Category Archive: Snooker

Snooker News

Jun 22

Stephen Hendry: ‘In a fight, it would be hard to get past Jimmy White’

The seven-time world snooker champion talks his poker face, his golf handicap, Alex Higgins, Neutral Milk Hotel and why he never felt sorry for the Whirlwind

Hello Stephen! Small Talk isn’t good at much, goodness knows, but we like to think we can read a face. You’re a big poker fan, we’re guessing? It’s written all over your coupon! Yeah I am. I began playing during the boom when online poker first started around 2001. I played a lot. Steve Davis got me into it. I saw him doing it on his laptop all the time. We used to have a little school at night. A few players got into it. That’s how I learned to play.

Are you any good? I’ve certainly improved, there’s no doubt about that. You get sick of handing over money! But I wouldn’t say I’m a expert by any stretch of imagination. It’s a bit like chess to me: I know what the pieces do, but playing it well is the hard thing. But I enjoy it, and my association with Poker Stars is great. I’m an ambassador for them, and get to play at these massive events like the Marbella Poker Festival. It’s cool.

Related: Elise Christie: ‘It was easier to hide from stuff before social media’

Did I ever feel sorry for Jimmy White? No! If you haven’t got what it takes, then that’s your fault

Neal Foulds recommended Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s an album that just gets to you

Related: Nick Skelton: ‘I landed on my head and broke my neck’ | Small Talk

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Jun 04

John Higgins: Question & answer session with four-time world champion

John Higgins answers questions on a number of topics including his favourite tournament, toughest opponent and most embarrassing moment.

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May 11

Stevens has cue stolen from car

Double World Championship finalist Matthew Stevens promises a reward for the safe return of his cue.

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May 05

Sports quiz of the week: Anthony Joshua, Cristiano Ronaldo and Francesco Totti

Who hasn’t lost? Which state can ‘lull you to sleep’? And who had a ticket to ride?

Only four people have had their pictures printed on bus tickets in Rome. Francesco Totti and three…


Opera singers

Italy managers


Which of these competitions has Francesco Totti not won in his career?

Serie A

World Cup

Coppa Italia

European Championship

Which of these heavyweight boxing champions has lost a professional fight?

Anthony Joshua

Deontay Wilder

Joseph Parker

Tyson Fury

None of them

Juventus have kept clean sheets in all five of their knockout games in the Champions League this season. Which team made it through six knockout games – home and away in the last-16, quarter-finals and semi-finals – without conceding a goal?


Manchester United



Which of these objects struck a baseball fan while she was watching St Louis Cardinals play this week?

A football that was blasted over from the nearby stadium

A camera that fell from a drone in the sky

Half a baseball bat

A bullet

Cristiano Ronaldo became only the second player to score hat-tricks in consecutive Champions League matches this week. Luiz Adriano was the first. For which club did he score his two hat-tricks?


Shakhtar Donetsk

Spartak Moscow

Rubin Kazan

Who said: “Brendan Rodgers you are also the best manager I ever had. Amazing”?

Joe Allen

Mario Balotelli

Scott Brown

Kolo Touré

Mark Selby has become the fourth player to retain the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre. Which of these players has not won the event in successive seasons?

Stephen Hendry

Ronnie O’Sullivan

Steve Davis

John Higgins

If Manchester United win the Europa League, they will become the second British team to have won all three of Uefa’s competitions (the other two being the Champions League and Cup Winners’ Cup). Who were the first?


Aston Villa



Which American state was Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors talking about when he said: “You’re just sitting there and your mind is, like, dead. It can kind of lull you to sleep. And then you’ve slept too long or are bored out of your mind and now you gotta try to pump yourself up for the game. You know you’re in the playoffs and you’re supposed to be pumped anyway, but the vibe is just like: ‘Man, let’s just get out of here.'”?





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May 05

Mark Selby: World champion named Player of the Year at snooker awards

World Champion Mark Selby claims three accolades at the annual snooker awards, including Player of the Year.

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May 02

The Jester smiles at last: Mark Selby steps out from Leicester City’s shadow | Barry Glendenning

Last year’s world title win at the Crucible was overshadowed in the world No1’s home town by the achievements of Claudio Ranieri and co. Not this time around

Few nicknames are more unsuitable than that with which Mark Selby has been saddled for reasons of rhyming convenience. It’s not that the “Jester from Leicester” is not funny, but the image of him prancing about in a harlequin hat festooned with bells is little short of ludicrous.

Polite and likeable, he is a difficult read and when it’s put to him that his win in last year’s world snooker championship was rather overshadowed by his local football team winning the Premier League on the same night, he couldn’t agree more.

Related: Mark Selby retains world title after gritty victory over John Higgins

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May 02

Mark Selby: Snooker’s world champion set for Leicester mural?

Leicester’s footballers had a mural to mark their Premier League title win – now the city’s mayor wants one for world snooker champion Mark Selby.

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May 02

John Higgins: World Snooker Championship runner-up targets more titles

Beaten finalist John Higgins insists he has not squandered his last chance to win a fifth World Championship.

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May 02

World Championship: How Mark Selby roared back to win third world title

Watch highlights as Mark Selby beats John Higgins 18-15 to claim his third World Championship title at the Crucible.

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May 02

World champion Mark Selby delighted to match Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan

Mark Selby cannot believe he has joined snooker’s greats by claiming back-to-back World Championship titles.

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May 02

Mark Selby retains world title after gritty victory over John Higgins

• Defending champion wins 18-15 to lift trophy for the third time
• Selby joins select band by keeping his crown

What a difference a day makes. Mark Selby, completely unrecognisable from the wan, bottomed-out facsimile of himself who trailed 10-4 at one stage during this final, recovered to win his third world championship in four years. Along with Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan, he is now one of a select band of four players to retain the title during its fabled 40-year residency at the Crucible Theatre.

Related: Mark Selby beats John Higgins to win world snooker championship – as it happened

Related: Barry Hearn ‘disgusted’ by players turning down chance for 147 breaks

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May 01

World Championship: Mark Selby ‘blanked out’ black ball controversy

Mark Selby says he “blanked out” a contentious refereeing decision in the 31st frame of his World Snooker Championship final to beat John Higgins 18-15 at the Crucible.

