Re: World Snooker Championships

Who is Mark Allen thedancingbaby? Where abouts in Ireland is he from? Hope he beats Doherty. I might have a punt on this myself.

Anyone see the recent comments from O’Sullivan when he was saying the draw must be fixed. [url=]

Allen is from the North Piper. He emphasized his undoubted potential with a superb debut season on the professional Tour in 2005/06.

He made a remarkable start to his pro career as a wild card at the North of Ireland Trophy, beating John Higgins and Steve Davis on home turf in Belfast before losing to Stephen Hendry.

He notched up some excellent results in ranking tournaments, reaching the last 32 of the UK Championship, where he lost to Davis, and the Malta Cup, where he lost to Shaun Murphy. Allen also came within three frames of reaching the Crucible at the first attempt but lost 10-7 to Andy Hicks in the final World Snooker Championship qualifying round, after leading 7-4.

He finished the season at No 62 in the rankings but is now pushing for the top 32 on the provisional list.

Perhaps the most gifted player to emerge from the North since the days of Dennis Taylor and Alex Higgins, Allen won three of the biggest titles in amateur snooker before turning pro.

In 2004 he won the European Championship in Austria, beating Maltas Alex Borg in the final. He went on to become IBSF World Amateur Champion, beating Steve Mifsud 11-6 in the final in Holland. He dedicated victory in this prestigious event to his parents, who sold their house to help fund his career.

In 2005 he added the European Under-19 Championship crown, beating Chris Norbury 6-5 in the final in Ekaterinburg, Russia.

He is a former Northern Ireland champion at under-14, under-16 and under-19 level.

Allen is from the North Piper

Why did you give t"he North" a capital N Baby? Have you forgotten your anit-partitionist stance?

Crucible set for clash of the ages

Expect fireworks when Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui meet in the first round of the World Championship

Lee Honeyball
April 17, 2007 12:33 PM

It is the match that could define a sport. The clash between Ronnie O’Sullivan and Ding Junhui in the first round of the snooker world championship has everything: the natural talent versus the dedicated student, the often outrageous against the quietly reserved, the best of the West locking cues with the beast of the East. However you want to bill it (unlikely to be the last of those admittedly) snooker simply doesn’t come more enthralling.

The last time the pair went head-to-head they produced one of the most extraordinary matches of recent years. First, it was in the final of the Masters and, whatever some might say about the UK Championship, the second most prestigious event on the calendar. Second, the standard of play O’Sullivan produced in the evening session to beat the Chinese prodigy 10-3 was from another planet. And third, in defeat, Ding had a vulnerable side to his temperament exposed for the first time.

It is the last of these points that is most intriguing. You do not need to have seen much of Ronnie circling the green baize to know what he is capable of but on this particular evening at Wembley he was something else. When pumped up to his full chest-out swagger O’Sullivan has mesmerised many opponents with the sheer weight of his own apparently effortless brilliance. So good is Ronnie when in the mood, he can beat players left-handed (though now he reserves the use of his opposite hand for necessity, if he is tight up against a cushion on the wrong side of the table say, rather than to rub someone’s nose in it as he once did to Alain Robidoux).

Long pots, precise positional play, water-tight safety, you name it, Ronnie was doing it with a flourish - if the phrase ‘potting them off the lampshades’ could ever be made a reality, this was the night it might have happened. During all this Ding was forced to simply sit in his chair and watch impassively. His own incredible talent had been reduced to the cameo of breaking off every other frame and returning to his seat. He could have handed his cue to someone in the crowd for them to deputise for all the good it was doing him.

Earlier that week I had spoken to both Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis about Ding. The men with 13 world championships between them both agreed that he will become a multiple world champion, sooner rather than later, because he is unique. He has no weaknesses. So who could have expected Ding to show the first sign of possessing real, game-affecting emotion that very tournament?

Close-up shots of him as Ronnie drained red after black after red in the final revealed him to be muttering under his breath. All the eight-hour days spent practising hadn’t prepared him to face such genius. What could? Nothing. And this was the first time he realised it. The partisan London crowd were cheering everything, Ronnie pots, Ding misses, and soon the Chinese teenager was mentally finished.

As O’Sullivan cleared the table to win the last frame before the interval Ding moved to shake hands. Did he think the match was over? Was he throwing in the towel? It brought to mind the moment earlier in the season when Ronnie himself had conceded against Hendry at the UK Championship with their match less than halfway through. Ding came back out but in body only. He never won another frame.

So what does all this mean for the rematch? Ronnie, as you might expect, has been hit and miss ever since, while Ding has been uncharacteristically out of form, even losing in the first round at the China Open. It may just be though, that both have had their eye on the World Championship ever since that Masters final. It is just a pity it has to happen in the first round. Then again, perhaps we should just be grateful it happening at all. It is rare for two such talents to be around at the same time.

Why of course not Rock. Just like we are from the East and Farmer is from the West, Allen is from the North !!

