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Saturday, 3 May 2008

Saturday thoughts

Hey everyone. I've been thinking, so I think a record of this occasion needs to be made.

1) Boris Johnson just became mayor. To me, this seems like a bad idea. He has odd views on immigration, he drinks too much, and he's an object of fun for everyone in the country who pays attention. He's a very tory tory indeed. But I think he's probably harmless. Most things in this country are run by the civil service, not politicians. It takes a government a long time to force anything through civil service that they think is a bad idea. Boris seems like a man who will ultimately do what Dave Cameron tells him. He has been well-behaved during the campaign, so we can hope that he'll keep it up now he's in the job. So maybe it's a good idea to have a famous politician, a celebrity, as London mayor. It worked for California. If it makes people interested in the process of making the country a better place, maybe it's worthwhile. But I can say that happily, I don't have to live in London!

2) Snooker has been taking over my life. I have been failing my degree, losing contact with friends and losing respect from my housemates at my insistence to watch every shot. This year has been the best year I have seen, if only for the first semi-final match between Ronnie (the rocket) O'Sullivan and Steven (7 world championships) Hendry.

I used to watch Steven Hendry when his way of clearing up the table was brand new. Nobody had ever done it frame after frame before. Bear in mind that the first maximum break at the world championships was in 1983 and the second was in 1991. Steven Hendry began winning major tournaments in 1990, and got his first maximum at the tournament in 1995 [there were two this year so far]. He had a knack of spotting a red miles away down the table, potting it and then clearing up the rest of the balls without the other guy having a shot. This got a bit boring to watch, because even fairly good safety shots could result in this happening, and it became a game of target practice rather than one of tactics. Nowadays everyone can do that. I end up watching the "rubbish" old players like Steve Davis, because they think the game out a bit more and rely on safety rather than attack.

This match between Ronnie O'Sullivan and Steven Hendry opened up a new era of snooker though. Ronnie has improved his safety game to the extent that every safety landed near a cushion with a ball in front, so Hendry never had an easy safety or a shot. It's no longer a case of putting the white ball near the baulk cushion, you pick the spot along the baulk cushion where it's virtually impossible for your opponent to play a safety. The break-off shot was more precisely played in this match than I have ever seen before too. In 7/8 frames in the second session, it was played so that every red ends up in the bunch with the exception of one red, which ends up on the cushion. This makes it almost impossible to pot a ball straight away. My point is that in this match, it was won by the best safety player, whether he was the most consistent potter or not.

There were two shots that I'll remember too. Ronnie played a 4-cushion escape from a snooker, and just touched into the bunch of reds at the end. And Hendry, having fouled twice missing a red off two cushions, decided to take on a pot that he would never normally have considered, along the cushion from miles away. And he got it! Break-building is suddenly interesting again when you know that they got the opportunity by a carefully considered safety rather than a brute-force shut-your-eyes-and-hope pot from distance. But I'm trying not to watch any more, it's my final university term, so it's not the ideal time...

1 comment:

fubarite said...

Fucking Boris fucking Johnson. And that's all I have to say on the subject.