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Monday, 30 April 2012

World Championship day 10 part 2

Following the resounding success of my Second round predictions (3/8) I've decided to get out the crystal ball again and have a go at the Quarter Finals.

Stephen Hendry v Stephen Maguire
The one thing we are guaranteed is that Scotland will be represented in the semi finals as these two greats from north of the border do battle in the first of the quarters.It's hard to imagine now but Hendry came very close to retiring from snooker when he was beaten in last years championship and lost his top 16 place.He has knuckled down in the qualifiers though and having followed up his 147 in the first round with victory over defending World Champion  John Higgins he'll be quietly fancying his chances of lifting an eight World. title.Maguire on the other hand has been Mr consistent reaching five Quarter final since christmas.He played very well in his match against Joe Perry and and I expect he might have have to much for Hendry in the scoring department in this one.Winner Stephen Maguire


Jamie Jones v Ali Carter
I think it's fair to say no one would have predicted this one at the start of the tournament but both these players are here on merit and we could be in for another very close finish.Jones has been a revelation on his Crucible debut and showed no signs of fear in victories over 2005 winner Shawn Murphy and Andrew Higginson.Carter   showed plenty of fighting spirit of his own in his comeback victory over Judd Trump and the 2008 runner up will probably start a slight favourite.I agree with this assessment and go for a Carter win possibly in .a decider. Winner Ali Carter


Ronnie O Sullivan v Neil Robertson
This is without doubt the tie of the round and pitches arguably the players of the tournament so far against each other.Both players have been in played superbly at times this week and this could really be a classic if both players play up to form.We all know what Ronnie is capable of when he is a good frame of mind and that seems to be the case this week,.Neil is also seemingly in a good place at the moment and has a determination to rectify the mistakes he felt he made last year when he lost in the first round as defending champion.This match really has the feeling of a final about it and whoever the winner is will take some stopping as the tournament progresses. I expect it to be a fascinating three sessions of snooker with maybe Ronnie edging it Winner Ronnie O Sullivan


Ryan Day v Matthew Stevens
Just as the top  match guarantees a Scotaman in the semi's this one guarantees wales will be represented as these two friends and practice partners face off against each other.Day has recaptured the form that had him in the world top 8 a few seasons ago and was clinical in his finishing off of his second round match with Cao Yupeng.Stevens as well has enjoyed a welcome return to form and fully deserves his place in the quarter finals at the venue he has twice been a finalist. It is this experience I feel might be the difference and I go for a Stevens victory. Winner Matthew Stevens

World Championship Day 10 round part one

Following a good old fashioned day of drama at The Crucible theatre we now know the identity of the last eight players who will play out over the next 7 days to be crowned 2012 World Champion next Monday night but more about them later.Firstly we'll deal with todays action.

Those coming to this afternoon session knew that with Judd Trump leading Ali Carter 9-7 and the Matthew Stevens v Barry Hawkins level at 8-8 that they were potentially in for a treat and they were not to be disappointed.

The Trump v Carter match had swung both ways during the first two sessions with both players constructing some fine breaks.This continued into this afternoon where they shared the opening four frames ,the highlight of which was an attempted maximum from Trump which ended on 96 after he failed to judge a cannon correctly.This sent them to the interval at 11-9.That became 12-9 in the next and it seemed that Trump had maybe done enough to see things out,but you write off Carter at your pearl though and.in the next he was unlucky with his a maximum attempt of his own.With the break on 81 he was unlucky to see a red rebound blocking his way to the black,Never the less this made it 12-10.That became 12-11 and 12-12 after couple of drawn out frames that had a bit of everything in them. but seemed to suit the experienced Carter more.

Onto the decider and both players were clearly feeling the pressure as they each let early chances go begging.The first real chance to claim victory though went to Trump and he seemed well in only to miss the easiest of reds with the rest.Carter took his chance and  left Trump needing four snookers with one red remaining. Trump showed great fighting spirit to get three of these and if the white had rolled another half inch following the third foul from Carter he would have a free ball and a chance to win. It didn't though and Carter potted the red to seal a famous victory.

It's been a poor season for Carter where he at one stage contemplated retirement but this will surely give him a boost to keep going and he'll fancy his chances no matter who he plays.

