I love playing snooker throughout the winter and watch the tournaments when they are on throughout the year. However, the one I will never miss, and always look forward to is the World Championships held in The Crucible in Sheffield every April.
The weather is usually beginning to turn, and the evenings become longer, I find nothing more rewarding than returning home from a hectic day of work to switch on the snooker, lie down with the patio door open, hold a beer or a cider and just drift away with the peacefulness of the snooker. Sometimes i will actually go to sleep to it, not because it is boring, but because it is just so calming, most though, I will stay awake as in some matches the quality can be amazing. Unless you have actually tried to play on a full size table you really cant appreciate just how good some of these players are.
Im too young to remember the old days where you had the big characters in the game, but nowadays you have Ronnie who is always a fan favourite, but many young and up coming players such as Ali Carter, Neil Robertson, and many of the Chinese players such as Ding Junui and Liang Wenbo. All bring their own twist to the game and when you get a clash of young versus old, the games can be fascinating.
The finals are always over the May bank holiday, and usually I am at work, but as soon as I come home I turn the snooker on and pray for a close final which goes right to the wire. There is nothing better than being awake at 1am in the morning watching the gruelling end to a 35 frame match.
I can see why to some people snooker seems a boring game, it is very slow moving, and in reality not a lot happens. Its one of those sports which you either love or hate, but if you are looking to get into a new sport, i would highly reccommend watching this tournament as its the pinnacle of the snooker calender. If not, then just watch the final, the tension can be second to none. Get on the snooker table too to really appreciate the skill involved in this game.
The World Snooker Championships hold some pretty good memories for me. It's held at The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield every April. The final is always on the Sunday and Monday of the Mayday bank holiday.
The match that sticks in my mind the most would be the 1985 final between Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. After trailing some way throughout the match, Taylor made a fantastic come back to level the game at 17-17. Then of course Dennis won the game on the final black. So many twists and turns, tension, high stakes and drama! Bit like an episode of Murder She Wrote, but even better. Hard to imagine, but true!
There used to be so many characters in the game going back twenty years or so ago. Nowadays, all the players' appear to be bland and predictable without the characters of players' like Alex Higgins, Jimmy White, Cliff Thorburn and Ray Reardon.
I don't watch much snooker throughout the year but April at The Crucible seems to hook me in. The matches themselves are real marathons! The final itself being the best of 35 frames. I feel drained after just one frame. I'm pretty crap so I tend to cheat. My philosophy for most things really! I'll move the balls to my advantage when my opponent isn't looking, hide the chalk or the best one is to have a nap on the table!
They say a good snooker player is the sign of a mis spent youth. Mine then must of been very rewarding!
The World Snooker Championships are played every year in my home city of Sheffield at the Crucible. The crucible is a theatre near the city centre, its small cramped and totally inadequate for two full size snooker tables, cameras, players, officials and commentators. However, this cramptness makes for one of the great sporting events, intimate, intimidating, the snooker world championships at the Crucible are one of the great events in the British sporting calendar.
The worlds are the pinnacle of the game and are spread over 17 days, there are 32 players in the draw - 16 seeded players and 16 unseeded. The 16 seeds are the top 16 players as of the end of the previous seasons rankings, the unseeded players have come through qualifying in November at Blackpool. The unseeded players are picked in a FA cup style to play a seed in the first round. The first round is played over the best of 19 (over two sessions of 9 and 10 frames) with the first to 10 the winner, the second is the first that seeded players meet with the number 1 seed playing 16, 2 v 15 etc. These games are the best of 25 spread over 3 sessions of 8,8, and 9 frames, as is the quarter final, the semis are over 33 frames over 4 sessions and the final over 35 frames over 4 seasons of 8,8,9, and 11 frames. The winner is the first to 18 frames.
The players with the most titles are Stephen Hendry 7, Steve Davis and Ray Reardon with 6 and a host of players with 3. Historically the championship was an invite so legendary players like Jo Davis held the world title for 35 years, and his brother Fred was champion for 10 years, I can remember Fred playing in the early eighties and he still holds the record for the oldest player to win a first round match whilst still in his seventies.
The crucible is also famous for some of the most famous matches ever played. Here are my top 5.
1. Jimmy White v Stephen Hendry 2nd Round game in 1991 finished 13-12 to White, a game of sustained brilliance by both players won by Whites magical clearance in the last frame.