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May 01

World Championship: Watch the moment Mark Selby clinched third world title

Watch the moment Mark Selby secures his third World Championship title with an 18-15 victory against John Higgins as the Crucible.

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May 01

Mark Selby beats John Higgins to win world snooker championship – as it happened

A fantastic comeback from Mark Selby, taking him from 10-4-down to 16-12-up, gives him his third world title in four years; he becomes the fourth man to retain the trophy

11.16pm BST

PS if anyone’s got the slightest clue about what to do tomorrow, I’d be glad for any suggestions.

Related: Mark Selby retains world title after gritty victory over John Higgins

11.15pm BST

That’s about us, then – thanks all for your company and comments. Nighty-night!

11.14pm BST

So there we are: three in four years for Selby, number 1 for 116 weeks straight, and he’s already a great of the game. He’s also only 33, so there’s plenty more to come – all the more incredible given how many ridiculous other players are out there.

11.12pm BST

Higgins, who Selby took pains to point out is a splendid bloke, takes his cheque. I missed the amount, but Selby takes home £375,000; not bad.

11.11pm BST

Selby joins Davis, Hendry and O’Sullivan as the only men to have retained the world championship.

11.10pm BST

“Unbelievable, I can’t believe it,” says Selby. “I’m still pinching myself.””

Er, it only happened five minutes ago. He says that he was knackered yesterday, “nothing left to give,” but decided that if he was going out he was going out fighting, Higgins missed a couple of balls he’d not normally missed, and there we go.

11.07pm BST

That’s three in four years, and me oh my, he’s going win a fair few more of these; he is streets ahead of the rest. His potting, his safety, his invention, his cue-power, his frankly obscene will, his unnerving calmness; he is the man. And John Higgins is the other man, because what a final he’s given us.

11.05pm BST

AND THERE IT IS! Selby pauses, flexes both forearms as his people, and then keeps going.

11.03pm BST

44 ahead, 55 remaining … one more red …

11.01pm BST

This isn’t an easy table, but you just know Selbz will navigate his way around it. He’s up to 21 now, has the black in play, and finds himself jabbing it home; there’s a red for him, but not the one he intended. Four reds and blacks needed, so not the two difficult ones on the top cushion.

10.58pm BST

Selby plays it beautifully, pots the blue in the yellow pocket, and if he can see away the next red and get position – he can – this might well be frame and championship.

10.56pm BST

It was fun while it lasted. Selby leaves a red, Higgins cuts it too thinly, cannons the blue, and it goes to the corner. The question is what comes next, becauzse the pink is in the road and it’s a problem to catch it full-ball, so Selby is around the table measuring.

10.53pm BST

Gah! Higgins runs out of position on 19, so Selby’s back up on the bottom cushion and the safety beginsagain.

10.51pm BST

Higgins plays a lovely safety shot, leaving the white on the side cushion with the brown close by. Selby then plays down to the top cushion … and he’s left a devilishly tricky one to the middle! Dare Higgins try for it? … This is the match … You bet! It’s there!

10.48pm BST

Here we go then. There’s a red on the top cushion, or just off it, and the white is nearby, but an angle … dare Selby roll it down the rail? He settles down to try, then changes his mind.

10.45pm BST

Selby leaves a double … Higgins thinks hard before taking it on, takes it on, misses … but leaves nothing.

10.45pm BST

‘Iggins could play a pot, but knowing any miss could be his last, he leaves the white on the top cushion, prompting Selby to have a think. He reminds me a bit of a mate who played chess for Scotland, and not Sinai School as I did. So we’d play at university, I’d do my four knights opening or some variation thereof, compete for bit, then at some point he’d have a think for ten minutes, and it’d be all over shortly thereafter.

10.40pm BST

Higgins clips the green with his cue, sticks the white into the reds, and it’s just a foul, not a miss. Higgins is perplexed; “You’ve had a result there,” says Selby.

10.38pm BST

Higgins catches a red too thin, but it works out nicely – the chwhite is in the jaws of the yellow pocket. BUT SELBY FEATHERS A CUT INTO THE MIDDLE, TAKING A RED FROM OUTSIDE THE BLUE, PAST IT, AND IN! IT WASN’T EVEN ON, BUT IT WAS! Higgins is now tight in behind the green.

10.35pm BST

So, frame 33 begins as we pass the 11-hour mark.

10.33pm BST

131! What skill! What moxie!

10.30pm BST

This is such a break. The state of the game, after three lost frames in a row, to go to within one of victory, after a rerack, that started with a pressure red. AND THERE’S THE TON!

10.27pm BST

Selby is gently working his way through the the balls, now up to 36. There are lots of pottable reds and pink and black both in play, as they should be; the opening pot, under that level of pressure, was astoundingly brilliant.

10.22pm BST

In it goes! Great pot! The white flies up the table, so it’ll be the yellow, a screw, and clack, it rams the back of the pocket and Selby’s back down the business end.

10.21pm BST

Oh, chuckle! Higgins has to stretch for one, fails, gets the extension and bemoans “too much haggis”. And his shot is not a good one, leaving a tempter; the problem for Selby is that if he misses, he’s in trouble, but if he doesn’t take it on, then what else can he do?

10.19pm BST

There is nothing, nothing like this.

10.18pm BST

Higgins leaves a red, a bastard of a red that demands a flat hand because the brown is proximate to the white. Selby cues beautifully to stick it home, but is quickly cursing to the heavens when he fails to get on the pink by the finest of margins.

10.15pm BST

We’re back to in and out of the cluster. Another rerack looks possible for second, but Selby plays up the table.

10.13pm BST

He has not. Selby plays away from the touching ball but up to baulk.

10.12pm BST

Selby doesn’t like his break, leaving a red as a shot to nothing, but Higgins misses it and is quickly tapping the table while tight on the bottom cushion. Two cushions and into the pack, by the look of things … he plays it well, but has he left a thin cut?

10.11pm BST

That black, then.

Big moment in the 31st frame

Referee Jan Verhaas calls a foul, replays suggest it hit, but he sticks with his original decision. Thoughts?

10.10pm BST

They’re playing in and out of the cluster now – this is horrific! And after Higgins feathers an impossibly delicate one, they quickly agree to a rerack! I’ve no idea how they can possibly be holding it down.

