When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object something has to give. But who will win out between the fast, attacking Ronnie O’Sullivan and the gritty, grinding Peter Ebdon in the second round of the Pukka Pies UK Championship today?

Famously, indeed controversially, the tortoise beat the hare at the Crucible in 2005 when Ebdon mounted a rearguard action to recover from 8-2 down and win their quarter-final 13-11.

Ebdon denied that he had slowed the pace of play down deliberately – at one point he took five minutes to make a break of 12 – but, all the same, he got under O’Sullivan’s skin and did a proper number on him.

Ebdon has won 11 of his 28 meetings with O’Sullivan, not a terrible record by any means against the world no.1.

But O’Sullivan demonstrated great patience in beating Matthew Stevens 9-3 yesterday, exhibiting some sublime safety play and gradually getting better as the match went on, winning nine of the last ten frames.

O’Sullivan may not look forward to playing Ebdon but would enjoy beating him.

Looking for a fifth UK title, O’Sullivan has arrived in Telford in cheery form fresh from turning 34 last weekend.

He is in a good mood following the coup that saw his friend Barry Hearn installed as chairman of the WPBSA.

And though his game is not at 100% yet, he’s not a player anyone wants to draw.

Ebdon had a good win over Judd Trump in which he won all five frames played in the final session. O’Sullivan, though, is a different prospect entirely.

Ding Junhui certainly has the game to end Shaun Murphy’s title defence but has only beaten him once in six meetings.

Ali Carter was delayed until midnight through a combination of a stubborn opponent in Rory McLeod and the roll on/roll off format whereas his second round opponent, Stephen Lee, has had a day off between matches.

Rank outsider Peter Lines is appearing in the last 16 of a ranking event for the first time in ten years but twice champion Mark Williams surely represents a match too far for him.


jamie brannon said...

A question came to me while going for a bathroom break in Snooker Extra. Dave, since Ronnie and Stephen Hendry have been in the top 16 have they ever played on a non tv table at a major tournament? Also is it known whether the UK will be in Telford next year? I was thinking of buying a season ticket next year they are priced at a very reasonable 120 pounds.

Anonymous said...

Slow play should be punished more severely.

In women's golf a player last year got a stroke added to her score for taking too long.

In tennis, umpires give a warning, then it's loss of a point, then game, then match if a player takes too long between points.

Snooker is supposed to entertain, but people and sponsors won't watch a player who continues to take too long.

The game needs change. Taking more than 30 seconds for a shot is ridiculous and should be punished.

Dave H said...

Yes they have, quite a few times. Don't know whether it will stay in Telford.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with slow play, it's just a different style. The 2005 crucible match between Ronnie and Peter was one of the most absorbing sporting events I've ever seen.

kimball said...

BBC has Murphy-Junhui 3-5, with a
text for Murphys hard struggle to
secure the eight frame.
Snooker seems to enter the virtual
world mixing facts and fiction.
What's next, faked broadcasting?

Anonymous said...

Everyone makes mistake's Kimbo even you! Eighth frame you mean ;)

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Anon 12:59
You are in the majority in thinking that slow play should be “sanctioned”. It is on record that a multi time’s world champion broke the balls for the first frame; the opponent cleared the table, the multi champion then disappeared to the ablutions to wash his hands.

Practicing on a table for a long period can give; black shine’y finger pads on the bridge hand, but not after one strike and one feel of the clothe. Mr hey you

PS There was no medical reason give when the champion was queried over his regular disappearing acts. Dm

Betty Logan said...

There's nothing wrong with slow play when it's just the pace the player plays at i.e. Graeme Dott, Terry Griffiths, Thorburn etc. There's really nothing wrong with just slowing the pace down slightly to knock a player off his stride, but there is a threshold at which delaying tactics become gamesmanship, and I fully believe Ebdon crossed the line during his 2005 QF. The problem is with the refs, Alan Chamberlain used to be always telling Fergal O'Brien to get a move on but these newer refs seem reluctant to reprimand players. Mark Selby should have been reprimanded during his world final, and also in the Welsh Open he won, and the Masters this year. I believe Ebdon lost his libel action against The Times when they branded him a cheat, which says it all really.

