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.


Anonymous said...

re "Swampy" when he is next in Nottingham, I can point him in the direction of a good hairdressers who will do a cut & blow dry for £11.

Anonymous said...

The more I think about the "flat" structure, and see how "flat" (burn out?) some of our top players look, the more I think it is a bad idea.

An earlier posting on this forum was quite informative on the comparison with Pro Tennis, where I wasn't aware the flat structure only applies to Grand Slam events.

You hinted an EGM might be called but a vote would have little impact. Perhaps an entry boycott by players of one of the summer events would resolve the matter. Then again look at what happened to Ice Hockey in North America, on strike for months - something none of us would want....

Anonymous said...

Most people write except for accept, but you write accept for except.

Ray said...

Dave, when you said some players think they are better than they actually are you hit the nail on the head. I have come across a lot of 100 breakers at club level who are so up themselves it's painful. And they are not even professionals. I've often wondered if this is just a snooker thing or more widespread. They think they are God's gift just because they can play snooker. It's totally unnecessary and detracts from the game of snooker. Look at the talent Jimmy White had - there was none of that with him was there?
As for Judd Trump I think his head is beginning to go. He needs to lose his ego first,then practice till he's blue in the face, give every opponent and the game as a whole due respect, then he might, only might mind you, be a multiple winner.

Anonymous said...

If players get frustrated every time they get a kick, then if we are to take the theory seriously that one of the causes is chalk sticking to the cue ball or indeed object ball, they should stop the practice of removing balls from the pockets at the end of frames with their sweaty / greasy hands. Instead, leave it to the cotton gloved referee.

The Blog said...

"As for Judd Trump I think his head is beginning to go. He needs to lose his ego first,then practice till he's blue in the face, give every opponent and the game as a whole due respect, then he might, only might mind you, be a multiple winner."

Hmm.. I'm getting a feeling Trump may have had his moment in the snooker spotlight. In hindsight, it's possible his amazing run of performances in 2011 was, dare I say, a 'fluke' of form rather than a true indication of his overall ability in pro-events.

There's no doubt he's a superb talent but 'superb talent' doesn't mean that much without 'consistency' and it's possible he lacks that elusive, golden trait. It looks like it. Perhaps Judd Trump may become a Matthew Stevens type player? Stevens almost won the world title on two occasions but since then he's never found any real consistency. I wouldn't be shocked if we've seen the best of Judd Trump. It will be a shame as he's such an exciting talent but who knows, he may not win another major tournament. Hope I'm proven wrong because his long potting in the 2011 WC was some of the best I've ever seen by any snooker player. Be sad to think we may never see that repeated.

Anonymous said...

It is very noticeable that those who take pride in their appearance are also the ones who achieve success at the very top.
Reardon, Davis, Hendry, O'Sullivan (for the most part !), Murphy, Selby.
All immaculately turned out.
Hamilton, Allen, Lee..not so much !

Anonymous said...

Mark Williams kind torpedoes your theory though. He is one scruffy bastard. If Hamilton is getting told to tidy then what is happening to Williams? Being packed off to finishing school presumably.

Anonymous said...

Of course the only way they will effect this is if they start excluding players for breaching the dress code (they would do it at Wimbledon).

There is a valid point here - snooker's value to sponsors depends on how many people watch, and people are less likely to watch if they are repulsed by what they see on the screen!

Anonymous said...

You have a point. MJW could do with standing a bit closer to the razor, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...


theres feck all wrong with Williams or hamiltons attire.

theyre not tailors dummies, theyre there to play snooker.

they look decent enough wthout breaking the rules and not gone overboard

Anonymous said...

what the france is jj on about?

he never cut the black ball backwards. it is sitting to the left and closer to baulk, which is not backwards from the top cushion.

honestly couldn't make it up

well called dave.

early bath for jj

also, upon evidence it was black first, I wonder if jj still thought the black went backwards?

the sooner you do the comments yourself dave, the better.

please don't take this comment personal against a friend.

he was a great player and he is a nice guy, but hopeless "in the box"

Anonymous said...

Hamilton seems to be rebelling against the sport he has made a living at by dressing like a hedge dwelling tramp. As for his self deprecating nature, it's all a ruse. The bloke is a bottle job and however many times he admits it he still hates admitting it.
The whole Hamilton issue is a vicious circle and a darned scruffy one at that.

Anonymous said...

You can bet everything you have that they will not tell Williams to tidy himself up. They only bully lower ranked players, not their precious top 8.

Anonymous said...

I could name a few "well dressed" top players who could improve their appearance by wearing a bag over their heads.

Anonymous said...

Well, I hope you don't include Judd Trump in that because a bag wouldn't fit over it.

Anonymous said...

the bin-bag he's thrown his form in might fit

Anonymous said...

Well Anthony Hamilton told me whenever he is down in the dumps he always gets new clothes.I said,Oh,is that where you get them

Anonymous said...

Hamilton always reminds me of Charlie Chaplin's Tramp character. He should start carrying a hat and walking stick to the table to complete the look.

Rod Stewart fan Dave?