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Anatomy of a Crucible decider

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Ben Dirs | 08:38 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Ali Carter sweeps back into the theatre first, striding purposefully to his seat: having won the previous three frames, the underdog is riding a wave of momentum. Ten seconds later, the curtain parts and Judd Trump appears: pallid and ghostly against the black material, like a silhouette in reverse.

Many sportspeople have stories pertaining to that final 'look': "He was already gone," they tell you, "you could see it in his eyes." They don't tell you about the times they thought an opponent had gone and those empty eyes had lied.

But there is definitely something in the pre-deciding-frame handshake: Carter, looking officious, holding Trump's gaze a moment longer than necessary; Trump breaking the spell before seeking succour in some water.

"I never really felt good out there and he was more mentally ready," said Trump, last year's runner-up and this year's pre-tournament favourite. "I've played this game a lot of years," said Carter, "so I just felt that when it really mattered, at 12-12, it was going to turn for me."

For what seems an age, neither player pots a ball. Although Trump, in the words of Carter, "has a few lashes". "He'd been doing that the whole match and he just did not stop getting away with it," added Carter, a beaten finalist in 2008.

After 10 minutes and 22 seconds, Trump finally makes one disappear and all those whispers, all those stifled belches, splutters and coughs are buried in an avalanche of cheers. But Trump makes only nine before missing a red to the corner, the alchemy within the Crucible turning the cheers into "oohs" and "aahs" and no doubt a fair few "what on earth happened theres?"

Ali Carter was 12-9 down but recovered to beat Judd Trump runner-up 13-12. Photo: Getty

"Even little shots were hard," said Trump, "I was slowing down too much, taking too much time." Carter, staring at his toes and shaking his head, was equally unimpressed: "I don't think Judd realises how much luck he gets."

Carter cuts a red into the corner and Trump, neck craned, looking skywards through spidered fingers, searches for the Crucible's furthest nook. But Carter soon runs out of position and lets Trump back in. You get to tell the different Crucible murmurs apart: this one says "there's only one winner from here".

Only Trump knows different. "I felt really nervy towards the end. I finished perfect on the red and I was just trying not to over-screw it. But I decelerated through the ball and took my eye off it." Trump misses the red with the rest just before the half-hour mark and the inhalations of disbelief seem to suck the life out of the place. "But," said Trump, "Ali still had to clear up from there."

"Judd's missed that red by a millimetre," said Carter, "he's just not gone through the ball quite quickly enough. Miss: I've won. Simple."

Or at least it should have been. Carter, pausing after every shot, muttering audibly to himself in front of the scoreboard - working out how much of himself he is still required to give - chisels out a break of 47.

The Essex man becomes more and more Essex before our eyes, until he is verging on jaunty. Trump, meanwhile, looks ready to dissolve into tears.

"I potted the pink, gave it the fist pump, I think I've done enough," said Carter. "Next thing I know, Judd's got me in snooker after snooker after snooker and I'm thinking, 'oh, what's going on here, I should have known not to do that'."

Trump, requiring four snookers, is suddenly rebooted and precision personified. Carter misses one attempted escape and when he misses a second, he is half an inch away from leaving a free ball. "That summed it all up," said Trump. "Millimetres here and there were the difference."

"I was giving it large and now I'm back to the table," said Carter. "Before you know it, he's got you in a snooker and you lose - how do you feel then?"

Having given up four more points, Carter gives us a taster: disgusted with an errant safety, he moves on the press seats and swipes a flannel from the ledge. A camera swivels and is wheeled under his nose: an X-ray machine for the soul.

Eventually Trump blinks, not once but twice. Carter, having rattled the jaws with his first attempt, does not miss second time, cutting a red into the middle. Forty-three minutes of pent-up tension froths over, at least in the Crucible crowd. Carter, having learned his lesson, just waggles his tongue.

"Ali dealt with the pressure better, and that was the difference," said Trump. Added Carter: "The granite players, you can't just blast them off the table. I know my way round a table and I knew how to break him down in the end."

Carter pots the yellow, green and brown before making a perfunctory attempt at the blue. Almost as much as Trump, he just wants out by now. A tilt of his glass, another fist pump, and he's gone, sprinting through the curtain. Trump weaves towards the exit like a drunk having overshot his stop on the Tube.

"I've been on too many wrong ends of matches like that," said Carter. "Now he can feel what it's like to have a nasty scar on his career. It's not easy to get over." Something tells me Trump already knew that: not so much scarred by one of the bloodiest Crucible deciders, more like hanged, drawn and quartered.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think that Carter's behavior throughout the last session was atrocious. Shaking his head at every fortunate shot, snide facial expressions and then to go out and say that Trump gets an extraordinary amount of luck is simply unbelievable, when Trump is obviously one of the most talented players on tour. Sheer jealousy; I for one hope that Carter doesn't make it past the quarters...

  • Comment number 2.

    instead of your ramblings is there any chance that you could put the live coverage on this website now?

  • Comment number 3.

    Finally someones noticed the amount of luck that trump gets and his behaviour by not apologoising 4 the flukes he kept getting.
    All he does is whack the ball around its not a gift yes, hes successful but he's not world class not by a long way until he learns there's more than 1 way to pot a ball.
    Also good on carter by getting to him, snookers about skill, mental strength and a little bit of luck.
    Karma bites back against Trump.

