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The Incredible Tale of Two Marks Making Their 2018 Mark

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The Scottish Open was the final televised ranking event of 2018 which has seen a bumper year of snooker come to a close – but there’s plenty of drama and twists to come in 2019.

2018 has been a great year for two people. And their first names both begin with Mark!

Mark Allen began the year on the up with his tremendous win in London’s Alexandra Palace scooping his first triple crown major event – revealing then he was a real contender for major titles and competing with the big boys such as Ronnie O’Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams.

But it was the resurgence of Mark Williams in the first half of the year that really shone through as the Welshman managed from nowhere to pick up the German Masters title at the start of the year, totally hammering Graeme Dott in the final and then, lifted his third World title in style in Sheffield in May after taking up coaching with Steve Feeney and SightRight. He also picked up the northern Irish Open in 2017 and the World Open much later into the new year of 2018.

The Pistol Fires in 2018…

Now, in the last three months of the year, Mark Allen, now with five ranking titles to his name, has picked up the cudgel from the two Marks and lifted some more silverware including the major Chinese event the International Championship and the Scottish Open. It was also his performance in reaching the final of the UK Championship losing out to Ronnie O’Sullivan, who made it his 19th major win to beat the record of Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis.

The 32-year-old’s exploits in the last week led him to pocket 145K  earning him this season so far total winnings of 393K.

Allen will defend his Master’s title in January 2019.

Mark No 1…

Mark Williams 2018: From Germany to Sheffield to Yushan, China. He made his mark 22 times…

For the other Mark, his 2017/18 season saw him become the oldest player at 43 since Ray Reardon to win a World title.

And, his last season’s wins rocketed him up to no 2 in the World and pocketing a hefty 870K. This season has been modest in comparison to just 237K! But plenty of holidays in the pipeline!

There is, of course, the third Mark, and he’s still World no 1 for Christmas – but only just! That mark for Selby may well be coming to an end soon though! What goes up, must come down!

Watch Dafasnooker with the new Scottish Open champ Allen!


 

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Your Cue Arm is Dead?

Hi there,

Beginner snooker player…

When SnookerZone first got coaching, one of the first things he was told was holding his game back was, your cue arm is dead…

What does this mean?

No, your cue arm isn’t dead, literally…

It means your cue arm isn’t extending enough either backwards or forwards!

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What that means is that SnookerZone wasn’t getting through the ball enough and this is done by the cue arm extending enough on the backswing, and then the cue arm going right through to the chest on the forward swing! On some shots, you don’t need too much backswing, but if you want power, then it’s important that you extend enough on the backswing to generate that power!

A coach will tell you that to get any spin on the ball (power) you need to follow through the white with your cue so you get the intended amount of spin you want on the ball.

Following through is also important for another two reasons!

  • It helps you pot the ball! (yes, the more you follow through properly, the more chance you’ll have of potting the ball! sounds weird, doesn’t it? But it’s true!)
  • It helps you to check you’ve completed the shot properly and if you have you will find your cue arm is forward of the vertical and not in the upright vertical position. Get someone to take a pic of your cue action and see if your cue arm is forward of the vertical when you have played the shot.
  • Remember to stay down on the shot after so you can see if your cue is not only pointing straight but, also, the cue has extended enough, a sign you have followed through on the shot!

Players who don’t follow through tend to…

  • Get a stabbing motion leading to no spin on the cue ball
  • Miss the pot (mostly) and…
  • Look unprofessional!

Tips: 

  • Watch the top players and they all do this one thing! They get through the white ball well and make sure their hand is touching the chest on the delivery of the cue.
  • Get chalk and a tape measure  – place the chalk to the side of the cue ball. Play a shot and then, after, measure with the tape how far your cue went through on playing the shot. You don’t even need a snooker table for this! You can then work on your follow through and continue to keep getting as much follow through as humanly possible!
  • Take a picture of your ideal position where the cue arm is forward of the vertical position and the grip hand is touching the chest after playing the shot! Imagine you’re in that position on every shot!

Do this one essential technical part of the technique, and you’ll find your game will improve much more quickly, and you’ll be able to play a much wider range of shots on the table!

Watch this video below on straight cueing from Barry Stark…


Also, read SnookerZone’s review on this useful little training aid that you can use in conjunction with Barry Starks tips on cueing! Read here…

 

 

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Watch John Higgins’s Incredible 147 at 2018 Scottish Open

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Four-times World Champion racked his sixth career 147 in Glasgow. 