Trump on the other hand will be left to wonder where it all went wrong. Earlier in the season he was on the crest of a wave lifting the UK Championship and seemed to carry this form onto the Masters up until his semi final meeting Neil Robertson.By common consensus Robertson did a number on him in that match and it has seemed for me that since then he has struggled to finish matches out losing to Mark Allen in China and Stephen Maguire in Germany from commanding positions.It will be interesting to see how this affects him into next season.

Meanwhile on the other table Stevens and Hawkins were putting on quality match of their own. Starting at 8 -8 Stevens won the opening two frames to make it 10-8 only for Hawkins to win the next two to level again 10-10 at the interval.When play resumed Stevens again opened up a two frame lead to make it 12-10 and although  Hawkins closed to within one again,The two tome Crucible finalist won the next to win 13-11.He now plays fellow Welshman and practice partner Ryan Day in the Quarter final..

Tonight as expected Ronnie O Sullivan completed the job to see off Mark Williams by a scoreline of 13-6.The real damage in this match was done by Ronnie in yesterdays amazing session and tonight he gave the impression of just going through the motions to finish the match off and set up a fascinating Quarter final with Neil Robertson.

The last of the second round matches to complete was the clash between Jamie Jones and Andrew Higginson,Following the second session Jones held a 10-6 lead but this was wiped out by Higginson before the interval as he won the first four frames to level at 10-10.It might have been expected at this stage that the pressure would begin to mount on the young Welshman but he showed great character to see out the match in style winning the next three which included a superb 135  break sealing the victory by 13-10 ..



Sunday, 29 April 2012

World Championship Weekend Round up.

Well after what had been an exrtraordinary opening weekend the championship seemed to have settled down during the week and we entered the second weekend with everyone waiting for the fireworks to start again.We were not to be disappointed.

Firstly as expected Stephen Hendry  didn't waste anytime on Saturday afternoon dispatching the defending World Champion John Higgiins 13-3.Higgins explained afterwards that he hadn't practiced this year as he should and had plans in place to rectify that next season.It would be foolish given his determination in the past to rule him out of challenging for his fifth title next season.Hendry on the other will be maybe starting to dream of been crown world champion for an eighth time.

Standing in his way in the quarter finals will be Stephen Maguire who completed a 13-7 victory over Joe Perry.The damage in this one had been done in the second session where Maguire had extended his 5-3 lead into an 11-5 one.Maguire has been in fine form this year and seems at the moment to be capable of winning a frames know matter what way the balls land.This is an important trait for an wouldbe World Champion.

Ryan Day also booked his place in the Quarter finals winning the first four frames on Saturday night to complete a 13-7 win over Cao Yupeng. Cao had threatened to get into the match yesterday morning moving within two of Day a 9-7 but with runs of 113,53,87 and 119 the Welshman secured his place in the next round and a meeting with practice partner Matthew Stevens or Barry Hawkins,

That match has all the hallmarks of becoming a crucible cliffhanger as two sessions on Sunday have failed to separate them and they come out tomorrow afternoon level at 8-8.Of the two players no doubt Stevens will feel the happier with the scoreline though as he had trailed 6-3 and 8-6 but rallied to win the last two to set things up nicely for the final session.

Another match heading for an exciting finish is the fascinating clash between Ali Carter and Judd Trump.The lead in this match has changed hands several times but it is Judd who holds a narrow 9-7 advantage going into the final session tomorrow night..

In other action the young Welshman Jamie Jones is only three frames away from the quarter finals as he takes a 10-6 lead over Andrew Higginson out of this evenings second session having been all square at 4-4 following this mornings first session.

Finally we had the battle between Ronnie O Sullivan and Mark Williams.Few players divide public opinion the way Ronnie does but what no one can dispute is the fact that when he is in full flight there has never been a player who makes the game look as ridiculously easy.That was certainly the case in this match as he turned the overnight score of 5-3 into 11-3 with a rolls royce display threatening to win with a session to spare. Williams at least managed to save himself that indignity by winning the last two frames of the session but has a mountain to climb if he is to record his first ranking event victory over O Sullivan for ten years as they resume tomorrow night 11-5.

So Monday see's the finish of round two and I will be doing a preview ahead of the quarter final matches tomorrow evening as well a predicting the winners...Hopefully with more success then I've done to date!!.




Friday, 27 April 2012

World Championship Day 7

Day 7 at the Crucible and although it was the day where the second round got into full swing I think its fair to say one match stood out above all others as the men with 11 World titles between them John Higgins and Stephen Hendry came face to face.

