What have you been up to since PTC2?
I’ve been practicing a lot. I had a few good match games with Adam Wicheard which were fun to play. He beat me 9-8 when I was 6-2 up and I beat him 6-2 on his table and he beat me 6-2 on my table so that was a bit weird. I had a practice session with Stephen Lee just before the PTC and he was hitting the ball so sweet, the balls literally weren’t touching the sides of the pockets when they went in!
How are the under table heaters?
Nice. They’ve made the table run a lot nicer and it feels like playing on a new cloth. The tables in Sheffield weren’t any faster which is good.
And the cue?
It’s lovely! I’ve started to get the feel back now and I’m judging the little screw shots better. I’m so pleased I had it done!
PTC3: Sheffield Academy
4-2 Ryan Causton
4-0 Tony Knowles
3-4 Stephen Lee
Table position: N/A
4-2 v Ryan Causton
I was a bit apprehensive because I know Ryan’s a good player and I know he practices with Ali Carter and over at Grove so he’s always on Star tables. He hasn’t done a lot in these sorts of events but everyone who knows him knows he’s dangerous. Plus it was a 9am start!
I played well. I went 1-0 down but I just played solid, making 50 breaks, putting balls safe, put him in trouble and finish it off with a 20 or 30. I did that pretty much the whole way through. One of the 50s was an 11 red break using just browns and blues so I was happy with that one!
4-0 v Tony Knowles
I was a bit nervous before because I thought it was the sort of match I should be winning and obviously he’s a big name isn’t he! From the start he tried to do what I knew he would do which was grind it out, so I played him at his own game and eventually won on the pink. Then I had a 50 in the next and he left me in a brilliant snooker at the end with the white tight behind the black and the pink right in the middle of the table, and he only needed one snooker, and I played a really good shot swerving around the black into a cushion and hit the pink. After that I had a 12 red 60 break similar to the one against Ryan, and finished off with a 101 which could’ve been a 144 but the red rolled off along the cushion. Tony said afterwards that he had one roll off in exactly the same spot in the previous frame. It was a bit annoying because it could’ve been the high break!
3-4 v Stephen Lee
I was under a bit of pressure because obviously I practice with him and knew how he was playing, and also I didn’t perform how I wanted to against Dave Harold in PTC2.
I hit a few nervous shots in the first frame but managed to nick it. The last red was down the rail and the white was on the cushion and red just off, and it was one of those shots where you can’t get at it with the rest because the cushion is in the way, so I considered playing safe, looked again and thought no, changed hands and smashed it in left-handed! Then I won the next to go 2-0 up and potted the frame ball in that one left-handed as well!
In the 3rd I started playing quicker because I felt more confident but just ran out of position on 57. I was hampered by the pink so I could only play the white onto the bottom cushion, and I left it tight on the cushion a couple of inches off the black. I thought I should be alright here, 57 point lead and even if he pots one he won’t make anything. And there was a red just past the pink spot, really tough, and he chipped it into the middle and landed on brown to middle, and then made just about the most ridiculous clearance I’ve ever seen! He didn’t land right on the last red, and I still had a 20 point lead so thought I might still have a chance, then using the rest he chipped it in down the cushion, at speed, and screwed back for green to middle. That hurt me a bit!
I played a good 4th frame, I was 25 down on the yellow with all the colours on cushions and I kept potting a good long ball, playing safe on the next and I did that all the way down to the black and I had a maybe 3/10 black which was a massive ball I had to go for, and I missed it and left it.
At 2-2 I played one of the best frames I’ve played for a long time, especially after losing the previous two. I got in first and potted 6 reds and blues which is hard enough, and then kept it tight and played lots of safety, didn’t go for anything silly, forced the mistake and got in with a long red and finished the frame off.
Then at 3-2 he got in and was on 40 and played into the reds, missed the black and smashed the reds everywhere and didn’t leave me a shot! All I could do was play a containing safety to the bottom cushion but I left a red to middle and same as the third frame, he knocked it in and won the frame.
At 3-3 he creamed in a long red from under the baulk cushion straight from my break off and I thought here we go! He made a very clever break, gradually bringing reds out one or two at a time and then on 56 he took on a plant. It was a really mad plant but if he gets it he wins the match so I understand why he went for it but he missed it and left me in. The balls were perfect but there were two reds together just below the pink spot which wouldn’t pot in any pocket so I had to move them. I was on 23 and that’s when the shit happened! (see diagram). After that shot it ended with a bit of safety, he potted and long red and got to 36 up with one red left, I got him in a snooker and he got out of it and snookered me from the snooker and that was that really.
(Stephen Lee went on to beat Ding Junhui 4-1, Mark Allen 4-2 and Stephen Maguire 4-1 before losing to Anthony McGill 4-2)
Overall performance at PTC3:
9/10. In the last match I only missed 2 or 3 balls so my pot success rate must have been up around 95%. I competed with him in the safety game and I scored ok, the only thing I can say is I could have scored a little better but it’s all down to experience in those situations.
How did you feel after losing the Stephen Lee game?
Obviously disappointed because I really wanted to win but I can’t be too hard on myself. I showed I had bottle to win the frame at 2-2 and I didn’t miss match ball or anything, it came down to that cannon in the end. Stephen even texted me the next day and said he still can’t believe I didn’t get on a red!
How was the experience?
I prefer to play in Gloucester because the atmosphere is much better in there. There’s no atmosphere at Sheffield, it just feels a bit dull. In Gloucester you’ve got about 20-30 seats and it’s easier to go in and watch when you want. In Sheffield you can’t just go in and watch what you want you’ve got to wait until the screen’s red and then there’s like 4 seats!
You originally thought if you beat Tony Knowles you would have Friday off and face Tony Drago on Saturday morning. What happened?
Just before I played Tony Knowles he told me that the winner plays tomorrow at 3pm against Stephen Lee. It probably wasn’t the best conversation to have just before you play, especially because Stephen is one of the players I didn’t want to draw!
6 wins and still no points to show for it…
Yes there are players who haven’t won a match yet and they’re still in the same position as me. As I said in the last blog even 20 points would do. At least it gives you something to show for it because I’ve done better than a lot of others and they make it hard enough as it is without getting anything for winning. I’ve got 3 qualifiers in Germany now to get to the first round again.
Next PTC in Furth, the Paul Hunter Classic. How are you getting there?
I’m driving over with Stephen Lee and another guy. We’re leaving Tuesday night and will probably get there around midday on Wednesday and my first match is 9am Thursday so hopefully it’ll be enough time to get a good sleep. It’s alright for Stephen, he doesn’t play until Saturday!
Ever been to Germany before?
I played in the German Open when I was 15. I lost to Stephen in that as well!