Monday, 15 August 2011

Life After Death

What can I say... it's been too long. I won't start spewing excuses, suffice to say.... there aren't any.

I'll just bring you up to date a bit with bits and bobs. 2010 was a lean year on the billiards front for me. I took a year off the tour to work on the house (friend me on facebook if you're interested to see the photos). The house, although not yet completely finished, is far more close to completion than at the start of 2010. I decided to go back to playing and rejoin the tour. The first season back on was just shocking. I'm not sure what it was, but taking a year off really makes life hard. All the young up and coming players that I remembered from before, were not longer "up and coming", but rather "arrived"! It is never easy to get your ranking back up. I was in the top 16 when I took my year off. Dropping right out of the rankings then means that when players who don't know you come up against you, they are no longer afraid of your ranking! Seems crazy, but it couldn't be closer to the truth.

It's been a super tough season for me. No real results to shout home about, and not really even been playing that badly. It can only get better from hear on in. I won't go into any details right now, but I'm sure I'll get around to it soon.

As well as rejoining the Eurotour, I thought I'd have a pop at the Players Tour Championship, brought to us by Barry Hearn. There are 12 events in the year and all the pros are now playing these events, as they carry half ranking points. It's a great opportunity to try out your game against the best of the best.

The next PTC will be in Germany at the end of August. I will report back closer to the time.

For now, I'll just head down to the club to get some more practice in. I've got quite a bit of catching up still to do to improve my Eurotour Ranking, so no rest for the wicked.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Snooker: Ronnie or Snooker

A good friend of mine, and an excellent snooker player himself, decided voice his opinions to me about the O'Sullivan vs Fu match. His email went something like this.

Did you see that lazy sloppy performance from O'Sullivan last night. Missing easy shots when well ahead against Fu. The *expletive deleted* deserved to lose. He said he only picked up a cue 5 times since the Masters, and that he's not bothered. If he hits a bit of form he'll win otherwise he doesn't really care if he goes out.. complete *expletive deleted* head.. couldn't even be *expletive deleted* to wash his hair before the match, in a dishevelled mess.


RIP snooker

I've kept his identity secret just in case he ever bumps into Ronnie in a dark alleyway in foggy London.

It got me thinking, and nudged me into writing an article (which is kind of a reply to my good friend as well) before greenbaize ends up on Hermund's Death List.

Firstly, unfortunately, I didn't see the match, some of us have to work for a living, ...who said slavery was dead!

Secondly, I see my friend as a Ronnie fan, whereas I see myself as a snooker fan, I can be just as happy watching a variety of players, not just Ronnie.

Ronnie is a player with boundless natural talent, probably the most talented player to ever pick up a cue. He's not a player who goes into tournaments consistently with a killer instinct, he's not the best at that, that was Hendry's and Davis' realm; they were the masters of demolishing opponents. Ronnie shows flashes of this quality but is inconsistent with the mental side of his game. Ronnie is like a cleaned up version of *Mad* Alex Higgins. The crowd always makes a Ronnie/Alex match a more tense affair as well, especially in London.

For me, Ronnie's not necessarily the best player in the game to watch, he doesn't really take many risks. He's quick, clinical, economical, has a fast snooker brain and probably the best cueing action to grace the green baize. Apart from his tantrums, antics and crazy statements, he's pretty monotonous as a player, as monotonous as Davis, but quicker and infinitely more stylish. His perceived arrogance and on-the-table disrespect for other players puts me off watching him from time to time, but I will always watch him hoping to see that moment of genius

I would much rather watch Hendry, White (in their primes), the late Cliff Wilson, Drago, Neil Robertson, and Mark Allen. I also equally enjoy watching the late Paul Hunter, Judd Trump, Selby, Ding, Stevens, Mark Williams, Walden, Wenbo, Milkins, and Liu Chuang (reminds me of a young Hendry).

I loved watching Hendry play when he was in his prime, it was if his opponent was an inconvenience in the match, like a fly buzzing round your head on a hot summer's day. If a shot was on, he would go for it and invariably get it. A real all out potter and someone that would destroy his opponent in almost every match.

