Snooker isn’t even Pankaj Advani’s no.1 sport but he produced an assured performance last night to see off Shaun Murphy 4-3 at the BetVictor Welsh Open in Newport.

The reigning world professional billiards champion played a tactically astute deciding frame to reach the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time.

Snooker, according to legend, was invented in India by British army officers in 1875 as they took shelter during the rainy season. Billiards has always been no.1 there but they now have two dedicated professionals in Advani and Aditya Mehta and there will very likely be a ranking event there next season.

Ten years ago, Ken Doherty beating John Higgins wouldn’t have been a shock but while Higgins remains a top player, Doherty has slipped down the rankings. Therefore, the Irishman’s 4-1 victory yesterday was a surprise.

It’s hard to explain where form goes. Higgins played about as well as he ever has to beat Judd Trump 10-9 from 7-2 down in the Shanghai Masters final last September but has not played as well since. He may still this season but following a first round exit in Berlin is clearly in a bit of a slump.

Sam Baird reached the last 16 of a ranking tournament for the first time with a 4-0 win over Gerard Greene, who seemed to be feeling the pressure of being favourite.

Don’t believe anyone who says psychology doesn’t play a part in snooker. It’s a massive part of the game. All these guys can play but mental fortitude is vital: shutting out self doubt and remaining positive. That’s what Advani did and he reaped the rewards.

Twenty years ago Doherty beat Alan McManus in the Welsh Open final and the Scot duly joined Doherty in the last 16 with a 4-2 win over Barry Hawkins, who missed a straight black to lead 3-1.

Today Trump returns to action against Dominic Dale, who he beat in the first round of both the UK and World Championships last season.

Ding Junhui, the defending champion, faces Mark King, runner-up in the Welsh 16 years ago.

Mark Williams, the only Welshman to win the title, is up against a similarly swift, attacking player in Robert Milkins.

And Mark Selby, the player of the season so far, tackles Joe Perry, who he beat recently at the German Masters.

Another busy day on the green baize beckons, then.


Anonymous said...

I think results from the last week re0inforce that top players should only have to play in L64 or L128 if there are enough frames to allow their talent to shine through.

I suggest a minimum of 11 frames.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday somebody said:

"I ask again and again, WHY is it so difficult to point one single static camera at each table, and to then make the matches available on-demand for the people who work during the day?"

Are you not aware of the Eurosport player which gives you virtually that - both tables almost all the time, mostly a top view, just sound from the stadium no commentary.

Anonymous said...

Apart from the players themselves, there seems to be so much confusion / lack of management direction at the moment:

- which L64 matches at Newport apply for the highest breaks
- which games are available for which TV feed
- alleged unlevel tables in Berlin
- an official internet feed which isn't available most of the time in many countries for contractual reasons

I suggest somebody needs to get their act together.

Anonymous said...

Comparing the BBC Wales coverage & Eurosport's coverage this week.

Both channels get their pictures from the third party contracted by the host broadcaster the BBC.

Alas the BBC Wales coverage is so old-fashioned, particularly the 7-8pm programme. But they do have Willie Thorne & Terry Griffiths.

Then yesterday at 8pm the BBC Red Button went on to broadcast a radio statio BBC Radio Six !!!

Eurosport show the whole match - in this case both matches. They have some experienced commentators. Occasionally they do leave a match, but the end can still be watched online.

I suggest that in an internet age, the Eurosport approach is what viewers want today - the whole match & a choice of match.

kildare cueman said...

I couldn't believe the ignorance of Mike Hallett yesterday.

You'd swear Advani was a blind player the way he was bigging up the likelihood of Murphy ateamrollering him.

I had a hefty bet on the Indian ridiculous odds, not necessarily because I thought he'd win, but because he is a quality tactical and positional player, and over 7 frames Murphy was only slight favourite for me.

Wasn't that big a shock for anyone who watches the game.

I think the thing with Higgins' form is just age.

We know that as a player gets older, their best is as good as ever. They just can't produce their best as often as when they're young.

Anonymous said...

It seems both Higgins and Trump have contracted the "shiteness". It goes around snooker clubs like the flu. Unfortunately there is no known inocculation against it, you just have to ride it out.

Anonymous said...

Dave what channel is the ding junhui mark king match going to be on eurosport 1 or eurosport 2?

Dave H said...