  • Comment number 4.

    philm99 - you're talking rubbish. Carter hasn't got anything to be jealous of. If you'd actually watched what was happening on the table during that final frame instead of looking for reasons to criticise Carter, you would have seen that his run of the ball was horrendous for the first half-hour, while Trump constantly missed or misjudged shots and left nothing on. Also, you have to take into consideration how hard Carter had worked to get back into the match, and indeed to get his career back on track after his struggles this season. To fatuously put it all down to 'jealousy' really shows how big that chip is resting on your shoulder.

    Trump lost, get over it. He'll have other chances and so will Carter.

  • Comment number 5.

    Fascinating to hear the insights into this mindset. Just like a tiebreak decider in tennis or playoff finish in golf, these moments are what truly discover a champion. It's easy enough to reel off century breaks when there's no pressure, but being able to do it when you know the entire season is resting on the tiny fractions of a snooker table makes it daunting, even for the most experienced pro's. Every player, at some point, has flinched when crossing the finish line, and in a final frame decider its even more poignant.

    It's all the more apt when you consider the name 'The Crucible'. Magnificent name and venue, and I hope the home of snooker will remain so, rather than getting the way of the philistines wanting a move away. It'd be like England football team playing home games at the Etihad or Wimbledon being shipped out to Beijing, brick by brick.

  • Comment number 6.

    Have watched snooker for years and Ali Carter for a good few. Very disappointed in his snide gestures and unecessary after match comments. They detract so much from what was an excellent snooker performance and for me he has dropped in my estimation - lets hope he gets himself under control for his next match - or are these part of his new tactics!! I guess snooker players will plumb the same depths as other sportsmen do these days - so much for etiquette!!

  • Comment number 7.

    I can't believe I just wasted 5 minutes reading this.....

  • Comment number 8.

    An excellent well written article that captured all of the tension and emotions of that final frame. Whilst it's true that Trump has a lot of raw talent, talent without the character to go with it, is usually very short lived. It seems to me that Trump, by his attitude, which come across as cocky and brash to me, and disrespectful therefore of his opponents, has yet to develop the character that is essential for games like snooker and golf. I think that Carter is being very perceptive in his comments. Both Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry came across as arrogant. But an arrogance that was based upon achievements and never, you felt, was in a manner that showed disrespect for their opponents and the game, on and off the table. Equally so, Ronnie. Massive talent all three but undergirded with great character and respect.In Trump I am reminded of a flash kid that I just love to see being brought down a peg or two. Once he has learnt some humility then perhaps he can become a true champion and not just a flash in the pan. I can understand Carter's reaction and response to Trumps pyrotechnics and yes he was often very lucky. One wonders how more volatile charcters such as Maguire or Allen might have reacted in that last frame ? Everyone seems too willing to fawn over Trump but I think that someone needs to have a word in his ear about the etiquette of snooker. Well done Carter.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have to say I agree (in less strenuous terms) with commenter 1, and 6 here. Carter's been around long enough to know better - he's a good match player but I'd put him in the group with Dott and Murphy as the sort of players that make you beat yourself rather than outplay you.

    Hendry recently talked on this site about his mentality of enjoying kicking someone while they're down. It's a fascinating insight into a winner's mindset - and also explains why he's largely unlikeable personally - but all this talk of etiquette and luck by Carter, when you're as talented as Judd Trump is and you've reached a World Championship final at 21, you can't tiptoe around saying sorry for trying to win frames.

    I think it says more for the game that Trump was favourite for this tournament, at his stage in the game, at his age, with only two titles to his name. That's not his fault, it's hype built up by the media and the fact he is an extraordinary talent. Jamie Jones is a qualifyer taking out seeds left and right this year - shall we nail him on as favourite for next year already?

    I for one hope he sees off 'The Captain' and we can let the snooker do the talking.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is the first time I've really got in to a match in the last few years and the snooker was brilliant. One of Trump's pots left both Carter and me shaking our heads at something that just didn't seem possible. However, Carter showed that there is more way to skin a cat in this beautiful game.

    My only gripe is that both players have shown they need to grow up a bit. Trump's advisors need to tell him that he's not being soft by acknowledging a fluke and Carter's camp need to let him know that constantly bemoaning his own bad luck does him no favours. That being said it would have taken far worse behaviour (football managers?) to take the shine off such a magnificent match.

  • Comment number 11.

    Steve Davis hardly ever apologised for a fluke, his reasoning being he was not sorry!

    So Trump got some flukes there is no reason to apologise - etiquette aside it should not be a given that someone says sorry. A fluke is a fluke and both players know it, does it really make Carter feel better that someone raises their hand in acknowledgement when its so obvious anyway?

    Trump has won more in his young career than Carter in his rather more extensive one. However Carter's experience and career longevity won him the day. He took his time in teh final frame, on a couple of occasions backing off shots and re-composhing himself. He capitalised on Trump's mistakes - he should never have missed the rest shot - but he will bear a scar for it and come back better for it.

    I have no problem with the needle in or after the game and those whining about it especially the sausage who said Carter's behaviour was "atrocious" really need to go watch some crown green bowling if that is the atmosphere they are after.

  • Comment number 12.

    Trump's stupid hairstyle and, at times, errant safety play is enough of a turn off for me.

  • Comment number 13.

    Also, I can't believe comment 8 holds up Ronnie O'Sullivan as an example of respect. He's the best player possibly of all time, but he's long criticised the way the game is run, he's vocal about opponents he doesn't like (Ebdon), he walked out of a match versus Hendry 5-1 down... saint snooker he ain't.