10.08pm BST

Tremendous long pot from Selby, but he doesn’t hit it hard enough to get nicely on the black. So he plays a lovely, gentle cut – down it goes – only now he’s not on a red, so back goes the white towards the top cushion.

10.05pm BST

@DanielHarris To think I considered getting an early night at 16-12. World Snooker, nothing quite like it

10.05pm BST

Wild squeals in the arena as Higgins nails a lovely long pot, holding for the black. He plays a bad positional shot, though, and can’t redeem it with a red to the green pocket. But he gets lucky with the run, leaving nothing on, so Selbzo initiates a safety exchange.

10.03pm BST

Both John and Steve think it didn’t hit, and in any case, Jan was closest, thought it didn’t, so said what he saw.

10.01pm BST

Oh my days what a frame that was! “I didn’t see that hit, Mark”! Somehow, Higgins now has three on the trot, and needs one more to make it a best of three! Truly, there is nothing, nothing like this!

10.00pm BST

And that’s there!

10.00pm BST

Just the blue required… I’m shaking!

9.59pm BST

Eeesh. He finishes to close to the brown, but it’s still pottable … and it’s there!

9.59pm BST

Selby can only leave the red over the middle, almost fluking the snooker with the blue. Green to brown is the key shot, and it’s coming up … oh man….

9.57pm BST

Higgins doesn’t have a pot on, but does stick the white close to the bottom cushion, leaving yellow and brown between it and the red, which is close to the top-right.

9.56pm BST

And what’s this! Higgins plays a bad shot from blue to red, misses the black from the side cushion, and the chase for the final red begins. Selby plays a nice little snooker for starters, easy to escape but setting him to lay a better one. He taps the red, sends the white up the table, and has the black defending the pocket it goes into. It’s not a great shot, but Higgins doesn’t respond with a great one, and leaves a chance into the bottom-left … which he misses!

9.51pm BST

Selby finds a plant – if it goes down and he’s on a colour, that’ll be the frame. He does and he doesn’t, draining the plant but leaving himself without a pot. So he tucks in behind the black, EXCEPT HE DOESN’T HIT THE WHITE HARD ENOUGH! Jan Verhaas calls foul, Selby says he got there, and a discussion ensues. Higgins asks for a replay but that’s not allowed, and then almost talks himself out of the points as the discussion continues – what other sport gives you that kind of debate over the rules? But just when his magnanimity looks set to cost him, Higgins pulls it out of the fire, Jan stays with his original call – I think it was the right one, but even now I can’t be sure, having originally thought Selby hit it. So he plays away, Higgins pots a red, and now looks like compiling a frame-clincher! This is fantastically tense!

9.45pm BST

But potting the blue, Selby takes such great care to miss the brahn that he cannons the yeller; end of break, 46 the lead.

9.44pm BST

Five reds and five black, incidentally. And i do mean incidentally, because the spread of the balls is not conducive to a maximum, all the more so when there’s 300k on the line, not 5k.

9.42pm BST

Mistake from Selby forces him to try a long red to the green pocket, down it goes snd then he’s into the bunch off the black … the Jaws music is playing.

9.40pm BST

And off again. A confident Higgins plays a long red gently in order to hold for the black, misses, and Selby is at the table. Apparently the opening red is his first ball potted in half an hour.

9.37pm BST

Game on now

9.36pm BST

Higgins is working these shots out beautifully now, and he brings up his century to wild applause. He finishes with a 111, and finally, you feel like if he gets a chance he’ll take it; but more than that, that he might be able to muscle his way through the safety exchanges.

9.32pm BST

But he plays for the blue, because who needs five gee? Then a cannon on the pink has him cutting into the top corner as a shot to nothing – he ought to be on a baulk colour if it goes down. But he pots the red and holds for the blue! For the first time in a while, Selby will be wondering…

9.29pm BST

If Higgins can win this one and the next one, then we’re talking. And he’s working this one out well, employing the spider to set up his fourth black. Just saying. Chill those beans, Harris.

9.27pm BST

And there’s the mistake! Selby sends a red down the rail and gets “the old DD” – oo-er – “the dreaded double-kiss”. Higgins strokes it home, then a black, and begins picking away at the stragglers.

9.24pm BST

Another foul and a miss from Selby, but it costs him just the four points – unless Higgins can find his way in behind the green … he plays it well. This might be the first exchange that he’s controlled since yesterday, so Selby retorts by leaving him just in front of the green. Again, though, TWOW plays it well, a flick off that green leaving the chwhite on the side cushion.

9.22pm BST

“Whenever I watch pub sports,” emails Simon McMahon, “I’m reminded of the late, great Sid Waddell’s immortal line about the best darts player ever to come out of Kirkcaldy, the incomparable John Thomas Wilson. ‘What an athlete’. Selby just looks too strong for Higgins. I’ll see thee.”

I don’t know what pubs you’ve been in – I’m yet to see a snooker table in one, though I have seen some other strange sights; send in your examples to the address above.

9.19pm BST

Higgins takes on a pot as a shot to nothing, while Dennis offers us the old “as long as your opponent needs two frames” line. Selby then tries a thin one, misses, and does well to avoid ceding a free ball, the white encroaching just enough onto the baulk line. His next effort is a lot better.

9.15pm BST

Serious show of gonads from Higgins here – he’s crafted this 88 beautifully, and now he’s playing exhibition shots, down behind the black and out again from yellow to green. Can he go on? It’s a long, long time since he won two in a row.

9.14pm BST

Anyway, Higgins is up to 46, sinks the pink, and rolls along beautifully for the red on the side cushion , Down it does, then the black, and if he can drain the last red, kissing the yellow on its spot, any colour and the frame’s safe. And he’s on the black!

9.11pm BST

What Selby does so well is stay calm when in the balls. If he needs to think over shot, he thinks it over – he’s deliberate, but that doesn’t mean he’s risk-averse. Just that when he tries the outlandish stuff, it’s been properly considered and is played with a cool head.

9.08pm BST

But what a lovely pot from the old master! He eases a red into the middle, deposits the green, cracks the pack, and this is now the chance he was waiting for.