2. Alex Higgins v Jimmy White Semi Final 1984 - Won by Higgins 16-14, characterised by the greatest clearance ever seen in snooker history, Higgins 59 behind with 4 reds remaining at 14-14 clears the balls whilst under extreme pressure, this clearance included a legendary long blue and a final red along the cushion. Higgins went on to win the match and the final against Ray Reardon.
3. Jimmy White v Stephen Hendry - Final 1997 Won by Hendry 18-17, White 5 times runner up looked to have finally won the world cahmpionship but missed an easy black in the final frame giving Hendry a tough chance to win the match, he cleared to win on the final black. White was finished and Hendry went onto win another world chamionship two years later.
4. Ronnie O'Sullivan v Stephen Hendry Semi-Final 2004 - O'Sullivan turned in a performance perhaps unmatched by any player in snooker, playing an inform Hendry he destroyed the 7-time champion in a display of sustained brilliance 17-3. He went on to win the final.
5. Mark Williams v Matthew Stevens in an all Welsh 2000 final, Stevens in 14-7 up but Williams rallies to win 18-16 with some of the best break building ever seen. Williams would go on and win again two years later, Stevens hasn't yet won a world title.
The World Chamionships have been the setting for some legendary frames of snooker, Cliff Thorburn made his famous 147 in 1983 it was made in a painstakingly slow 15 minutes but it has the shot of his Canadian friend Bill Werbenuik peering around the window whilst he neared the end of the break. That match against Terry Griffiths also featured the latest finish for any snooker match, Thorburn winning 13-12 at 3.40 am.
My favourite moment? Well nothing will ever beat watching Cliff Thorburn making that break, it was live on a wednesday afternoon and I saw every ball potted.
The world snooker championships are held at the crucible theatre in Sheffield and is the most important snooker event of the year, both in terms or rankings and prize money for the players.
This year it will start on the 18th of April and go on right through the month until the final match will be played on Monday the 4th of may.
The event is well known to be the hardest of all competitions for snooker players to play in and that's because of its long frames which are two or even three times the amount of frames most other snooker tournaments have, and that's also one of the reasons why the event lasts a total of 17 days.
The prize money for the tournament winner is £250 000, with £125 000 going to the runner up, there is also substantial money for people who make it to the semis, quarter final and even the last 16 and 32 get some money, buts it no where near the top players prize money.
Im not too sure who is going to win it this year, Ronnie O'Sullivan won it last year, and I'm sure if he's been practising he could push for it again, however my favourite player Ali Carter won the welsh open earlier this year, and he looks to be on good form so he could even go on to win it this year too.
I do really enjoy watching snooker on the television because anybody who has ever held a cue in their hand and attempted to pot a long red will know just how hard the game is and the professionals make the game look so incredibly easy, it's amazing.
Although there are many tournaments held around the world now, the World Snooker Championship is still the tournament that all players want to win one day. Held in Sheffield at the famous Crucible Theatre the tournament has been running since 1927 and holds the most clout in terms of honour, prize-money available and world ranking points earned. I have never actually been to the event myself, but would love to make the trip one day, until then I'll be satisfied with watching it on the good old BBC who hold the television rights until 2011.
Entry to the tournament is not open to just anybody, the top sixteen players receive automatic entry into the first round draw and the remaining places are made up via qualifying rounds of which there are eight in total! Thirty two players start in round one and play the best of nineteen frames, in the second round they play best of twenty five, in the quarter finals it is also best of twenty five, in the semi finals it is best of thirty three frames and the final is best of thirty five; know that's a lot of snooker! It often amazes me how the top players don't get bored.
Controversial player, but absolute genius of the table Ronnie O'Sullivan is the current holder of the prestigious title after he beat Ali Carter in the final last year; O'Sullivan has won the tournament three times now, but is still a long way off matching Stephen Hendry's record seven Crucible triumphs (modern era); a feat which may never be broken. This year's tournament again will be wide open and there are a number of top players in contention for the big prize, but who will take home the trophy?
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.
