UK Championship 2010: Day Two Blog

Stephen Hendry vs Jimmy White, yesterday’s brilliant match between John Higgins and Stephen Lee to a finish and Ronnie O’Sullivan to round off the day – yes today’s line-up really is that good as what promises to be a thrilling second day of the UK Championship gets underway in Telford…

Sunday 5th December


Graeme Dott 9-5 Martin Gould*
John Higgins 9-6 Stephen Lee*
Peter Ebdon 7-9 Andrew Higginson*
Neil Robertson 9-1 Rory McLeod*

Marco Fu 4-4 Barry Hawkins
Ali Carter 4-4 Mark Joyce
Stephen Hendry 4-4 Jimmy White
Mark Williams 6-2 Mark Davis


Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-4 Stuart Bingham
Jamie Cope 3-5 Judd Trump
Shaun Murphy v Patrick Wallace
Mark King v Ryan Day

First match for me today will be that between John Higgins and Stephen Lee. Will Stephen be able to reproduce the sort of form that he showed yesterday or will Higgins stretch away?

Strong start from both players here but it is John who gets in with the first real chance and capitalises on it with a fine break of 99. First chance in frame two however falls the way of Stephen Lee following a good opening red. Can he strike back in one visit?

Rory McLeod’s days look to be numbered meanwhile as Neil Robertson has taken the opener today to move 8-1 ahead, while Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott have also taken the opening frames of the day in their matches.

I asked the question and Stephen Lee has provided the answer, a total clearance of 137 to level the match at 5-5. John with a pot success rate of 95%, Stephen 96%, this really couldn’t be of a much higher quality.

Over on table one meanwhile Neil Robertson has wrapped up a 9-1 victory over Rory McLeod without too much trouble, a strong performance from the world number one who I had feared might get somewhat bogged down by Rory’s methodical play. What that does mean is that Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White are now imminent…

John Higgins has moved back in front of Stephen Lee with yet another big break. Apparently there have been just seven pots missed by each player after 11 frames, incredible.

Frame twelve looks as though it could be crucial as Stephen Lee has the first opportunity but can only make 28 before running out of position. A missed red a few shots later left Higgins right in amongst them and able to put together a frame-winning break to lead 7-5. Interestingly however, there was a moment of controversy as John Higgins having potted the blue, then asked for the pink to be re-spotted as it was not quite right and not available to the left centre due to the proximity of another red. Referee Olivier Marteel duly obliged and re-spotted it, something that commentators Willie Thorne and Neal Foulds clearly believed should not have happened. Stephen Lee did not object however and 7-5 it is.

It has been a strong start to the day for Graeme  Dott away from the cameras as the 2006 world champion has won the first two frames to level his match with Martin Gould at 5-5. Andrew Higginson leads Peter Ebdon 6-5.

John Higgins moves three clear and just one away from the match at 8-5. That controversial last frame before the interval looks to have decided this match.

Hendry and White are underway, Scotland’s Leo Scullion will officiate it, great occasion for him.

First chance of the match came the way of Jimmy White as Hendry left a red to the left-centre but he could only make 16 and a strong break of 104 from the Scot was enough to take the first time. Stephen even made a double during that break, he must be up for it! Stephen Lee meanwhile has pulled one back against John Higgins.

Hendry’s strong start continued in frame two until a missed black gave Jimmy a chance to assert himself on the match. He did not seem to be quite at ease with the table but he produced a marvellous century break nonetheless to show Stephen that he is well in this match. Stephen’s average shot time at the moment is 14 seconds, Jimmy’s 16, somehow I can’t see that continuing!

What a session it has been so far for Graeme Dott, resuming 5-3 down against Martin Gould he was up against it but now leading 8-5, he needs just one more frame to book his place in the last 16. Stephen Lee is digging in against John while the Ebdon/Higginson clash looks like going the distance…

Graeme completes a 9-5 win, that is a real a statement of intent from the 2006 semi-finalist. As is a 9-6 victory for John Higgins in what was a tough match against Stephen Lee.

