World Cup 2019 – Before it starts

As always in China, the day before the tournament is devoted to meeting the press, the sponsors and the fans.

This tournament is sponsored by … a company that builds and sells washing machines. Well, that attracted some derisive comments on social media, but why? I, for one, I’m happy to see a tournament supported by a sponsor that is not a bookie. Anyway…

Here are images shared mainly on weibo. Don’t be surprised to see Ding all over it: Wuxi is his home town, and of course, he’s (one of) the defending champion(s).

Ding looked particularly interested by the washing machines. With a young baby, I guess it makes sense 😉 😀

Tomorrow things start in earnest in Wuxi …


News from the snooker planet

There is no action on the main tour right now – it all starts again on Monday – but there is plenty of snooker played elsewhere.

Pankaj Advani became the 2019 Asian Snooker Champion. This win is highly significant for Pankaj and for Indian snooker

Asian Snooker Championship: Pankaj Advani wins to complete career grand slam in cue sports

New Delhi: India’s ace cueist Pankaj Advani on Friday (June 21) clinched the 35th men’s Asian Snooker Championship in Doha, Qatar, to complete a career grand slam in cue sports.

Advani conquered the ACBS Asian Snooker events — 6-red (short format) and 15-red (long format) — along with the IBSF World Championships in both formats too.

Having already accomplished it in Billiards, Pankaj had this elusive 15-red Asian Snooker title missing from his silverware collection.

Advani defeated Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon (Thailand) 6-3 in the final to become the only one to win the Asian and World championships in all formats.

He is also the only one to do so in two sports, both Billiards and Snooker.

“With this title, I’ve done everything I could when representing my country in both the sports. This win completes my trophy cabinet so I now know I will be sleeping well for a very long time.” Advani said.

“Having won all that there is, I’d like to continue competing with the objective of deriving personal growth through the medium of sport and to also share my knowledge with budding cueists.

“I’m now going to enter every championship to enjoy my game while at the same time focus on other areas of my life too.”

After a shaky start against Thanawat, Advani found himself with yet another deficit.

At 1-3, the Indian went into overdrive and won 5 frames on the trot to capture the Asian 15-red snooker title.

Thanawat started off with a bang leading 2-0 in no time. Advani responded with a 54 break to make it 1-2 but the Thai was in no mood to concede another frame and continued his brilliant potting display.

He came up with a 75 break and reached the halfway mark with three frames in his pocket.

Advani, who was running a fever, grinded it out one frame at a time. By the time he drew it at 3-3, Thanawat lost his momentum and confidence to only see his 21-time world champion opponent race to the finish line.

Pankaj will now take part in IBSF World Cup next week in Doha.


Final: Pankaj Advani (India) beat Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon (Thailand) 6-3

10-52, 1-97(97), 95(54)-1, 110(75)-1, 69-43, 71(60)-44, 80-49, 72-42, 67(50)-1

Semi-final: Pankaj defeated Asjad Iqbal (Pakistan) 5-4 31-68, 1-54, 40-76, 1-96(81), 78-8, 89-33, 55-14, 89-24, 52-26.

Pankaj now competes exclusively on the amateur circuit. He played as a professional on the main tour for two seasons. He had a very distinctive – and interesting – style of play, probably because he’s first and foremost a billiard player. However, he was unhappy. He was home sick and the main tour schedule didn’t allow him to play on the billiard circuit. He’s a lovely, unassuming man despite being a god in his country, India, which he dearly loves.

The 2019 Women World Championship is underway in Bangkog. You can follow the event here.

The headline of today was obviously Nutcharut Wongharuthai victory over the defending Champion Ng On Yee. Mink won their QF by 4-1.

The coverage available on Hi-end Snooker Wanghin Facebook page is excellent with four tables streamed. The support offered by the club, and this man in particular, is superb. Thank you Gappa Gappa!

The excellent coverage allowed us fans to appreciate how much the women snooker has improved in the last two or three years. WWS is really doing a great job.

And there are young talents coming through. A prime example being the 11 years old Russian, Ksenia Zhukova who managed to qualify for the knock-out stage.

The competition continues tomorrow.

