Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Unreasonably high expectations of the casual snooker player

On a recent visit to Center Parcs I was astonished to see that the text supporting booking of the Center Parcs snooker tables suggested that one should 'come and have a go, who knows, you may even get a 147!'.

I noted that the other sports descriptions did not for instance say 'come and have a go at tennis, who knows, you may serve at over 140mph', or 'why not try running, who knows, you could cover 100 metres in under 9.7 seconds!'.

Now for me, getting a 147 is a bit like the old monkeys and typewriters scenario. The actual chances of hitting the balls in a way that could score a maximum are so slim that I could try fifty times a day for the rest of my life and I don't think it would happen, especially not on a full size table. I probably couldn't even do it in that time if I was allowed to move the white with my hand.

Which makes me wonder, who are these people visiting Center Parcs and occasionally knocking in a maximum in the Country Club whilst keeping one eye on their bike lock outside? I always thought snooker was more of a Butlins crowd.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Top drawer at the Masters

What a superb Masters tournament this year. Some truly engrossing matches, and a great atmosphere at Wembley. To celebrate the BBC's new catchphrase 'top drawer', here are some things that have been right out of the top drawer in the Masters:

1. Intro music! Loving this addition, just what's needed. It's about time the players got bigged up on the way in. I loved Mark King's dancing to his, so much better than the po-faced walk down the stairs. Also loved Ronnie O Sullivan's idea of playing it when someone has won the frame, what a brilliant idea - imagine finishing off a century to the sound of Eye of the Tiger.

2. The Rocket in some classic matches! Vs the Thunder from Down Under, Snebdon the Clown and then Mark Selby in the final. All three superb matches. Not too high on the flounce-o-meter this time either.

3. John Higgins out nice and early! Heh heh, not too much of honest John to sit through thank goodness. A good job really as this is supposed to be a return to entertaining snooker rather than exemplary professionalism (yawn).

4. The Jester pretends to beat up Ding the Robot! Possibly the most awkward sporting moment in history, as the intro music spurs Mark Selby on to pretend box Ding, who looks frightened and offers him his hand. Ding then goes on to lose 6-1, perhaps a tactic for any player who aspires to beat him.

5. Jimmy on TV again! Actually this one was closer to the bottom drawer really. Probably more like one of the legs of the cabinet of drawers if truth be told.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Steve Davis on Twitter

Say what you like about Twitter, for some people it is the perfect medium. Steve Davis is one of them. The 160 character medium plays to his strengths in witty quips and denies him the space to sound interested about someone having re-tipped their cue. He also liberally rips it out of snooker players, which is of course what they are there for. He has even discussed various pieces of snooker slang - right up my street!

Check out some of his recent efforts:

"Jimmy can win this tonight! He ate better looking things than mark in the jungle!"

"Can't wait fir the Murphy Hendry match! What will stephens walk on music be? The smiths - heaven knows ....?"

"Why is it they never seem to put Marco Fu and Mark King in the same half of the draw? What are they frightened of?"

"Is Snooker a sport? Who cares! But it'll be on TV all next week! :) Why? Because we have under table heating. Other sports take note."

John higgins "can you turn that spot light off?" Dave coleshill (lighting director) "why? Don't you want to be on the tele"?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Jimmy White plays actual snooker on TV!

Well Whitewatchers, you can imagine my delight at hearing actual people shouting 'Come on Jimmy!' in a major snooker tournament and it being in reference to Jimmy playing.

Young James has decided not to put any pressure on himself by talking to all of the national papers, inviting all of his celebrity mates to watch and insisting that he can reclaim a position in the top 32 every time someone speaks to him. To be fair, he has qualified fairly and squarely for his wild card position. Some nasty people on the internet seem to think that spending three weeks in the company of a bunch of z list tossers, eating grubs and being made to wear a very tight red catsuit is not test enough.

All I can say is that I hope Jim's celebrity mates know what to expect from watching a snooker match involving two has-beens. We're three frames in and already Jimmy has missed some shots that even I could get in without the help of any beer. I expect Kim and Gino have already got a least a numb buttock each. When they both go numb they'll be wishing they'd gone to Jordan's for tea.

The first three shots were vintage White though, tonking in a red from D, missing any kind of position, then playing a long colour to get back in it. From there onwards though, Jimmy's highest break so far is around the kind of level I would be satisfied with after 4 frames - 27.

***Update at 9:30pm*** Ha ha ha there is a cheeky scamp in the crowd with a sign that says 'Come On Jimmy!' which he is waving whenever Mark King plays a shot. What a rum old boy!

*** Update at 10pm *** Well this is one of the worst games of snooker I've seen. Mark King is playing abysmally, and Jimbo's still managing to stuff it up. Jimmy has played one good shot and even that went in off! Virgo is laying right into him making it even more depressing to watch. 5-2 to King, first to 6 takes it. Anything other than a win for King would be a miracle.

*** Update at 10:10pm*** Totally farcical. There are people at Wembley who have paid money to see this!***

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Jimmy White, Finalist

Superb work by young James, reaching the final of the Australian Open and knocking out some of the tournament favourites along the way. As Jimbo hardly said anything throughout the series, there can be only one conclusion drawn, and that is that he is very popular indeed amongst the general public, particularly housewives.

How could we forget his desperate grasp for a gold star on the high wire, displaying all of the athleticism of Stephen Lee reaching for a long red without the rest.