This was amazingly the first time these two legends had met in the World Championship and the opening session took its time to get going as both men struggled to settle and we reached the mid session interval level at 2-2.After that although Higgins did win the next with what was his 500th career century it was Hendry who found his scoring touch to win the next three and take a 5-3 lead into tonights second session.

This served to set things up nicely for this evening session but no one could have expected what they were about to witness as Hendry won the session 7-1 to move within one of victory leading 12-4.This does not tell the whole story though as unless you actually witnessed the session it is impossible to put into words how poorly John Higgins played.It for me actually made uncomfortable viewing to see him struggle so much.

Admittedly he has had a poor season by his standards but I think it was the common view that he would improve once he saw the lights of Sheffield he would have a real go at lifting a fifth World title.That looks a long way away now though as barring the greatest comeback in crucible history he will wave goodbye for 2012 tomorrow afternoon.

Hendry for his part took full advantage of his opponents mistakes as you would expect but will know he will have to improve if he is to lift an eighth title next weekend,

In other action Neil Robertson became to first player through to the quarter finals with a 13-9 victory over a stubborn David Gilbert.Leading 5-3 overnight Robertson extended that to 10-6 following the second session and won the first of the night to make it 11-6.The Tamworth native to his credit though would not go away easily and managed to close to 12-9 before the Aussie closed out the match 13-9.He now awaits the winner between Williams and o Sullivan who get underway tomorrow.

Steven Maguire also looks well set to make the quarter finals and a probable clash with Hendry  as he won six of the eight frames  to take an 11-5 lead into the final session tomorrow morning against Joe Perry.

In the other match that started today Ryan Day leads Cao Yupeng 6-2 following an error strewn first session that could easily have gone 6-2 the other way,That said though unless Cao can find some form early in tomorrows second session you would expect Day to maybe pull away in this one.

So into the second week we go with some more fascinating clashes in store,If we half the drama we've had in the first week we are in for a hell of a treat..




Thursday, 26 April 2012

World Championship Day 6 + Round 2 preview

Today we finally reached the conclusion of Round 1 with a total of 8 seeds failing to make it to into the second week.Many reasons have been put forward in recent days for this extraordinary run of shocks results from the usual strength in depth arguments to it been a long hard season.Maybe both these have merit but the theory put forward that I agree with most is its simply down to the fact the qualifiers took place so close to the championship and those who got through have carried that form forward.

In the last of the first round matches Ali Carter quickly converted his 8-1 overnight lead into a 10-1 victory over an under the weather Mark  Davis.Earlier this season Carter was contemplating retirement as his ongoing battle with chrones disease threatened to finish his career but he seemed in good form here albeit under no pressure from his opponent.In the evening session Mark Williams struggled to get over the line as Liu closed from 9=3 to 9-6 before the Welshman  completed a 10-6 victory.

ROUND 2 Preview
John Higgins v Stephen Hendry
For many this will be the tie of the round as these two great champions with 11 World titles between them face off against each other for what is amazingly the first time ever at the Crucible.Defending champion Higgins has been struggling this season to produce his top form but showed all his fighting qualities to scrape past Liang Wenbo10-9 in his first match.Hendry on the other hand showed flashes of his brilliant best in his comfortable first round win over Stuart Bingham which included a flawless 147.That said however he also played some very careless shots and I can't see him producing the consistency over 25 frames to beat Higgins Winner John Higgins


Joe Perry v Stephen Maguire
This match got off to a flyer tonight with centuries in the first three frames as Stephen Maguire opened up a 3-1 lead at the interval.They shared the next 4 for Maguire to take a 5-3 overnight lead.I expect Maguire may kick on in the second session and win with something to spare Winner  Stephen Maguire




Jamie Jones v Andrew Higginson
This was a match up few would have predicted when the draw was made but both these players are well worth their places in round 2 following fine victories over Shaun Murphy and Stephen Lee respectively .This has the potential to be a very close run thing but Higginson's extra experience coupled with the fact he really played well in the final few frames against Lee should see him through. Winner Andrew Higginson


Ali Carter v Judd Trump.
Another intriging match in store here as two of the games best break builders go head to head.As I've said earlier Carfer played some of his best snooker in a long time against Davis but playing Judd is a different proposition presuming he has overcome his bout of food poisoning I think Trump will win this match comfortably.Winner Judd Trump