    The guy is the biggest draw in the game and makes it worth watching, and in most matches I'm rooting for him to play brilliantly and win. But I'd disagree that Trump has really behaved in a way Hendry and O'Sullivan never would/did, as you suggest.

    Read that interview with Hendry and tell me that arrogance isn't disrespectful. Here's a direct quote to start with: "It's nice when you're beating an opponent and you're kicking him when he's down. That's what sport is all about, the only reason for playing."

  • Comment number 14.

    That frame was the most tense and exciting moment of the tournament so far. Ali carter could have been more gracious, but it was intriguing to see two players battling with the mind games also at this point you could see it meant a lot to both players. If you haven't got the thrills of Ronnie and Stephen why not get involved in the mind games?

  • Comment number 15.

    I actually quite enjoyed seeing Carter have a couple of snide asides at Trump. It's not something i generally like to see players doing but i felt Carter was justified in his "slow clap" moment, it was an phenomenal slice of luck for Trump and to not acknowledge it at all definitely lacks etiquette. There's (more or less) deserved fluke pots and then there's fluked snookers when by all rights you should have left a gilt edge chance. While I think it's good form to apologise for both, the latter in particularly really should be acknowledged.

    Excellent comebac from Carter and some exciting snooker. As for Trump we'll be seeing a lot more of him and like many young sportsmen I think he just needs a bit of time to settle in (to draw parallels with tennis both Djokovic and Nadal had many negative traits that made them hard to support in their early careers but now they are both massively likeable and fine ambassodors for their game.

  • Comment number 16.

    #13. Ronnie is an idiosnycratic snooker genius and exciting entertainer and one has to make some allowance for genius. I am no fan of Hendry ( very unlikeable with about as much personality as a lump of wood ) or Davis ( I'd sooner look at the wallpaper ) but they have all been there and done it. My point about Trump is that I see him to be a cocky brat and comes across as such. Flash style but as yet, no character or substance. And yes, as a beginning to maturity, do something about that silly irritating to look at hairstyle. As Carter said, snooker is just about crash, bang, wallop.

  • Comment number 17.

    Think it is a humble pie Judd. Nothing wrong with some attitudes in the game, you play high risk shots, you pay the price.

  • Comment number 18.

    My last sentence was a typo and is should have read isn't.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think Ali Carter needs to concentrate more on winning his next match, rather than bemoaning Trump for being unprofessional.

    Trump gets a lot of of luck round the table, yes, but I also think he plays some truly magnificent shots that are well thought out, and if you have the confidence to go for those types of shots then fair play to him. He comes across as an 'all or nothing' type of player, he just goes with his instinct and I personally think that's admirable. He proved in the last frame that his safety game is coming along really nicely and give him another year or two and he'll be at his very best.

    So what, he flukes shots now and then, but to whinge on about it like Carter did is just a little petty in my eyes. He's got a terrible attitude and should be embracing players of Trump's ilk, not putting them down for playing what I and many others would consider, to be brave shots.

  • Comment number 20.

    Can someone explain to me where this perception of 'arrogant Trump' has come from? Geniune question as I don't understand it. Sure he plays flashy shots and 'naughty' snooker, but in every interview I've seen he comes across as relatively humble, like a young man enjoying the dream. Acknowledging flukes? Honestly, what difference does that make? As comment 11 says, both players know full well when a fluke turns up, if anything I'm surprised more players dont jokingly say they meant to do it!

    All the characteristics around Trump seem to have been put on him by the press and other players, ex and current. So he bought a Ferrari. Big deal. He's a young man with no real responsibilities in life - yet. And in none of the interviews I've seen has he come across as a big shot. All the time he just seems to be a young guy enjoying playing snooker for a living and being good at it, and it seems more jaded players in the game seem to have a problem with that. I'm not sure why.

    There was no need for Carter to be like that. It seems to me that he was so tense in that match that anything Trump did would bug him somehow. I congratulate Carter for winning, but it's bad enough to slag off your opponent after being defeated - let alone after winning. And there was no need for the snide 'lets see how he takes being beaten. Not nice is it eh young scallywag?' comments, which weren't just snide but patronising. You think Trump loosing the final last year to Higgins didn't hurt at all? Like he just brushed it off and said 'oh well I'm still minted'?

    Probably the best explanation I can think of for this is they feel threatened by Trump. Most of the time in sport, when there is needle, there is fear and respect for an opponent. I always worried when, in the buildup to England vs Australia rugby/cricket matches etc, there's no needle from either side, particularly the Aussies - as it means they don't fear us at all. And it normally is the prelude to a hiding. It seems Carter is enjoying rubbing Trump's face in it mainly out of frustration from his own season and because he and others on the tour perhaps feel Trump is a real threat to the status quo. Can anyone remember O'Sullivan getting needle like this when he first hit the circuit and started making waves? Did he get up people's noses at all? I mean I know he does naturally by some of the things he does, but I mean more because he was winning at such a young age?

  • Comment number 21.

    # 19

    "He proved in the last frame that his safety game is coming along really nicely "

    He did indeed play some nice safety shots, but I would raise two issues with his safety game in the last frame:

    1) why did he never put Carter back instead of trying to play another snooker?

    2) he got lazy and his last two safety shots left Carter with a chance to pot a red which he did on the second attempt

    you could argue his lack of safety experience cost him the frame and the match

    Fortune favours the brave but not the stupid

  • Comment number 22.