The 43-year-old’s perfect 36 pots also came as he was nursing a broken rib this week in the event.

It’s also come on the back of a spell of low confidence for the 2018 World-finalist runner-up – who’s been trying to stop dwelling on missing out on scooping a fifth World title since he lost to Mark Selby and Mark Williams in the World Championship finals in the last two years.

Watch how Higgins said he got the broken rib, below…

This is the sixth 147 this season. Ronnie O’Sullivan also made his 15th 147 this season!

Higgin’s 147 in Scotland means he bags 22K for the break – assuming no-one else makes another by the end of the event. Watch it below…

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O’Sullivan Rockets to a Record Seventh UK Title

Ronnie O’Sullivan has claimed a seventh UK Championship crown – and now has bagged 19 major titles, bettering the records of Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. 

The Rocket comfortably eased past Mark Allen in the final 10 – 6, after doing much of the damage in the first session by leading 6 – 2 at the afternoon’s session going into the evening.

The incredible feat puts him on…

  • 7 UK Championship titles
  • 5 World titles (still two away from equalling Hendry’s tally.)
  • 7 Masters titles

The Rocket, now 43, who won the UK title, his first ranking title at the tender age of 17, now has 34 ranking titles to his name – and, is two away from Stephen Hendry’s 36, making him second in the all-time list.

After the win he paraded around the Barbican in York like a jubilant teenager, a far cry from the humbled teenager overwhelmed by the win all those years ago in 1993.

Other soon to come feats from the rejuvenated snooker player, who has been having a spell of good form under coach Stephen Feeney and SightRight, which, he commented earlier on in the week as “an amazing piece of science” include…

  • Breaking the 1000 tons barrier, which could come in 2019, depending on how many events the Rocket plays.

The Rocket said after the UK win he was just enjoying his snooker again and that the coaching of SightRight had refocused him.

He’s already double qualified for the Champion of Champions 2019, after winning a third CofC title back in November at the Ricoh Arena. This is his first ranking title of the 2018/19 season.

Along with the title, he picked up 170K first prize. Mark Allen bagged a modest 70K for his efforts on getting to the final. Allen played some great snooker throughout the tournament even beating Neil Robertson on course from 5 – 4 behind.

Worryingly, O’Sullivan is cleaning up on the snooker circuit, and, unless someone steps up, SnookerZone can see this being the result for a few seasons to come.

His other records include:

  • fastest 147 break in 5 mins 20 seconds
  • 15 maximum breaks

So far, in this 2018/19 campaign, O’Sullivan has earnt just over half a million pounds in prize money! And the season has still plenty of snooker to come!

 

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How to Escape Snookers Easier : Here’s 5 Useful Tips

If you’ve ever played a frame of snooker, then you’ve probably been put at some point in a tricky snooker and then wondered how on earth you’re going to get out of it. I bet I’m right, right?

At first glance, it looks tricky and difficult to know what to do, but…

There are lots of ways you can make life easier when you are faced with a tricky snooker.

Here’s five tips to make your life much easier when escaping from snookers

  1. Look for the natural angle

On a snooker table, there is generally a rule of thumb in that when you hit the cue ball off a cushion it will bounce off on the same angle as it came on! So, when you’re faced with escaping from a snooker, always decide if there is a natural angle first you can escape from. That said, if there isn’t, we’ll go into that in more detail, later…

2) Use spots and lines on the table as guides when in a snooker

If you’re snookered on a ball, you should, as a rule, look for any spots on the table (not always the spots of the colours) but you should look for spots which can act as a guide for you to get close or hit the ball you’re escaping from. For example. if you were to put a red ball behind the blue spot, with the blue on its spot, and then, put the cue ball in baulk directly where you’re snookered, then you could look for a line or spot that will get close to hitting the red.

3) Don’t panic when you’re in a snooker

Although this may sound obvious, a lot of people first panic when they are encountered with a snooker. This means they’re not focused enough and are unlikely to make a logical decision if their mind is filled with panic! It’s a lot like when your mind is not on the pot. If you are distracted when potting a ball, then the chances are, you are not going to pot it!