The 2008 World Snooker Championships at the famous Crucible in Sheffield was a year of thrilling hign scoring snooker. A far cry from the long tedious Dott versus Ebdon frames of a few years ago this years tournament was lit up by two maximum 147 breaks and some truly brilliant snooker. Ronnie O'Sullivan viewed by many as the greatest snooker player ever emerged victorious from a tournament that fitted his style and break building excellence. Ali Carter, the runner-up, completed a 147 along with O'Sullivan and these two were the deserved finalists with Carter putting up a brave fight but Ronnie's superiority and true skill shone through and won the tournament two frames into the final session. With Ronnie thrashing former champion Stephen Hendry and registering an 8-0 session victory in that match no one could deny that he was at his best and only a miracle could have cost him the championship. This takes nothing away from Ali who played fantastically but the long two weeks finally caught up on him in the final. With early exits for Murphy, Higgins and Williams and big breaks from O'Sullivan and Carter, this championship was one to remember and brings Ronnie his third World Title at the Crucible.
The modern game of Snooker has heralded an emergence of remarkably gifted and talented young geniuses infiltrating the latter stages of ranking tournaments, and often walking away victorious. Mark Selby, Stephen Maguire, Ding Junhui and Neil Robertson are all players that have achieved dominance over the 'old hand' in recent seasons. The rise has caused the veterans of the game, such as seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry, two-time World Champions John Higgins and Mark Williams and World Champions Ken Doherty and Peter Ebdon, to experience a gradual descent down the ranking list.
On Saturday the 19th April 2008 - the 39th Snooker World Championship, sponsored by 888.com, commenced. This event is unquestionably the event that every Snooker player, who enters the professional game, wants to win. Taking place at the aptly named Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, this year's World Championship promised to exhibit one of the most thrilling contests it has ever produced. With the masters pitting themselves against pretenders to the throne in marathon-format games, it did not disappoint!
The World Championship
Thirty-two players comprise the televised stages of the 5-round World Championship. Half of these places are taken by the 'Elite top 16' players in the world who gain automatic entry into the tournament. The rest of the places are won as a result of winning all of the qualifying matches that lead up to the finals.
Among the seven main ranking events in the Snooker calendar, there is not a match or a final, which goes beyond the best of 19 frames (or first to 10). However, the World Championship is a gruelling marathon, where the first round is played to a best of 19. The second round and quarter-finals are played to the best of 25 frames, the semi-final is played to a best of 33, and the final is played to a best of 35 (first to 18 frames). Therefore, this contest is one of gladiatorial proportions.
Each of the games leading up to the semi-final are played in two sessions of 8 frames and a final session to the finish. The semi-final and final are played in three sessions of eight frames and a final session to the finish.
Going into the first week, all fans and pundits had their favourites. John Higgins was one of the obvious choices as he was the reigning World Champion and World No1. He has not won a ranking title this season but he still remains the best and most consistent all-round player in the game at the moment.
In contrast, Mark Selby had been the star of the season, having won two major tournaments - the Masters and the Welsh Open. Akin to John Higgins, Selby is an all-rounder - an effective potter, terrific safety player and strong on positional play.
Another strong contender was Stephen 'On fire' Maguire, a Scot that went into the event with two ranking titles under his belt in the 2007/8 season - the China Open, and the Northern Ireland Open. Having made a 147 in the former, his form was in the best shape.
Moreover, the feisty and successful Australian Neil Robertson was in with a chance. Having, similarly, won two major titles in the 2006/07 season, he was a fire that could be difficult to extinguish.
However, the bookies favourite was none other than the legendary Ronnie O'Sullivan, making his 16th appearance. Despite the sudden dominance of the new breed of player, Ronnie has an unbeatable game when on top form... and perhaps even when he is just in form. To quote Steve Davis, Ronnie is "The greatest genius sportsman there has ever been.".
Ronnie made his first century break at the age of 10, and his first maximum at the age of 14. Undoubtedly, he is the most exciting player to watch, and mutually the most controversial. In recent times he has walked out of a quarter-final, half-way through, and after his exit at the recent China Open, made some lewd comments which were accidentally picked up by his microphone during a press conference. Nevertheless, love him or hate him, he is arguably the most naturally talented player that Snooker has created. He has won the world championship twice, and has achieved 9 maximum breaks in competition, one of which was rattled off in five and a half minutes, hence his title 'The Rocket'.
