Stephen Maguire ended a five year major title drought with a 9-8 victory over Stuart Bingham in the BetVictor Welsh Open final in Newport tonight.

It is Maguire’s fifth ranking title and must feel like his sweetest, not just because of the five barren years it has followed but also because of the manner in which he finally achieved victory.

He was put through the emotional ringer all day. So too was Bingham. This was a classic, with high quality snooker and many twists and turns.

It proves that, whatever people say, snooker does not rest on the shoulders of a couple of superstars.

In fact, it stands or falls by the quality of entertainment and drama it can provide, whoever is playing. This final was as gripping as any we have seen all season.

Bingham had the clear psychological upper hand at 7-5 but failed to put away the 13th frame, which Maguire finally claimed on the black.

That gave the Scot fresh momentum and he grabbed the lifeline with both hands, forging 8-7 in front.

But pressure and nerves were by now growing and Bingham won a tense 16th frame to force the decider.

In the end he failed to make a plant and Maguire made a really good break to cross the winning line. The way he thumped the table in celebration showed how much it meant to him.

Stephen is actually incredibly laid back off the table. But when he gets out in the arena he wears his heart on his sleeve.

You would be tough if, like Maguire, you’d grown up with a tankful of baby sharks in your bedroom.

The key figure in his formative snooker years was his late grandfather, Paddy, who knocked down a wall between two rooms in his house to install a full sized table so young Stephen could practice there after school.

As a teenager, he practised with Stephen Hendry, a unique snooker education which must have brought his game on.

Maguire turned professional in 1999. His first ranking title came in 2004 at the European Open.

Within weeks at the end of that year he had beaten Ronnie O’Sullivan twice, first in reaching the British Open final and then en route to winning the UK Championship.

So well was Maguire playing at this time that O’Sullivan predicted he would “dominate snooker for the next ten years.”

He didn’t, but neither did anyone else. His victory tonight means the last 11 ranking events have each been won by a different player.

But Maguire always looked like he should belong in the winners’ circle. He has been knocking on the door for the last couple of years and it has finally opened.

Bingham was gracious as to be expected from one of the game’s genuine good guys. It wasn’t his night but he’ll be back for the next event, as enthusiastic as ever.

Finally, BBC Wales saw greater sense than the main network usually does by not only starting the final session at 7pm but by splitting the frames eight and nine.

This meant that though it was a relatively late finish it was still before 11pm rather than yet another midnight job.


Anonymous said...

great final tonight, good to see Stephen win and showing his emotions. The Referee I thought did a good job, Dave, was this her first ranking final?


Hi David. What a final.

Bingham starts poorly, Maguire leads, 2-0 Bingham makes 56, in frame 3. 2-1. Maguire then, leads 3-1, at the first mid-session interval. Bingham wins three of this session's remaning four frames, including the last two. From 4-2 down, he levels at 4-4, going into tonight's final session.

In tonight's final session, Bingham, wins three of the first four frames, to lead, 7-5, over-all, at this event's final, mid-session interval. Bingham should have won frame 13. He lost it, having fluked the blue, and missing an easy pink, Now, 7-6, to Bingham. Maguire won the next two frames. to go one up, with two to play, at 8-7 infront. Bingham won frame 16. 8-8. Decider time.

In the deciding 17th frame, both have chances. Maguire exploits his, to the full, to win, 9-8. Maguire's first full ranking event title, in five years,since he won the 2008 China Open, Beating Shaun Murphy, 10-9, in that final, is the 2013 Welsh open, beat Stuart Bingham, 9-8, in that final. A great final, in my view. Unlucky, but well played, to Stuart Bingham. Well done,and well played, to Stephen Maguire.

Anonymous said...

If ever a player didn't need a fluke, that blue was the turning point. If it had stayed out Bingham would have almost certainly have gone 8-5 and then he would have been a heavy, heavy favourite. Some people say the flukes shouldn't be allowed to count, but you can't outlaw bad luck can you?

Most enjoyable final for quite a while. You could see that Maguire badly needed to win it though. He looked like a man with something to prove this evening, and the match was all the more enjoyable for it.

Anonymous said...

It was a gripping match and a really good week of snooker. Well done to both players. And contrary to what someone commented yesterday, I love the trophy! Commentary honours go to Terry Griffiths, whose very dry wit may not be appreciated by everyone but whom I find entertaining and endlessly knowledgeable.

kimball said...

A great tournament, surprises at every turn, oldtimers and newtimers.
A fantastic crowd (how did that happen?)Fantastic final too and had they done the ""Harlem shake" at the
priceceremony it would have gone down as top ten sportentertainment of the year. Now, the best tournament for the season and a very good two table set up. Let the Chinese do the Harlem....!!!!

Anonymous said...

A tournament that got better as the week went on. Hopefully next year they won't devalue the Welsh Open by making it best of 7 until the quarter finals.

Next year, give the event it's full Ranking Event status and make it a proper best of 9 until the quarter finals (add another table if need be) and with all respect to the Newport Centre, lets get it back in the capital, at the superb Cardiff International Centre.