Alex Higgins was just mad, his twitches, temper outburst and adventurous style of play always had you on the edge of your seat. Along with Alex Higgins; Robertson, White, Wilson, Allen, Williams, Wenbo and Milkins are always very adventurous with their shot selections, playing shots with varying degrees of spin and flair to try to entertain the crowd. You don't really see that style of play very much with Ronnie these days. Just look up some of the stylish shots that people have put on YouTube from the players I've mentioned and then you might start to see what I mean.

At the end of the day, I believe snooker is in very good hands with or without Ronnie, but by the same token, Ronnie is still very good for the game and officially still the biggest draw in the game.

I love snooker, not Ronnie, I'll leave that to his missus!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Snooker: "Mad" Alex Higgins

Thought you might be interested in this:

Snooker player Alex Higgins has been dropped from a charity event in Limerick next month after he allegedly threatened and verbally abused spectators and a referee at a separate match.

The Belfast-born former snooker world champion is reported to have reduced a 10-year-old boy to tears, threatened to smash a snooker ball into a spectator’s face and told the referee at last Thursday’s exhibition match in Kildare that he would stick his cue “up your a***”.

Higgins’ latest debacle took place in Athy, Co Kildare during a game against Jimmy White.

As a result, Limerick and North Tipperary Carer’s Association, who had arranged for the 59-year-old to play in a charity match in Limerick next month, have dropped him from the schedule and replaced him with seven-time world champion, Stephen Hendry.

Sports Editor with the Kildare Nationalist newspaper, Brendan Coffey, acted as referee at last week’s match and experienced Higgins’ abuse and threatening demeanour at first hand.

Mr Coffey claimed Higgins behaved like a “mad man”.

“Alex didn’t seem drunk. He wasn’t acting like a drunken man, just a mad man,” he said.

“At one stage he picked up the cue like someone with a spear in Braveheart and said that if anyone annoys him, he’d stab them in the chest with it.

“He shoved a ball in front of one person’s face and said he smash him between the eyes with it if he distracted him again,” Mr Coffey claimed.

Higgins was also alleged to have scolded a 10-year-old boy sitting in the front row for apparently distracting him. The boy was reduced to tears.

Taken from the Belfast Telegraph here

Friday, 12 September 2008

Snooker: Snookered, Split, or Bust!?

Last month, snooker lost two of its major sponsors. At the time I was going to write an article, but couldn't really think of anything different to say than what had already been said in the mainstream press or what had been said on other cue sport blogs. have pulled out of the World Championships and Saga Insurance have pulled out of the Masters (I didn't bother linking to their sites for obvious reasons! :o) ). This is a pretty sorry state of events for snooker but I don't think it should be too unexpected with the current state of the world markets. Sponsors are pulling out of golf tournaments like this one here and tennis tournaments like this one here. Some high profile football clubs are even struggling get shirt sponsorship deals!! Why should snooker be any different?

I've often thought that the current format of ranking events simply doesn't work in today's day and age. Snooker could survive quite happily in the 80s and early 90s before the globalisation boom and emergence of international markets. Sponsors want to appeal to a global market these days and because there are so few snooker events worldwide, sponsors simply aren't getting the exposure they desire from the sport we love.

Over the years I've wondered how snooker could become global, and it's difficult for me to see this happening with snooker in its current state. I've consistently seen articles and blog posts blaming the WPSBA board when tournaments are lost due to lack of sponsorship, conflicts are created due to poor organisation and lawyers are getting involved due to lack of communication. The board, after the process of being elected, are, ....I suppose, at a push, responsible. But for me, the real people that are responsible for the current state of snooker are the players themselves. They all have a vote and can change their board at a moment's notice, the players have chosen who are in power. If the game was in such a terrible state, one of two things would happen.

  1. Either the players would replace the board, or
  2. The section of players that are so against the current system would simply no longer be able to stand it anymore and would break away from the current tour and form a new one.

