UK Championship Snooker 2023 – Day 1 Tips and Betting Preview

The opening day of the UK Championship takes place inside the Barbican Centre in York on Saturday when the top quarter of the draw plays their first round matches on what looks like a tasty day of snooker to begin the first Triple Crown event of the season.

It is a day where Mark Allen will begin the defence of his title while the likes of Mark Williams, Tom Ford and Kyren Wilson will all compete in the event for the first time with spots in the last 16 up for grabs across two sessions of play.

Afternoon Session

Mark Allen vs Ding Junhui

We open up the tournament with the pick of the first round matches as the defending champion Mark Allen looks to continue his winning streak when he meets Ding Junhui in what is a repeat of the final of this competition a year ago.

Ding actually led that final 6-1 before Allen won nine of the last 10 frames to snatch the title but if he opens up the same early advantage here there will be no coming back because six is the magic number. Allen comes in here having won the Champion of Champions last time out and he looked back to the form that won him three titles last season in that tournament, or actually better at times to be fair. Ding has been knocking at the door of something big this season though and loves this tournament so this is so hard to call. If Ding fancies the job here he could quickly become a big price but this is one to watch and savour rather than get too stuck into in my eyes.

Mark Williams vs Fan Zhengyi

Completely a brilliant schedule in the afternoon session over on table two is the British Open winner Mark Williams, a former winner of this title. He meets a man who has silverware on his cabinet in the past in Fan Zhengyi in what has the hallmarks of being a sneaky good contest.

These two met in the quarter final of the British Open which Williams won the title in earlier in the season and the Welshman came out on top with a 5-1 score and if the Chinese player doesn’t get off to a decent start in this one you could easily see Williams pulling away again. You wouldn’t say Fan played overly well at the qualifiers either so Williams might well have found himself a decent draw here even allowing for the fact his opponent will be a bit sharper than he is. I’m on Williams outright and I didn’t back him because I think he’ll lose here but I’m happy for that to be my sole involvement in this one.

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Evening Session

Kyren Wilson vs Jamie Clarke

The main player on show in the evening session is Kyren Wilson. He will be looking to turn his season around and launch a push for a first Triple Crown title when he takes on one of the lower ranked qualifiers in the form of Jamie Clarke.

Clarke did well to come through the qualifying but the worrying thing for his prospects in this match is that in two of the three matches he played at the qualifying event he didn’t make a single frame winning break and that isn’t likely to cut the mustard at this level. The other concerning thing for Clarke is that in two meetings with Wilson he currently trails 9-1 in frames so I think even despite his indifferent form, we’ve got to be looking at a Wilson win here. The issue with that is he is being asked to cover 2.5 frames on the handicap at not overly flattering prices and while I would back him to cover if I had to I’m happy to leave it alone given that he isn’t exactly in prime form himself.

Tom Ford vs Noppon Saengkham

Over on table two we might have the most competitive match of the opening day, at least as far as the odds would suggest, as the International Championship finalist Tom Ford goes up against the qualifier Noppon Saengkham.

Ford hasn’t been seen since he lost to Zhang Anda in the final of that International Championship but on his way to that stage he dispatched of Marco Fu, Mark Selby and Barry Hawkins so that is a pretty strong form guide. Saengkham came through two pretty tight qualifying matches but in the 12 frames he won, he only made one break over 70 and I just don’t see that getting the job done. What is more of a worry is prior to that he lost to the lowly ranked Liam Pullen in the International Championship so I’m not convinced that the form of the Thai is near where he would want it and where it would need to be to win here. Before he made the final in China earlier in the month, Ford made two quarter finals this season, losing to Judd Trump in one of them and to Xiao Guodong who was almost perfect from 2-2 in the other. There is no doubt that Ford is in better form of these two and having made the semis here a year ago I expect another decent run from him this week. These two met in the qualifiers for this event last year and Ford won 6-3. I believe he wins here too.


Back T.Ford to beat N.Saengkham for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Boylesports

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