Another tournament, another incredibly dramatic final and, ultimately, another disappointment for Mark Williams.

Having lost 10-9 from 9-5 up to John Higgins in last season’s UK Championship final and 9-8 from 8-5 ahead to Stuart Bingham in the Australian Open final two months ago, Williams was beaten 10-9 having led Mark Selby 9-7 in the Shanghai Masters.

But those bald facts do not do justice to a tension-filled finale to the tournament, which ground on until 12.45am.

There were twists and turns right through the final but it turned on a bizarre incident in the 17th frame.

Williams looked set to win at this point. He was the more relaxed of the two and held a 47-5 lead and snookered Selby tight behind the brown, with the reds everywhere.

Selby, not knowing how to get the cue ball safe, played a hit and hope but it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had hit a red first or the pink.

Eirian Williams, the referee, thought red. Williams thought pink which Selby, in his sporting way, accepted, as did the referee.

But Williams [Eirian, that is] wanted to check the replay. This went on for several minutes as it was unclear to the naked eye which ball was contacted first. The referee, rightly in my opinion, insisted it was the red.

So Williams came back to the table and there was only a half chance waiting - Selby having been very lucky with his escape - which he missed.

Selby eventually won this frame and the whole psychology of the match swung in his favour, with Williams not quite the same again.

The Welshman still had chances to win, missing a green off its spot in the 18th frame after fluking a snooker from out of a snooker on the last red. It may have been a bad contact on the green, but by now it looked as if Williams was simply fated not to win.

In the decider, snookered while trailing 32-0, he took a wild swipe at the cue ball, a sign of his frustration and that even the most ‘laidback’ of characters feel pressure and disappointment.

He didn’t even let Selby finish his winning break, but snooker is a game that takes a heavy mental toll.

So a tough old match and ultimately a great victory for Selby, who once again went right to the brink.

It is only his second ranking title but everyone knows how good he is. It was surely inevitable that he would win another eventually.

As for Williams, the three close defeats are strange. This is a twice world champion and someone who once edged Stephen Hendry on a re-spotted black in a decider in the Masters.

His temperament is usually strong but snooker is an unforgiving sort of game, a curious mix of high skill and luck, where the unexpected can play its part in affecting a player’s thinking.

And it is this, particularly over a longer match where there is time for shifts in the psychological balance of power, that makes it such a fascinating, and often infuriating, sport to play and watch.


Anonymous said...

There was no way to judge it being red from that footage Dave. That with the fact Selby said it was pink and the ref had given the foul, makes a complete mockery of this final.

Yet another final won or lost based on luck. Hit and hope with these daft rules and you can actually win. Then 22 points on a miss rule yet again in another frame. It isn't good for snooker to see the attacking player who did nearly everything right, lose because of crap rules and decisions.

Dimitris said...

Personally, I think Dave has got it right.
Selby only sportingly agreed it was pink after MJW said so.
The ref is there to call it, using all the assistance he can get from video footage.
The incredible thing is that Eirian Williams got it right even when as it happened! Well done!
Luck plays it's part obviously, there's nothing wrong with that is there ?
Selby hit and hoped (ready to lose the match) and got lucky ! He messed the reds up and left it quite safe !
Hard luck MJW with that kick on the green and also that other fluke from Selby in the decider gaining advantage when MJW trailing 32-0 took a wild swipe at the cue ball and didn't leave much going in-off), what can you do ? You can only keep your head. Had he kept his head he may have potted the red he attempted at pocket speed (his last shot of the final) in the decider from 50 odd points down and produce a miraculous clearance to re-write history books. (yes I know it seemed ipossible :-))
Honestly, I see no controversy here; it was purely entertainment.
Lastly, I agree that the miss rule may even look silly at times and does not serve the purpose for which it was introduced even !
Other than that, I think it is an unfair comment that the final was decided on crap rules and decisions. We all know the miss rule and we still watch and play snooker :-)
Like Dave wrote: Williams was simply fated not to win.

Sarmu said...

I think it's pretty clear he hit the red from the replay and the frustration from Williams turned the match around really.

What frustrated me throughout the match and perhaps Mark Williams is the amount of time Eirian Williams have to ask the players where the balls are to be replaced, I think this is not acceptable for a referee in a ranking final. He really need to know where to replace the ball especially when only the cue ball was moved.

Anonymous said...

These men play a best of 19 and do not attest wins or losses to a foul-or-not situation. Seifer, I would have liked MJW(TM) to win as well but crying about the rules is a bit pathetic.

