Ronnie O’Sullivan became the youngest winner of a ranking tournament at the age of 17.
27 years on and the reigning six times World Champion came up against the rookie from Ireland Aaron Hill, where much has been made of the 18-year-old from Cork who is making his debut season as a Tour professional.
O’Sullivan, 44, who battled his way to a sixth World title faced Hill, and it was clear from the outset of the match that Hill was pumped and eager to take the game to O’Sullivan.
With an early break of 74 in the first, Hill then went 2 – 0 up – showcasing not only some fine safety play but also showing his maturity at such a young age.
O’Sullivan took the next, but it was Hill who took a 3 – 1 lead into the Interval.
It was a very different second half as it was nip and tuck but in the decider Hill showed his composure against the 37 times ranking event winner and booked a place in the next round the last 32.
Much has been made in the media about O’Sullivan’s comments about the lack of talent coming through and the younger ones and their lack of bottle. Hill showed plenty in that match.
Hill told WST after: “That comment was in the back of my head a small bit, but I didn’t worry about it. I just said to myself when he said it, that one day I am going to show him what I can do. I think today was the day.
“I’m speechless at the moment. I didn’t just go out there and be happy to be there. I still wanted to win the match. If I’d lost after being 3-1 up, I’d have been disappointed. I am just so pleased with that victory. Everyone back home, my family and my friends must be buzzing. I just looked at my phone and I think it is going to take until Christmas to reply to everyone.”
WATCH PETER DEVLIN’s INTERVIEW WHERE HE MADE HIS FIRST PRO TON…
Earlier on in the day, another rookie who’s just got on the tour Peter Devlin downed the three-times World Champion Mark Williams. Devlin is a keen rapper and a bit of a hit on YouTube.
Then your VERY first book you should read is Joe Davis’s How I Play Snooker.
The book is very aptly called How I Play Snooker for that very reason. It’s how Joe Davis played snooker.
Some top snooker players have called it the “bible of snooker” because it is one book that crams everything in on how to play the game, according to Joe Davis.
Of course, the CAVEAT with this book is the title. It’s how Joe Davis played the game. So, a lot of what you read in the book may be slightly DIFFERENT to how you apply the BASICS when you play on the table yourself.
The book is like a CRASH COURSE in snooker basics. Everything from…
How to stand
As repeated already, some of these principles that Joe talks about in the book you may need to adapt to suit you, and so this book is a STARTING POINT – NOT a definitive guide on how to play the game.
Let me give you one example.
In the book, Joe Davis talks about the bridge and how he liked to have a straight bridge hand that points DIRECTLY down the line of aim.
However, when SnookerZone bridges, he has his bridge at a slight angle because when we bridge straight, the thumb generally tends to move more and takes the cue off the line. This is what we mean by adapting what Joe is telling you in the book. Your bridge may well not be how Joe bridged. Everyone is different.
Striking the cue ball where you intend is one of the first things you should learn…
We’ve just reviewed the Aim Ball, a VERY useful training aid from DENMARK and one of the main points in Joe’s book is what SnookerZone indeed paraphrased in the review of the Aim Ball.
Here’s a quote from the great Joe Davis himself: “Striking the cue ball just where you want, and intend to strike it is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the game, certainly the most important. You think you are striking dead centre: Generally, you are not. You think you are striking down for screw and the ball doesn’t take any screw, simply because, although you swear you struck low, you didn’t!”
Joe was then saying you, therefore, require a level cue action that will not deviate from its path to the chosen target on the white. This is where the Aim Ball will help because as Joe so rightly says in the book, ensuring you are striking the cue ball on your intended target on the cue ball with your cue tip is VITAL.
Joe Davis and the rest
If you’re looking for some tips with rest play in this book. Then you will be slightly disappointed as the section on rest play is thin on the ground. Indeed, Joe admitted in the book he was not a great rest player and so, the tips in the book are BASIC and SKIRTED OVER.
All in all, this book is VERY MUCH a basis for a very beginner snooker player to get an idea of what they need to do to improve but as said before, you will need to go and APPLY and ADAPT some of the techniques in the book yourself and not take everything Joe says as GOSPEL.
One of the most important takeaways of the book SnookerZone feels is the part which we’ve mentioned already. Learning to cue the white ball where you intend.
If you can master that, then it’s half the battle already!
The big question is, would we buy this book or would we buy FRANK CALLAN’S book?
One of the most difficult aspects of the game is being able to strike the cue ball dead centre on EVERY shot.
You may think you are, but, chances are, you’re not.
Be honest. How many can say they strike the cue ball dead centre on EVERY shot? Even professionals can probably not say they strike the cue ball dead centre ALL the time.
This is where this training aid The Aim Ball will come in handy. With a standard weighted cue ball, knowing EXACTLY how much side you’re putting on isn’t always obvious unless it’s EXTREME.
But with a SPECIAL weighted cue ball, you can SEE instantly if you are striking the cue ball dead centre.
What is the Aim Ball and how does it work?
The Aim Ball is a SPECIAL weighted cue ball that will tell you if you are striking left or right by VEERING either left or right when struck.
