UK Championship Qualifiers 2011: Day One Live

Today sees the start (well, aside from today’s two preliminary round matches), of the 2011 UK Championship qualifiers from Gloucester and I am pleased to say that I will be over at the South West Snooker Academy for the duration of the tournament bringing you the latest news and photos. Click below for the latest from Sunday’s matches…

  • Click here to view the tournament drawsheet
  • Click here to view the latest scores
  • Click here to view the latest projected seedings

As explained above, today I will be in Gloucester for the first round of the UK Championship qualifiers, but of course this is not the only snooker tournament today as the World Seniors Championship comes to a conclusion in Peterborough. For all of the latest on that tournament, please click here.

For me though Gloucester is the place to be and of the first-session matches, I will be interested to see how Luca Brecel fares against Ian McCulloch, while Sam Craigie and Tian Pengfei are also players that I hope to take a closer look at…

12:51pm: All set up in the media centre and already Adam Duffy is 3-0 up against Dechawat Poomjaeng, while Tian Pengfei is 2-0 up against Bjorn Haneveer. Interesting match in prospect on the main arena table meanwhile, Luca Brecel leads Ian McCulloch 2-1. Speaking of which it’s time to go and get some photos from around the tables I think…

13:34: Watching Dechawat Poomjaeng for the first time as he attempts to get a frame on the board against Adam Duffy, the former Paul Hunter Scholar now 4-0 up. Quite a contrast between the two in terms of playing style, Adam very quick when down on the shot while Dechawat has an action reminiscent of Michael Judge, the way he walks into the shot.

Michael White in action this morning

Elsewhere Michael White has drawn level with Daniel Wells at the mid-session interval, a break of 59 eventually enough, after Daniel had attempted to carry on for snookers. Could be a close one that, though with Michael’s scoring as good as it is I would probably favour him to come out on top if I had to pick a winner.

Luca Brecel absolutely flying against Ian McCulloch, now leads 4-1 having already made the first century break of the day. I must admit that I hadn’t expected that one.

14:17: Ian McCulloch has now closed to just one behind at 4-3 on the arena table, taking frame seven in two scoring visits, either side of giving away 13 penalty points as Luca rather fortuitously snookered him behind the green. From what I could see Ian fancies the job at the moment and looked to be in good shape…

Ian McCulloch takes on Luca Brecel

Meanwhile word is coming through that Ronnie O’Sullivan has elected not to enter the Sky Shootout in January, while the draw is currently being made at the World Seniors Championship. Will have that up in full as soon as I have it…

14:40: Tian Pengfei goes 5-3 up against the returning Bjorn Haneveer (out since Australia due to an injury to his shoulder), with a break of 100, while Luca goes matches him by taking frame eight against Ian McCulloch.

Just heard an entertaining story from the Cao Yupeng v Matt Couch match. Apparently at the mid-session interval referee Dave Palmer went over to tell Cao what time to come back from the interval and Cao subsequently pulled his phone out, presumably to check the time and in turning it on it made a loud noise, grabbing the attention of everyone else playing, much to the amusement of Andrew Pagett who was stood at the next table and annoyance of Paul Davison. He’ll learn!

Meanwhile, first man through to tomorrow is Adam Duffy who has completed a 6-3 victory against Dechawat Poomjaeng, top breaks of 69, 59, 51 and 48. Next up for Adam will be Alfie Burden tomorrow who has been in the media centre modelling South West Snooker Academy t-shirts with Liam Highfield this morning.

Cao Yupeng with the infamous telephone

Also through are Chinese duo Tian Pengfei and Cao Yupeng, the latter despite his mobile phone mishap! Tian started like an express train with breaks of 84 and 61 and never really looked back, adding further runs of 61, 52 and then a century in frame eight on his way to victory.

