Mark Davis and Mark King were not generally touted as pin-up boys for the Betfair World Championship before it began but they each proved yesterday that hype means nothing: it’s results that counts.

John Higgins didn’t lose his first round match, Davis beat him. When the chance came in the last frame, Davis made 87 to win 10-6 and was fully deserving of his victory.

Davis is surely the only snooker player who has started producing his best form at the age of 40. It has been a long time coming but he has every right to enjoy it.

Higgins seems to be in a similar quandary as Mark Williams: players who have scaled the ultimate heights but who are now struggling for form.

It happens to all the greats in the end. The question is to what extent they can stem the decline.

King finished really strongly against Mark Allen, winning 10-8 from 8-6 down. A battler of the old school, King, 39, is a tough match player and ultimately made more of his chances when the pressure came on.

What can we make of these two results? Ultimately grand analysis is pointless. The player who played better in each match won. End of.

Speaking of the end, it came surprisingly quickly last night for Graeme Dott in his extra session against Peter Ebdon, who had rallied from -2 down to 6-6 in the morning.

The big frame was the 13th, which Dott won after needing a snooker. Resuming with an 8-6 lead he felt more confident when they finally came back out to play.

Dechawat Poomjaeng became something of a darling for the audience yesterday due largely to his positive attitude and general sunny character.

The Thai entered the arena with a smile on his face rather than a chip on his shoulder and carved out a surprise 5-3 lead over Welsh Open champion Stephen Maguire.

This may still be overturned today but it was nice to see someone so obviously enjoying themselves and cherishing the chance to tread the Crucible boards.

Today authentic title contenders Ding Junhui, Judd Trump and Mark Selby all enter the fray although, as we have already seen, nothing is guaranteed.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of one of the great moments in snooker history. On April 23, 1983 Cliff Thorburn compiled the World Championship’s first 147 break during his second round match against Terry Griffiths.

The Canadian grinder fluked a red and painstakingly completed the perfect run of 147. It took a long time but this allowed the tension to build.

Play between Bill Werbeniuk and David Taylor on the other table stopped to allow Thorburn full concentration. Werbeniuk famously peaked around the arena partition to keep an eye on his compatriot.

As Thorburn stood over the final black, BBC commentator Jack Karnehm summed up the mood of those watching with a simple ‘good luck, mate.’

Thorburn potted it and sank to his knees in triumph before being bear-hugged by Griffiths and Werbeniuk.

It was a magical moment in a magical time when snooker on TV was still relatively new and the players grateful for their opportunities.

If you have a few moments, watch it again here:


tchobello said...

Higgins really struggled & ball run gave him no mercy.

What's the meaning of this arena partition ? Get rid of it !

AidyTy said...

John Higgins main problem is that he is not winning the close frames any more. Throughout his career he has always had a knack of winning frames he should have lost - that is not happening and this puts pressure on him to win the frame in one visit.

Losing and or winning these types of frames change matches - look at his match with Robert Milkins recently 3-1 up down to last four colours needing only one of them with pink and black on cushions and he manages to lose the frame in one visit - good clearance but should never have been allowed to make it and yesterday in the second frame of the second session - 57 points up with three reds on the cushion and he loses it. When the pressure is on in tight frames is he cueing differently?

Anonymous said...

The Dott Ebdon match far from being boring was really gripping, and a lot of people stayed late at the Crucible to watch it.

Anonymous said...

i was really impressed with davis. he really held his nerve. he became one of my favourite players in this season!

Anonymous said...

Glad Ebdon is gone. That guy is bad news for the game.
Glad Higgins is gone. That guy is bad news.

Anonymous said...

Dott v Enron rhetorical question would tv crew carried on past midnight - doubt it
Would we have carried on watching this exciting match...

Anonymous said...

Watching somebody sucking the energy from his opponent by deliberately wasting time is not gripping.
It is gamesmanship and he needs to be warned about it.
It may be fascinating to witness the game being smothered and the performance of your opponent being dragged down at the same time, but it is a tactic that requires no skill whatsoever, only the arrogance to believe that you will get away with it.

Anonymous said...

I think for John it is the beginning of the end.As for Mark King what a come back,i for one didnt see that one coming.Mark Allen i think needs to lighten up a bit,hes getting handsomely paid for playing a game he loves,and all he ever seems to do is complain.Mark if you dont like it,get out of it,no one is forcing you to play.

Anonymous said...

Another player who produced arguably his best ever snooker in supposedly his twilight years, was Doug Mountjoy who won back to back world ranking titles - the UK & Merc Credit Classic in his mid 40's!!

Agree Dave, Mark Davis won this match rather than Higgins lost it because of poor misses and a bad run of the ball. Higgins said after that age may not be the issue for his poor form as Mark Davis is a few years older but said he has more grey hairs from playing much more in the latter stages of big events. Don't agree with that - lets not forget Mark Davis started a book keeping course a few years ago for something to fall back on whereas Higgins has been a millionaire from his mid 20's I'd guess. The pressure of providing for your family etc is much more Mr Higgins so that explanation doesn't wash at all.

On another note, is it not time for the table divide to go and for the Crucible to have an even better atmosphere??

The Blog said...

In the current Ding vs McManus match, Ding is wearing a black band on his left arm. Is this a sign of his 'mourning' for someone he knows or has he got an arm injury? Anyone have any idea?

jamie brannon said...

I agree that Davis played well and deserved it, but Higgins was clearly below-par, and this had to have a played a part in his downfall.

A very interesting point about Mark Davis playing his best stuff at forty, it seems odd when many players have declined by this age.

As for Higgins, I'm not as concerned about him as Williams. It wasn't long ao he won the Shanghai Masters. Williams has done nothing really for a couple of seasons.

The Blog said...

An update on my question about Ding's clothing...

Just heard Hazel say Ding is wearing an armband as a mark of respect to those that died in the recent earthquake in Sichuan, China.

Anonymous said...

Think John Higgins has lost his enthusiasm for practice, no reason why you can't be as good at 50 as when you were 20 at snooker . Would like to hear a sports scientists view .

The Blog said...

Quote of the day, or even the whole tournament, from Dennis Taylor:

"Dechawat Poomjaeng - The Mr Bean of Thai Snooker."


Anonymous said...

Latest unnecessary irritation - crunching up the picture on the red buttom for 5 minutes a time when a tickertape would do.

Anonymous said...

2.33 - Not true - If that was the case the oldest World Champion of the modern era wouldn't be 36 then and the likes of Steve Davis would be in the top 4 in the world. and Jimmy would likely be top 8. I assume you mean this from a physical perspective, but there's more to it.

Lots of reasons - your hand eye co-ordination is not the same as you get older - generally in your mid 30's your on the downhill. Mid 30's, you think your concentrating, but your not and easy balls are missed.


Hi David. It's the 30th anniversaary, toda, of Thorburn's Crucible 147 break. He did this, on, 23-4-1983. Today, is, 23-4-2013.


Hi David. Great memories, of the Thorburn 147.

The Blog said...

The Poom has won!!!!

What a great victory over Stephen Maguire.

j said...

Hi David. POomjaeng did well, to lead Maguire, 9-8, and win, 10-9.

Selby did well, to lead Selt, 6-3.

Carter did well, to beat Woollaston, 10-4.

Did did well, to lead McManus, 7-2,

Fu played well, to lead Stevens, 6-3.

Trump did great, including a 142 break, to lead Dale, 6-3.

Anonymous said...

10.43, thank you!