I think, and hope, the latter will happen, ....eventually!

I know this is a bit simplistic and normally a lot would happen before one of these two events happen, ...but eventually, one of those two outcomes, ....would be THE outcome!

I think snooker has the potential to be a successful global, multiple tour, big money sport. I've often thought that snooker should be trying to use other successful sports as role models to try to make snooker successful. But the real people with the power to change the game, the players, don't seem to want to take chances or think "out of the box". It's easy to say let's change the format, but I think it would be very brave for the current generation of players to be the pioneers in trying something different.

When snooker was renegotiating the World Championship venue a few years back, I was one of those people hoping World Snooker would break away from Sheffield and possibly move to London or end up being a worldwide rotating venue. I really believe it was the wrong decision to keep world snooker in Sheffield, although I agree that the venue is excellent and I've been there on a number of occasions to see the World Championships. I never wanted to venue to die, snooker could have staged a different tournament there, but I was hoping the World Snooker Championships would go global, I think it would have been a great boost for the sport.

I'm also one of those people that believe multiple professional tours are needed all around the world. I like the golf model where there are multiple professional golf tours worldwide and then 4 major championships. It's interesting to know that golf tours came about almost accidentally by players splitting away from the original PGA tour. Now there are more than 20 professional tours around the world. The 20 tours are not on a equal level though and tend to be defined over tiers where you have:

  • 1st: PGA Tour
  • 2nd: European Tour
  • 3rd and 4th: Champions Tour; LPGA Tour
  • 5th - 7th: Asian Tour; Japan Golf Tour; LPGA of Japan Tour

source: Wikipedia (not a great source, but a source)

It's interesting to see the LPGA tour is ranked above some of the men's tours and the tiers are purely defined through financial reward.

I don't think for a second snooker can support more than 20 professional tours but maybe they can support half a dozen round the world. Something like the following might be sustainable in the long term:

  • UK & Ireland tour - tier 1
  • European tour - tier 2
  • Asian tour - tier 2
  • Oceania tour - tier 3
  • Americas tour - tier 3
  • African tour - tier 4

I've also added different tiers using the tier methodology used in golf with the tier 1 tour being the most lucrative going to tier 4 that's the least lucrative. Some of it guess work of course! :o)

From the different tours you would need members to co-sanction an official world snooker ranking system that would somehow need to be weighted depending on the tier the tour is in.

The world snooker rankings would determine who plays in the "4 majors" per year, yes, ...very like golf (and tennis as that is structured in a similar manner)! The top x players from each tour would battle it out in these 4 elite tournaments and each major would be played in different parts of the world where the tours are based. We could have our 4 snooker majors in:

  • UK
  • Mainland Europe
  • Asia
  • Oceania or America.

Then we would have a truly global sport! And how does this happen? Well I think it would be a very slow process possibly initiated by a split in the current professional ranks.

I've discussed this on Dave Hendon's snookerscene blog and on the World Series Snooker forum where John Higgins and his manager Pat Mooney themselves are contributing to the discussion!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Snooker: Belgian Open

A new pro-am tournament starts in Duffel, Belgium from 19th-21st September.

The top professionals who will be competing are Stephen Maguire, Shaun Murphy, Mark Selby, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Graeme Dott, Mark Allen, Mark Williams, Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens and John Parrott. This really is an excellent line-up!

If you can't get to Belguim for these dates then there's no need to panic as you can watch the tournament online at I've had a look at some of the coverage from some of the other other events this cue sports channel covers and the quality really is first class!! The cost is £8 for the 3 days.

More information about the tournament can be found here. Win free passes here! But be quick, the closing date is Monday.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Billiards: Billiards in the Olympics

This is a good article on the state of getting Billiards as whole into the Olympics.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Snooker: Snooker Calendar

I've updated the Google snooker calendar for the 2008/2009 snooker season. This calendar includes last season as well as this season and hopefully as the seasons go by, I will just update this calendar so you do need to keep adding new ones to your own Google calendar (If you know what I mean).