4) Analyse pace when getting out of  snookers

It’s actually useful to know this. When you’re snookered and a ball is closer to the cushion that you need to hit, then you need to play with less pace. For example, if a red is near a cushion that you want to hit, then logic will tell you NOT to hit the cue ball too hard, as, if you did strike too hard, the red would come away and leave your opponent a potential pot! If a ball is in the middle of the table that you want to hit, and you’re snookered, then you need to consider striking with a bit more power to ensure the ball goes onto or near a cushion.

5) Make Sure you get the object ball safe!

If you’ve ever watched the game on TV, then you will always hear the commentator say this: “It’s not the hitting it that is the problem, it’s getting it safe!” There is no point in escaping from a snooker but then giving your opponent a chance to make a break and win the frame. When you escape from a snooker you need to think about where the object might be going and part of that is about what we mentioned in a previous post about learning angles and how the table works. Learning snooker trick shots is actually useful because you are learning angles, judgement of pace and how the table reacts. Plus, it’s fun: start now, here…

2 BONUS TIPS:

Here’s a useful and easy exercise to do:

Spend ten/15 minutes just with the cue ball knocking it onto the cushion from different angles and learn and memorise how the cue ball comes off the cushion. Then, see what happens when you play with side, and how the angle changes. 

This will help you understand what the white ball is doing and reacting to on and off the cushions.

Then, you can introduce another ball and practice trying to get the white to hit that ball without having any other balls in the way. Build up slowly for then placing a ball so you are snookered!

BONUS TIP 2:

Spend at least twenty minutes on your sessions doing this:

Place the black on its spot, and then the cue ball in the D area and then see if you can get the black ball safe on different areas of the table. See if you can hit the black indirectly by using cushions and see what happens when you use different variations of pace!

Here, WATCH coach Steve Barton explain the basics of getting out of snookers in the video below…

 

PS: Much of what has been discussed here regarding getting out of snookers, also applies to putting your opponent into a snooker. Just follow the guides and you’ll have much more success! Remember: you need to practice these things! So get on the table and start now!

Enjoy your snooker!

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Mark Selby Crashes Out of UK Championship

Selby got knocked out of this year’s UK Championship falling at the first hurdle…

World number one Mark Selby has crashed out of the UK Championship in York.

The 35-year-old Jester from Leicester lost in the first round of the pre TV stages of the competition to amateur James Cahill, Stephen Hendry’s nephew.

As the preliminary round got underway this week, there were also shock exits for Ryan Dynamite Day and 2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy, who lost out respectively to Joe O’Connor, and a Chinese player Chen Fellong.

The 2018 English Amateur Champion O’Connor made a solid display against an under par Day.

O’Connor, 23, has played 14 matches so far this season as a professional since his big amateur win in Gloucester in May and has won 5 out of the 14.

The likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Judd Trump and 2018 World Champion Mark Williams are safely through to the TV stages of the tournament.

The tournament is televised from Saturday onwards on Eurosport and the BBC.

 

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Easy Snooker Trick Shots: Improve Your Angle Knowledge – Now

Imagine this…

You’re in a match and faced with a mighty tricky pot – a bit like the Alex Higgins pink shot on Snooker Loopy. It’s almost impossible for the mere mortal to get, and your opponent is sitting there wondering, are you going to go for it? Your opponent is gobsmacked when you do, and even dumbfounded when he discovers you pot it!

You walk to the next shot feeling a million dollars and the frame is yours! You’ve been practicing like a trooper and been making yourself aware of the angles on a snooker table. That’s because…

You’ve been learning and practicing…

Snooker trick shots like this!

 

Learning and playing snooker trick shots may be fun, but, there’s an important reason why you should consider to start learning some snooker trick shots in practice sessions.

There’s many benefits to learning them, including:

  • You’re learning the angles on a snooker table and what happens when you use different spins on the cue ball on certain angles.
  • You’re learning pace and timing to execute different shots
  • You’re learning how to become more confident under a situation of pressure when entertaining!
  • You’re showing there is more to the game than just potting the balls, use AND learn what you have in front of you – the table!

Some trick shots are difficult, and, like anything, they take practice, but even the easiest of shots need full attention, and as if you were playing a serious pot in a match, taking your eye off the pot can ruin the whole shot!

Remember to cue nice and straight and follow through the white on each shot!

Watch this video below to get a flavour of what shots you could learn from the snooker trick shot master John Virgo!

Start off with some of the easier ones, and, when you get a little bit more confident, then move onto the harder trickier ones!

Remember, even the greatest had to practice these and miss time and time again before getting them. As Virgo says in the video, don’t beat yourself up if you miss it the first time, have fun, enjoy, and learn!