On the subject of Alan Chamberlain, he used to use discretion when applying the miss rule too. If a player had only one ball to go at, and had to come off a cushion to hit it he never called a miss as long as it was close and and it had enough pace to reach. I've seen two cushion escapes this week and the ball only misses by millimeteres and a miss still gets called.

Let's have some good old fashioned refereeing!

Anonymous said...

Betty - there should be absolutely no discretion at all with the miss rule. That way - the referees, the players and the spectators are all aware of the rule. Once you start using discretion, opinion and not fact can determine what happens, and that is not right.

The miss rule can be harsh, but it is also fair, and that's the way it should stay.

Anonymous said...

World snooker have instructed referees to be more stricter with the miss rule, maybe we are seeing it this week.

Anonymous said...

In other words refereeing by either accountancy or road traffic policing.

porridge said...

30 second shot clock with reasonable amount of possible timeouts should be implemented to every ranking tournament. it would be a sort of compromise compared to the premier league, but it's the only way forward. like Murphy said some time ago, the players don't take 25 seconds per shot anyway. even though in two-table situations things might get messy, but if there was a way to avoid such issues, then why not?

i mean, to think of it, what's the basic difference of premier league and ranking snooker right now? players scratch their backsides more in ranking matches. and there are lots of "breathers" that frankly are absolutely useless, as if some players forgot that people are watching.

of course, only shot clocks don't save ranking tour. bowties should be thrown in the bin, but instead players must wear heart rate monitoring belt device thingy (dunno what's it called). and microphones for players shouldn't hurt, or it would actually be better if tv companies found an alternative way than those ugly backpocket transmitters to capture the ref-player discussions.

Anonymous said...

Great post @porridge. An attempt to drag snooker kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but you're constructive proposals will fall on deaf ears.

You'll get the usual rubbish spouted, along the lines of "there's nothing wrong with the product". Yet the people who come out with such things have their heads in the sand. Have they not noticed that we're down to just 6 ranking events now, and there is a distinct lack of sponsors for events. To these people, I say, could it just be that sponsors just don't find the game attractive enough any more?

Anonymous said...

The only people who want shot clocks are rather obsessed Ronnie O'Sullivan fans who don't want their hero to have to play proper snooker

Pity and humour them by all means but the rest of us are grown ups and can take three minutes of safety

porridge said...

@anon 10:44:
it might just be that i'm more grown up than you are. by soul and by age. you'd be surprised.

your attitude is however very familiar to me, and something anon 8:21 in a way "predicted". now, let's dissect this problem i call snooker one more time.

snooker is a niche sport, which lead to the fact that all the forums on the net concerning snooker are crowded by "hardcore" fans. this applies to every sporting forums actually, but to niche sports obviously more so. of course, if one is a hc fan, one doesn't want change, but at the same time one fails to see the big picture: there aren't enough hc fans on this planet to fill the venues day in day out.

so snooker needs to attract NEW audiences, and keeping things as they are simply isn't enough. the game is good, but not good enough. and i'm now talking about professional game that is televised. of course snooker is a brilliant game when played by yourself at the snooker club. i wouldn't be here if it wasn't, would i? so i repeat: "good, but not good enough".

snooker as a televised sport needs all the gimmicks it can get to hold of its european audiences watching eurosport, because of the unfortunate situation that snooker lacks in nationalism, tribalism, and probably every other ism too. those two isms are however the basic essentials in the most popular sports. by the "lack of tribalism" i mean that for example in preston people don't probably rave about mcculloch but instead concentrate watching o'sullivan play. i could be wrong though, it's just a hunch i get from looking at things from outside uk.

you could make a wild guess that the interest on snooker emerged outside uk all for the wrong reasons in a way. or, not for wrong reasons, but let's just say, the interest just isn't very long term this way. the new interest usually bases on jaw-droppingly awesome skills of top professionals. but this isn't good enough anymore. new audiences tend to come and go. people get interested in the cores of the game, but not as a televised sports entertainment in the long term.

