Friday, 29 February 2008

Snooker: Championship League - Groups 1 & 2

The first 2 groups of the Championship League Snooker have now been played and we now have the first 2 players for the final group. The winner of the whole event will be the final player in this season's Premier League Snooker Tournament.

The first 2 players through are Ryan Day and Ken Doherty. Ryan has won £6,100 and Ken has won £8,300, good money for internet only TV and a non-ranking event.

The big losers that are out of the event so far are, Mark Williams, Nigel Bond, Matthew Stevens and Barry Hawkins.

Here are the group 1 and group 2 reports and results.

The next Championship League Snooker can be seen from March 10th - March 13th through the following betting websites:

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Snooker: Selby's First Ranking Title

Mark Selby claimed his first ranking event of his career in the Welsh Open on Sunday with a great win over Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The first session was a bit scrappy with Ronnie really struggling to find his A game. I thought Mark should have capitalised a lot more and when it finished 4-4, I feared Mark had probably blown a good chance to get a good lead and put himself in a commanding position for the evening session.

I was expecting Ronnie to come back a better player in the evening session, and he did, winning 4 of the first 5 frames in style, and leaving him one frame from victory. To me, Selby looked dead and buried and I was pretty astonished with the fightback that ensued.

Selby said he had to resort to his B game and ground out the next 3 frames to take it to 8 each. Ronnie came flying out of the blocks in the decider and, early on in the frame, looked like he was going to blow Selby's fightback to smithereens, but he broke down and Selby knocked in a break taking the match to the last 3 or 4 reds. Ronnie got back in, tried to move a red off the cushion but missed a solid cannon. He got down quickly to back double the same red, a match winner if it went in, not necessarily a match loser if he missed but the white flew round the table and went in off! This left Selby with a sitter and he didn't need a second invitation.

Ronnie was clearly devestated and seemed to struggle to comprehend his loss. The Welsh interviewer/commentator didn't help, "Great match, highest break, congratulations", I was shouting DUCK!! at the TV in fear that Ronnie was going to hit him! What a plonker. Ronnie came out with some comments which I think were due to the heat of the moment: "Mark was very tactical" and "I don't know if Mark's talented; he plays a very negative game. He doesn't take a ball on unless he's going to leave it safe.". The media have obviously stirred the comments up a bit, but Mark has subsequently come out and dismissed them with diplomacy I don't think even he's used to. Let's face it, it can't be easy giving a live interview when you've just lost a major final from a very commanding position.

Selby didn't only beat Ronnie at the Welsh Open, he beat 3 other past World Champions in Hendry, Higgins and Doherty which has to make his vctory even sweeter. I'm really pleased for Selby, he's a very funny guy as I found out when he came to the Swiss Open a couple of years ago. He can stand up in front of an audience and tell jokes all night long. He's a fantastic character in the world of snooker, ...not a bad player too!!

Well done Mark!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Snooker: Hustle Hassle

There's more talk of dodgy dealings in snooker. This time with the group phases in Malta and spurious betting on dead games. Check out various articles here, here and here.

We've discussed the pros and cons before here and here.

The Premier Snooker League doesn't seem to suffer at all with the league format or from spurious betting on dead games. It offers £1'000 per frame and £1'000 per century break. One can't help thinking that if the WSA did the same, ranking events, or events under the control of the WPBSA wouldn't suffer these problems either. Better still, for ranking events, build in a ranking point structure for the results of dead games.

And I've got no sympathy for bookies offering odds on dead games, surely they're asking for trouble when the players aren't playing for anything.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Snooker: Murphy Wins in Malta

Shaun Murphy beat Ken Doherty in the final of the Malta Cup by 9 frames to 3.

Murphy's looking good going into this weeks Welsh Open which is a ranking event. But that's just it, ...the Welsh Open is a ranking event and will probably be a slightly different challenge to the lowly Malta Cup. Ken Doherty has been looking in good form but collapsed in the final which is a real shame. It would have been good to see him keep it all together for the full duration of a tournament, ...even if he would have lost 9-8 in the final.

