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The world champion has revealed he is playing with the fear of contracting the deadly bug in his head despite the early part of the snooker calendar being moved behind closed doors to the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
World Snooker Tour confirmed on Monday that two professionals had tested positive for Covid-19 – Gary Wilson and Daniel Wells – forcing them to miss the European Masters. Another three players – Elliot Slessor, Michael White and David Lilley – also had to withdraw from the tournament for safety reasons.

European Masters Final: Mark Selby v Martin Gould LIVE European Masters Final: Mark Selby v Martin Gould LIVE
European Masters
European Masters Final: Mark Selby v Martin Gould LIVE

O'Sullivan had been due to meet Wells in his first competitive match of the new campaign before losing 5-4 to Irish rookie Aaron Hill in the second round in a major shock.
"To be honest it just made me feel even more vulnerable than I already did at the venue," O'Sullivan told reporters.
“You know the guys that either failed or came into contact with them have also come into contact with other people. ;)
Mark Selby during Coral Players Championship Snooker in Southport, UK, February 24, 2020. /VCG

Three-time world champion Mark Selby edged fellow Englishman Martin Gould 9-8 to clinch his 18th ranking title at the Snooker European Masters in Milton Keynes, England on Sunday.

Selby, 37, reached his 27th career ranking final after defeating China's top player Ding Junhui and compatriot Shaun Murphy back-to-back on Saturday.

While facing world No. 53 Gould, who stunned world No.1 Judd Trump in the semifinals, Selby gave up a 4-0 lead to trail 5-4, but managed to reclaim the advantage at 7-6.

Gould scored 107 to tie the game up at 7-7 and was calm enough to win the 18th frame, forcing Selby to seal the win in the deciding frame.

"It's gutting to have come up short but it was a great final. Both of us scored heavily and both of us made mistakes," Gould said.

Selby revealed that one of his targets this season is to get to No.1 in the world rankings.

"Judd is miles ahead in front, but in a year he will have to defend six tournaments and if he doesn't win those six tournaments he will lose a lot," said Selby. "That is my aim to get to No.1. It is going to be difficult, but that is what keeps me working every day and practicing hard."

The world No.4 suffered a narrow defeat by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the World Championship semi-finals last month. ;)
Neil Robertson suffered an early elimination from the Championship League as fellow former world champion Ken Doherty rolled back the years to progress to stage two.

Veteran Irishman Doherty, 51, beat the seeded Robertson 3-1 en route to topping Group 17 in Milton Keynes.

The 1997 Crucible winner later defeated Andrew Higginson 3-0, a victory clinched with a break of 109, before a 2-2 draw with Eden Sharav denied him a 100 per cent record. ;)
Luo Honghao knocked Mark Allen out of the Championship League in Milton Keynes, where 16-year-old Jamie Wilson impressed on his professional debut.

World number five Allen had been held to a 2-2 draw by Wilson, which earned the teenager a point from the opening best-of-four frames match of Group 9.

Wilson, who secured a two-year place on the professional tour via the sport's qualification format, Q School, found the going tougher against 20-year-old Chinese player Luo, who coasted to a 3-0 victory.

The Havant teenager then claimed another 2-2 draw against Billy Castle, which saw him earn £1,000 in prize money.

It was world number 60 Luo who qualified for the next stage after taking a point off Allen in their showdown to top the group.

On the other table, Thailand's Thepchaiya Un-Nooh progressed from Group 19 after the world number 18 finished one point ahead of Sunny Akani with two victories and a draw.

The 32 group winners advance to a second stage, which features eight groups of four and starts on October 26.

The last eight will then be split into groups to play on October 30, followed by a best-of-five-frames final between the winners. ;)
RILEY Ellis is the youngest ever winner of the Tuesday Singles League at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club in Hampshire.
It was the 16-year-old’s third major success since the lockdown ended.
The youngster, from Clyffe Pypard near Royal Wootton Bassett, had already beaten his highest competitive break twice, first with a 59 at the end of July and then a 62 earlier this month.
And now he has added another title to his collection. The former Cuestars Under-21 Bronze Tour rankings champion defeated recognised century-breaker Dan Sykes 2-1 from 1-0 down in the Series 28 play-off final.

