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Monday, 18 February 2013

Welsh Open Final + Thoughts

The five year ranking title drought for Stephen Maguire is over ,after he beat Stuart Bingham 9-8 in a thriller last night at The Newport Centre to claim the 2013 Welsh Open title.

In my tournament preview I mentioned how I had felt that this season was in danger of just going off the boil of late and hoped that this tournament would give it the shot in the arm it needed.That it certainly did as not just the final but also the semi finals on Saturday showed snooker again at it's twisty turny best.

On to the final itself and a match that always looked too close to call,didn't become any clearer as the afternoon session left both players still locked together at 4-4.Into the evening session and it was here where the momentum seemed to shift to Bingham.He won three of the first four frames to take what looked like a decisive lead of 7-5 at the mid session interval.

The key word here though is "interval".Maguire as we have often seen in the past is not someone who hides his emotions well,was beginning to look like a beaten man and for him the chance to regroup for 20 minutes in the dressing room came at just the right time.The opposite of course was true for Bingham who was at this stage in full flight and would have happily stayed on the table to finish the job.

As it happened the key frame to this match turned out to be the next.Having both missed chances to win it,it boiled down to a battle on the colours which twisted and turned many times before a fluked blue actually turned out to cost Bingham the frame.Having got that pot the white finished too close to the pink for comfort and  in failing in his attempt to pot it in the centre he allowed Maguire to clear up and close to 7-6.

Suddenly Maguire now had his game face on and he soon leveled at 7-7 before again making the most of another chance in the next to move 8-7 ahead of an increasingly flustered looking Bingham.

Maguire indeed was again in first in the next and looked to be marching to victory before yet one more twist came.A missed red when only 3 or 4 pots from the frame allowed Bingham one last chance and he duly leveled the match again at 8-8.

It was here a funny thing happened,as having both had their moments during the session,calm now seemed to descend on the two men as the came to the table to battle it out in the decider.The decisive moment was to come when after a cagey start Bingham attempted to make a plant and having missed it allowed Maguire the first real chance.After all he had been through over recent seasons he wasn't going to let this chance go and he clinched the title with a fine break of 82.

Bingham will be disappointed to have lost this one and will no doubt look back on that 13th frame where he missed the chance to go 8-5 ahead as the crucial moment..That said he can take a lot of confidence from his performances this week,especially his wins over Robertson and Ding and this will hopefully stand him in good stead for the rest of the season.

The winner though was Maguire who left us in no doubt how much this victory meant to him when he gave the table three hefty thumps having potted frame ball..This win was just reward for a man who puts everything he has into the game and win or lose never leaves anything on the table.I have always liked the way that he seems to love the game so much that he almost hates it.Hopefully for him to he can build on this win and be among those challenging for titles for the rest of the season.

Finally on the event itself,I think the people of Wales have yet again shown how much they love their snooker and I hope any talk of this event coming to an end are premature as it would be a shame to lose this great tournament from the calendar.

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