Hazel Irvine introduces highlights from Monday's first-round match featuring two-time former champion John Higgins and Northern Ireland's Mark Allen.
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It's been tense and dramatic so far in the Dafabet Masters 2017, and
more of the same was looming on Monday at the Masters, because we
had one of the men of the season so far - John Higgins of Scotland, who
is the world number three, and twice a champion in this great event -
taking on Mark Allen. Now, the Scot had the comfort of knowing that he's
already beaten Allen twice this season in other events, but Mark
Allen has inflicted two knockout blows in this particular tournament.
In fact, at this particular stage, in the last 16 over the last few
years. So we expected it to be very close - and so it was to prove! It
was Higgins who took the opening frame. We'll pick them up in the
second in the company of John Virgo and Stephen Hendry.
He may just have a cut on the brown... Obviously an easier snooker
behind the green, but I don't think he'll get much advantage from
that... He obviously doesn't fancy the
brown... UMPIRE: Mark Allen - one. He's
covered the left-hand side... LAUGHTER
What did they say? As I say, there was never really any
danger of John leaving him anything. Yeah. I think a better shot would
have been putting the cue ball in the baulk cushion somewhere. You're
never going to get an advantage from that shot.
Now it's more difficult to get this cue ball tight on the baulk cushion.
Would have been easier from where he was a second ago...
You can see the edge on the left-hand side of the table, but
you've got to be careful. If he catches it too thick, he could knock
one towards the right corner. Wa-I say that, but he may have left
a pot on here... Or is he - no, it's just run far enough. The applause
was justified from the audience. Playing a swerve. Lots of right-hand
side. Doesn't want the double kiss... Got the double kiss.
UMPIRE: Seven. Eight.
This is an excellent opportunity. I don't know whether he feels a need
as though he needs to go into them... Because there is a red on
the right-hand side of the table that could well pot... That's the
one he's gonna play for. He's got 39. He needs another 30
points, and the frame will be safe. To do that, while there's one les
rood available, he's going to have to unfurl that cluster at some time
in the frame for this visit. That last red that John played - his head
visibly shakes when he's on the shot, John Higgins. Couple of
players like that - Mark Selby always has a bit of movement...
APPLAUSE Gone into them, and it couldn't have
worked out better. Surely he'll win the frame now.
APPLAUSE One of the best scorers the game of
snooker has ever seen when he gets in amongst that ball - he just plays
the right shot every single time. Knows exactly the right time to go
into the bunch... At the moment, 656 century breaks,
he's made in his career - that's third on the all-time list.
He looked at the scoreboard there, John Higgins. Didn't know why he was
on 87! Just an air of inevitability about
this. John did get that chance... A Well played. Fourth century of the
Masters so far. Another good shot needed to get the
position on the yellow... Needs to miss the pink...! Didn't
quite. What do you call this at cricket -
111? Nelson? Well, that was a tremendous play.
Lig Higgins proving, once again, he can score as well as anyone when it
gets to the balls. He now leads two frames to nil.
UMPIRE: As quickly as possible, please. Thank you.
Having lost the first two frames, he needs to, for his own
self-confidence, take full advantage of that terrific opening red.
Yeah, that was a fabulous shot. Controlled that little cannon well
as well... I think he's got just enough angle
on this black to force the cue ball, or a red, in the same pocket.
Little shake of the head there when he got position on the black. I
think he's played that nicely. Deep screw, touch of right-hand side.
Just misjudged the kiss off the second red. OK, he's still on the
black, but he's a bit thinner than he would have liked. The three reds
that are in a line directly above the black - he'd love to canon the
left-hand side of those three. I would hold the cue ball at the
centre of the table... He has done a wee bit more pace there.
APPLAUSE That's the red he wanted to play on,
but might have hit it a wee bit harder when the red's up. I think
that's the end of the break. Possibility of maybe playing the
plant to the left corner. Those two reds to the left-hand side
of the table he could play as a shot to nothing...
He doesn't appear to have looked at that possibility... He just had a
little sly look there! He just sort ofed his head towards... If he's
gonna play safe off the one that's second in - I know they're nowhere
near in line, but if you're going to play safe off the red, it might be
worth playing this to the far right corner pocket.
APPLAUSE Not quite, but having said that, I
think there's a possibility of red to the right middle here. And if
there is, that was a very risky pot to go for!
I think what John's slight grimace is - if he can get the angle of the
pot, perhaps not taking him to the black - he may have to come off the
He was worrying bowd that - losing the cue ball. Yeah. It was one of
those - if you play it with too much pace, it makes the pot that much
more difficult. But he's still on this black.