    Also, whilst I think of it - the point has been made about not acknowledging flukes, but near the end on one of the snookers, it looked for a moment like Trump might get a free ball, and as Carter panicked and came to the table to have a look, Trump instantly said 'no, it won't be called free ball'. And he was correct. Make of that what you will I guess?

  • Comment number 23.

    It is understandable that Carter maybe feels he's had a tough time of it, with his health concerns effecting his form, but he does come across as someone with a chip on his shoulder, he was talking about scars in the build up to the game and i had the feeling he fancied a crack at the lad. I think occasionally it might not hurt Trump to acknowledge good fortune, but the way he plays he'd be humbly begging forgiveness every five minutes. All because your opponent misses doesn't mean you automatically get an opportunity, Carter handled the pressure better, he was patient and persistent, and he wass trying to get at Trump from the chair, I agree with Trump I thought the snide little clap was babyish, and Carter takes the bickie for winners sour grapes, maybe they both need to get over themselves a tad, but at the moment in snooker that goes for a few, names don't need to be mentioned. I also watched the stevens v hawkins match at the same time on my laptop and that was a fine example of how the game should be played, with grace, mutual respect and humour when contending with pressure and turns of fortune.

  • Comment number 24.

    With mixed metaphors like "the underdog is riding a wave of momentum" and similes like "pallid and ghostly against the black material, like a silhouette in reverse" it's no wonder you've been a BBC sports journalist for 10 years!

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 21 re your first question, When you require snookers you cant put your opponent back in and have to look for a new snooker, which is why the commentators talk about the best potential being of a snooker and a free ball.

    Overall I thought this was one of the best snooker matches I've seen in a long time, probably helped by the niggle between the two competitors. I do think that Trump is an exceptional talent especially with his potting ability but as with most young players he should focus now on improving the tactical side of his game if he is to go on and achieve his true potential.

    As for the etiquette of not holding your hands up when you get a dose of luck personally i think its poor form not to acknowledge that you got more than you deserved but these things even themselves out over time and I think Carter should have maintained the high ground by not making a deal of it in the post match interviews.

  • Comment number 26.

    Carter made some similar but milder comments to the BBC commentators when interviewed before the game. He obviously has a 'bee in his bonnet' about how Trump doesn't play the game how it should be played.

    It was all the more disappointing because the comments came immediately after his explanation of his problems with Crohn's disease and the lengths he has to go to to overcome it. I was just admiring how he gets on with the game without much complaint when he has such considerable health issues. Then he spoilt it by criticising Trump.

    I've always found him a bit boring to watch but he's certainly playing as well as I've ever seen him play and will be a tough nut to crack.

    However, Trump is the more talented player and has already achieved more in his career than Carter will in his.

  • Comment number 27.

    Trump's nine-foot screw shots are a dull substitute for quality snooker. The young Hendry and Ronnie were never so immature about impressing, instead they got stylish century breaks - lots of them.

    I think Trump is pretty arrogant in interviews. I've rarely seen him praise other players directly or indirectly, as every other player does when talking about their matches. He just explains why he didn't play properly because that's the only relevant factor - he's quite clear that obviously if he had, he'd then have beaten all opponents put against him. He's had a similar attitude to tournaments: "I thought I'd have won that tournament for sure"-type statements. Why did he think he'd win? He's only won a couple, not got ten behind him has he. He got to the last world final, well done. Don't consider him some kind of automatic favourite for that feat.

    The BBC worship him for all the 'good for the game' angles, which is fine. He shouldn't believe all that but he does seem to, naively. They seized on his 'naughty' snooker tweet and it makes them look like a grandad trying to get down with the kids.

    Then again, when a Pointless Ten-Foot Screwback Challenge Cup tournament comes along, he'll be streets ahead of the rest :-)

    Hope this also answers

    20. At 12:23 1st May 2012, Adam WBF wrote:
    Can someone explain to me where this perception of
    'arrogant Trump' has come from?

  • Comment number 28.

    We hear a lot about bad losers but you can also be a bad winner as well. Carter didn't need to publicly lay into Trump like that - just enjoy the fact that you've won and get ready for the quarter finals.

    Maybe he thinks he's doing him a favour but surely he could have just had a quiet, friendly word with Judd off camera to let him know that he feels his etiquette and shot selection could be improved.

    I've always felt that snooker players seem a bit cold to each other after the match. You tend to see a token handshake and minimal words muttered before they run out of the arena. Not like in darts, tennis, boxing etc where they're all smiles and hugs.

  • Comment number 29.

    Some people really need to stop being so pathetic! What's wrong with a little bad blood between two rivals in the sporting arena?? Grow up lads isn't this what makes sport so interesting? In the 80's there was genuine bad blood between Higgins and Davis... and it made their meetings enthralling, when Ronnie loses the head and does something a little crazy it's great for the sport! Perhaps that's why interest in snooker has declined in recent years coz they are just a bunch of super talented but emotionless robots! Then the one time a match gets spicy everyone is moaning... grow up!!! Seems to me Trump fans are childishly having a pop at Carter coz their guy lost! I have watched a lot of Judd this year and the amount of times he has got lucky after lashing the balls around is amazing!!! I am not saying he should play differently as it is exciting to watch, but I can totally understand how Carter felt...

