Firstly some news at long last about Stephen Lee. World Snooker say he has a case to answer in relation to alleged match fixing at tournaments in 2008 and 2009 and it will be heard by Sports Resolutions UK at a date to be decided.

It has been a painstaking process for World Snooker to gather the evidence it needs to make a case. Lee has been suspended for several months. It is in everyone’s interests that his case is heard as quickly as possible.

His is a case built on genuine concerns from the bookmaking community. Yesterday, Shaun Murphy suffered from an allegation from a very modern menace: online trolling.

Some idiot suggested he had thrown his match against Pankaj Advani. Shaun would probably have been better advised not to draw attention to this but was understandably hurt by the accusation and was rightly defended by many in the sport.

This should have been an end to it but, unbelievably, some news organisations chose to make a story of it. ‘Murphy denies cheat accusations’ was one headline, which gave undue prominence to a complete non-story.

Shaun wasn’t accused by anyone important, just an anonymous nobody with no evidence or grounds to make such a claim. In ‘Eleanor Rigby’ Paul McCartney posed the question, ‘all the lonely people, where do they all belong?’

If he’d have waited forty years he’d have got the answer: the internet.

Trolls are people who didn’t get the lives they wanted and so target successful people they are jealous of rather than doing something about it. They’re easy to spot on Twitter: they usually don’t know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ and list ‘banter’ as one of their hobbies.

Anyway, there are some good matches to look forward to today, the pick of which could be Ding Junhui v Mark Allen. They each played well in the previous round. Ding has made four centuries in the eight frames he has won at Newport.

Judd Trump dodged a Dominic Dale-shaped bullet, coming from 3-1 down to beat him 4-3.

Trump opined afterwards that players were deliberately slowing matches down to try and beat him. Actually, most players are slow compared to Trump.

Despite having been in something of a slump of late, he is about to replace Mark Selby as world nol.1 after Selby’s woeful display against Joe Perry.

It was strange, not least because he had played so well to beat Steve Davis in the previous round.

As I write this, Pankaj Advani has reached the quarter-finals having beaten Graeme Dott 4-1, his third successive victory over a world champion following wins against Peter Ebdon and Murphy.

Every credit to him. He is doing it the hard way and proving that all round cue sports knowledge and poise under pressure can make all the difference.

Doubtless the trolls already hate him.

Today is Valentine's Day, which means commentators get to use obvious phrases such as "there's no love lost between these two!!!" and, in the case of Stephen Maguire, who plays Matthew Stevens, "he'll be looking to break Welsh hearts!!!"

For Mark Williams, it's a February 14th baby as his wife is giving birth pretty much as we speak, more than ample consolation for his loss to Robert Milkins last night.


Anonymous said...

Re the timing of the Lee announcement, have World Snooker been waiting for an opportunity to 'bury bad news' (given that today's news is dominated by a far more prominent sportsman accused of something much more serious)....

Re. Twitter trolls (i.e. @cacat1234, whose tweets (some of them to snooker players) are a string of abuse and accusations of match fixing - presumably aimed at anyone he bets on who loses). Murphy should get Paul Tweed from the BBC's "See You In Court" on the case and track down that idiot - but in all honesty life is too short....

JIMO96 said...

Congrats to Pankaj....a walking advert for the scrapping of the ludicrous tiered qualifying system. Why should a player this comfortable on TV against a top 16 player, have to negotiate 4 matches (mostly slugfests) just to reach a venue?

Flat draws? I cannot wait.

Anonymous said...

Camera operator picks out hot Latvian girl in audience:

Dominic Dale: "I'd quite like to go to Latvia for a PTC".

Lucky girl.

Anonymous said...

Talking of cases to answer.
Anyone know why John Higgins was not required to explain his thinking when he backed himself to lose his WC final v Murphy in 2009.
That story seemed to evaporate.

Anonymous said...

@322 To be fair Panjak is something of an exception: he already excels in another cuesport and has adapted well. The reason for retaining the qualifying structure is that the televised stages aren't exactly full of Panjaks, are they? The fact that Panjak made it on to TV and Kacper Filipiak didn't makes the case for qualifiers, not against them. With the transition to a money list a qualifier getting good results will quickly rise through the rankings. We don't need the X-Factor mentality in snooker where you literally pull someone out of Poland and stick them on UK television when they are clearly not at pro level.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why John Higgins was not required to explain his thinking when he backed himself to lose his WC final v Murphy in 2009.

