By Frank B. Halfar
The five-day snooker extravaganza that is the German Masters came to a most emotional conclusion with Anthony Hamilton claiming title and trophy on Sunday. Hamilton had made many new fans in Berlin with the unassuming way in which he conquered the most difficult section of the draw. He faced Mark Williams, Mark Selby, Barry Hawkins, and Stuart Bingham to earn the encounter in the final against Ali Carter. A comprehensive report on the match has already been written, so let me just once more try and add that bit of local colour.
I had the chance of a brief conversation with Hamilton’s parents afterwards, and it was so heartwarming how they told me about how the Berlin trip was originally meant to be for them. They expected to see their son play once (the Mark Williams match) and then do sightseeing in the German capital. As it turned out, they saw practically nothing of the city, but instead witnessed Anthony winning one match after the other, right until the final and the momentous occasion of him winning his first major title. They assured me they were coming back for a touristic visit here.
In my observation, there were two deciding moments in the match. One was the outcome of the last frame of the first session, where Hamilton managed to limit his arrears to 3-5. Carter had a strong afternoon, and could very realistically have distanced his opponent with a four frame lead. Whether Hamilton would have managed the turnaround in such a case appears doubtful.
The other was the end of Carter’s break with a kick in frame number 13, the first following the final mid-session interval. He had seen his opponent returning to the table as if after a really refreshing prolonged weekend retreat, instead of the few hours that only had passed. In the afternoon, Hamilton had looked tired, and who could blame him after the epic match way into the late night the evening before. Nothing of that weariness remained upon the return, and Hamilton made a resurgence that no one could have expected. Thus having won literally everything in the evening so far, Hamilton now led 7-5, and Carter’s break of 53 looked like a genuine option to turn around the match a second time. When it was not to be, he vented all his frustration with an angry kick against his cue and later visibly went through an inner fight for his composure.
While Carter has described himself as being “not the best loser”, his gallantry in defeat here in Berlin is worthy of praise. He applauded Hamilton for longer than what customary politeness would have called for, and found warm words for the man he just lost to, words that sounded perfectly genuine. He went to the after-show party and could not have been nicer to each and all. Carter has many fans in Berlin, which became very audible especially in the last two matches, and his 2017 campaign making him the runner-up surely will have increased their number.
The crowning of Anthony Hamilton was something else. The Tempodrom is famous for the vivid applause of its massive crowd, but this was the most emotional victory I’ve seen here. MC Rolf Kalb astutely piqued the emotional aspect of this veteran winning his first ever tournament in his brief interview with the new champion, and many eyes were not dry when Anthony’s parents were called down to the table and he made his jubilant round with the Waterford Crystal trophy.
So the five days of the German Masters 2017 are over. It’s always a little melancholic, but looking at the bright side, yours truly can sleep longer than just a very few hours every night again, attend to real life outside the Tempodrom, put that black suit back into the closet, and stop writing his rather chatty texts in the small hours of every day. One must count one’s stock!
There were so many moments in these five days that made it all worthwhile, and let the heart of the snooker fan beat a little faster. Like the first time Mark Selby’s very characteristic voice was heard backstage. Or the moment when British Eurosport moderator Colin Murray said “this is so much fun here, we should not get paid”, and we stewards later gave him a little hint about the option of volunteer work at the Tempodrom. Tom Ford’s 147. The many upsets. The countless instances of true snooker suspense. The incredible ruckus every appearance of Ronnie causes and, since he stayed on as a TV pundit after his first round defeat against Mark King, this was to be experienced several times, right until the night of the final.
What I’ve called the Curse of the Tempodrom, David Caulfield opines the venue’s voodoo, the impossibility of winning the German Masters more than once, has held true again. For Anthony Hamilton it’s been a major blessing, that much is certain. Let’s see whether we have coined a new snooker term here on SnookerHQ.
In closing, I’d like to thank David so very much for asking me to do this again. My thanks go to all readers of SnookerHQ, whether they’ve invited my words to their screens on the Emerald Isle or wherever else. It’s been a privilege. From the Tempodrom, the German Masters 2017, in Berlin, it’s Auf Wiedersehen.