UK Championship 2012 - Day 1

15:52:00 Ramona Dragomir 0 Comments

Barbican Centre - York
Saturday marked the start of the second most important and most prestigious ranking event of the snooker calendar, the UK Championship. An event that's very dear to my heart and that I shall try to cover as much as possible during the working week.

However, thank God for the weekend, for I had the chance to watch snooker on a full-time basis and treat myself with some good old fashioned BBC reports on it.

John Higgins, Mark Selby and Ding Junhui were amongst those who tried to make a statement for themselves during the first day, but unfortunately it wasn't possible to see all three of them qualified for the next round of cue-crossings.

On the other hand, the surprises didn't avoid York this year either, so players like Ryan Day and Stephen Maguire paved the road to the Last 16 with well-deserved victories.

John Higgins v Michael Holt

Not at his best - Higgins
The partially Scottish, partially English snooker affair started on a pretty balanced note, with the lads sharing frames up until the interval. So if Higgins was the one to break the ice with a 42 break, Holt was responding with a 67, and if the "Wizard of Wishaw" was making a brilliant 116 clearance, Holt was using a break of 43 to draw level at two apiece.

After the mini-break the situation didn't change much as the snooker gladiators went hand in hand up until 3-3. From this point on though, Higgins tried his best to avoid letting his opponent to have too much time table.

Although far from his best and struggling for most of the balls, Higgins managed to fire in runs of 51, 75 and 57 to take three frames on a row and seal a 6-3 victory against Michael Holt, a player that even though played some good snooker, missed to take advantage of his opponent's mistakes.

Barry Hawkins v Liang Wenbo

Better look out for this guy
Well, what a start for the current Australian Open champion, may I say! Hawkins was practically flying, at least in the first part the match, when with a series of 101, 51 and another 51 he managed to put Wenbo on a corner and take a 3-1 lead as the mid-session interval was kicking off.

Later on though, Wenbo raised and shined with breaks of 71, 68 and a great 102 total clearance, breaks that didn’t just put his back into the match, but also offered him what seemed almost unthinkable, a one point lead, 4-3.

Still, Hawkins didn't panic and started doing his thing, which in this case meant winning one frame after another, until the score board froze at 6-4.

Ding Junhui v Ryan Day

Welshman on loose
It was some kind of déjà-vu between Ding and Ryan, making us remember this year's World Championship match, where as now, Ding suffered defeat while Ryan emerged as winner.

Although Ding put his cue into action enough to give himself a 2-0 advantage by hitting in breaks of 59 and 106, by the time the mid-session interval was starting, Ryan would have caught up with him by using just a top break of 90 points.

15 minutes later, as the lads entered the arena Day put his nose in front for the first time, but Ding's 91 break restored the balance of the match at three a piece, the Welsh Open reigning champion getting the next frame on board as well.

What happened next was a typical case of letting your guard down, for after Ryan managed to draw level with a perfect ton, he kept on marching for victory winning a safety shots battle and scoring an 88 break, writing his name on the Last 16 list. Final scoreline 6-4.

Stephen Maguire v Fergal O'Brien

The scoreline (6-2) of the Scottish-Irish snooker encounter reveals what happened throughout the entire match, but only partially, for it doesn’t say anything about the fact that during the first session Maguire was out of his form ... and badly.

Struggling and being far from his best Maguire barely managed to draw level at 2-2 by winning the forth frame on a re-spotted black, but after the 15-minute break something happened and the brilliant player we all know came into the spotlight.

With no less than three century breaks of 102, 104 and 131 he took control of the match, leaving Fergal way behind at 5-2, while a break of 70 was sending him right into the next round. Top class!

Mark Selby v Michael White

Still inconsistent, but still there
The former world number one and the talented youngster - what a treat! And it was indeed a treat for this match was the perfect balance between training, experience, ambition and talent.

For Selby's fans this wasn't their idol's best performance as the "Jester from Leicester" shown a pretty inconsistent act and failed to produce the "roar" we all know he’s capable of. Still, in the end the experience prevailed and he managed to win by 6-3.

The interval found the lads all square up at 2-2 and as the match developed later, the situation persisted: when Selby was amongst the balls he suddenly had a kick or miss an incredible easy ball, letting White in. Sadly, the "kiddo" would pot only for a limited time before losing position, or as his opponent, missed a ball.

White has a future in snooker

However, from 3-3 things changed and Selby seemed a bit more composed, breaks of 55, 27, 27 and 105 standing as proof not only for that, but also for his victory, a victory that puts him into the next round right beside another Welshman, this time Ryan Day.

Graeme Dott v Martin Gould

The last match of the day and the one that kept us awake featured probably one of the most balanced matches of this tournament. And as, it should, it finished on a decider.

Dott, not very happy with his performance
The players went on sharing frames up until Gould took a two frames advantage at 5-3 and put himself just one away from victory.

His opponent, although not in a brilliant form still found the strength to carry on and with runs of 39 and 36 to force the decider.

Gould was the first in, but missed a red on 23, this putting Dott at the table, who, this time, made the most of the given change. A break of 55 gave him confidence, enough to add a few more points after Gould’s turn at the table, in order to win by 6-5.

Today, the cue action continues with:

Shaun Murphy v Robert Milkins
Mark Davis v Cao Yupeng

Judd Trump v Mark Joyce
Ali Carter v Steve Davis

Stuart Bingham v Jack Lisowski
Mark Allen v Marco Fu