Great to see Jimmy fighting it out in a final once more and to see him achieve his dream of runner up once again.

Back to the snooker soon I promise!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Jimmy knocks Boredan out in the first round!

Get in there Jimmy my son! Jim has only another 10 rounds to go until he can finally achieve his dream of being runner up in the Australian Open. With another contestant already having dropped out due to the strain of long periods of boredom without food Jimmy must be thanking his lucky stars, safe in the knowledge that he has successfully endured a safety exchange with Peter Ebdon AND Steve Davis in the past, and nothing is more of an endurance than that. Except perhaps having to listen to Virgo commentating on a safety exchange between Snebdon and the Nugget.

I'm very much looking forward to Jimmy's first challenge. I've heard that it may involve watching Michaela bend over a snooker table to replace the yellow (from the wrong side) for ten minutes without making any laddish comments. Or possibly being asked to pot a simple black when 17 all with Stephen Hendry and 40 points in front.

Surely impossible for the young challenger?

Friday, 20 November 2009

The Australian Open: Jimmy vs Boredan

Well well Jimmy Watchers.

Many of you will know that I spend my days waiting to see young James locked in battle in a fierce competition of wills with his fellow contestants. I hope that one day he will return to our screens on prime time TV, fighting for second place as only he can. What would be best would be if Jimmy could find a way to perform at his best in front of an audience of 8 million like the good old days, maybe with some proper prime time presenters like Ant and Dec to introduce him properly, rather than that guy Ravi who has started doing the intros in the Masters.

Imagine my surprise when this incredible vision came true this week! Jimbo would appear to be taking part in a rather unusual new snooker competition which I will call the Australian Open. As with any snooker competition the people he is competing against are largely unknowns with bad skin and a whiff of desperation.

I must say he is doing a fine job thus far of staying under the radar, keeping his secret plan of finishing as runner-up a well kept secret whilst allowing Boredan (the celebrity version of Bendreary) to take the early glory.

So far my highlight is Jimmy walking up a small hill and nearly collapsing. Other than that, Jimbo has largely kept himself to himself.

As far as I'm concerned there are two ways which this might go. Jimmy is either the lovable rogue a la Phil Tufnell, or a total drong like Rodney Marsh.

I am hoping that soon Jimmy will carry out a task that requires some serious physical exercise, like maybe leaning over the table for a tough yellow with the rest, taking a shot that involves difficult stance, or having to reach for the extension without Michaela helping. Hopefully he won't do anything too embarrassing like hitting the blue off the break or starbursting the reds though.

Come on Jimmy!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

I'm the nations best loved sporting underdog, get me out of here

The evenings are getting cooler, the sun has started going down earlier in the day. My thoughts have started to turn to the start of the snooker season and the unbridled joy which several weeks worth of quietly clicking balls and whispering commentators will bring me. Who knows, perhaps Jimmy will make it to one of the big competitions this year? And then win the World Championship.

But my excitement has been shattered by a terrible rumour which is doing the rounds. People are saying that Jimmy White will be in I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. This cannot be! Whilst this could be a calculated risk that Jimmy's 'true personality' will come out in the show and our great nation will find him wonderfully endearing, what will probably happen is that it will turn out that he is actually a bit of a dong.

Jimmy will also have to humilate himself by eating worms and at some point will be on camera in his speedos having a shower. Perhaps the producers could get him to do something he really, really doesn't want to do, like shake hands with Hendreary, or listen to 3 hours of Parrott's witty quips, or have Virgo whisper in his ear about how he likes a long swingy action and has a nice touch in the balls. The horror.

What a total nightmare for White Watchers.

I will of course be providing daily updates.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Game over (until it gets cold again)

Well, that is quite enough Come On Jimmy for one season I think. Snooker has no place when the sun is shining outside. Even the Grand Master's snooker group disbands over the summer (after the all important 'Wives and Girlfriends night' of course). As soon as the snooker is back on the telly, sometime like November, I will write some more snooker-related guff. This time I may have the red button at my disposal, then you really will be in trouble.

I will leave you with this excellent article by Simon Barnes of The Times, who puts the whole thing better than I ever could:

Come On Jimmy!

Sunday, 3 May 2009


I have noticed some excellent additional slang creeping in this year. There are some special terms commonly used amongst my immediate cue sport circle when a ball does that wriggly thing where it hits both edges of the pocket and then goes in.

My favourites are:

  • It wriggled
  • It wiggled
  • It wiped its feet
  • It went in off the post
  • It thought about it
You get the idea. This year these have been joined by the excellent 'It knocked three times' coined by John Virgo during the Shaun Murphy vs John Higgins match. Great work Virgo, I am one step closer to forgiving your life-long affiliation with that tit Jim Davidson.

UPDATE: One additional wriggler comment from the Grand Master - "It entered through the side door". Great work.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Australians and snooker

I am very pleased to see 'The Thunder from Down Under'* Neil Robertson doing well in the World Championship. So far he is doing a very good impression of Alex Higgins / Jimmy White, by falling short positionally very regularly and having to tonk it around the table to make up for it. My kind of player. He is also playing Shaun Murphy who is a frankly odious individual.

