Riga Masters 2019 qualifiers conclusion and aftermath

The Riga Masters 2019 qualifiers concluded yesterday evening and yielded a few surprising results, even considering that most top players are probably rusty.

Ian Preece 4-3 David Gilbert: Preece is an amateur, but of course he’s sharp from the Q_school. Still, it’s unexpected especially considering that Gilbert was 3-0 up!

Jamie O’Neill 4-1 Barry Hawkins: Jamie just requalified for the main tour via the Q-school, so he’s sharp, and Barry always seems to start his season slowly; all the same it’s a bit surprising, especially the score.

Li Hang 4-1 Stuart Bingham:  Li Hang played in the China national event in Xi’an last week, so he would be sharp, but also jet-lagged. Not jet-lagged enough for Stuart Bingham liking I guess…

Zhang Anda beat Zhao Jianbo 5-3 in the final to win his second China Billiards And Snooker Association ranking title in Xi’an.

Chinese professional players Xiao Guodong, Li Hang, Zhou Yuelong, Yuan Sijun, Zhao Xintong and Lu Ning were among the 64 competitors at the five-day main event. Zhao Jianbo, age just 15, showed his potential with a fine run to the final, after becoming Asian Under-21 champion last month.

Zhang Anda knocked out the likes of Zhang Jiankang and Li Hang to reach the final, then beat Zhao with top breaks of 74, 80 and 75.

“I’m happy with my performance today, I made a few decent breaks,” said 27-year-old Zhang. “My young opponent played really well this week. I expected a tough final.

‘I’m not happy with my results on the professional tour so far. There have been a lot of ups and downs. I’m flying to the UK tomorrow and the new season begins next week for me. There are more tournaments and higher prize money nowadays. I believe this title will give me confidence.”

Zhang announced on social media last week that he was recently married, and he dedicated this title to his wife.

He added: “Also thanks to my family. I thought about giving up snooker countless times because I’m still waiting for my breakthrough and I’m not young any more. But the ones close to me have always encouraged me.”

Zhang received a cheque for 50,000 RMB, while Zhao Jianbo won 20,000. Fan Zhengyi made the highest break of 143, earning him a 5,000 bonus.

Zhang Anda 4-3 Shaun Murphy: Zhang was the winner of the Xi’an event and it seems that he had too much for Shaun Murphy! Shan recently stepped down from his position on the board of Directors to concentrate on his career. After last season disaster that sounded reasonable. However it seems that shaun has other ambitions … 

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy will temporarily swap the baize for the links later this month, as he launches an ambitious bid to qualify for golf’s 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

In his spare time, Murphy has managed to obtain a scratch golf handicap. That means he is eligible to enter qualifying for this year’s Open Championship as an amateur. The 36-year-old will tee it up in the regional event at County Louth on June 24th.

We caught up with Triple Crown winner Murphy, to look ahead to his debut in one of golf’s greatest tournaments…

Shaun, what is it that made you want to try your hand at Open Championship qualifying?

“I caddied for one of my friends, Graham Neville, a few years ago at Open qualifying. He got to the final stages and was playing in the group ahead of former US Open winner Michael Campbell. That was a fantastic experience. I thought it would be nice to have a go myself, just to say I had played in it. It is very hard to maintain a scratch handicap whilst having a full time snooker career, a young family and all the rest of it. I won’t be off scratch for much longer so I thought I should take my opportunity while I am still eligible.”

What do you think your chances of progressing are?

“It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that I could go out there and shoot level par and get through to the final stage of qualifying. That would be extremely unlikely, but I have done it before. My best round of golf is four under par.

“If I even managed to progress to the next stage it would be crazy really. There are some amazing players in those final qualifiers and I would feel like a bit of an imposter, but I’m only 18 holes away. It is all a bit tongue in cheek and a bit of a laugh, but this will be a fantastic experience. I think the one thing I do have going for me is that I already have a full time job. Golf isn’t my livelihood. Relative to the other players I will be playing against, it doesn’t really matter to me if I win or lose. I won’t be under the pressure they are under. Most of them are trying to win the Open Championship. I am just trying to have a good day out. I could knock it round in anything from 68 to 108!”

Do you think your experience of climbing the mountain in snooker and becoming a World Champion will help you out at all?

“My experiences on the snooker tour certainly give me a bit of an inside track of what goes on inside these player’s minds when they are walking down the final fairway of a major tournament. In some ways, I would say that the mental side of snooker is more difficult. We don’t have a caddy out there with us. When you are in a deciding frame at Alexandra Palace, you are out there on your own. There is nobody to whisper sweet nothings in your ear, snooker is truly a single person sport. I know that my mentality won’t be what lets me down, it will be my lack of ability!”

Was there ever any point where you had to make a decision between pursuing snooker or golf for your career?

