So ends a night of extraordinary drama in which John Higgins...just...has booked his place in the Pukka Pies UK Championship final with his 9-8 victory over Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Higgins won the first world ranking title of the decade, the 2000 Welsh Open, and if he beats Ding Junhui tomorrow he will win the last.

Right now, he’ll just be relieved to be through.

Leading 8-2 he was playing superbly but O’Sullivan was at 92% pot success at the time which tells you that although he had been largely shut out, he was still playing well.

They came back after the interval at 8-4, Higgins still confident of victory. Then came an incident which symbolised the turnaround even if it didn’t directly cause it.

After being called for six successive misses while snookered on all colours, O’Sullivan inadvertently touched the black with his hand.

Higgins asked for him to be put back in but the referee, Jan Verhaas, stated that it could not be called a miss because no stroke had been played.

On Eurosport commentary I agreed with him, but it was clear that this is a grey area and nobody seemed to know for sure.

Verhaas thought it over and called a miss. O’Sullivan intervened and Verhaas changed his mind and reverted to his original decision.

This is one of those arcane areas that needs to be clarified. I’m sure any referees reading this will have their own views.

I'm not for a minute saying O'Sullivan did this, but what is to stop a player being called for misses getting out of the situation by deliberately fouling a ball?

The match continued and Higgins grew edgy – understandably. Even at 8-2 he would know, somewhere in the back of his mind, that the one player in the world today capable of coming back from so far behind – apart from himself – is O’Sullivan.

And he did. All the way to 8-8.

He was in the balls in the decider but missed a pink and Higgins made what was, under the circumstances, an excellent 56 break to leave him a ball from making frame and match safe.

He later potted it to lead by 47 with 43 on. O’Sullivan chose not to play on. Considering he had fought so hard from 8-2 down this surprised me.

Perhaps by then he believed he didn’t deserve to win. Who knows? It was a night of high drama where anything was possible.

It was also a great advert for snooker: two world class players locking horns before a packed audience in one of the game’s biggest events.

The match lived up to the billing. It was superb entertainment.


Anonymous said...

"gamesmanship" by one of the players tonight!

Anonymous said...

dave, does inadvertently mean deliberately? ;)

Greg said...

I'm so disappointed, it was an amazing match, but as a Ronnie fan I am disappointed that he won't be playing tomorrow.

In one way, it's a good thing Higgins won because, I hate to think how he would have reacted if he'd lost, in light of that 13th frame. He seemed seriously angry to me.

Dave H said...

No it means the opposite.

Ronnie is many things. Cheat isn't one of them.

Enten-Eller said...

It was the best match I've ever seen. Ronnie is a king even when he loses.

Eric said...

Great report, Dave!

I was also surprised by Ronnie conceding that final frame while needing just one snooker to tie. He had done exactly the same in frame seven, when he trailed John by 39 points with still a red on the table. I don't understand that.

Nothing wrong with Ronnie's fighting spirit tonight, though...

And I also believe everything went with the rules in frame 13, but the rules need some modification _ or at least some clarification here.

Anonymous said...

dave, up until tonight i would have agreed with your post at 11.35pm 100% but i will never be convinced he isnt after watching it again several times and viewing his body language, him imediately sitting down and then not accepting jans decision as if he already knew the outcome of what would happen in this rare occasion.

ok, i already know you dont agree, but thats my view anyway.

high drama match no matter what anyone thinks of that situation.

i didnt use the word cheat though...

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

At the end of the 'incident' frame, Higgins had a few choice words with the referee.

Did you see that?

I don't think his post match interview would've been conducted in such a composed manner had he lost the match.

I hope these two don't retire soon. I wouldn't say they're carrying the game, but, they're certainly the best (matches) to watch.

Thanks, Joe

Anonymous said...

did anyone else get the impression that jan changed his mind on the rules?

i am not saying whether the correct or wrong decision was made in the end, but he appeared to a lot of folk to have changed his mind.

kimball said...

I think the "incident" should have
been called Penalty!

No shot being made or tried to be
made, the player stays on the same
shot but suffers seven points any-

Ferhaas made the wrong decision
and it nearly costed Higgins the game.
There are no grey areas for such "fouls" !

dzierzgul said...

What a great, great match. Seems that this year if a match is to be a classic John Higgins must be involved - in my opinion three best matches of 2009 are Higgins vs. Selby in World Championship, Higgins vs. Robertson in Grand Prix and today's semi-final of UK Championship.
As for "Verhaas incident" - the only strange thing was that he changed the position of white ball after O'Sullivan's foul on black ball. Since miss wasn't called it seemed a bizarre thing to do. Apparently, there was to be a touching ball on the red - when Higgins approached the table he noticed, that there's no touching ball and therefore Verhaas repositioned the cue ball. However I don't suppose he should have done that - after all, hadn't both players agreed on white ball's position when it was repositioned after Ronnie's last failed attempt (that is just before black ball foul). That, for me, was the strangest part of the whole situation.

