OK I'm back. Lost 2-0 in the semis to Stuart Bingham. Seriously, the guy was the spitting image, about 6 ft 6 and a left-handed Bingham.
Anyway, now I have keyboard to type on (the phone was a mare) and Shotmaster this is what happened.
Match 1 - as described above was absolutely bizarre. I was 4th on table 4 so had to hang around sizing up the opposition. Didn't see anything too worrying, lots of amusing cue actions going on. Just my luck to draw a good player I thought. So anyway, as I said above I was on a break of 9 (red black red) and had a deep screw on the black to land on a red. I went for it and chipped the white off the table. Then next visit I was in again, red and perfect on black to power in and split the reds - something like this:
But of course played with power and cueing down slightly the white bounced a bit, hit the cushion and flew off the table. Then a bit later on I was in again and potted a red, and the white took a deflection off another red and knocked the black in! That was 3 fouls on the black but I found myself with last red on the table and about 25 ahead and the red would only just pass the black, having to aim to blind pocket in the right hand side of the pocket. How the black got there is from me missing a sitter when on 23 a couple of turns earlier, black for a 30, missed it so after those fouls it felt like another 7 points had gone astray. But anyway, I had to go for it. It goes in, easy black and game over. This was the shot I faced (a bit thinner and blinder but you get the idea):
and this is how I played it:
and this is what I left him - easy red black which he got.
Anyway, so at this point I'm looking at the scores wondering how the hell I'm possibly going out first round when looking around I fancy my chances against most of the people there. Bloody typical. So I went in off at some point on yellow or green (also did another foul earlier on too so I gave about 30 points away) and he took the balls over the pockets and it came down to the black. I thought just my luck he'll fluke it, but he left me a narrow angle to middle pocket, not one you'd fancy without trying to leave the white safe so I tried to pot the black and screw white back to black cushion for safety and totally miscued it again. Left white in middle of table and black a foot from side cushion near the green spot. He missed and left me this shot. My heart was racing, I was horrified it had come to this, but I took a few deep breaths, composed myself and BANG - fired it in from under the cush, hard stun, just thought buck it and hit it hard! Then I then posted in this topic with my heart racing like crazy, could hardly steady my fingers on the bloody impossible to type on with annoying 2 second delay touch screen (see above).
So then rounds 2 and 3 I played rubbish really, but got into early leads and kept it tight. Missed loads of sitters though, if I'd been playing anyone half decent I'd have been out, no question. Then in the quarter-finals I played a bloke called Gary who was there with his son. We had a few people watching and I knew from the opening safety exchange that he could play a bit. So what I did was power in a long red, made 20 odd off it and played safe. I kept it tight. He was getting frustrated, I built up a 30 odd point lead, and then missed a pretty straight forward yellow after red blue red, had the yellow gone in I would've got a 40 at least and game over, but missed the yellow and left him plumb in the balls with a great chance. But it was his first chance. I was kicking myself but he didn't know me and I'd got him in the mind already after a few flash pots and keeping him away from a good chance. He made about 9 and ran out of position and was clearly frustrated. So I kept it tight, then got a 30 break to finish him off. That was a satisfying one because I know if he'd got in first his tail would've gone up and he'd have been a much tougher prospect.
So onto Bingham in the semis. I watched the end of his quarter-final match, playing a guy named Steven Davis which caused much amusement when his name was read out. Pretty similar too as in same age and looked like a regular snooker player, keeping it tight. He played on for snookers for ages which gave me a chance for a coffee. Anyway, we had our photo taken as the 4 semi-finalists (if I ever see a copy I'll post it) then I squared up to Bingham. I had the first chance after a long red, and was steadily building a lead with a series of touch shots around the pink. The reds were absolutely perfect for a frame winning lead (at this level a 40 or 50 point lead will see you right 9.5 times out of 10), they were something like this - can't remember how many reds were left or where the others were, just that 4 were perfectly in line as in the diagram. I had a 20 point lead and finished just wrong angle on the pink so screwing back took the white away from ideal position:
I missed the next red, and Bingham got his way back into the frame. He was a solid player - good potter and great safety game so he made it tough. Anyway, he pulled back level, then built up a 10 point lead with brown on the table. I played a good shot to leave brown in open play and snooker him and then he did this:
apologised, then slotted the blue to green pocket. 1-0. Jammy bastard! Good blue though.
Anyway, into the next frame and my earlier nerves had completely gone and I was feeling really good. I just wanted to get in the balls because I knew I'd score heavily, but had to keep it tight because he was a good single ball potter. Not too good positionally, but if the white whizzed around the table and landed on a colour, he'd get it. Anyway, I was biding my time, keeping it tight but so was he and a missed long red from me when backed into a corner and forced into it, gave him a chance to open up a 24 point lead. OK I'm thinking, so now I have to come from behind in the frame I need to level. There's a bit of pressure there but I was feeling good and waiting for a chance. The problem is, the chance never came. He missed a couple of long ones, but left me sod all. And in the end this is how the table looked:
The yellow blocking the blue and the pink and black tied up, green and brown in the baulk corner not ideally placed. Fair play to him, he got the better of the safety exchanges, kept leaving it really difficult for me to find a path back to baulk. Because I was the one chasing, I had to attack but it was such hard work to get the chances, when I finally had one it was tough. I turned down a lot of pots I was going for earlier because I didn't want to leave him anything. There's added pressure when you know if you miss you're going to be another red and colour behind pointswise, and in the end he potted a good long red, then potted a couple of browns and stretched his lead out and with the table as it was, I had it all to do and shook hands on the blue.
It was a great little event though, had a great day out. Competitive snooker is hard, but it rocks. When you're practising with your mates it doesn't matter if you miss, but when it does matter the game is entirely different. It was a bit strange having people come up to me after hearing my name. I still don't know where they heard of me. Must've been from my days in the Harrogate League, surely not Snooker Island! I was already planning a mention to Snooker Island in the local newspaper had I won, but alas.