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Weekend break in Bulgaria

Monday, November 09, 2015
Hey guys, Thought I’d drop a few notes down on my trip back from Sofia.

This time last year I was sitting on the plane home with the trophy strapped in next to me, quietly pleased with myself. This year, thanks to a certain Mr Williams, it’s back to the drawing board if only for a few days before the next event, the Champion of Champions this week.

Congratulations must go to the winner, Mark Allen. Mark played fantastically well all weekend and with his potting boots back on, is a match for anyone in the game. He’ll also be taking up the last spot in the Champion of Champions so for Mark its double bonus time. See you there mate.

I played some really nice stuff this weekend in Sofia. In fact some of my best play came in the match I lost but I guess that’s the way it is at our game. Good preparation equals a good performance but that doesn’t guarantee a win, but it definitely gives you the best chance long term. Of course we all want to win every week but that can’t happen. All you can really do is try to be as ready as possible so that when your chance comes along you’re able to take it. That’s what makes the hours of practice between tournaments so important. I used to always believe in quality over quantity. Now I believe in both and I’m already looking forward to working on a few things before my match(es) this week.

As some of you will have noticed, I’ve been working on a new break off. Now before I’m accused of committing snooker treason, or something worse, let me start by saying that the break off as we know it hasn’t changed in 50 years or more. No one can really explain why we all play the last red, with running side around three cushions and try to hide the cueball behind the Yellow or Green, we just do. Chatting things through recently with my coach Chris Henry, we stumbled over the break off and started trying to work out a better shot. The starting point for this is simple. In your opinion is the break off a defensive shot or an attacking shot? How you answer that question will help you decide how to play it but in my opinion it is a defensive shot. It’s much more than just the first shot of a frame but it can be an opportunity to put your opponent in trouble early, or if you get it wrong, can be your last shot. Also, with the current tables, cloths and balls that we use, the break off has become an extremely difficult shot, and one most of us approach with caution. Back in the old days the break off was a more predictable shot. Nowadays it’s a bit of a lottery. And so that’s why I’m experimenting with it. It’s now very hard indeed to break off without leaving a possible pot for your opponent and as we’ve seen with most players now, one chance is all they need. So I’m going to continue experimenting with it and try to develop a fool-proof way of doing it. The object of a defensive shot of course is to make sure you get another go, and with that in mind I will spend the next days and weeks seeing what works best. After all, 50 years is a long time for something not to change at all, maybe it’s due a facelift?

Anyway, this week sees the return of the Champion of Champions at Coventry. I’m determined to do better there this week as I’m currently 0/2 in my record there in previous years. ITV 4 really put on a nice show for us all and I’m tired of watching the drama unfold from my sofa at home. This year it’d be nice to be more involved, so I’ll be giving it 100% from the first shot and lets see what happens. Everyone also has one eye on the UK Championship which is only a couple of weeks away, so now is a good time to come into some good form. It’ll be a great run up to Christmas again I’m sure and the race to a happy Christmas dinner starts now.
Ok well the Captain, of the aircraft not Ali Carter, has just announced we are landing soon so it’s laptop away and strap ourselves in. Hope this week is good for you all and don’t forget to say hi if you’re in Coventry.

All the best, Shaun.
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