Eurosport 1

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave appreciate it just of out wanted to sky plus it.

Anonymous said...

11.03 I think a minimum best of 11 frames is to much, especially for an event such as the Welsh Open as this would devalue events such as the UK Chp (Best of 11). With the Welsh Open currently best of 7 until the quarter finals, this I feel actually devalues the Welsh Open as a ranking event as PTC's are best of 7. The frame structure doesn't flow properly.

PTC'S - Best of 7's throughout.

Ranking Events - minimum best of 9

Uk Chp/Masters/International
Championship - minimum best of 11

World Chp - currently min best of 19, although I've no doubt this will be reduced in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Another downside to having too many cameras covering the arena is, I counted at least three people fast asleep for most of the Ding/King match..

Maybe another good reason to just have one static full table view.

Alan C said...

Is it just me or is the quality of snooker severely going downhill?

UK was one of the worst tournaments in terms of quality I think I've ever seen. The Master's was bad, we all kow Selby won playing terribly and no one was even competing. German Masters was getting better but this Welsh Open, is just dire. I've never seen so many simple straight forward pots missed, it's either the player or the conditions (perhaps both) but Robertson, Fu,Trump, Higgins and more have all missed pots that no one would miss drunk in a club. You can say pressure and all that, but are these not professionals? ><

Really hope they reduce next seasons tournaments to avoid these poor quality tournaments or embarassments from players.

Anonymous said...

The camera operators trying to anticipate what Judd is going to do next are making a real mess of things.
It's a given that when the frame is won, he's going to play some flair shots.
The producer needs to relax and just let us see the full view shot of the table.
Do away with the two floor camera operators or let there be a red button option for a static view, please !


Hi David. As I said yesterday, Advani did great to beat Murphy, 4-3. As for today's play, another great day's play, in my view.

Higginson did well, to beat Wasley, 4-2.

Bingham played great, to beat Steadman, 4-0.

Trump did superb, to come from 3-1 down, and beat Dale, 4-3.

Ding played great, to beat King, 4-0. Two Century breaks included, along with winning the first frame, after needing a snooker.

Ford did well, to beat a playing-wise, out of sorts, Walden, 4-1.

Perry played superb, to beat Selby, 4-0.

Milkins played great, to beat Williams, 4-1.

Dott Worked hard, and played well, in beating O'Brien, 4-2.

I can not wait for more, with all the matches in the last 16, all played tomorrow. I can't wait for tomorrow's play.

Anonymous said...

Yeah Ding looks shabby eh? 4 centuries in 10 frames. Not like the old days on Bonzoline balls and referees with dandruff on the shoulders of their velvet jacket.
Foul four but no miss was the cry back then.

Anonymous said...

Quote of the day from kildare cueman

"We know that as a player gets older, their best is as good as ever. They just can't produce their best as often as when they're young."


Anonymous said...

The Masters was good, it just imploded at the semi-final stage. I agree with the sentiment though, the UK was below par and I just can't get into the Welsh Open. The numerous 4-0's and 4-1's don't help matters, and the evening session is ruined by some music crap on 301. There's just no tension. Even the player's don't look that arsed when they lose; Shaun Murphy seemed genuinely happy for Panjak.

Anonymous said...

Re some comments:

The music "crap" on 301 is BBC Radio 6 - which is already available elsewhere on Freeview, satellite & internet so why duplicate it (other than to try and get more listeners).

Re a red button for a top view
- Freeview there is no spare capacity, BBC gave up ch 302 couple of years ago
- satellite technically yes but surely no business case - BBC just got rid of their six channels to save money.
- internet yes - at very little cost. Eurosport player already close to this.

But why not keep one match on 301 after 8pm or does the BBC contract with WS not allow it - suspect that is the case.

Watch Eurosport instead - choice of tables, most matches in full.

Anonymous said...

Some of the people "asleep" may be carers for the wheelchair viewers - so they can be excused (but maybe they could sit further back...)

Anonymous said...

Come on Welsh Dragon Matthew Stevens!

Anonymous said...

Cutting to a floor camera view behind the pocket in order to watch the ball coming towards you does seem to becoming more and more common I have to say. Those who play snooker always have the white in mind so that is why the ability to watch both aspects would be preferable.
It's very frustrating when a commentator makes mention of a delicate canon for example, when all we see is the object ball falling into the pocket.
1 view. All aspects of all shots.