It was not without a scare or two but Anthony Hamilton saw off former world champion Stuart Bingham 6-4 at around 1am on Sunday morning to reach the German Masters final.Read More
It was with no huge surprise on Wednesday morning that I woke up to see the news that Discovery and Sky had come to an agreement over their 12-channel dispute.Read More
Prompted by a tactful question from the ever-professional Hazel Irvine, Ronnie O’Sullivan paid a heartfelt and generous tribute to Paul Hunter on Sunday night after winning his record seventh Masters title.Read More
Ronnie O'Sullivan threw in a magnificent performance at the Masters to see off the in-form Marco Fu and reach a 12th final, despite requiring a new tip early on.Read More
We’ve all played our best mate for a few quid – but perhaps not for the £40,000 that will be at stake when Barry Hawkins takes on Joe Perry on Saturday night in a Masters semi-final.Read More
Neil Robertson reckons he needs to silence Ronnie O’Sullivan’s rowdy support early on Thursday afternoon in their Masters quarter-final.Read More
Mark Selby is challenging a prevailing wisdom that crops up more than any other single viewpoint about the relative standard of today’s game, according to Mark Williams.Read More
Stephen Hendry has opened the door to the possibility of a Crucible Theatre return by signing up for revamped World Seniors Championship in March.Read More
Joe Perry admits that an excellent victory and performance at the Masters on Monday night against Stuart Bingham could not have come at a more timely moment.Read More
Ronnie O’Sullivan starts the defence of his Masters crown hoping some advice to opponent Liang Wenbo does not backfire on him on Sunday afternoon.Read More
Ronnie O’Sullivan, the defending Masters champion, starts his bid for a record seventh title on Sunday against Liang Wenbo – and he features a lot in the media on Saturday.Read More
Alfie Burden has been handed a six-month ban suspended for one year and fined £5,000 for multiple breaches of snooker’s betting rules.Read More
In the end the Betway UK Championship has got one of the finals that many neutrals would have wanted in the shape of Ronnie O’Sullivan against Mark Selby.Read More
Shaun Murphy has suggested that snooker’s governing bodies may be skimping when it comes to trying to eliminate kicks and bad bounces, and improving playing conditions.Read More
The UK Championship quarter-final between Mark Selby and John Higgins delivered on every level – and also sparked a new storm over how live snooker is covered on the BBC.Read More
All four Betway UK Championship quarter-finals take place on Friday at York’s Barbican Centre and there looks to be something for everyone.Read More
Mark Williams has called for young Welsh prospects to be handed the two wild-card spots for February’s Home Series tournament in Cardiff.Read More
If there was an award for sporting acceptance speech of the year, then the trophy would already be handed over to Mark King.Read More
Every now and again in the media centre at the snooker there is a full-on statto challenge thrown down.
In days gone by it would have been Phil Yates or Dave Hendon that would sorted this kind of thing out, currently it would usually be Matt Huart, formerly of ProSnookerBlog fame and now on the WPBSA payroll (perhaps for being officially the only person who truly understands the minutiae of the ranking systems and qualification criteria in all their forms).
The hapless hacks in here occasionally come up with a half-decent possible idea for a story, and then Matt kindly puts some flesh on the statistical bones – either confirming this line of enquiry is yielding something interesting, or politely shooting it down in flames as being a total waste of time.
A lot of these conversations are hypotheticals and we had one such discussion yesterday as Ronnie O’Sullivan raced into the quarter-finals for the loss of just three frames. What, I asked Matt, was the fewest number of frames that had been conceded in winning a UK title?
Now generally I have to confess, and many would confirm, stats are not top of my agenda, being naturally more drawn to the occasion, the result, the atmosphere, the agony and the ecstasy sport can generate, and hearing from the lead actors, the players.
But without question there are times when the statistic IS the story, especially when it comes to making history or setting records.
As another example I recently got a peek at the average shot time list for the season up to the UK Championship - and any self-respecting journalist could make a story out of who was top and bottom of that list (wait and see - or just have a guess...).
If there is one thing a statto loves though it is consistency, a basis of comparison that is like for like – and on this front we quickly ran into problems on the whole ‘fewest frames conceded by a UK winner’ question.
In the UK over the years you have had players coming in at a last 16, last 32, and last 128 stage. You have had finals that were best of 31 frames, or best of 19. You have had early-round matches that were best of 17 frames, or best of 11. You have had players winning four matches to lift the trophy, or seven.
Often Matt’s travails start with him working back from a first guess and then seeing if it can be beaten. In this case the starting point was Stephen Maguire in 2004 (19 frames, a 32-player draw, best of 17 frame matches up to best of 19 frame final).
That was then beaten by Doug Mountjoy in 1978 (18 frames, a 16-player draw for him, best of 17 then a best of 29 final).
Steve Davis dropped just 14 frames in 1980 plus one in an earlier qualifier, and Stephen Hendry 12 in 1995. For Davis this was a 16-player draw, best of 17 followed by a best of 31 final. And for Hendry it was a 32-player draw, best of 17 and then a best of 19 final (although he did win a qualifier too earlier pre-venue, technically dropping a further three frames to Jamie Burnett).
But Davis wins the prize for his 1981 effort in a 16-player draw, offering up just 10 frames in beating Willie Thorne 9-2, Bill Werbeniuk 9-5, Jimmy White 9-0 and then Terry Griffiths 16-3.
You could also note that the current 128-player format with best of 11s and a best of 19 final means the same number of frames have to be won as when it was a 32-player draw, best of 17s until a best of 19 final (46 in total).
But the truth of it is that is about half an hour of all of our lives - and now another 20 minutes of mine - that I will never get back.
Considering the fuss made of Andy Murray for making it to No1 in tennis it must surely be worth doffing the cap in the direction of Mark Selby.Read More