“Well there was never a career crossover point as such, but once I turned 17 and started driving it did become all too easy for me to sneak off to the golf course. There was a bit of an emergency meeting called with my sponsors, friends and family. I was playing far too much golf and it definitely cost me a few results. I obviously managed to reel things in after that.”

Can you see many technical similarities between golf and snooker?

“There are some quite staggering similarities. Even to the point that when I was a young boy growing up there were some golf training techniques that I brought into my snooker, things like timing exercises and drills. The fact that it is a still ball game, you have to impart the spin and you have to move the ball. Those parts are identical. Most snooker players make good putters as well. We are used to looking at a perfectly flat six by 12 foot area of green baize. When it comes to a putting green, any breaks or variations tend to stick out like a sore thumb.”

How much are you looking forward to teeing off at County Louth in two weeks’ time?

“Well the Open Championship is one of those perennials. Much like the World Snooker Championship, when it is on that is it and you get totally consumed by it. I love everything about it, the fact that it is played on links courses make it even more special as well. Links golf is the original test and challenge. I can’t wait to get out there.”

I find this all a bit baffling, including the fact that Worldsnooker publishes this…

Kacper Filipiak 4-3 Zhao Xintong: not a big shock, but still not what I expected. Could Kacper finally be over the disappointment of his first experience of the tour? I hope so. He was far too young when he got his first tour card, and  it was a disaster that left him very dispirited.

The whole event was plagued with scoreboard issues, that seriously disrupted several matches. On at least one occasion the players had to move to another table mid-match. During the Wilson v Wakelin match, things were appearing on the screen that clearly put the players off but they had to continue to play through it. They were clearly annoyed, frustrated, missing things they never would miss normally and the match was a start-stop affair as, at times, they just had to wait for the scoreboard to “behave” before being able to play their shots.

The whole situation is totally unacceptable in a professional sport.

The above results mean that only three of the top 16 qualified for the main venue: Jack Lisowski, Kyren Wilson and Luca Brecel. To that trio one must add Neil Robertson, Mark Williams and Mark Selby whose matches have been held over. Not great for the tournament and the organisers.

 

Shanghai Masters 2019 Launch

Worldsnooker has today published this:

A press conference for the 2019 World Snooker Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters was held at the Regal International East Asia Hotel today, attended by defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and China’s top player Ding Junhui.

Tickets for the tournament are now on sale – fans can buy them at http://www.jusstickets.com or call 021-962123.

This year’s Shanghai Masters is sponsored by the Bank of Shanghai and will run from September 9-15 at the Regal International East Asia Hotel. It will be a 24-man invitational event, featuring the world’s top 16 plus the next four highest ranked Chinese players, two CBSA nominations and the two winners of the Amateur Masters.

O’Sullivan and Ding were announced as the mentors of the Amateur Masters. The amateur events will be officially launched on June 15 and will be divided into two stages: the trials and the national finals. The trials will be held in Shanghai, Wuxi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Wuhan and Xi’an in June and August. The top three players in each of the trials will enter the national finals in Shanghai in September. The champion and runner-up of the national finals will receive the 2019 Shanghai Masters wild cards, to compete with the world’s top stars.

Speeches were made by Luo Wenhua, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Sports Bureau, Liu Chunsheng, deputy secretary general of the China Billiards and Snooker Association and Yang Yibin, deputy general manager of Shanghai Juss Sports Industry Development (Group) Co., Ltd. Barry Hearn, Chairman of World Snooker, also expressed support and greetings to the event and the fans through a video.

The press conference also featured an exhibition match, involving Ding, O’Sullivan and eight amateur players.

It’s great news and at the same time you have to wonder why this is happening now, at the same time as the Riga Masters and International Championships qualifiers as obviously neither Ding nor Ronnie can be in two places simultaneously. There are plenty of “gaps” available in the summer calendar… Ding of course would always have his matches held over in “Chinese” events, but there would be no such certainty for Ronnie.  Anyway…

Here are a few images that were shared on weibo:

And some short videos…

13.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference 1

13.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference 2

13.06.2019.: Shanghai Masters and National Amateur Snooker Masters press conference 3

Big thanks to a very good friend who is helping me so that I can bring these to this blog to share them with the fans. He’s doing a stirling job!

Hopefully more will emerge in the coming hours, and maybe, even the full exhibition…

If so that will come in another post tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

 

World Cup 2019 News

Worldsnooker has yesterday announced the teams for the 2019 World Cup

The 24 teams for the Sports Lottery Cup Wuxi World Cup have been announced.

The tournament runs from June 24 to 30 in the city of Wuxi in China’s Jiangsu Province. The line up of players for the two-man teams will be announced soon.

The event will be televised on Eurosport.