World Cup 2019 Teams Announced

The teams for the World Cup 2019 – played in Wuxi – have been announced:

The full line up of players for the Beverly 2019 Snooker World Cup has been confirmed.

The teams are:

Group A
China A: Ding Junhui and Yan Bingtao
Thailand: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh and Noppon Saengkham
Poland: Adam Stefanow and Kacper Filipiak
Austria: Andreas Ploner and Florian Nuessle
Norway: Kurt Maflin and Christopher Watts
Germany: Simon Lichtenberg and Lukas Kleckers

Group B
Northern Ireland: Mark Allen and Jordan Brown
England: Kyren Wilson and Jack Lisowski
Iran: Hossein Vafaei and Soheil Vahedi
Republic of Ireland: Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien
Hong Kong: Andy Lee and Ka Wai Cheung
Saudi Arabia:  Omar Alajlani and Ahmed Aseeri

Group C
Scotland: John Higgins and Stephen Maguire
Belgium: Luca Brecel and Ben Mertens
Malaysia: Thor Chuan Leong and Moh Keen Hoo
Israel: Eden Sharav and Sachar Ruberg
United Arab Emirates: Mohamed Shehab and Mohammed Al Joaker
Cyprus: Michael Georgiou and Antonis Poullos

Group D
Wales: Mark Williams and Ryan Day
China B: Zhou Yuelong and Liang Wenbo
Switzerland: Alexander Ursenbacher and Luis Vetter
Malta: Alex Borg and Brian Cini
Australia: Steve Mifsud and Ryan Thomerson
India: Himanshu Jain and Lucky Vatnani

At the end of the round robin phase, the top two in each group will then go through to the quarter finals.

Follow this link to see the groups draw, the format and the competitions rules

World Cup 2019 - draw and format


Q-School 2019 – Event 2 – onto the last day

As we enter the last day of the Q-School Event 2, these are the remaining last 16

Q-School 2019 event 2 - Last 16

The first quarter features two young players who have never been pros – Long Zehuang is 22, Dean Young is 17 – a potential “returning” pro, Chen Zifan who is only 23, and a “veteran”, Au Chi Wai, who has never been pro but has been playing on the WSS tour last season and in CBSA events over the years. I would be happy with whoever qualifies from this quarter. I would normally favour younger players, but after this by a BBC journalist

Replying to

Should there be an age limit to entering Q School? The guy is 43, beating a 15 year old. Rather see young talent coming through.

I would be more than happy to see Au Chi Wai through. I never bought the concept of “positive discrimination” (no, not even when it’s about pushing women … ). Except the odd one-off occasion, where commercial or promotional aspects can be considered,  things have to happen on merit. Full stop. As I wrote on twitter, “If you’re good enough, you’re young enough”.

The second quarter is a bit similar: three young players, none of them ever a pro before – Callum Lloyd (24), Riley Parsons (19) and Peifan Lei (15) – and a veteran, potential “returning pro”, Peter Lines. Ideally I would like to see one of the teenagers come through. Peifan Lei however is only 15 and, if he qualifies as a pro, I hope he will get the right people around him. It’s hard for anyone to be alone, very far away from home and family, in an alien culture, and probably needing to learn a foreign language as well. It’s even harder when you’re so very young.

In the third quarter we have again two young players – Louis Heathcote (20) and Si Jiahui (16) – facing two slightly more mature players – Jamie McArdle (33) and Simon Blackwell (26). None of those four have been professional before, so we are guaranteed a new face on the main tour. Again, I’d marginally prefer to see the one of the youngest two go through, provided that Ji Jiahui gets the proper support net, should he be the one emerging from this group.

Finally, the fourth and last quarter features only former professionals. None of them were on the tour in 2018/19. I don’t really care who comes through this one, although have “Paggy” back on tour holds the promise of some “made in Wales” fun and banter on social media 😉 … Willo, I’m sure, is already getting ready.

Both Peifan Lei and Si Jiahui are currently in the top 4 of the Order of Merit.

Other than that, Iulian Boiko, at 13 the youngest player in the draw, was beaten, in round 3, in a deciding frame by Billy Joe Castle in a high quality match; in the process he made a century – in only 5 minutes – to definitely become the youngest “centurion” in professional competition. Iulian is currently 37th in the Q-school order of merit, not high enough to qualify through it, but certainly high enough to get top-up invites during the coming season.

