World Championship Qualifiers 2011: Round Two Wrap

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday, unfortunately there just aren’t enough hours in the day at the moment. Click below for my reflections on the round two matches that I saw while I have also updated the provisional rankings and drawsheet at the usual places…

More photos will follow on Friday while you can also read my play by play updates over at Twitter.

Liu Chaung 10-9 Jimmy White

There was disappointment last night for Jimmy White fans as he crashed out of the World Championship at the first hurdle, suffering a 10-9 defeat to Liu Chuang. The first session was a particularly tense affair with neither player generally looking capable of making any sort of frame-winning break, as to be expected given what was at stake for both players. As the session progressed it looked like Jimmy was just starting to look the more comfortable but every time you thought that, he would miss one and eventually Liu came back to edge it 5-4.

The pattern continued at the start of the second frame as Liu built up an early lead, threatening to go open up a two frame lead at 6-4. After over 40 minutes however Jimmy had taken advantage of a few errors and managed to force a re-spotted black. It was White who lost the toss and had to break and initially this looked to be costly as he made a mess of trying to leave the balls on the side cushion and left a pot on for Liu, but Chuang missed it and stuck it over the left-centre which Jimmy potted for 5-5.

For a while this looked to be the key turning point, Liu was looking poor and while Jimmy was not pulling up any trees, he did enough to take the next two and lead 7-5. Liu did managed to crucially take the last before the interval to keep himself close however.

But after Jimmy made it 8-6 we were to have another turning point as having struggled all match, Liu from nowhere raised his game and started to string a few breaks together. While they were hardly the biggest, runs of 30, 67, 21, 21, 41, 30 and 43, given how both were playing and the surprisingly confident manner that he took them, they were enough. Jimmy meanwhile couldn’t respond and having forced a decider, played three poor shots initially, catching the blue from the break-off also which proved costly.

So disappointment for Jimmy as a previously positive season ends on a low note, keeping him outside of the top 48 for the time being. Credit though to Liu Chuang as he fully deserved it for the way he responded from 8-6 down and in truth having looked poor up until that point, particularly with his positional play. He will have a job to recover today however as he faces Tom Ford at 10am thanks to some crazy scheduling.

Jimmy Robertson 10-9 Xiao Guodong

Better news for the other Jimmy however as Robertson came through against star of the first round Xiao Guodong in another entertaining game. While not quite reaching the level of Xiao’s first match against Kurt Maflin, this was another good, high quality match highlighted by breaks of 106, 74, 74, 108, 68 and 92. From an early stage it had decider written all over it, both playing well as evidenced by one frame where Xiao made a storming clearance to come back and snatch it on the black, only to see Jimmy hit straight back at him.

In the end it did indeed come down to a 19th frame and having seen Xiao make the first error by misses a long pot and leaving one over the right-centre, Jimmy stepped in and looked determined during what proved to be a decisive run of 46.

An very good win for Robertson, this will keep him in the top 64 at the end of the year while Xiao still has a chance, but is relying on other results. If he were to fall out of the top 64 then he would also by waiting on other players with regards to his tour place. I really hope that he stays on.

Patrick Wallace 10-5 Rod Lawler

I did not actually watch much of this one but what a match it proved to be. Unbelievably for any match, they did not reach their mid-session interval until shortly before 2pm, FOUR hours after the match had started at 10am. With the afternoon session set to start at 2:30pm and their table needed for another match, they were faced with the choice of changing table and carrying on, or coming back to play 15 frames in the evening!

Unsurprisingly they elected to do the former and eventually got out of there at 5pm, but not without having changed referee as poor old Leo Scullion presumably left to put his feet in a bucket of water following the fifth frame.

Mercifully the evening session was somewhat quicker as Patrick took five of the six frames played to secure a comfortable 10-5 win. While he will probably need a quarter-final appearance at the Crucible to stay on the tour, exactly ten years after his shock run to that stage in 2001, it was a good win for Patrick and at least keeps his hopes alive.

Jack Lisowski 10-7 Kuldesh Johal

Meanwhile, Jack Lisowski survived a scare against Kuldesh Johal to progress to an eye-catching tie with Steve Davis in the next round. The first session was a strange one as Kuldesh seemed to have the first opportunity in almost every frame before breaking down on 40-50 and allowing Jack in to make a couple of gutsy clearances. At the interval Jack led 3-1 but could have quite easily lost all four. Kuldesh though was to fight back well and came out of the session with a narrow 5-4 lead.

Second session was to begin similar, Jack not playing particularly well but finding a way to win on his way to a 7-5 lead. He did though waste a good opportunity in the final frame before the interval which looked like it might just be another turning point, Jack going into the break frustrated while Kuldesh must have been feeling good.

As we remained in the arena however, it was suddenly pointed out that the scoreboard had ticked over to 8-6 Lisowski and it soon became apparent that Johal had been docked a frame for arriving late, unforgiveable really for a match of this magnitude. With the pressure lifted, Jack was not going to lose from now and eventually secured a 10-7 win with a well-taken 71 break in the last frame.

Next up will be Steve Davis in a battle between the 53-year-old and the 19-year-old. Intriguing in so many ways…

Liu Song 10-9 Adrian Gunnell

Booking his place in the next round on Monday night was Liu Song after a bizarre match against Adrian Gunnell. After a close first session which ended 5-4 to to Adrian, Liu won five of the first six frames of the evening and with Adrian looking beaten, dragging his cue tip first across the floor which as Neal Foulds put it was ‘tantamount to self-harm’, Liu looked a sure winner. Soon after that incident however, Liu missed a sittter and as Adrian took the frame, he suddenly looked like he fancied the job and with breaks of 59 and 74 soon drew level at 9-9.

The decider was to prove a scrappy affair and also saw Liu fouled for not nominating the green, something that I have not seen before in a professional match. Without making nay big breaks, he was to eventually get over the line and keep his hopes of a top 64 spot alive.

Sam Baird 10-7 Alfie Burden

Sam Baird’s winning run from the first preliminary round goes on as he shocked Alfie Burden to progress through to a tie with Mike Dunn. The damage was done in the first session as from 2-0 down, Sam won seven frames in a row as Alfie struggled to take his chances.

For a while in the evening there looked like a potential comeback, particularly as Sam missed a sitter of a red at 3-7 which allowed Alfie in to steal it, but as in his previous match against Thanawat, Sam reacted well to adversity and hit straight back with 86 to settle himself down. Alfie continued to try but eventually went down 10-7.

I have been impressed with Sam this week, he is extremely methodical and takes his time around the table, but when down on the shot he is very quick, quite unusual I think. One question that is being asked though is how he is eligible to play in the tournament despite being an amateur who has played tournaments at EASB level. Anyone know?


Of the other matches that I only caught glimpses of, Michael White again impressed against Matt Couch, two big breaks in the first two frames effectively setting the tone as Matt could not make the most of his chances, while Kyren Wilson also won a battle of youth over experience against Joe Swail. I only caught the last frame of that but it was a classic as Joe came back from needing two snookers to have two chances at frame-ball, only to miss and let Kyren in to get over the line. To stay on the tour Kyren needs to make the last 16 stage however which is a tall order.

Also, David Gilbert won on Tuesday night against Barry Pinches past midnight and is back on already against Tom Ford at 10am Wednesday. Not the best scheduling, particularly after this happened to Jimmy White last year when he had to play Ken Doherty the morning following a late one against Mark Boyle.

Looking at the tour survival race, the situation is that James Wattana will need to qualify for the Crucible, Kyren Wilson the last 16, Patrick Wallace, James McBain and the rest not already safe will need to go further.