The Holy Grail achievement in Snooker is a 147 break - which is the maximum amount of points that can be accumulated with the balls on the table. The 'maximum' is the equivalent of getting perfect sixes in figure skating, or a 9-dart finish in darts. The reward for getting one of these is £147,000, plus the prize of £10,000 for the highest break.
The maximum had been achieved 7 times prior to the 2008 Championship, and two of those were by Ronnie O'Sullivan. This year, Ronnie's superior ability to control the cue ball allowed him to achieve his third maximum break at the Crucible, and his ninth in competition. It was a superb 8 minutes, and deemed the best 147 that has ever been executed on television.
Such is the rarity that a 147 occurs, that it has never been achieved twice in one Championship. With the aggressive style of play a lot of players adopted, it seemed only a matter of time before the second one occurred. During the quarter finals, Ali Carter, who has never compiled a 147 break, attained the supreme maximum in front of a packed arena and millions of viewers en route to sending Peter Ebdon back to Dubai - sharing the £157,000 prize with Ronnie.
Stephen Hendry v Ding Junhui was, to all intents and purposes, the Master vs The Apprentice, and was one of the most significant second round matches. Chinese sensation Ding is widely regarded as a future World Champion and one of the most lethal players on the circuit. Hendry's form had deteriorated over the last few years and featured in only one ranking final since 2005. It should have been a formality for Ding to pulverise the ageing Hendry. Conversely, it was Hendry that provided the comprehensive demolition job, burying Ding with a 13-7 scoreline.
Ronnie O'Sullivan vs Mark Williams was a superb contest. In 2001/02, two-time World Champion Williams was invincible, and winning every tournament in sight. In recent seasons he has been a shadow of his former self, but in this match, he exhibited signs of returning to his best. At first, the frames were shared evenly but Ronnie inevitably moved up a gear, and at that point Williams was mainly subjected to his seat to painfully watch Ronnie as he systematically destroyed him. Ronnie ended the match emphatically with the afore mentioned 147 break.
The quarter final match between Stephen Maguire vs Neil Robertson had the makings of a great match, with both being amongst the hottest prospects in the game. However, Maguire performed magnificently, pile driving himself into an 8-0 lead. With only 6 more frames to win, Robertson had too much to do. Robertson managed to get a few frames back but he could not stop Maguire in his tracks.
The semi final between Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry was a major event - it should have been the final, given the form they both showed in the build up. Hendry showed early signs of dominance with a 4-1 lead. Ronnie managed to storm back to a 4-4 at the end of the first session. The match promised to be close but unfortunately, of the 15 frames that took them to the end of the match, Hendry was to claim only two of them.
Ronnie O'Sullivan played, what Stephen Hendry said was, "perfect snooker" as he whitewashed Hendry 8-0 in one session, ending the match 17-6 - a phenomenal achievement against the seven-time world champion and master of the Crucible. To quote Stephen Hendry after the match, he said Ronnie is "the best player in the world by a country mile". How could he lose?
And the winner is....
After getting to the Final with a session to spare, Ronnie had a whole day to rest. In antithesis, his opponent for the final, Ali Carter, had won his place on the back of an epic 32 frame match against Joe Perry, which he eventually won 17-15 on Saturday evening. Having got to his first ever final, he was fighting the fatigue of 15 days on Snooker, and about the play the genius of the baize who had just performed the best snooker.
As the game began at 3pm on Sunday the 4th of May, Ronnie took an early lead. In the words of Stephen Hendry , "Ronnie is a fantastic front runner. If you let him get in front, he will bury you", which did not bode well for his opponent. Carter helped seal his own fate by making simple mistakes. Ronnie never reached the outstanding level he attained in the semi-final, but his performance was still excellent, and the match rapidly became a complete one-horse race. At 8.30pm on Monday the 5th, well under the 12am finish of last year, the final scoreline was 18-8, and BBC coverage of the final was cut short by nearly three hours.
Ronnie won his third world title, £330,000, and the rank of number one in the world. However it was anti-climax to a fantastic 17 days, and seeing a victor looking terribly underwhelmed by winning the most important event in his profession was far from inspiring. Not one to disappear without causing some controversy, he went on to explain he may retire at the top, causing everyone to groan in a 'here we go again' fashion.
All in all, the World Championship was a pleasure to watch. The overall standard of Snooker was high, with two 147's and the second most amount of century breaks in history. There were a few upsets too, with Mark Selby, Shaun Murphy and John Higgins, the hottest prospects for victory, progressing no further than the second round, having fallen victim to surprise underdogs.