Despite losing the first frame by a margin, Ellis squared the match on the final black in the next after his 21-year-old opponent had extracted the penalty points from the required snooker.
But it was one-way traffic in the decider as Sykes was left needing snookers with two reds left.
Ellis, who is sponsored by Swindon-based Save On Tyres, pocketed £85 prize money.
The teenager reckons his game has benefited from the enforced break.

“I didn’t particularly want to go into lockdown,” he explained. “But the break did me and a lot of other players good.
“I’m extremely pleased with how well I’ve managed to come back after five months and boost my game to a much higher standard.
“And to come back and make two high breaks was amazing.
“I had some tough players (in the top-eight play-off) and a rough start but I managed to keep my head and come back from 1-0 down.”
His World Snooker coach Tim Dunkley added: “What Riley has achieved in the past few weeks is quite magnificent.
“He kept his cool in the play-off final and stuck to his game plan. It was great to watch.”
Ellis has a busy October ahead of him as the regional and national competitions resume.
He has three Cuestars Silver Tour events lined up plus the last-16 knockout stage of the English Under-16 Championship at the new Crucible Sports and Social Club in Reading. ;)
Former Champion Scott Donaldson into Last 32

The Scot won his maiden professional title earlier in 2020 with victory in the first of what has been three Championship League events this year.

Former champion Scott Donaldson and Mark King booked their places in the next stage of the Championship League on Wednesday in Milton Keynes.
The pair each topped their respective round-one group tables with seven points from a possible nine.

After winning both of his opening encounters in Group 22 against Ashley Carty and Barry Pinches, Donaldson knew that a point would be enough from his last match against Chris Wakelin to progress.

The latter could have usurped the world no.24 and won the opening frame to instill some doubt into his opponent.

But Donaldson compiled a break of 63 to make it all-square before taking the third frame to guarantee his spot in the last 32 – leaving the last frame, which Wakelin won, mostly redundant.

Meanwhile, it was another close affair in Group 23 as three out of the four competitors had a chance to qualify going into the third and final round of fixtures.

King and David Grace had four points apiece, with Jimmy Robertson just one shy of their tallies.

With Grace losing to Allan Taylor, Robertson could have leapfrogged King into first place with a triumph over his fellow Englishman.

But King safely negotiated his last hurdle, winning the first two frames before proceeding to record a 3-1 scoreline and garner all three points.

Scott Donaldson and Mark King both move into Group F alongside David Gilbert, with the competition continuing in the round-robin format – and the final group-winning duo subsequently contesting the final in late-October to determine the overall champion.

The action continues on Thursday with John Higgins and last week’s European Masters runner-up Martin Gould among those entering the fray.

Live coverage continues on Matchroom.Live and FreeSports. ;)
John Higgins and Martin Gould, both two-time BetVictor Championship League Snooker winners, topped their respective groups on Thursday to advance to Stage Two of the ranking event, which is being staged at Stadium MK, Milton Keynes.

Higgins began his day against French youngster Brian Ochoiski, and the 21-year-old showed his talent immediately with a break of 85. He could have gone 2-0 up, but a missed red on 58 handed the initiative to Higgins, who cleared to level the match before making breaks of 90 and 107 to take all three points.

Joe O’Connor then dispatched Amine Amiri 3-0 before drawing 2-2 with Ochoiski. Higgins then also defeated Morocco’s Amiri, meaning the final match between O’Connor and the Scot would be decisive. The four-time World Champion only needed a draw and was assured of that when he went 2-0 up.

“I was happy to get a couple of wins because confidence is quite low just now,” said Higgins, who eventually drew 2-2 with O’Connor.

“Ochoiski played the wrong red when he was looking really good, and he’d have probably gone on to win the frame. I was thinking at 2-0 down you’re basically out of the tournament because you’d be doing well to come back and win the next two frames, and to get a loss you’d probably be out. I was happy to turn it around.

“I’m using a new tip and a new chalk which all the boys are using. Rob Milkins came up to me at the European and said he was using the new chalk which Neil Robertson uses. Rob likes what I like usually so since he said it to me I thought I’d give it a go and it’s been good.”

On table two, Gould advanced when Simon Lichtenberg failed to beat Igor Figueiredo in the final match of Group 26. Gould had earlier beaten the Brazilian and Kurt Maflin, but a defeat to Lichtenberg meant the German would advance with victory in the last match, but a 3-1 defeat meant he in fact finished bottom of the group.