Anonymous said...

It's now 22 years since the Mita World Masters at the NEC in Birmingham, which had a mixture of mens, womens, doubles and a junior event. Jimmy White then won the £200k first prize, the biggest prize in snooker at the time, even beating the World Chps. John Higgins won the U/16 event beating Mark Williams in the final. It wasn't continued because a sponsor couldn't then be found, but things are much different now. Is it not time for a similar yearly or two event event of mixed cue sports feast.

I'd suggest:
Mens Singles
Womens Singles
Junior U/16
9 Ball Pool
8 Ball Pool
(personally wouldn't include doubles zzzz)

Would also be interesting to see how the snooker players fair in other cue sports events and vice versa. Selby has the 8 ball World Chp and Steve Davis and Drago have had long runs in the World 9 ball World Chps.
Obviously fitting this lengthy type of event into an already busy calendar could be difficult, but I'm sure something can be done and it's very long overdue.

Anonymous said...

8:39 - the problem with the Trophy isn't so much that it's a roof tile, its more the base (a block of wood with little shields - it looks like something from a local club competition and isn't really fitting for a ranking event). Surely they could just have paid a jeweler to grind the word 'Regal' off the old trophy?

Dan said...

Great week, perfect blend.

Thoroughly agree re 7pm start too, if anything make it even earlier so it is a little more convenient for our European friends.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the BBC 301 coverage here in England. Even Willie T was on good form for a change - with some decent analysis, not just endless criticism of shot selection. They need more than one pundit in the studio, though, for a final anyway.

kimball said...

11.06 , of course they couldn't find
a new sponsor for the "Mita" , it closed down 4 mill in the red!

What the amateurworld wants, is a every second year team worldchampionship, with qualifications.
Don't forget, it is a global sport now and global audience like to get a
glimpse of their boys, pros or not.

Anonymous said...

Further to some comments yesterday, I think the old Regal Welsh trophy was given to Stephen Hendry to keep.

The 2003 final was the last with Regal. It was between Hendry and Williams and as they'd both won it twice before, it was decided before the match that whichever one of them became the first three-time winner would get to keep it.

That's how I recall it anyway. Also, totally agree the current trophy looks ridiculous. It's barely even a trophy at all.

Anonymous said...

11:06 - I think the losses Bazza sustained on that tournament put him off snooker for a long time (I think I'm right in saying that he didn't promote another new professional event until the Championship League 20 years(?) later).

1:10 - This week has only served to underline Willie's class (its a travesty that he has fallen behind JV, Ken D and Dennis T in the BBC pecking order).

Re Studio pundits, BBC Wales seem unable to use anyone who isn't a Welsh snooker player, which leaves them a bit stuck: Reardon & Mountjoy are a bit old to start careers as pundits, MJW would be great entertainment but I can't see him or Stephens or Day being up for it.

Anonymous said...

Not a fan of WT as commentary but he wasn't too bad this time as were all the others. Shame the main BBC don't take heed of what the viewers say and prefer but, no doubt, that idiot Virgo will be back and bore the pants off me in the World!

Anonymous said...

Hope WT has earned his commentary place back for the top events- he was missing at the masters but v good last week. Taylor and Virgo should go. I thought Dominic Dale was quite good as well

Anonymous said...

There are better than the Great WT, as he does get some his facts wrong at times. Saying that, I'd rather listen to WT than Taylor, McManus or Hallett!

Think it's time for the BBC to admit they were wrong to sack Clive Everton and bring him back for the Worlds, and not just for the first week or similar. He should definitely be commentating at least from the Quarter Finals through to the final without a shadow of doubt. Let's listen to some real class again! That's if Clive want's to return back there!

Alan C said...

Seriously people enjoyed WT this time? Usually I don't mind him but he does criticise shot selection of some players a lot. But this Welsh Open I could not stand him, did anyone notice that the first few days he was endlessly talking about kicks and how bad the table conditions were, then all of a sudden in the semi-finals onwards he said the conditions have been amazing and that there have been no kicks at all (Until a kick on a black i thin).

Sorry, bring back JV, Davis or Hendry. At least they have a much greater understanding of shot selection and choices...

Anonymous said...

All the ex players are good commentators except for Taylor and Hallett.

Anonymous said...

Ex-players are a mixed bag, and being a good player is no guarantee of being a good commentator. Thorne, Virgo and Taylor are all deadwood. Hendry is a disappointment, and Davis and Doherty don't provide as much insight as you would expect. The best three are Foulds, Griffiths and Parrott by a wide margin.

Ray said...

Great week's snooker in Newport and a marvellous final.Who needs gimmicks when you have sport like that?
If the Welsh Open is to remain in Newport the council should look to refurbish the auditorium because the seats are diabolical - no legroom and too small - and the flooring needs to be upgraded. It all looks shabby and as if it has been there since Adam was boy.

Anonymous said...

2:43 - I'm sure Hearn has learnt lessons from 1991 when promoting the Mita/Sky World Masters and would do a much better job now... I think this type of event as I mentioned earlier could attract a number of sponsors.

