Masters reflections

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hi guys, So it wasn’t to be last week back at the Ally Pally for my Masters defence. 

I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really disappointing to lose in the first round, but that’s the thing with The Masters, any match could be a final, the standard is so high. As for my match with Mark Allen I thought it was a good game, and I’ve definitely played worse in the past and won. I thought Mark played really well and punished all my small mistakes severely. His scoring was top class and his safety play kept me out of the scoring zone.

Of course people will want to know what happened in frame six where I committed a very rarely seen foul under the three-miss rule. It’s hard now to look back and work out what I was actually thinking, as clearly the correct shot was anything other than what I eventually played. After two “free” attempts, and by that I mean that I was just giving away four penalty points, when warned that I’d lose the frame if I failed to hit the red on the third go, I should’ve made sure that I hit the ball on. Even if that meant, as I thought it did, that I’d lose the frame from that position as Mark was playing too well to make a mess of it from where the balls were. And that’s where the two worlds of sport and logic clash.

Logic says at that time, do not leave an easy opening for your opponent as he will punish you. Sport on the other hand is very rarely that clinical and who’s to say that if I’d played something different, Mark might not have cleared the table? Anything could’ve happened there and it’s a lesson to me for the future. The penalty for what I did was the guaranteed loss of the frame under the rules and I should’ve done something else.

Did it lose me the match? No. But at the very top level, a frame here and there can make all the difference and who’s to know what might’ve been but for that mental error. It goes to show that not all mistakes made in snooker or any other sport for that matter are made because of technical flaws but some, and sometimes the most costly are made between the ears, and they’re the hardest to fix.

So like many of you out there on planet snooker I spent the week watching from home wishing I was there. It wasn’t easy to see everyone playing there when I can still remember the noise and atmosphere from when I won the event just 12 months ago. I made myself watch it though, almost as a form of punishment. Maybe next time I’m about to do something silly on the table, I’ll remember the pain of the last seven days.

As the disappointment started to lift though, I realised that there isn’t much time these days as a snooker player to be downbeat and have time away from the table. I always like to write down things of note as I think there’s quite a lot of empowerment in the written word, so I wrote out a list of all the events that I’m playing in between now and the end of the season and immediately felt inspired to get back on the table and working on my game. The World Championships is just 14 weeks away and there’s still the German Masters, Welsh Open, Gdynia Open, World Grand Prix, Tour Finals, Shoot Out and the China Open to play in before Sheffield so let’s go!!!

The next event on tour is the German Masters and I’m really looking forward to going back to one of my favourite cities, Berlin. We’ve already played the first two rounds of the event pre-Christmas and just 32 players will be making the trip over. It’s a fantastic event with a truly unique atmosphere and a superb open plan arena. In the past I’ve been to a semi-final and of course last year was runner-up to Mark Selby so it’s an event that I’ve done well at in the past and I’m looking forward to playing there again. Over the last few days since I lost at the Ally Pally my coach Chris Henry and I feel we’ve spotted a little technical fault creeping back in to my game after we changed it nearly two years ago, so I have been working very hard to make these changes stick and hopefully I’m on the right path. 20 odd years of bad habits take a lot of rewiring it seems.

I’ve received a lot of tweets and Facebook messages recently about the content of my Youtube channel. Firstly I’d like to thank so many of you for getting involved and letting me know exactly what you the fans would like to know about the game. Please keep that coming so that we can keep the channel current and full of content you want to see and that’s helpful to you. Secondly, I have quite a few videos to upload but at the moment I’m having some internet issues because we live in the countryside. It currently takes so long to upload a video that most of the time my computer just crashes halfway through out of boredom. So I am working to resolve these problems and when they are fixed and I’m back in the 21st century, more content will go up.

I really hope that all of you enjoyed the snooker at The Masters this year and that 2016 is treating you all well so far.

Until next time,



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