Just always on that right-hand jaw...
A second opportunity for Mark Allen to get his first frame on the
scoreboard. Nothing settles you better than that...
Not a bad little nudge off the red...
One of these nice positions - if you ever did come right off the blue,
you've got that red in the baulk hand. Maybe a little disappointed if
he doesn't win the frame at this visit.
The reason he's looking at a baulk colour is because he just feels, if
he plays the blue, he's gonna have to play a cannon. And he doesn't
really want to risk a cannon. It could go wrong.
Hmmm. Unless he can pot the one to this right corner... It's not
inch-perfect... He's obviously just about on it. No problem.
Couple of reds, couple of colours, should see him past the snooker's
required stage... Red, blue, red needed... But needed
two chances, Stephen... It was a risky red he played to the far right
corner. If John had potted the black, he
would have been mopping these up... Good old snooker term, there -
"mopping these up." That should be the frame-winner.
APPLAUSE Now the black goes in. No way that
John Higgins will be getting back to the table. So he'll be mighty
relieved, Mark Allen - he's got his first frame on the scoreboard. Yeah,
he'll be feeling a lot better now. That opening red at the start of the
frame would have given him a huge confidence boost.
Well, it didn't really matter too much. He wanted a chance at a
century, but he'll be pleased just to get his first frame on the
scoreboard. John Higgins with the chance off the spot. Mark Allen did
the rest. 2-1, John Higgins. Decent break off shot. Any time you
don't leave a pot on nowadays, you consider it a good break-off shot.
Now, can John just get past the blue to play a thin edge? It's going to
have to be mighty thin. Needed to be a little thicker than
that! I don't think the miss will be taken
here, because he's a red to the right corner. It's on for Mark
Allen. Similar situation to an earlier play in this match - John
Higgins played a red cannon to the black. Mark Allen would love the top
edge of the black - half ball - to leave it to the right corner.
He can certainly pot the pink. I think he's just going to look at how
the pink will go after it's been potted.
John Higgins - one out of one. That'll get you 100%...
It didn't look as though the pink spot's available. I'll just remind
you, a lot of people seem to forget this - the pink goes to its own spot
in a direct line with the middle of the top cushion.
Well...! He tried to force the reds open, but he was so far away with
the pot... I think there you see the, perhaps, weakness of having
that short cue action. The power shots... Not saying he can't play
that shot, but I just think, with a longer, smoother cue action, they're
easier. Yep. It's a funny old game
sometimes. You can make just the slightest error and it costs you a
frame, and he made a big one there, did Mark. Next time he comes to the
table, he's a chance of winning the frame. No rhyme or reason sometimes.
He'll have to go for the blue again here... It's one of those
situations... A lot of people say, "anyone how men a shots do you look
ahead?" In this situation, just try and leave yourself a nice angle on
the next ball. He's got a nice angle on the blue here to get down on the
red... Needs a bit of extra length on the
cue to be able to reach this comfortably...
This time, looks as though he's come pretty straight on the blue.
CROWD GROANS Trying to pinch a bit of the
pocket... You've gotta say... Schoolboy error, that. You could see
along the line, it was going to be very difficult to pinch a bit of the
pocket. Never sacrifice the pot for position.
Pink obviously available to the right corner. He's just overrun it
slightly. Little bit tricky, this black. He'd
be playing in a situation where he can pot the red that he's gonna play
for. Missable, though, these... CROWD GROANS
To me, it looked like it was turning red. It did. It looked as though it
drifted up slightly. But the thing is, playing at that pace - going
over a finger mark, little bit of chalk... Definitely looked as though
it pulled to the left. That's less from Mark Allen. Now,
can he not run to the left middle? Got to be accurate...
Accurate, it was... APPLAUSE
Well, this is a terrific opportunity to go into the mid-session interval
all square. Some of the mistakes he's made - obviously he would feel
the better of the two players, I would suggest, Stephen? Yeah,
without a doubt. When you find yourself 2-0 down in a
match when there's an interval after the fourth frame here, you kind of
think 3-1 down would be a decent result. 2-2 is a bonus.
Quick glance at the scoreboard... Maybe three other remaining reds,
depending what colours he gets on... He's overhit that...
Play for the pink, but... Well, he's still on the pink, but
it's a lot more difficult than it should have been.