Betty Logan said...

If Ronnie did do it on purpose I don't blame him because he had already made six valid attempts to hit a colour, and even changed his colour nomination because he couldn't hit the one he was going for! If you ask me Jan should have stopped calling a miss several shots earlier. I'm pretty sure the rule wasn't brought in to penalise a player over 30 points after accidentally snookering himself; it's not even as if Higgins had played the snooker himself! If Ronnie got out of it on a technicality, good for him because the rule at that stage clearly wasn't be applied with the purpose it was intended for.

Anonymous said...

In the end I could not get any enjoyment from this match because of that cheater called Ronnie O'Sullivan.


Just a PLEASURE to watch, as, I am sure, The Final will be. I can't wait. Just to clarify, I beleive it is a 2pm start David. Could you tel me if I am correct? As I would JUST HATE to miss it. Cheers mate. JAMIE

Anonymous said...

A simple rule would be if this happened again is to still call it foul and a miss..

Anonymous said...

I was supposed to go out, so was hoping john would wrap it up quickly. But I ended up cancelling the night out and stayed for the climax.
Thrilling stuff.

Anonymous said...

Higgins might be starting a mammoth pie-eating session tomorrow night....

Eric said...

@ Betty Logan 12:41

I don't agree with blaming the referee here. By nominating the brown and later yellow, Ronnie was clearly NOT going for the easiest possible solution, which would have been a one-cushion escape to the blue. That means, Verhaas had no other choice than to call a miss every time Ronnie missed brown or yellow.

Anonymous said...

betty, what rubbish you talk.

first off it was a terrible shot by ron that got him into the situation in the first place. watch again and you will see he overcut the red to the left of the pocket and so overran the cueball, snookering himself. only a ron fan or someone not paying attention would fail to see there was no bad luck involved as it was just a poor shot.

Secondly, and the reason you are talking rubbish is:

yes i believe ron made valid attempts to hit the colours he nominated IT IS STILL A MISS AS HE WAS CHOOSING HARDER ESCAPES SO AS TO MAKE THE TABLE SAFE. the ruling on this is quite clear to referees in that if a player is choosing 2 and 3 cushion escapes to leave it safe instead of taking a much easier path, say off of one cushion, because that will leave an easy table layout, then it will be a miss if they foul.

That said ron could have nominated black, blue or? and hit them off one cushion (with side slightly), but instead he chose a more difficult path and so was rightly being called miss EVERY TIME.

you obviously dont understand the miss rule.

again, ron played a bad shot and was not unlucky to snooker himself. the red he ended up 'behind' was always there.

well done higgins. gentleman and great player. deserved winner.

kimball said...

O'Sullivan could easily have hit the
So long as he did a harder shot, it is always a foul and a miss.
Still, you can,t escape from your
"problems" by "accidentaly" making
another kind of foul.
The interwiew in WSA explains a lot
about Ronnies thinking regarding
the situation.
The referee made a mistake!

Anonymous said...

Betty - will you pleased be told, the rules are the rules. Stop moaning about them and enjoy the snooker

Anonymous said...

Ronnie cheated and tried to take advantage.

I'm so glad the fair player won.

Dana said...

anonymous, who isn't able to write own name has no law to call somebody cheater! and I don't believe Ron is so good in rules to know that he won't force another miss after hitting black one, he explained it in his interview and Higgins agreed that Ron is the most genuine player in circuit, so calm down, anonymous!

dzierzgul said...

It's shameful how people accuse Ronnie of cheating without any proof at all. Seems that the rule, that one is innocent until found guilty has lost its relevance, which is quite unfortunate. And by the way, Higgins has explicitly stated, that he absolutely doesn't believe O'Sullivan touched black ball on purpose. Still, seems like many people are trying to be plus catholique que le pape.

Anonymous said...

dana, i am a different anonymous to the one you replied to.

i made the first two posts on this blog.

lets just call me fred couples. theres a name. wont make a difference though about my opinion and yours or anyone elses being different....

no matter who thinks ron cheated or not, higgins would definitely not say publicly even if he did privately (which i am obviously not suggested he does)

Betty Logan said...