Mark Willaims v Ronnie O Sullivan
Another battle of the veterans here as these two great champions go head to head.It has been strange season for Williams who started it an no.1 in the rankings and reached the finals of the first two ranking events in Australia and China only to lose both from commanding positions.This seemed to dent his confidence and he has struggled to find that form again.Ronnie on the other hand produced some super snooker to lift The German Masters and despite having missed some tournaments since as he recovers from glandular fever he hasn;t lost to Willaims in a ranking event for a long time.I don't expect that to change here either. Winner Ronnie O Sullivan

David Gilbert v Neil Robertson
Arguably  the player of the first round was Neil Robertson who dispatched 1997 Champion Ken Doherty with ease.The question was could The qualifier Gilbert score heavily enough to trouble the 2010 champ.Gilbert started well enough to lead 3-1 at the interval but Robertson upped a gear after that and is agin lookng strong as he takes a 5-3 lead into tomorrows second session.I can only see one winner from here.Winner Neil Robertson


Ryan Day v Cao Yupeng
This may be one of the hardest matches to call as both players showed great bottle in getting through their first round matches.I just have a feeling though that the Chinese might edge this though it could be very close
Winner Cao Yupeng


Matthew Stevens v Barry Hawkins
Another tough match to call as both had comfortable first round victories.Another thing they both have in common is the fact they have both underachieved in their careers especially Stevens who has twice lost World Finals from commanding positions.I think on this occasion though Again this may be close but I expect Stevens Crucible experience to pay off.Winner Matthew Stevens



Wednesday, 25 April 2012

World Championship Day 5

"It never rains but it pours"That saying was true in every sense today as wind and rain battered the british isles and the number of seeds failing to negotiate the first round continue to rise reaching by the end of the day a total of 8.

The first seed to fall today was Graeme Dott who resumed trailing Joe Perry by 8-1 That quickly became 10-1 as the 2006 champion tamely exited the tournament.

As the screen was raised between the tables to leave the entire crucible concentrating on the other table few could have imagined the drama they were about to witness.Resuming leading Ding Junhui 5-4 Ryan Day won the opening frame to extend his advantage to 6-4.This seemed to kick Ding into action as he visibly upped a gear to reel off the next 5 and move within one of victory at 9-6. It seemed he had done all the hard work but Day had other ideas as he fought back to level at 9 all.In the decider it still seemed that Ding had weathered the storm only to miss a straight forward red with the rest.Day took full advantage and went on to record a famous victory.

In the aftermath a clearly disappointed Ding found fault with the table and the crowd who he accused of shouting out but this can be put down purely to giving a press conference so soon after such a crushing defeat.

In the afternoon last years finalist and this seasons UK champion Judd Trump resumed leading Dominic Dale 5-4.Trump looking a little healthier then he did yesterday morning when he was still in the grip of food poisoning still struggled to find his usual fluency and went to the mid session interval trailing 7-6.He once again rallied though and won the next two to regain the lead at 8-7.In the 16th Trump aided by a massive fluke made that 9-7 and following a couple of poor shots on the colours by Dale he cleared from the green to round off a 10-7 win.

Judd showed a level of maturity that he has maybe lacked in the past and you can't help bit be impressed by, if not his overall play,then his willingness to dig in when obviously struggling physically.

Another man struggling physically was World No.1 Mark Selby.Last month he was forced to withdraw from the Chins Open with a neck injury and he was clearly still suffering the effects of it as Barry Hawkins turned his 6-3 overnight lead into a 10-3 win.

This was desperately disappointing for Selby who deserves much credit for never giving an inch despite his obvious discomfort.Hawkins now faces Matthew Stevens in the second round.

In other action the last of the first round matches got under way with Mark Williams leading Liu Chuang 6-3 and Ali Cater leading the crucibles latest food poisoning victim Mrk Davis 8-1
 
Tomorrow see's the conclusion of these matches and the start of the round 2 action with Joe Perry starting out against Stephen Maguire and arguably the player of the tournament so far Neil Robertson taking on David Gilbert.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

World Championship Day 4 round up

Ok firstly lets get the house keeping out of the way.Mark Allen released a statement this afternoon apologising to Cao and promising to improve his off table behavior next season.Having read the statement I don't think any of us believe Mark sat down with a pen and paper to compose this, rather it's an attempt by his management at damage limitation.That said though lets hope he takes what has been said seriously as a Mark Allen with his head down concentrating on snooker could only be a good thing for the sport.