Well done Selby. Get well soon Williams...! Bingham and Selby must be on his dart board permanently now.

Anonymous said...

If Mark Williams thought it was a foul,(CE thought the same)and more importantly Selby called himself then that should be an end to it. On such occasions players know instinctively.
So why did the ref go to the screen after agreeing with Selby?
Selby should have stood his ground.
The "I know best" attitude of Eirean Williams leaves a bad taste. If it walks like a duck,quacks like a duck and looks like a duck would he go to the screen and say it was a swan?
Incidentally Dave I thought you were a bit harsh on MJW at the end of your report because even a saint has got his breaking point. He had just been hanged, drawn and quartered.

Dave H said...

I didn't mean to be harsh on him, the opposite actually!

Anonymous said...

If this incident had featured the erstwhile Ronnie O'Sullivan there would have been uproar on these boards suggesting that the whole sport is polluted.
When its Mark Williams the whole thing is brushed under the table by the Star fitters.
A TRAVESTY of no relevance except in the mind of the ambivolent.

Dave H said...

How is Ronnie O'Sullivan 'erstwhile' out of interest?

Has he changed his name now or something?

Anonymous said...

amazing that a ros fan pops in first to slag off the rules, yet he advocates a shot clock (PMSL) in rankers.

maybe he dresses as a clown prior to posting

Anonymous said...

The point is the ref gave williams the foul, he said it to Williams around 3 times that it WAS a foul. Then when williams appeared to want the balls replacing, and there wasn't tech to do it, Eiren useless Eiren decided that it wasn't a foul until he'd seen footage, and even then that footage is NOT CONCLUSIVE.

A ball travelling that fast with a frame rate less than 30 is not going to tell you, especially when it looks to me a 50/50. So Eiren went back on his foul decision apparently after deciding "what was more likely" and that is a joke.

sanzzero said...

The referee was correct - the red ball was on the cue ball's path. If it had hit the pink first, red ball would have travelled more to the left, but as it is, it moved alomost on the line of 90 degree angle from the cue ball's line. Therefore it is safe to say that it must have brushed the red first

Anonymous said...

Dave,can you clear this up once and for all please. Was Selby justified in slashing at the balls in the first place? Do you think it was his only option or did he just lose his rag? When the 3 of them went to the screen did you think they all agreed that red first was the right decision? Are you 100% certain and has CE now changed his mind?
I suppose we have to be grateful for small mercies because if Alex Higgins had been involved there would have been blood on the ceiling!

Anonymous said...

You are all missing the damn point. The video doesn't prove it and he hd already called the foul 3 times.

Do you realise how bad it is for the sport to just go back on it in a final?

A good ref wouldn't have done that and a game with decent rules wouldn't allow an advantage off a hit and hope shot.

Dave H said...

I've not spoken to Clive so I don't know what he thinks about it.

I had no idea whether it was red or pink at the time and aren't much clearer now, though I think Eirian was correct to eventually plump for red.

The hit and hope is sometimes the best idea in such a situation because you can get lucky, possibly fluke one or somehow get the cueball safe when there's no obvious safety shot.

Mark Williams maintained it was pink all along, however when offered the miss originally he can be seen asking for the freeze frame. This may have been to prove his point but in retrospect would have been better just taking the miss immediately.

Anonymous said...

The hit and hope is sometimes the best idea in such a situation because you can get lucky, possibly fluke one or somehow get the cueball safe when there's no obvious safety shot.

How is that good for professional sport? To see 1 player make a good snooker and then another come along like a 5 year old and smash them and possibly win from a fluke?

Dave H said...

Snooker's not the right sport for you then. It is, and always has, depended on luck to an extent, but ultimately a player needs skill to pot the balls, which is what Mark Selby displayed in finally winning the title.

This is like saying Cliff Thorburn didn't deserve his 147 in 1983 because he fluked the first red.

Anonymous said...

This is like saying Cliff Thorburn didn't deserve his 147 in 1983 because he fluked the first red.

and he didn't deserve it. Can you please tell us a sport where you can miss the target by over 6 feet and still carry on and win a frame?

You tell me? Do you really believe that is good for a professional sport? You think that skill should play second fiddle to luck just because of a 147? What about the other guy who lost the frame because a player gained an unfair advantage?

Isn't that against the rules Dave?

The problem with your traditional type is you think Moses drafted the rules and that because some guy in god knows what year made them up for a laugh, that they are set in stone and cannot be changed even though today it is a PROFESSION.