Right in the heart of the pocket, and a nice positional shot... He's
now looking for red, colour, red. That would level the match going
into the mid-session interval. So this red to go 49 points ahead
with only 43 remaining. No way that John Higgins will come
back to the table. John Higgins will be disappointed here. He's had
chances to stamp his authority on this. But, they're going to go in
all square. John Higgins concedes. He'd be a little bit disappointed.
Mark Allen should be absolutely delighted. He's made mistakes, but
he's all square at the mid-session interval. 2-2.
Chance of a long pot... Not there, but felt that he could
only lose one of his frame. You can see the frame time - just under 16
minutes - not bad after a 32-minute opening frame. I told you he'd get
better! Average shot time of 21 seconds -
quick enough. Needs to cover the red near the
yellow. Adjusts that well. Just makes it now a little bit more
difficult for John to play a safety shot and get the cue ball back to
the baulk end. It'd be risky if he attempted it. So may just play the
safety at this end. Just dictating this safety exchange
at the moment, is Mark Allen. It'd be too risky to go to the baulk
end this time. You need to get this cue ball as close as you can to the
top cushion. He left his cut to the middle...!
Can John get to it? I think he can. He's looking at the
pot... Just having a look to see where the
pink's gonna go. After being potted, it'll have to go at the back of the
pack, which is no problem. UMPIRE: One second, John, please.
Hoping to leave himself a little low on this... Potting it, bringing
other reds into play... Cue ball needs to run a little bit, though
there.. May just be a gap if he can get through to the green. He'd
rather the green than the blue. Solid pot. That's why it's in the
heart of the pocket - always a good sign.
APPLAUSE I suggest to pot the cue with the
cue ball. That would leave the left to go to an angle, a blue to go into
the bunch... Oh, dear, John... Didn't see that one coming. My
sentiments exactly. Maybe he was thinking two or three
shots ahead. Yeah, just let his mind drift. It's easily done sometimes.
You just take a pot for granted. There's a pink pot. That could open
up all the reds... He may play the double that's
closest to the cue ball into the right middle if he feels he's not
going to leave anything on but the red he's playing... Always got to be
double with a careful, though - if it hits the wrong side of the pocket
and doesn't go in, it can always come back to the cue ball...
John Higgins playing a double... And he's one of the best in the
And that is why. No mistake. Some people... Cliff Thorburn was a
great doubler... In Canada, they call it a "bank shot".
It could set up a frame-winning opportunity here. He's got these
three reds in between the pink and black nicely available.
Then there's a red in the middle of the table at the far end... He could
win the frame at this visit, no doubt about that.
Takes him 36 points in front. Needs to get to 67, so another 24 points
required... He's probably going to need, after
this black, three more reds to clinch the frame at this visit. The
reason I say that is because, with the reds being at the baulk end of
the table, he's gonna take low-valued colours, you would have
thought. So it's not a formality. Quick glance at the scoreboard...
Needs to go 51 points in front, but still 67 remaining.
Red and black will put him 59 points in front with 59 remaining.
Still looking for one more red to get to snookers required.
Don't if he'll drift that far. Like them straighter on this black...
That's a good pot. APPLAUSE
Virtually a gimme for John Higgins, this one.
CROWD GROANS UMPIRE: 54 and frame. Still means a
double. Mark Allen went for one, he missed it. Higgins with a double,
and he got it. 3-2. I think John was quoted, Stephen, as
saying, now there's so many tournaments, you don't need to spend
as much time on the practise table. I think that probably suits John. As
you get older, that's the hard graft, isn't it - the practise?
Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think fine in the appetite
or desire to put in 4-6 hours a day but, as you get older, it becomes
very difficult. John said to me during that Champions Cup victory -
I think he only plays about an hour a day now, because you're playing so
much snooker. Yeah, and it keeps you match-sharp. He'd be disappointed to
have missed that long half-ball red. Always say with that type of shot,
if you're gonna miss it, hit it too thin. He hit it too thick. This is a
good chance to start this frame now for Mark Allen.
I think what was has -- what has stood John Higgins in good stead
over the years - his technique has hardly changed. No, it's good - his
cue action is so repetitive. There's two ways of playing this -
he can play a little cannon into those two reds just above the black
and still be on the red at just above the black, or decide to play
just for the loose red... Decides to play the cannon that time
around. If he'd have played the cannon previously, he'd still be on
the red just above the black. Now, it appears as though he's on
nothing. A lot to do with rate building in
this game - shot selection. He was looking for something easier than
far left corner... But he's played it beautifully.
APPLAUSE Good shot.
