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)

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - More Shocks

This tournament is turning into an unpredictable one with more shocks over the last couple of days.

Carter beat Murphy, one of the favourites, quite easily by 13 frames to 4. I thought either Murphy or Maguire were going to win the tournament this year so now, for me, Maguire has to be the favourite. There have been many complaints about the tables, particularly the cushions springing and Murphy delivered some scathing criticism about the tables in his post match interview. Murphy has been playing so well this season that I didn't expect him to lose to any player, never mind Carter, this is a great victory for Carter and he has to be really pleased with the win.

I was very surprised to see Hendry beat Ding in a match where Ding really didn't do very much in the first session. Hendry still isn't on top form so it's a bad result for Ding to lose. Ding's temperament and form really fluctuates depending on his mood and in the first session he just didn't seem up for it, ...a big mistake against an old master such as Hendry. He started to put some good snooker together in the second and third sessions but in the end it was too little too late. It even seemed like a bit of an easy match for Hendry.

Ding had a chance of beating Hendry's record of the youngest ever World Champion and it's good to see Hendry put a stop to Ding's attempt directly! If Liang Wenbo wins this year, I think he could become the youngest ever winner. Wenbo at the moment is 21 and his birthday is in March, do he could beat Hendry's record by a couple of months!! It would be some feat though as he's never even won a ranking event. He's playing some really good stuff in his match against Joe Swail right now thought and he soundly beat former World Champion Ken Doherty.

The biggest shock of the day has to be Higgins losing to Ryan Day 13-9. Higgins was 4-0 and 6-3 up but Day played some really solid snooker to win 13-9. Amazingly, Higgins completely lost his temper with the way the table was playing, banging his hang on the table, muttering and throwing the balls up and down the table when walking out of the arena for the mid-session interval. After the match, he complained very strongly about the state of the table and the cushions just like Murphy did (but Higgins' match was before Murphy's).

So with Higgins, Ding, and Murphy out of the tournament, who are now the favorites to win? I still think Maguire's in the driving seat and he's currently 8-0 up against Robinson which is another surprise scoreline! Suddenly out of nowhere, Hendry has a chance, I think he will have to ride his luck though for him to take his 8th title. Of course there's still Ronnie and Williams but they're playing each other and Ronnie is currently leading. For me Ronnie is the second favourite.

Keep you're eyes on Wenbo though, he's looking solid and is 4-1 against Joe Swail as we speak!

Friday, 25 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Ronnie Through, Doherty Out

Ronnie O'Sullivan eased through his first round match against 17 year old Liu Chuang yesterday with a 10-5 win. Ronnie went 3-0 up but then lost his way a little bit and the young Chinese player pulled back to go 4-3 up. Ronnie ended the session 5-4. In the evening session Ronnie played much more solidly and ran out a relatively easy 10-5 winner.

It's the first time I've seen Chuang and I think he was very impressive. His technique is first class and he potted some some first class balls. He looks a big talent and I think we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. There were a lot of comments from the coverage on the BBC and some of my snooker colleagues that he looks like a young Stephen Hendry when he plays, and I think I have to agree.

A good snooker friend of mine, Douglas Hogan, bet me 100 Swiss francs that Chuang would not get 5 frames off Ronnie, at one point it looked like Chuang was going to win 5 frames in the first session!! In the end he only just won the 5 frames, ...and it was a real pleasure taking the money off Hogan, ....thanks Douglas!!! :o)

Liang Wenbo beat former World Champion Ken Doherty 10-5. This is a great scalp for Wenbo and said it's the highlight of his career so far. Doherty was very disappointed and said he didn't play anything like he can. This defeat means that Doherty will drop out of the top 16 and now has to qualify for tournaments next season.

In other results, Shaun Murphy beat Dave Harold 10-3 and Joe Perry beat Graeme Dott 10-7

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Another Thriller

As most people expected, the Ding Fu battle turned out to be another tight 10-9 thriller. Another great, high quality first round Crucible match where Ding took an early 5-1 lead and looked like he was going to dominate. Fu then took the next 5 in a row with breaks of 78, 103, 100 and 96. From then on it was very tight high quality snooker all the way to the finish with Ding making a break of 76 in the final frame.

Both Ding and Fu looked like they could win the World Championships this year. I thought Fu looked really solid and Ding made a few too many mistakes. Ding could have wrapped the match up 10-7 or 10-8, either way, it could have been anybody's match but Ding was victorious in the end.