I fail to see what relevance playing a bad shot and snookering yourself has to the miss rule, Anon? Where does it say that if someone snookers themself through playing a poor shot they should have a miss indefinitely called on them? Also, the miss rule applies only to the ball on, not to colour nomination. Once the ball is nominated then the miss rule applies equally regardless of whether he nominated a more difficult ball or not. The miss rule states that that the striker must "endeavour" to the "best of his ability" to hit the "ball on". The brown was the ball on and he had several attempts but couldn't hit it, so clearly a miss shouldn't be called in that situation. Please show me in the rules that states a miss can be called if you nominate a more difficult ball. A colour isn't a "ball on" until it is nominated, and the miss rule only applies to "ball on".

Betty Logan said...

The simplest solution would be to redefine a miss as "Failure to strike the object ball causing the striker to benefit or his opponent to be disadvantaged. If the referee is satisfied by the attempt given the relative difficulty of the shot then he has the discretion to not call a miss".

Anonymous said...

yet again betty you show your ignorance to the miss rule.

alos, i wasnt relating the miss rule to the bad shot. the bad shot was just part of the lead up to what happened, so i mentioned it. i didnt say it was part of the shot, so no need to suggest i did.

the reason i mentioned it is ive read a fre ron fans say he was unlucky to be snookered, which clearly wasnt the case.

thats all

now, if you cant learn what the miss rule is and how its applied then i think youre going to need a bigger spade for the hole you dig.

Hogwash said...

Kimball said it all: the rules are quite clear. 7 points penalty for touching the black and as a GENERAL RULE FOR ANY FAUL (section 3/11/i and ii) Mr. Higgins should have decided whether or not he wanted to come to the table. Jan Verhaas has made a HUGE mistake and should not be allowed refereeing at any event of such importance.

Betty Logan said...

I didn't say he was unlucky to be snookered, so you're the one who brought it up. And I will ask you again: show me in the rules where it says the miss rule also applies to colour nomination. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong section, or at the wrong rules but as far as I can tell the miss rule only applies to the "ball on" and nothing else. If you can't quote me the appropriate section then we will just assume you've lost the argument and I've won it to spare Dave Hendon's blog from your further witterings.

stuartfanning said...

Well was Verhaas right or wrong? Surely some of the Snooker 'experts' on here know the rules and can give a definitive answer.

John Virgo was determined to 'blame the ref' and he repeated his opinion several times. This is without having the rule book checked!

Dave H said...

My reading of the 'incident'as we are now duty bound to call it: the referee was right, it wasn't a miss, but if John had put Ronnie back in he would still have had to go for a colour, not a red

This rather makes a mockery of any claims he had cheated

Anonymous said...

betty, i have explained the miss rule on here and so has someone else. i wont spoon feed you more, sorrry, as i suspect youre on the wind up (as nobody is that silly to not have understood what i and others typed and still make posts like you do)

Dave, do you think Jan did a booboo?

Betty Logan said...

Dave, why would Ronnie have to go for a colour if John had put him back in after the "no miss" foul? That doesn't make sense! After a "no miss" foul it's complete new turn regardless of who plays it. I think you've got that wrong.

Dave H said...

He's on the same shot as he was originally on, regardless of whether a miss is called

Betty Logan said...

So tell me this Dave. Say a player pots a red and takes on a colour but fouls and leaves himself snookered on the reds but leaves the colour he attempted over the pocket, his opponent can either attempt a red or take on a free ball. If there is no value in playing the free ball then he can put his opponent back in, who is then back on a colour instead of a red and can go on and pot the colour that finsihed over the pocket? No I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie's problem is that he gives Higgins too much respect, he should have attacked him from the off.

Hogwash said...

The name of the rule is "Play Again" - section 3/13. Does this mean anything to you? He is still on the same shot and plays it again. The balls are not repositioned since there was no "miss" call but he has to play it again nonetheless.

Theo said...

I can't see why there is this huge discussion, well bit of a fight regarding some comments.

To Hogwash. Your comment shows that you have absolutely no respect of a referee's job. As I'm a ref by myself i find that sad. Jan Verhaas is definately the very much best referee in the world. And also a very nice guy.
The whole situation last night was a bit weird. Ok Jan coudl have handled this better. That was a mistake. But how many unforced errors have you counted from Ronnie and John?
I think that was the first mistake from Jan for ages and i cant remember any situation worth to talk about.
To be honest, i laughed when i read "Jan Verhaas ... should not be allowed refereeing at any event of such importance." Please show some respect.

To Dave. Who have you talked about the rule that you say Ronnie would have still be on a colour? This would be right if it was a full face situation, so that the opponent can win the frame after the third foul. But this wasn't the case. I do can see the intention of your point and i agree that this version is woth to think about for a rule change in the future. But it's not eligible at the moment i think.
I might be wrong, so i would be very pleased if you can explain this a bit more detailed. I know you are very busy. But maybe you find a few minutes.