For a long time, the Brits have monopolised the game. Therefore, it was fantastic to see four superb Chinese players competing with the best in the world. Liang Wenbo was the best and most entertaining performer of the bunch, haphazardly getting through to the quarter finals on his first attempt. It marked a significant step in the game's evolution, and it will not be too long before more international players populate the game.
Ultimately, it was not a pretty end, but it was a sexy World Championship, and if anything, it proved there is life in the old dogs yet.
Thanks for reading!
FINAL (best of 35 frames)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 18-8 Ali Carter (Eng)
Stephen Hendry (Sco) 6-17 Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng)
Ali Carter (Eng) 17-15 Joe Perry (Eng)
Ryan Day (Wal) 7-13 Stephen Hendry (Sco)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 13-7 Liang Wenbo (Chn)
Ali Carter (Eng) 13-9 Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) 12-13 Joe Perry (Eng)
John Higgins (Sco) 9-13 Ryan Day (Wal)
Ding Junhui (Chn) 7-13 Stephen Hendry (Sco)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 13-7 Mark Williams (Wal)
Joe Swail (NI) 12-13 Liang Wenbo (Chn)
Shaun Murphy (Eng) 4-13 Ali Carter (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) 9-13 Peter Ebdon (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) 7-13 Stephen Maguire (Sco)
Stuart Bingham (Eng) 9-13 Joe Perry (Eng)
John Higgins (Sco) 10-5 Matthew Stevens (Wal)
Ryan Day (Wal) 10-6 Michael Judge (Ire)
Ding Junhui (Chn) 10-9 Marco Fu (HK)
Stephen Hendry (Sco) 10-9 Mark Allen (NI)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) 10-5 Liu Chuang (Chn)
Mark Williams (Wal) 10-3 Mark Davis (Eng)
Stephen Lee (Eng) 4-10 Joe Swail (NI)
Ken Doherty (Ire) 5-10 Liang Wenbo (Chn)
Shaun Murphy (Eng) 10-3 Dave Harold (Eng)
Ali Carter (Eng) 10-9 Barry Hawkins (Eng)
Mark Selby (Eng) 8-10 Mark King (Eng)
Peter Ebdon (Eng) 10-9 Jamie Cope (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) 10-4 Nigel Bond (Eng)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) 10-3 Anthony Hamilton (Eng)
Steve Davis (Eng) 8-10 Stuart Bingham (Eng)
Graeme Dott (Sco) 7-10 Joe Perry (Eng)
One seasoned snooker reporter once quoted that there was a lot of interesting personalities at Sheffield and most of them were Ronnie O`Sullivans. The snooker is all about Ronnie these days and he knows it. What ever the Rocket does will make the news. What ever anybody else does in snooker that doesn't involve Ronnie won't make the news. His increasingly erratic behavior is not so much about depression or problems at home but the lack of a stable family life. The Essex boy is constantly acting up like his old man (coming out later this year after doing 11 years for braining two bouncers) and his antics seem to be the only way to communicate his admiration for his father. Look dad, I'm just like you.... A plonker! But, alas, the game needs his attention seeking and is dead on its feat without it as far as TV and sponsors go. The alternative is Graeme Dott. Lets hope Barry hearn can snazz things up soe this time.
The world championships itself is a fantastic television event, 16 days of iridescent splendor and waistcoats. Admittedly the competitors are very dull these days and look like they should be working in a warehouse or something, only the veterans bringing in the crowds, Stephen Hendry, the man who bridged old and new, also getting on a bit now seeking title number eight. But it's the best 'dipping in' sport around where you can pick your favorites and make your meals or have naughties during games. It's also great to flick over channels sport, easy to remember where you were in the break as you see who is going to be fired on the Apprentice...
With cigarette sponsorship long since gone its sport's like this that are struggling because of the ban. Some say casinos and online betting companies will be the new way to harvest huge tax from the people and so it's fitting that these guys have moved in to sponsor snooker. The sport is in such a financial pickle these days its taking the money and not questioning the obvious conflict of interests here. Betting and corruption in the game is as common as it is in Pakistani cricket it appears and I'm sure there are stories on just that conflict to break in the not so distant future, especially as it's hard to trace the people who bet on these events. Jimmy White-according to his autobiography-was so addicted to gambling that at one particularly low point in his life he was threatened with having his hand chopped of by some rather dodgy characters if he didn't cough up the ten grand he owed. The temptation must have been huge to throw games for some as their career grinds to a halt and the big money drains away. Mnay lesser pros actually have second jobs, two 0f the lads croupiers!