Now, can he drop this in and just hold for the red to the right
corner? Delicate shot. But he's played it
well. He'll go into them again. One to the
gap, one to the right... Got the red first..it's OK.
The red that he hit, he just wants to miss this one and go into that
gap. Then he would have been absolutely perfect.
Controlled the cue ball nicely there...
That's exactly what you've got to do at this level. Higgins misses the
long red. And you've gotta punish them for it.
As you say, John, he's missed it so thick, the cue ball's never going to
get back to the other end of the table. Mark Allen is getting the cue
ball cleaned. That should have been easier on the red than this. Played
it for left middle. Now becomes missable.
No problem. APPLAUSE
This match has warmed up nicely, John. Yeah, always, on paper, looked
to be a cracker. They played 13 times, and it's 7-6 to John Higgins.
..In the head-to-heads. This black, and the red in the
corner needed. Played the cannon nicely. It's all
over now, surely. The red will put him 67 points ahead. There's 67
remaining. This is his highest break in the
match so far. Wow... Doesn't matter about the
blue, but he probably hit a few good balls prior to that. One mistake
from John Higgins - frame to Mark Allen. We're all square. Three
apiece. Yeah, that's textbook break there.
Open some reds up. Good cue ball. That kept the black in the open. Has
he left this red to left corner? He's done the opposite of what John
Higgins did in the previous frame - he's made sure he's missed it thin,
and he's got safe. Mark Allen for it. Well, it's a case
of - does he put it back in from where it lies or does he have the
cue ball put back? I'd have it put back myself. It was quite
interesting at the start of the match as Steve
The top ranked players, three, John Higgins and Mark Allen, one of the
top seeds. Can he hit it this time, otherwise he'll get a warning? He's
going to get a warning now. Mishit the next time... And you lose the
frame. But the bookies made John Higgins
9-4 on favourite. He's having a look at John because he knows now that
John is under pressure. I don't think that he will be playing the
clip this time. You think that he may have said that to John - same
shot. UMPIRE: I'm going to have to warn you John to hit it. This is the
shot that John Higgins didn't want to play. But it wasn't that
difficult in the end. But John Higgins going on favourite in the 64
Mark Allen. I didn't see the difference that much in the -- in
the 6-4, Mark Allen. I didn't see the difference that much in the
odds. Maybe the reason was because John Higgins has already won two
16-man events this season. He's on the move quickly there.
It's a funny one that. He couldn't really put any pressure on John. I
don't think that it will be a problem now for John to play safe
off this red. But John could have played it
better. If he's not covered that ball near the yellow, then advantage
to Mark Allen. Well, it looks like he could just
get past the pink to play safe down the right-hand side of the table ws
we look. Caught it much too thick, though. That could spell danger.
There's nothing nicer coming to the table than being left with this
situation. The reds and black in the open. Already made 80 in a previous
frame, so he's scoring. You wouldn't imagine that the cue
ball will be travelling any great distance. Should Mark Allen win a
frame-winning break here. He would be very disappointed with that one.
I'm sure that he can pot this red but he's losing the cue ball up
towards the blue now. A little shake of the head. It's imperative now
that he gets a good angle on the blue. Well, he's played it in such a
way that he didn't want to risk being the wrong side of the blue, so
made certain that he would have a chance of a baulk colour. Probably
play the green. But the cue ball is travelling a bit further, and as
Steven said, if you're in and around the black and the cue ball isn't
travelling too far, a lot easier to control the positional side of the
play. Played that well, though. Back in
prime position. Good shot. Red, colour, red, all that's
required. So 72 points the lead. 75
replaining. But not for long. So after losing the first two frames,
Mark Allen is going to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Starting to punish John Higgins heavily for his mistakes. Yes, he's
made his highest break of the match, Mark, in the last frame, with a
break of 81. Looks like he can go better than that here.
Table does look an absolute pleasure to play on, I have to say. Great
speed. And little soft screws. So the break there for Mark Allen
really punishing John Higgins now. Highest break so far in the
tournament is held by Ronnie O'Sullivan. A break of 121. There's
a ?10,000 prize for the high break. Oh! Well. He'll be disappointed in
that. But the frame won and for the first time in the match, he goes in
front. He now leads John Higgins 4-3.
He could still play for the black but more likely go back up for the
blue. And he needs good, accurate cueing and he's not potted the ball
for over 27 minutes. And considering that - excellent pot. OK, he's a
little bit thin on the blue but he won't mind that. He'll play the
cannon here because in playing the cannon, he can bring the pink into
play. Not the best opportunity. He
cannoned the pink and he released it from the red but he went near the
side cushion. The black is in a tricky position at the moment. So
just trying to concentrate and accumulate points here. And not
think too far ahead of himself. But this is a big moment in the match
for me. But for that hampered by the pink.
