The crowds at the World Championship lasted all of one day but the tournament goes on and will be behind closed doors when the second day of the event is played out inside the Crucible Theatre on Saturday as three more sessions of action takes place.
We’ve already seen stacks of drama in this tournament and it is only a day old. The lack of a crowd is likely to see the standard rise but one thing which won’t change is the amazing amounts of drama we will get treated to.
I’m sure everyone knows the format by now but for those who are unsure of it, it is long course snooker all the way over this 17 day marathon. The first round is the best-of-19 frames which goes up to the best-of-25 for the second round and the quarter finals. The semi-finals at the best-of-33 frames and then the four session final will see a champion crowned on the third Saturday and Sunday over the best-of-35 frames.
The opening day of the tournament was all about the world champion Judd Trump. He was put through his paces by Tom Ford who really should have put him out before succumbing 10-8. Followers of our outrights will be interested to note that Ford made a 140 break in the defeat to give us something to defend in the high break market. That was the only match to finish on Friday. Three other matches got underway and will conclude on Saturday and all three sit with 5-4 scorelines. Stuart Bingham leads Ashley Carty by that score, Ding Junhui heads Mark King by it and Mark Williams trails Alan McManus by it.
In Play Betting
With few matches starting and finishing on the same day in this tournament we’ll be looking to get stuck into matches in play throughout the event. There are usually some good bets to be had after the first session and as we go along I’m sure that will be the case. I’m tempted to take Alan McManus at odds against to beat Mark Williams but if Angles finishes that job it will be one of the qualifiers I need to progress so I’m ok there.
I will take one in the morning session though where Bingham begins 5-4 up on Ashley Carty. You can now get Carty on a +3.5 frame handicap line and that is too big to me. I hope and expect Bingham to win the match but there was nothing in his performance on Friday morning that says he is going to win this second session 5-2 which he would need to in order for the handicap to lose. The longer the session went on Carty was the better player and only inexperience cost him an interval lead. I don’t think Carty will finish the job off but I do think he’ll win three of the first seven frames to get himself to seven.
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Dave Gilbert vs Kurt Maflin (Saturday 10am & Sunday 7pm)
One of the more dragged out matches in the opening round should be well worth the wait for the conclusion as two very good to watch operators collide when the beaten semi-finalist of a year ago Dave Gilbert takes on the Norwegian number one Kurt Maflin who looks in a position to lay it down to Gilbert.
I’m expecting a really good match here because both players love to get the balls open and make big breaks. I maintain that Gilbert is one of the most natural scorers in the game with a dream cue action but Maflin can mix it in the scoring department, and this being behind closed doors now should turn this into a glorified practice session for these two insanely good potters. You’ve got to think with the season he has had Gilbert will come through here but I don’t see this being one-sided by any means. That makes me think we’ll get more than enough time for the over 11.5 50+ breaks to sail in.
John Higgins vs Matthew Stevens (Saturday 2.30pm & Sunday 2.30pm)
The second match to begin on Saturday sees two men who know all about being involved in this tournament right through the 17 days going at it when the beaten finalist of the last three years John Higgins takes on Matthew Stevens, himself a twice beaten finalist in the past.
Higgins’ record in this tournament almost stands up to anything. He has reached the final of it on eight occasions, winning four and losing four but I’m not convinced he is going to Sheffield this year in the best touch. I’m not necessarily bothered by his results this season because he runs into Judd Trump a lot but his performances have been very different. Those clutch clearances aren’t being made at the minute, and in truth his scoring has left him and he usually needs a run of tournaments to get sharp. He has only played one match since March so he doesn’t have that on his side.
Stevens does though and I don’t think he’ll fear Higgins here. If Higgins plays to the level he has in the last three years here he’ll win this match but I’ve believed for a while that his loss to Judd Trump here last year has left mental scars. Stevens has got what he needed out of this tournament through qualifying. This is a free hit for him and it is one he’s overpriced to take.
WON – Back A.Carty (+3.5 frames) to beat S.Bingham for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Boylesports
Back him here:
WON – Back D.Gilbert vs K.Maflin – Over 11.5 50+ breaks for a 3/10 stake at 2.10 with Betfair
Back it here:
Back M.Stevens to beat J.Higgins for a 2/10 stake at 4.00 with Coral