Ng On Yee, the only women remaining at that stage, lost to Peter Lines by 4-1 in round 3. This was somehow a “rematch” of their World Championship 2016 qualifiers round 1 encounter, where Peter beat her 10-1.


Q-School 2019 Event 2 – Day 2

On Yee Ng made a 77 in beating Heikki Niva (Finland) by 4-2. Rebecca Kenna was beaten 4-0 by Paul Davison, but the score isn’t telling the whole story: every frame was extremely hard-fought and very close. Bex was praised both by her opponent and people who watched the match. Despite losing in round 1 in both events so far, she is taking a lot of positives from her Q-School experience. If she plays in the Challenge Tour this season I expect her to further improve.

Si Jiahui (16), Mateusz Baranowski (21 – Poland), Luke Pinches (17), Louis Heathcote (21) , Brian Cini (22 – Malta), Florian Nuessle (17 – Austria), Ka Wai Cheung (20 – HK), Andres Petrov (22 – Estonia) and Rodion Judin (21 – Latvia) were the young players, never being professional before, who won yesterday. What’s good to see as well is how many of those are non-British/Irish. Rodion Judin played at incredible speed: his AST was 15 sec 18! Beware Theppy!

Luke Pinches, who withdrew from event 1, having to sit an A-level exam, was back at the table and with a win as well.

Round 1 concludes today. Reanne Evans will be in action in the first session. Round 2 starts at 11:30 (UK time).


Q-School 2019 Event 2 – Day 1

Event 2 of the 2019 Q-school started yesterday with 39 matches played. There were three walk-overs, all three because one of the players involved graduated through event 1.

Out of 39 winner, 13 are under-22 young players, none of them having been professional before. They are: Lewis Gillen (21), Pang Junxu (19), Long ZeHuang (22), Shane Castle (21), Dylan Emery (18), Keishin Kamihashi (18 – Japan), Aaron Hill (17), Jack Harris (19), Chae Ross (18), Fergal Quinn (19), Peifan Lei (15), Ivan Kakovskiy (20 – Russia) and Manasawin Phetmalaikul (20).

The three “lucky” boys who got a walk-over are all young as well: Daniel Holyda (20 – Poland), Dean Young (17), Noel Landers (19). None of them have been professional before.

Pang Junxu impressed last April when he beat Stuart Carrington by 10-6 at the World Championship qualifiers, before losing to Kurt Maflin by 10-7 in the next round. He’s certainly one to watch. It came a a surprise that he didn’t play in event 1.

So, again, this is a rather good outcome after the event’s first day.

Today, two women are in action. On Yee Ng faces Heikki Niva from Finland. It’s a pity that they have to clash in the first round. Both are very capable to win a few matches in this competition. Rebecca Kenna plays the very experienced Paul Davison. Bex has an excellent safety game but still needs to progress in the scoring department. It’s a tough task she faces here.

Jamie Cope withdrew from the event, and from event 3 as well. The reason for this is not officially known but we can reasonably suppose that, after the disappointment of losing in the first round in event 1, he didn’t fancy his chances in the next events. This is heartbreaking. Jamie is only 33 and he’s very talented. He reached the final of a ranking event twice: at the 2006 Grand-Prix and at the 2007 China Open. He had three 147 in official competitions, and his highest ranking was 13 (in 2010 and 2011). He reached the semi finals at the Masters in 2011, losing by 6-3 to Ding Junhui, the eventual champion. Jamie’s career was ruined by a crippling health issue: an uncontrolable tremor in his cueing arm. He was relegated from the main tour two years ago, after the 2017 World Championship.



Q-school 2019 – Event 1 – Onto the last day.

Today is the last day of the Q-School Event 1. By the end of this afternoon we will know the names of the four who will earn themselves a two years tour card from this event.

Currently this is the line-up for the last 16:

Q-School 2019 Event 1 - L16

Nine of those players are under 26 years old, four being teenagers. Of those nine, seven have never been professionals, four are from China. That’s not a bad outcome from this event. It’s a shame that Ross Bulman and Geng Mingqi have to clash at this stage.