China have won the last three World Cups, with Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo lifting the trophy in both 2011 and 2017, while Yan Bingtao and Zhou Yuelong took the glory in 2015.

The 24 teams this time are:

China A
Wales
Scotland
Northern Ireland
England
Belgium
China B
Thailand
Iran
Cyprus
Norway
Republic of Ireland
Malaysia
Poland
Hong Kong
Germany
Israel
Australia
Saudi Arabia
Switzerland
Malta
India
Austria
United Arab Emirates

The teams will be split into four groups, each of six teams, for the round robin phase. The top two in each group will then go through to the quarter finals.

Click here for the competition rules.

Earlier this year,  it was announced that Wuxi will host the tournament every two years for the next decade. The total prize money this year will be $800,000.

What’s a bit funny is that they don’t say anything about the groups whilst some people on social media already know and posted about them:

A: China A, Thailand, Poland, Austria, Norway, Germany

B: Northern Ireland, England, Iran, Ireland, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia

C: Scotland, Belgium, Malaysia, Israel, UAE, Cyprus

D: Wales, China B, Switzerland, Malta, Australia, India

Luca Brecel and Ben Mertens will represent Belgium.

Mark Allen and Jordan Brown will play for Northern Ireland.

Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski for England

Liang Wenbo and Zhou Yuelong for China B

Thor Chuan Leong and Moh Keen Ho for Malaysia

Marco Fu will not play for Hong Kong, by Andy Lee will.

Day 2 of the 2019/20 season…

The Riga Masters 2019 qualifiers continued in Ponds Forge. Here are the results worth noting:

Rookie professional, Brandon Saergent, who qualified for the main tour via the Challenge Tour, won his first match as a professional: he beat Ashley Carty by 4-2.

Adam Stefanow, Alexander Ursenbacher and Luckas Kleckers both won as well, boosting mainland Europe representation in Riga. Adam beat Michael White by 4-0, which is  by certainly a good encouraging result. Michael White could be in danger of dropping off te tour this season – quite incredibly.

Jack Lisowski is one of the top 16 player who was in action yesterday and he beat David Lilley by 4-2. David certain didn’t make it easy for him.

Dominic Dale – who will be fighting for his pro status this season – lost by 4-3 to Craig Steadman, despite scoring a 141 that is – for now – the tournament high break.

Liam Highfield beat Stephen Maguire by 4-2. A bit of a surprise although some top players are very rusty this early in the season. Graeme Dott survived Robbie Williams challenge (4-3).

Thepchaiya Un-Nooh came from behind to beat Eden Sharav by 4-3; Theppy made two centuries during the match, one being a 147 attempt (he missed the last red with the rest).

2019 Riga Masters: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 147 attempt – Eden Sharav

 

First Day of the 2019/20 Season…

Yesterday was the first “playing” day of the new season … with the qualifiers for the 2019 Riga Masters underway at Ponds Forge.

You can follow the tournament on snooker.org and here are yesterday’s results

There were a few interesting results:

Rookies Louis Heathcote and Chang Bingyu both won their first match as professionals, against Ryan Day and Ian Burns respectively. Chang’s match wasn’t streamed in Europe, by Louis’ one was and he played extremely well. Ryan Day himself wasn’t playing badly at all. Si Jiahui on the other hand was beaten soundly by Ricky Walden; Ricky, for what I saw of the match, played really well which pleased me because it’s always sad when a player of Ricky’s quality struggles badly because of injuries.

Returning professional Chen Zifan also started his season well with a win over Michael Georgiou.  Xu Si however was beaten by Ali Carter, who looked very strong.

Luca Brecel looked sharp as well, whitewashing And Hicks.  Yuan Sijun, who caught Stephen Hendry’s attention, also won, beating Noppon Saengkham by 4-2.

Yan Bingtao – seeded 16 here – beat Anthony McGill – seeded 18 – by 4-2 in a rather painful match. Yan is on the back of a poor season, ans so is McGill. Both probably lack confidence and both struggled.

Various Snooker news – 8 June 2019

Worldsnooker has published the updated draws and format for the Riga Masters 2019 and International Championship 2019

Following the completion of Q School, the draws for the qualifying rounds of the Kaspersky Riga Masters and the International Championship have been updated.

These are the first two ranking events of the 2019-20 season, with the qualifiers to be played at Ponds Forge in Sheffield from June 10 to 17.

Click here for the updated Riga draw

Click here for the updated International draw

Click here for the playing schedule

Clive Everton has been awarded an MBE for Service to Snooker

Clive Everton, best known as one of snooker’s leading television commentators for over 40 years, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Clive, age 81, will receive the award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace later this year.

In his youth, Clive excelled as a billiards players, winning the British under-16 and under-19 titles, as well as the Welsh Championship five times. He reached the semi-finals of the World Amateur Championship twice and was ranked as high as ninth in the world. He was also a fine snooker player, winning the Midlands amateur title and climbing to 47th in the world.