Hurry, there’s only one left! Get the Snooker Loopy DVD for inspiration and start to improve your knowledge of angles and the snooker table by practicing some fun trick shots on the DVD, here…

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Is Feathering Really Important in Cueing in Snooker?

So, when I first started, there was a BIG question I found myself asking: 

Should I feather or not? And, if so, how many feathers?

There are so many views on what seems a minor issue.

But, it’s actually very IMPORTANT.

Some say have two or three long feathers.

Some say it doesn’t matter if you don’t feather at all.

And if you watch the professionals like Marco Fu, for example, then you’ll notice he has no feathers.

It really depends on what suits you.

However, below is a SIMPLE interesting drill you can do that will help test if you are suited to doing NO feathers at all.

And, it will test your aiming and cueing.

But first…

So far, we’ve found two key aspects of the cueing part of the game that work really well (for us).

They are:

  • The essential pause in delivery on the final backswing.
  • The Addressing (pause) of the cue ball and making sure you are striking where you intend before the final swing. 

However, an interesting drill that SnookerZone developed last weekend was this:

Getting down to the line of aim and delivering the cue with no preliminary featherings! As the blog title suggests, is feathering essential or optional? How many are too many?

If you want to learn about aiming in more detail. Check out Nic Barrow’s Aim Frame below now…

AimFrame

 

As before, If you watch the top players, some feather the cue lots.

German Masters Champion Anthony Hamilton, for example, feathers up lots!

Others do simply what SnookerZone did in a drill – establish the line of aim, get down and deliver…

SnookerZone is not suggesting players should not feather at all, however, on the weekend, our drill was to establish whether we had problems with aiming or cueing.

On analysis after, it seemed whenever a pot was missed – (AND staying down after to assess) most of the time the cue tip was pointing in a straight line on the line of aim selected. That suggests to us that our issues on missed pots were aiming issues and alignment.

HOW MANY FEATHERS?

Whilst feathering can give you a “feel” of how the cue action is developing and whether it may be straight (or not) SnookerZone is not entirely convinced that feathering is necessarily an essential part in ensuring a straight delivery. It’s not about what is wrong, or is right. It’s about what is “right” for that particular individual.

Interestingly, when spending the whole sessions simply selecting the line, confidently getting down on the shot, delivering the cue in just one swing (with a slight pause on the backswing) pot success increased on more difficult pots from medium to long range.

Again, to repeat, SnookerZone is not advocating having any featherings, we’re just saying try this drill for a session (or two) and see if you have an aiming or cueing issue.

If you’ve selected the right line of aim initially, we found that when you deliver the cue in one swing, the cueing takes care of itself! Or 99.999999% of the time it should do! It did with SnookerZone!

In fact, a useful tip is to start practicing from having no featherings, and, slowly introducing featherings into your game and see how many are/is right for you!

Try it yourself and let SnookerZone know what you think…

Enjoy your snooker…

 

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Formidable Reanne Evans Bags Eden Masters title in Gloucester

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It was another busy weekend of snooker for the women as Reanne Evans bagged another title in Gloucester at the South West Snooker Academy in the Eden Women’s Masters.

She whitewashed the up and coming Rebecca Kenna, who yet again made it to another final after being beaten by Hong Kong’s Ng On Yee in the final of the UK Women’s Championship.

Evans, 33, made the modest high break of the event, a 62.

It was a good run to the semi-finals for Emma Parker and Suzie Opacic – but the star of the show in Gloucester was yet again Reanne, who lifted the European Masters in Belgium but a few weeks ago.

There was no Ng On Yee in the field in the knockout stages.

There was a win for Stephanie Daughtery in the Eden Women’s Master’s Challenge Cup beating Germany’s Diana Schuler.

Daughtery lost out in the under-21s event to Shannon Metcalf.

You can view ALL the results of the women’s snooker, here…

 

 

 

 

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No Table? Still No Excuse NOT to Practice Straight Cueing

Most of us snooker players don’t have regular access to a snooker table. But, there’s still nothing stopping you from practicing cueing using simple tools and furniture around the house.

Simply find a table, a dining room or kitchen table. Find an empty bottle and practice cueing into it. Or get an ironing board and practice muscle memory on there!

Watch the exercises you can do to practice cueing ON or OFF the table with WPBSA coach Steve Barton, below…