So an eventful Sheffield Wednesday gives way to Thursday and the start of the second round.

Over three sessions, I would expect Mark Williams to have too much for Jamie Cope, although we shouldn’t forget just how well Cope played at that stage against John Higgins two years ago.

Judd Trump v Martin Gould should be great entertainment: two attacking, exciting players who go for their shots.

Gould never wavered against Marco Fu and THAT red will linger long in the Crucible memory this year.

Higgins maintained his mightily impressive season by racking up three centuries against Stephen Lee, he of the exotic coiffure, and leads 6-3 overnight.

Mark Selby wasn’t at all impressive, indeed was edgy and made numerous errors, but still leads Jimmy Robertson 8-1.

I can well imagine people watching this and assuming Robertson is simply no good. Obviously this is nonsense. He beat Tony Drago and Ken Doherty to qualify.

But like so many of the other 178 players to have played at the Crucible he found the Sheffield theatre-in-the-round to be an intimidating arena.

With little TV experience under his belt – in fact only one frame in the Shootout – he froze and Selby, though well below par, picked him off. I suspect when Selby is pressured he will step it up as the tournament goes on.

Well done to Rory McLeod for finally reaching the last 16 of a world ranking event with his 10-6 defeat of Ricky Walden.

This was a slow match and, in Walden’s words, ‘painful’ at times. He is right that snooker would be in poor shape if every match were like this but you still have to credit McLeod’s application.

Nevertheless, it was absurd of him to suggest Walden dragged him down. They were both slow, but McLeod is naturally slow.

Walden’s error was getting dragged into his opponent’s pace of play and not imposing himself on the match: you can’t slow it down when you’re sat in your chair.

High drama last night was provided by Mark Allen, who came from 9-6 down to beat Matthew Stevens 10-9.

He was watched in the decider by his young daughter, Lauren, and kissed her at the end some 29 years after another Northern Irishman, the late, great Alex Higgins, beckoned for his baby daughter, also Lauren, to join him in the immediate aftermath of his world title victory.

Stevens, I’m afraid, felt the pressure. He simply has too much mental scar tissue at the Crucible, too many close matches lost from ahead. It was impossible to shut all that out of his mind.

We’ve only had five days of play but clearly the Crucible remains a heady cauldron of dreams but also an unremitting chamber of nightmares.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm! Sadly Stevens did it again. Perhaps a line Shakin' Stevens could be now used to introduce him when entering the arena:)

Anonymous said...

McLeod must have free practise facilities, otherwise it would cost him about a tenner a frame.
Walden, another slow journeyman, contributed to the funereal pace of this match also, and it is players like these that make a shot clock an attractive option.

Anonymous said...

It's going to take a long time for Stevens to get over that loss, the only consolation is that he's back in the 16. All credit to Allen though.


Anonymous said...

Tremendous fightback from Allen last night, who showed superb guts - could this be the result to get his game back on track. You forget sometimes just how good he is to watch when in full flow, a really exciting talent.

One word on John Virgo, the commentator for that match. I do like him, but can someone tell him that frames are not won or lost at the point when a player needs snookers. It is so infuriating when you hear him basically say a frame is over now a player's opponent needs snookers – it is possible to get those snookers and still win JV. Just ask Mark King. A frame is never over until it is actually over.

Anonymous said...

"Stevens, I’m afraid, felt the pressure. He simply has too much mental scar tissue at the Crucible, too many close matches lost from ahead. It was impossible to shut all that out of his mind."

With respect, this sounds a bit of a lame excuse to explain away silly misses. Stevens had ample opportunity to win the match but kept missing easy shots. I doubt mental scars had much to do with it, more like lapses of concentration. Top players win due to less lapses in concentration. Stevens is prone to missing easy shots = had done throughout his entire career, but when he's on form he's up there with the very best.

Mal said...

11:06 Stevens lost due to pressure and choking, not due to lapses in concentration - you could actually see him wilting under the pressure. Mark on the other hand has always thrived under the big matches and although he too missed a few, he got better towards the end.

The century he made where he ambled quickly round the table not really caring will live in the memory - the century was made in such a languid but fluent style to get back to 9-7 and that long pink from tight under the cushion was a great shot.

odds-n-sods said...

Anoymous 10.45am The reason John Virgo and others say the frames are over even though snookers are a possibility is for television editing purposes. It means that when they re-run the frames in a later programme and the player does go on to win the frame they can cut at the point JV utters those words. If the player does go on and get snookers they simply have to dub blank sound over JV saying that.

jamie brannon said...

I was thinking you must have made an error when it said that McLeod had claimed that Walden had dragged him down to a funereal pace.

Like you say, that is a totally absurd accusation from Rory.

Didn't see much of it but then it was probably a relief I hadn't.

Part of me, in a perverse sense would like to see McLeod versus an Ebdon or Harold in their grind mode and see who is snooker's ultimate hardman!

Sad to see Stevens lose but pleased for Mark considering his problems.

Would fancy him to see of Hawkins, as like Stevens he has something of clinchers disease.

The second-draw is not quite as tasty compared to previous years, only O'Sullivan v Murphy is a true humdinger. However, Trump v Gould and Dott v Carter look good. If Hendry could find some old magic then his match against Selby could get interesting. Plus, Cope v Williams will be easy on the eye.

jamie brannon said...