9.07pm BST

Very quickly, the break is 34, but that’s all it is. it really does not matter. The white is left on the bottom cushion, but it isn’t that – there just doesn’t see any way that the momentum can be reversed.

9.04pm BST

Of course he is.

9.03pm BST

Higgins gets a double-kiss, and Selby is in.

9.02pm BST

“Watching this is a little like watching matches between Murray and Djokovic until about the middle of last year,” says David Wall. “They’d typically start off very tight, Murray often going ahead, before Djokovic repeatedly, and ruthlessly pulled away and ground the Scot into the dust.

It’s the BBC schedulers I feel most sorry for, you can almost hear them digging out an entire series of Coast to fill the rest of the evening when this finishes in two or three frames time.”

9.01pm BST

He starts with a decent break-off…

9.00pm BST

Back they come. Has Higgins got anything left?

8.44pm BST

For those catching up, here’s Barry Glendenning’s report of the afternoon session.

Related: Mark Selby the thin-lipped spectre gives John Higgins a fright in world final

8.40pm BST

A 70 clearance, a spring through the curtain, a trudge from Higgins, and that’s the mid-session. Selby is zoned.

8.39pm BST

Selby is grinning to himself as he proceeds around the table. He knows, Higgins knows, and the whole world knows.

8.38pm BST

Selby is just the complete player and a consummate competitor.

8.37pm BST

In they go, then a pink, and that’s that.

8.36pm BST

Trying to catch a red thin, Higgins misses, and because the white’s travelling, it bounces off the bottom cushion and catches the blue – that’s done him a small favour, as there’s now nothing on for Selby. So Higgins plays the pot, misses it and leaves it; red, blue, red and only two more required for the champion.

8.33pm BST

Higgins must have the better of this safety exchange, and plays an excellent shot to cover a loose, cuttable red with the blue. So Selby responds well, obviously – his geometry is something else.

8.32pm BST

“Noting O’Sullivan’s tweet that you posted earlier on,” emails David Wall, “who do you think of the current top players is most likely to go into the commentary box when they box-up their cue, and who would you most like to see make that move? I’ve got a feeling that Stuart Bingham would make for an engaging commentator, and given how tortuously he studied every shot, Ebdon might make an informative pundit.”

Ebdon has been in the box this tournament; not to my taste, shall we say. I’d go Graeme Dott.

8.29pm BST

Selby is 55 ahead, with 75 on the table.

8.29pm BST

A mistake on the black when he might’ve played the pink leaves Selby shaking his head as he’s down on the next red. But he slides it parallel with the top cushion and into the hole, but eventually chasing the white catches up with him and he misses the next red thick!

8.26pm BST

Selby is so serene. The run is now 33, but there follows a mistake – he’s straight on the blue, so has to play the trickier pink, which can leave him on just one red. So that’s what happens, and now the black is in play!

8.24pm BST

I was just about to note that Selby has done an amazing job of turning what look, at first, like mid-level breaks, into frame-winners. But then Hendry says it for me, so I’m now copying him.

8.23pm BST

Fortune is not favouring Higgins at the moment…

8.22pm BST

Selby has eyes only for one red, rammed home after some thought. But the cue-ball rolls past the potting angle for the black … so in goes the pink to the middle! This frame – this final – are not long for this world.

8.20pm BST

It never rains, but sometimes it pours so hard it makes your head bleed. Selby flukes a five-ball plant, in-off the black, though he’s not on a colour. So he sticks the white tight on the bottom cushion, and Higgins has a problem. “If the safety is as difficult as the pot, I know which I’d be taking,” advises Hendry; Higgins thinks otherwise, goes in-off, and, well.

8.16pm BST

But Higgins responds well, so Selby responds weller, leaving the cue-ball tight on the bottom cushion.

8.16pm BST

Playing for a thin contact on a red, Selby misses, but when he’s offered another chance, a graze of the middle knuckle sends Higgins behind the green. Selby raises his hand, which I’m sure is profoundly comforting.

8.14pm BST

That cut…

Narrow cut from @markjesterselby and his break of 71 hands him a three-frame lead!

The reigning champ is three frames away from victory…

8.12pm BST

One more frame before the mid-session; surely Higgins can’t afford to lose this one; and no, he couldn’t afford to lose the last one either. Anyhow, a good break leaves him struggling, but he responds well, almost potting the black but instead forcing Selby to play off the side cushion into the pack … but has he left the bottom one? Apparently not.

8.10pm BST

Selby misses on 71 but it matters not. I’ve no idea what Higgins can do – if Selby is potting pots that he can’t even see, well.

8.08pm BST

Three reds and three high-value colours needed – it’s going to take a kick.

8.05pm BST

Selby is so meticulous in his planning. He takes a while over a pink to the middle, has a red cleaned, and 15-12 is in the post.

8.03pm BST

Higgins takes the missed red, but there’s no colour on, so it’s back up to baulk. Everything looks safe, Higgins thinks everything’s safe, but the finest cut – a paper cut? – and one close to the top cushion is deposited. What a pot that was. The green follows, the reds are spread, and this is a chance.

8.00pm BST

Oh, Wizard! A careless break leaves a cut to the middle, and down it goes. The brown follows, the pack is cannoned, and there’s a red at the bottom which goes. Those reduced arrears might not stay reduced long, except Selby misses the pot! Is he still farklempt about that last frame?

7.58pm BST

Higgins misses the green, but has done enough. Back in the game! Should Selby have really taken on that red? If he missed it, Higgins was always likely to be on it and, as they say, never give a genius an even break. Perhaps it’s become too natural for Selby, because he’s usually far more ruthless than that.

7.55pm BST

He plays it! But gets so close that he leaves it when he misses! Higgins sinks it, and that’s the frame!

7.55pm BST

There’s one red left, on the side cushion, and Selby disturbs it after potting the black. But he remonstrates with the Gods strongly when it rolls just the wrong side of the middle pocket; will he try and jam in behind, sending it towards the yellow pocket! This feels like almost a match ball!

7.53pm BST

And still there’s a red left, but Selby catches the near jaw and leaves another plant. This time, Higgins ignores it entirely but plays his safety too hard and Selby cracks it home. I fear for the Wiz if he contrives to lose this frame.