This time, wrong side of the blue. Less than he wanted. Can he roll the
blue in and find a red that's easily potable? I don't think so.
Just the wrong side of the blue line.
I suppose he could screw back to the right-hand side cushion and play for
the red that's closest to the right corner. Looking at the pink area,
but I wouldn't be certain to be on the colour off that. See what he
decides. He's played for the one in the pink spot area. The problem with
this - it's missable and he's got to find a path for the cue ball to go
back up to the blue or try to play a cannon to hold for the black. Don't
miss the pot. With the way he played it, I think
he was trying to avoid the kiss on the second red. Only a safety shot
now. At least if you pot the ball, you get the next shot.
UMPIRE: John Higgins, 25. Yeah, it was always going to be difficult to
score heavy from that opportunity. With the pink and black, awkward as
they were. More concerned with avoiding the
reds than getting it back there rather than getting the good length.
He's not left anything but it should be an easier, or a better safety
shot from John here. And if he misses the yellow, it will
be. He just flicked it. Well he played that with a trace of
side and played it much too thick. John Higgins gets another chance.
Now. Trying to swing it around but just
putting that little bit of right-hand side on the superfine
cloth. If you don't time it correctly, you just push it to the
left and that's why he caught it much too thick.
It all depends on the potting angle with the pink. I know it's a thin
cut but in potting it, he may just cannon the two reds that are
together. This this instance, just concentrate on the pot.
That's what he did and he's been a little unlucky. He nudged the reds
open. Just watch. For a moment, he was on the red to the corner and
then the other one came and blocked it.
On the red in between the blue and the baulk area to the corner. But
the pressure on that. He's looked at it a couple of times. I think the
only thing that wouldn't make me want to play it, he's just looking
now. If he leaves the cue ball near the top cushion. If the red goes in,
he could play the snooker behind the brown and leave Mark Allen in all
kinds of trouble. I wouldn't be risking playing the pot and trying
to play for a colour. He's now looking at the possibility of a
plant. Doesn't have to do much with the cue ball to be on the black. But
it needs making, as you can see. Well, John Higgins had risk in that.
Ideally, John would like to leave the four reds that are clustered
together in that same position, but can he get a better safety off this
red? Wasn't too bothered about bringing
the green into play. He's got the yellow and brown in awkward
positions. Should Mark Allen get the next chance. Mark Allen will have no
hesitation in bringing the four reds into play. Oh, but he could have
played it better than that. And this red cuts to the right middle. OK,
you wouldn't have much clue where the cue ball is going. But just make
certain that you pot the red and trust to look for position. If it
gets on a colour, he's got the frame in the mercy. Well, looking at the
one to the left middle, it's a lot more difficult pot. But still has
more control of the cue ball. Right in the heart of the pocket.
And you've got to say that that could be the frame winner. Good
shot. When we talk about making the right
shot selection, if you look where the cue ball finished, he didn't
play the shot for nothing. He played it so that if he got it, it won him
the frame. And that's run on a little bit more than he wanted, but
he's OK. Nice little cannon. 37 points the
lead. Probably need four of the remaining
reds. But he's got four reds in the open. Well, three now.
75 remaining. Three reds, three colours. More than enough.
Quick glance at the score board. Red, colour, red.
That's to say, it was a very weak safety shot from Mark Allen. But
every credit to John Higgins for playing the right shot. Ar it would
have been a dangerous one should he have missed it. It would have been a
frame winner if it went in. He's not too bothered now. He knows
Mark Allen won't be coming back to the table.
And that's enough. So John Higgins needed a couple of safety shots
there from Mark Allen but we're now all square. We started off best of
11. It's now turned out to be best of three.
It was a massive frame for John Higgins that last one.
And it makes this safety a little bit more which wasn't got the open
red in the middle there to coop off so he gets this.
And of course, if you catch it fractionally thicker, the chance
you'd leave it on and that's what he's done.
Once again, getting the advantage from the safety exchange. Could have
done with another couple of rolls of the cue ball. OK, it's still got a
thin cut on the red, but he's going to do well to control the cue ball
here. Needs to come in and out. If he misses at green, he's OK. Well,
he may just be able to pot the green. But it begs the question -
where does the next red come from? Well, in practice it goes from two
cushions into the bunch here. We can only asame that it will go past the
main bunch and into the right corner. I liked it better. Well, it
was two that went. And only played the bottom one.
