Lincoln – 11.02.2018

The second night of exhibition in Lincoln, on Sunday, was similar in its organisation to the first one: a welcome reception for the VIPs, followed by John Virgo’s trick shots, then Ronnie playing eight frames against local players, with a break after four frames. Ronnie won all matches easily, had 3 tons in the first four frames, but no 147 this time. Ronnie was  clearly impressed by WDBS player Joe Hardstaff, his last opponent.

There was something special to conclude the week-end though: Jason Francis was to conduct a Q&A session with John Virgo and Ronnie, after the matches finished, and VIPs were invited to write down their questions for both John and Ronnie whilst enjoying the VIP buffet. They could ask absolutely anything and, as you would expect, there were so many questions that Jason had to go through a very “harsh” selection process and eventually was only able to keep about one in 5! The very first question that was asked to Ronnie, and was answered,  was “Will you play in the World Championship?”. That question was always going to come out … and the answer it got was “Yes”. Which prompted a big cheer from the crowd.

Here are the images of the night:

A very big thank you and well done to Nigel and Ali Coton for this fantastic week-end: it was awesome, and you were awesome! 

Lincoln – 10.02.2018

It was another great event yesterday at the Drill Hall in Lincoln. Organised by Nigel and Ali Coton in collaboration with Snooker Legends, the exhibition aimed at gathering some money for two good causes as well as to provide a great night of entertainment. It was a success on both accounts.

Ahead of the action proper, there was un buffet for players and VIPs, with Nigel taking the opportunity to explain the evening program, as well as the nature and goals of the causes that were to benefit from the success of this exhibition

It was a packed house at the Drill Hall

With two lucky bastards being treated with very special reserved seats! Thanks Nigel!

The evening started with a few trick shots by John Virgo

The action proper came next with Ronnie taking 9 local players over one frame. Ronnie won all nine frames, quite comfortably, scoring three centuries: a 110, a 140 and a 147. The previous time Ronnie was in Lincoln, he had 7 centuries, including a 147. It was always going to be difficult to better that, but Ali Coton had been quite clear that she hoped for another 147. Ronnie obliged … and it was Nigel Coton on the receiving end!

Here are the action pictures. Yes, it’s mainly Ronnie, he didn’t give the opposition too many opportunities nor too much table time. The highest break against him was … 7!

There was an interval after the first four frames, during which

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Chris Kirkwood from the Drill Hall was presented with a cheque of £500

Learn more about the Drill Hall Charity

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Simon Berisford from WDBS and Matt Huart from WPBSA were presented with a cheque of £3000

And tonight we go again!

Ronnie returns to Lincoln next February

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And once again, he will support WDBS, World Disability Billiard and Snooker as you can read in the local press.

Ronnie O’Sullivan to return to Lincoln – how you can see the ‘The Rocket’ in action

The five-time world champion hit a 147 during his previous appearance in the city

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Nigel Coton is a – very good  disabled player himself and a regular at WDBS events.

Circumstances permitting, I will be there taking pictures both days.

The Bulgarian Tour 2017 – Burgas

Ronnie won the fourth and last leg of the Bulgarian Tour 2017, beating Stephen Hendry by 6-4. He wins the series by 3-1.

I was due back to Greece, and I missed the action. So there will be no pictures from me this time. Judging by images shared by Jason Francis on twitter, they had a hard day of preparation:

The match was played outdoor, which must have been nice in the Bulgarian weather, but very unusual. It has to be said, playing under the lights, when the outside temperature is near 30°C isn’t that great. On the previous days, both players came out of the arena totally wet through with sweat.

I haven’t seen the match (yet) obviously but if Jason Francis’ report on twitter is anything to go by, it was another high quality affair:

  • Outdoors tonight in Burgas, first time for everything

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  • 57 from Ronnie 1-0
  • Hendry 116 to go 1-1. Playing like a dream in the balls
  • Ros century 104 leads 2/1
  • 87 from Hendry and its 2-2 at the break. Great standard
  • Hendry goes 3-2 up but Ronnie 50 up in frame 6
  • 3/3 here in Burgas
  • Another century from 125 to lead 4-3

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  • 87 from Ronnie 4-4 now. Ridiculous standard here. Maybe outdoors is the future 😎
  • Ronnie 5-4
  • Ronnie wins 6-4 and takes the series 3/1

And some more pictures of the setup shared by Stephen Hendry on Instagram

And of the action, shared on twitter by fans

And here is the match:

I’m very happy that the series wasn’t one-sided. It would have been if Stephen had played like he did last season in Scunthorpe. But it’s obvious that he’s been working hard on his game and he will be a handful for everybody on the Seniors tour this season. It’s also great to see him enjoying the game again.

