40 Years at the Crucible

Yesterday we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the World Championship at the Crucible. It has to be said, World Snooker made a magnificent job of it.

The day started with the top 16 players meeting the press before all players walked through the Green Carpet, a novelty in Britain. In the evening, the Crucible theatre hosted a great night where all living and past World Champions were invited and celebrated. Mark Williams went missing …

Barry Hearn signed a new agreement with the Sheffield authorities to keep the World Championship at the Crucible until 2027. He also made a very popular announcement: Jimmy White and Ken Doherty were offered a two years “wild card” … for a start said Barry. This came apparently to a surprise to both recently relegated players who were absolutely over the moon.

Here are some pictures of the press day shared on social media by various sources (WS, BBC, Jason Francis and more) and courtesy of Tai Chengzhe (Thanks Tai!)

World Snooker were live on Facebook to share the evening celebration and here it is:

Enjoy!

I will not do a preview, but I want to say a few words about Ronnie’s opening match. Gary Wilson, his opponent, is no push over. He played extremely well in Ponds Forge, he made 8 centuries in his three matches there. He has reached the QF in the 2015 Welsh Open and was runner-up in the 2015 China Open, so don’t underestimate him. He’s dangerous and the first match at the Crucible is always hard for the seeds: they get nothing if they lose and all expectations is on them.

More interesting than an interview?

This one may please Adam … maybe.

This video was shared on twitter by  Ronnie’s close friend Mike:

And Mike observed that Ronnie needs to start winning some more soon judging by the state of his shoes …

RonShoes11.03.2017

Need to win a few more tourneys   @ronnieo147 look at the daisies @Snookerlegends

Now seriously, Ronnie has been working hard on his game in recent weeks and months, and at some point it will click. Hopefully in time for the big one.

And 2 and 1/2 hours later …

Players Championship 2017 – An interview… sort of.

Yesterday BBC Wales published an interview with Ronnie after his defeat to Judd Trump in Llandudno. To most questions he answers just with one word, except for the one where he choses to sing … which, frankly, he’s not exactly gifted for.

This is it:

Most people who saw this had a good laugh…

However not everyone did. One blogger in particular argued that it is silly, childish, driven by the hurt of defeat and attention seeking.

Yes, defeat hurts, and players try to deal with it the best they can, each in their own way. One thing though that is common to all of them is that giving an interview right after a defeat is NOT something they want to do, they usually just want to be left alone and out of the venue as soon as possible. The last thing they want after losing is attention.

I may be wrong but I have not seen any other interview with the losers this week, only Ronnie. Why? Because he is box office and THE MEDIA wants this, not him, and as Hector Nunns stated in this article, Ronnie has probably given more time to the media than all the others together. He’s an emotional person who sometimes says the wrong thing in the heat of the moment, sure, and, make no mistake, the media love it, it sells. He’s been fined  for expressing opinions that WPBSA deemed potentially damaging to the sport or disrespectful and he has decided to take a minimalist, and humoristic, stance regarding interviews. As Mark Williams tweeted this morning:

at least he ain’t gunna fined this way

I have heard some weird interviews after defeats. I have heard a player answering every question with the same two words sentence, before storming out of the room, I have heard a player being very rude in a personal way towards his opponent, I have seen a player growing really aggressive towards a journalist who, in fairness, was doing everything in their power to get the said player in that state. Those were top 16 players. I have seen right sour losers rants, excuses and tears. Most of the time it’s not reported at all and probably it shouldn’t be indeed. However when it comes to Ronnie it usually makes the headlines. Also, when reported it should at least be done, fairly, in context, which is not always the case.

Players are human beings, not robots. True, they have duties towards their sport, talking to the press is one of them, but maybe not just minutes after a defeat for instance. The authorities also have a duty to protect their players when exposed to stressful situations. It would probably work to both sides advantage.

This is just my personal opinion and nodody else’s.

