Shoot Out 2012: Night One Round Up

Following what was on balance a successful début back in 2011, this evening saw the return of the Snooker Shoot Out and in the main, a number of wins for the higher ranked players which will inevitably set things up nicely for the last 32. Click below for a summary of the day’s play…

Ever the crowd favourite, Jimmy White was given a terrific reception during his match tonight but on the table it was Anthony Hamilton who produced the fireworks with arguably the performance of the night, a well-taken 66 followed by another small contribution enough to see him through a comfortable winner. Given the unusual surroundings and what was by that time a boisterous, pro-White crowd, it was a good effort from Anthony and one made to look even better by his revelation to World Snooker post-match:

“My friend Richard was looking in the back of the car for some sugar for our tea so the police must have thought that was odd and pulled us over. They checked my car and it turns out it wasn’t insured. I usually pay by direct debit, but for some reason the payments haven’t gone through since November. So that’s six points on my licence and a £200 fine.

We had to get a taxi into Northampton then a train here. If we’d missed a train or two we wouldn’t have made it, but luckily we got to Blackpool in time and came straight to the venue. Maybe it was good preparation because I played well against Jimmy. I’m going to fly back to London so by then I’ll feel like John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”

Elsewhere, the other stand-out matches were those resulting in wins for Graeme Dott, Tom Ford and Martin Gould, all contests that could have gone either way, without quite being as dramatic as some of the matches that we saw last year.

Graeme’s victory came against Alan McManus in a frame which swung one way and then the other, but was ultimately decided when Graeme missed a shot on the penultimate red, leaving it in the jaws only to snooker Alan behind the yellow. Despite being known as ‘Angles’ for his ability to escape from snookers, this was to prove an escape too far and the subsequent ball in hand for Graeme gave him the chance that he needed.

Ford meanwhile looked at one point to have been denied by an outrageous fluke from opponent Jimmy Robertson on the last red into the green pocket following a failed attempt at a double. As it was, Jimmy was to miss the green into the left-centre shortly afterwards allowing Tom to step in with a clearance to the pink and secure a place in the last 32.

Martin on the other hand trailed 44-0 against an opponent not renowned for his quick play in Peter Ebdon, before producing an impressive counter-attack to edge through.

Elsewhere, other notable results include defeats for defending champion Nigel Bond and tournament favourite (if there was one) Judd Trump, to Robert Milkins and John Higgins respectively. Rory McLeod meanwhile who also impressed last year is also out, thanks largely to a time foul which gave opponent Mark Allen ball in hand at a crucial period. Jamie Burnett was also to make a couple of crucial of errors, first forgetting the rule that a ball must either be potted or touch a cushion on any shot, before late in the frame when in with a chance to steal it, not displaying the urgency needed until it was too late.

Mark Williams won the battle of the legends against Steve Davis in convincing fashion, while Matthew Stevens, who arrived at the venue late following a seven-hour drive today, took advantage of a missed black from Ali Carter to progress to the last 32.

Overall it was a generally unspectacular start to the 2012 tournament, similar in fact to a year ago when after the opening night I was far from convinced as to the merits of the event. On that occasion opinion was to be turned by a spectacular session during Saturday evening which saw a number of thrilling finishes, so hopefully something similar will happen this time around.

For me I do think that the matches under the format can be largely uneventful, particularly if they are one-sided, but on the flip side when they go down to the wire, it can produce moments of real drama which certainly last year made it worth sticking with.

It is safe to say that for me it is not an event that I would have any interest in attending, the darts-style atmosphere and drunken crowds (which as was to be expected became worse throughout the session), do not do it for me personally. That said, overall I do not think that it does the sport any harm to have a one-off, non-ranking event such as this and clearly there are people at the venue having a good time and enjoying themselves.

Let’s hope that we have a few dramatic finishes tomorrow…