With this been such a tough opener for Ding, he might find the next round a little easier, but definitely still needs to keep his concentration on not lose his head. It still looks like he can lose it at any time if things don't go right for him. I would love to see Ding win the World Championships this year and beat Hendry's record as the youngest ever winner, but I still fancy Murphy or Maguire a little more, especially Murphy who's got such a great temperament.

The biggest shock of the day was Mark King beating Mark Selby 10-8. I didn't see much of the match but there were 3 centuries and 9 other breaks over 50, so it looked like a high quality match. Mark King made two of the century breaks. This is a big win for Mark King and is obviously looking in good form for the tournament. Selby will be disappointed after having such a good season, but it doesn't look like he threw the match away.

Earlier today Mark Williams thrashed Mark Davis 10-3 in his first round match and Dott started his campaign against Perry. It's good to see Dott at the Crucible after revealing that he's been suffering from depression. More can be read about that here. The first session ended 5-4 to Perry.

Tomorrow, ....Ronnie! :o)

Snooker: Ronnie's Lewd Comments

Ronnie O'Sullivan is in trouble with his lewd comments after the match with Marco Fu at the China Open. The video is embedded below.

It's absolutely astonishing to see Ronnie doing this and making these remarks, you can see his boredom in the interview and whoever he was talking to is also clearly an idiot. The person out of picture should have put a stop to this immediately.

The incident has been referred to the WPBSA disciplinary committee, and whatever punishment Ronnie receives, I don't think he'll be in a position to complain.

Snooker: World Championships - One Comeback Too Many

Last night David rolled back the years to recover from 8-3 down to 8-8 against Bingham. At one point it looked like it was going to be another remarkable recovery along the lines of Houdini Hendry and Ebdon the Grinder, ...or at least another 10-9! It wasn't to be, Davis missed a mid range final black when at 8-8, left it over the pocket and Bingham took the frame to lead 9-8, he then took the next one to win the match 10-8. It was a great match though, a thriller along the lines of Ebdon vs Cope and Hendry vs Allen.

Among today's matches are Selby vs King and the long awaited Ding vs Fu.

I think Ding needs to win this match to get his snooker aspirations back on track, he was beaten soundly by Fu earlier in the season and hasn't won a tournament for quite some time. This is of course Ding's last attempt to become the youngest ever World Champion and beat Hendry's long standing record. I'm expecting a very good match here, and if Ding's the quality he's supposed to be, he'll have forgotten about Fu beating him and put things right with a win.

Selby vs King plays to a finish this morning, currently it's locked at 5 frames each. Remember King knocked out Jimmy White in the final qualifying round, but don't let that influence who you're supporting in this match! :o)

Monday, 21 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Houdini Hendry

What a match, what a match!

I was one of his doubters, I really didn't think he could do it, I thought he wasn't playing well enough, I didn't think his safety was good enough, I thought his long potting was all over the place, I thought he was missing too many balls, as Stephen said with his interview with Parrott straight after the match, ..."I still have big balls", well how would we know, but what a great match and how wrong I was!

As daft as this sounds, I think the first frame of the evening session won it for Hendry, he needed 2 snookers with just the colours left, and played an extremely risky blue to put it next the black that was over the corner pocket. Allen knocked in the black when going for the blue and it was 6-4 Allen. Hendry got the match back to 6-6 and the Allen pulled away again to take the match to 8-6. Hendry played some great snooker to take the match to 8-8 and made a magnificent break to take the decider.

Hendry's reaction to the camera said it all after the match, punching the air while staring straight into the lens. He said it was probably the best first round win of his career. Allen was understandably devastated, he said in his post match interview he thought he'd blown his top 16 place, I'm not too sure whether this is the case or not.

Now I think I'll go and get another gin and tonic and watch the exciting end to the Davis vs Bingham match, ...another thriller, 8-8 as I write.

Think I'll go and eat my hat too.

American Pool: Darren Appleton Takes Italian Eurotour

Yorkshire's finest pool player takes home the spoils of his first Eurotour Victory!

242 players started at the “Dynamic Italy Open” at the Holiday Inn Resort in Castelvolturno. Of these there were 20 British and 2 Irish players and a total of 33 represented countries.

Darren Appleton (GBR) triumphed, defeating Bruno Muratore (ITA) in the final. Appleton had a tough route to the final, beating 5 previous EuroTour winners in a row in the single elimination stage (Tony Drago, Oliver Ortmann, Imran Majid, Mark Gray and Bruno Muratore) to lift the trophy for his first Eurotour victory.