I am sick and tired of your kind frankly when it comes to this issue of luck. I know luck is part of all sport, but do you realise that all other sports use tech or rules to minimise it as much as they can?

I love this sport but that doesn't mean I am going to say it is perfect because it isn't. The better man lost today because the rules as they stand favour luck way too much, allow blatant anomalies which contradict "no unfair advantage should be gained" and support the grinding defence player over the flair attacker.

I think we should forma breakaway Snooker like Darts did the BDO and leave you dinosaurs behind :)

Anonymous said...

dave youre reasoning with the unreasonable....

Dimitris said...

.....or Shaun Murphy didn't deserve the UK title in 2008 against Marco Fu when he fluked the pink. I remember Marco saying that he didn't mind the fluke and luck evens itself in a best of 19 match and he didn't play that well.

Anonymous said...

in fact Mark williams instigated checking the facts. Eirian had Moved on Selby was in his seat both waiting for Mark Williams to make a decision accept the miss or play the shot but Mark Williams did not Move he stayed in his seat and asked Eirian to Check, which Eirian said there was no Facility there to do it like we got in the UK.

in the end they got the Evidence and the evidence clearly stated it was Red First correct decision was made thanks to the Honesty of Mark Williams.

darrus said...

Rewatched the episode a couple of times and it still looks to me - at leasst from the overhead camera angle - tat pink was hit first. Not the point though.

Eirian Williams has made a mess out of it. He said 3 (three!!) times out loud that it was fall and miss and pink was hit first. He repeated it, both players accepted it - then he suddenly decides to go watch a replay and changes his mind. That sort of thing is unacceptable in such important stages of such important match.

Congratulations to Mark Selby - he's too good to be carrying this "only one ranking title" forever, so I'm happy he finally got rid of it.
Worrying tendency for Mark Williams. In last 12 months he's lost too many matches from far ahead.

Anonymous said...

I am not unreasonable if sense if being spoken. I see this in terms of the player and of their profession. I understand that there is an audience who want entertaining but that comes as a side effect of good professional competition.

It is not healthy for skilled sport to allow blatant anomalies in the rules. Today we had 3 main ones:

1. The miss rule was totally unfair and contributed massively to a frame, almost being worth as much as the final 6 balls.

2. Fluke pots were allowed so Selby aimed for one.

3. Eiren Williams made a decision then back tracked.

Even if you completely disagree with me you should see at least how these things are at a detriment to the players.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why Eirian used any kind of footage after calling a foul. The video they use at pro level is purely to aid putting balls back after a miss, not to help in making rules decisions.

Dave H said...

The players were asked if they wanted the miss rule changed and the vast majority said no.

However, I agree it was never originally brought in for the scenario we saw in the 18th frame.

Anonymous said...

for the record David I would describe Ronnie as "errtwhile" because he is a former player and merely a talented circus act nowadays.

Anonymous said...

At least they were asked, I will accept their judgment if they are asked also on the fluke rule.

I won;t agree to it, but the player majority should come first in those cases.

I think they have been short sighted with the miss rule if they agreed with it, but live by sword die by sword.

Dave H said...

Willie Thorne would certainly vote for banning flukes.

He once played Hendry, who fluked one in the first frame and WT turned to the crowd and said, 'so soon?' with a look of resignation on his face.

Anonymous said...

I don't blame him. And that may very well be the only thing I agree with Willie on.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8.03pm is spot on, Eirian 'knows best'. He's never relaxed when he's reffing like Jan Verhaas, Brendan Moore or Michaela Tabb, they make their job look so easy and seem to enjoy doing it too. They smile frequently and have a laugh with the players, Eirian never seems to do this. He takes ages putting balls back after a miss has been called and he's always harsh with the crowd. Tonight, in my opinion he ruined a great final. It's about time the younger, better refs were given more finals to ref.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with flukes, they compensate in part for kicks. We get more kicks then flukes, so it helps make the game fairer by addressing the balance. Ultimately, a fluke is only going to get you at most 7 points, you still have to score more points than your opponent to win it, and then win more frames than your opponent to win the match, so the notion that you can fluke a title is absurd.

Anonymous said...


golfers hit trees and end up on the fairway

golfers hit the pin and it falls down and goes in on occasion, instead of through the green and needing a pitch and putt to get home

thats more than 6 feet

of course, now youve ogt your example youll squirm or twist out of it

youre a troll

Anonymous said...

im fairly sure the high majority of players dont want to ban flukes....

but seifer will be right, even when he is wrong. again.

there is trying to be controversial and there is deliberate spamming of snooker forums and blogs. he falls under the latter

Anonymous said...