Decider alert between McCulloch and Brecel, barring a snooker. White and Wells look like they could be heading the same way…but Michael White does enough to secure a 6-4 win and move into tomorrow’s second round.  Good though to see Daniel playing well again though, it may be too late for him to stay on the tour for next season but hopefully he can have a good finish to the season and show the talent that he undoubtedly possesses…

Adam Wicheard is through, 6-2 against Paul Davison with top runs of 66 and 56 which both came from 4-2 as he finished the match strongly.

Tian Pengfei

From 4-1 and 5-3 down Ian McCulloch has completed the comeback against Luca Brecel to win in a deciding frame. I only caught a couple of frames as Ian recovered to 3-4 mid-match but he looked to be playing well and from there perhaps it was inevitable that his experience was going to tell. That said, some heavy scoring from Luca early in the match is certainly encouraging and he will not doubt have learned a lot from the experience.

Kurt Maflin meanwhile is also through, a 6-4 winner against David Hogan. There wasn’t the usual high scoring that you tend to associate with Kurt’s matches but a break of 65 in the final frame was enough to see the Norwegian through to tomorrow. David Hogan did though make a 139 break in defeat which off the top of my head may well be a professional best from the Irishman.

17:35: Wow, what a finish to the Craigie/Pagett match as Sam Craigie wins it 6-5 on a re-spot!

I joined the match as Pagett led 5-3 with frame nine down to the blue ball and Andrew at the table. The key shot was soon to follow as he caught his safety on the blue much too thin and the white came in and out of baulk to leave Sam a relatively easy frame ball. Pagett played on for snookers but it was to no avail as Craigie closed to within one at 5-4.

Adam Duffy

Following on the apparent theme of the match, frame ten was a scrappy affair to begin with, a number of Sam’s safeties catching the baulk colours, one in particular leaving Pagett hampered by the brown from which he would miscue, sending the cue ball into the blue. The first big chance of the frame duly followed for Craigie from which he made 46 (aided by a massive fluke on a red which wobbled in the right-centre before coming back across the table and into the left-middle), before he missed a black and the remaining seven reds found themselves tight on cushions.

Needing to open the reds, Pagett developed a few but could not make a frame-winning opportunity of it and Craigie eventually forced a decider.

Having been pegged back from 5-2, Pagett could have been forgiven for being nervous and perhaps it showed as he got the break-off all wrong in frame eleven, giving Sam an easy starter. He could only make 20 however as going into the reds he split them well only too stick to one and leave himself with nothing to go at.

Pagett was still in the match however and found an excellent pot on a red, only to come just too far back down the table and leave himself with only a roll-up behind the brown from which Craigie would escape at the second attempt. Though Andrew was again to get in, as he missed a difficult green from distance the writing looked to be on the wall given the events of the past 90 minutes.

Compare the lighting between the non-TV and the TV table

There was however to be another twist as Sam missed again and with just a couple of reds left, Andrew found himself at the table with a real chance to snatch victory. His shot on the last colour to the yellow however was not the best and with the yellow on the spot and the cue ball close to the right-centre pocket, he missed it by some distance, though he was able to fluke a snooker behind the brown.

As often happens in deciders however, the snooker Gods decided to have a little more fun and as Craigie played the escape, he got a snooker back, this time in behind the pink. Escaping at the second attempt however, Pagett eventually gained the upper hand and as the white came in behind the final black it looked as though he was going to prevail. One of his supporters (I suspect his father), twice told him to take his time and he had the cue ball cleaned to make absolutely sure but to his horror he was to overcut it, leaving it hanging in the jaws for a no doubt relieved Craigie who was able to force a re-spot.

Winning the toss (a call of heads for anyone interested), Sam put Pagett in to break and the first few shots left the balls relatively safe. The turning point however came as Andrew left the black in the middle of the table, but just above the blue spot meaning that Sam would have to take it up into the yellow pocket which was far from straight-forward, particularly as he had to play the shot dead weight to avoid the in-off into the right-centre.

My view for the Craigie/Pagett decider

In it dropped however and Sam completed possibly the biggest win of his professional career to date to move into tomorrow’s second round and a tie with Ben Woollaston.