7.51pm BST

Oh dear. Higgins gambles, doesn’t finish on a red, and has to try a plant on frame-ball! Why did he play it so hard! Safety in mind I suppose, but hit more slowly and that was in!

7.49pm BST

“Didn’t catch that pink full in face, needs some luck, he’s had some! HE’S HAD SOME!” Higgins finishes on a red though the cannon into the cluster doesn’t go as planned, and surely the frame is now his and the night is now ours!

7.47pm BST

Selbz uses side to try and coax the white off the side cushion and into the cluster, but hits the pink. So he’s put back, and trying to compensate, over-compensates! He slips past the pack by a fraction, leaves a red, and Higgins is in!

7.45pm BST

Selby hits the pack nicely with his second shy but Higgins retorts well, sneaking in behind the broon. This frame is unbearably essential for him.

7.44pm BST

The aforementioned kick.

Kick a man when he’s down!

Higgins gets a horrible piece of luck after being gifted an opening

7.44pm BST

Higgins plays a fine safety shot, leaving TJFL behind the yellow – he tries to roll into the cluster, but his effort doesn’t reach.

7.42pm BST

PS did you know that science has not yet explained the phenomenon of bad contacts? Me neither.

7.42pm BST

Egad! On 24 and in the balls, Higgins gets a kick; of course he does. So the white goes onto the top cushion, but can he wipe his mind free of injustice?

7.39pm BST

Selby is looking so smooth, strolling around removing balls. But a careless positional shot leaves him the wrong side of the blue, he takes on a difficult yellow because he’s in the zone, and cues so far cross it he’s almost in the crowd. Higgins can’t have expected another go here, let alone from just 22 points behind. “Come on John, what’ve you got left,” demands Hendry.

7.36pm BST

Higgins has no choice but to nestle into the pack, problem being there are loose reds about. And he leaves one, long into the green pocket or gentle into the middle – Selby opts for the latter and gives it just enough.

7.34pm BST

But when Selby cannons the pack off the black, finishes on nothing, and plays a dodgy safety. Higgins can now attack, opening the pack and getting back to baulk in a bid to force the error. Except he doesn’t get a good cue-ball, hitting it too hard, so Selby duly sticks him behind the yellow. This boys and men, I’m afraid.

7.32pm BST

Higgins plays a red as a shot to nothing, misses it thick with safety in mind … and Selby pots yet another great long one.

7.29pm BST

Selby sinks the black to leave Higgins needing snookers, and that is going to hurt. He was brave to take on the pink, brilliant to pot it, and still it didn’t happen. A run of 37 is enough for Selbo, and my word, he’s stretching for hame.

7.26pm BST

But with scored 22, he runs out of position potting the black, and so miffed is he that he plays a careless safety shot, – the cue-ball is short and a red is available. Selby raps in a long one, and it’s hard to see him missing before a frame-clinching advantage is racked up.

7.23pm BST

Hendry is encouraging Higgins to be aggressive, he is, and it works! He cues beautifully to pot a difficult pink across the other side of the table and into the top-right, enjoys a favourable cannon, and is now favourite for the frame. Concentration required.

7.22pm BST

But what’s this! Selby misses a red maybe half a foot from the top-right pocket – the left-hand side took it against the jaw – and Higgins sends one into the yellow pocket. It’s a good pot, but he’s just top-side of the blue, so it’s not entirely clear from where the next red is coming.

7.20pm BST

“Just” the 35 for Selby – he runs out of position and shoves the white off the yellow and close to the bottom cushion. Can Higgins retaliate with a taxing safety? … No. He clips the broon and sits resignedly back in his chair.

7.18pm BST

“A heated clothes horse?! You’re snacking on grissini and home-made hummus right now, aren’t you?” chides yerman Wall.

I’ve got concede, I’d love to make my own hummus, but I’ve been forbidden from using our Vitamix for such purposes. Green juice and other non-fragrant things only. But, while we’re here, some advice: instead of buying the grainy, lemony supermarket version, find your nearest Kosher shop or section and enjoy the thick, smoothness, hummus how it’s meant to be.

7.15pm BST

Selby digs into the pack immediately, and it doesn’t quite work out. He has to cut a tricky red, so, er, he cuts a tricky red. He is buzzing!

7.13pm BST

Higgins leaves a tempter – it’s the only one that’ll be available if Selby misses. Selby doesn’t come close to missing, “right in the heart of the pocket”. There can be no greater endorsement.

7.11pm BST

And there it is: “the first frame is crucial for John Higgins,” revelates Hendry.

7.11pm BST

Out come the boys, to Killer – sounded like Adamski’s version, far superior to Seal’s. But we’ll have to make do with this.

7.09pm BST

“As you suggested earlier,” emails David Wall, “this one looks as though it will go a long time so, assuming there will be plenty of extended periods of safety play (as well as each of the players popping out for comfort breaks between frames), perhaps you could dish more of your Shoot!-style dirt. For instance, who do you sit next to in the dressing room (on the Guardian sports desk)? Which MBM/ OBO/ FBF-er inspired you when growing up? What’s your favourite mid-session interval snack? And what job would you have had if you’d not found work watching, and writing pithy descriptions of various sporting events? It’ll help us all stay calm when the match reaches Line-of-Duty-levels of tension later on.”

Ha ha. We don’t have set seats, though I am currently at home, next to my proudest recent acquisition: a heated clothes hoss. And I did once have what a job, in the loosest possible sense: trainee lawyer in a City firm. You can learn all about how good I was at it, here:

Related: When sport and real life collide: a story about getting divorced during the 2005 Ashes

7.04pm BST

But it’s churlish to whinge if Selby powers through, because what a show he’s giving us. It’s the way he combines opposites that’s so brilliant – invention and attrition, attack and defence, risk and caution. He is going to win a lot of these.

6.53pm BST

“The first [insert relevant unit of measurement here] is so important” – a staple of sporting cliche. But rarely has it been so pertinent as right very now, with John Higgins is on the slide and Mark Selby on the charge. From 10-4 behind, Selby has won nine of ten frames, and if he can extend his lead to three immediately, any r&r that Higgins has contrived in the short break will immediately evaporate. He looked tired and put-upon this afternoon, while Selby looked raffish and rakish; it’s hard to see how he might turn that around, yet, on the other hand, well though Selby played, the ball ran in his favour and still the frames were tight.

