Crucible Diary 2011: Day Four Blog

Day four from the Crucible and today saw Ronnie O’Sullivan progress safely into the second round while Peter Ebdon (pictured), became the third seed to crash out of the tournament so far…

Unfortunately today I only have time for a very short blog as the clock strikes 3am but with no morning session on Thursday I hope to be able to provide a bigger post and hopefully get my first album of photos up for you all then.

Today however began for me with the match between Marco Fu and Martin Gould who met in a re-match of their last 32 clash from a year ago when Gould eventually came through in a decider. This time around I had again fancied Martin to have too much for Marco but to his credit, the Masters finalist from Hong Kong was to remind us all of his class and particularly when in the balls, looked much improved from 12 months ago.

Frame six looked to be a potential turning point as trailing 4-1, Martin snatched the frame having needed a snooker thanks to a misjudged shot from his opponent which saw the cue ball drop into the right-centre pocket. Adding a scrappy seventh frame to close the gap to 4-3 it looked as though the tide was turning but Marco was to turn on the style, taking the next two with breaks of 115 and 56 restoring his three frame lead which he will now carry into the morning session.

To me Martin looked to be fairly edgy, similar to how I remember him on his debut against Mark Allen a couple of years ago but he remains well in the match, provided that he can make a fast start tomorrow.

Over on table two meanwhile Rory McLeod and Ricky Walden were playing out a more protracted session which eventually saw the two taken off after just eight completed frames, meaning that tomorrow’s session could also be a long one if the match is to run close. From what I did see once the curtain had raised it was hard for me to gauge who had been the better player, although Rory’s long game did look to be in reasonable shape.

Without a ticket for the afternoon I had a look around the venue and got in a few photos of the activities going on such as ‘Street Snooker’ as well as the action going on in the Winter Gardens. I will post a few more of those photos on Thursday.

I also managed to catch referee Jan Verhaas who following his involvement in that match between Ricky and Rory was taking the opportunity to relax in the sunshine with a pint of Amstel. Following a good chat I also caught a few words with Dominic Dale, a loser in the afternoon session to Ronnie O’Sullivan and it was fascinating to hear him say how he would think that he would be ok only to look up and find that Ronnie had made 40 in seemingly no time. As a fan in the arena I can certainly relate to that!

Shortly afterwards I darted in for the evening session and an entertaining nine frames between Mark Allen and Matthew Stevens which eventually saw the latter come out on top 5-4. While there were mistakes from both, there were also some excellent safety bouts, particularly prior to the interval and all in all it was a relaxed session which was played in a fantastic spirit.

Entertaining moments included Matthew’s attempts to break off in the decider which were momentarily thwarted by a fit of the giggles following someone in the crowd blowing their nose at the crucial time. Mark Allen too was in good form, following one misjudged positional shot he took the red out of the pocket, checked it for chalk marks only to find none and announce that “it was him then.” It was also nice to see former partner Reanne Evans in their with their daughter Lauren watching and exchanging a wave with her dad following the mid-session interval.

The other match proved to be a topsy turvy affair as Stuart Bingham resumed with a one frame lead, only to fall two behind and then win four on the spin to defeat Peter Ebdon 10-8 and move into the last 16. I could not see that table from my position but I did see an almighty kick that cost Ebdon dear in the final frame. That will sting for a while, though Stuart will not complain and is through to face Ding Junhui now.

In for all three sessions tomorrow, will post a lot more on Thursday hopefully…