The Bulgarian Tour 2017 – Varna

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The Bulgarian Tour hit the beautiful city of Varna (picture shared by Jason Francis).

In the third leg, Ronnie beat Stephen Hendry by 6-4. The boys went serious last night as for each of them there was only one goal: to win. The result? A high quality encounter that got tense towards the end, Ronnie had two centuries, 107 and 100, Stephen hit breaks of 90 and 97.  They went for 3 maximum attempts between them too.  Ronnie built a 3-1 lead before the interval, but was pegged back to 4-4; he looked set to go 5-3 ahead when he potted the final black, only to go in-off and hand the frame to his opponent. Both made probably more mistakes in the last 2 frames than in the first 8, but it was Ronnie who prevailed eventually by 6-4.

Here are the pictures I took on the night:

Stephen Hendry played really well in Sofia and in Varna. He’s a totally different player now than he was last spring in Scunthorpe. He said on twitter last night that he enjoyed playing despite the defeat. That said, we shouldn’t expect a return to the main tour. Stephen was interviewed before the match yesterday and asked the question. The answer was immediate: a unequivocial NO. But he might play in the odd event if offered the opportunity.

Here is the match:

The first part of the first frame is missing. Stephen was on a maxi attempt after knocking in a long red.

Tonight they will be in Burgas for the final leg. It will be either 2-2, in which case Oleg Velinov, the promoter might request a decider, or 3-1 to Ronnie. Your pick?

But before that, yesterday evening, it was time to relax…

The Bulgarian Tour 2017 – Sofia

Day 2 of the Bulgarian Tour 2017 started with a visit to the National stadium and a great lunch in Sofia, with friend Oleg Velinov and his family.

In the evening, things got serious as Ronnie and Hendry treated the fans to a great match. The venue was packed! It was Stephen Hendry who emerged the winner by 6-5.

Ronnie started well, with a century. But Stephen was determined to prove that he can still play, and prove it, he did! He won 4 frames on the trot to lead 4-1, with a 115 in frame 5 (it could have been a 142 TC). Ronnie responded with 69, to reduce his deficit, only for Stephen to restore his 3 frames advantage and lead 5-2. With his back against the wall, Ronnie produced and forced a decider. Ronnie was first in the decider, and lead by 64. He was on a maxi attempt (not for the first time that evening!). His only option to keep the break going at that stage was a tricky plant in a middle bag. He missed it. Stephen came to the table with 83 on and nothing really safe. He duly cleared with 78 to win.

This was by far the best Stephen has been playing for a very long time. It’s absolutely clear to me that his pride has been hurt by the poor performances he produced in the Seniors World Championship last season, and in exhibitions. I have no doubt that he is out to put things right! The competitive animal has woken up.

Ronnie on the other hand was clearly in exhibition mood. He went for I-don’t-know-how-many maxi attempts during the evening, at the expense of winning at all costs but to the delight of the crowd. He was also in a hurry … helping Desislava Boshilova to reset the balls between frames, and even taking the white gloves away from her and offering her his cue for the break-off. She left Stephen in an absolutely horrific situation! Both players signed autographs for the fans.

The probable reason for Ronnie’s “hurry” became clear to me when, after the match, his first word coming back to the player’s room was “food!”.  More pictures of food can be found on Ronnie’s instagram, along with some funny/silly selfies with matching comments.

Here are the pictures I took on the evening:

The match was streamed on sportal.bg so maybe the videos will become available later today. Watch this space.

Today, we all head to Varna for another great night of snooker.

The Bulgaria Tour 2017 – Plovdiv

Ronnie and Stephen Hendry arrived in Bulgaria yesterday for a 4 days tour.

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They landed in Sofia, where they were made very welcome, before heading to Plovdiv for the first of four matches, played under the Eleven30 format (best of 11, 30 seconds shot-clock). Ronnie won by 6-1 but the players agreed to play some extra for the crowd.

Here are a few pictures taken at their arrival in Sofia and shared by Jason on Facebook.

There were about 1000 persons watching, more than in a packed Crucible, but they were seated in a 4000 capacity venue so it didn’t feel like a big crowd which is a bit of a pity.

The highlight of the evening was a 138 by Ronnie (well, a 131 in fact, as he went in-off). You can watch the second half of this break in this video shared by Jason on Facebook.

Ronnie had a 89 in frame 6 as well.

And, of course, the ref on duty was Bulgaria’s very own Proletina Velichova (pictures shared by Jacklina Simova)

 

Please check the comments section: great finds by krdlr! Thank you!