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Masters Snooker 2015

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by Cressida Ryan (subscribe)
Classicist and traveller
Event: -
Snooker - you have to concentrate entirely on every shot, and think ahead. An absorbing combination of skill and physical stamina, it's a fascinating sport. The Masters tournament offers you the game at its best. This year is going to be a year of excitement and upset. If you put 16 of the world's top players in one place, the results are bound to be unpredictable. There are no weak links!

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The Masters!

Day one has already seen a huge amount of action. Reigning world champion Mark Selby lost 5-6 to former world champion Shaun Murphy in a match which saw Selby speed ahead in frame one, lag massively behind from then on, before a strong, but ultimately unsuccessful comeback.

In the evening session, Marco Fu met Stuart Bingham was the higher seeded player, and odds-on favourite to win the match (2-1 instead of 4-11). Never assume you know what will happen though. Fu won with a convincing score of 6-3, as Bingham never quite got off the ground. Fu's form was stunning, leading to a maximum 147 break in frame four. Only the third maximum ever made in the Master's 40 year history (the previous two being Kirk Stevens in 1984 and Ding Junhui in 2007), it earned Fu 10,000 and made Masters history.

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Marco Fu's 147!

If Ronnie wins, as the bookies expect, it will be his sixth Masters title, equalling the legendary Stephen Hendry. Will the Rocket be on fire? Only time will tell, but his performance this season has been strong.

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The trophy

The Ally Pally is a great venue too. Despite its size, the auditorium is built for an intimate feel, with no bad view in the house. You can hear the players on the practice table even as matches go on, reminding you how much this is an ongoing job for all of them.

Snooker tables really are very beautiful, and watching snooker live is a treat. You can concentrate on the table, watch the referee and the players all at once, and not constantly be readjusting to yet another camera angle on screen. The BBC coverage is good though, with excellent commentary by top men in the field. It's a shame that the radios audience members can wear to tune in have been reissued without warning though. Anyone hoping to reuse an old headset will be disappointed.

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The table being reset

Where else other than a snooker match does even the loser stop to sign autographs and pose for photographs with the audience?

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Stuart Bingham, gracious in defeat

Where else does the crowd cheer when ushers remove mobile-phone using audience members? Further entertainment can be gained by watching the cameramen; photographers sit in a row facing the audience, their lenses obscuring their faces, their cyclopean gaze following the players round the room en masse, a gentle wave of torsos turning as the players stride around the table.

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Photographers en masse

This really is different to any other snooker tournament. Invitation only, it pits the best players against each other. This season saw the introduction of the 'Champion of champions' tournament, but they have a different feel, a different membership. There is room for both in the calendar. Sponsored by Dafabet, there is a reasonably heavy betting presence, but it's not oppressive.

Practicalities: as last year, each match in this tournament is the best of 11 frames, with the first to 6 going through to the next round. All sessions are at 13:00 and 19:00 GMT. The final takes place on Sunday 19th, with two sessions, this time at 13:30 and 19:00 GMT. It is split over two sessions because it is the best of 19 frames, that is, the first to 10.

There is reasonable parking available. Toilet facilities are again reasonable, given the relatively small audience, especially if you're a woman! The merchandise stalls are running a sale, and a tombola with top prize as World Championship tickets. Food is not excessively expensive given the venue. There's a German hot dog stall, and a pub / bar where you can get a substantial burger and chips for 9.95.
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Why? Watch snooker Masters at their best
Where: Alexandra Palace
Cost: Tickets from 15
Your Comment
Snooker is really enjoyable to watch - it would be fun to see it in person!
by Erin (score: 2|560) 2279 days ago
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