But why on earth would you play snooker if you were Australian? It's bad enough in the Spring and Summer in the UK - staying in a dark room when the sun is shining seems so wrong. Australia is just not a country suited to the baize. Also, about three quarters of the tournaments are in the UK. Neil Robertson seems to be holding it together but Quinten Hann drove himself mad from the jetlag, eventually giving in and just starbursting the reds. That was proper fun, and (as described elsewhere in this blog) can be a psychological tactic unlike any other in the amateur game, snooker clearly drove him mental.

On another note, Dennis Taylor shamed himself on last night's commentary with a terrible Australia pun. The Thunder (tm) had the white on the cushion and needed to dig one it out with some backspin. Dennis mentioned that he was probably good at digging seeing as he'd come all the way from Australia.

Only a lifetime ban from the BBC can set the proper example to other commentators to ensure this doesn't happen again.

*Best new snooker nickname this year.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Hendry in luckiest 147 ever

I can't even bring myself to watch it but I'm sure there are no fruity bananas or doubles in it. I couldn't help but raise a smile at this image of Stephen Hendreary on the front page of the BBC Sport website though. It really seemed to capture something...


Alright, alright, I have watched it now. Here it is in case you fancy it.

Notice the anticipation at around 25 points, where Virgo clearly wants to mention it might be a 147, but knows the rules of the OPTA 147 Index. He almost starts panting whilst discussing whether Hendry will go for the pink or black and probably dribbles on the microphone. Great stuff. Virgo finally breaks down on 7 reds, 7 blacks and lays an initial hint. Clive mentions it outright, but in his haste he says it when the crowd are clapping, and you can't really hear him.

Hendry plays it old-school, and breaks the pack only after he's potted all the available reds.

At 129 points, you can see Ethel and Edith in the crowd confirming to one another that a 147 may indeed be in progress.

It has two flair shots in it - both plants. One of them even has a little wriggle on the way down and the other is a three ball multi-angle affair. I am impressed! The pink at the end is pretty good too.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Oh dear.

Much badness at the World Championship in the week. Apologies that updates have not been forthcoming, largely due to my utter dispair at proceedings and having to revert to analogue TV halfway through the week. No red button? It's like the 1950s.

Here is my summation:

The bad
  • Liang WenProperBo defeated by Ding the Drone.
  • O Sullivan out playing really poorly.
  • Hendreary looking like he might do well.
  • Nigel Bond the accountant of snooker grinds down Snebdon to a thin paste in the most snoozetastic match ever.
  • Steve Davis out, and unable to set a new record for the longest match of all time (or thinking about a shot for longer than anyone ever) and hence reducing some debutante to tears.
  • The longest frame ever between two dullards of snooker (didn't see it thank god)
  • Where is Hazel? I am not sure about this Rishi fellow, he doesn't look like he could hold a conversation about Parrott's big tip for long. Come back Hazel, I miss you!
The good
  • 'Let's get the boys on the baize!' - I am a big fan of this crazy haired gonk doing the intros, he has got some great nicknames. The Thunder from Down Under - brilliant.
  • Neil Robertson still in with a shout. I like an Australian who plays snooker (more on this another time - it is like being an Eskimo who is into tanning).
  • Totally open draw - could be won by a complete random. Please don't let John Higgins win.
  • People boo-ing Shaun Murphy. Something to do with his personal circumstances. Whatever, nice to see a bit of theatre. He did what the Ronaldong does and responded to it by playing about ten times better.
  • Commentators still talking utter nonsense. One blatant comment about Stephen Lee having a good touch in the balls for a big lad has already been reported. Nice work fellas.
All in all, not a good start. Let's hope it picks up in the second week.

Friday, 17 April 2009

And by the way...

The World Championship starts this weekend. If you have a red button or the internet you can watch every shot, probably live. There, you have no excuse.

"I wouldn't necessarily be drinking or out clubbing, but I would be gambling or playing cards"

Young James was to be seen this week in a fine feature on Inside Sport. Despite his pasty sweaty demeanour, he clearly charmed the pants off Gabby Logan with his tales of excessive drinking, not winning the World Championship and the good old days. He frequently performed what I would call his interview special move, a wry smile followed by a bashful downward glance when discussing getting lagered rather than concentrating on beating Hendreary. He also mentioned that he had shared eight pints with Steve Davis the night before. By the look of him Jim had seven and a half of them.

Sadly that witty quip maker Parrott was on the sofa, and it must be said that Gabby still appeared to be in a bit of a fluster post-Jimmy, particularly when dealing with the guy who knew lots about cricket. Parrott mentioned that he had become part of a 'legends' team. Legends of quip-making perhaps, but not snooker Parrott. They showed the one interesting part of his snooker career, where he pots the long red down the cushion and raises his freakish eyebrows.

There were of course many great highlights of Jim's career, including the missed black (the agony!), all of the bits where other people are winning the World Championship trophy (like 6 daggers through my heart) and a man who was probably from Tooting telling him that he was definitely going to win.

Check out the very young James in the VT with his headmaster - what a cheeky little scamp. He has hardly aged!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

The Longest Match

The boy and I came to the conclusion that it was time to call an end to years of speculating as to which of us was better at snooker. Having had many best of five or even best of seven matches, it was obvious that this short technique of measuring performance was not enough.

So we played first to ten, and then we had the idea of playing first to 18, as though we were in a World Championship. But the conditions weren't ideal (i.e. I lost both) as we had to keep stopping the game at inappropriate moments, most unlike the professional game.

There was clearly only one way to settle this in a sensible way. It was the summer holidays, which when 16 years old seems like the longest period that could possibly exist. It had to be first to 100.