Boyz/baize interface: roughly 7pmBST

5.27pm BST

So, I’m away, but join me again at 6.45ish for further wonderment. Don’t get too vexed with actual real people in the meantime.

5.25pm BST

So that’s a session, and what a session for Mark Selby, who has been expletive brilliant. Early on, his safety play set the tone, and after the mid-session he started cueing beautifully; this is pretty much what happened to Ronnie O’Sullivan in the 2014 final, and just like him, Higgins looks thoroughly despondent and befuddled.

5.22pm BST

Higgins looks tired, you’ve got to say, and maybe he had a rough night’s kip, allowing 10-4 to become 10-7. Selby has now won this session 6-1, and finds himself in a position he can barely have conceived of this morning, never mind last evening.

Can’t believe john making so many saftey errors not like him at all

5.19pm BST

“Have a shower and try and brush himself down,” recommends Jayvee when wondering how Higgins should spend the impending break. Ahem.

5.18pm BST

“You get a sense of your opponent wilting under pressure, and it’s about pouncing,” says Hendry with menace. Selby, meanwhile, overhits a couple in his zealousness to get things sorted, but it doesn’t really matter – he simply responds with a great shot.

5.15pm BST

Uh-oh. Higgins plays yet another nasty safety, and leaves an easy red for Selbo, which he takes. What previously looked like a cuticle-carver is beginning to look like a procession. Giving a great of this ilk, in his prime, a two-frame start going into the final session of a world championship? Not for me, JV.

5.10pm BST

Higgins looks like he wants someone to indicate the way to his habitual abode, for he’s fatigued and has a desire to retire.

5.07pm BST

But Selby does miss, and Higgins concedes. This is simply magical from the Jester, who from 10-4 now leads; that’s eight of nine frames.

5.05pm BST

Higgins needs Selby to miss, though the frame is now secure, so he can waste time and avoid another frame. That does not look so likely.

5.05pm BST

Andrew Benton is back with gardening info:

“I used to work in a garden centre – the first May bank holiday was always the busiest. Anyway, gardening’s like snooker, lots of green, and plenty of potting.”

5.02pm BST

Which means we’ll get another frame this afternoon. Selby hasn’t led since frame 3.

5.02pm BST

Mistake from Higgins lets Selby in – he needs 46 more points to secure the frame, and it looks inconceivable that he’ll not get them.

4.59pm BST

But too much topspin potting a black he might’ve stunned leaves the white against the pack and no colour on, end of break, at 24. We’re in rerack territory, but a loose safety from Higgins followed by a loose one from Selby splays reds all over the show instead. The first chance will be a good one now.

4.57pm BST

“Believe, believe, believe,” says Selby to himself, eyeing-up Higgins as Higgins breaks off. And what a red he immediately smashes home, then a black, then a red which gently fans the pack. If he can see this away in one visit, we’ll sneak in another frame this session, the last thing that Higgins needs.

4.54pm BST

All square! Selby very carefully and very brilliantly rolls home a far from straightforward red, plays safe, and Higgo concedes! That’s seven of the last eight, and what a visit that 67 was! He’s so clever and calm in the balls.

4.52pm BST

Selby pots a tricky red – he thought about leaving it, but it was frame ball, so on it was taken, and down it went. The break is 67, the black is missed, and Higgins is back at the table, 48 behind with 43 available; two snookers required.

4.50pm BST

“In my work pool league we affectionately refer to an attempt at a full length-of-the-table double into the corner as a ‘John’ in honour of the great man*. What would be Selby’s signature shot?

*New laws prevent us from hosting unofficial videos, but Higgins played a beauty on the brown to steal the 2010 UK Championship from Mark Williams MBE.

4.47pm BST

There’s nothing on for Higgins, so he’s forced to play the pot and misses. Selby quickly drains a red, then gets beautiful action on the white to see away yellow, dragging the cue-ball all the way down the table. He then makes a mess of a red, but it only leaves him on the black, and suddenly, this a serious frame-winning opportunity!

4.44pm BST

Higgins leaves a tempter to the middle – not really a tempter, actually, rather a chance. Selby misses, and Hendry explains that when the big colours are tied up, as they are, you’re not as enthusiastic about the pot.

4.42pm BST

Housekeeping: we won’t start a frame after 5.15, so by the looks of things we’ll be at least two short in this session. Tonight is going to be an absolute monster, all the more so if Higgins can get himself in front.

4.41pm BST

Anyhow, Higgins was first in with 19, and we’re now enveloped in a safety exchange.

4.40pm BST

Or rather, we’ve been back a few minutes, but my everything crashed.

4.39pm BST

And we’re back.

4.17pm BST

So Selby wins the mini-session 3-1, probably the minimum that either player would have accepted. It is thrilling, tense, dramatic, wonderful stuff; I’ll see you on the other side of the mid-session.

4.15pm BST

Selby leaves a taxing yellow and Higgins takes it on, missing – and flicking the pink to leave it! Down it goes, then a fine pot to sink the green, and after 45 minutes, here we are!

4.13pm BST

I’m not having Higgins as Nadal after all – it took him too long to win his first world title. He’s more Murray, but older.

4.12pm BST

It looks like Selby has left a cuttable red, but Higgins taps the table and plays safe. Two shots later, perhaps he wishes he hadn’t, because Selby spanks home a long red. But he needs position on the yellow, just above the brown which is on its spot, and doesn’t really have the angle on the blue. The pink is another option but that’s a much harder pot, so he takes the blue, can’t get position, and has to play safe. I know I’ve said this before, but whoever pots the yellow…

4.08pm BST

“Having not followed the snooker for a few years I found myself wondering if John Higgins has already been through the redemption narrative of winning the big cup after his ‘troubles,” emails Ian Copestake.

Higgins isn’t quite that guy – this is more like Rafa Nadal winning a slam or somesuch.

4.07pm BST

This is now the longest frame of the match, up at 35 minutes. Whoever pots this final red should win it, with all the colours nicely set – the score is 40-37 Higgins.

