Michael Holt is one of the nicest people you could meet on the snooker circuit and this is perhaps one of the reasons he has underachieved during his professional career.

Three ranking event quarter-finals is a poor return for a player as talented as Holt but he still has plenty of time to make amends and produced an encouraging performance to beat Fergal O’Brien – last year’s runner-up – in the Northern Ireland Trophy yesterday.

His reward is a clash with defending champion Stephen Maguire live on Eurosport and TG4 this afternoon.

Holty (as he is inevitably known) is notoriously nervy. He lets things get on top of him and I’m sure he would accept that he has, at times, beaten himself.

However, in my opinion he is, in terms of talent, good enough to have been a top 16 player and although he is now outside the top 32 he can still deliver on that potential.

What Holty has to do is heed Steve Davis’s sage advice: play like it means nothing when it means everything.

Of course, this is far easier to say than actually do. Holt’s various temperamental meltdowns are well documented and I won’t annoy him further by documenting them here.

What he needs is to believe in himself: he is a very talented snooker player capable of great things.

That he has not, as yet, achieved them is a sign of the pressure these guys are under.

Handling that pressure is key to success in a game that is often said to be played in the head.

If Michael can keep his head together he is capable of beating Maguire and going a long way in Belfast.

We’ll find out whether that ‘if’ becomes a reality this afternoon.


Monique said...

Holty might be a very nice guy but I'm not sure those balls there see him that way! What a scary look! ;)

Anonymous said...

holty do your best thing,...and look normal at those balls :P:P
greetings for hollands

Matt said...

Very nice guy, liked him when I had a brief chat with him in Sheffield in 2005.

stuartfanning said...

Holt didn't do himself justice this afternoon.

Also did anyone notice that Maguire had three advertising patches on his waistcoat instead of the usual two. One was his own and the other two were for the two firms that partially back the tournament. Will this set a precedent?

matt said...

I asked Dave about this once before, he said that the two logos rule only applies to BBC tournaments.

Anonymous said...

Not quite an upset, but the likes of Robertson and Ebdon out already, as is Murphy - looks like Williams will be back in the top 16 sooner rather than later if he keeps taking those sort of scalps. Good to see Wenbo continuing to show his promise too.

If you'll forgive me for going off topic, I know it's the first ranking event of the season but the form of certain players seems to have tailed off dramatically. I'm thinking of Robertson in particular, who along with Ding looked as if they could have shifted the balance of power from the Brits to overseas.

Now Robertson can't beat journeymen like McCulloch. I know McCulloch is a former Crucible semi-finalist, but Robertson of 2 years ago would have taken him to the cleaners.

Sam T

Anonymous said...

Sorry to go off topic again, but I've just remembered - what the hell has happened to the World Snooker website?

It's been 'revamped', and it's very poor fare indeed in my opinion, and I think I'm being very kind there.

Sam T

Dave H said...

Sam - good point you make about Robertson and Ding

Some players seem to be more comfortable being the hunter - being the young up-and-coming player - than the hunted. That said, I would't write off the Aussie or the Chinese just yet

worldsnooker.com has relaunched in time for the first ranking event of the season but is not yet fully complete, so we should perhaps give them a little time to get it right

Monique said...

5-1! The score does not do justice to Holty who made Mags work very hard. Three frames went to the black. A very enjoyable match I must say.
Also 6 seeds out of 8 lost. What a slaughter!
And a personal opinion on the comments above ;). Robertson in my eyes was always overated. He's technically outstanding but the brains sometimes... erh ... As for Ding, I question his motivation in the game. Only too often he looks like he plays under duress and is not enjoying himself a single bit. He even beats Ronnie at gloom some days! I wonder if that very young man, standard bearer of the biggest country in the world (in terms of population)- and not the most democratic one - is not finding himself "trapped" with very little choice and control over his own life. Just a thought.

Dave H said...

Interesting point, although I don't agree on Neil

I think the best thing that could happen to Ding is if Liang Wenbo gets into the top 16 so that Ding is no longer the standard bearer

Also, let's not forget it is a very, very hard game and with only 9-10 tournaments a year picking up titles is tough

Monique said...

Thanks for the prompt answer Dave. Yes I agree about Liang. And I will follow Liu Chuang closely also. Those two could relieve Ding from part of the pressure and it will only do him good.
About Robertson ... well life would be boring if we all had the same opinions ansd tastes :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks dave,

I'm sure Robbo and Ding will come good again, just would be frustrating if players of that ability were to 'emulate' Quinten Hann and James Wattana.

As for the World Snooker website, my comments were probably out of frustration as I couldn't access the draw! As you say though any gremlins will probably be sorted out in time.


Anonymous said...


I do believe that Neil is a future world champion, in contrast to what someone else stated about him ("overrated"). I'm not sure this classification does Neil justice since how can you overrate someone who won 2 ranking titles in 1 season, specifically considering the strength of the professional field nowadays and the very limited number of tournaments that are being played.

As with Ding, however, I think it's pressure more than anything, that has kept them down: for Ding it's the millions (or billion?) people in China and for Neil it's the expectation of becoming the 2nd Aussi World Champion ever (if I'm correct Dave). For Ding, relief seems to be at hand in the forms of Liu and Liang, but I'm not sure about relief for Neil...

Just my thoughts...

Monique said...

The reasons why I brand him overrated are these:
- his long potting and mastering of side and angles is outstanding but comparatively his positional play appears perfectible. This is an essential part in break building.
- he's a good front runner but more than once I've seen him go sulking when trailing, especially against the big guns
- his last year's displays were ... very disapointing to say the least. Some matches were a real disgrace (versus Swail in Malta, even I play better! ... well almost). Some really daft shot selections and unbeleavable misses.
- he seems to be very much on the same track this year.
Yes he's won two rankings. But now, is he a real contender? With Mags, Selby, Murphy, in their current form, Liang on the raise and Ronnie still kicking? I don't think so.

But of course that's also just my opinion.