My memory of how the match progressed is hazy, but the one thing I do recall about it is that at one point I was something like 80 frames to 60 down, and pulled it back to close to 90-90. Amazingly, the game ended 100-99 to the Boy, with me kindly handing him the final frame, no doubt going in off the black after some Patrick Ewing and giving away a cheap foul after scuffing the white with the Steve Ryder.

An honourable mention should go to my good friend Mark, with whom I played a first to 35 (best of 69) match of pot black pool in the kitchen of his student house all in one day. It ended 35-34 to Mark, once again proving my inability to win a match of substantial length.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Virgo hands out some pun-ishment

'Both these players need two balls to get to the semi-finals' said the ever homo-erotic JV whilst stroking Willie Thorne's bald head with his spare hand.

Monday, 30 March 2009

The times I have watched snooker live and what it was like. Part Two: The Masters at Wembley

I'm not quite sure how this happened, but my whole family went to see this one. I was late in to the first match, which was a shame because it went to the wire. Selby versus Doherty. Good game. Selby has got the best nickname, and makes funny faces and the occasional joke around the table. Good jokes though, not like Parrott and his witty quips which are more like something that Jimmy Tarbuck would come up with. The Jester from Leicester can regularly be seen having a good chuckle with referee Jan Verhaas, although obviously he wouldn't want to be making Michaela laugh because he might be worried that all of the bigger boys in the commentary box would laugh at him and say that he fancies her.

I made it into the last frame to see The Jester defeat Kenneth. Great atmosphere. The security at Wembley Arena made a late play to stop me entering the room, but as we had somehow got tickets that were as far as possible in the right hand corner of the arena I probably could have got away with wearing a traffic cone on my head. Tense stuff which Selby won 6-5. As well as being a significantly better witty quipster than anyone else, watching Selby live is fun because he stalks around in such a weird way, a bit like those old videos you see of Alex Higgins.

We had the most entertainment out of those ear pieces. Obviously at about a tenner each they are the biggest rip-off in the entire world, but it is worth it to hear some of the total shite that the commentators come out with. The PUNishment being handed out by Virgo was next level, and was generating some serious guffawing in the Stephen Lee match that we watched second. Virgo and Dennis were talking about Stephen Lee's 'long swingy action' and how he had a 'lovely touch amongst the balls'. When Virgo started saying how he 'preferred a long swingy one to a short sharp one' it all got too much. Surely they didn't broadcast that?

Other points of note include a protracted discussion about the merits of peppermint tea, which Dennis Taylor has (apparently) started experimenting with (his usual dose of heroin before a match was playing havoc with his concentration). As many snooker commentary discussions do, this seemingly harmless avenue of chat ended in a supreme piece of racial stereotyping which would make any liberal Guardian-reading snooker lover blush. During the tea conversation, Virgo or Dennis noted that Marco Fu was also drinking tea. 'What type do you think it is?' asked Dennis. 'Probably Jasmine tea' said Virgo. Of course! Fu being from Hong Kong, what else would he be drinking? I would have laughed if it was actually Yorkshire tea or Twinings breakfast.

Stephen Lee wins easily, his long swingy action too much for the Jasmine tea-drinking Fu, who to be fair looks pretty bored throughout the whole thing. Watching this match was pretty dire I must say, but definitely worth it to see the whole family out chuckling in unison at the nonsense coming through the earpiece and yawning together at another protracted safety exchange.

The perfect television sport

It is often spoken as fact by the oracles of snooker (Virgo and Dennis) that snooker is the perfect television sport. I'm never quite sure why this is, but my main understanding of it is that the table fits very well indeed on the screen. When you compare it with other sports, you can see what I mean:

I suppose one could put forward the argument that a tennis court fits on the screen if viewed from far enough away, but one player looks mighty small compared with the other, and they do hit the ball very fast making it difficult to see in the sun.

Formula One is the official worst performer on this basis.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Psychology and snooker

Snooker is one of the least physical sports ever. Of that there is no doubt. I can think of only darts and chess, that are less physical and like snooker they falll more into the 'games' category than sports. Team Snooker GB would have a mighty fine chance of winning mucho medals at the Olympics, but I get the feeling that the Olympic Committee may find its introduction a bit of a pisstake. It would be funny if they were made to where lycra though.

One thing that is jolly interesting about snooker is the way in which it highlights the psychological aspect of sport. In football, a player is often said to reach his peak around the age of 28 to 30 - when he has enough physical fitness to compete, but also enough experience, guile and drive for an all-round game. Snooker removes the physical aspect (mostly, although I think Stephen Lee probably can't reach as many shots as other players) and focusses on the psychological. What you get is a psychological dividing line between young and old. Beyond the age of 35, players seem to seize up, looking like they have seen this shot before and remembering the frames they have lost by playing more aggressively. Under 25, regardless of talent, when it comes to grinding one out they will play shots that are too petulant or risky and often end up losing frames. Stephen Hendry, that ruthless Jimmy Defeater, is going through his fall into old age risk avoidance now, and is losing his once iron ability. Brilliant. Steve Davis is a shadow of his former World Champion grinder self and has turned his snooker persona into a jolly old battler who does it for the love.. But its only their minds that have changed.