That’s alright Baby. Your previous post might have left the casual observer with the impression that you viewed a certain 6 counties as somehow different from the rest of us. The way I look at it - that’s just a technicality. We’re all either in the UK or former members who’d like to rejoin. I hate this distinction. Just because we have a glorified version of Home Rule in Dublin the rest of the UK look down on us.

Interesting though that you didn’t call Doherty a Leinsterman but referred to Allen as an Ulsterman. Thanks for the info nevertheless. Still unsure as who to back.

Get on the Ding bandwagon Piper.

As for the Allen - Doherty match, I think Doherty will win but if you get Allen (+3.5 frames) he could be worth a few quid

That’s excellent analysis, baby, and at least you understood how halves and quarters work (as opposed to farmer who said the winner of the Doherty game plays the winner of the O’Sullivan match).

I think the hun, Graeme Dott, might win it again. As you say it’s incredibly open with a lot of seeded players out of form. Some relatively unknown fook could come through and do it and it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me.

I just think the hun has that grinding style that suits the long matches, he’s done it before and he’s won recently too. He also makes much bigger breaks than when he was first on the scene. So yeah, it Dott for me.

O’Sullivan offers no value in wide-open contest
It doesn’t matter which of the two Ronnies turns up at the Crucible this year - don’t bet on either of them.
Lee Honeyball
April 19, 2007 11:39 AM

Snooker quiz: which player has won the most knockout tournaments this season? First clue: it’s not Ronnie O’Sullivan or John Higgins. Any ideas? What about if the second clue was that he isn’t British or Irish? Chinese sensation Ding Junhui then, right? Wrong. The man who has outperformed everyone is in fact Neil Robertson of Australia. Which goes to prove two things. First, that even the relatively insular indoor world of professional snooker isn’t safe from the Aussies. And second, that this year’s world championship, which begins on Saturday, is a wide-open contest.

All of which is good news for those who like to bet on such things. Particularly as the draw has been so brutal to some fancied names. Before that though, here are a couple of stats from the last five years to consider. No player has won two championships in that time, with the most successful cueists being reigning champion Graeme Dott and 2002 winner Peter Ebdon, who have also been losing finalists. During this period six other men have contested finals - unthinkable variety to those who grew up in the eras of Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White.

So who to back? The only place to begin is with two-time winner O’Sullivan. Many may consider opposing the most naturally talented player in history to be a ludicrous concept. But it isn’t. In fact, the opposite is true. Betting on Ronnie is fraught with danger and should be avoided. He is chronically bad value at 7-2 because, as he admits himself, whether he wins depends entirely on which of the two Ronnies turns up. If Bad Ronnie walks out at the Crucible for more than one session he simply won’t win. The marathon-framed matches (by modern standards anyway) ought to suit him but he has lost to Dott and Ebdon in the last two years. Both are players whose stubborn and gritty style, characterised by their refusal to concede even the most lost of causes, always upsets his flowing rhythm and now seem the prevailing qualities necessary to become champion.

Then there is the draw. O’Sullivan plays Ding in the first round which should be the match of this or any other tournament. Whoever wins that, in all likelihood, faces Robertson (who is 22-1) with the possibility of Higgins in the quarters and Dott in the semis. Which is tough by any standards, particularly as the erratic Mark Williams and occasionally unplayable Stephen Maguire are also in that half of the draw. Not having a bet might be sensible but isn’t an option (obviously) so taking a chance on Ding at 14-1 is the call, simply because his price doesn’t equate with his incredible talent.

With such talent in the top half of the draw, things look a little lopsided lower down. Therefore it may pay to follow two men, both former champions, in the bottom half who stand out at value prices. There looks to be little in the way of in-form 12-1 shot Shaun Murphy before a potential quarter-final with Ken Doherty, and the same can be said about Ebdon, who is 14-1. He has thrived since moving to Dubai (much like the horses he follows) and he should comfortably make the quarters, where he is likely to meet Hendry. There was a buzz surrounding the seven-time champion a few months ago after he revealed he was practicing solo in the way he did when he was younger. The Scot’s brief resurgence has, a UK Championship final aside, ultimately delivered a lot less than it promised. He is a weak second-favourite given that he hasn’t won a title for two years.

So in a tournament where concentration and grit has been king in recent years, Murphy and Ebdon have the proven mental credentials - and by backing them both each-way, along with Ding, we would make a profit if one of them reaches the final.

Murphy isn’t a bad call actually. Anyone know what his form has been like this season? I don’t think Ebdon has what it takes anymore though he’s still some dogged fook. Remember about 3 years when he made O’Sullivan crack up in the quarter final? He was taking about 2 minutes between every shot. Bottom half is much weaker and the 2nd quarter of the top half is the ‘section of death’. Still think Dott should come through to the last 4 without much bother and there he’ll face either O’Sullivan, Dong, Higgins or Robertson from the killer section. Sticking with the hun I think.

I hope Ken will do the business this year,Hope Ronnie does well aswell

i couldn’t have put it better myself.