Virgo not the only guilty party when it comes to that.

John Parrott has been the star of the BBC coverage this year. Not just indulging in tired cliches and repeating what others say.

Anonymous said...

Could Selby have had an easier draw? A crucible first timer followed by a past it Hendry.
He saunters into the quarters while the worlds 3 best players- Higgins, Williams and Ronny, all meet before the final.
Rankings Shmankings.

jamie brannon said...

Cope laid it on a plate for Williams.

The Shotgun has no B-game, in the long format you need to be able to get yourself through the bad sessions.

His A-game is capable of troubling the top players but even then he needs to adopt a more measured strategy. Shaun Murphy is a prime example of that, plus Judd Trump and Neil Robertson.

Anonymous said...

I watched the match alone without commentary and for a moment I could not help thinking Stevens felt sorry for Allen with bowed head obviously feeling opressive, struggling with the crowd and himself. Did not know about Matthew´s 'clinching desease'. To me Mark simply wanted to get out of it as quick as possible and he did not look too happy prolonging the pain by coming back until the decider. I think we saw a pure Mark Allen. Unfortunately I do not believe losing matches establishs his depression.

jamie brannon said...

It would give me so much so satisfaction if O'Sullivan and Hendry showed the jester and the magician their A-games.

Personaly, think most of what O'Sullivan said on Sunday was right. However, he should have qualified one or two statements.

Like when he said no one had done more for the game than him. He should have said in his generation, as Alex Higgins did more.

O'Sullivan does carry the sport in the UK to a certain level, which is evident in the early rounds of UK based events outside the Crucible.

When I visted the UK Championship he was playing to a packed crowd on his side of the divide, but the other side was near empty. This is something of a regular occurence at that stage of an event.

jamie brannon said...

Wish someone had told me we started at one today.

If they had morning session's today and on Easter Monday then they would not have to rush through the quarter-finals so much.

Betty Logan said...

They should have tomorrow morning off instead, so Christians like Shaun Murphy can go to church and pray.

Anonymous said...

dennis continues

the other day it was tony mayo

today weve got mik eye la

and martin gold

ffs learn there names


Hi David. Great performances all-round, today, in my view.

Williams- a consistant preditor on Cope errors, as well as good Williams play.

Selby- A great finish in his 10-1 victory over Jimmy Robertson, Including a 107 break from Selby, to gain a 9-1 lead.

Higins- A superb performance. Four 100 plus, breaks from him in the match including a 124clearance tonight, to lead 7-3. Lee did fight well though. Higgins was the moe consistant though. He play great to win 10-5. aA performance, I am sure, that John Higgins Senior, will, iN HIS WAY,be proud of. Well done, John Higgins Junior. R.I.P John Higgins Senior.

Trump- He played great, with a 92 break in the third frame, to lead 3-0. Gould showed great battling qualities to level at 3 all. Trump responded well, an 80 break, to go 4-3 infront. A tense frame 8, Gould, unlucky to leave the chance to win it. he did, to laad 5-3, overnight.

A word on Mark Allen, from 9-6 down last night, Incredible. Lovely to see his Daughter, Lauren, and Reanne Evans, in the crowd for that also.

well done to all player from today's sessions, and Mark Allen, Last night.

Ivory Balls said...

Trump and Gould serving up a treat. They are really rocking. Trump and Gould could do a respectable job of filling the Ronnie-shaped void if or when he decides he's had enough. I actually think Gould is a better player than Trump, or perhaps I should say he has the potential to be. I really hope to see Gould continue to flourish. He could become a somewhat unlikely fan favourite. He has a great personality and it's good to listen to him in the press conferences (check out the "Betfredworldsnooker" channel on Youtube.) When I say unlikely fan favourite, I mean when I first saw him play about a year ago at the 2010 Welsh Open he just seemed like a pretty unremarkable journeyman, and he's not exactly got boy band looks or anything. But he exploded into the consciousness last year at the Crucible with some fantastic cavalier snooker in the 1st 2 two sessions of his match against Robertson. And here he's putting on a good show again. He can be fantastic to watch and he's really quite articulate, and has a sort of down-to-earth charm. Whoever wins this match it will be great for snooker but personally Im rooting for Gould.

I don't know why the BBC doesn't use some of the footage of these press conferences in their coverage. I'm not saying it should neccessarily be a routine thing but they never use them ever. It's nice to see the players pay tribute to each other, and it can be interesting too when the players criticise each other (such as Walden knocking McPlod...er McLeod). I find it a lot more interesting to see what a player's saying when he's just come out of a match and is facing members of the press than what he says 2 hours later in some blackened studio with that ridiculous spinny ball gyroscope thing in the background. I'm tired of so much of BBC's coverage being given up to effects-heavy, indulgent video packages. It's about time they bucked up their ideas.

Anonymous said...

hendry still clinging on to 16

Anonymous said...

a player who took 29 seconds on average per shot having a pop at someone who took 32 seconds per shot just seems like clutching at straws.

there is not much in that at all and rory isnt used to the big occasion like over rated walden is.
after this outburst i wont ever support rik w again. bad sportsman!