God shot. Now, has he got the angle on the blue? He has. So he'll pot
the blue into the pink. Couldn't have played it much better than
that. And he's finished absolutely perfectly. That's all he's looking
for. It's an easy red to continue with and he's got that. And the
black is available into both corners. Good chance. Sorry, can you
turn your ear pieces down a little bit? Thank you.
So the ear pieces were just turned up a little bit too loud and the
players just get a whiff of what we're saying. Oh! He thought he'd
missed it. He thought he'd missed it.
And if it goes to the knuckles of the pocket two or three times,
normally they don't go in. But with John Higgins in that pocket there,
so obviously the shot from Mark Allen had just enough pace to keep
the direction. She's going for 27 points. Got this
red in the open. He's got one loose red to the left of the cluster.
And it went to just over 14 minutes a frame. It's been excellent
snooker. Now, has he got the angle in this and just potting it? He can
just nudge another red into the open. He did. And that could be key
to winning this frame at this visit. When he gets to this situation to be
able to win frames in one visit. Couldn't have worked out better.
Just a red and a colour needed. This blue to go 72 points in front
with just 67 remaining. Would you believe it. Now, has he got position
on the red? Would you believe that? John Higgins at the table, 67 points
behind. There was 67 remaining. He needs All Blacks. And the six
colours to force a respot. Tall order. Going for the snooker in
front of John. Looking for the black to see who
goes 5-4 up. He'd like to have been a little bit
straighter. But remember, he's got to get
blacks. Off every red. And the red in between the blue and
the pink that is so important that he gets the right potting angle on
that one. Well, he thinks he can do it this time around. Now it looks
on. Now it looks on. Now, one good positional shot from
black to yellow. And this looks absolutely inch perfect. To force a
respotted black. He missed a straight forward blue.
Mark Allen is sat in his chair tliing - heads or tails? That's the
blue he missed. Missed it because he was playing it with left-hand side
to get position. And that's just about inch-perfect
on the blue. Go for the pink and the blue in the same pocket.
What character this man shows! And has done all his career. Brilliant!
Absolutely brilliant. S boy, has he got a will to win. So it's a
respotted black and as Stephen said, Mark Allen will be thinking - heads
or tails? UMPIRE: John, do you want to call it? Tails. It's a head. It's
your choice. So John Higgins called tails. It was heads. Mark Allen puts
him in. UMPIRE: Settle down please, quiet, please. Can you stop the
people coming in now, please. And people are coming in. This is
ridiculous. They should be stopped. They shouldn't be coming in during a
frame. He's played the double. Where is it
going? Is it coming over the middle pocket? Is it running past it? Well,
he'd be a brave man to play the double. The double is on. But if you
play it and don't get it, you don't know where the black is going to
finish. So decided to play the safety.
Yeah, could be. I think he's playing that in the lower cue ball.
UMPIRE: Settle down, please. Well, what do you do here? Easy safety?
But the pot wins you the frame. He wins the frame. What a shot that
was! Listen to the roar. Absolute absolutely superb pot on the black.
He nearly threw it away. But a pot like that deserves to win any frame.
He leaves John Higgins 5-4. Mark Allen breaks off. In the last
frame which he nearly threw away but what a tremendous pot this was.
Right in the heart of the pocket. And well, he's so relieved, I think.
That's why he did that. That's a tremendous opening frame
from John Higgins. You never count this one out. And let's not forget
even though he lost the last frame, what a tremendous 67 break he made.
To force the respot. Going into the bunch to the right
corner. Now he's just making sure at the moment. And probably just a
little bit too straight there. He had to force it over. I think if it
had more angle, I think that he definitely would have played that.
I don't see him going into the bunch here.
I think his body language, I would have to fancy him winning the frame
at this visit. He's just so focused. Where he lost that frame, the 67
clearance was ver was immense. -- was immense. Now, he may go into the
main bunch, but he also may just play a little cannon into the two
reds that are just split from the main bunch there. And he decides
that he's going in and worked out perfect. He'll be happy with that.
And he brought four reds into play. With that one shot.
