Northern Ireland Open



Right people, that's us for today

See you tomorrow!
Scottish Open
'Like a holiday for me' - O'Sullivan storms past Georgiou in 37 minutes

Neil speaks

He says that the match was like the one against Pinches, a tight first frame that he nicked, then he settled. He got married on the close season, so we coo over some photos, then hear about the jewellers who had a rod not unlike a cue. So he tried it out, because as a lefty he wondered if it'd obstruct his action, but it did not and they all lived happily ever after.

Around the tables

Lichtenberg 1-2 Stevens
Miah 1-2 Maguire

Neil Robertson beats Xu Si 4-0!

The Thunder is still to lose a frame in the competition! He meets Ricky Walden next.

Robertson 3-0 Si (48-13)

Neil gets the next chance and quickly begins potting. He's not made a 50 yet, which suggests he's not played well, but he has - he's just not played for a while so has missed a ball here and there. Xu isn't out of this yet - the remaining five rests are clustered - but he'll be fearing the worst.

Robertson 3-0 Si (0-13)

Xu gets in first; can he get on the board? Earlier, Gao Yang lost to Judd Trump without potting a ball, which must've stung. Anyhow he has two goes that materialise into little, but then Neil narrowly misses a long red, played superslow to leave nothing, only to leave something. Xu copes with awkward bridging to send it down ... then misses a tight pink to middle and we're back playing safety.

Around the tables

Lichtenberg 1-2 Stevens
Miah 0-2 Maguire

Robertson 3-0 Si

It's taken him a few goes to win the frames but Neil's in lovely nick and Xu knows he's done for.

Robertson 2-0 Si (54-0)

Obviously right as I type that he plays a gentle cannon into the pack and somehow winds up on nowt, playing a poor safety to further nause himself up. Xu, though, can't capitalise, sinking a red but bashing another full-ball to ruin any chance of position. And to compound things, he goes in-off when playing up to the yellow, and this'll be 3-0.

Robertson 2-0 Si (39-0)

Neil's first go at the pack yields just one pottable ball, but his second returns much better and this is a good opportunity now.

Robertson 2-0 Si (22-0)

Neil's into this now, and a fine long red to the green pocket is followed by an excellent blue; the next red earns position on the black, and Xu will already be fearing the worst.

Around the tables

Lichtenberg 1-1 Stevens
Miah 0-1 Maguire

Robertson 2-0 Si

Neil's on the verge of the good stuff and if I know it, you can be sure Xu knows it too.

Robertson 1-0 Si (64-4)

Xu tries a long one and gets a double kiss on the way back, leaving it for Neil instead; surely he'll sort things at this visit, the four reds in open play more than enough to put the frame away.

Robertson 1-0 Si (47-4)

Just when you think Neil has it sussed, he makes an error - here, he's forced to take on a double - then Xu can't take advantage and he coaxes in another tremendous pot. But this time, it yields no position, so we begin a bout of safety.

Robertson 1-0 Si (30-4)

An Xu leaves him a delicate cut-back red which he follows with a terrific long blue. Yeah, his mechanics are working now, and though he soon ends up surrounded by reds, brushing the white as he prepares to play away from it, he's soon back at the table with a good few points easily accessible.

Robertson 1-0 Si (11-0)

A careless shot to nothing from Xu leaves the bottom red of the cluster pottable - just - and after much internal debate, Neil eases it home, sends the black down after it, and he's settling in here. Or is he? A poor positional shot sees him catch the green off the yellow playing for the sole red in baulk, and that's end of break. He leaves Xu on the baulk cushion.

Around the tables

Heathcote 4-3 Walker (finished)
Lichtenberg 0-1 Stevens

Robertson 1-0 Si

Neil clears the remaining balls to steal and will know he got away with that one.

Robertson 0-0 Si (50-58)

Xu nails the final red via cross-double but ends up kissing the black, so he plays the snooker; Neil finds a terrific escape off the side cushion and gets the yellow safe, just about. Just as well, because Xu leaves him a long one, he eases it down nicely, the green is over the pocket so that goes too, and this looks like the frame.

Robertson 0-0 Si (45-58)

Neil misses a thin contact and winds up snookering Xu, who takes the yellow as his free ball. But he'll need to disturb the red off the green to centre, and imparts only the gentlest touch; that means another safety.

Robertson 0-0 Si (45-50)

My SkyGo crashes so I miss Xu missing, but I don't miss Neil missing a long red to right corner that installs Xu as the new favourite for the frame. There's still a red stuck to black cush, though, and it's pretty central so will be tricky to eliminate; Xu misses by a fraction when potting the penultimate red and will now have to play safe.

Robertson 0-0 Si (45-28)

After playing a decent black but failing to disturb his preferred next red, Neil cuts a fine one with the rest ... and leaves it! Xi quickly drains it, glides home a tight pink, and he's away. Neil, though, will look at the three reds on cushions and reckon to get another go.