4.06pm BST

Oh, shot! Higgins leaves a long pot, which Selby hammers into the top-left. And he’s even got an angle on the green to disturb the remaining red, sat on the top cushion. The green duly goes into the middle, but the cannon on the red isn’t hard enough so it’ll be a thin contact and back into baulk. He plays it beautifully, the green, blue and pink all in the road … but Higgins responds with a beaut of his ain!

4.00pm BST

The balls, the balls! Higgins plays a red off the side cushion to send it down the table, it flicks the blue, and goes in the hole! Then he pots the blue, only to cue horribly across one with the rest – it goes in anyway – and so does another blue. But the two remaining reds are on the top cushion, so it’s end of break; whoever has the better of the upcoming safety exchange will likely win the frame.

3.56pm BST

“Selby is the first player since Hendry who loses a session but you still just shrug and know that he’ll win anyway,” emails Greg Phillips.

Yep, I’d say that’s probably so. If he can win today, and even if he doesn’t, he looks ready to dominate.

3.53pm BST

This is really tough work for Higgins, and his break ends when he plays a run-through on a red – a stun would’ve left him on a colour. So, Selby is back at the table and leads 33-28 in what is a vital frame, even more vital than all the other vital frames.

3.49pm BST

Higgins rolls into the pack and Selby spends quite some time evaluating whether or not a red is on, cueing from inside the cluster and cutting to the top-right. He’s certain that it is but can’t satisfy himself, then he does, and then he misses it! Higgins now has a chance for 12-9, which would leave us where we were at the start of play.

3.46pm BST

A safety exchange is delicately ended with a blinder of a pot from the champ. The white is up in baulk, green side, and he plays towards the middle to clip a red back towards that same green side, top corner. Brilliant! But he finishes on nowt, so puts Higgins behind the green.

3.41pm BST

Higgins catches a safety shot too thick, cannoning a red, but this time it’s him with the run – it pulls up close to the cushion and baulk line on the yellow side.

3.39pm BST

Selby runs out of position, so his break ends at 32.

3.37pm BST

“As you surely know, Gardener’s World got bumped off BBC2 by the snooker on Friday,” emails Andrew Benton, “and what a Friday to do so, on the cusp of the most important gardening weekend of the year. To make amends for this, could you do a MBM of next week’s Gardeners World, please.”

What makes it the most important weekend of the year? But I’d love to, and while we’re here, not doing the final of University Challenge will go down as my biggest disappointment, whenever I get to do one of the questionnaires they used to ask footballers in Shoot! and Match.

3.34pm BST

Selby is obviously deeply troubled by that previous frame; he’s just picked out a terrific plant – the two balls where not close to one another – and a kiss on the brown allows him to pot that and proceed back up the table for more points.

3.32pm BST

Maximum breaks have become a bit of a thing – Ronnie O’Sullivan pretty much failed to make one on purpose earlier in the week – so here’s Barry Hearn having his say.

Related: Hearn ‘disgusted’ by snooker players turning down chance for 147 breaks

3.30pm BST

Selby will be aghast to have lost that frame – two despicable misses made that possible – but there won’t be many times in his career that John Higgins has lost six frames in a row, so what can you do.

3.28pm BST

The Wiz is making hard work work work work work of this, but he clings on and compiles a crucial clearance of 78.

3.23pm BST

One good cannon and this is done, but so profoundly is Selbo focused on achieving it that he forgets to sink the black! Higgins is back, and knows he daren’t miss.

3.21pm BST

Selby cuts in a red, played as shot to nothing, and whaddaya know! As skill would have it, he’s on the black! It’s a weird one, too – he sets it off nice and slowly towards the middle, it looks like it’s not going in, and gradually it curves towards the edge of the pocket. Big chance for all-square now.

3.19pm BST

Except this is Mark Selby we’re talking about, which means Higgins is soon behind the yellow and “tapping the table in appreciation”. His escape is close, but not close enough and still a foul and a miss; there’s mirth and hilarity and Jan Verhaas is helped replace the ball by the marker. Eventually, Iggins is in position to miss again, potting the white off the brown, more chuckles and chortles, and he does it again! It’s Biggus Dickus territory now, folk creasing and corpsing all over the show, and this time Iggins gets his flick and the exchange recommences.

3.14pm BST

Faced with the choice of easy blue or missable pink, Higgins chooses the former, but with more work to do with the white, he cannons the brown. The break is 29, but that’s all it is; an excellent safety shot, played while hampered by the yellow, puts him in a strong position to stop the rot.

3.12pm BST

The Wizard is rolling now, a lovely recovery red cut home, followed by a yellow into its own pocket that he uses to cannon the pack. The split does badly, but he manufactures a delicate pot, striking down, nonetheless.

3.10pm BST

Higgins can scarcely believe his mazel! He cracks in a red to the green pocket, so beautifully that the “and it’s there!” rings out well before it goes in. Selby looks like he’s had 63 pints of snakebite followed by a bucket chaser.

3.08pm BST

Oy gevalt! Selby is so focused on getting the white around the back of the cluster to the black, he only goes and misses the red!

3.08pm BST

Oh dear. Higgins wades into a long red, hits it much too thick, and leaves it as an easy starter into the opposite middle.

3.07pm BST

Steve says Higgins is “losing it a bit”, but just as much, Selby is selbying and the balls have run in his favour.

3.05pm BST

Higgins sinks the loose red, but has to double the black; he misses, and that’s five on the spin! Higgins leaves the arena, and desperately needs this next frame.

3.04pm BST

This has been an excellent run – Dennis has never seen a frame like it, so it’s fair to say you haven’t either. He finishes on 40, the compilation of which took eight minutes. Higgins is now back at the table, 51 behind with 52 available. But the black is on one side cushion, the pink on the other, one red kissing the green and one on the bottom cushion.

2.59pm BST

Selby is working this break out really well – of course, he needs more reds than normal because he’s taking low-value colours, the blue, pink and black being tied up. It seems no sort of problem.

2.57pm BST

Talking of books read as a child, this one, Secrets From The School Underground, basically taught me everything I needed to know – and some things I probably didn’t need to know that I absolutely needed to know, aged 10. It’s still brilliant now.

2.55pm BST

There is now one red roundabout the pink spot, and the rest all above it. It reminds me of a book I read as kid, The Boy With Illuminated Measels. Anyway, Higgins wobbles one in the jaws of the yellow pocket – it’s a decent effort – only for it to cruise all the way over to the yellow pocket, and Selby is up sharply. It’s beginning to look a lot like 10-8.