Ronnie O Sullivan, being a player with a diagnosed mental illness is a fascinating example. On a 'good day' he is unstoppable, believing that he can achieve anything and striving for an unattainable perfection. But when he is down he can barely bring himself to pick up the cue, or will play irrationally or without concentration. The reaction of the snooker media to this is farcical, and the tone of voice in which they criticise some of his behaviour is that of a confused onlooker that doesn't understand mental illness and mistakes it for petulance. I'm sometimes amazed that Ronnie has actually won the World Championship. Sure, he has the talent, but he also seems to go through the 'cycle' in nearly every tournament, often emerging from a bad patch in time for a crucial match. It's a credit to him that he has overcome the disability (however temporarily) to achieve the highest accolade in his sport.

Incidentally, Tony Drago seems to have been largely unaffected and is probably more reckless than he was as a younger player.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Chalking the other player

What a delight there is to be had from this simple, childish act. Especially when your opponent is wearing white or some other similarly stainable colour. I have seen many variations, involving secret chalking, blatant chalking, and a recent discovery (which I think may have been invented in the North) called chalky finger, involving using someone's finger as if it were a cue and giving it a thoroughly good chalking indeed. Not quite sure how I fell for that one but I did. I also then accidentally chalked my clothing, giving me a double chalking.

Chalking the other player should clearly be introduced into the World Championships as an acceptable psychological tactic, especially against Stephen Hendry, who is asking for a chalking.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The big draw

The first round of the World Championship has been drawn, and there are some jolly interesting matches. Here are my top five:
  • 1. Ding Junhui (Chn, 11) v Liang WenProperBo (Chn, 40)
  • 2. Ronnie O'Sullivan (Eng, 1) v Stuart Bingham (Eng, 21)
  • 3. Stephen Maguire (Sco, 2) v Jamie Burnett (Sco, 45) - there was some sort of match-fixing scandal involving a game between these two. I'll be having a flutter (once I'm off the phone to them both).
  • 4. Neil Robertson (Aus, 10) v Steve Davis (Eng, 29) - This should be a cracker, I wonder if Steve can make Neil Robertson go totally mental by playing every other shot as a safety.
  • 5. Stephen Hendreary (Sco, 6) v Mark Williams (Wal, 22) - Hopefully one will get knocked out and the other will retire injured.
And the ones I probably won't be watching:
  • 14 = Peter Snebdon (Eng, 9) v Nigel Bond (Eng, 23) - Bore factor: 10/10. Bond is the accountant of snooker.
  • 14 = The Dott (Sco, 13) v Barry Hawkins (Eng, 27) - Massive snorefest. The Dott is amongst the dullest.
With any luck Hendreary will get knocked out in the first round by Mark Williams, who will get knocked out in the second. Mark did have quite a reputation as an exciting player due to his love of a long pot or two, but I can't say I've been thrilled by any of his recent matches. Proper Bo will hopefully knock out Ding. In fact hopefully Proper Bo and Ronnie O Sullivan will be in the final together. Let's hope he doesn't end up crying like Ding did that time, that was all a little bit embarrassing.

As ever I will be rooting for Steve Davis without really knowing why. He is a very charming man indeed and I take an almost perverse pleasure in watching him grind out a beauty against some poor young player who only wants a decent game at the Crucible. Without doubt one of Steve's matches will finish at around 2:30am. Thank god Dave Harold failed to make it, the idea of the two of them playing in the same match would be too much. I'm not sure Steve will make it past Neil Robertson though, he is a mighty good player (especially for an Australian). Neil also has the best website of any snooker player, I've just noticed.

The draw is wide open based on these matches though. With many of the big names underperforming, this could be a World Championship with a pretty random winner, especially if O Sullivan doesn't turn up.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Parrott alert

The BBC's beloved Parrott is not in the World Championships. This is good news as far as I'm concerned. I cannot bear his excruciating 'comedy' comments when playing, and he is much better sitting on the couch next to Hazel or Ray. Although it was a long time ago and he only committed the offence once, he is responsible for being a Jimmy defeater (tm) so I have never warmed to him.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Best shots I can remember Part II - Jimmy finishes the job with the Steve Ryder

This happened in an important match late in Jimmy's career, probably in the Masters as I'm sure I would have remembered the feeling of hysteria had it been in the World Championship. Young James is playing well but has adopted a slower more considered style on the advice of a sports psychologist who frankly is fighting an uphill battle. More on the psychology of snooker soon.

This sparkling run of form is given a special dusting of magic in the shape of a 143 break, which is the highest in the tournament (the traditional Willie baiting 147 has thus far not occured, miraculously). Jimmy's slower style and the feeling that the crowd are desperate for him to show some of his previous form have created an odd atmosphere that falls somewhere between extreme tension and hysterical celebration. The pinnacle of the frame is an astonishing shot on the blue when it appears that Jimmy has completely shafted himself through poor positional play (sound familiar?). Old Jim has always been the best with the rest (as Virgo always reminds us whenever he picks it up) and shows us why this reputation has been earned by not only spanking in the blue, but getting perfect position on the tricky pink. Here is my memory of it:

Friday, 6 March 2009

Difficult stance

We like to point out when one player or another has had to adopt a 'difficult stance'. In our games, this is due to a chair, old toy or table full of beer cans affecting a players natural position. Completing a difficult pot when accompanied by a difficult stance is one of the games great skills, and is I feel sadly lacking in the professional game. With only referee Jan Verhaas, the other player and the BBC cameras representing obstacles there is barely even a chance of tripping over, let alone having to adopt an unusual pose.