It was another good event for the 20 British players many of who battled their way through the field of competitors, 7 of them reaching the single elimination "Last 32" stage, but many were clustered in the same half of the draw so it wasn't long before they were knocking each other out of the event.

Our congratulations here at GreenBaize go to Darren on a fine victory. We trust it to be the first of many!

Snooker: World Championships - Two Deciders on Day Two

Today was a great day of snooker at the Crucible. Joe Swail beat Stephen Lee fairly easily 10-4 but made hard work of it struggling to get over the line when it was really an easy win. Stephen Lee doesn't look as fluid over his shots as he did years ago. He's got such a great cue action but nerves always slows his game down and I think that bogs him down. His technique is still fantastic though. After the match he threatened to quit the game, but obviously he's very disappointed at the thrashing from Swail.

The Carter vs Hawkins match was a grinding match all the way to the final frame. Hawkins went 3-0 up, but Carter won the next 7 frames on the trot to lead 7-3. Carter has a habit of really struggling to get over the line and Hawkins slowly pegged Carter back to 9 frames each after Carter was at one point 9-6 in front. The players had to be taken off at this point because it was too close to the next match starting. Hawkins was really unhappy with the decision which I find astonishing, he should have known this was going to happen and accepted it. After the Swail vs Lee match finished they came back on to play the deciding frame. It was a tense affair but Carter finally won the match. I think Carter's game and nerve has to improve for the next round though.

The match of the day has to be Cope vs Ebdon. Both players played really well all the way through the match and some of Jamie Cope's potting was incredible. Ebdon took the lead for the first time at 8-7 but Cope didn't crumble under the pressure in his Crucible début. It was Cope that had to force the decider when 9-8 behind. The decider went all the way down to the colours but it was Ebdon that held his nerve with some great single ball potting to win 10-9. You really have to hand it to Ebdon, in the first session Cope was looking in devastating form to take a 4-1 lead, and Ebdon had to dig really deep to finish the session only 1 frame behind at 5-4.

In the past I've not been a big fan of Ebdon with his loud outbursts in the early days around the table when potting key balls and closing out tight matches, but he really has his emotions under control these days when in the arena. His powers of concentration are second to none and his mental powers win him many matches rather than pure talent. I'm sorry to see Cope out of the tournament though, he's a really exciting player to watch but he'll definitely be back!

Mark Allen looked in great form against Stephen Hendry earlier today. He was quick around the table and knocked in some very nice big breaks to go into the second session tomorrow with a 6-3 lead. I think Allen will have to lose some form and Hendry will have to improve a lot for Hendry to have any chance in the match tomorrrow. I'm looking forward to it though, Allen, like Cope is a really exciting player to watch.

The only other match that was played today was Ryan Day vs Micheal Judge. I didn't see much of this match but Day has taken a 5-4 overnight lead.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Snooker: World Championships - Under way!

Finally 17 days of snooker are under way at the Crucible in Sheffield. There are some great matches lined up for the opening round and it's as hard as ever to pick a winner.

At the time of writing some matches are already complete. Most noticeably Higgins beat Stevens 10-5. This was definitely one of the draws of the round. Up to now, Higgins hasn't had a great season and neither has Stevens, so Higgins needed to prove a point and re-affirm his authority in the game and Stevens needed a couple of wins to reclaim his top 16 place. Early on in the match Stevens played well, but Higgins was solid all day. At one point, the start of the second session, it looked like Stevens might make a comeback but again, Higgins showed his true class to close out the match. Stevens needs some really good results in next season's qualifiers to arrest his decline in the game. A lot of players and pundits feel that Stevens should still be in the top 16, and ability wise he should be. But he needs to re-apply himself, possibly change something in his life so he can get back to doing what he does best.

Neil Robertson was way too strong for Nigel Bond and eased into round 2 with a 10-4 victory. He played really solidly all the way through the match.

A couple of the matches I'm really looking forward to are Hendry vs Allen, Fu vs Junhui and of course Ronnie vs Chuang.

I think Mark Allen might upset Hendry. Allen is improving rapidly and Hendry simply isn't the force he used to be. Whoever wins, I'm really looking forward to watching the match which starts today.

Fu vs Ding is a really difficult one to call. Fu has recently beaten Ding in a ranking event but you could say Ding has more talent. Over the last couple of seasons, Ding has had real problems with his temperament and needs to keep himself under control and play well if he's going to beat Marco Fu.

I don't think I've seen Chuang play before, but I hope Ronnie plays well and Chuang pushes Ronnie all the way. It's always such a pleasure to see Ronnie play, normally it's irrelevant who he's playing against.