i'm afraid that listening to hc fans only and reaching out only to them doesn't get the sport anywhere. let's take an example: if Top Gear producer Andy Wilman took very literally what the biggest fansite of car programs were thinking about the series, and then took TG back to its roots (to being a fairly typical car program with couple of jokes) it would lose most of its 300 million viewers worldwide.

you may consider this an unappropriate example, but think of it. just think of it. other example could be found in rock music, where hc fans of some bands can often be heard accusing their favourite band for "selling their soul" by making an album that can be listened by someone else, by that dreaded mainstream audience. mostly this kind of talk should be seen just useless and as a load of "sloblock", when it comes to televised sports. if you really want snooker to survive, you let it change. in films and magazines typical men don't admit to have watched or read they say that "if you really love her, let her go." there will naturally be lot of crying to buckets happening in the start, but it's all for the best.

this is enough from one "o'sullivan fan", i'd better take this elsewhere if i'm to carry on. this is not the right place for lengthy opinions. :)

Dave H said...

A shot clock isn't going to magically transform snooker's fortunes.

More tournaments, different formats and - most importantly - playing in places where people want to watch will do.

As for bowties and waistcoats, who really cares?

Anonymous said...


You want different formats, yet talk down shot clocks. A slight oxymoron there.

What other formats do you suggest? At least @porridge has made some suggestions. Do you want to make any?

And as for waistcoats and bow ties, Judd Trump cares. He doesn't want to wear them.

Men dressed in bow ties and waistcoats at 10 in the morning just looks stupid.

You're another who is so immersed in the sport you cannot see the problems.

Dave H said...

Yeah thanks for that

Try reading the last three years of the blog if you want sensible suggestions

porridge said...

calm down, calm down. :)

go easy on dave, anon9:30. he had to read my 1000-word essays about the state of snooker just in case there was some sloblock to be moderated. as if he wasn't busy enough already.

i think we all, really deep down and without a need of anyone saying it, realize that changes need to happen. actually the changelist must be so big that it'd make changelists of any Football Manager game look like an ordinary tuesday shopping lists. and mr hearn has soon all the information that my kind of home-critics can only dream of. he will deliver. i'll be astonished if he can't. :)

better discuss these issues somewhere else someday. i'd love to go deeper to the sociological theories of sports in general and try to reflect those to the snooker world. now that could be almost fascinating. true story.

Anonymous said...


why quote murphy regarding the players not taking a certain amount of time when he was quite clearly wrong.

rory, dott, thorburn, ebdon

a few of them have played in matches and averaged 30 seconds or more for a session or the match.

so, even though shaun is a great player, he can talk poop, just like you or i can


Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hi Dave
The Fine Art agrees with Anon Betty that there should be no concessions in the Miss Rule. Without mentioning the top referee’s name, this actually happened.
Player “A” had the ball in hand after a foul shot. The baulk area gave a choice of “Snookers” so the player intentionally laid the most difficult snooker for his opponent.

The opponent player “B” in realising a no hope situation just lashed out as he had only five inches of cushion to target and missed all the three red balls by a great margin and the cue ball ran safe.
The Ref awarded four away without comment. The reason given afterwards was:-I took the difficult factor into consideration.

Therefore, there should be a written rule! If you have a choice, You must not make “snookers” too difficult or you will be punished. Without mentioning names, James Wattana was a completely gentleman over the issue. Mr hey you

Anonymous said...

what's a 'completley gentleman', Mr Whahoo?

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Hello Mr 12:41pm
How are you! I am sorry mister confusing you with poor spelling. I realise now I should have persevered and maybe learned the art of spelling by being in attendance more often at school.

I was a very impatient person Mr12/41. Like most young snooker players when learning. I am more patient now mister and will try not to miss spell again.

Youngsters in snooker should realise the value of having an education. It took me (Numskull) nearly a month to understand and explain in detail the “Stun” and the “Stun Run Through”. The mechanics of the balls is very interesting subject. Mr hey you