Sunday, 24 August 2014

2014 Paul Hunter Classic - Allen marks victory

Mark Allen - the 2014 Paul Hunter Classic champion
Mark Allen beat Judd Trump in a tremendous battle of cues and nerves to win the 2014 edition of the Paul Hunter Classic tournament, by 4-2. 

Even though a few weeks ago he was losing to Mark Selby by an excruciating 4-3 scoreline, after leading 3-0, the Northern Irish player managed to overcome his "far from best" form and win the German event.

Over three hours of snooker: this was the lads’ gift for the over-excited audience in Furth and the snooker fans from all around the world, the match itself being a pretty entertaining one, sprinkled with a bit of drama here and there.

The beginning of the match had a very interesting fate, for although Trump made a very fluent 52 break, he missed the yellow ball, later followed by the green with the rest on 16, thus giving Allen the chance to return at the table and add to his previous 16 and 31 breaks a 25 clearance. 

Judd Trump - the 2014 Paul Hunter Classic runner-up
It was perfect 73-73 draw, so the black was re-spotted, a few minutes later Trump's mistake giving Allen the chance to seal his first frame.

However, Trump took revenge pretty quickly with a 92 break for one apiece.

What followed next was a marathon of "foul and miss", in the end though Allen putting his nose back in front with a top break of 33.

Judd managed to win a very scrappy snooker affair whose biggest break was a 27 one, to which he added a 20 break, but Allen moved forward once more, winning a dramatic 5th frame which saw Trump giving no less than 16 penalty points, getting a much needed snooker and a very nice free ball, but failing to take advantage of both of them.

The lads and the trophy
The last frame entered Allen's pocket with a determined 88 break, thus the scoreboard froze at 4-2.

Rolf Kalb interviewed both players, Trump admitting that he has struggled throughout the entire match and got very tired at the end, while Allen, although very happy to have won, mentioned he is still not playing at his best and wishes to improve his game.

The late snooker evening was closed by the ecstatic crowd that burst into cheers when Allen lifted the Paul Hunter Classic trophy (although I don't care too much for this year's one - the glassy trophy looked more like a tribute to the late Paul Hunter than this one) and applauded their champion.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

2014 Riga Open - Selby comes back for silverware

Mark Selby - the 2014 Riga Open champion
The first edition of the Riga Open has finished tonight with a very trilling final which saw the two Mark's of snooker crossing their cues into a quest for the might and glassy trophy.

In the end though, after quite a battle of nerves, a lot of twist and turns but above all some really good snooker from both players, Mark Selby beat his namesake, Allen by 4-3.

Much to the Latvian snooker fans' delight this colourful cue sport decided it is time to pay them a well-deserved visit and conclude this visit with a thrilling final in which the current world champion proved one more time that stamina has a lot to do when in search of victory.

The final made its debut with an early mistake from Selby, Allen taking full advantage of it and preventing his opponent from getting close to the table throughout the entire frame. In the end, after a nice and steady break of 74, the pride of Northern Ireland was taking the opener.

Mark Allen - the 2014 Riga Open runner-up
The 2014 world champion had a great chance to draw at one apiece in the very next frame, but he lost position on 54, Allen making a marvellous 56 clearance to go 2-0 up.

A more balanced third frame saw Allen missing a blue on 34, but also Selby stopping at 30 (missed red), in the end though Allen making an additional 20 break and turning the scoreline into 3-0. This was looking ominous! Or ... maybe not?

A "tiny" mistake from Allen, who sadly caught the jaws of the left middle pocket when trying to return to balk-line, gave Selby the chance to build a strong 65 break which in the end brought him the first frame of the evening.

A bit more relaxed, "The Jester" decided it was time to start his comeback and hit a brilliant 100 clearance, followed by runs of 24 and 62 to draw level at 3-3 and force the decider.

Not a very happy chap
But when Allen got the chance in the last frame, he seemed unstoppable. Unfortunately for him though, a very awkward red stopped his contribution at just 33 points (Allen had to stretch all across the table and use the rest), this creating the perfect occasion for Selby to capitalise.

However, he missed the yellow at 63, Allen needing one snooker to draw. The battle continued for a few more minutes, in the end Selby managing to finish the match by potting yellow, green, brown and blue just as Allen threw his towel on the table.

The two lads shook hands and Allen confessed that he was 3-0 against the worst opponent in the world, for everyone knows that if someone can put together a successful comeback, then that person is Selby.

The crowd (a very large one I must say, which is always a nice surprise) cheered both players as the first edition of the Riga Open was coming to an end. Hopefully we'll be back again next year.

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