Onto the action then and the morning saw two of the players many fancy to go all the way this year Judd Trump and Ding Junhui.starting their first round matches against Dominic Dale and Ryan Day respectively. Judd suffering the effects of food poisoning struggled early on and Dale didn't have to produce anything special to lead 3-1 at the interval.The rest seemed to do Judd some good though and he hit back to level at 3-3 and although Dale won the next to lead again Trump won the last two to finish the session leading 5-4.They play to a finish tomorrow afternoon.

On the other side last years semi finalist Ding has a real fight on his hands as he goes into tomorrow mornings final session trailing Day 5-4,

In the afternoon Ronnie O Sullivan did what he had to do and saw off Peter Ebdon by a scoreline of 10-4.  Ronnie sporting a new haircut that by the look of it he may have given himself seemed in good form both on and off the table and will be a handfull for whoever he meets in this championship.Ebdon unfortunately never produced the form he had in China last month and gave an emotional press conference afterwards where he broke down talking about the death of his father last year.He also stated his belief that he can stil win another World title.

In the other afternoon match Joe Perry had people reaching for the record books as he raced into an 8-0 lead over 2006 champ Graeme Dott.In a largely scrappy affair Dott at least managed to stave off the whitewash by winning the last of the session but surely at 8-1 this match will see the curtain been raised between tables fairly quickly in the morning.

Tonight saw another seed bite the dust as the form player of 2012 Stephen Lee exited the championship losing 10-6 to former Welsh Open runner up Andrew Higginson.They had started the night with Higginson leading 5-4 and shared opening four frames to go to the interval 7-6.At this point though Higginson played some really fine snooker to pull away and secure his place in the second round. As for Lee no doubt he will be disappointed to exit at such an early stage but he can still look back with pride on his efforts over the last few months which have seen him climb into the world top eight.

Finally on the other table World No.1 Mark Selby faces an uphill task tomorrow to overcome a 6-3 deficit against Shootout winner Barry Hawkins. This was Selby's first match since he withdrew form last months China Open with a neck injury and seemed to lack some sharpness as he missed straight forward pots again and again.He will have to be at his best tomorrow to avoid joining the long list of seeds biting the dust.

So on we go to day 5 and what could be the most telling day yet as some of our pre tournament favourites will have to roll up their sleeves to stay in the hunt to become 2012 World Champion.What an interesting day we have in store.


Monday, 23 April 2012

World Championship Day 3 round up

"Its a great time to be a snooker player,Its not a great time to be an idiot" The words of World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn today addressing the Mark Allen and Mark Williams comments of recent days.He went on to elaborate by saying both had been referred to the sports disciplinary committee and that there would be no tolerance of players not adhering to their contracts.

That out of the way he went on to outline some major changes on the way in the coming season.\these include changes to the Welsh Open and German Masters that will see players ranked 33-96 play one match before reaching the last 64 where they will play a top 32 player,Increased prize money for those tournaments as well as the PTC Grand finals,.a 5 year extension to the eurosport contract,Two yr wildcards for Tony Drago and Luca Brecel and a move over the next two seasons to change the ranking system to one based on prizemoney,

All very exciting stuff then and proof if proof were needed that Hearn has no intention of  merely sitting back and admiring the work of the last two seasons.Great time to be a snooker player indeed!

On the table Stephen Maguire secured a 10-5 victory over Luca Brecel to book his place in Round 2. That doesn't tell the whole story however as the young Belgian briefly threatened to mount a comeback winning the opening frame of the session to reduce the deficit to 6-4.Indeed if he had converted his chances in the next the match could have taken on a different complexion,but as it was Maguire won it and the result was never in doubt from then on.This was a highly promising debut from Brecel though and lets hope he can kick on from this next season.

On the other side of the curtain we had the opening session of a match that many expected to be a close affair as Matthew Stevens faced Marco Fu.Well it just goes to show how wrong we can be as Stevens raced into a n 8-1 first session lead against a badly out of sorts Fu.The two times former world finalist completed his 10-3 victory in the evening session.

The afternoon session saw the beginning of the much anticipated showdown between Ronnie O Sullivan and recent China Open winner Peter Ebdon,Their first crucible meeting since the infamous 2005 match.As often  happens on these occasions though the match didn't live up to the hype as Ebdon struggled to recapture his recent good form and O Sullivan finished the session leading 7-2 without having to move out of second gear.