Difficult stance is most entertaining in the following scenarios:

Perhaps difficult stance should be added to my list of things that could help save snooker and add a new sense of randomness and grass roots reality.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Snooker rhyming slang

Me and the Boy have a special type of snooker slang. I find that this kind of affected language only really happens after several hours of playing the same game in a darkened room. It is a special type of mental illness which slowly creeps up on you. It involves the following:
Additional rhyming slang needs to be created for the extension, the swan neck, the extended spider (although the extended Steve Ryder is acceptable) and the chalk.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Poor old Jimmy

It seems not, sadly.

My Englishman's craving for disappointment is ill served by such an untelevised, unhyped exit. Coping without even a sniff of a BBC montage of the glory days will be hard.

Come on Jimmy!


Sunday, 1 March 2009

He couldn't. Could he?

This news is making me jolly excited. Even a first round appearance by young James would make my sporting year. I will be looking forward to many excited shouts of 'Come On Jimmy!', even when he isn't playing. I love it when people shout 'come on Jimmy!' in matches that he is not playing in, it is pure juvenile comedy.

It just goes to show how little the people watching snooker enjoy watching unentertaining players who are not Jimmy White, Ronnie O Sullivan or Tony Drago and always makes me laugh. It usually follows this sequence:
  1. Someone shouts 'Come On [one of the players]!'
  2. Someone else shouts 'Come on [the other player]!'
  3. This goes on for around ten seconds
  4. Someone shouts 'Come On Jimmy!'
  5. Everyone laughs
  6. Referee Jan Verhaas tells off the offending person
  7. This is roundly agreed with and a round of applause is issued
  8. One of the commentators makes a remark that this kind of behaviour spoils it for everyone
I thoroughly encourage this sort of amusing behaviour and will be keeping a close eye on it during the World Championships.

Snooker cliches Part II - Wrong side of the blue

Gutted - you're the wrong side of the blue! What are you going to do now you fool? There's only one thing for it? What is it? That's right, you'll have to go in AND OUT of baulk, near the crappy little colours which you might hit. Gutted. Then again, you might be a professional snooker player in which case you will probably be fine.

Don't get the wrong side of the blue again though you idiot.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Is Ding actually a robot?

There is a new guy who is very good at snooker and is also from China called Liang Wenbo. He is like a Chinese Ronnie O Sullivan and plays some very interesting shots indeed, some of which are quite reckless and make Virgo twitch in his seat as are not the 'optimum' shot to play. He also got up to some amusing 'controversial' behaviour (i.e. not very controversial at all) last time I watched him play where he failed to mention to the ref that he had put the white back in a slightly more advantageous position.

This is not what we have come to expect after 3 years of Ding and his expressionless bore-snooker. He is worse than even Hendreary in my opinion when it comes to the bore factor. I have a theory that Ding is actually a robot sent by the Chinese government that has been sent to spy on our pitiful 'World' Championship, and although he is an acceptable standard, was merely an automated drone making way for the real talent to get stuck in.

Hopefully Liang Wenbo will be back for this year's World Championship so that he can do something similarly controversial, like perhaps chalking his cue in an anti-clockwise direction or drinking Ribena instead of water. Proper bo

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Clive Everton talks to the BBC from his bedside after injuring his hip falling out of the shower

A vivid memory of this fine piece of sports punditry has just popped into my head. I think this was probably the same year as Ray and the fire alarm (see below for more details of this shameful scenario).

Clive had slipped in the shower the night before and hurt his knee or his elbow or something and was interviewed by the BBC team on the day of the final. Sadly the interview was by phone, although I had this image of Clive dribbling out responses with tubes in his nose and a heart rate monitor next to him.

God it was compelling. I had a tear in my eye. 'If he starts to look like winning, he might just win' murmured Clive through a haze of painkillers. The kind of searing analysis we have come to expect from the great man.

Best shots I can remember Part I - Snebbers teaches the pink a lesson it won't forget

Talking of that funny man Peter Snebdon, I think he might have done one of my favourite snooker shots. It was in a game that he was losing - in fact it could well have been the World Championship final he lost against Steven Hendry. He was so far behind that there wasn't really any way back into it for him (something like 17-10) but had made a decent break in one of the frames. He was on the pink with just the pink and black left. Frame over. Rather than doing the usual tap in he did some sort of top spin thing. It looked like this:
After he did it he said something like 'even Ronnie can't do that'. Great chat.

I'm well into these kind of ludicrous shots. I have attempted to replicate this shot on many occasions in Rileys, but it is beyond me and usually ends up with me depositing the white somewhere near the entrance rather than bananaing it to the max and looking like a total legend like I want it to. Good effort Snebbers!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Peter Ebdon

What a funny man Peter Ebdon is. I really cannot make up my mind about him. I don't really like watching him play snooker. In fact I really don't like it at all. But he is always the underdog, and always the fighter coming back from the death. What a shame he does it in such a terribly dull way sometimes. He is best when he's right up against it, when he looks like he's going to explode with anger. A pretty unusual sight on a snooker table it must be said. He has been in some amazing matches because of his refusal to lie down even when it looks like he can't possibly win.