In January 1971 he founded Snooker Scene, a monthly magazine chronicling the game’s growth from little known pastime to a multi-million pound television sport. Clive has edited every edition of the magazine for the last 48 years.

From 1978, when the BBC began extensive live coverage of snooker, Clive was at the forefront of the commentary team. He was the ‘Voice of Snooker’ for hundreds of memorable moments for more than three decades, as millions of fans throughout the UK and beyond watched the sport’s biggest tournaments on the BBC.

Clive continues to commentate for a variety of broadcasters, including ITV on their coverage of four events each season. Last March he was on the mic as Ronnie O’Sullivan made his historic 1,000th career century during the final frame of the Players Championship.

As a journalist, Clive has written for newspapers including The Guardian, Sunday Times and Independent on Sunday, and provided voice reports for a wide range of BBC radio stations, as well as running Everton’s News Agency, which supplied stories to national and regional newspapers.

He has written over 20 books about snooker and billiards, including his autobiography Black Farce and Cue Ball Wizards, which was shortlisted for the British Sports Book of the Year award.

Two years ago he was inducted into World Snooker’s Hall of Fame, and remains the only broadcaster to receive this honour.

Clive said: “I love snooker and I couldn’t have worked in the game for so many years without that. I am pleased that my work has been recognised with an MBE. I am a little surprised because people who are anti-establishment don’t often get them, though in recent years I have been very much in favour of the establishment in snooker because the things I campaigned for under previous regimes have been achieved.

“I am proud of running Snooker Scene for 48 years because it is a journal of record, which every sport needs, as well as providing me with the opportunity to campaign for what I believe in.”

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn said: “We are thrilled for Clive to have received this honour, as a great servant to snooker for decades. Two years ago we inducted Clive into the World Snooker Hall of Fame in recognition of his dedication to our sport. We hope he keeps going in his roles as a commentator and journalist for years to come.”

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson added: “There can be few people who have loved snooker and dedicated their lives to it in the way that Clive has over the past 60 years. He was a fine player and is widely recognised as one of the best television commentators the sporting world has produced. The MBE is a greatly deserved award and we congratulate Clive.”

Congratulations Clive!

Shaun Murphy has stepped down from the WPBSA board

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association has today announced that Shaun Murphy has taken the decision to step down from the Board of Directors and his role of Chairman of the Players Commission with immediate effect.

The former world champion was elected to the WPBSA board in December 2017 and has made a valuable contribution since his appointment, however, has now decided that the time is right to focus on his successful playing career.

Jason Ferguson, WPBSA Chairman said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Shaun during his time with us. He is passionate, committed and has helped us to shape many things that have been for the benefit of the players and our sport as a whole.

“I am sure that he will continue to make a great contribution to our sport over the seasons to come and on behalf of the WPBSA board of directors I would like to wish him every success for the future.”

Plans for the administration of the Players Commission will be announced in due course.

Shaun had what was possibly his worst season ever in 2018/19 and it’s understandable that he wants to put that right and fully focus on his career. That said his duties as a member of the board were not the only factors that distracted him from his snooker: moving to Ireland, and the birth of his baby daughter, whose health was a concern for a while, certainly took their toll too. Good luck to Shaun this season.

And, finally, the fitters are at work in Ponds Forge, as the first event of the season starts on Monday!

PondsForgeRiggingJUne2019

Here is to a great season of snooker!

2019:20SeasonBanner

Riga Masters 2019 and International Championship 2019 – Draw and Qualifiers Format

The Q-School is barely over and already Worldsnooker has published the draw and format for the two first ranking events of the new season: the Riga Masters and the International Championship.

The draws for the qualifying rounds of the Kaspersky Riga Masters and the International Championship have been made.

These are the first two ranking events of the 2019-20 season, with the qualifiers to be played at Ponds Forge in Sheffield from June 10 to 17.

Please note that players who have qualified from Q School will have the opportunity to enter these events and the updated draws will be issued once places are filled.

Click here for the Riga Masters draw

Click here for the International Championship draw

Click here for the playing schedule

Tickets for the 2019 Kaspersky Riga Masters are now on sale. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

The tournament will run from July 26-28 at the Arena Riga in Latvia.

Unsurprisingly, Ronnie has entered neither of them.

The Riga Masters unfortunately isn’t a “rich” tournament and there are always a number of top players who skip it. Ronnie, John Higgins, Mark Allen and John Higgins are giving it a miss and that will surprise nobody. But Judd Trump also is missing from the draw. He’s the World Champion for the first time and, maybe, one could have expected him to be there at the opening event of the new season.

The International Championship of course has a big prize money and everyone is there … except Ronnie.