The real drama of the afternoon was taking place on the other table as 2005 Champ Shaun Murphy battled Crucible debutant Jamie Jones.Murphy looked to be pulling away as he extended his 5-4 overnight lead to 7-5.Jones was not finished yet though and battled back to 7-7 before a superb 136 put him 8-7 ahead.He then secured a long and scrappy 16th frame to move within one of victory.He looked for all the world like clinching the match in the next but missed an easy red to allow Murphy close within one again.The young man was not to be denied though as he held his nerve to record a famous 10-8 win.There have been many in the game talking bout Jones for a long time and he may now be realising that potential.

In tonights action player of 2012 so far Stephen Lee started his crucible campaign against Andrew Higginson.PTC Grand final winner Lee will have known however that Higginson has had a pretty good season himself and this match has all the potential to go the distance as they come back tomorrow with Higginson leading by the odd frame 5-4.

Tuesday see's Judd Trump,Ding Junhui and Mark Selby start their Crucible campaigns,This championship just gets better and better!

.







Sunday, 22 April 2012

World Championship Day Two round up

Well was anyone worried that after that amazing opening day that day two would struggle to make headlines?With Mark Allen around we need not have worried on that score but unfortunately not for the first time this season they wont be for the right reasons,

Lets get the match out of the way first.The result will read that Cao Youpeng world no.81 produced a stunning display to knock out China Open winner Mark Allen by a scoreline of 10-6.Indeed the match finished in extraordinary fashion with Allen potting the black to seemingly  make it 9-7 only to see the white drop into the yellow pocket.Sadly this super match will be overshadowed by the press conference afterwards.

Speaking afterwards Allen although congratulating his opponent and admitting he had maybe underestimated him decided to launch broadside at Cao for "cheating" by not calling a push shot on himself in the opening frame of the session, a shot which was also missed by referee Paul Collier.This was bad enough on its own but he went further in accusing Chinese players in general and Wenbo and Fu by name of been guilty of similar crimes in the past.

With stuff like this Allen is beginning to get himself a reputation for speaking without fully engaging his brains cop on filter and surely has ensured himself a date with World Snookers disciplinary panel. at the very least.

For the record Wenbo had last night shown great sportsmanship by calling foul on himself in the deciding frame with John higgins last night.

In the other afternoon match Shaun Murphy didn't have it all his own way and takes a slender 5-4 lead into the second session with Jamie Jones.

This mornings session had seen a highly entertaining opening session between Stephen Maguire and the Crucibles youngest ever debutant Luca Brecel with the young Belgium overcoming some early nerves to close the session 6-3 down.In doing so he joined the exclusive club of those making a century on their debut and regardless of the result tomorrow this is a young man we wil be seeing plenty of in the coming years.

On the other side of the curtain David Gilbert and Martin Gould were serving up one of those hard fought classic matches you only get in the World Championship with Gilbert holding off a spirited fightback by Gould closing out the victory 10-8 having lead at one stage 9-5.

Those arriving tonight were surely expecting an early evening with Neil Robertson and Stephen Hendry enjoying 7-2 and 8-1 leads over their opponents Ken Doherty and Stuart Bingham respectively.

Robertson indeed closed out a high quality match 10-4 to progress comfortably but although hendry was to prevail by the same scoreline it was far less comfortable.Bingham to his credit came determined to try to the very end and won the first 3 frames of the night to make the score 8-4.Hendry struggling to find any sort of form was beginning to look vulnerable and the unthinkable was starting to look possible. This was short lived however as Hendry steeled himself enough to pot the last red following a poor binghan safety and closed out the match straight after the interval.

So there we have it Day Two over and Monday  afternoon see's the start of O Sullivan and Ebdon........Bring it on!!!!!!






Saturday, 21 April 2012

World Championship Day One round up.

There is a saying that luck is as good as skill as long as it holds.That saying came into my head tonight as i sat down to reflect on day one of this Betfred World Championship and wondered to myself how does Barry Hearn do it.When he took over World Snooker a few short yrs ago we had a sport on life support,now we have a thriving,competitive sport been played and broadcast in an ever increasing number of countries and the most eagerly anticipated World Championship ever that has on its first day delivered more then some whole seasons did in the previous regime!
I suppose the day had started quietly enough with the morning session.Defending Champion John Higgins finished the session with a 5-4 lead over Liang Wembo promising the possibility of a first round shock in the night session and David Gilbert played some nice snooker in taking a 6-3 lead over former world quarter finalist Martin Gould.