Robertson 0-0 Si (38-12)

Trying to catch a red thin, Neil misses it and the rest of them - he's made more auspicious starts - but he gets in next and starts potting balls. He begins with red-blues, then a delicate shot facilitates an angle from which to get the black back on its spot. Still, the next go needs to be a goodun, a plant whose components aren't especially close ... and it's there! This is a framewinning opportunity now, but will take some working out because there are reds on cushions and stuck together.

Robertson 0-0 Si (0-7)

I love watching Robertson, because as a fellow lefty we have lots in common. For example, we're both left-handed, and, er, that's it. But he's a beautiful player, perhaps the most natural long-potter in the game... but he misses his first in this match, the red banging around the angles of right corner and sitting in a decent position for Xu to drain it. He can't capitalise, then a safety error hands Neil another long one - the object ball is close to the pocket but the cue ball is towards the diagonally opposite bag - and he misses again but leaves nada.

Robertson turns his phone off

More news as I get it.

Here they come!

Since we last spoke

Heathcote 3-3 Walker
McDonnell 3-4 Walden

Evening all!

Righto, that's us for the afternoon

See you at 6.50 for the evening, featuring Xu Si v Neil Robertson.

Judd speaks

He says Gao made a few little errors and he punished him; against a top player you can't go 2-0 down in 20 minutes because his confidence was up and the match was almost over. Alan reckons that's the best he's hit the ball in a while and Judd says it's hard not to feel bad when you're smashing someone but everyone's been through it and it was only little mistakes; it's a learning curve for Gao, who'll be back.
Judd expected to come out of the junior game and start winning - Gao won last year's world champs - but it's not like that, and he got knocked about. He reckons he's playing at about 30 or 40% and is gratified that he didn't make many errors when in the balls; Alan says 40% what you talking about, more or less, and Judd says that he's not talking about how he played but he felt. Gao was letting him in quite easily and the top players aren't going to permit him that.
Asked about Selby, the world champ, he says it's good that there are two of them vying for the world number one ranking. I think John Virgo must've noted that he's not won triple crown events, because he's asked about it and says he's happy with how many tournaments he's taken; how can you have a go at the best player in the world? It's a decent mindset really - he says he's won everything so he accords each tournament equivalent import - but I don't know; players are remembered for how many worlds they won, rightly or wrongly.

Around the tables

Heathcote 1-1 Walker
McDonnell 0-0 Walden

Judd Trump beats Gao Yang 4-0!

That was sensational, and also normal. Trump meets Lu Ning next.

Trump 3-0 Gao (63-0)

This is another lovely little break, the cue-ball control so impressive - and I typed that even before he walloped in a red then screwed across the table to the pink. But he misses it down the rail and Gao shakes hands without having potted a ball!

Trump 3-0 Gao (35-0)

As I typed the previous entry, Judd developed the pink, but the next colour he goes for is yellow ... and he misses the long pot, again leaving nowt. Gao then plays a safety that might've been adequate against someone else, but against Judd Trump 3-0 in front? Nah man. He hammers home a long red then gets to work, the pink in decent enough position to allow him to finish things off at this visit.

Trump 3-0 Gao (17-0)

A cunning safety from Judd, the white up near the yellow pocket, forces the error from Gao and another break duly begins. Because the pack were already split, he's plenty of point-scoring options, but the black is tied up with pink and blue towards the side cushon, so he sets about clearing with baulk colours.

Trump 3-0 Gao (0-0)

We've only been going half an hour and oh my days it never rains. Judd misses a red to top left, only for it to roll up the other end and deposit itself in the yellow pocket. So he digs into the pack off the blue ... but misses the pot! He's rubbish, him. But he leaves nowt, and Gao must be cursing the snooker gods.

Around the tables

Heathcote 1-1 Walker
McDonnell 0-0 Walden

Trump 3-0 Gao

A run of 30 secures the frame and this is devastating stuff.

Trump 2-0 Gao (83-0)

Tian Pengfei is in the crowd enjoying the show and Judd treats him and us to another lush pot, a red clattered from middle to right corner. Gao has yet to score a point, and he's one frame away from defeat.

Trump 2-0 Gao (60-0)

Poor old Gao, sat there in his chair pondering. I hope he can derive some kind of pleasure from being so close to genius; Kevin Pietersen once told me that when Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were taking apart the England team of which he was captain, he acknowledged that, fielding at mid off, he had the best seat in the house. Judd needs a red and colour after the pink he's about to drain ... but preoccupied with position, he misses it thick! That's the first ball he's missed with the frame still live, but Gao then misses a toughie down the rail with the rest so we'll have some safety.

Trump 2-0 Gao (30-0)

Goodness me! Judd hammers home a starter then splatters the pack from behind; I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone try that off a red, but then I've not seen anyone try loads of the things he pulls off as a matter of course. He's a joke. So off he goes eliminating balls again, and there's no reason at all to expect something other than 3-0.

Around the tables

Jimmy Robertson 4-3 Sunny Akani (finished)
Heathcote 0-1 Walker

Trump 2-0 Gao

Ahahahahahaha of course he can. But he has to settle for 100 exactly, missing the final red. He'll cope.

