Stephen Hendry doesn't need me or anyone else to tell him that he has serious problems with his game.

Whether the problems are of technique, confidence, concentration or a mixture of all three, he clearly needs to address them urgently to prevent his relegation from the top 16.

His defeat to Mark Williams in Telford last night was painful to watch. Neither played well but while Williams, laidback sort as he is, was able to make a joke of it, Hendry was obviously dejected.

This, after all, is a player who once recorded seven centuries in a UK Championship final and whose remarkable list of achievements could conceivably never be bettered.

One thing that surprises me is that Hendry practises on his own. There are some very good Scottish professionals against whom he would be able to test himself and gauge where his game is.

I would much prefer to think of Hendry as the great player he was rather than witnessing too many more performances like the one we saw yesterday.

On to the quarter-finals, and today pits John Higgins against Stephen Maguire, who has quietly been knocking the breaks in - five centuries so far - on the non-TV tables against Ken Doherty and Mark Selby.

For whatever reason, this is one event Maguire always seems to come good in and indeed beat Higgins 9-7 at the same stage two years ago.

Higgins produced a typically steely finish to see off Graeme Dott 9-8 and is playing as well post-suspension as he was prior to it. It could be very close.

Stuart Bingham will join the top 16 for the first time in his career if he beats Mark Allen.

A good point made by Ronnie O'Sullivan after losing to Bingham is that Stuart has played in all the PTCs and is match sharp.

This is only his fifth ranking event quarter-final appearance and he has a great chance to reach his first semi-final.

But Allen has rediscovered a bit of form and held off defending champion Ding Junhui 9-8 to reach the last eight.

Allen is an all-out attacking player and a very good one when his game is firing. He's capable of reeling frames off in no time at all.

What he will also need, though, is discipline, particularly over such a lengthy distance.


Anonymous said...

Similar to Ronnie against Bingham it looks like Hendry threw in the towel prematurely with Williams.

Hendry had 3 or 4 very good chances to make it 8-7 but because he was mentally somewhere else at that point he somehow fluffed all of them.

If Hendry or Ronnie are not on their A game it effects them quite badly these days.

Many other players are more flexible in that they can compete with their B or C Game and stay in the zone for longer periods.

The strength in depth on the tour is so strong now that Ronnie and Stephen have to adapt their approach or their slide will continue at a brisk pace.

Anonymous said...

you couldnt possibly compare ROS and SH

ROS was taking on anything he could see
SH was taking the correct shots and playing them terribly

Anonymous said...

just seen jv in the box

has he hurt his back/neck?

Anonymous said...

You're right, Dave, it was quite sad to see Stephen playing like that

Leon MonĨiunskas said...

Again attendance is very bad. Not good to see great players only play in front of few people.

Many sport do very well with spectators. Dart and tennis are sports who do very well. Snooker look like it dying.

Where is the female referee? She good to look at if snooker crapage.

Betty Logan said...

Hendry is such an instinctive player though, and I can't see him playing a week of canny safety. Personally I think he needs to be pragmatic enough to do what it takes to win that first round match (which to his credit he has done here) to get his points, and then he can go back to his natural game if that's how he wants to play. He is going to have to accept the reality of the PTCs as well since he can't afford the luxury of turning his nose up at the points on offer; only a top 10 player can skip on them really. It's his focus which is the problem, and it just isn't coming naturally and is only forced in extreme situations. Maybe he should take up meditation or something, and try to train his mind to focus.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about poor crowds. Does no one realise the transport situation is currently pretty poor in Scotland with the weather as it is? The M8 was gridlocked for about 2 days!

urindragon said...

sorry mister hendry but i could have potted the last black under any kind of pressure

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's time for Hendry to find a new coach?

Betty Logan said...

The UK Championship has had low crowds ever since it left Preston, even relative to the low numbers at other tournaments. I think the scheduling is the real culprit here — people want to watch a match when they go to watch live snooker. If you have to travel you don't want to have to stay overnight or make another journey the next day. Both sessions should be played back to back with a short break inbetween the sessions. You can start the match at 3pm, and wrap the first session up between 5pm and 6pm, and then you can kick off again at about 6.30pm. World Snooker for a long time has treated many of its matches like they're not worth watching and Joe Public has finally got the message.

Redandblackblog said...

I still don't understand why they moved it from Preston. Like the crucible and the World Champs, the Preston Guildhall was the UK's home. The Telford venue is stuck out the way a bit and although it's fine for parking I can't help but think city centre venues work better. I appreciate costs might be more but wouldn't it be worth paying more and then getting bigger crowds to make it look like people actually like the game. What about trying a venue in Blackpool a bit like the darts or other seaside venues as another option. I just can't understand why Telford is a choice.

Anonymous said...

Hendry has 'yips'. Check out what Hendry had to say about his current cueing at the BBC website.

Very interesting and perhaps something that can be fixed.

Stephen will return. Especially if he knows what the problem is (besides just 'not be crap').

Anonymous said...

Isn't it because apart from Davis, White, O'Sullivan and maybe's Williams and Hendry, people couldn't care a less. It's dying a protracted death in this country and looks like it's actually getting worse.

Dave H said...

It was moved from Preston to Bournemouth because that's where the then sponsors were based

Anonymous said...

Preston has one of the largest snooker leagues in Britain (7 divisions if I'm correct) which gives it a huge bedrock of fans. That plus the large surrounding towns should give it a massive edge over just about anywhere else.

Mat Wilson

Anonymous said...

Here is the yips story "Hendry reveals 10-year battle with the 'yips'"


Anonymous said...

Why don't they move back to Preston then? The sponsor seems to change every year, there was no need to move it from the Guild Hall in the first place.
It's depressing to see Hendry struggle like this, he probably needs to sit down with someone like Davis to get it into his head that he can't be the player he was in the nineties.
It's even more depressing how low the crowds have been at Telford this week. Never mind the weather, this is supposed to be snooker's second greatest tournament!