I thought Seifer was trolling when he said he wanted to ban flukes but it seem he is serious... He is certifiably crazy!

Let's ban the use of the rest because if your arms are too short you should have left the white somewhere else.

Johan said...

I totally agree with you: he never seems to know where the balls were after a miss... for me, he ruined that frame (and match) with his decision(s).

On the other hand, we saw what tension and one particular shot can do to a player, even to MJW - one of the cooler blokes on the circuit.

Not judging the red/pink here (although I think the red was hit first :-).

Anonymous said...

11.39 Fluke pots were allowed so Selby aimed for one.

How can one aim for a fluke?

That doesn't make sense!

Anonymous said...

it does if you word it different

he aimed to fluke the cueball safe

or to pot a legal ball

he wasnt hitting with a plan

he was hoping for a fluke

aiming is not the correct word though, but in context it is correct

Anonymous said...

Thankyou 11 am, the problem is people like to attack something they don't understand. It isn't right for professional sport to allow an unfair advantage, and a fluke pot is just that. Hitting and hoping to virtually win a final in that way is disgusting.

Snooker is the only sport on earth where 1 fluke pot can mean you lose an entire frame (final frame or not) or be made to be sat in your seat for 5 minutes or more. People compare this sport with other sports in order to blur the lines, but those of us with a brain can see through it. There aren't enough frames played for it to even out either.

I would accept the judgment of the player majority even if I didn't agree with it but these traditionalists who only care about THEIR entertainment would ignore it and think they have the moral right to decide what is best for professionals making a LIVING.

Like all things, the real opposition to change in Snooker is elitist traditionalist bigotry.

Anonymous said...

btw seifer i was 11am

i am craig, the guy you had a go at for not putting a name.

see, its only an issue if someone doesnt leave a name if you disagree with them.

sadly in your case...

Anonymous said...

Referee Williams did not call Foul and a Miss at the shot Selby played so he cannot be accused of changing his mind. It was Mark Williams who claimed a foul. Ref Williams told Mark Williams that in his opinion, the cue ball hit the red first. Mark Williams was adamant that it was the pink. Mark Selby then said to the Referee that if Mark W felt that strongly about it, and wanted the Foul, he could have it. The Ref went to Mark W and said that he had claimed it and that Mark Selby was prepared to concede it so said that under those circumstances, it was a Foul and a Miss too. Even after getting what he wanted, it was Mark Williams who wanted to see the replay. Why? Goodness only knows. The Referee, in the interests of fair play agreed to double check using technology. Yes unusual but, after all, it was a Ranking event final and it was important to get it right. The angle that the red took on the impact of the cue ball led the Ref to believe that it was red first so, a legal shot. It was also played at pace which made a decision even harder. How on earth has the Ref ruined the final? He bent over backwards to ensure that the correct decision was made in the end. Mark W is entitiled to his opinion but having seen the replay, I have to fall on the Refs side on this one.

Anonymous said...

if i was sure the ref was wrong but only because i was sat along the final delivery path of the cueball id speak up too.

good sport that mjw is he wanted to reassure any doubters that it was.

unfortunately the technology was that used in the moon landings....

at least he asked for it to be proved, to TRY to eradicate any doubt

id say that was him being fair, in the unlikely event that what he believed he seen wasnt correct.

(which it may not be)

Anonymous said...

well craig, if you opened your eyes you would see that I do agree with you sometimes, but it is a bit hard to debate with someone who is obviously doing a dance on his chair because he allows emotions to get in the way and then has to insult nearly every single post. Your latest one is yet again aimed at the person. Then I have to waste time replying to you explaining the obvious and it ruins the debate, which is your intention.

Anonymous said...

there is no debate
when reasonable people disagree with you you go off at a tangent

its well proven on the internet who you are, what sites youve been involved with and how rude and outlandish you can be.

youre well known as a troll

unfortunately for us who have been reading this great blog and commenting too, for years have found ourselves a new room mate who appears to be doing what hes done so succesfully elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I am rude to people like you, or at least, I was once upon a time. On reflection I now realise it is better not to, because at every turn you simply make yourself look worse.

As you do in every post to me. Carry on, buddy :P

Anonymous said...

i agree 4.23

Anonymous said...

thats right daniel
youve got a history of trolling and 99% of people who encounter you cant stand you

but theyre all wrong
or youre just misunderstood


Craig (doesnt mind looking worse)