For 2008 and 2009 I've included the main tour including the qualifiers, John Higgins' very successful World Series of Snooker and Matchroom's Premier League Snooker.

Click on the Google Calendar image below to view the calendar.

Or click here.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Snooker: World Series, Berlin

As you may have read elsewhere, the World Series of Snooker is now well underway. The first event was played in Jersey and Higgins was the victor, beating Mark Selby in the final.

The World Series of Snooker is the brainchild of John Higgins and his manager Pat Mooney. The next event is to be held in Berlin, Germany, and will feature professionals John Higgins, Graeme Dott, Stephen Maguire and Shaun Murphy. The top amateurs who will be trying to beat the top stars are Chris McBreen, Lasse Münstermann, Hans Blanckaert and Patrick Einsle. From what I remember, Lasse Münstermann and Patrick Einsle have briefly played on the main professional tour. The challengers are all excellent players and if they're on top of their game and nerves don't get to them, they all have a good chance of beating the professionals. The draw is as follows:

Graeme Dott (Scotland) v Chris McBreen (New Zealand)
John Higgins (Scotland) v Lasse Münstermann (Germany)
Stephen Maguire (Scotland) v Hans Blanckaert (Belgium)
Shaun Murphy (England) v Patrick Einsle (Germany)

Dott/McBreen v Higgins/Münstermann
Maguire/Blanckaert v Murphy/Einsle

Einsle has been Germany's best player for some time now and Lasse Münstermann used to be Germany's number 1 star. Lasse is as ambidextrous as the great Ronnie O'Sullivan but you rarely see him using the other hand in the top matches. Hans is also a great player with a very wristy cueing action. It's possible that we could get some fireworks and comments from him in his match. :o)

Unfortunately I know nothing about Chris McBreen, but I'm looking forward to seeing him play.

All the action can be seen live on Eurosport on Saturday and Sunday evening (12th and 13th July).

You can get to the dedicated website for the World Series of Snooker by clicking here.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ronnie Triumphs

Well my prediction of a close final fell by the waste side. At least the match went to the final session! There wasn't really any fantastic snooker in the final and it was a bit of a breeze for Ronnie in the end.

Carter was simply mentally exhausted, he had nothing left in the tank after great wins over Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy, Peter Ebdon and Joe Perry. And of course the amazing maximum that he made the day after Ronnie made his.

It's been an excellent championship this year and Ronnie fully deserves his win, he's been totally focused for the full 17 days and hasn't looked in any danger in any of his matches. The final session against Williams was awesome with very high breaks and his record breaking 9th maximum, the way he simply blew away 7 times world champion Stephen Hendry, nobody can say any other player deserves the title.

Before his talk of retirement in the interview after the final, he did say he wants 4 or 5 world titles. Ronnie won't be retiring just yet, he's too good at the moment and the joy on his face was plain to see after winning and after his maximum. It will be interesting to see his reaction after the disciplinary action against him in the summer for his lewd comments in China though. But once he gets through and over that, he'll be fine and he'll be back.

This win puts Ronnie in the same league as only 2 other players, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, as players that have won 3 or more world titles at the Crucible.

The following are some of the moments that stand out for me in this years' tournament.

The sheer number of attempted maximums by several different players as well as Ronnie's and Ali's maximums. There could have easily been 3 or 4 this year, the standard of break building was so high despite the record number of centuries in the tournament not getting beaten.

The young 17 year old Chinese player Liu Chuang. For a player so young, his all round game and potting was excellent. He won something like 5 qualifying matches to get to the Crucible and took 5 frames off Ronnie in the first round. He looks quality and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in the future. Could he be better than Ding?

Liang Wenbo, what a star! He beat Doherty convincingly in the first round and was involved in a Crucible thriller against Joe Swail in the last 16. To win that match against Joe, who is one of the best Crucible match players in the game, shows the guy has real nerve and talent. Again, one for the future.