19:00: Time for the evening session as the players are called through. Will get a few photos in the bank and then see how Sam and Liam are getting on…

20:34: This has worked out quite well, the three matches next to each other downstairs are the three that I wanted to watch I have been able to sit in the middle and see the lot.

The main match in front of me has been that involving Robin Hull and Yu Delu which at the time of writing has seen Robin secure a 4-0 interval lead. Watching Robin, he looks pretty solid, but at the same time I get the feeling that he’s not quite match sharp yet. It is almost as if he is making forties and losing position where normally he would be making centuries.

Robin Hull

That said Yu Delu has been well below his best, I had been expecting a stronger performance from him. Watching him live for the first time it is noticeable that his cue action appears to be very wild, almost uncontrolled as someone here commented.

The fourth frame could well be crucial as despite not being on his game, Yu had chances to pull one back heading into the interval but ultimate a miss on the yellow followed by a good clearance on the colours from Robin ensured that it would be 4-0 at the break. At 3-1 I would have still given Delu a good chance over the best of 11 frames but I fear that 4-0 could be too much.

Meanwhile the match involving David Gilbert and Aditya Mehta was also fairly one-sided, though despite leading 3-0 David has looked at far from his best. Since coming out Aditya has started to apply a little pressure and having closed to 3-2, we could have a close one in store yet.

As for Sam Baird and Liam Highfield, the score currently stands at 3-1 to Liam at the interval though from what I have seen neither have quite got into their stride yet.

Aditya Mehta

20:59: A shoutout to Janie and the SWSA website here as they are putting up the full frame scores for the event, something debated in the comments section earlier. Click here to view those.

22:19: Congratulations to Darren Morgan who becomes the World Seniors Champion with a 2-1 victory against Steve Davis. Don’t make much of the ‘magnificent trophy’ but I don’t suppose that he will care too much.

Back in Gloucester, early night for both Robin Hull and Passakorn Suwannawat, both comfortable winners this evening. David Gilbert has let slip his 3-0 lead against Aditya Mehta and now trails 5-4, can he pull it from the fire?

Liam Highfield back level with Sam Baird, have drifted in and out of the match but neither player seems to have found their best. Elsewhere Li Yan leads Stuart Carrington 4-3, David Grace leads David Morris by the same scoreline and Rod Lawler is now 5-2 up against Simon Bedford, Simon having taken the last two frames. Scott MacKenzie leads Andrew Norman 4-3 in the final match.

David Gilbert

23:23: Back into the arena as David Gilbert forces a decider at 5-5. Often deciders can be tight affairs as was the case with Craigie and Pagett earlier on but this one was ultimately to prove fairly straightforward as after a couple of misses from distance by either player, David was able to take it in two scoring visits.

I got the feeling that David had lost his composure during the middle part of the match but as was the case earlier this year at the World Championship qualifiers on occasion, his quality came through in the end.

Meanwhile Liam Highfield on the other table was also up against in in his match against Sam Baird, the latter moving 5-3 ahead with an excellent total clearance of 134. The next frame proved to be significantly tighter, Sam gaining the early lead before Liam came back to take it to the colours. With the blue safe the clearance looked unlikely and eventually it was Sam who won the battle on the pink, soon following it up with the black to secure a 6-3 win.

As was the case when I saw him progress to the third round of last season’s World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield, Sam impressed me with his all-round game, while it continues to amuse me how he can be so quick when down on his shot yet relatively pedestrian between them. It works for him however and he will now meet Anthony McGill in the second round.

Liam Highfield

Elsewhere, Rod Lawler has completed a 6-2 victory against Simon Bedford to get some much-needed ranking points on the board having slipped out of the top 64 while there were also wins for David Grace and Li Yan against David Morris and Stuart Carrington respectively.

The final match of the evening between Andrew Norman and Scott MacKenzie has gone to a decider. Time to update my projected seedings and then go up if it is still on I think…