Okay I like him, at least he makes things more interesting. I was actually very pleased when he won the World Championship that time, even though he did grind it out to the max.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Most boring snooker player ever

Dave Harold. Absolutely no question. Sometimes I have nightmares that I am watching Alan McManus vs Dave Harold in a World Championship final where in every frame McManus makes a sixty break, then Dave The Grinder gets sixty, then they are stuck in an endless round of snookers and each frame lasts an hour. This goes on until the coverage has to end at 5:30 for This Morning to start on BBC One. The BBC congratulates itself for airing the longest continual sporting contest in history outside of the world of chess. People lose faith with snooker completely and never watch a match without Ronnie O Sullivan in it again.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Jimmy's short-lived TV career

With any luck Jimmy will be playing in the World Championship in April and may even provide us with a glorious run to the second round, provided that the person he plays first is very, very easy to beat.

The last time I can remember the great James White on our screens was a brief outing in 2007, this time presenting from next to the table with his new best mate Ray Stubbs. Sadly for the players Jimmy got a much bigger cheer than either of them (especially John Piggins) and presented with the insight and decorum we've come to expect, sweating out a beauty and stumbling over some of the easiest questions you've ever heard about snooker. One can only begin to imagine what heights he could reach as a TV pundit.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Ronnie O Sullivan could save snooker from itself

He seems to be the only person that realises that snooker is slowly dying. The sponsorship is drying up. It's not a way of life like it used to be, and snooker clubs are not fashionable. Somehow it has held on to the BBC contract and they broadcast loads of it, but it almost seems to be getting a bit embarrassing for them now. The first thing I would do would be to stop the tournaments taking place in silence. It sounds stupid, but most snooker clubs are fairly noisy places - people talk whilst they're playing the they usually have a bar. It doesn't seem right to reduce the game to silence for most of it. I think this simple thing would encourage a better atmosphere, more show-boating and better games. It would also make the natural players feel more natural, rather than some sort of dressed up exhibit for two weeks. Off season, professional snooker players play in exhibitions which are pretty rowdy. If anyone shouted out at the wrong time you could just do what tennis players do - stop and go again.

Friday, 6 February 2009

The times I have watched snooker live and what it was like. Part One: The Crucible

Me, The Boy and the Grand Master went to the Crucible a while back. God we were excited. We even had a mini-tournament on the pool table in Wetherspoons Sheffield the night before to get ourselves in the mood. The Grand Master won as usual. He built the original table after all, from which all subsequent snooker followed. Our excitement was somewhat tempered by walking f*cking miles up the steepest hill in the world afterwards. The Grand Master gave great pleasure in informing us that he used to do this walk twice a day when he had his first job in Sheffield etc. etc. Since then cars have been invented, and some people own them and charge you to ride in them on a temporary basis (this practice is called taxi driving). We informed him of these developments and did not make the same mistake the night after.

The first game we saw was McManus versus McCulloch. We pronounce 'McManus' in our house as though the last part of his name sounds like the word anus. I don't know why this is funny but it is and has become common parlance. I would rather stick a rusty pole in my eye than watch these two bore-mongers play snooker. Also, it was the first half of a match so there was no finale / conclusion. Total shocker. It ended 8-8 I think.

But the next game made up for it. Hendry versus Pinches. Pinches is a ledge of the highest order as is from Norfolk like us. We were wearing our Norwich shirts hoping to get on the telly (failed) and were well up for the Pincherman to beat Bendry / Hendreary / Hendrong (he is called all of these things in our house). It was tense at 10-10 at the start with the first to 13 the winner. The Boy has pinched me about 5 times now as some kind of physical-semantic joke. It is wearing thin, and would have come in more handy during McManus McCulloch. Hendreary and Pincher go neck and neck to 12-12, Pinchit looking pretty confident. Being the Jimmy-defeater, Bendry is like some sort of pantomime villian to us, we cannot be doing with him. We want to see him crushed by Pinches, who is ranked about 114th in the world and probably still plays at the Canary Cue Club. 'Millions of Pinches, Pinches for me!' shout me and The Boy. The Grand Master tries to look excited, but maybe he has been here one too many times before at the hands of the old enemy Hendrong. At 12-12 Pincherman and Hendrong disappear to psyche themselves for the final frame. The roar when the Pincher comes back is huge. The back of his waistcoat is yellow and green, just like our blood - we love him long time! He starts positively, but soon Bendry is in and then Pinchme has no way back. Yet again, even when Pinches is about 20 points behind I still hope he can snooker Bendrong behind the black three times or that one of the studio lights will fall on the table and they will have to restart. Something almost statistically impossible that still nags away at the back of my mind. It is impossible, so it doesn't happen and Bendry wins. Gutting.

What a day out though.

Those wooden seats in the Crucible are pretty uncomfortable. During McManus (rhymes with anus remember) versus McCulloch I thought my leg would fall off. It would have diverted my attention from the game though which would have been a bonus.

We get a taxi home.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

I once saw Tony Drago in my local snooker club in Tooting

He wasn't playing though, he was eating chili con carne. I always wish I'd asked him for a game, but he looked like he was enjoying his food too much.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Best ever snooker montage

Has to be the one to 'You Gotta Be' by Des Ree. I think this might be the year that poor old Jimmy (tm) lost on the black in the final. As I love to wallow in disappointment, this sentimental package of highlights made my year.

The worst ever snooker highlights

Probably from Sports Personality of the Year, where they did some sort of Matrix theme. Total shocker.