Jamie Cope and Mark Allen were excellent and it was only their inexperience that let them down. We should be seeing a lot of Mark Allen next season as getting to the Crucible was enough to earn him his top 16 place. Allen is a fantastic break builder as is Cope, and Cope is a devastating single ball potter.

It's great to see Mark Williams and Stephen Hendry playing good snooker again. Even though Williams has dropped out of the top 16, I think he will qualify for many of the tournaments next season and hope to see him back in the top 16 soon!

For me the biggest disappointment was Ding Junhui. He fell over the line against Marco Fu in the first round and barely turned up at all in his match against Hendry. I think Fu would have given Hendry a better match. It was Ding's chance to be the youngest ever world champion but he was just nowhere in the tournament. I hope his match play and temperament improves next season, because when on form, he's just a joy to watch.

From the top 16 we've lost Williams, Doherty, Lee and Davis. The biggest surprise is Doherty, a couple of years ago he was provisionally ranked number 1, and now he has to qualify for all events next season.

King, Fu, Allen and Perry come into the top 16. A big surprise for Allen as he thought he wouldn't make it after getting beat in the first round by Hendry. I saw this guy play in the 2004 European Amateur championships in Austria when I was playing there and he's such a huge talent, a great player to watch.

I'll keep on posting through the summer so don't forget to add greenbaize to your feed reader by clicking here or any of the icons on the right for the favourite reader of your choice.

Congratulations Ronnie O'Sullivan on a great performance!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ali O'Sullivan Final

Why did I start the title off with Ali first, alphabetically obviously. :-)

The final is going to be a lot tighter than we all think, why do I think that?? There's a stunning 147 that Carter made and went completely nuts about. He beat Perry 17-15, it was a fantastic semi final encounter and Carter held his nerve exceptionally well, that is a fact, and the guy has won absolutely nothing!!!

So why do I think he has any kind of chance. Well, I don't know, Graeme Dott, Shaun Murphy. These guys have won it from nothing! A few other names spring to mind, and Ali beat Shaun Murphy in the 2nd round. The purists will be saying it should be a Ronnie vs Murphy/Maguire final. But remember, he's knocked out Murphy convincingly, beat Ebdon, a former world champ and one of the best players in the world today, and knocked in a 147 maximum to boot!!!!!!

Carter's reaction to beating Perry was just amazing!! It looked like he'd won the tournament and it was great to see, and we want to see scenes like that in the final.

Carrter's there and ready to win, he will match him pot for pot and the match will be measured as one of the greatest matches in snooker history!!

Of course I'm not sure of any of this but I hope it's going to be the case. Will it be a walkover, no! Does Carter have a chance? Well, it's the best chance he's had of winning any ranking event.

Can he play? Rumours from my sources say he was Ronnie's practice parter of and used to beat him quite frequently.

It has to be said though, it's great to see the 2 maximum men in the final. And may the best man win!

Friday, 2 May 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ronnie Hammers Hendry, ...Again

Stephen Hendry was hammered by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi finals of the World Championships. Ronnie was simply in blistering form and completed his win with a session to spare beating Hendry by 17 frames to 6.

Honours looked pretty even after the first session when the duo were locked at 4 frames each. But Ronnie looked awesome in the second session winning all 8 frames although Hendry had chances to win 2 or 3 of the frames. But for the majority of the session Ronnie was simply flying, doing to Hendry what Hendry has done to many others in the past. Ronnie had to win the third session 5-3 to stop the match going into the final session but in the end won it convincingly.

Ronnie had breaks of 64, 102, 93, 57, 87, 133, 135, 85, 70, 126, 68, 123, 56 and 59. Only 5 centuries in the match!! :o)

In the frames Hendry won, he had breaks of 140, 60, 53, 85 and 54. 5 breaks over 50 and he's lost 17-6, that's extremely high quality snooker!! This isn't Hendry's worst result against Ronnie, in their 2004 World Championship semi final, Ronnie demolished him 17-4, but this year Hendry did play much better when he got to the table. It did still look like someone slowly throttling an animal to death though and even I wanted Ronnie to win quickly so Hendry could get out of the arena.