This has really been a tremendous match since the interval. Snooker of
the highest account. -- quality. Yes, the first frame was a bit
scrappy. The first 30 minutes, but since then, it has been top quality
stuff, as you would expect when you've got two of the best players
in the world. And that's what you get and expect
with the Masters and John Higgins points scored now. Just two points
behind at 461 against Mark Allen's 463. And he'll go ahead in points
scored with this pink. This pink will put him 58 points in front. So
two reds, two colours. That cluster of five, that will mean there's 6
left but he's got this red and he's got the red in the baulk end. That
would be sufficient to win the frame. Without having to open the
reds. And what's the response? That first long red was a carbon
copy of the one that he missed by such a distance before. But when you
have to get it. When you know you're backed up against a wall, not a
problem. Yes, the sign of a great champion. This of the red. As
Stephen said, he caught one too thick a couple of frames ago
crossing the frame. Trying to get into the reds and he's into them and
he's knocked then on. Well, this is superb stuff from John Higgins. Back
firmly against the wall. One chance, that's all he needed to take.
Brilliant. Yeah, you just knew didn't you when he went in at the
beginning of this frame. Almost when he potted that long red, I sensed
that it was going to go 5-5 from this visit. It's just what he does.
And I mean this in the best possible way, Stephen his greatest asset, for
me, John Higgins, always has been, he hates losing. And that's what can
motivate you. The red hasn't gone in but it doesn't matter. Mark Allen
won't bother coming back to the table. We have a decider and listen
to the crowd. They're going to look forward to this.
UMPIRE: Deciding frame, John Higgins to break.
So that's when Mark Allen potted that tremendous black in the respot.
And John Higgins when he won that frame in one visit, all done in the
best possible taste. And what a deciding frame we've got
now and that's an excellent safety shot for Mark Allen. But he has left
a possibility of a pot. And if the black goes to the opposite corner,
John Higgins may be tempted. A big shot. You have to think that
you're leaving everything on should you miss this. Oh, brilliant.
Sensational. What a great shot that was. The consequences should he miss
it... When he won that frame, I think
since then, John Higgins has never missed a ball.
Well, I think it certainly had an effect on John because I've never
seen John react like that. It must have done, because for him to mimic
Mark when he won the last frame, that's not like John at all. Anyway,
he's got first chance in this all important deciding frame. Can he
make the most of it? What a match. , He's cueing well, especially under
this pressure. Certainly don't expect him to miss it.
If he wants to go into the bunch, it's easy to go into the side of
them and lose the cue ball to the other end of the table here, so he's
going to have to leave himself as a middle distance red.
It's just outside of the bunch there, it is available but he'd much
rather be playing for an angle here to be able to go into them. You've
got to cue these well. No, it's one of those. If you just
slightly decellerate on those, you always hit them too thin. If you go
for the blue, then you have to play a more positive shot. I can only
assume he's holding for the pink to play that loose red.
So if that was a shot, I presume that the pink doesn't respot. So it
is a matter of holding the pink ball there. And if you can get high on
the red the chance to open on the bunch at the same time as potting
it. So this is a big shot. He says - give me a second. In the
pink spot, then this red would not be available so that's why John
Higgins on his previous shot played for the pink. If he has got the
angle that Stephen is thinking of, he may be able to nudge a few reds
into play. They can bring the cue ball back up to the blue and maybe a
ball colour. The reds will go everywhere here. Didn't get the
power into the ball that I thought he might. That would really power
the ball there, have more control. Just got into it too much but
there's one thing for sure - neither player hauled him back. It's going
towards the corner. I suppose the only thing looking at it from first
glance, it's a little bit straight. And if John has to use the rest,
he's going to take a good shot. And go this side of the baulk line from
this colour. He's going to screw it in and good cueing needed here.
Got a shot at the yellow. This is an aggressive shot. He's going to play
the yellow off two cushions. Two cushions going to the bunch. What an
attacking shot this is. Maybe wishing now he'd have held
back but as I said previous, neither play seems to want to play safe. If
they get an opportunity, they're thinking of winning frame and match.
This was too thin. Got the cannon and left a red on for Mark.
He's got a slinth angle of blue. I'm not certain that he can get position
on the red immediately above the black. He's looking now where he'd
have to look at the cue ball. Now, has he come far enough? A shake
of the head. Doesn't look good. He needed a fraction more on the cue
ball. OK, I may be able to drop it right into the middle but he
wouldn't have the right angle on the blue. Can he play a little swerve
here? Trying to bend this with a touch of side. Trying to bend it
with a touch of side! He first looked at it. He didn't
think that he could pot it. He had a second look and thought he could.
Is that the mistake at that cost that could cost him the match? John
will have to play the cannon here on the four reds because he can't play
for the loose red. It could all come down to this one shot.
That is just pressure. But even under the intense pressure, I never
expected John Higgins to miss the black off the spot. But just looking
at it again, the black did bounce, didn't it?