Monday, 2 February 2009

OPTA 147 index

Come On Jimmy! has developed a special high tech performance measure in snooker commentary. Using the latest OPTA Index techniques, we've measured the exact time that a 147 is allowed to be mentioned. Willie Thorne is the worst candidate for wetting his pants about 147s, and he has been known to mention it sometimes even before the frame has started, spoiling it for everyone. With this simple rule, Willie's unfortunate habit can be ended once and for all.

Our Come On Jimmy OPTA snooker index records every ridiculous word mentioned in sync with the balls being potted. It is clear from the wealth of data that we've gathered that the fifth red and black is the point at which it may be pointed out that a 147 may be in progress.

Here is a prime example during Ronnie O Sullivan's lightning fast 147 from Virgo (Willie was led panting from the room shortly after the break and had to be replaced). Dennis clearly feels that he can only mention it once the tenth (!) black has gone in, also openly admitting that he has never commentated on a 147 before. A very low performer on the OPTA 147 index indeed!

P.S. I like the way the video is called 'Incredible snooker player' too. A largely undeniable statement given the evidence before us.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

The difficulty caused by hot female referee Michaela

How I laughed when old Michaela the referee turned up in the World Championship finals! The poor old lads in the commentary box couldn't contain themselves. There were some awesomely derogatory comments like 'well done Michaela, you're doing a really good job' meaning, well done sweetheart not a bad effort for a bird. Jan Verhaas would never put up with that kind of chat! The players don't really seem to notice though. At least none of them has slapped her arse or anything.

Here is a classic example.

Snooker cliches

Concentrating on the position over the pot - total classic, who could ever do it though, it's one of the snooker ten commandments. Virgo loves to mention this one.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

The mystery of the kick

When it comes to reviewing the amount of money and time spent on BBC broadcasting, I wonder whether anyone has ever calculated how much time is wasted on commentators discussing kicks and how they happen. I reckon that at least 2 hours is spent on the topic every year on the BBC - that's enough time to broadcast a film or a new sitcom. Quite how these muppets continue to talk about it I've no idea.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

The agony of anchoring the snooker

I love the fact that Hazel Irvine does the snooker. She must have been gutted when they told her she'd have to put the miles in at the Crucible before they let her have the World Cup or the Masters Golf (or indeed anything except the snooker). Now she has to keep talking about how John Parrott uses a bigger tip (cue sniggering at 'John's big tip' and the 'excellent control he gets with it' compared with 'someone who is used to a smaller end' - I could go on). Ray Stubbs did it once, but he let us down badly. There was a break in play because of a fire alarm, and Ray had to fill half an hour talking snooker drivel (1985 and all that, Cliff Thorburn's 147, Rocket Ronnie's temperament). He looked like he was going to sh*t himself. Hazel would never let us down like that.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Most snooker commentators are idiots

Dear oh dear, snooker commentators. Virgo is my least favourite. He wasn't even a very good player! He often gets annoyed with the players when they try something interesting, and rants on about how they should have chosen a different shot. Sod that! Rock out the banana shots. He also has the most annoying catchphrases, such as 'where's the white going?'.

No-one can top Whispering Ted. His whispered 'no' when Steve Davis misses the black in his epic versus Dennis Taylor is one of the best pieces of commentary ever. He makes it sound so awesome.

I am a fan of Dennis Taylor because of his blatant double entendres. One thing you don't realise is that they cut a lot of it out on the highlights. When you go live you can get a little radio ear thing and listen to the commentary, good for staying awake if you get McManus - McCulloch (of which more later). When we went to the Masters, Dennis said 'Well John, what a magnificent semi.' Cue widespread sniggering amongst the crowd. Then he started going on about how Steven Lee had a lovely touch amongst the balls, and how his action was a bit long and swingy. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, he started talking about how he preferred a long and swingy one over a shorter one. Dirty Dennis.

I can't be doing with Parrott. I think this is a by-product of when he was a player in his later years making all those witty quips when walking around the table. Witty quips are acceptable on the sofa next to Hazel, but he jumped the gun.

Why I love snooker

Let's start at the beginning. I was raised on snooker. We had a Pot Black table early of course. My dad (who from now on will be known as the Grand Master - for that is his real snooker identity) loved snooker so much he built his own table in the garage. It was pretty good for a while. Then it got a bit damp and sagged in the middle. So he built an extension on our house just for the snooker table. Effort son! So snooker has pretty much been a staple of the family ever since I was born. We've even had family trips out to watch the Masters at Wembley (the whole family) and the World Championship (me, my brother and my dad). I've got to say though, it's better on the telly. It's pretty cool going, but it's also pretty dull if you get stuck with a sh*t match. At the World Championships we had to sit through Ian McCulloch vs Alan McManus. Yawn tastic, and it went all the way.

I suppose we were pretty lucky to have been kids during the 'golden age'. Jimmy White was my hero. Part of me still thinks he can win it. Alright, perhaps not now he can't even get past the qualifiers, but five years ago I still thought he could. The finals against Hendry and Davis are etched into my consciousness. They are some of the greatest sport I have ever witnessed. Snooker is about a tenth as good as it seemed then, but I still take great amusement and pleasure in watching it, mainly on the BBC. I find the coverage hilarious - snooker is only really interesting about a quarter of the time, the rest of the time it's f*cking dull, but I love the things that the commentators come up with to fill the 100+ hours that the BBC dedicates to the
World Championship, Masters and UK Championship.

Banana Me Up - totally unnecessary banana shots