After the match Hendry said Ronnie's play was the best he'd ever seen and said that if Ronnie continued to play like that in the final, Perry or Carter wouldn't have a chance of beating him. Obviously, just about everybody, except maybe Perry and Carter, would have to agree, he just doesn't miss. It has to be said though, Hendry in the 90s just didn't miss either, and he's the one with 7 world titles under his belt. I've never seen anybody look as natural or as fluent as Ronnie when he's on song though, that is a certainty

In the second semi final, Carter came back from 5-3 down to lead 9-7 after the second session. The last 2 sessions are played tomorrow at 10:00 and 19:00. I haven't really seen any of this match so can't really comment. I think it will take either player the best form of their lives to beat Ronnie in the final though.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - The Final Four

The last 4 of this years World Championships are Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Stephen Hendry and Joe Perry vs Ali Carter.

Ronnie and Hendry made their quarter finals look easy with wins over Wenbo and Day respectively. Both Ronnie and Hendry won their matches by 13 frames to 7.

Perry's and Carter's matches were a little more difficult though with Perry beating Maguire 13-12 in a fantastic final frame thriller. For me, Perry has knocked out this year's favourite so who's to say he can't go all the way. Carter beat Ebdon 13-9 in yet another very high quality match, and of course Carter, made his magnificent maiden maximum.

Now Maguire is out of the tournament, I would have to say the favourite to win the title is Ronnie, he's looking good and looks like he has his head together. I think Ronnie is just too strong for Hendry as Hendry still hasn't shown the kind of form that would beat Ronnie.

Ali Carter has done really well and played some great snooker to get to the semis as has Perry and it's really difficult to choose a winner here. For me Perry beat the tournament favourite, Maguire, so on that basis, I'll say Perry will beat Carter in a very close semi final.

I envisage is a Ronine vs Perry final, but I think Ronnie will just be too strong for the relatively inexperienced Joe Perry.

Snooker: World Championships - Another Maximum

It's finally been done, two maximums in the same tournament. I've embedded the maximum below over 2 parts. This was great to see, Ali's previous highest break in a tournament was 144, so not only is this his first ever maximum at the Crucible, but his first ever maximum ever!! It wasn't as easy as Ronnie's either, he really had to work for it. Some of his positional play was excellent, there was a delicate little slight swerve shot, a plant and the blue was off its spot. The final black was very tricky with the white on the pink spot line and near to the cushion. It really was a very well played final black!! Well done Ali Carter!

This is a very high quality match, in the previous frame Ebdon had gone for a maximum and missed the 15th black, and earlier in the match, Ebdon had a break of 143.

The standard of break building in this years tournament has been the best I've ever seen, in just about every match, there's been some kind of maximum attempt. I wouldn't be surprised to see a third maximum in this years championships because we're only half way through the quarter finals.

This first ever double maximum tournament has come exactly 25 years after Cliff Thorburn made the first maximum at the Crucible.

Liang Wenbo is still there, playing against Ronnie in his quarter final after a very dramatic last 16 match against Joe Swail. The match went all the way to the final frame which swayed in both player's favour a couple of times. Wenbo prematurely celebrated his win before Swail brought him back down to earth and there was even a little bit of controversy when a free ball wasn't put back in exactly the right position. It didn't really affect the match though as Swail had his chances afterwards and will be ruing missing the brown when on the colours in the final frame for days, if not weeks to come.

It seems unlikely, but if Wenbo wins the title, I think he'll become the youngest ever World Champion!!!

Monday, 28 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - The Genius Does It Again

Amazing, Ronnie's come out in the final session of his match against Mark Williams in magical form and made a maximum 147 break to win the the match in the 20th frame of the match, the frame that took him to his winning 13th frame!!!! He's taken the match 13-7.

This makes him the leading maximum man with 9 to his name in competition, Hendry is now second with 8.

Well done Ronnie! 157,000 smackeroonies (and a Bently GT convertible by the sounds of things) are coming your way! :o)