A day of interviews

Ronnie was yesterday morning on ITV for “Good morning Britain”, talking about his last novel, “Framed”, as well as snooker and life in general.

rosgoodmorningbritain22-12-2016

The “Good Morning Britain” team shared the link to the show on their twitter account.

After that Ronnie was on talksport radio, with Alan Brazil on SportBreakfast

rostalksport22-12-2016

It’s available on the Show’s Facebook page here :

It was a very positive interview, where Ronnie re-affirmed his love for his sport, praised fellow pros and tipped young Zao Xintong to become a World Champion soon. He also talks about his show on History Channel, American Hustle.

Northern Ireland Open 2016 – Day 5 aboard the Titanic … no quarters given

niopenresultsqf

These are the results of the quarter finals day in Belfast, and here is Worldsnooker official report on the day’s action.

Saturday 19 Nov 2016 12:08AM

Kyren Wilson emerged from an epic battle with Mark Williams to book his place in tomorrow’s semi-finals at the Coral Northern Ireland Open in Belfast.

Both players secured huge wins in yesterday’s last 16. Williams ended the 11 game winning run of John Higgins and Wilson was victorious in his first ever meeting with 28-time ranking winner Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Today’s tie was played out to a tremendous standard. Between them the pair made a break over 50 in each of the first seven frames in the match.

There was never more than a solitary frame between the two players, however Wilson started best with a run of 58 to take the opener.

Williams then turned up the heat on the world number 15. The two-time World Champion made contributions of 44, 86 and 68 to move 2-1 ahead.

The barrage of high scoring persisted in the fourth and fifth frames with Wilson producing runs of 91 and 95 to go  3-2 up. They continued to trade frames but it was Wilson who found himself in position for the victory at 4-3 up. After a great recovery pot on the brown, he missed a blue to the top pocket and handed his opponent a lifeline. The ball came to rest over the middle and Williams duly forced a decider.

The 24-year-old Wilson didn’t let his missed opportunity in the previous frame deter him and forced himself over the line courtesy of a contribution of 47.

Wilson said: “That game was probably harder than the one with Ronnie. When you beat O’Sullivan some players get ahead of themselves and crumble in the next match. I felt I had to put a performance in to follow that up. Against Mark Williams that is never easy so I’m really pleased with the performance.

Mark Allen’s hopes of a dream title on home soil were ended by Anthony Hamilton in a 5-2 defeat. The win for the Sheriff of Pottingham sealed his first semi-final appearance since the 2009 Welsh Open, but he showed no signs of big match nerves in the opening exchanges.

The 45-year-old started brilliantly with a run of 96. Playing against a strong home backing Hamilton managed to control the game throughout. A further run of 78 helped him to move 3-0 in front. The Pistol kept himself in touch with a break of 72 in the fourth only for Hamilton to re-establish his three frame lead in the next. With the scores at 4-2 the world number 76 Hamilton made a clutch counter clearance to claim frame and match on the black.

Mark King secured a semi-final place courtesy of a 5-3 victory in a fiery encounter with Iran’s Hossein Vafaei. Both players exchanged words throughout the match, however it was King who pulled through. The Romford potter clinched victory with a break of 63 in the last frame. He faces Kyren Wilson for a place in the final.

Barry Hawkins continued a terrific run of form to book his place in the last four. The Hawk has dropped just three frames throughout the event and proved to be too strong for world number 24 Michael White. He made breaks of 60, 59 and 70 during a 5-2 victory. Next up for Hawkins is a clash with Anthony Hamilton.

Ronnie also had very nice tongue-in-cheek words about Kyren Wilson before his excellent match against Mark Williams. Listen here. Clearly, he rates Kyren very high.

Listen here to Anthony Hamilton’s reaction after his win

One thing that isn’t in this interview, but that Anthony told to the Eurosport pundits in the studio, is how badly he struggles financially. Having suffered a neck injury last season, his results were bad and his earnings dropped so much that he had to borrow from his parents to keep playing on the main tour (Ronnie immediately offered to help him, he’s always liked and rated Anthony very high).