So the chance falls to Mark Allen. Watch the black as it bounces. Was
it a bad contact. It may well have been.
The red that's closest to the left-hand cushion, I think if you
got right behind it, you could just drop it in the mid. Doesn't have to
drop any cannons. Pots this black and he'll be five points behind. So
he can win it with the remaining reds on the table.
Well, he's got a straight red to the far right corner. Normal
circumstances, you'd fancy him knocking it in. As Stephen said,
there's pressure now. Played the delicate red to the right
middle and played it to perfection. It's all there for the taking, as I
say. I'm certain that that red that's close to the middle. If you
get right behind it, you can drop it in. That's all he'll be hoping,
that's all he needs is just to drop the red in.
Ten points the lead. OK, he can drop it in and play for green or brown,
but he wants close cue ball control here in the pressure situations.
He could play the cue ball in an area for both reds here from the
brown. In between the two reds with the choice.
He'd be tempted to play it now, the one near the middle pocket, but it's
obviously trickier than it looks now on the screen. Well, if he's
straight on the black, it means that he can't get close to the awkward
red. Needs a better angle on the black than this. John Higgins may be
thinking here's a chance to come back to the table.
Close to the score board. Pot the blue and go 29 points in front with
27 remaining. John Higgins fearing the worst.
And that should be that. But what a match.
John Higgins missed a spot off the black and I'll give him the benefit
of the doubt and say it wasn't the best of contacts when the black
jumped in the air, but every credit to Mark Allen holding himself
together. And he's now 31 points in the lead. 25 remaining. Two snookers
required. Is there a gap? There there's always
a gap. Nicely played. OK, normally you
think of one cushion escape, but at this level, you wouldn't expect him
to miss it. But funny how the mind can play tricks on you. Yeah, and
when the object balls are right in the middle of the table, just puts a
little bit of doubt in your mind. Now, if John was to pot green, brown
and blue, he would need one snooker on there to tie. At the moment, it's
two snookers required. But he he'd rather keep more balls there and he
doesn't want the green in. He didn't want it in.
Still two snookers needed. Oh, he's caught this much too thin. He's left
the brown. He's left the brown. John walks away from the table. Drops his
shoulders, drops his head. This brown for the match. Oh, would you
believe it? Well... That's amazing. OK, I know
it's two snookers but the match should have been over.
Yeah, good shot. Good shot. And even at this moment, fair play to John
Higgins taking time to tap on the table to say - good shot. Needs to
hit this and get it safe. He has. And he's got it safe. And that pink
and black and blue in that line down the middle of the table will give
John Higgins some hope. This isn't over just yet, even though two
snookers are needed. It's a good line? And it has just
come across the table enough. Not quite the snooker, or even if it is,
easy swerve. As I was saying, I was thinking
before, if he potted the two colours then one snooker on the pink to tie.
But he didn't refuse to pot the green so he'll be playing the
snooker off the brown here. Well, he's decided to pot the brown. So if
he's going to pot the brown, will he pot the blue? And one snooker to tie
on the pink? That's the plan. In fact, if Mark Allen missed that very
easy brown a few moments ago. If John does get a snooker, he's put
himself under pressure. Just going a little bit too far. Trying to get
behind the black. Needs this pink to run otherwise
he's going to leave it for the middle.
The pink - for the match. Oh, he didn't want to risk it. He's
played it over the corner. It doesn't matter, it's there anyway.
It's in. Well, what a great match and John Higgins gives him a warm
congratulations. And Mark Allen has really done well. John Higgins led
2-0 but Mark Allen battled away and after the interval, the snooker has
been absolutely top class. It could have gone either way but in the end,
it went the way of the man from Antrim, Mark Allen. He beats the
world number three, John Higgins. He's through to the quarterfinal. He
wins 6-5. So the two-time champion John
Higgins is on his way back to Glasgow and in fact, that's the
third time he's been knocked out at this stage by Mark Allen. Brilliant
game, wasn't it? And a terrific performance in the end by Mark
Allen, the man from Antrim. He will await the winner of the match
between Judd Trump and Marco Fu to see who he'll play and that match is
the feature match this afternoon from 1:00 this afternoon. Live
coverage on BBC Two then. In the meantime, get some sleep. Goodnight.
Returning soon to BBC Two - Insert Name Here, the comedy...
Hazel Irvine introduces highlights from Monday's first-round match featuring two-time former champion John Higgins and Northern Ireland's Mark Allen.