Apparently there are no words in the English language that rhyme with 'orange', 'silver' or 'purple', and, come to think of it,' snooker', and some say one of those new colors is seriously needed right now on the pristine green tables to generate new interest, 147s somewhat routine these days. In what is a very colorful game there's was a distinct lack of it last season, those plain waistcoats and boring players who look like warehousemen not very sexy. Ronnie , again, with his customary rant on the subject when the terrestrial TV cameras are in town, was particularly scathing on the sport that has provided him with a very nice living, thank you very much! He was demanding someone like Simon Cowell to take over the sport and jazz it up some; presumably to win back those absent sponsors, Ronnie effectively having a Kevin Pietersen style pop at the current crop that run the game by doing that, the "old farts" comments not far away from the Essex rascal.
He's right in a way because if the game doesn't change soon it will have to sell-up and jump on board on one of those container ships heading to China with all our recycled rubbish ,or it will be done for. But for the good of the game someone really needs to slap Ronnie with one of those hands he's biting that feeds him right now, his gob accelerating that downfall. Yes he is the sport but have some respect mate. Lets hope Barry Hearn is that man.
It's been a colorful season of course, especially in the last year or so with the two betting scandals, Sir Rodney Walker forced out for not reacting quick enough to save the sport as sponsorship dries up and the winner's cheques fall quicker than the odds in a Peter Ebdon game.
The pinnacle of Davis, Hendry and White has gone and we are back to the wild west of the 70s, Higgins head-butting match officials, Tony Knowles and Kirk Stevens bouffant being lost in a blizzard of cocaine, so they say. An example of that closed shop in the game of snooker over the incestuous covering up saw Sir Rodney recently named 'Man of the Year' in the annual 'Yorkshire Awards', which celebrate achievement from the region and has been won by Geoff Boycott many times. Nominations go to a committee and the winners are decided. Guess who's the chairman of the committee? Yep, Sir Rodney!
Like pro tennis, it was clear to most that snooker and Walker were trying to quietly brush corruption claims like the stewards of the sacred snooker match tables do when they remove fluff from the baize. But as that prize money continuef to fall and Walker and co knocked back the huge offers from South East Asia to take the big tournaments there, including the 888 World Championships from Sheffield, the more bent matches are turning up, the two clearly connected. If there's no prize money out there then the credit crunch will bite the sport in a painful way.
The evidence in the Ebdon game where he lost to the Chinese player Liang Wenbow 5-1 in the Northern Ireland Trophy in August is damming, yet he seems to have got away with it. Normally an early televised round would receive about £500 in bets in total in the shops and some 'tickle' online, the biggest bets being around a tenner for the result, less on a certain match score. There was no real value betting on Ebdon to win in the qualifier against Wenbo, but there was if you knew he would be off form. Then you could back the thrashing in the best of nine frames. Well an unknown Eastern European gentleman in London and two more men in Manchester were pretty sure Peter would lose 5-1 and laid bets of £ 3x100 at 20-1 on it followed by a flurry of bets in Liverpool and Manchester, up to one thousand pounds in one case, again by unknown gentleman. Interestingly they didn't hedge their bets with 5-0 or 5-2 to Wenbo. The online bets with Betfair had to be more sophisticated to mask what was going on so not to encourage immediate suspicion and so the trace put into action and betting suspended. The gamblers doubled up with a football match, in this case Newcastle in the Carling Cup. By placing a certain style of double even if Newcastle lost the game the bet money would carry forward to the Ebdon game and still be valued, and a bigger bet to. If Newcastle won it would be a massive payout, bearing in mind the Ebdon result was the 5-1. It was indeed 5-1 and although Newcastle drew in the last minute it paid out and bets were never suspended on the day, the scam only coming to light in October during the BBC televised 'London Watches' tournament. Because Peter (rather ironically) is on the snooker ethics committee he somehow convinced the WPSBA not to investigate it and it was also gently ushered under the baize with one of those fine mohair brushes--until, that is, the McGuire-Burnett game.