    When somebody has a lash at what might be called a 2 or 3 in 10 shot then misses but happens to leave you snookered or worse pots it of a ricochet, it's annoying... however if then he does not even bother to say sorry, it's down right infuriating and anyone who says 'Why should he? They both know it was a fluke!' Has either never played snooker or pool, is simply and idiot or is so in love with Trump that they think he can do what he wants without being criticised.... Well done Carter!!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    I remember a few years ago when Steve Lee played Trump in the final qualifying round. Steve commented then that Trump never apologised for flukes he got during the match, so it's obviously a trait of his. Not very sporting.

    Ali shouldn't have said anything after the match, but you can see his point.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ 20

    Couldn't agree with you more.

    @ 27

    Whilst I agree that Trump sometimes play overly agressive shots, often with a lot of screw, it seems to me that he generally only plays the '9-foot screw backs' when there is no easy path back to baulk. Seems like a nice option to have to me, that most players wouldn't be capable of.

    @ 29

    Love how you tell people to stop being pathetic and then finish your post by claiming that anyone who doesn't think that apologising for flukes is a big deal is either 'an idiot or in love with Trump'. Right...........

  • Comment number 32.

    I dont see why everyone is so caught up on apologising after a fluke??

    @29 - I have no particular affiliation to Judd Trump and don't particularly class him as one of my favoured snooker players, but you play to win, so dont apologise if you get a bit of luck along the way - if Carter wants to get stroppy about him not apologising then its up to him. There is a difference between being sporting and just getting on with the game. you say you don't mind bad blood as it goes with the sport but then take major umbridge as someone not apologising for a fluke?? I have played in pool leagues, but not a lot of comeptitive snooker and it doesnt bother me if someone apologises or not, it doesn't bring the ball back onto the table or from hiding behind a colour does it????

    perhaps you are too in love with mr Carter - maybe you should follow him round the tour and rub his back and pat his head every time someone gets a fluke against him......

    @ 25 - thanks for the clarification - I was watching it with the sound off so I did not hear or know why he was carrying on.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think in a way it's quite funny that Carter was moaning about flukes and Judds luck. I've never really understood the point in apologising for a fluke if you were really sorry you'd play a safety straight away afterwards but they don't they take full advantage.

    I'm also not particularly surprised that Judd gets more flukes than other people. I mean if you hit the ball twice as hard it's going to buzz around the table for longer and there is an increased chance that something good can happen from it. It also means that some pots that would drop in with a bit less on it can bobble out so it's all swings and roundabouts really. Carter just needs to grow a pair he managed to come across as a sore winner after than and tried to talk down to a guy who has more talent and was ill coming into the championships. He's entitled to his comments but he might need to take the edge off in the future to not come across as such a whiner.

  • Comment number 34.

    Carter's not the brightest bulb in the bed, is he? The comment that Trump 'gets more luck' than other players ... quite astonishingly (!) soft-headed and stupid.

    Or maybe he was being tongue-in-cheek, just kind of deliberately playing up to the 'Essex Boy' stereotype. In which case, fair enough, rather amusing.

  • Comment number 35.

    I aint a particular fan of both of these but Carter has previous for his snide comments and bitterness. A few years ago when he got beat he was pretty vocal about not enjoying things and retiring....I really wish he did to be honest. It seems he only likes it when he's winning.

    Judd just seems to be a player believing in the hype surrounding him. He's done well so far in his career so he has every right to be confident. Maybe a few acknowledgements where he gets a fluke, but even the commentators now laugh when someone appoligises they always say "he doesn't mean it really".

    Personally I don't think they need to be appologised for, but after the game they can acknowledge they had a few flukes during interview, and even a brief word backstage with their opponent maybe? Flukes are a part of the game, it's not like a dirty and intentional move like handballing the football when it's going in the goal or a risky tackle aiming to do some damage to a player in football.

    Anyway the field is opening nicely now, and I think the winner of Robertson-O'Sullivan will really fany their chances. Stephen McGuire might have something to say about that though.

  • Comment number 36.

    Dominic, I'll take that a level further, a player gets out of a snooker and either pots the ball or lays a snooker himself and is expected to apoligise?????

    No, he's played a good shot by getting out of a snooker in the first place and had a bit of good fortune.

    By that standard, everytime a player pots a ball, splits the reds and has an easy pot and a good spread should apologise for similar good fortune, after all, it can go bad, you can even foul by potting the wrong ball.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 31 (13:30 1st May 2012, stevieboyc)

    I think other players can play the long screwbacks, though I imagine not with the complete ease that Trump does. But they're often a high-risk substitute for a simpler, less showy shot - reds get scattered everywhere and he's not under control.

    Don't get me wrong - if he plays 'em and people love 'em, that's fine by me and good luck to all involved :-)

    I just can't see how that sets him apart from everyone else. His breakbuilding is good but not the quality of many other players. And confidence and ambition are fine but arrogance (talking above all other players) is not backed up by results.

    But I'm sure he'll settle down. At the moment, I don't hear him reflecting on defeats as being his fault but he's new to all this media spotlight stuff. In years to come, he'll be a little more aware of his failings as well as his talent. That'll balance him out, hopefully into a great player :-)

  • Comment number 38.

    Trump was very very lucky last year in the semi to beat Ding as he fluked too many balls in the match. I don't know too much but I feel Trump is a bit too show off and doesn't respect his opponent.

  • Comment number 39.

    I like the way Trump will pot a real good shot, but others do as well, or they may play a better all round game combining everything, potting break building and safety, i do not however, like the way that most snooker commentators are so plainly biased towards Trump during his matches, i thought they were supposed to be impartial.

  • Comment number 40.

