2022 WSS Ways Seniors UK Championship – The Last 16

The lst 16 round was played over the last two days and, I have to say, my predictions proved pretty accurate.

This is the World Deniors official report on the first day of the round:

WAYS UK Seniors Championship 2022 | Day One Report

Half of the quarter-final line-up for the 2022 WAYS UK Seniors Snooker Championship is now known following the opening day of action at the Bonus Arena in Hull.

The World Seniors Snooker Tour event began with defending champion Michael Judge exiting the tournament after losing 3-1 to fellow main tour professional Peter Lines.

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Lines – world seniors champion in 2017 – settled any early nerves he may have had with an 81 break in frame one, although Irishman Judge levelled up by claiming a scrappy second frame. However, the Yorkshireman, who reached the last 16 of the recent UK Championship, ousted the third on the final pink and then sealed victory with the fourth.

Later in the afternoon session, Ken Doherty kept his hopes of a second UK seniors title alive with a 3-0 success over Lee Walker in another all-professional affair.

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The 2018 champion – who wasn’t in the event 12 months later to defend – secured the first frame on the colours and made a crucial break of 30 up to and including the final pink to shade the second. Doherty then completed the win with a classy 64 clearance in the third.

Play resumed in the evening session where serial seniors event winner Jimmy White booked his place in the last eight with a 3-1 triumph over WSST tour number one Patrick Wallace.

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Wallace was a late replacement for Tony Drago and he threatened an upset when he took the opener, although three-time world and 2017 UK seniors champion White found his groove, leaving his opponent pointless in the next two frames with the aid of 88 and 80 breaks. The ever-popular Londoner then wrapped up victory with the fourth frame.

White’s opponent in the last eight will be qualifier Wayne Cooper who registered a memorable 3-0 win over former world and UK professional champion John Parrott in the final match of the day.

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One of the successful players to emerge from a qualifying event in Reading last year, the 46-year-old from Bradford got off to a dream start with a run of 102 before later registering a relatively comfortable passage through.

This is the official World Seniors report on the second day of the round:

The quarter-final line-up for the 2022 WAYS UK Seniors Snooker Championship is now complete following the second day of action at the Bonus Arena in Hull.

Joe Johnson caused something of an upset as he ousted Rod Lawler 3-2 in the first match of the day.

Lawler looked good as he took the opening frame with the help of a 71 break but the 1986 world champion potted several pressure balls as he claimed the second on the colours to level.

Back in front went Lawler, although 69-year-old Johnson – winner of the Seniors Masters in 2019 at the Crucible Theatre – remained resilient as he shaded the fourth on the pink before completing an impressive victory with the fifth.

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In the second match of the afternoon, 1980 world champion Cliff Thorburn brought down the curtain on his illustrious competitive career when he bowed out to qualifier Kuldesh Johal.

Former professional Johal registered runs of 47 and 32 during the 3-0 win to set up a last eight tie with good friend Peter Lines on Thursday.

Revered Canadian Thorburn – who famously made the Crucible’s first maximum 147 break in 1983 and won the Masters on three occasions – announced that this would be his last competitive match earlier this week.

The former world number one has been an integral part in the creation and development of the World Seniors Snooker Tour and tasted glory on it in 2018 when he lifted the Seniors Masters trophy at the home of snooker.

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No player has held both the world and UK seniors titles at the same time, but David Lilley kept on course to create history when he defeated in-form Philip Williams in the evening session.

Lilley won the world crown in Sheffield last spring and the 46-year-old made a statement here with a classy 3-0 victory over the qualifier that featured breaks of 66, 55 and 89, and a pot success rate of over 98%.

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The final player to book a spot in the quarter-finals was seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry who ousted Barry Pinches in a deciding frame.

Hendry – looking to secure a maiden title at seniors level – began well with a 76 break to take the opening frame, although he was restricted to just six points in the following two, as Pinches moved one away from victory with the aid of a 70 break in frame three.

However, Hendry turned the tables, crafting a 50 to square the match up before a few fruitful scoring visits in the fifth helped him set up a tasty clash with Ken Doherty.

Matches in the quarter-finals will be the best of seven frames.

Before this event started, Cliff Thorburn, at 73, had announced that this would be his last “competitive” tournament and indeed confirmed that he played his last competitive match yesterday. Cliff struggled badly but never lost his sense of humor throughout the match.

Right after hanging his cue … he seized the mic and headed to the commentary box!

Here is a great piece, written by Hector Nunns before the start of the event:

Snooker’s Original ‘Grinder’ Cliff Thorburn Ready To Call It A Day

Snooker’s original ‘Grinder’ Cliff Thorburn admits he is finally ready to pack away his cue for the last time – after a life of turbulence and triumph in cue-sports that probably merits a Hollywood blockbuster biopic to do it justice.