Where as the betting was allowed on the above game to stand it wasn't with most bookies on the later game, most online betting suspended 24 hours before the match. Burnett and McGuire are close mates from Glasgow and no money was placed on 9-2 or 9-4 but over five grand in various bets were placed on 9-3 in the best of 17, as it happens the match's final score, the shifty looking Burnett missing the black-a cut to the bottom right-and leaving it over the pocket for McGuire to secure the 9-3. It was too much of a coincidence to be anything but a betting scam and the WSPBA had to open an investigation proper this time. Burnett, although having an unblemished disciplinary career over his 16 years as a pro, is the nobody they have been waiting for and so will surely be made an example of to protect the Ebdons of the world like Peter Francisco was to protect Jimmy White in the 80s. He will never make big cheques like Ebdon and so 'allegedly' throwing matches when he gets on TV is probably the only way to turn a buck these days with such low winner's cheques on offer. If you lost in round one of the U.K. Championship you got £965.
Previous and notorious snooker match fixing scandals included that infamous Peter Francisco game, the South Africa banned for five years in 1995, effectively ending his career after losing 10-2 to Jimmy White in the first round of the World Championship at the Crucible. The WPBSA disciplinary hearing deemed that Francisco 'had not given his best'. Many bets on White to win 10-2 were struck. If you read Whites excellent autobiography he too flirted with bookies and 'cash flow problems', at one point his bookies threatening to cut his pinkie off for non payments of debt. White somehow was never implicated in match-fixing in his career.
In 2006, Quinten Hann was suspended for eight years, having been found guilty of 'intention' to fix a match. A British tabloid did a Bruce Grobbelar style sting and provided the WPBSA with recorded evidence of the Australian offering to arrange a defeat in the China Open. The corruption has alwayys been there but instead of incidents being ten years apart they are happening every other year now.
ANyhow, back to the championship!
-The 1st round draw-
John Higgins (Sco) 10-6 Barry Hawkins (Eng)
Mark King (Eng) v Steve Davis (Eng)
Neil Robertson (Aus) v Fergal O'Brien (Ire)
Marco Fu (HK) 9-10 Martin Gould (Eng)
Ali Carter (Eng) v Jamie Cope (Eng)
Joe Perry (Eng) 10-4 Michael Holt (Eng)
Ding Junhui (Chn) v Stuart Pettman (Eng)
Shaun Murphy (Eng) v Gerard Greene (NI)
Stephen Maguire (Sco) v Stephen Lee (Wal)
Peter Ebdon (Eng) v Graeme Dott (Sco)
Mark Allen (NI) 10-4 Tom Ford (Eng)
Ryan Day (Wal) v Mark Davis (Eng)
Mark Selby (Eng) 10-4 Ken Doherty (Ire)
Stephen Hendry (Sco) 10-9 Zhang Anda (Chn)
Mark Williams (Wal) v Marcus Campbell (Sco)
Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng) v Liang Wenbo (Chn)
1st round highlights...
The highlight of round one was Stehe Hendrys 10-9 win over young Zhan of China, the kid not even born whe Hendry won his first title. Steve Davis again had to qualify for Sheffield, his 30th world championship, Mark king the winnable challenge. Another interesting match was the clash between the charismatic O`Sullivan and the young Chine dragon Liang Wenbo of China, a brilliant talent. In the recent China Open Ronnie played the lad and seemed to want to lose, and indeed did, missing easy reds. In an earlier men's magazine interview Ronnie had claimed the draw was fixed to recreate that B & H final tension with games like this in certain tournaments. Ronnie never seems to get an easy first round draw to be fair.
Past 10 Winners...
2009 - John Higgins
2008 - Ronnie O'Sullivan
2007 - John Higgins
2006 - Graeme Dott
2005 - Shaun Murphy
2004 - Ronnie O'Sullivan
2003 - Mark Williams
2002 - Peter Ebdon
2001 - Ronnie O'Sullivan
2000 - Mark Williams
The anti post Betting and what happened next.
Ronnie 3/1 Fav
Hendry is fab value to make the final at 33-1 and worth a punt guys. Im certainly going to snap up Shaun Murphy at 18-1 on line and have a fiver on the nose of either Mark Selby or Nathan Robertson .