It would need to have very good prize money and big first prizes. Scheduling would be difficult with most players I guess wanting to play in other cue sports, but I'd have it open plan at a big venue, so spectators are able to watch different sports at one time. If done properly and I don't mean best of 3's etc and It would take a lot of organizing, as there would bound to be a clash of dates in other cue sports, but if planned long enough in advance, I think it could work. Blimey, perhaps I should try and promote it myself! lol

wild said...

if the BBC arent going to give Clive his old Job Back and it really looks like that's a no go then how about Dave Hendon.

i know im on his Blog and probably coming over as ass licking lol but i do feel BBC Lacking in some Journalistic insight in the Box and Dave is one of the Best Commentators at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Griffiths as a commentator doesn't offer too many superlatives which I find a welcome alternative to Thorne who in every match spots the greatest clearance/break/shot/long pot he's ever seen.

Anonymous said...

I was extremely moved by Terry's poetry last night too. I can't imagine John Virgo delivering verse to such elegant and poignant effect. Darren Morgan captured the sentiment perfectly: "Our Terry has certainly opened 'is 'art up there."

Anonymous said...

It proves that, whatever people say, snooker does not rest on the shoulders of a couple of superstars.
well said David, though you could have just said superstar singular, cos lets face it, that's what fans of his have been saying for years.

snooker will flourish without him. fans of his that just diss everyone else for not being fast etc.. will get over their fetish eventually.

Graeme said...

Clive Everton is class. Always has been.
Arguably the best ever and definitely the best currently.
As much as I would love for him to get a position at Sheffield, I would not blame him for staying away such has been his shoddy treatment at the hands of the BBC and IMG. One thing Clive definitely does have in abundance is integrity.

Anonymous said...

The variety of opinion on who is / who is not a good commentator continues to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

It's no secret that one of the ingredients of Hearn's vision is razzmatazz. Included would be walk on music, nicknames for all players, game show style MC, high profile ex player commentators, overusing ever more innovative camera angles etc etc.
Progress ?
Nothing stays the same forever and in order to attract new audiences, some of the above may be necessary.
For more mature purists of the game who understand (unlike the producer it would seem) the strategy of the game, a plain, full view of the table which shows every aspect of every shot has given way to a dizzying, constantly switching view scene which does nothing but smother the coverage, gives absolutely no perspective and thus spoils enjoyment.
We are lucky that we are enjoying an apparent upturn in popularity yes, with plenty coverage to match, I would much prefer though that there was some professional input regarding tv production in order that the coverage is the best it can be.

Anonymous said...

I prefer Hendry, Thorne, Parrott, Doherty, Davis. Virgo just sounds bored and annoyed most of the time. Taylor would be alright if not for the lines staying up, and the way he goes on about players' family members when they sit in the crowd. I liked all 3 Welsh commentators last week as well

Anonymous said...

5:49 You are probably right in that there is frequent chat about the commentators, but where Clive Everton is mentioned it is justified. Graeme is right, the BBC
letting Clive go was so off the scale the wrong decision I can't put it in to words. The thought of listening to the likes of Taylor "there's Aunty Agnes who is 101, absolutely marvelous" or Doherty and Hendry telling you exactly what anyone can already see, saddens me. Who knows, perhaps after Clive's performance in the forthcoming World Open, which we all know will be top drawer, might trigger someone from the BBC to wise up and apologize, then do the right thing and ask Clive to work during the latter stages of the World Championships.

Anonymous said...

Have been looking at the ITV4 schedule - it appears they are showing the World Open live from 6 - 3.30 each day but no highlights (although they are showing some of the Death Wish movies in the evening, which obviously couldn't be moved just for snooker). I hope that lots of people vote with their feet and watch on Saturday and Sunday.......

Anonymous said...

That is my grandmother's idea of heaven. She loves watching the snooker and she loves Charles Bronson.

Anonymous said...

Is it just one "anon" who keeps posting a comment about the single top view of the table?

Having said that, I wish they would return to that view on the stadium monitors to stop the stupid waving "look at me I'm on TV".

Also how long before a player makes a formal complaint about being put off by audience laughter caused by a BBC commentators comment heard in the earpieces. As indeed happened on Sunday night...

Anonymous said...

I think making a "formal complaint" would be a bit harsh as professional players have to put up with and play through the likes of laughter on their shot, mobile phones going off, coughing on their back swing etc etc.

Obviously steps need to be taken to stop any hindrances that stop players concentrating fully when playing etc, and I'd hope that commentators have been spoken too with regard to saving their humour quotes being mentioned between shots?

Anonymous said...

Agree about the poor choice of timing when cracking jokes.
Also, when the ref reprimands the audience for having their earpieces too loud, that's more of a technical issue. Some sort of volume limiter would be in order.
Agree also with the choice to have one static view of the table. The bouncing about between cameras is ridiculous and gives me a sore head.

Anonymous said...

Many anon-blabber posts used to be all about RoS, now its all about technical crap of how cameras should be operated. If thats the most interesting thing to post about these days, please bring back the "I hate/love Ronnie" loops!