Surprises were thin on the ground on day one of the BetVictor Welsh Open but it was good to see Mark Williams, the only Welshman to win this title, playing better than he has of late.

“It wasn't the Mark Williams of old, he’s gone for good, but it’s the Mark Williams of a few years ago and I can still give anyone a game,” was the twice champion’s typically forthright view of it all.

Encouragingly for Williams, the long balls were going in. He looked confident and went for his shots.

Williams turns 38 next month. This is approaching veteran status but he is not yet over the hill. He can still be an intimidating presence when he’s floating imperiously around the table.

So too can Judd Trump, although his form these last two months has also been below par. He said after running through Mike Dunn in under an hour that all that had been lacking of late was luck.

Maybe this is a good way of looking at it, even if most impartial observers would suggest that there’s more to it than that. Stressing and worrying about poor results only adds to anxiety. Trump is young enough and certainly good enough to recover his poise quickly.

As players get older, mental scars do form. Trump is 23 and has much to look forward to, so a good run in Newport and recent reverses will be quickly forgotten.

The best performance of the day came from Mark Selby, who midway through the fourth frame of his eventual 4-0 defeat of Steve Davis had a pot success rate of 99%.

It’s true that Davis contributed to his own downfall but Selby’s week off since Germany seems to have left him refreshed and he cued quite superbly, a 144 total clearance the highlight.

Speaking of which...

Traditionally, when a round has been split between the non televised and televised phases it has been deemed to count towards the highest TV break prize. However, World Snooker now say Shaun Murphy’s 145 on Saturday night will only count towards the non-televised prize.

They could clear up the inevitable confusion by specifying stage one (qualifying) and stage two (venue) high break prizes and taking ‘televised’ out of the equation altogether.

After all, Murphy’s break was captured by liveworldsnooker.tv’s cameras whereas if Neil Robertson made a 147 this morning not a ball would be broadcast because the session isn’t being recorded.

This also exposes the folly of determining the match schedule weeks in advance rather than at the start of the tournament.

Robertson is the world no.3 and a former champion. He is playing Ian Burns, the rookie of the season so far. With all due respect, this is a more attractive match than Gerard Greene v Sam Baird, which will be televised this afternoon.

Why not change the order of play to suit the people paying for the tournament, i.e. broadcasters and, by extension, the viewers?

Anyway, one match that will be televised features two world champions, and I don’t mean John Higgins v Ken Doherty. It is Murphy’s meeting with Pankaj Advani, the reigning world billiards champion, which promises to be fascinating.

Advani is a cue sports legend in his native India and his mastery of the three ball game is evident in the thoughtful way he approaches snooker.

India is a coming nation. Talk is strong of a ranking event there next season. Advani and his compatriot, Aditya Mehta, are doing well this season and are both blessed with a good attitude aside from their obvious talents.

Success at the highest level in one sport is hard enough. Snooker may be Advani’s second sport but he has the chance this evening to make a name for himself in the 22-ball younger brother of billiards.


Zak S said...

Nice piece, Dave. Even better headline!

Anonymous said...

Oh for goodness sake... The issue over the televised / non televised rounds has been around since the rolling prize fund was introduced. Ryan Day and Dominic Dale have had their last 48 round matches held over for the last few years, and IIRC at last year's Welsh open the prize available for a 147 was £500 for the 'non-TV' stages (as there had been a 147 in the World Open Qualifiers) but £35k for the 'TV' stages (as there hadn't been a 147 at a venue since the 2011 Welsh Open). Such a simple thing to clarify - there wasn't any confusion when there was a 147 insurance policy dictating the terms!

As an aside, I think we may have seen 'the future' with the procession of 4-1 and 4-0 wins. Surely this is what the first round of most ranking events is going to be like with flat draws?

Ron Florax said...

I ask again and again, WHY is it so difficult to point one single static camera at each table, and to then make the matches available on-demand for the people who work during the day? When it comes to the demands of modern viewers snooker is in its infancy. Also, betting sites which broadcast the qualifiers would get a lot more out of them if they could broadcast each match.

