fourth round. The Canary, who part-owns Pinches Snooker Club in Norwich, dropped off the tour this spring after his most recent four-year stay.

I’ve got plenty of motivation to still play,” said the 52-year-old. “Luke, my son plays, and George Pragnell plays in the club I’m now a partner of in Norwich. And the main thing is I still enjoy playing. If I don’t get through Q School, I’d play on the Q Tour with Luke and George.

Peter (Lines) and I played from junior level in the mid-80s so we’ve known each other for years. Those sorts of games are coin-flick games. Perhaps luck was the difference, but I’m quite happy with the way I’m playing.

I think the standard at Q School gets better every year. There are more people here. With the prize money guarantee that World Snooker Tour put in place, which is a brilliant initiative, people are willing to take a shot it. I see a lot of really good young kids from different countries but it’s just so difficult.”

On a day when Mitchell Mann and Farakh Ajaib both crashed out, Alexander Ursenbacher and Louis Heathcote continued their strong form to ensure safe passage into the Last 32.

Despite the defeat, it’s an excellent result for Bai and a match from which she will learn a lot. Craig Steadman is the most successful player in the history of the Q-School, having qualified through it four times previously. At 40, with 10 seasons as a pro, Craig has bags of experience and yet, this young women from China, who has never competed in WST event before, has pushed him all the way.

Bulcsú Révész (16), Oliver Sykes (17) and Paul Deaville (18) also all lost in round 3. Hopefully they will do well in the second event and gather enough points to be offered the opportunity to play in some events during the season and gain experience. The same goes for Daniel Holoyda. He’s 24 but the covid years, and the restrictions that came with that crisis, probably impacted his development. Opportunities to play against top opposition are not as abundant in Poland as they are in the UK and Ireland.

One big surprise – for me at least – is Michael Holt’s defeat to Hayden Staniland. I know next to nothing about Hayden but he played on the Q-Tour and didn’t pull any tree…