    @29 As someone who regularly plays (with relative success) in snooker leagues and competitions I can honestly say if someone doesn't apologise for a fluke I'm not bothered at all - irrespective of the later result. I've noticed a lot of players tend to struggle if they think someone else is getting all the luck to the extent that often their own game goes off completely as they spend too much time thinking about their opponent. Having said that I'll always hold my hands up if I get some luck.

    One other thing I'd take umbrage with is this oft repeated statement that Judd's already achieved more than Ali Carter - Carter's had televised 147's, been in the top 16 for god knows how long, numerous ranking semi-finals, finals and a few tournament victories, I'm guessing he's had over a hundred tournament centuries etc (not checked that). Granted Judd's won the UK but Carter's been a top player - despite the Crohn's - for ages, and Judd's only beginning his top class career. Who knows what could happen in the long run?

    Incidentally this has been a fantastic tournament, just a shame I predicted Ding to win it pre-tournament! Chinese Year of the Dragon my ....

  • Comment number 41.

    Yo, and thanks for all the comments. I must say I find all this anti-Trump stuff a little bit weird. I just don't get it to be honest - he comes along, plays a few funky shots, hits it a little bit harder than most other players and people get the hump.

    Why exactly? Because he dares to play snooker a bit differently than most? I don't remember anyone ever having a go at Adam Gilchrist, or whichever cricketer, for taking a few liberties with bowlers: "Sorry, Adam, can't go hitting sixes over point, that's just not how the game is played." If he's able to play this deep screw-shot that takes the ball back to baulk, then why shouldn't he play it? It just seems like other players are a bit irritated he's not playing snooker the same as them, as if there's some unwritten rule. But it's not as if he's cheating or anything. Is it? Then again, I do think he should hold his hand up after flukes, that's just cricket.

  • Comment number 42.

    For awhile in the snooker firmament there's been an established order- O'Sullivan, Higgins and Williams; with a second tier of Murphy, Robertson, Ding, and Carter trying with various degrees of success to displace and succeed these older, truly great players. Of this second grouping I would suggest that only Robertson has stepped up and shown he has the game and the mental aptitude to potentially establish himself as true number one who can lead snooker into a post O'Sullivan Higgins, Williams era.

    As Robertson continues to try and drive forward the careers of Murphy and Ding have flattened out into a kind of bland, reliable consistency that is some way short of the "greatness" a number of commentators predicted for them: Can anyone remember the days when the young Ding (pre- the 2007 Masters final when he lost to R. O'Sullivan) was spoken of as a multiple world champion and future all-time great? The likes of Joe Johnson have spoke of how they expected Murphy, post his 2005 win to become world number and dominate the game for the foreseeable future. Carter, too, despite his great promises, through a combination of illness and suspect temperament, has so far also failed to significantly add a number of prominent titles to his existing tournament cache.

    And then Trump comes along and blows EVERYONE out of the water. Sadly, the likes of Carter who were supposed to be the coming men, have grumbled, moaned amongst themselves, imagined disrespectful slights and casual insults where none existed, and allowed a misplaced sense of entitlement to fester and sour.

    Has Judd helped himself? Perhaps not? Some of his interviews where he has suggested Ronnie's best days are behind him, have been less than respectful. But experienced journalists aren't sent out by their editor tyros to come back with bland comments out of their interviewees. So Judd needs to wise up in the PR department. And Yes, it would be hard for anyone to argue that Judd does not get plenty of running, but anyone who seriously follows the game knows that luck evens out over a tournament and a season. Carter lost a match to Judd in the Premier Snooker league after Judd enjoyed the benefits of a couple of outrageous snookers and he has obviously not forgotten this loss. I am sure players text each other after matches and every gripe and moan about Judd has flown around a small inner circle of players he has - from their POV- undeservedly beat.

    What do these group of malcontents think Judd should do? Capitulate towards them for a few years until they are graciously willing to accept his arrival? Miss long pots that they themselves strive for - but miss? (Clive Everton once wrote that in his opinion Carter was the best long potter in the game; and Murphy himself proudly stated his belief that he and Neil Robertson were the best long potters in the game.) Should Judd slow down, lose his flair, and settle for earning lots of money on the burgeoning snooker circuit, without ever seriously seeking to be the undisputed number one? And if so, who benefits?

    Does the paying public who want to see some flair, personality and genuine excitement? The answer is an unambiguous No. The only people who might benefit from a decline in Trump's form are the host of over-paid, generally interchangeable modern snooker players who all play the game in the same predictable manner without an iota of imagination, free spirit, or creativity.

    Like him or loathe him Trump is a genuine social media heavyweight; his video's on You Tube easily outranking the classic video hits containing the likes of O'Sullivan, J. White and Alex Higgins at their best, while his twitter following easily outstrips the links attached to his fellow professionals. The social media stats don't lie, and, in the short and long term, they're indicate that Trump is already the snooker's number one attraction for new sponsors and potential markets; this is what burns his fellow competitors. Before the malcontents get out of hand they would do well to remember that Judd has never cancelled an overseas trip at the last minute, pulled out of a match when things aren't ging his way, been caught on tape "fixing matches, made explicitly racist comments about fellow professionals, or denigrated a major tournament and a major host country. It says a lot for the character and self-absorption of snooker players that such behaviour can be cosily tolerated, whilst a few flukes can work the inward looking community up into a frenzy.

