The second day of the UK Championship inside the Barbican Centre in York sees the first round continuing with three sessions of play as 48 players battle it out for a spot in the second round and the televised stages.
The opening day of the tournament went largely how you would have expected it to with the only surprise casualty being Dave Gilbert, but then he lost to James Cahill who is making something of a name for himself for big name upsets.
All the tables are in use throughout the day, not least the streamed ones but it is those tables which will have the majority of the focus. The former winner Ding Junhui is on one of those tables first up. He meets Duane Jones who might fancy his chances given the poor form of the Chinese player. The other match sees Stephen Maguire facing Billy Joe Castle in an outing in which the Scot can show his early title credentials.
Six other matches takes place in this first session of the day. Marco Fu takes on Craig Steadman in one of them while Stuart Carrington plays James Wattana. Lyu Haotian meets Andy Lee in another match while one of our quarter bets runs in this session as well as Graeme Dott faces Barry Pinches. The other two matches sees Andrew Higginson playing Jak Jones and Sunny Akani taking on an underrated Lee Walker.
Two big guns come out to play in the afternoon session on the two main tables with Barry Hawkins and Mark Selby getting their campaigns underway. Hawkins spoke of having no confidence in Belfast and he could be in for a battle against Gerard Greene and Selby takes on a seasoned campaigner in Andy Hicks knowing that he needs to go well here if he is going to become that feared force for the rest of the campaign.
The former Shootout champion Michael Georgiou takes on Oliver Lines in one of the matches on the outside tables while the Indian Open winner Matthew Selt meets Ian Burns in another. Martin Gould has not so much slid down the rankings but plummeted down them and he really needs to get his career back on track. He takes on Alfie Burden. Elsewhere, Peter Ebdon plays John Astley, Yuan Sijun meets Hammad Miah and Ryan Day will look to kick his season into life when he takes on Soheil Vahedi.
There are two more big names on show in the final session of the day when Kyren Wilson and Mark Williams begin their tilt at the title up in York. Wilson will be expected to come past Riley Parson on one of the streamed tables but Williams will be seen as vulnerable by punters after making it pretty clear that snooker is not top of his list of priorities anymore. Nevertheless he will have a professional pride in his performance so Fraser Patrick will still need to play well if he is going to beat him.
Some good matches are on the outside tables in this session with Mark Davis meeting Si Jiahui on one of them and Mark Joyce playing Jordan Brown on another. Ricky Walden goes up against Xu Si while Scott Donaldson meets Chen Zifan. The World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson faces Bai Langning with the other match seeing a man who could be a dark horse in this tournament in Hossein Vafaei, taking on Louis Heathcote.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of the day, with the first one coming in the afternoon session where I think Alfie Burden is a massive price to see off Martin Gould. Gould has lost in the opening match of his last two tournaments and has only won one frame in that time. Admittedly Burden is not the best player doing the rounds these days but he is experienced enough to know when his opponent isn’t having a particularly good time of it and the left-hander still scores well, which as we know is so much of the modern game these days. Given that Gould looks low on confidence I’ll take the veteran Burden here.
Si Jiahui is getting a lot of plaudits at the minute and after a couple of cracking runs in the English Open and the Northern Ireland Open that is well deserved. He won five matches in those tournaments and only shipped a couple of frames in total in all of them. Admittedly when he goes up against top class opponents he gets found out but I’m not sure Mark Davis is that, especially in the lack of form he is currently in. Jiahui looks to be getting more comfortable with every match he plays in his rookie season and if he can break the gates with the bunny here he could well be away and gone by the time the two have negotiated the opening tussles. I’ll play the Chinese player here.
Back A.Burden to beat M.Gould for a 3/10 stake at 3.20 with Betway
Back S.Jiahui to beat M.Davis for a 4/10 stake at 2.40 with Betway