MissingClip  2016 Northern Ireland Open: review of the Mark Allen – Anthony Hamilton match

Players need about £20000 just to pay their entry fees and their travel expenses. With no money if they lose their first match – which half of them do – and very little until the last 16 or QF, lots of them have a hard time to make ends meet. Barry Hearn always goes about “not rewarding mediocrity” and “it’s about ability”, but that’s incredibly arrogant and borderline stupid in my opinion. It’s a very, very difficult game and many top players needed several years before really finding their feet on the tour, especially if they are very young and need to cope with all that comes with being an expat. Just ask yourself: would Neil Robertson have been able to sustain himself in the current system? I very, very much doubt it: coming from Australia at 16, with £500 in his pocket, his game very raw because he never had top opposition to play against at home, he dropped off the tour twice  and needed about 10 years before establishing himself firmly at the top. How would he haved lived meanwhile? Yet, nobody would say today that he is mediocre or lacks ability. What about investing in the future of the game, Barry, by making it easier for the rookies and the unfortunates who suffer temporary health issues to survive on the tour?

Also there was some controversy during the King-Ayouri match. People on social media accused King of bad sportsmanship and trying to put his young opponent off. I didn’t see the match, but one incident that was reported was this: King needed snookers and only the pink and black were on the table, he left the arena to go to the toilet, leaving his opponent and the referee waiting, and immediately conceeded when back. Ok, that sounds weird. However, Mark has been open in the past about struggling badly with bladder control after sustaining a surgery. So who are we to judge him there? Maybe he just couldn’t wait any longer and was concentrating so hard on keeping control that he wasn’t thinking clearly about how  his conduct could be seen by others, including his opponent.

As for Ronnie, he had a busy day: supporting a charity, to help pancreatic cancer sufferers, getting himself some reading, working in the studio for Eurosport, with some nice tongue-incheek words about Kyren Wilson before his match versus Mark Williams.

some punditry

MissingClip 2016 Northern Ireland Open: MSI of the Barry Hawkins – Michael White match

some pictures

images posted on twitter by Ronnie and fans

And last but not least trying to teach Colin Murray the basics of snooker with some unconventional methods …

How to keep busy and happy … Ronnie’s way

Ronnie has found himself a running club in or near Belfast and … he’s running.

As he explains to BBC here, it helps him managing his mood and creating his own happiness.


 

Of course he’s not running all day … he’s also promoting his new book to his new friends

NIRonnieFramed.jpg

And having some good time with his snooker mates too

NIRonnieChilling.jpg

image posted by Hossein Vafaet Ayouri on Instagram

Add a bit of “badness” and life is great, according to this recent tweet …

Everyone needs a bit of badness now and again.. Just had a nice portions of chips .. Filled the spot

Meanwhile, he’s won his last 32 match today, beating Zhang Anda by 4-0 in less than an hour. He will face Kyren Wilson tonight in the last 16.

International Championship 2016 – Prelude

The International Championship 2016 will start tomorrow morning (in the very early hours for us in Europe) and, as usual in China, the players were made very welcome, with goodies and a “red carpet” ceremony, only this time i was indoors – it’s snowing in Daqing – and it seems the carpet, if any, wasn’t red …

Anyway, Ronnie duly arrived in Daqing and was “paired” with Ding for the ceremony.

Here are a few pictures of the ceremony posted on weibo:

and a video shared by Worldsnooker on social media


Ronnie also met the local media (picture: Worldsnooker on twitter)

intchamps2016meetmedia1

and a glimpse at the goodies, thanks to David Grace on twitter:

intchamps2016goodies

Daqing is close to the northern border of China, and is well-known to scientists for its mammoths. Not sure they played snooker though … but it’s a cute mascot.

The tournament starts tomorrow, and Ronnie’s first match, against the dangerous Xiao Guodong, is scheduled on Monday evening ( midday in Europe).