What a third frame between Stephen Hendry and Jimmy White, having failed to take three clear chances to win the frame it looked as though White would fall 2-1 behind but Stephen then inexplicably snookered himself from brown to blue and saw his opponent take the frame. Very interesting final frame before the mid-session interval to come now…

As an aside, both Stephen Lee and Martin Gould going out of the tournament is good for Stephen Hendry and his top 16 status they were two of the players threatening to overtake him. Should the Scot lose tomorrow then in all likelihood it will take a win from Mark King and a QF from Mark Davis to relegate him, not a formality.

Hendry makes it 2-2 at the mid-session interval, deserved I think as he has a pot success rate of 95% to Jimmy’s 88%. Also through though is Andrew Higginson who has recorded a fine 9-7 victory against Peter Ebdon to become the first qualifier to make it through to the last 16. Rising three places to 21st in my latest seedings list, Andrew is really playing well at the moment and to defeat someone as tough as Peter, particularly over a best of 19 frames match is no small achievement.

That means that the final three afternoon matches are also underway, Ali Carter against Mark Joyce, Marco Fu against Barry Hawkins and Mark Williams against Mark Davis.

Stephen Hendry has gone 3-2 up against Jimmy White, not sure how as the BBC had a replay of the Lee/Higgins match on our screens but we are back on now with Jimmy in amongst the reds…

Jimmy couldn’t take the frame in one visit but a couple of poor positional shots from Hendry were to prove costly and having had a great chance in frame seven, the Scot has let Jimmy back in again. As so often seems to happen during Hendry’s matches these days, he seems to be going off the boil after a strong start and I think that he could do with this session coming to a close…

Another rollercoaster frame between the legends as having left White needing two snookers, Hendry then appeared to completely lose his train of thought, first knocking the pink and then with White 34 behind with 35 on, brought the black out into play to give him a chance to win. Jimmy though is not playing well himself and overhit position from green to brown. Hendry then played what was actually a very good safety, to force White into fouling the blue and eventually losing the frame. 4-3 to Hendry.

As an aside this match just goes to show what a difference pressure can make. Just a month ago I watched Jimmy White play faultless snooker at the opening night exhibition at the Southwest Snooker Academy as he demonstrated to everyone there that he still has all of the shots. In front of the TV cameras with ranking points at stake and his greatest rival across the table however, it is almost a totally different ball game and he has found it a real struggle out there today, as has Stephen.

Over on the outside tables, Mark Williams has already guaranteed that he will be at least level overnight against the ever-improving Mark Davis, currently 4-1 ahead while Mark Joyce is continuing to play well, 3-2 up on Ali Carter. Marco Fu is level with Barry Hawkins at 2-2, needing a win to give himself any chance of keeping his place inside the top 16 after this week.

And after another astonishing frame Jimmy White has drawn level with Stephen Hendry overnight at 4-4, having seen Hendry miss a brown off the spot to take a 5-3 lead overnight. It was evident from Hendry’s facial expressions that he could not believe how badly he was playing and it is probably best for all concerned that they just come back tomorrow and hope that they can play better!

Mark Williams concludes his session against Mark Davis by taking the final frame to take a 6-2 overnight lead. Currently lying 17th in the projected rankings, Davis does need to win this match to keep his hopes of moving into the top 16 after this event alive but I think that he will struggle from here, particularly against a player of Williams’ class.

Over on the second TV table, Ali Carter has struggled this afternoon but he has dug in to come out of the session level at 4-4 with qualifier Mark Joyce overnight.

Time for the evening matches and already Patrick Wallace looks to be up against it, trailing 2008 champion Shaun Murphy 2-0 in what must be his first television appearance in almost a decade. That said, with the crowd all watching Ronnie on the other table, as well as the Cope/Trump match away from the TV, I suspect that Patrick has played before bigger crowds in Prestatyn than that in Telford this evening.