BetVictor Championship League Snooker continues on Friday with defending champion Luca Brecel among those in action. Coverage of both tables will be available at Matchroom.Live, with UK television coverage on Freesports. ;)
Defending Champion Luca Brecel Crashes Out
The Belgian had won the first tournament after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed in June.

Reigning champion Luca Brecel is out of the Championship League at the first hurdle after losing to Tom Ford on Friday in Milton Keynes.

The former China Championship winner looked in good shape early on in Group 27, winning his opening two fixtures against Mitchell Mann and Ashley Hugill

However, with Ford also unbeaten following his first couple of ties, it resulted in a head-to-head for the top spot between the pair.

Brecel only needed a draw to progress and got off to the perfect start when he won the first frame of their contest.

But Ford clinched a pivotal second frame and subsequently shifted through the gears in emphatic fashion, taking both of the last two frames with impressive contributions of 98 and 123.

Luca Brecel was the champion of this event at the start of the summer when the players returned from their coronavirus-related hiatus.

The 25 year-old will play no further part in this edition of the Championship League, though, as Ford advances to the next stage of the competition instead.

Also reaching the last 32 was Jamie Clarke, who memorably embarked on a run to the second round of the World Championship last month as a qualifier in Sheffield.

Clarke took advantage of fellow Welshman Mark Williams’ withdrawal earlier this week to comprehensively see off the challenges of Mark Joyce and replacement amateur Hayden Pinhey.

There were only three players competing in Group 28 after Lei Peifan returned an invalid COVID-19 test result and was therefore unable to participate.

Instead, the three remaining players encountered each other twice and Clarke dominated with a hat-trick of victories and one draw.

Ford and Clarke move forward to the next group stage and will feature in another round-robin league alongside former champions John Higgins and Martin Gould at the end of October.

Kyren Wilson and Ali Carter are among the competitors set to enter the fray on Saturday.

Daniel Wells was supposed to be involved in Group 24 with Wilson but returned a positive COVID-19 test and will be unable to take part. ;)
Ronnie O'Sullivan withdraws because of isolation issue.

World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan has withdrawn from the Championship League because he does not want to stay in isolation at the event.

The tournament is taking place in a bubble environment at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Its format sees players in groups of four so would require further isolation if O'Sullivan progressed to the latter stages, which he is not willing to do.

O'Sullivan, 44, was in a group with Li Hang, Alex Borg and Iulian Boiko.

His place will now go to John Astley.

O'Sullivan's spot had been offered to Lei Peifan - who was next on the Q School order of merit - but the Chinese player decided to leave the event after returning an invalid test result followed by a negative one.

In June, O'Sullivan admitted he had struggled inside the bubble in place at the same tournament and the same venue.

"If every tournament was to be like this then I am not sure I would be able to do it," he said at the time.

"I like my own company but it is tough being cooped up. It is not easy for me, I must admit. It is just about having the freedom to go out for a walk, get a bit of fresh air and a coffee." ;)
There are only two more spots available in the second phase of the competition.

Joe Perry and Jordan Brown were the latest competitors to qualify from the first-round group stages of the Championship League in Milton Keynes.
Perry compiled a brace of century breaks as he topped Group 29 ahead of Elliot Slessor and Steven Hallworth.
All three players finished on six points courtesy of a 2-1 win-loss record – as Poland’s Kacper Filipiak failed to get off the mark at all.
Perry’s superior frame difference of plus-four proved to be the defining factor despite losing his last round-robin encounter to Slessor on Sunday.
Brown, meanwhile, continued the form from this summer that saw him emerge from the preliminaries and compete at the Crucible during the recent World Championship in Sheffield.
The Northern Irishman beat Stuart Carrington 3-0 before sealing what proved to be a pivotal draw with Group 20 favourite Yan Bingtao.
Brown’s close 3-1 triumph over Michael White at the end of the day’s play ensured that he finished ahead of Yan with seven points and an unbeaten record.
Jordan Brown will slot into Group E of the last 32 alongside Ken Doherty, Xiao Guodong, and Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
Perry will feature in Group H with Mark Davis and two other qualifiers who will be determined after Monday’s session.
Indeed, after a long 16-day process, the second-round field of 32 will finally be complete with those who finish first in Groups 31 and 32.
Ronnie O’Sullivan was scheduled to participate in the latter group, but the world champion has opted to withdraw and his place has instead been taken by amateur John Astley.
The last 32 will subsequently continue at the end of the month in what is the third edition of the Championship League this year, when a winner will ultimately be crowned. ;)
Tuesday October 27
  • Luo Honghao
  • Zhao Xintong
  • Alexander Ursenbacher
  • Stuart Bingham

