Championship League Snooker 2009: Group Seven, Day One News

After what seems like forever since the World Championship qualifiers two weeks ago, finally we have some live snooker to watch as the final week of the Championship League gets underway…

Yes today has seen the start of group seven which will take place today and tomorrow, while the winners group will be held over Wednesday and Thursday.

To view the latest scores and group standings, please click here to visit Matchroom Sport.

I will provide some updates on the play throughout the day but I will not be at the computer for the full day so not all matches will be covered.



In the first two matches of the day, Graeme Dott has completed a nice comeback from 2-0 down to take a point from his match with Joe Swail while Steve Davis and Matthew Stevens have become involved in something of a marathon. Stevens has not played well from the start and saw Davis move into a 2-0 lead, but in taking a lengthy third frame (over 45 minutes David Hendon just said), he has given himself a chance of taking a draw.

Stevens has now had three golden chances in the final frame but he is really struggling at the moment and leads by only eight points as Steve knocks in a great red…and he has gone on to take a deserved victory.

He will not have a long rest though as he is now scheduled to play Judd Trump in his second match of the day, while Ricky Walden takes on Liang Wenbo in the other match.


Liang Wenbo starts the match with a typically aggressive long red from Ricky’s break-0ff, but can only make seven as he misses the pink. Walden cannot capitalise immediately though as a missed red to right-centre brings his break to an end.

Walden is slowly putting a lead together but it is scrappy stuff. Eventually though he does enough to clinch the frame. Steve Davis meanwhile continues his strong form and takes the opener against Judd Trump in the other match.

Following a poor escape from a snooker from Ricky, Liang is in with his first big chance of the match in frame two…but he breaks down on just 19 with a miss on an apparently straightforward red. Ricky duly punishes him with 71, the biggest break of the day so far on this table to make it 2-0.

And that is 3-0 in under an hour, an excellent start to the day for the Shanghai Masters winner.

Steve Davis has also continued his form as he goes 3-0 up on Judd Trump, though he has wasted a chance for 4-0 with a poor positional shot from yellow to green when clearing up. It did not matter too much however as he then put Judd in a snooker which he could not escape from and leave the green safe. A whitewash it is and already Steve is looking well placed to move into the semi-finals.


Graeme Dott gets off to a terrific start against Ricky Walden with a well-taken break of 94, though it could well have been a 145 but for a miss on the third to last red. It will be very interesting to see how he does this week as I get the impression that he is really starting to look like his old self again now and who knows, perhaps he could surprise a few people in the last couple of events of the season in China and Sheffield?

First chance to Ricky in the second frame but he breaks down on 38 and now Graeme has a chance to counter. As commentator Neal Foulds has pointed out, he’s looking quick around the table and as confident as I have seen him since 2006. Four of the remaining five reds are easy so it looks like it will all come down to the last one which is tight on the side-cushion. Well I jinxed that, Grame breaks down when attempting to move up and down the table through he baulk area and hitting the brown. Though Ricky played a poor shot when escaping from the subsequent snooker, Grame fails with a long red to the green pocket and he is off the hook. With all the colours on their spots it looks like whoever pots the next red will be favourite to take the frame.

On the other table meanwhile, Matthew Stevens and Joe Swail have shared the first two frames to leave their match at 1-1. Ricky manages to take that frame on the colours to also level at 1-1.

A brilliant long-red from Ricky at the start of frame three gives him a chance to keep up his momentum…and a break of 52 puts him in a strong position to lead 2-1 now. And he does.

And that is 3-1 to Ricky, fully deserved too because he looked to be in all sorts of trouble at one point in the final frame before pulling out a terrific pot. Matthew Stevens also completes a 3-1 win, though Swail will have the chance to bounce back quickly as he now meets Steve Davis.


A couple of really contrasting matches in store now as on one table Steve Davis comes up against Joe Swail whilst on the other Judd Trump meets Liang Wenbo.

Liang is in first with a break of 42 but with all of the reds bar one tightly together in the main pack, he failed to get on the one loose one and was forced into a safety. Over on the other table both Davis and Swail have wasted good opportunities but Steve has managed to get himself in for a second time and should put together a reasonable lead now. Eventually it proves to be enough for a 1-0 lead.