Thorburn enjoyed huge success on the green baize in the 1980s winning a total of 20 titles, and the mustachioed and gravel-voiced Canadian was also one of the most popular and instantly recognisable faces in the game at a time when players acquired almost rock-star celebrity status.

At 73, the man born in British Columbia takes on a player 32 years his junior, former professional Kuldesh Johal, in the UK Seniors Championship in Hull in what may well prove his last hurrah should he fail to progress further.

But with a cue in hand, Thorburn has lived a very full, exciting, glorious and occasionally dangerous life to the full. His early years after leaving school, at 16 were spent travelling across Canada playing money games in pool halls, staking himself with jobs as a bin-man and dishwasher.

Then he moved down the West Coast to Oakland and San Francisco in the late 1960s. Thorburn said: “There were certainly some moments. I played at a place once in Oakland where I was winning and the backer of the other guy opened up his jacket and showed a gun.

“He said ‘Ain’t nobody leaves here with my player’s money’. My friends told me to lose all the money we had won, which I wasn’t happy about. But eventually I saw we had to lose at least some of it – or get robbed. It felt like fun, but something terrible could have happened.

“I didn’t play down in the States much after that. In one place two guys were smashing cues over each other’s backs then started throwing the balls at each other. The whole club hit the floor ducked behind tables, before slowly poking their heads up. After winning money against a guy called Cornbread Red in Detroit backed by a nasty piece of work, we had to be escorted to our car.”

Snooker had become the biggest draw for Thorburn and after performing well against John Spencer in exhibition matches he was recommended for acceptance onto the pro tour in 1973.  But if the Canadian had thought things might quieten down a little…he had reckoned without the combustible but brilliant Alex Higgins. A clash of personalities and styles ensured rivalry on the table, and confrontations off it.

On one occasion at the 1983 Irish Open, Thorburn punched the Northern Irishman to the ground, and as peacemakers tried to make the pair shake hands he then kicked Higgins in the groin. It later emerged that Higgins had told his rival: “You’re a Canadian **** who is **** at snooker.”

This rivalry came to a head in the 1980 ‘SAS final’, with Thorburn winning his only world title at the Crucible with an 18-16 victory. TV coverage of the showpiece was interrupted to provide pictures of the storming of the Iranian Embassy in London after a six-day siege. Higgins had a celebratory cake wheeled to his dressing room at 16-16 – Thorburn later planted his face in it.

Thorburn said: “Alex was a heck of player, but he knew what he could get away with and aggravation just seemed to follow him around. I don’t know why he was the way he was, and I still wonder how he could play so well. But I think I bothered him.

“in many ways he was my toughest opponent – I lost a lot of close matches to him, at least it felt like too many. And then of course I would add Steve Davis. But with Steve, he blew so many opponents away and I always felt if I showed some spirit and got close, within two frames, then I could win.”

Another Crucible high for Thorburn came in 1983 in his second-round match against Terry Griffiths, which saw him make the first ever maximum 147 break at the iconic theatre in frame four. Much later, he won the epic match 13-12 at 3.51 am on a Monday morning.

There is no deliberation over his biggest career regret – picking up a £10,000 fine, being docked ranking points and banned for two tournaments by the WPBSA after traces of cocaine were found in a drug sample in 1988. Thorburn said: “People forget that I was world No1 but they sure remember the scandal, and I’ll regret it for the rest of my life.”

But these days Thorburn is enjoying a quiet, relaxing and peaceful retirement in the town of Markham, Ontario in Canada – playing some golf in the summer, spending time with family and still doing some snooker coaching.

And watching a lot more snooker now than ever he did as a player, it has given Thorburn time to reflect on a few things – including his trademark mastery of safety play and tactical nous, which he still defends to the hilt.

Thorburn said: “You see a lot of flash shots being played by the kids today, and there were players coming up with those in my day too. That’s great, but you need something to fall back on. There might be the odd exception, but I always felt safety play was rocket science. And I still think it is a prerequisite to first turn pro, and then win things. Throwing a cue at everything wins you nothing.

“And in terms of who I would have loved to play at both our peaks, I really like John Higgins’ game – he is Mr Clearance. It would have been good to take him on in a long match.

“This will be my last tournament. I have loved doing the Seniors and the Legends for almost 25 years now and I will really enjoy meeting with old pals. I lived in the UK twice, once for two years and once for six and as a Canadian I have always been made welcome. And I am honoured and proud my name is still out there and known after first coming here in 1973.”

I have met Cliff many times at Legends and Seniors events and he was always charming, witty, knowledgeable  and great company. Un Grand Monsieur du snooker!

Thank you for the memories Cliff, all the best for the future.