Another very interesting day in York has left us with a stellar line up for the williamhill.com UK Championship.
Judd Trump looked vulnerable against Dominic Dale, who played good match snooker to build a 4-2 lead before Trump enjoyed some outrageous good fortune on the way to winning 6-4.
In frame seven he had two flukes, including a ludicrous one on a pink, which helped turn the match. There seem to have been more timely flukes in this tournament than any other all year.
It sets up a mouth-watering encounter today with Ronnie O’Sullivan, just one of many seriously enticing second round matches at the Barbican Centre.
Ding Junhui struggled in the first round against Mark Davis but has a good record against Matthew Stevens, who scored heavily in beating Marcus Campbell on Saturday night.
Neil Robertson beat Graeme Dott in the 2010 World Championship final, which dragged on until close to 1am. The good news this time is that neither will be knackered after 17 days of snooker and their contest could be a thriller.
The same goes for John Higgins’s match against his fellow Scot, Stephen Maguire, who has a good record in this event and is capable of matching Higgins in the hard snooker stakes.
So today features eight players who between them have won 11 UK titles and nine world titles.
Mark Williams is probably glad of a day off after almost buckling last night against Joe Jogia.
The key word here is almost. Williams came through in the end, much to the delight of the legions of people who seemed to have backed various accumulators of which his match was the last.
Williams often does this: plays patchy stuff early in a tournament and then gets better and better. He’s still wonderful to watch when he’s playing his best and still a real dangerman for the title.
The venue has been packed out and the tournament is proving so popular that extra tickets have been released to meet demand.
But this is snooker and therefore it wouldn’t be right if someone hadn’t had a bleat up about something.
Yesterday it was the turn of Mark Allen, who expressed the view that Barry Hearn is ruining the sport and should go.
I don’t know Allen or profess to know what he wants from the game but I’ve been working in snooker for 14 years and there has never been a time when all the players have been happy.
There are either too few tournaments or too many. They are either too long or too short. There are either too many in the UK or too many abroad. The calendar is either too spaced out or too hectic. The top players are either getting too much money or should get more. It’s either unfair that all the matches aren’t on TV or unfair that the matches aren’t longer and played in cubicles.
And so on and so on and so on.
By the way, this isn’t limited to the players. On my very first day in the media centre I witnessed two seasoned journalists arguing about who had the best chair.
It taught me well and I have moaned about pretty much everything ever since, the main difference being that, quite rightly, nobody pays any attention to what I say and that I know a good thing when I see it.
Allen said that Hearn was making snooker too much like darts, with drunks shouting out. In fact, this has only happened at the Shootout – a huge rater for Sky – and Power Snooker, an independent promotion which Allen will presumably not be playing in again.
Hearn has not done himself any favours by being so publically dismissive of the players but they claimed they wanted more tournaments and he is working very hard to provide them.
If certain players worked as hard at their games and being professional in every sense of the word they may be more successful.
The main problem is that snooker players aren’t used to be being told what to do. Previously if they didn’t like the guy in charge they voted him out and replaced him with someone else, who they also then voted out before repeating the process over and over again until almost every potential sponsor had lost interest.
That was the environment that led to Hearn taking full control of the sport, without any prospect of being ejected. If the players had run the game properly there would have been no need to turn to him in the first place.
Anyway, all that is a sideshow. We have a fascinating tournament in progress and this is all the general public is interested in.
And there is much to grab their interest in York this week.