Ronnie is back for the Welsh and seems to be in good spirits judging by this BBC report. The tournament will be shown live on the BBC, but only on BBC Wales. If you've got Sky, you'll find these regional BBC channels in the high numbers. In the past, the latter stages of the tournament have been shown on BBC interactive. I believe it will also be shown live on Eurosport.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

American Pool: Ralf Souquet Wins 2008 Paris Open

2008 Paris Open top four: Niels Feijen, Ralf Souquet, Yannick Beaufils, & Jonni Fulcher.
The 2008 Paris Open

David Bare has been running the Paris Open for several years now and the format was the same as before... Qualifiers just before at Akademy Beaugrenelle, a cavernous club with lots of tables, and then the actual event at the Clichy Montmartre club, one of the most beautiful clubs in the city.

This year it was Ralf Souquet who continued his rich vein of form by taking the title. Clearly the in form player, Ralf showed his class yet again by taking the tidy 4000 Euro first prize in a thrilling final against Yannick Beaufils from France.

2008 Paris Open Champion, Ralf Souquet receiving his trophy.


Exciting atmospheres in both the qualifying and the final stages of the tournament made for a fantastic event with some nail biting matches. This event had 4 invitees, namely Majid, Feijen, Van den Berg and Souquet, who were placed directly into the last 16. Competition for the remaining 14 spots was fierce, with 64 hopefuls sparring it out in the Akademy Beaugrenelle. Big names came from all over Europe to compete but of course the majority of the players were French. There were a number of Eurotour regulars such as Jonni Fulcher, Serge Das, Vincent Fauquet, Willy Wu, Bertrand Deroliol, Yannick Beaufils, Stephan Cohen, Andreja Klasovic and many more.

2008 Paris Open semi-finalists Jonni Fulcher and Niels Feijen.

Early on in the qualifying Yannick Beaufils showed he meant business with an early 9-7 victory over Jonni Fulcher in a thrilling match on the very tough shimmed club tables. Among the other big match ups were Fauquet vs Das which was won by Fauquet, Das later coming unstuck in the one loss side and crashing out of the event early.

After a long day starting at 10am and finishing at around midnight, the 12 qualifiers who came through were: Antona, Beaufils, Cohen, Deroliol, Fauquet, Fulcher, Klasovic, Lemaire, Lettre, Merabtene, Vernendal and Wu.

The final day saw the four invitees joining the rest of the field with some immediately interesting last 16 match-ups:
Willy Wu played Vincent Fauquet, Wu proved strong this time and took a solid victory. Jonni Fulcher played Nick Van den Berg in an epic thriller. Van den Berg led the entire match from the first rack and at 9-6 up he looked certain to sail into the next round, but Fulcher showed his true fighting character and pressured Van den Berg into a crucial mistake scratching the white into the middle bag giving Fulcher a chance to come back, Fulcher took the next two racks to level it at 9-9 and in a tense final rack it was Fulcher who emerged the victor with the only 10-9 result of the tournament.

Cohen played Klasovic in what turned out to be quite a one sided affair with Cohen emerging the victor.

But clearly the biggest upset of the last 16 was Beaufils' victory over Majid 10-5. Again showing his tenacity and desire to win, Beaufils outplayed Majid who left the building shortly after his defeat.

2008 Paris Open Runner-Up, Yannick Beaufils.

The pick of the last 8 matches proved to be Wu vs Beaufils, neither player looked like making a mistake, but it was Beaufils who managed to just keep his nose ahead until the end.

The first Semi Final Match up yielded what on paper appeared to be a rather easier victory for Souquet over Feijen than it truely was, both men exhibiting their class and in a nearly flaweless match Souquet moved on to the final.

The second Semi final was a rather longer affair with due care and attention paid to every shot by the clearly troublesome Beaufils. After a quick fire early start to the match Fulcher came unstuck at 2-0 and gave an opening to Beaufils to get back into the match, which he duly took. the match then stayed close until 8-7 after which Beaufils took the remaining two racks to put an end to Fulcher's quest.

The Final was another Thriller. Neither man could pull away and in a closely fought, match the scoreline never differed by more than two racks. Beaufils faught gallantly to the end, but a mistake with a safety after a Souquet push-out let Souquet in to take the match and the title.

Souqet Adds the 2008 Paris Open title to his Derby City Classic 9-ball victory and continues his great start to the 2008 season.

2008 Paris Open Champion, Ralf Souquet.