IN snooker as in life things change the World Championship triumphs of 150-1 Shaun Murphy and 80-1 Graeme Dott in the last two years prove that point and nobody should be fearful of backing Ding Junhui to become only the second debutant to win at the Crucible, where the actionstarts tomorrow morning.

Ding showed at the start of the season with his victory in the Northern Ireland Trophy that he was likely to be a real force in the big tournaments this season.

He failed to retain his UK Championship title in December primarily because he was absolutely shattered after competing for China in the Asian Games.

But his display in finishing runner-up to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the Masters in January told you that the Rocket would be looking over his shoulder in the near future, not so much for confirmed stalwarts such as John Higgins and Mark Williams but more this new star of the East.

Snooker comes easy to Ding, whose game is highly economical. Not for him the high levels of concentration and mental effort required by thelikes of Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Stephen Maguire.

If anything, Ding resembles the late Paul Hunter on the green baize in that he expends little effort at the table. And while the 20-year-old who hails from near Shanghai undoubtedly has the talent to do himself justice in the most important of snooker arenas, his style of play could prove useful should he meet, say, Higgins in the quarter-finals or Maguire in the semis.

First, though, he has to stop a Rocket. O’Sullivan totally overwhelmed Ding at Wembley and you wondered there and then if the poor lad would ever be the same after his 10-3 humbling.

Ding has suffered since recent defeats to Maguire, Jamie Cope and Barry Hawkins can’t have been easy to stomach but a light schedule since Christmas could work in his favour because he will be 100 per cent fresh for the World Championship.

O’Sullivan’s recent assertion that the first-round draw was fixed could be a shot at cheap headlines, but it may also show that the Rocket is worried about his opening test.

And the tournament favourite is not guaranteed to be at his best come Sunday because there was a distinct lack of mental willpower on display from

O’Sullivan in the recent China Open, in which he was outplayed by Dott in the semis.

O’Sullivan has been found wanting by another oriental, Marco Fu, in the first round in the past and Ding is a better player than the Hong Kong pro.

Fu, who topped the Crucible century break chart 12 months ago with eight tons, was considered as an each-way selection this year. After all, he should have beaten Peter Ebdon in last year’s semis.
But the Happy Valley man could be more vulnerable to the likes of Anthony Hamilton and Ian McCulloch than the betting suggests.

MAGUIRE has the ability to win a world title, but he has essentially been going through the motions this season. You could not rule out the Glaswegian, but he is going to have to step up quite considerably on what he has achieved in recent months if he isto figure at the business end.

Murphy has been well backed in recent days to make it two wins in three years. The 2004 winner has a decent chance of reaching another final, but he faces a tougher test in his opener against 17-year-old Judd Trump than many bookmakers believe.

Trump is an amazing talent whose game has come on in leaps and bounds in the last two months, and if he can beat Jamie Cope then he is good enough to trouble Murphy.

Should Murphy come an early cropper, Matthew Stevens couldbe the one to benefit.

The Welshman, a dual Crucible finalist, has done little of note this year but there were definite signs in recent displays in China that he was rediscovering his best form just in time for Sheffield. And when Stevens hits form in the World Championship only the best can live with him. He’s a scorer out of the top bracket.

First-round foe Joe Delaney has already said that he expects little from his Crucible debut this year. And Stevens should thenhave too much knowhow for whoever prevails in the Ken Doherty v Mark Allen clash.

Murphy would present a serious problem for Stevens he outplayed him in the 2004 final but Trump could help the Welshman’s case.

In the fourth quarter there looks to be a definite path through for Ali Carter.

The Tiptree pro looked in great nick in China last month and, if carrying that form over to Sheffield, could prove too strong for veterans Hendry and Ebdon.

Carter started to understand what was requiredat the Crucible last year judging by his ton-ups total of 47 and it’s about time he embarked on a decent run in the premier tournament.

He looks to be coping well with his Crohn’s Disease, which threatened to end his career a couple of years ago, and he looked particularly comfortable among the balls in Beijing.

D Junhui, 3pts 12-1
M Stevens, 1pt each-way 22-1
A Carter, 1pt each-way 50-1

Cashbacks/concessions Boylesports: All ante-post outright singles refunded (max. 200) if S Hendry wins title; Extrabet: Stakes refunded (max. 500) if your outright selection gets beaten 10-9 in the first round.

Cracking tip Bandage.

I forgot to back him yesterday before his game started and was really annoyed at the time!

Delighted to see him being knocked out - useless bastard

As for tips - it really could be anyone as has been proven in recent years. O’Sullivan will be there or there abouts though

What is the story with Matthew Stevens’ hair? He never seems to have it right - it always looks terrible

what an anti-climax the Ding - Ronnie game is. Ding seems to be still psychologically scarred from the events at Masters Final. Missed blacks off the spot which he would normally pot with his eyes closed.

Fair play to Ronnie though - from the frames I saw, he didn’t miss a pot

anyone got a latest score from the Doherty match ?