Place the Aim Ball on the table towards a pocket. Strike the ball firmly and then WATCH where the cue ball goes.
If it VEERS off to the right then you are putting left-hand side on. Vice versa, if it VEERS left, then you are putting right-hand side on. The more the ball VEERS off, the more side you have put on.
If the ball goes into the middle of the pocket, then you are striking the cue ball dead centre.
However, still be AWARE of what is happening EVEN if the ball goes into the pocket. It maybe you are still putting a TRACE of left or right side on.
The object is to WATCH what the ball does, and to adjust your aiming with the tip to eventually STRIKE the ball centre and for it to go in the pocket.
How does the Aim Ball help?
Snooker is a game of repetition, and, like any practice, you will need to keep repeating DRILLS that are set out in a VERY SIMPLE to read Ebook which comes with the product. These drills also come with RECORD SHEETS you can print out so you can record your progress on this aspect of the game.
The Aim Ball is designed to help a player train their eyes to overtime RECOGNISE where the dead centre of the cue ball is on a NORMAL cue ball and to be able to strike the tip at that point.
Who can use the Aim Ball?
SnookerZone has used this product now for three weeks. Although we are not a beginner, this product is perfect for a beginner who is FAIRLY new to snooker and doesn’t understand FULLY the impact of side and what it does to the cue ball.
This product, in our opinion, is a GREAT product for beginners in the game. But it is also useful to anyone who wants to know if they are putting side on the cue ball and how much. Over practice, you will eventually be striking dead center.
Surprisingly, when SnookerZone did some of the basic drills in the ebook in our first session, our strike rate was 7/10. That’s to say, on 7 shots the ball was going in the pocket, if a little to the left. This is where adjusting comes into play.
On our second week of drills, the rate was higher. We were getting nine of the 10 shots into the pocket. Again, we were still noticing that we were putting on a TRACE of left.
What will the Aim Ball teach you other than the impact of side?
This training aid will actually TEACH you a lot more than just striking the cue ball centre. It will also get you to think about your setup on the shot and make you aware of what you are doing when addressing the cue ball.
SnookerZone found when we SLOWED our approach down on the shot and TRAINED ourselves to be more consciously aware of EVERYTHING going on and where the tip was pointing, we found our game in terms of cue delivery IMPROVED dramatically. Most beginners (and some intermediates) will get down on the shot and not be “consciously” aware of what they are doing. They just want to get the shot over and done with. We’ve done it ourselves.
If you take just that EXTRA couple of seconds and THINK about what’s happening, you will find your game will IMPROVE much quicker.
Four tips to improve your game that bit quicker…
Watch the ball and what is going on. This applies to the “normal” cue ball and the Aim Ball. Also, when playing with the cue ball and object ball, WATCH where the OBJECT ball goes. Use the skills you’ve LEARNED from practice with the Aim Ball and transpose it to normal play.
Be more aware of what you’re doing on the shot and LOOK at where your tip is pointing to the cue ball before you deliver.
SLOW DOWN your approach to the shot and BE PREPARED on every aspect of the shot before getting down. DON’T RUSH.
ADJUST based on your findings. Practice!
How much is the Aim Ball?
You have the option to pay for just one Aim Ball or three. One costs 30 dollars.
Does SnookerZone recommend it?
Absolutely yes. Caveat though: You may think you are better and MORE than a BEGINNER, but if you think it’s TOO basic for you, then you would still be WISE to give it a go. There’s always something NEW to learn or to FIND out you may not know about with your game.
As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a…snooker player…
If the snooker film Break was a Martin Scorsese style flick, it would have probably started with those very lines.
In Goodfellas, 1990, we open with that very defined goal from the voice over of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), as he introduces us to his life as one of America’s notorious criminals and how he became a member of the mob.
However, in the Break film, we open with a voice-over – as the main character Spencer Pryde (played brilliantly by Sam Gittins) an inner-city kid who has a talent for snooker, waffles on about wasted talent and making the most of it. But what we don’t get is a clearly defined goal of what he’s there for.
That’s the first question we ask as an audience, what does this character want out of his life? This was still puzzling, even at the end of the film. Did he REALLY want to be a snooker player?
One big cliche…
As the film progresses, we realize that Spencer is a typical product of inner-city UK life. He comes from humble surroundings on a council estate. He hasn’t got a job, and he smokes dope and owes money to drug dealers.
His father is released from prison (another cliche), and he wants to atone for his own sins by setting his son on the straight and narrow by enticing him to do something with his life – play snooker. Spence has been hanging around the snooker club and is apparently quite good.
Throughout the film, the story felt rather cliched and predictable. We do get the delightful and colourful transition of the contrast between the decaying urbanity of inner-city UK and the vibrant colourful exotic lights of China – a place where snooker is a hotbed – an obssession.
Again, the cliche. Inner-city UK kid comes good. It just so happens it’s snooker that does it for him. It could have been Karate. It could have been fly-fishing. It could have been tiddlywinks. But it was snooker.
We were somehow expecting when watching that Spencer was going to have that lightbulb moment and think to himself, “yes, I wanna play snooker and play professionally, REALLY.”