Well it clearly wasn't match-fixing was it! As many players used to do, he most likely insured his prize money against losing. Nothing underhand about this, especially since he had huge scare against Selby in 2007.

Anonymous said...

Eh - Filipiak is going to be world champion.....


I think the first round (this Monday just gone) could be a sign of things to come (top players steamrollering weak opposition, just like the early rounds of Tennis Grand Slams). Debatable if this is a good thing - crowds aren't likely to lap it up though..

Anonymous said...

That said I'd prefer to see 8 chinese players have their matches held over to the venue to having 8 chinese wildcards (hopefully World Snooker have sorted that for future tournaments in China?)

Anonymous said...

4.58pm - don't recall that story, please elaborate...

Anonymous said...

If Liang Wenbo is anything to go by, I think the Chinese players would prefer to not have their matches held over. Wenbo was offered a holdover one year but turned it down because he didn't want to pay for travel expenses from his qualifier prize money. Having to "qualify" at Newport isn't quite the same as having to qualify at Beijing.

Anonymous said...


Illegal and if there was any justice he should have been banned for life.

JIMO96 said...

@535 my point was that Pankaj (NOT Panjak!) would under the current structure have to face firstly a fellow rookie, then a 49-64 player (e.g Rod Lawler), then a 33-48 player (e.g Dave Harold) and then a 17-32 player (e.g Fergal O'Brien) just to get a match on TV. These type of matces are enough to drain the will to live out of the most enthusiastic of new pros.

Whereas under the new system, only 2 qualifying rounds, against a far wider range of opponents (who won't be on guaranteed loser points like they are now!), represents a much fairer chance for new pros.

And Kacper will come good. As far as I recall, his TV debut didn't go too bad....the ton against David Gilbert certainly entertained me!

Anonymous said...

Can't understand why the cameramen intentially seek out then zoom in on people fast asleep. Not a great endorsement !

John Michael White said...

It isn't that much of a stretch to imagine a fairly forgivable reason for Higgins to do such a thing. If I had a chance to win £100, but could end up with only £50, I might be tempted to guarantee £74 come what may.

Snooker has to keep its eye on the ball on such issues though. We love the sport because of the way it gets you emotionally invested in every match, every frame, every shot. If people started to suspect that what they're seeing treats that emotional investment with disdain they'll turn off.

The burden of proof needs to be high, but everyone has to know that if they're found guilty they'll be punished in the harshest possible way. Life bans are not out of order for some scenarios.


Hi David. First of all, I would like to send my congratulations to Mark Williams, and his Wife, Joanne, on the birth of their third Son, today.

Now to today's play. Another great days play, in my view.

Doherty played well, to beat Ford, 4-3.

Advani did great, to beat Dott, 4-1.

Bingham did well, to beat Robertson, 4-3.

Maguire played well, in coming from 2-1 down, to beat Stevens, 4-2.

Trump played well, to beat Higginson, 4-1.

Ding did well to lead Allen, 3-0. Allen played well, to come back to only 3-2 down. In the end, Ding did well, to beat Allen, 4-2.

Milkins played well, making a great clearance, in frame six, to beat Baird, 4-2.

McManus did superbly well, in coming from 3-0 down, to beat Perry, 4-3.

I can not wait for the Quarter-Finals. and more action, tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

7:26 Liang made his only ranking final when his match was 'held over' due to 'visa issues', but I believe he lives in Sheffield most of the time(?) so might feel more comfortable playing a qualifer?

That is the thing that really confuses me about wildcards - they are explained as being due to Chinese TV wanting 8 Chinese in the draw (an argument that doesn't hold water when they give wildcards to Egyptians etc) but I've seen it suggested that Chinese TV don't want Liang's matches held over? I just don't see how you can have a situation where 8 or so low ranked pros will have their 1st round matches held over to the venue (the ones drawn against the big names like Ronnie, Higgins, Judd, Dale) and also have 8 low ranked players having to play wildcards after qualifying for the venue. Holdovers seem like the least worst option (even if it means the possibility of Chen Zhe -v- Floyd Ziegler being played on TV!)

Janie Watkins said...

Just for the record Liang Wenbo lives in Essex and plays at Grove Leisure, alongside Trump, Lisowski etc