Having had to go out for an hour I have returned to find the Wenbo/Trump match well into the final frame now whilst Steve and Joe are still scrapping over the second. Joe currently leads by 26 points with just 27 on so it looks good for 1-1…and after 45 minutes it is. That is two long frames Steve has been involved in today and he has lost both!

Liang managed to get in first with 44 against Trump but he broke down and Judd responded with an 84 for frame and match. An excellent win for Judd given the hammering he suffered at the hands of Davis earlier but it alreayd looks like Wenbo will struggle to qualify for the semi-finals.

Joe Swail meanwhile has managed to take the second frame for 2-1 and was in with a great chance in the fourth but a missed black gives Davis a chance to get back into it. Unfortunately for the nugget though it would appear that a kick caused him to miss the opening red and Joe now has a second chance to secure victory. He’s taken it, inflicting Steve’s first defeat in the group stages of the 2009 competition.

We now have a break until 6pm.


A couple of really interesting matches now as Matthew Stevens takes on Graeme Dott, while Judd Trump faces Ricky Walden.

First chance on table two falls to the 19-year-old from Bristol Judd Trump and the break is up to 31 in no time…it ends on 64 but a good safety shot to put the black safe leaves him a heavy favourite to take the opener with five reds left. And take it he does, 1-0 Trump. An excellent long-red from Ricky in frame two however has given him a chance to immediately counter and he’s up to 51, about to go into the pack from the blue in what looks like being the key shot to the frame.

In goes the blue and he’s split the reds perfectly, really should be 1-1 now and there is a decent chance of a century now…and a century it is, a terrific total clearance of 134 which incidentally is the 73rd ton of Ricky’s professional career.

Graeme Dott meanwhile is looking to bounce back from his defeat to Ricky and has already secured a point on table one as he leads Matthew Stevens 2-0…

Cracking long-red from Judd Trump, holding for the black gives him the first chance in frame three. He is only on 33 now but already it looks like he has a 147 on his mind as he takes a long-red to the green pocket. In it goes and the break goes on…up to 64 but he is rapidly running out of loose reds and needs to go into them soon if he is to keep those maximum hopes alive…and he tries to go into the reds on 80 but just flicks off them and sees the white roll back into baulk. He does attempt a long red but it fails and the break is over, but he has at least gone back into the lead at 2-1.

This is brilliant stuff as again Ricky is in immediately and looking dangerous…and that’s the half-century, up to 56 as he attempts to go into the reds…it’s not great, he has a cut-back to the corner but he has missed it and the break comes to an end. Even worse, a poor shot from Ricky a couple of minutes later has spread the reds and left Judd with a great chance to steal the frame and the match…and he clears to pink with 71.

Brilliant match that, very harsh on Ricky to lose it but he made a couple of errors in the decider and it was a nice clearance from Judd to take it.

Graeme Dott meanwhile has taken the third frame against Stevens and thus all the points as he leads 3-0…and he’s just flying now, completing an excellent 4-0 win with a run of 84.


Both Judd and Graeme will not have long to bask in their glory however as both are now back in action in the final matches of the day against Joe Swail and Liang Wenbo respectively.

Back from a brief break to find both matches finely poised at 1-1 at the moment. Liang in particular could really do with taking the final two against Graeme if he is to keep his hopes alive…and there is one, but in the final frame it is Graeme Dott who is in and on a break of 40…and he’s wrapped up the frame to secure a 2-2 draw and deny Liang both points.

Judd Trump meanwhile leads Joe Swail 2-1 as he looks to take his third win from his four matches today…and that’s exactly what he does as he flukes the final green.

A great day of action and all is still to play for tomorrow. Liang Wenbo looks to be doomed and Matthew Stevens will have to play much better if he is to make it into the semi-finals, but otherwise everyone stands a chance. The most impressive players of the day for me were Judd Trump and Ricky Walden, while Graeme Dott also looked quite good, though he has struggled to convert draws into wins. Along with Steve Davis, those four currently top the group and I expect them to stay there after tomorrow’s play. We shall see.