    Interestingly enough, though he's clearly the player most under threat from Trump, O'Sullivan, at least publicly has responded the most positively to Trump's recent ascent by practicing harder, working on his long game, and focusing his mind on reestablishing himself as the main player on tour; far from ending O'Sullivan's tenure at the top, Trump may well have reignited the jaded and ridiculously over-burdened O'Sullivan's career. Trump was right when he asked that "snooker be allowed to do the talking". With a cue in his hand, Trump "talks" the game as well. I for one look forward to seeing his career play out during the many years to come.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just to add quickly, whoever it was who asked whether Ronnie got any grief when he first came on the scene, I refer you to Alain Robidoux (sp?) when he first started playing left handed. That really was a mental breakdown!

  • Comment number 44.

    I'm not hugely interested in snooker, but I have to say the quality of the writing is very good. You got me in there, Mr Dirs.

    For the BBC, it is exceptional.

  • Comment number 45.

    Agree with what Dirs said above, which is a bit weird since I don't usually.

  • Comment number 46.

    @43 - that was me, haha! Of course, yes! I remember reading about that furore. He just totally lost the plot didn't he? I guess it must've been similar when Kevin Pietersen started playing his wild shots in cricket, and the cricket community was up in arms over the legality of it...if I remember rightly? Correct me if I'm wrong there.

  • Comment number 47.

    Anyone who says a player "is" lucky, in general, doesn't understand how chance works. You can say a player "was" lucky, since you can get more luck than another player. But to say a player "is" lucky, or "gets" a lot of luck, implies that somehow they automatically get more luck than other players. But chance doesn't work like that. If it can be proven that Judd gets a statistically significant greater number of flukes than other players then there must be a reason for it. Perhaps it's because he bashes the balls around the table more. But if that is the explanation, then it's not really that he gets more luck than the other player, since if the other player played in the same way then he would most likely get the same amount of luck. Perhaps other players need to bash the balls around more. Perhaps it's worth taking on more difficult, 55%-probability pots where you're sending balls everywhere since there if there's a 75% chance that you won't leave the ball on (I'm making the figures up, but hopefully you catch my drift).

  • Comment number 48.

    Slight correction to my last post: "If it can be proven that Judd gets a statistically significant greater number of flukes than other players then IT IS HIGHLY LIKELY there is a reason for it."

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 41 16:30 1st May 2012, bendirs

    Yo, and thanks for all the comments. I must say I find all this anti-Trump stuff a little bit weird. I just don't get it to be honest - he comes along, plays a few funky shots, hits it a little bit harder than most other players and people get the hump.


    If that were true, or it was as simple as that, you might have a point. So it obviously isn't as simple as that.

    For me, it's his attitude, it isn't his playing. Forget about hitting the ball harder (prob five times harder) and 'funky' playing, that's just you not reading what people say in their posts :-)

    I mean, we have seen new players liven up the scene before. I welcome it like I welcomed them - it reinvigorates the game.

    But he's cocksure he's the winner of the future...but keeps losing. He's gone already.

    So why are you so certain he deserves all these accolades and worship?

    Just asking. In your post, I'm amazed that you're amazed :-)

  • Comment number 50.

    It seems strange that so much tension, drama and high emotion can be instigated by 22 balls, twelve feet of green baize and two men but when you read an account like this it really gets to the heart of it.

    Ben, I generally enjoy your writing in a fairly light, entertained way - a bit like I would enjoy dry roasted peanuts or Bullseye. However, this time I think you surpassed yourself and it was more akin to a glass of 2005 Rioja or a fraught film by Fellini. Genuinely excellent stuff, capturing the pressure and the intensity of the moment - and managing to do that while remaining neutral throughout. Glad to see writing of that calibre on the BBC. Well done, sir.

  • Comment number 51.

    Why was my comment erased?

  • Comment number 52.

    When will Carter come to the realisation that he's a second rate player and crack on with his Jet2 Costa Del Sol plane chartering.

    Watching his reaction to Judd's luck, especially the obnoxiously bitter hand clapping, was cringe-worthy to say the least.

    Judd is without a doubt one of the most exciting players to come onto the snooker circuit in recent years. He has the bottle to take chances that 90% of players wouldn't even consider, he has shown immense dexterity and will no doubt go onto prove himself one of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

    Thank God there's players like him coming into the fold, and we don't have to watch middle of the road grinders like Carter and his dullard of a mate Ebdon bore the socks off everyone.

  • Comment number 53.

    I'm not sure I can agree either with the anti-Trump comments about a disregard for the sport and taking too many risks etc. I'm sure the only reason he goes for the momentous 9' screw backs etc are that he feels the percentages are in his favour.

    Apart from natural talent, he obviously practises a lot on his long game. In time, the risks will balance themselves out and he may well find that he doesn't "get lucky" after a miss, and against a top opponent (or even a middle-tier one) he loses key frames or a match over it. This may lead him to evaluate how often he goes for the so-called crazy shots. Over time snooker has become more attacking, that is obvious, and players come in with something a bit different which they and others learn from.

    I think it was Hendry during one of the intervals a couple of days ago talking about one of Carter's shots to develop further reds from potting a red (trusting the positional side to luck) and saying that with the standard of play now, maybe such riskier shots are more necessary than before.

    It is development of the sport, and I'm sure it won't be attack, attack, attack. To continue the cricket analogy from before (Gilchrist/KP etc), bowlers have to learn how to deal with such attacking play, and the safety side of snooker will develop to match. And cocky over-enthusiastic risk-takers will get their comeuppance from time to time.

    Remember Gary Player said, it's funny the more I practise, the luckier I get!