The afternoon was to be a different matter however. with Neil Robertson taking on Ken Doherty and Stuart Bingham playing Crucible legend Stephen Hendry.it's hard to believe it's been twenty yrs since Hendry won an amazing 10 frames in a row to come from 14-8 down and lift the second of his 7 World titles breaking the heart if Jimmy White and his supporters in the process.I think its fair to say that although admired for his ability at that time not many held a special place in their hearts for the "Wonder Bairn",That of course has changed now and as the underdog and elder statesman in the game Hendry is beginning to find himself receiving the same affection that Steve Davis has in the autumn years of his career.

The question was could he once again produce some form in the arena he prowled around as his own for nearly a decade.The crowd only had to wait for the 7th frame to get there answer a Hendry  clicked into autopilot mode to roll in as perfect 147 as you are ever likely to see.The fist pump at the end said it all as the crowd his opponent and the players from the other table came to salute the 10th maximum in Crucible history.Riding on the crest of the wave he went on the finish the session with an all but unassailable 8-1 lead.
On the other table the battle of the former world champions had threatened to ignite th tournament itself as Doherty missed the 14th red in the second frame with his own maximum in sight. As the session went on however Robertson found his rhythm and reeled in three consecutive centuries to take a 7-2 lead into tomorrows final session.

Onto tonight then and conclusion of Higgins -Wembo match..They say anyone can win playing there best but the true measure of a champion is winning when not at your best,That phrase has rarely applied to anyone more the Higgins as he once again showed all his battling qualities to prevail 10-9 over the gutsy Chinese in a good old fashioned Crucible cracker.It had looked for all the world like w were on for a shock a wenbo lead fought back from his first session deficit to lead 8-6 but Higgins knocked in a 133 break as he gritted his teeth to claw back to 8 all and then take the next to go 9-8.Wenbo was not giving up without a fight though and showed he had the stomach for the fight with a good 75 to force the decider,This frame had it all.wenbo in potting the opening red called a push shot on himself to leave Higgins in and it looked for all the world like he was  clearing for victory only to miss a red to the centre.Wenbo fought back to lead 52-44 only to miss a double on the second last red and A clearly releaved Higgins cleared to pink to move into the second round.

In tonights other game Mark Allen also has a real fight on his hands against a Chinese opponent as he trails Crucible debutant Cao Yupeng 5-4.

So there we have it ,what a first day and like all the best drama's we are left with more questions then answers at the end of it.Can Hendry really sustain this form for the whole tournament?Will now the shackles of the first match have come off can Higgins have a real go at taking a fifth world title? and has the spotlight shining on these  two greats taken the spotlight off probably the most impressive player today Neil Robertson? We still have another 16 days of this left so luck or judgement lets just be thankful for Barry and his snooker roadshow!


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Introduction Blog


Hi everyone. I figured I'd better start by explaining who I am. My name is Daniel Clarke,I'm 33 years of age and I am a snooker fanatic.I know of certain places where standing up and making a statement like that would be followed by a round of applause and "Welcome Daniel" from those gathered but until  such time as a snooker support group is formed, I've decided to work through my obsession by launching this blog.

For as long as I can remember I have.had an at times unhealthy interest in sport in general and snooker in particular.My earliest memory is as a 7 year old shedding tears as Taylor potted that black ball to beat my hero Steve Davis( something I would repeat as a grown man when Steve defeated Higgins in 2010), Christmas 1985  would see my first 6x3 snooker table arrive and it clear even at that early age that i was never going to make it a snooker player.This of hasn't deterred me from playing the game but my top break of 86 isn't likely to get me through Q School!!

As the years went on I have been lucky enough to witness many great  snookering moments on Tv,(Ronnie's 5 min 147,Williams Respot black Masters, and Jimmy's missed black with one hand on the World trophy to name but a few) and  in person at the Irish Masters in Goffs the highlight of which must surely be a hobbling Alex Higgins raising the roof with a hard fought victory over Hendry in what turned out to be his last professional title.With such a lifetime of memories how could i not love snooker!

I know from looking around the web there are many fine bloggers out there and i am happy to join to your number and look forward to debating snooker issues with fellow like minded individuals.I will be publishing a World Championship preview later so please spread to word of my arrival and give this new kid on the block a dig out.
Thanks for reading,