To Betty. You think you found a point in the rules that is not clear and now you want to make a fool of everyone. But you are wrong. Please check Section 2 Definitions. Ball On and Nominated Ball. No matter if in a break or in last night's situation. All 6 colours were ON. Now check the definition of Miss: "A miss is when the cue-ball fails to first contact a ball on and the referee considers that the striker has not made a good enough attempt to hit a ball on."
So it has no effect on the miss rule which colour you nominate.

Let me know if that is still not clear. I might get my dictionary out to maybe find clearer words.

Wow this became a quite long comment LOL

Dave H said...

One of the refs told me, although everyone seemed confused one way or another and apparently still are

Betty Logan said...

Jan Verhaas has just confirmed that if Higgins had put Ronnie back it would have been to play the red.

Anonymous said...

If Ronnie was put back in hes on a red Jan said it at the interval.

Eric said...

@ Betty Logan 1:46 PM

Well, this is a completely different situation. In the example as you descibed it, the first player MISSED A POT, which automatically ends his turn (or break). If his opponent puts him back in after the foul, his next shot surely is a red. Can't be any doubt about that.

But that all has very less in common with yesterday's situation, where Ronnie got snookered after potting a red, and thus still BREING ON A BREAK. That's why he had to continue with a colour and not a red, as Dave has pointed out.

Hogwash said...

To Theo: I'm sure Mr. Verhaas is a very nice guy. He was just not up to the job last night. Maybe he should do something he is better at - keep a few sheep perhaps. I do respect referees - in all sports - but sports are not about them and your comment shows you think that they are. Ask the Irish.

Betty Logan said...

Hogwash the name of the rule "Play Again" can only be invoked after a foul and a miss.

14. Foul and a Miss
(a) After a foul and a miss has been called, the next player may request the offender to play again from the position left or, at his discretion, from the original position, in which latter case the ball on shall be the same as it was prior to the last stroke made

11. Fouls
If a foul is committed, the referee shall immediately state FOUL.
(h) The player who committed the foul
(ii) has to play the next stroke if requested by the next player.

As you can see, putting your opponent back in after a foul is quite distinct from asking them to "Play Again".

The criteria for "Playing Again" are quite clear, so I don't see there is confusuon over this.

Betty Logan said...

Theo, if you are indeed a ref then I am very worried.

From the definitions:

11. Ball On
Any ball which may be lawfully struck by the first impact of the cue-ball, or any ball which may not be so struck but which may be potted, is said to be on.

The colours are not ball on, after a red is potted. A colour must be nominated for it to be "ball on". If you nominate the brown you cannot legally strike any other colour, therefore after nomination only the brown is ball on. None of the colours prior to nomination are "ball on" because they cannot be legally struck by first impact with the cue ball until they are nominated.

kimball said...

A PENALTY should have beeb called,
the player is still on the orginal

The situation is used as a "trickquestio" in exams for class
2 referees.

Anonymous said...

what ref told you the wrong info then Dave (wrong info according to Jans definition today)?

Dave H said...

Jan is probably the best referee on the circuit so I'm happy to go with his ruling

Anonymous said...

i agree 100% on your last comment Dave.

Jan is the best there is.

There isnt much between him, Michaela and AC/EW but hed be my vote as the best.

i didnt hear any mention of him being allowed to move the cueball, which he did. the interview with SD must have been cut short, or they missed that part out so it went under the carpet.

if anything, its taught us that no matter what rules are in place they can be bent whether it be by accident or design and now hopefully they will rectify one of a few loopholes that id bet exist.

ta for the reply dave

Anonymous said...

Dave the info you got from the ref wasn't Virgo by any chance was it... ;)

Anonymous said...

Cant believe ronnie didnt take the blue in the last frame.

You wouldn't expect him to miss the pink but I thought the blue was the easier pot, any one else agreee ?

Anonymous said...


"Hogwash the name of the rule "Play Again" can only be invoked after a foul and a miss."

I do believe that ANY player is allowed to put his opponent back in play AFTER he/she has made a foul, ANY foul that is!

Perhaps all snookerplayers should then be thinking about choosing another career as well. If they'd be spot on perfect then granted, you are correct but I don't think we've ever seen a best-of 19 match end in 10-9 with 147s all around.

Yes, sport is about the players, agreed on that BUT like players, refs are only human and therefore will make the odd mistake. These things happen.

Regardless of whether Jan's call was right or wrong, the fact that he "changed his mind" shows to me that at least he dares to.

Just my 2 cents' though,