Nottingham has two players still going in the German Masters, both of whom are terrific value.
Anthony Hamilton and Michael Holt each have a genuine quality. They say it as they see it without any recourse to redundant platitudes.
Hamilton won a nervy, engrossing decider to see off Judd Trump, snooker’s best, or most expensively, dressed man.
It was Trump who reportedly spent a four figure sum on a pair of shoes which proved unsuitable to wear at the Masters. Hamilton, on the other hand, has been told by World Snooker he needs to smarten up his appearance.
“I look like a bag of spanners,” was his own somewhat withering verdict on the general state of his attire. Elaborating further, he added: “I don’t want to spend money on snooker stuff.”
“Tramp beats Trump” was the cruel suggested headline backstage, but only in fun. Anthony is a top bloke, not afraid to be self deprecating in the rather self important world of professional sport. His laconic nature and brutal honesty is refreshing when so many play the PR game or give you nothing but a few bland epithets.
Years ago he was nicknamed ‘Swampy’ after a young man of the same name who burrowed underground in a bid to stop road building projects. This moniker was not especially complimentary but it was bestowed with some affection.
Disappointingly, Hamilton revealed his shoes had actually cost £200, which seems to me a large enough amount for shoes.
He was certainly tidy on the table. Trump had him in trouble on the back cushion trailing 31-0 in their decider but Hamilton knocked in a great long red and took the lead before eventually prevailing on the green.
Trump, like many players here, was not enamoured with the table and general playing conditions. This may well have played its part but there is no disguising a general malaise in his game and confidence at the moment. The only way to move on from it is to accept and face it.
He’s only 23 and he’s the world no.2. He’s already made 50 centuries this season. This is not a career crisis, just a bit of a slump, one which every player has had to endure at some time.
So on to Nottingham’s other potting prince, who yesterday won two matches with strong performances.
Holt kicked off against Mark Williams with a 144, beat him 5-1 and defeated Kurt Maflin 5-3 at night. He has never been beyond the quarter-final stage of a ranking event but is cueing well and has been mentally sound too.
Holt wears his heart on his sleeve but this week in chilly Berlin, to complicate a metaphor, has been wearing an overcoat.
In other words, his emotions have been largely kept inside and he has channelled his focus into playing.
As with Hamilton, there is much to like about Holt. Some players think they are better than they actually are. I think if anything Michael’s problem has been the reverse: that he hasn’t fully realised how good he is. Maybe this is why confidence has been in short supply at various times in his career.
When you look at everyone who has played snooker, dreaming of making it in the professional ranks, the vast majority have failed to do so. Holt is a top 32 player and has won two pro titles. This puts him up there in the top 10-15% of anyone who has ever played on the circuit.
Successful sports people have to have an arrogance: an unshakable belief that they are more than good. This is frowned upon in most walks of life, especially if said arrogant person actually is as good as they think.
Michael isn’t arrogant but perhaps needs to be because he can win this title if he really believes in himself.
What else has been happening? Mark Selby serenely continues his run, although Ding Junhui will surely be a tougher challenge than he has had thus far.
Neil Robertson was 3-1 up on Andrew Higginson last night and promptly went to the practice table, which says everything about his determination.
Graeme Dott won a high quality affair with Dave Harold and will now face Shaun Murphy, the player he superseded as world champion seven years ago.
Perhaps the best performance of the day, if not the tournament, came from Barry Hawkins, who took the game to Mark Allen and beat him 5-1.
Hawkins played like Allen at his best: confident, aggressive, going for his shots and getting them. He finished with two centuries. This was classy stuff from the Aussie Open champion.
I won’t bore you with details of my sightseeing tour of Berlin, accept to say that if you have any interest in the world and its history, it was fascinating. Any player who claims to be bored at a tournament only needs to venture outside. There really is more to life than snooker.
This afternoon’s TV match at 1pm local time (12pm in the UK) is Selby v Ding. Robertson v Murphy or Dott is currently favourite to be the televised quarter-final this evening.