Anonymous said...


Apparently there are no cameras for the morning sessions so Eurosport can't show them, but BBC Wales can show footage from the morning match in their half an hour of coverage before the afternoon session.

If the BBC are actually filming it, why not let Eurosport or liveworldsnooker.tv show it, even if the BBc aren't?

Anonymous said...

Why not add another table and play proper best of 9's up to the Quarter Finals in line with the status of a "World Ranking Tournament"

Barry has done wonders to bring the circuit to life again but I worry with 8 out of 11 "World Ranking" events next season starting with all playing from round 128, that these best of 7's will continue. Pro Ams used to best of 5 or 7. PTC'S ok (7), but there should be a longer distance for ranking event status.

Listening to Alan McManus on Eurosport yesterday was like watching paint dry.

Mics147 said...

I like the new definition of "tv stage" and "qualifiers". I don't think it is unfair because Murphy's 145 and Selby's 144 were played under different circumstances: Murphy played it in Sheffield during the qualifiers stage without a crowd.
Selby played his century in Newport during the final stages with a crowd. This is the difference which counts, so I think it is all fair.

Anonymous said...


Totally agree.

One static full view of the table is all that's required in any case. Shows all aspects of all shots.
Just why the producer obsesses about constantly switching cameras, following the object ball's journey into the pocket, stalking the player as yet returns to his seat etc etc etc, is a total mystery.

Anonymous said...

As to the filming of today's first session: It didn't take place until shortly before the next session was due to start. Had the matches been over more quickly there wouldn't have been any footage at all.

Alan said...

Excellent win for Advani earlier against Murphy.

I was slightly disheartened in his interview afterwards to hear him talk about how he felt his win would go largely unnoticed in India as the game is rarely televised there, and that he knew his profile in India would drop for a while with his move to the UK.

Obviously these comments are only reflective of his own perceptions, but it can't help the progress of any plans to stage a ranking event in India when one of their two professional players feels that the sport has little presence in the country.


Hi David. Another great day's play in my view.

Stevens did well coming from 2-0 down, to beat Liang Wenbo, 4-2. Doherty was sound, in beating Higgins, 4-1. Advani played great, to lead Murphy, 3-1. Murphy, impressive, playing-wise to level at 3-all. Advani played sound, to win, 4-3. Sam Baird was impressive, playing-wise, to beat Gerard Greene, 4-0, and Alan McManus did great, to beat Barry Hawkins, 4-2. Stephen Maguire did well, to beat Anthony Hamilton, 4-2, and Neil Robertson did well to beat Iain Burns, 4-1. Mark Allen, also played well, to beat Marco Fu, 4-2.

I can't wait for more, tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we talking French labor laws here? Eurosport is based in Paris... If one exceeds their beloved 35 (or is it 33?) hours/week working time, he/she is supposed to go to prison and sing revolutionary melodies, while waving some red flags... No wonder showing morning session is at least anti-constitutional in France.

Anonymous said...

Very impressed with both Advani's performance. Would be fantastic if he was to push on and become the 'Indian Ding' (I think I'm right in saying that Billiards had more of a history in China - wasn't Deng Xiaoping a keen billiards player? so it could be the next big market?). As an aside, has India's former no.1 (Joe Jogia) resigned from the WSA (his name is no longer on the rankings list)?

Jason Mohammad is quite impressive too, but I'm hoping the post-final interview will be given back to John Evans (the real highlight of the Welsh Open for me and many others).

Anonymous said...

all the qualifiers should of been done at sheffield for the welsh not hold some over for tv coverage if the new rule is everybody has to qualify then everybody should of gone to the institute for sport to play 1st or are we haveing world snooker picking and choosing who gets tv coverage and when will somebody have a word with mike hallet about his poor commentating he never stops taking critising bad shots etc etc when hes just there to describe whats going but instead he is always saying each player should of done this that or the other