Crucible Diary 2013: Days Nine + Ten

Following two hectic days at the Crucible, as the last 16 stage of this year’s World Championship was played to a conclusion, today sees the start of the quarter-finals as the eight remaining players fight for the right to play at the one-table set-up from Thursday.

Click below for a round-up of my last couple of days here in Sheffield…

  • Click here to view the latest drawsheet
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Sunday morning saw the start of two new matches as Stuart Bingham got underway against Mark Davis, while Ricky Walden took on Robert Milkins in the bottom quarter. As well as the action from the Crucible Theatre, eyes were also on the EBSA play-offs taking place at the nearby EIS, with twelve players competing for three main tour places, starting next season.

Before anybody settled down to watch the action however, as part of the annual Paul Hunter Day activities, the great and the good of the media room were invited to the Cue Zone in the Winter Gardens to participate in the 60 second challenge, to see how many reds they could pot within a minute. Though I arrived too late to see most of them, I did see press officer Ivan Hirschowitz record an impressive four, one short of the winning number of five, scored by referee Brendan Moore and MC Rob Walker. There was one man who scored seven, however WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson was to be disqualified, on account of being a former professional.

Back in the media room, the action continued as Davis and Bingham would just about manage to squeeze their opening eight frames into the session, while Ricky Walden was able to secure a 5-3 lead heading into his evening session.

It was around this time that a huge tour group were brought through the media room, joined by WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson, who upon seeing me, offered to sit down for a chat to record an article for PSB that we had arranged a few days earlier. At the time of writing, I am currently waiting for Jason to approve the final article prior to it going live here, but I can assure you that it is very much worth checking back for.

By the time that we had finished, Ronnie O’Sullivan had resumed his match against Ali Carter, while Ding Junhui was in the process of mounting a comeback against Mark King, having found himself 6-2 down following the opening session.

It was at around this time that Judd Trump attracted the scorn of a few fans by tweeting during a feature on the great Joe Davis:

“To get new interest in snooker bbc put on a documentary from 3million years ago great way to get kids interested.

While that tweet could be best described as ill-advised, it did cause a few laughs here at the Crucible and no doubt will be forgotten about after a couple of days.

Shortly after this, I was lucky enough to be invited for a meal at the nearby Piccolinos restaurant by Barry Orr, who works for tournament sponsors Betfair. My last visit to that particular restaurant came on the night of the final in 2011, when finalist Judd Trump was in there with his manager Django, as well as former world champion Cliff Thorburn.

This time around, it was another thoroughly enjoyable evening, before we returned to see that Ricky Walden was in the process of securing a 10-6 overnight lead against Robert Milkins, while Stuart Bingham and Mark Davis remained difficult to split with the scoreline level at 8-8.

Elsewhere, Stuart Carrington, Patrick Einsle and Jak Jones were confirmed as the three qualifiers from the day’s EBSA play-offs, following which they were given a tour around the Crucible by WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson.

The evening concluded with a night of action on the pool table at the Graduate, which anyone who has played on it previously will know well…


With play set to start at 1pm the following day, a lie in had been planned, only for me to learn via the medium of Twitter that Barry Hearn would be conducting a press conference at the Crucible, in order to announce a new UK-based tournament.

Eventually taking place at 1:15pm, Barry confirmed that the tournament would be known as the ‘Champion of Champions’ event and will take place later this year in Coventry. You can read full details of the press conference here, including Barry’s warning to the players of the standards that he expects from them going forward.

More immediately, the first man through to the quarter-finals today would be Stuart Bingham, who won the last three frames against Mark Davis to record a 13-10 victory. Stuart told me after the win:

“It’s brilliant, unbelievable. It was a hard old battle with Mark and just really happy to get through it.”

“I felt under it at 10-10, but I had a couple of chats with Steve Feeney, obviously getting me in the right place. It could have easily slipped away, I had played two good frames and then two very poor frames, so to come out at 10-all, I just got on with it, stopped thinking and started potting balls.”

“The last three years we have worked hard on my game and getting more focused and more belief really. I am getting married in a couple of weeks time, it’s going really, really good. Obviously my son was born a couple of years ago and I have got a step-daughter who is nine now. It’s all good, I actually thought today that I am actually missing him, he was up for a couple of days but has gone back now.”

“Winning a three-session match for the first time, having come out not playing my best either means a lot. I just can’t wait for tomorrow. It was a bit of a hard slog with Mark, we didn’t want to give each other an inch really. It was a hard safety battle, most of the frames the balls went a bit awkward.”

“I’ll just go out next match, hopefully relax and play like I can.”

Also present was Stuart’s coach Steve Feeney, who added:

“I’ve got a few more grey hairs! It has been two years and through using the SightRight routines, he has become consistent, accurate and a winner. It has been a massive turnaround.”

“Getting to the quarter-finals of the World Championship, we all know how important that is. I am really proud of him, fantastic today, well done Stuart!”

Soon to follow Stuart over the line was Ding Junhui, who defeated Mark King to reach the last eight for only the second time in his career:

“Normally I lose second round. I will win one day, maybe this time and I think I will do better next round.”

“Sometimes between the matches you over-think and you make the balls complicated, lose the right control. Need to keep it simple, take the shot and just pot them.”

“It’s not much pressure to win a game, the important thing, I am really enjoying the game, that is the best thing. It is normal for me to have the pressure, when I am concentration I do not feel that.”

“Last year I didn’t do well, too much pressure on myself and I am always learning from the matches. This season I lost a few first rounds. Now I have done better during the last few tournaments, so I just need to keep that form, much better than before.”

“It is easier here [than in China], sometimes the people, there are so many things around you. You need to relax and have nothing to think, It is important to concentrate, practice and be ready for matches. At the World Championship all the top players are hard to beat. At every round you need to be the best, then you can win the tournament. If not, you have no chance to win.”

“I think when 6-2 down, I just want to win every frame, put him under pressure. Every time I win one more frame it puts more pressure on him, that’s what I need to do and I did it.”

As the day continued, the debate continued to rage on Twitter as to the issue of the toilet breaks following Barry Hearn’s press conference, while back on the baize, Ronnie O’Sullivan wasted little time in racing to a 13-8 victory against Ali Carter to book his place in the last eight.

Following victory, Ronnie noted that he felt more tired this year having had a year off than he did in 2012 following a full season, while Ali was quick to point to the fact that Ronnie always seems to play his best snooker against him, tipping him to win the title unless ‘his head falls off’ here at the Crucible.

Over on table two meanwhile, Ricky Walden held off a spirited fightback from Robert Milkins to secure a 13-11 victory and a quarter-final clash with Michael White.

The action continues…