Thursday in the German Masters proved to be a much busier affair than what came the day prior in Berlin.
While Wednesday had featured four whitewash wins, the second day of action at the Tempodrom saw three matches dramatically go the distance while the higher seeds also continued to tumble out of the tournament.
With half of the second round still to be contested before Friday’s quarter-finals, only three – that’s right, three – top 16 players remain in the event.
Barry Hawkins, Marco Fu, Mark Allen and Liang Wenbo all failed to prolong their European adventure while world no.1 and defending champion Mark Selby will be joining them on the early flight home after his loss to Stephen Maguire.
What it all means is that just Maguire, Judd Trump and world champion Stuart Bingham are still in contention from the elite group who allegedly claim to be the best in the game.
It additionally ensures that there is a great chance that the trend of the last year of outsiders making an unexpected run to the final, or beyond, has a great chance of continuing.
Anyway, German snooker enthusiast Frank Halfar has been volunteering as a steward this week and so has enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of proceedings at his home event.
Let’s see what he thought about how the day unfolded.
By Frank Halfar
At the Tempodrom
“What an intense day this was! No longer a whole series of whitewashes like on the day before, but centuries, deciders galore, and a highlight in the evening that ultimately proved to be the talk of the entire day.”
“But let’s start at the beginning. The morning session commenced with the battle of the two Marks and resulted in the ousting of Mark Allen, who lost to Mark Joyce, 2-5. Both Marks produced a century each, something we hadn’t seen much of the day before. Luca Brecel saw off Zhao Xintong with another 5-2, and Kurt Maflin prevailed over Marco Fu 5-1. His game was just brilliant, leaving a player of the scale of Fu few chances. Thus a Belgian and a Norwegian made it to Round Two, small consolation that continental Europe is represented well and further, since we Germans sadly still are without a player who can reach such heights.
“The afternoon session was a marathon, the kind where we stewards have the somewhat unpleasant duty to almost chase the audience out after the last ball has been played, since the next folks already await their entry for the evening session. In two matches, the referees were changed in a flying handover, lest the officials with evening assignments would not get any rest at all. Deciders and comebacks aplenty! At the TV table the last Irish player was eliminated after a brave fight, as Stuart Bingham defeated Fergal O’Brien 5-2. The numbers are somewhat misleading, since O’Brien kept up the fight and lost two frames only on the black.
“The only other match that did not go the distance was Ryan Day’s win over Liang Wenbo by 5-3. Michael Holt against Ian Burns was highly entertaining, owing to Holt and his grimacing, gesturing, despairing and rejoicing so very visibly. If “The Jester” wasn’t already assigned to another player, it would suit him very well. I could swear one fluked red only did go into the pocket because his pantomime simply willed it to do so. Responding to my “well done” upon exiting the hall he simply replied “lucky”, a combination of refreshing candour and understatement, since in this match of changing fortunes he had many strong phases. A win in a decider rarely is entirely free of luck.
“While Holt/Burns was a tight match all the way, the other two were dramatic comebacks with Kyren Wilson being 1-4 down to Rory Mcleod before winning 5-4 and Mark King achieving the same feat after arrears of 0-3 against Stuart Carrington. King is also a player who delivers more than mere snooker. Twice what sounded like the crack of a whip hissed through the Tempodrom, as King swished his cue through the air with alarming force, dismayed at how his last stroke had gone. But he’s also most gentlemanly, never failing to empty several pockets in aid of the referee when a frame is over.
“Then the evening session with that headliner everyone was talking about. Mark Selby against Stephen Maguire. The grand show did certainly not fail to deliver. It lasted longer than any of the other evening games, with plenty of tactical phases. Actually, at table number two Graeme Dott had won the first frame against Barry Hawkins – in spite of starting the match with a six point foul in his very first stroke- before a single point was scored between Selby and Maguire. In the end, it came just as Jimmy White had predicted it in the little chat live from tableside that Eurosport has thought up as a warm-up entertainment: the Scotsman won, 5-3.
“Dott and Hawkins, former world champion versus former runner-up, gave each other a hard fight, with the Pocket Dynamo’s reserves and level of concentration proving superior in the end. 5-3 was the final score, with Hawkins failing to provoke a foul in the snookers required stage. This result sets up a purely Scottish quarterfinal in Berlin, as Dott and Maguire will now lock horns.
“One table farther, Judd Trump was on course for a 147, at exactly the same table, and if memory serves well even about the same time of evening as he achieved one last year right here. It was not to be, as he failed to get prime position on the yellow and the attempted daring shot didn’t succeed. He had a nice consolation with a solid 5-1 win over Zhang Anda, thereby also ending the last hope for the Chinese.
“The battle of the two first round upset winners on table four, Martin Gould against Ben Woollaston, was a totally unexpected one-sided affair, as Gould dominated the match from beginning to end and produced, after all, the one whitewash on this day of very long matches.
“Finally, let me introduce you, rather aside from our sport, to one of the stranger customs of German carnival. This very Thursday is “Weiberfasnacht” which is an entirely untranslatable term that I can only describe as woman’s day among the carnival days. On this day, women accost men, armed with scissors, and cut off their ties, presumably as a symbol of male chauvinism.
“And what on earth has this to do in a report on snooker at the Tempodrom? It’s exactly what happened to MC Rolf Kalb, before the cameras rolled, as he greeted and briefed the audience, perpetrated by referee Maike Kesseler to the general merriment of all. Further mutilations of this kind are not expected as we move to the second half of the last 16 and then the last eight tomorrow.”