ALARM goes off at home and the clock says 7pm. Time to drag myself out of bed and travel to Telford. But looking out of my bedroom window it still resembles a scene from Abba’s Chiquitita pop video. Minus a dat snowman. Actually there may have been one – but not I hasten to add with pound coins for eyes so no chance of it being nicked.
And I get to the station and surprise surprise the train is late. So to waiting in the freezing cold, and the train finally turns up 20mins late. And the journey to Telford doesn’t get off to as great start as we are delayed constantly. Finally I arrive at Birmingham New Street and change trains before heading off to Telford.
Dumping my stuff at my hotel it is straight to the Telford International Centre and I get in at about 3pm, settling in for my stint here it is coffee to start with. Chance to catch up with friends and park my backside on a chair and watch snooker!
Attention of my fellow scribes is also diverted briefly to football scores as we watch Final Score, and a few grins are shared as Chelsea fail to win again. The Newcastle West Brom showdown is tomorrow, which should lead to some funny banter no doubt. Hey Strictly is on as well which means I am well set. Attention by a few is diverted to watching Ann Widdecombe dancing – if it can be described as dancing an American Smooth.
The catering is good and a former sponsors product is going down very well as members of the press room grow increasingly peckish and needing something to eat. The pies are very popular, especially the chicken balti offering. That has been the winner with the press anyway.
More winners tonight of course before I wind my way back to my bed and another day tomorrow. Shocks are in the offering – though please on the table not coming out of the sky.
Mark Selby came through a testing encounter against Ricky Walden 9-6 to move in to the second round of the 12BET.com UK Championship.
But it was hardly a laugh a minute for the Jester from Leicester as he was made to sweat by Walden who had won the final frame of the first session to level at 4-4. Walden too will no doubt kick himself because he had chances to take the opener, but a fluffed red to the corner was to prove very expensive as Selby cleared up to lead 5-4. Walden though was not to yield lightly and squared the match at 5-5 before going behind again at 6-5. With just one frame left before the mid session interval Selby was now in a position to strike a decisive blow to Ricky’s chances if he could punish Walden, who left a long red to the corner. Striking the cue ball with power Selby hammered in the long red and cooly dispatched a break of 109 before falling on the final blue. But the best news from Mark’s point of view was that he had a two frame advantage as the players left the arena for the mid session interval. Walden now was in deep trouble.
Walden though had fifteen minutes to sit and dwell upon it – and having been frozen out for the previous hour was hardly cueing well when he returned to the fray. Yet he had the first chance in the 13th frame only to break down on 27 when he left himself with no red in a pottable position. As a brief safety battle ensued it was Walden who was to err as he left a cuttable red to the corner. That was just the invitation Selby had been waiting for. He cut the red to the corner and pieced together a break of 50 before tucking Ricky up behind the brown and green, with just the one red left on the table, which was hidden partially by the black. Time after time Ricky tried to escape. But it was to cost him 22 penalty points befor making contact with the red. And to compound it Walden now needed a snooker with the scores at 73-35. And he was not to get it as Selby wrapped up the frame to lead 8-5.
Walden though took the next and should have built a sizeable break in the fifteenth – only to miss a black off the spot when in prime position. That was the story of the match for Ricky – not taking the opportunities when they presented themselves. Selby though was to give him another chance when he miscued on the red. But Walden now was spent and Selby put together a run of 67 to scramble over the line 9-6.
Meanwhile Stephen Maguire withstood a brave fightback from Ken Doherty, who battled back from 8-2 down only to lose 9-6. Elsewhere today there was a 9-4 win for defending champion Ding Junhui against Matthew Stevens and Mark Allen saw off Tom Ford 9-5.
John Higgins is level at 4-4 with Stephen Lee. Neil Robertson holds a commanding 7-1 advantage against Rory McLeod. Martin Gould leads Graeme Dott 5-3 while Peter Ebdon and Andrew Higginson are locked at 4-4. Those matches will be played to a finish tomorrow.