  • Comment number 54.

    Some people are finding it really hard to put themselves in the players' shoes. If you played 25 frames of high-tension snooker, and your opponent failed to acknowledge a single fluke, regardless of his style of play and how many he makes, do you think it wouldn't get to you? You can be damn sure it would. I love watching Trump play, he's a superb potter, but his attitude leaves ALOT to be desired. Not only does he never apologize for a fluke, he puts serious effort into not doing so. I'm sorry but come on! It's normal that his game will lead to him getting more flukes, but it's also normal to acknowledge when you get a particularly lucky one. It's called having respect for your opponent, and in a more fundamental sense, for yourself. Judd's young and maybe he'll learn in time, there's nothing wrong with a bit of etiquette, and humour likewise, unfortunately at the moment he doesn't possess either. Lighten up Judd! The world's not against you!

  • Comment number 55.

    I think Trump is missing a trick. Apologising for a fluke, if you have to keep doing it, can really wear an opponent down - the 'not another fluke, it's just not my day' syndrome. I know the best players will not be bothered, but sometimes a bit of etiquette can be a useful psychological tool!

    As for Ali Carter, he should also learn that you can be magnanimous and get your dig in at the same time. 'I am really relieved to get past Judd, such a great player who takes advantage of every bit of good fortune that comes his way...'

    Or perhaps they could just play snooker, win or lose, shake hands and get on with the next match.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think many people who are criticising Trump are forgetting that he's still only 22 years old. Think back to when you were 22 and what you were doing, how much you have grown as a person since then. I was out clubbing every weekend not practicing for World Snooker Finals. No doubt if Judd would have been Ali's age (32) he would have beaten him (why? current talent plus extra 10 years experience). I bet he'll be World Champion within the next 5 years.
    As to saying sorry - no one means to fluke a shot so whether he says sorry or not is just old fashioned. It's a game of hitting one ball into another flukes will often occur. That's snooker.

  • Comment number 57.

    BBC Sport these days full of journalists ponificating about all aspects of sport but the Corporation shows very little sport itself-the irony of it all

  • Comment number 58.

    @31 I said people should stop getting so worked up about a little bad blood between two sporting rivals... That's what I think is pathetic!! But I still believe that if you fluke a shot you should at least acknowledge the fact, so I am not really sure what your point is??? If it is not 'important' and part of the etiquette why do all the other players do it....???

    @32 Your comment is SO ridiculously childish and immature I am not even going to bother responding to it ( other than this post of course :) )

    BTW I have no particular affiliation to any player on the circuit I like watching snooker and was engrossed in the match the other day. In my opinion the bad feeling and 'snide' comments as people have called them only serve to make their next encounter more interesting and I can't wait for it to happen... It's a long time since I have said that about a snooker match so what's the problem?? As somebody above pointed out if you don't like a bit of bad blood go watch lawn bowls instead...!!!!

  • Comment number 59.

    Ha! Just realized it was no.32 who made the previous comment about lawn bowls! :) Oh well you can't be a total idiot after all I just read your post @11 again and to be fair I agree with almost everything you said that time!
    You just went and ruined it with your childish second comment!!!

  • Comment number 60.

    I assume the shot that has got everyones back up is the attempted pot that ended up with the white nestled up tightly behind the yellow and brown? If so, and it may just be me, my view of this was that that pot was clearly and without doubt a shot to nothing and that it was taken on safe in the knowledge that he could get the white back up the table. Now, I'm sure Trump had not intended to place the white so close to the colours but, is it really a fluke if your intentions are to play safe anyway? If someone breaks off they are attempting to leave the white on the cushion, if they over hit it and it rolls up nicely behind the green, will they apologise for it being a fluke? Of course not!

    I'm not in the camp of either player but I think a fluke is strong word and when, if going for a safety you end up with a snooker I'm not sure it really applies.

    On Trump specifically, he probably gets a little lucky, but his style will always produce luck one way or the other, he has a care free approach, sometimes it comes off and other times it wont, players wont complain when he goes for something and misses and leaves them on so there shouldn't be any complaints when he goes for something ridiculous and finds the back of the pocket. From a spectators point of view the contrast of styles between players can only be a good thing, and remember Trumps approach is not a lack of respect for the opponent it comes from a massive belief in his own game and long may that continue. Without that we wouldn't have seen the long red, banged in down the left hand cushion, a shot no one else would of even considered, again that has to be good for the viewer!

    Not sure I was too keen on Carters comments but I do understand the mental state both players would have been in after those 25 frames. We shouldn't make excuses for Trumps age but at the same time he shouldn't be discouraged to be the way he is or he'll lose what he has that is special to him and that is a fantastic talent. The safety play, the mental strength and the awareness of a game situation can be taught and learnt, the way Judd plays simply can not it's what he was born with. I would not be surprised if, in a few years time, he will be the dominant player and winning title after title. As he says he has already achieved more than Carter, so really who's style is right ansd who's is wrong??.......

    Maybe there's room for both..............

  • Comment number 61.

    I only hate 2 players in snooker, John Higgins, for reasons well known, and Judd Trump.

    I cant believe I hate him so much and want him to lose so badly, when he is an up and comer and a breath of fresh air. I thought I would love someone like him.

    I think it is because he declared other players were scared of Ronnie "unlike him" and he would win multiple world championships before he even won one. His arrogance, even at 22 is a nasty arrogance, and has made lots of snooker fans want him to lose.


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