2.52pm BST

On the other hand, we may be here no time at all. One mistake, and the frame is done.

2.51pm BST

There are now seven reds in the baulk half of the table, and they’re playing into and out of the morsels which comprise the cluster. We may be here a while.

2.48pm BST

That last frame was the longest of the match so far; we now look set for another of similar ilk, as they exchange containing safety.

2.48pm BST

Selby plays a terrific shot to crack the pack, with ridiculous power off the bottom cushion and back down again. But then he misses a straightforward red with only eight points on the board … only to leave nothing! The run of the balls is in his favour this afternoon.

2.45pm BST

What on earth! Higgins absolutely slams the black, catches the near knuckle, and Selby is back at the table! What was Higgins thinking?

2.44pm BST

Excellent safety shot from Selby, but he’s left a red, and what a pot from Higgins! He cues this beautifully – the object ball is about halfway between the white and the pocket. All he has to do now is deal with the black, clip the bottom of the cluster, and he’s in!

2.42pm BST

Very quickly, the white is nestled in the reds, and they’re playing away and back in; prime rerack territory. But then Higgins plays back up to the baulk line and we’re back to normal.

2.40pm BST

Hazel Irvine whispering minds me of a time in Primary School when the headmaster retired. The deputy head told us to bring in cash to buy him a present, whispering in the process; he was in Israel at the time.

2.38pm BST

Higgins barely had a look at a pot in that frame. He badly needs to chap himself the next one.

2.37pm BST

Selby wants to win this session apparently. And he also wanted to win the first frame. Similarly, the first hour is crucial.

2.36pm BST

Driiiiiiink! We’ve had our first “WHERE’S THE CUE BALL GOING?!” of the day. The answer is in the yellow pocked, and Selbz will now deposit at least as many points as he needs to win his fourth frame in a row.

2.34pm BST

Selby can’t build much of a break, but he’s close to having the frame secure – all the more so when excess side has Higgins clattering into the brown. There are balls scattered all over, but Selby doesn’t put him back – oh how the crowd chortle when JV suggests he does – and a further safety exchange ensues.

2.32pm BST

A poor safety from Higgins has Selby back at the table, and after a red and a pink, he plays a lovely shot striking down on the cue ball to keep the break going. “The best I’ve ever seen with awkward bridging,” says Dennis Taylor. I might just copy that to my clipboard, given how many times I’ve learnt it this week.

2.30pm BST

Selby wobbles in a pink – it takes four turns around the jaw before it finally relents – but quickly runs out of position, so plays safe. The break was 21, and he now leads 31-1.

2.27pm BST

“Afternoon Daniel,” tweets Stuie Neale. “Think this may go late but I don’t think too late. I think Higgins will win 18-12.”

I’d be surprised if he won today 8-5. Selby is the best in the world and has been playing like it – if Higgins wins, it’ll be much closer, I’d expect.

2.26pm BST

Higgins takes on a pot – the red is close to the top cushion and near the top right. It looks impossible for him to overcut it – if he hits it, it’s in. Except he does overcut it, Selby then rolls another red into it and he’s away!

2.21pm BST

Selby misses a red into the middle, but played as a shot to nothing, and when Higgins is too pacey with his resultant safety, there’s a red on. But Selby misses into the top-left – he’s in big trouble now! Except he’s not because a noble-double-kiss – a quadruple kiss – a double-kiss squared – leaves the white in the jaws of the top-right.

2.18pm BST

After some time taken to ponder – and were there a world championship of the same, Selby would be a leading contender – he opts not to open the pack any further, probably wise given how trickily things are now set. So he takes a red with a green, then another red, and tucks in behind the blue, on the side cushion, green side. The break was 10 and there shall begin a “fascinating safety exchange”. This is going to be so good.

2.15pm BST

Selby catches a red far too thin – far too thinly, I should say – but Higgins quickly knocks in a red. But then he jaws a tough blue, and though it – along with the black – is now out of commission – the pink is in play. There is, though, a serious quantity of werk to be done.

2.13pm BST

“Watching the snooker on German TV because that is “wie ice rolle,” emails Ian Copestake. “Its always a pleasure to listen to the legendary snooker commentator Rolf Kalb, who in terms of enthusiasm makes Klopp sound unhappy…”

It’s funny you should say that. When Selby was busy beating Ronnie in 2014, Liverpool were busy collapsing against Crystal Palace – a bad night for Steve Peters. And tonight, they visit Watford; spooky, eh?

2.11pm BST

Higgins leaves Selby a tempter, but he eschews; it’s going to be a long day. Get in!

2.09pm BST

Selby breaks off. He’s even money, with Higgins 8/11.

2.08pm BST

And out comes the Jester.

2.07pm BST

Out comes ‘Iggins…

2.07pm BST

When Selby beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2013, Selby was 10-7 down overnight. The difference there was the deficit should’ve been much, much worse, but the performance he delivered on day 2 was phenomenal. It was perhaps the first time O’Sullivan was beaten when he really didn’t want to be.

2.02pm BST

Housekeeping: first to 18 wins, so Higgins needs another eight and Selby needs another 11.

2.01pm BST

Right then, here we go!

1.01pm BST

“I’ve been trying to think of reasons he won’t win it and I can’t come up with any.” Thus spake Stephen Hendry of Mark Selby, and at the time, it seemed bang on; and even if it didn’t, who is anyone ever to exist in the entire history of existence to argue with him?

But Hendry had reckoned without two very important things: the will and skill of John Higgins, which have very few equals in any sport. In the first two-thirds of yesterday’s play, Higgins, one of the few players in history capable of matching Selby’s tactical pecking, absolutely put it on him; without a late fightback, we’d be preparing for a coronation, and hoping for any kind of session this evening.

Continue reading…

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May 01

Brilliant Selby defends world title – report & video

Mark Selby retains his World Championship title with a stunning comeback to defeat John Higgins 18-15 in the final at the Crucible.

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May 01

World Championship: Black-ball mystery frustrates Mark Selby

Did Mark Selby hit the black ball? Watch the controversial moment from the World Championship final and judge for yourself.

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