  • Rory McLeod
  • Graeme Dott
  • Jamie O’Neill
  • Mark Selby
Wednesday October 28
  • Ken Doherty
  • Xiao Guodong
  • Thepchaiya Un-Nooh
  • Jordan Brown
  • David Gilbert
  • Scott Donaldson
  • Mark King
  • Kyren Wilson

Thursday October 29
  • John Higgins
  • Martin Gould
  • Tom Ford
  • Jamie Clarke
  • Joe Perry
  • Mark Davis
  • Tian Pengfei
  • Li Hang
New restrictions on hospitality and licensed trade have been announced by the First Minister in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus and will come into force tomorrow for a period of 16 days.

The most significant announcement was that all pubs and restaurants in Glasgow are to close, with the only exception being cafes without licenses - which will be permitted to remain open until 6pm in order to support those dealing with social isolation.

It comes after the number of coronavirus cases in Scotland rose by 1,054 overnight - the highest daily increase since the pandemic began. ;)
Welsh snooker ace Mark Williams has revealed his bank account was hacked by fraudsters who went on a spending spree.

Williams, 45, was in a Wetherspoon pub when his card was declined while trying to pay for food. He was later told fraudsters had raided his bank account and splashed out on an array of items, including eight pairs of trainers and a spa day.

The three-time world champion, who hails from Cwm, near Ebbw Vale, was trying to honour a £22.20 bill when he had to be bailed out by a friend when the card was declined.

Williams said: “Someone was using my acc without my card and bought a pair or trainers for £1,200 at the same time. Ugly things, bright red.’’

The illicit haul also apparently included nine pairs of slippers, eight Just Eat takeaway orders and Sainsbury’s shopping, the Daily Star reported.

The snooker star, who has pocketed prize money worth millions in his career, added: "I know I got refunded straight away but someone’s paying for it." ;)
In normal times, the only test Gary Wilson would be worrying about before the English Open is the one 15-year-old Ukrainian prodigy Iulian Boiko will provide in the first round on Tuesday night. But these are far from normal times. For society or professional sport.
In the year of the pandemic, it seems difficult to remain positive. Especially when you are positive.
World number 18 Wilson is attempting to refocus his season after being forced to withdraw from the European Masters – the first major ranking event of the season – on Tuesday 22 September before his match with Duane Jones after a Covid-19 test came back positive despite being blissfully unaware of his plight. ;)
Reigning world women's snooker champion Reanne Evans has been appointed an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
The 34-year-old from Dudley, who has won the world championship a record 12 times, said she "thought it was a joke" when she got the news.
In November 2019, Evans came within a frame of becoming the first woman to beat a man in snooker's top 16.
She receives the honour for services to women's snooker.
Evans was in the car with her daughter when she received the phone call telling her of the honour.
"It was nice to share the moment with her - I'm just so proud," she said.
After winning 61 consecutive women's matches and defeating reigning world champion John Higgins at the 2009 World Six-Reds Championship, the player was awarded a wild card on the professional main tour for the 2010/11 season.
This made her the first woman to play on the main professional snooker tour for 15 years. ;)
Ronnie O’Sullivan would not be disappointed if he never played in the Masters again and suggests he could miss future World Championships when crowds return to the Crucible. The Rocket withdrew from the Masters this year, saying he simply didn’t want to deal with the media commitments and requests for tickets that come with the London event. His fans hoped that it was just a year off from the tournament, but the 44-year-old may never return to the event he has won seven times in the past. Having won his sixth world title in Sheffield this year, with either no crowd or a very limited number of spectators at the Crucible, O’Sullivan is more determined than ever to cut out the stresses of big events on the calender.

This could mean that he never contests another Masters, and he has even hinted that the World Championship could be removed from his diary when fans return. ‘For this year’s World Championships, there was no visitors, no guests, no one at the stage door, I could get in and out of Sheffield and I’ve never felt so relaxed there in my life,’ O’Sullivan told Pete Cohen’s Mi365 Podcast. ‘It wasn’t snooker, it was the stuff that surrounds certain tournaments. That was the reason I didn’t play in the Masters, because it’s a huge circus there.

‘Doing that was stopping me actually enjoying playing and for me it’s all about the playing side of it. So I decided to not play in any tournament that snooker wasn’t the priority. ‘So now, low-key events and the China events, I know the travelling can be quite hard, but once I’m there, my time’s not used up in that way, they allow you to just play snooker. They are the biggest events as well, and I do like China. ‘I won’t play a lot of the events where the circus is around, unless I like the town. ‘So York [UK Championship], I have to accept the circus there because I really love York and it’s a real good holiday for me. ‘London, the Masters is a no-no for me, if I never played in that again I wouldn’t be disappointed.

‘World Championships is a bit like that, unless Covid is still lingering around next year then I’d quite look forward to the peace and quiet in Sheffield that I had this year. ‘I’m a lot happier when I do what I want to do and set my own rules.’ It would certainly be a big surprise if O’Sullivan did not return to Sheffield next year to defend his world title and try to equal Stephen Hendry’s record of seven triumphs at the Crucible. While he may prefer the event without a crowd involved, Hendry’s is one of the few records the Rocket has yet to break and he will almost certainly attempt to match it in 2021. However, having skipped the Masters this year, it may well be that the Alexandra Palace crowd will have to go without O’Sullivan again in future. The reigning world champion is in action in the English Open on Monday night, in his second event of the season when he takes on Brian Ochoiski in round one in Milton Keynes. ;)
Ronnie O’Sullivan beat French youngster Brian Ochoiski in the first round of the English Open on Monday night, but claims he hates playing against players like the 21-year-old, in games he described as a ‘nightmare’. The Rocket found himself 2-0 down to Ochoiski in Milton Keynes but rattled off breaks of 51, 113, 55 and 52 to pick up a 4-2 win and book a slot in the last 64. He was reasonably pleased with his own performance but felt he was pushed into an attacking brand of snooker that he would rather not play, simply to match that of the Frenchman. Ochoiski looked good early, making a break of 105 in the second frame, but the Rocket felt that because the youngster was taking everything on, not playing the game he would expect from a more experience player, he may as well join him in the ultra-attacking intent. ;)
The world number one was worked hard before eventually booking his place in the second round.

Judd Trump qualified for the last 64 of the English open with a comeback 4-3 triumph against Louis Heathcote on Tuesday.
The 2019 world champion won the opening frame with a break of 75 but lost the next three and was in danger of exiting at the first hurdle of the competition.

Heathcote, the 2020 Rookie of the Year, had opportunities to get past the winning line, but his esteemed opponent managed to survive with breaks of 86 and 61 helping him to progress.

Trump will face Yuan Sijun in the second round of the English Open as he continues his bid to capture a first ranking title of the new term.

Former champion Stuart Bingham and four-time world champion John Higgins were among the other notable names to emerge from their initial tests unscathed.

Bingham, the English Open winner in 2018, overcame Fergal O’Brien 4-2 in a high-scoring affair in which he wrapped up the victory with a brace of tons, while Higgins repeated that scoreline in a late success over James Cahill.

World Championship runner-up Kyren Wilson was also tested in his 4-2 defeat of Dominic Dale and Shaun Murphy required all seven frames to get beyond Robert Milkins.

In general, most of the favoured players extended their runs in the tournament with the likes of Jack Lisowski, Barry Hawkins, Ryan Day, Luca Brecel, and Zhao Xintong earning victories.

Arguably the biggest upset on day two came in the form of David Gilbert’s 4-2 reverse against Rory McLeod, while Graeme Dott also crashed out early in his defeat to Alexander Ursenbacher.

Among the others through are Gary Wilson, Matthew Stevens, Mark Davis, Tom Ford, and Jimmy Robertson. ;)
O'Sullivan Out!

Ronnie O’Sullivan has been knocked out of the English Open after losing 4-1 to Matthew Stevens in the third round. Stevens made breaks of 58, 73 and 116 to punish an uncharacteristically wasteful O’Sullivan and progress to the last-16. The 43-year-old, who will meet Jak Jones in the next round, said: ‘I hit the ball nice and started well. I think you have to against Ronnie otherwise he puts you on the back foot. ‘The key to beating him is you have to put him under pressure and he missed one or two.
‘He does that to his opponents and I thought if I can get out the blocks I have nothing to lose and I hit the ball well. ‘I’ve changed my tip and that seems to have helped. I’ve been practising hard and well so I felt good. But I’m not getting carried away.’ ;)