Trump 2-0 Gao (87-0)

Six minutes is what it took for Trump to win this frame, not long enough to boil an egg. Can he make it yet another ton?

Trump 1-0 Gao (41-0)

Ah man, Judd is just so good. He's in off a loose break then on 12 has a long think about whether a black passes a red into the corner; of course it does, so he sinks it, then quickly oozes around the table building another framewinning break.

Around the tables

Jimmy Robertson 3-3 Sunny Akani
Heathcote 0-0 Walker

Trump 1-0 Gao

A break of 54 secures the frame, though it's strange to see Gao stay in his seat rather than enjoy some table time when Judd misses.

Trump 0-0 Gao (66-0)

It's a funny thing, really, that Judd is almost unbeatable over best of nine; usually, you back the best player to win over the stretch, rather than a shoot-out. Yet since winning the world title with one of the best sporting performances of all-time, he's not even made the final of the biggun. Anyhow, he looks in gorgeous touch here, the frame now his.

Trump 0-0 Gao (26-0)

It's enough to force the error, another red left for Judd - though it takes a decent shot to bag it, from middle to corner. Given the splayed pack, this probably means the frame.

Trump 0-0 Gao (19-0)

Judd leaves a red to top left and Gao takes it on but misses; worse still, he can't yank the white back up to baulk, leaving an easy starter into the middle and Judd's away. As soon as possible, he digs into the pack and the split is a nice one ... but he's on nowt. A few years ago, he might've manufactured a pot anyway, but not now; the white is sent on its way to the bottom cushion.

Off we go!

Gao Yang

Gao is ranked 80 in the world and just 17 years old. I'm sure he'll be necking Hooches and smoking Embassy No1 in the car park when this is over.

Trump and Yang should soon be with us

But get Eurosport on now to watch Trump and Jimmy banging home colours.

In progress as we speak

  • Jimmy Robertson 2-3 Sunny Akani
  • Jackson Page 4-3 Noppon Saengkham (finished)

Mark Allen has beaten Peter Devlin 4-2!

He was forced to work hard for that, but he's through.

In progress as we speak

  • Jimmy Robertson 1-1v Sunny Akani
  • Peter Devlin 0-2 Mark Allen
  • Jackson Page 1-1 Noppon Saengkham

Today's story so far

  • Lu Ning v Jamie O'Neill (walkover Ning)
  • Stuart Bingham 4-2 Sam Craigie
  • David Grace 0-4 David Gilbert

Afternoon all

Anyone fancy some Tuesday afternoon genius? Well, we've got you: Judd Trump, winner of this title for the last three seasons, takes on Gao Yang in today's featured match. Oooh yeah.

O'Sullivan 'very bored' in win over Hicks

Ronnie O'Sullivan has admitted that he was "very bored" during his win over Andy Hicks at the Northern Ireland Open, and he was less than happy with the atmosphere in Belfast.
The Rocket was a 4-1 winner in the first-round match, but he revealed to Eurosport in his studio interview that he was not overly impressed with the conditions and "struggled" to get up for the occasion.
"I kind of struggled with the table and I struggled with the atmosphere - there was really no atmosphere out there," O'Sullivan told Eurosport.
"I'm playing alright, so normally I can generate the atmosphere but, I don't know... it felt like years ago, every time we played a tournament, every match felt like a big night, like a Champions League night, whereas out there, it was poor... it was hard.
"I don't know, you've got all these games going on, you've got people walking about, you know... I struggled. It's the atmosphere. These flat draws, you've just got to hope you get through to the quarters and click into a spark.
"It was very flat out there. I was very bored out there... I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible, to be honest with you. I was thinking, 'please, just don't let this go long, two-three hours'.
I was really not enjoying the atmosphere and wasn't really bothered if I won or lost, to be honest with you.
"That's not a good attitude to have, so I tried to talk myself out of it, but it is what it is, you know."


Tue 12 Oct 10:00
  • Lu Ning v Jamie O'Neill
  • Stuart Bingham v Sam Craigie
  • David Grace v David Gilbert
Tue 12 Oct 13:00
  • Jimmy Robertson v Sunny Akani
  • Peter Devlin v Mark Allen
  • Jackson Page v Noppon Saengkham
Tue 12 Oct 14:00
  • Judd Trump v Gao Yang
  • Martin O'Donnell v Ricky Walden
  • Louis Heathcote v Lee Walker
Tue 12 Oct 19:00
  • Simon Lichtenberg v Matthew Stevens
  • Hammad Miah v Stephen Maguire
  • Xu Si v Neil Robertson
Tue 12 Oct 20:00
  • Shaun Murphy v Allan Taylor
  • Fan Zhengyi v Jack Lisowski
  • Martin Gould v Jak Jones
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Watch the 2021 Northern Ireland Open and the entire prestigious Home Nations snooker series live on Eurosport, and the Eurosport app.
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