But we didn’t.
Playing snooker for him was just a means to an end.
There’s a subtle twist in the film which stops you in your tracks and makes you think “this isn’t a bad film, ACTUALLY.”
However, when that plot point is dealt with, the film descends back into typical cliche.
Spencer plays in the tournament in China. He has that brief moment where he doubts his own ability and storms out during a match. He’s enticed back into it because, in all honesty, he has to be there because he needs to pay back drug money he owes.
And then we get the typical revival. Spencer plays out of his skin and wins the tournament. And that is that.
And guess what, the ending?
Well, considering the BBC stupidly revealed the ending in a feature during the World Championship a few weeks ago, SnookerZone may as well reveal it.
A Crafty Line?
Spencer ends up standing beside none other than the 1997 World Champion Ken Doherty at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, who utters his cameo lines…
“Good luck, Spencer, you’re going to need it.”
And there we have it. The cliche ending.
Bad boy comes good and gets to fulfill a dream.
Only, it wasn’t REALLY a lifelong dream of his to walkout at the Crucible. He almost stumbled there.
We guess the point of the film is simple. If you’ve got talent, don’t waste it. And talent can be hidden in the unlikeliest of places.
Some of us just never find it.
As snooker’s first proper film, it was a disappointment. Not only because the story was one big cliche. But because it also felt a bit wooden in places. Snooker films still haven’t grown out of those teenage years yet. They’re still maturing.
Granted. The acting from Sam Gittins was great. The deceased Rutger Hauer, in which the film was his last, owned the screen with his mini menacing performance as Ray. But some other acting was just…wooden.
Snooker players have never really been great actors either.
As a BIG snooker fan, SnookerZone couldn’t help but feel the ending could have been so much better than it was. Too predictable and NOT very memorable – as a film ending for a snooker film. Forgettable.
For SnookerZone, the litmus test for whether a film is going to stay in his collection is simple: How good is the ending? We love film endings. Not only do we appreciate snooker, we appreciate films.
And despite our snooker roots, this film won’t be coming out for a while – if only for a sneaky glance now and then.
It’s up to you if you want to risk two hours just to see The Crucible on screen.
We live in hope in the universe that sometime, someone comes up with a more inspiring snooker flick.
There has been an explosion of NEW “REVOLUTIONARY” chalks onto the market.
Companies have been releasing chalks which boast reduced kicks, add better grip to tips, WHILE looking stylish at the same time doing it.
More choice now for snooker chalks…
Taom was one of the first to bring out a stylish rounded chalk which did all of the above, and looked good. A piece of luxury in your hand at a HEFTY price.
In fact, CHALKS have been gradually increasing in price. Gone are the days of the Triangle dominating a now-crowded market. You have much more CHOICE now and can shop around.
Then, there was an explosion in square chalks being released. Russian Magic chalk was boasted as one of the best around, where you would be able to chalk less, and yet still be able to grip shots even after NOT chalking for at least five shots!
Now, another chalk has emerged onto the market. Qtec recently released their Nanoflex Pro Chalk. SnookerZone got to review it last weekend and here’s the initial verdict.
What is Nanoflex Pro Snooker Chalk and why is it different?
According to the maker of the chalk, the formula used in the process of creating the chalk ensures that more of the chalk stays on the tip and does not flake off like some other chalks.
Qtec told SnookerZone: “At the end of the day, chalk is to provide grip above all else.”
And added: “I’m a fan of Taom gold soft, but the only negative for me is the lack of grip so wanted to create something with more grip. I’m pleased with the results.”
SnookerZone has tried many chalks now, from Triangle/Pro to Taom to Russian Magic to Master, and has found that some chalks leave small flakes on the table and some even on the cue ball. Sometimes, you can be constantly rubbing little MARKS of chalk off the table. We didn’t find that we were doing that as often with the new Qtec chalk.
Others also can make a mess of your cue with leaving marks on causing grime.
Quite simply, Nanoflex chalk was impressive on four fronts.
====>It didn’t leave LOADS OF marks on the table or cue ball…
====>After wiping down cue after playing, there wasn’t a lot of chalk residue on the cue coming off the WET WIPE – that was a plus.
====>SnookerZone was impressed with how the chalk STUCK to the tip consistently and flakes of the chalk didn’t FALL off as much.
====>SnookerZone also didn’t need to chalk the tip as much – similar to Russian Magic.
The Nanoflex allows for BETTER grip on deep screws…
There was a shot SnookerZone played in a friendly frame with a mate where we tried to screw in behind the black to lay a snooker and we were screwing from at least 7 inches with the cue ball and we almost laid the perfect snooker! It has plenty of grip when you chalk and you don’t need to CHALK UP EVERY SHOT.
Qtec also have their own Nanoflex tips and the chalk is designed as a pairing with those. However, SnookerZone was using a different tip to try the chalk out – using an old Regency tip and the chalk HELD well on it.
The QTec Nanoflex Pro Chalk is just another option of chalk you have as a consumer of snooker chalks. For SnookerZone, there are three chalks that you MUST try, and then MAKE your decision about which one is RIGHT for you. They are: