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Good evening. The last five days of the Betfred World Championship are
all about the last four men standing and, if your interest in this great
Championship starts to peak about now, your timing's perfect because
this evening we start with the semi-final, it features a man who
Peppers the honours board. In 1998, 2007 and 009 and 2011 andth because
John Higgins is bidding for a fifth world title.
John Higgins clears. He beats the defending champion, Ken Docherty by
18-12. There is no place like it when it's down to one table. He wins
the 2007 World Championship. Fantastic. That's the best I think
I've ever played in my life, and to do it under that sort of pressure,
it's amazing. Standing ovation... It's amazing to obviously win the
first one in 98 then it took so long to win another one, then a couple of
years after to win the second one then to come and win it again, it's
brilliant. He's taken the double! That was absolutely fantastic. He
takes his fourth world title. 2011 was the last time. Obviously I'm
taking one day at a time. Not since John won the last of those four
world titles in 2011 has he actually walked back out through here into
the tunnel and on to this one table stage at the Crucible Theatre in the
semi-finals. What a thrill it's going to be for him to be back. But
his opponent, Barry Haw canes is an old hand now. This is his fourth
semi-final in the last five years, although he's still to get his hands
on the trophy. They'll be back out here very soon.
It's a quiet occasion. I've been watching it since a young boy. I
dreamt about playing at the Crucible. If I don't enjoy that
occasion at the table, I might as well put the cue away. John's
playing great stuff and I need to be at the top of my game to beat him,
that's for sure. At the one-table set-up, there's no place like the
Crucible and it's down to one table. I'm delighted. 2011 was the last
time and I began to think, am I ever going to get there again to sample
it. Obviously I would be willing to bet that I'll get to the final.
Proper legend of the game now. He's been playing some brilliant stuff
the last couple of years. When he's playing well, you have to play
perfect snooker to beat him. Great champion and great bloke as well.
He's became such a tough all-round player. He was before but I think it
was maybe mentally that let him down a little bit, he maybe felt he
didn't belong on the same stage like a an O'Sullivan or a Selby but he
knows he belongs here now and he's such a tough, tough player. It's a
matter of taking my chances when they come along and I'm going to
need to score heavy, that's for sure, I need to win frames in one
visit. If it gets too nitty-gritty, I can't be having that, I need to be
clinical. I'm going to be competing here for the next few days on the
one-table set-up. No place like it. Can't wait to get out there.
And we are joined by the 1991 world champion, John Parrot. You played in
this amazing set-up three years in a row, 89, 90, 91 - you never take
these occasions for granted. What so so special about this place on a
night like this? You have been over there sitting next to your opponent
for the last week or so, you are the centre of attention, the dividing
wall's gone and this is where the business starts. And it's six years
since John Higgins last had a taste of it like this. Excitement yes but
a few nerves would you imagine for him tonight? It's the moment now
actually, he'll be cursing us two being out here talking before he
needs to come out because behind there I'm feeling for the boys who
want to get out and hit some balls. He came out here today to get the
atmosphere and sit in the chair because if you have been away, you
need to come back and sock it all up. We have seen vintage Higgins,
fantastic counterclearances as well. Are the bookmakers right to make him
favourite? On what they've watched so far and he scored slightly
heavier than Barry, rightly so but this is a tough match-up. They are
Consulate players, played 14 times, seven each, so it's going to be
tough. Barry's become a real form horse here. What do you put that
down to? If you are very good at shot selection, if you play them to
the best of your capability, if you have a good temperament and score,
you will end up in the semi-final of the World Championship and Barry
Hawkins ticks all the boxes. He has. This is his fourth in five years and
they'll be out here shortly. The second semi-final is about to get
Bray, the first burst into life this afternoon. -- about to get under
way. The one-table situation at the Crucible Theatre. No better than you
in snooker. Good shot, found the gap, played it positively.
He could not have played that any better. Wonderful first frame. If
the match stays like that, we are in for a cracker.
Straight red. Good cueing needed. And got. Wonderful shot.
Well, showing signs of a confident player. Very difficult shot to take
on. But take it on he is. And getting it...
He's played it well. The red for the century. Oh, just a fraction off.
All square, two apiece. Never a doubt. He's adjusted to
absolute perfection. Just six points away and he's going
to leave a red on. Well, would you believe that? ! It's amazing. The
only thing we've missed this afternoon is a century. Not now.
Wonderful, absolutely wonderful play from ding Junhui who, has a
five-frame lead over the defending champion. Mark Selby trailing for
the first time in this Championship. That's a match between the younger
boys, Ding is 30, Mark 33, but this is an evening for the more mature
playing, Barry Hawkins is 38 and John Higgins is still teaching the
younger guys a thing or two at the age of 42. Let's not keep them
hanging around any longer. MC Walker is at the ready! Thanks, Hazel, good
evening, ladies and gentlemen, what a match in prospect, two of the very
best in the business. This is the start of the second semi-final in
this year's bet fret snooker World Championship, they are poised and
ready backstage. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE.
Please welcome, a player who in recent years has acquired a
brilliant Crucible record, making, as we have heard, four of the last
five semi-finals. Here, after victory over Stephen Maguire last
night, three times a ranking event winner, including this season's
world Grand Prix, his son Harrison will be watching live tonight, here
comes the Hawk, Barry Hawkins! And his opponent, emerging for his
eighth Crucible semi-final, his first was back in 1998. This is his
best run in Sheffield for six years. Winner of a staggering 28 ranking
titles, he is without doubt one of Scotland's finest sportsmen. Four
times the champion of the world, the wizard of Wishaw, John Higgins.
Well, this is a three-day drama in the Crucible in the semi-finals,
best of 33 frames played over four sessions, eight frames this evening,
a team of two in the commentary box. And that's Willie Thorne and Denis
Taylor. Good evening, fellas. Good evening to everyone. Two of the
game's great nice guys contesting this semi-final here.
And it's Barry Hawkins who gets the first frame under way.
Couldn't believe it was 2011 since John Higgins was at the one-table
situation here in the Crucible Theatre. But doesn't time fly by.
Look at that, down to the one table. That's when it really comes into its
own. Gonchtsing to be a fascinating
tussle this one, Willie. -- going to be a fascinating tussle this one,
Willie. Barry Hawkins considered himself fortunate against Stephen
Maguire. 17 days at the Crucible, you need that little bit of the run
of the ball now and again. He's been here four times in the last five
years at the semi-final stage. Can he go one stage further and get to
the final. That's a slight mistake there,
catching the yellow with a safety shot. But no damage done. It means
John can play a more telling safety. He'll be looking to get in behind
the yellow and brown. Not quite, but with the yellow off
its spot, it's a pretty good target those two colours. Tournament safety
success rate there: APPLAUSE.
Great opening pot. Just shows, if you don't get the cue ball down on
the baulk cushion, right in the centre of the pocket, there's
something about left-handed players that are great to watch. At this
game and of course at the great game of golf.
Yes, we were talking to Neil Robertson about that. So many good
left-handers. Mark William, Judd Trump, Mark Allen.
Found the gap in-between the cluster of reds. Running through, it's going
to hit the second red a little bit thick so he's got to be careful
here. He might push the black into a safe position here in potting this
red. For that reason he's screwing it
back because he had the pink and blue available.
It's not a good chance just yet. They are all covering each other,
these Reds, even though they are open slightly.
I think he's overhit that by quite a way. Playing for the red to the
right. For the left middle pocket. New cloth. Obviously on the table.
Now that we've just got the one table in the Crucible Arena, it's a
new cloth. It was the shot before where he ran
slightly out of position. He hasn't left anything. Always nice when you
miss one, if you can get them safe. Once he missed it, no idea where
that red was going to finish. In his pre-match interview Barry
suggested he'd need to compete in the break-build department. That's
the only thing that's been lacking from him this week. Safety play's
been good but he's playing the master in the safety department so I
believe he's going to have to push the boat out a little more in this
match by scoring more heavily of the two, if he can.
Of course, it takes a bit of getting used to because you have got so far
to walk to the table when you are down to the one-table situation.
When there are two tables, you don't have very far to walk to get to the
table. But the beauty about it is, there's
no distractions whatsoever. I think it's great for the people watching
at home because you can't hear the noise from the other table.
He's concerned about the red cannoning into the black or the red
to the left of the black. Two-cushion escape. Dangerous shot.
Authority burn was the first to play this very, very well -- Cliff
Thorburn. The crowd acknowledged that that was
such a tough shot to execute. To judge that is so difficult.
Barry would like to knock this red that's gone at the other end of the
table back up to keep the frame normal.
Pet hate when the redstarts to go up against the yellow, green and brown
and the sieve day areas back behind the black spot.
He just pointed to the red there. He'll be playing the safety shot. In
fact, he's just doing it off the reds to the right of the bunch.
Just a little bit short of pace. He was trying to block the path down
the right side of the table as we look at it and he hasn't. So it's
the player that can get the white near the cushion and in behind the
yellow and brown that's going to gain the advantage here. That's what
they are looking for. I was watching the afternoon session
between Selby and Junhui and I thought the back cushion was playing
soft, it wasn't getting the bounce that it has in the previous few days
here at the Crucible. New table of course, new cushions, new cloth. It
will speed up as the days go on. I thought it was a little bit slower
than it has been the rest of the fortnight.
Interesting shot played with lots of side.
This needs thin contact, the one he's playing. And he's got it. Very
good. Excellent. APPLAUSE.
George Osborne's had a look at three reds as we show you this shot. The
natural angle would have taken the right into -- white into the reds,
but with the right hand side, it gave it a completely different
angle. He looked at the three reds in the middle of the pack but I
don't think they're a plant. I think they are going to the right of the
pocket. Yes, you can see it there. Quite an interesting tactical battle
at the moment. Potted it thin, if that made any
sense. If he would have potted it centre, the cue ball would have been
nicely on the back. The cue ball had a bit more pace on it. Didn't leave
Barry Hawkins the red. Now he's got the same problem though, can he get
to the black? If he is going to play off the right, he'll need
eeverything the referee's got under that table. Paul collier is going to
need the spider with the extension there on his cue and he won't be
able to see what he's doing with this because he'll just have to
judge this. This is quite awkward. Bridging over three balls! Look at
that. Well, he didn't mean to pot it. He
played the safety shot and it's a pretty good one. Have a look at that
shot! Isn't it amazing. If he had been trying to get in from behind
the yellow and brown, and John does it have that position. Amazing. He'd
Loch to get to the red near the black. Not sure he can miss the kiss
on the left hand side though. He could go off the baulk cushion.
Needs perfect judgment. Second cushion, third cushion. He's coming
towards it. Just missed it but might catch the other one. Doesn't want to
slip by it. He feels he's playing a little
slower as well on this table. He gave that more meat than he needed
to. Not too sure if he can get past the pink.
Looks like he's taking it into the middle corner. Played the stun shot.
Played it nicely. Trying to get the black back on the
spot now. Should be able to do it from this.
There's not many loose reds, two or three that may be available.
He's got such a compact style, John Higgins. The head is perfectly still
when he delivers the cue. Just watch the head. And this cannon if it
works out will certainly give him a chance to knock in a sizeable
contribution here. Could be a frame-winner if he splits
the reds up. He'll be disappointed with that.
-- he'll be disappointed if he doesn't win the frame.
Just having to run away towards the blue, green or brown, looking at the
angle he's left on this cut back. Always nice if you can stay in and
around the pink and black, make it as easy for yourself as possible.
So no problem of potting the green and getting on to that red to the
left of the pink. Got the perfect angle to do that. One of the game's
great builders has made 169 centuries. Ronnie O'Sullivan and
Stephen Hendry ahead of him. Won't be thinking about a century at the
moment, he'll be thinking he'll want to get the frame. Looking at the
angle there. Has to be very precise with this.
Thinner than intended. He wanted it a little thicker, as we show you.
This is not a gimme this one. This needs good cueing.
He needs the black, red and one more colour. It won't be easy from here,
he might be able to flick this red out, if he pots this.
Down to the one next to the pink, which is ideal that that red would
pot there, it looks as if it was tied up with the pink, so check the
score board, one more colour and it is a good start for the former four
times champion. He is looking good here Willie. Yes,
he has kept off the table for the early part of the frame. He won the
safety battle with that excellent snooker in behind the yellow.
Created this chance. That has won him the first frame.
He would have liked to have knocked that in and made certain. You would
think that is enough to take the opening frame, but still a chance
for Barry here. The yellow is still in a perfect
position to get in behind if Barry puts the white on the right spot.
And that looks pet I good to me. He can come off that red with a bit of
side. He could play behind the black if he wan, he has maybe gone too far
to get in behind the yellow. He would have to play a little stun
shot so it's behind the black he's playing.
Well, that is one of the two snookers he needs, so that is far
from over this frame. Barry is still in with a chance here.
Got to be careful with the pace he plays it.
Good hit from John. Couldn't play it any harder than that, just in case
he missed it He might have left a free ball. Usually against somebody
like Higgins you would need a couple of snookers.
Wants a second one. He can't get to the right-hand side cushion. That is
a biggish swerve to go round the black and hit the cushion, so could
easily slip round the back of this one. And he doesn't want to hit it
too hashed, if he missed it he could leave a free ball.
-- too hard. He might just be in behind the black
here again. It is nice to see the big breaks but to see proper snooker
match play like this it is just as exciting. He has three there, this
is the easiest of the three, to hit. No, surely not? Almost knocked the
brown in, but that's put the brown out of commission now, for getting a
snooker behind. But the yellow is still sitting in a nice spot.
Has he fluked it? That was a total mis-hit from Barry that time and a
chance for John to pot this long red and secure this opening frame.
That last shot that John knocked in, he is terrific at that but Barry
Hawkins is one of the best at playing that sort of shot, knocking
a long ball in and going round the table. When they play plain-ball,
these two players you will see a lot of that plain-ball potting.
The modern they player doesn't necessarily put the side on to help
the pots as they used to do in the olden days, a lot easier to play
plain-ball on these super fine cloths.
Some great tactical play in this opening frame but that earlier break
of 63 that paved the way for John Higgins to win it, he leads one
frame to nil. We are settling in to our arena side home for the next
five day, you can almost touch the action, we hope it gives you a great
view and a sense of what it is about. Settling into this match
nicely John Higgins, such a great examples of the great break-building
and the craft. You can expect more of that, as I say the shot selection
from both is of the highest quality and then they go and play the shots
to the highest quality, you will get a lot of frames that will be
tactical. I think more than anything, John Higgins it was the
way he hit the ball, that break 63 was beautifully constructed but well
struck, there was nothing that was hit hard or forceful. He has the
pace of the table. We talked about having a few nerves but not in
evidence. He came in and sat in the chair and wondered what it is about.
He is a professional straight in. He seems very excited about his chances
this year, he never talks himself up but you can tell whether he feels
confident and the way he has talked before has been significant. You
read the article about two weeks' ago and he said he has fancied his
chance, that is not like him at all. He was playing well and practising
well, he is backing it up. He sure is. Strike one for Higgins.
Eight frames being played. As we talk about in commentary it is a
case of winning each session if you can, or if you are going to have a
bad session, make sure they are only bad by 5-3, to stay close in the
match. Barry Hawkins has this cut into the middle. Not a particularly
good breaker from John, that. Playing into the corner. Oh
fabulous. He is just ahead, that last shot
tells you why, he is too near the cushion to be able to pot the pink
and gro straight into the, or pot the blue and go straight into the
pink, I should say. Just had to play for that one
closest to the black, I think he has gone a bit too far.
Looking at his body language he stopped in his tracks there, you can
see why. As I say he was unlucky to finish as close to the cushion as he
did, otherwise he would have potted the blue and went straight into the
pink. Mmm. That has left John a free shot.
That was played a bit quicker than he probably should have done, should
have just give that one a bit more thought.
The attempt at the stun run threw, didn't get it quite right. He needed
to come just another eight or nine inches. He would like to play into
the bunch here. Play for that one remaining red, because it is so
thin. He has played into them. That was unlucky, because this shot,
with so much right hand side on these cloths, I can't tell you how
difficult that is, and he's very close to this, but he might be able
to screw back and touch the reds and get on the black.
He's thought better of it and he's going for the safety shot.
You would think he would have an easier shot than this, as you
rightly said the black was a tough pot.
That was almost a tempter. Not quite the snooker, with the blue
in between the green and brown there is a lovely target there, if the
white was six inches to the right, of where it is now, every chance of
getting a snooker the way those three colours are placed.
There is quite a margin of error to get a good safety chance and every
chance of a snooker. Referee just making sure he knows where the white
is, just in case there is a foul, and it has to be replaced.
And the brown is in a way of going into the side of a bunch. The left
side. He is going to have to go twice
across the table to land into the reds that side.
That's pretty good. Not quite snookered but I mentioned
earlier about John Higgins knocking long pots in. He can't quite see
that one for the right corner. Now one good telling safety shot
here, and John is coming round to look at this long red, he has been
potting really well throughout this year's Championship but that would
be a big risk, I think a good safety shot here and if he gets in behind
those three colours again, he could cause a problem for Barry.
Just a little bit too hard, maybe tempted this time Willie? Yes, he
can get round the back of the black, the three reds, the middle one, is
going to have to play a bit of stun to get that gap. If he plays it
plain-ball. He has to stun it a little bit.
Played it with a lot of side, not the stun, he still managed to find
the gap. If he pots that red that is the
angle he will take, he will go up the table but he can't find that gap
there. This time he won't be trying to get
the white on the baulk. He will try and get on to the blue and pink and
going round the angles as Dennis suggested. I am surprised he missed
that. He has been good that the sort of shot all tournament, so far.
There was just a disstructure with the colour there, he was leaning
over. That green was just putting him off
slightly. Well, that was a bad mistake, mine
Barry's so good at that type of shot, when you mis-hit it, that is
the sort of thing that can happen. He didn't find the path. He didn't
get near the pot. Let us have a look at this. If he had potted that he
might have got the gap. He has put John in right aunderstanding --
among them here. What a chance. Get round the back. Not sure whether
the black will be available, I don't think it is on its spot at the
moment. He has a nice angle to move the
three reds away, to try and open things up at this end of the table.
Table. Things must be open. Otherwise he would have played to
move those three reds. It is OK but having seen where the
black has gone for I think it is still available into the middle
pocket but not into the corners. That is why I thought he might free
the black spot with that first shot on the black.
Doesn't have a great angle on the pink, he is probably thinking of
playing the cannon on the black to hold the white. He would love not to
play that because he doesn't want to move balls round and put them
possibly into a safe position. He may have missed a trick, the
first black he could have moved those three reds away, still OK,
just. The only problem is the blue is off
its spot. The angle he has on this red, he will have to play on the
blue and the baulk colours here. I'm not sure if that blue passes the
green, if not, you felt he had a slight heavy contact there.
With that, the kick, the blue would have been much easier. But maybe it
doesn't, he is taking the ?. -- brown.
Vice Chancellor to work very hard for these. -- having to work very
hard for these. I think this red is possibly dead
straight. Not much angle on that so it will have to be a good brown. So
one God shot here and he could have a great chance.
No, not this time. Where's the brown going in
Ooh! He couldn't get himself into the ideal position, he was having to
work all the way round the table for those points there. You can't keep
knocking them in. This red passes the brown but he
can't really see the left hand jaw of this pocket. But he can play
through slowly. The brown will be sitting there for him, or everyone
hold for the black. Decided to make sure... He needs a
bit of cue ball power here. Just went in off it. Not bound to
get in off a red, this shot. Played very well.
You would fancy him knocking this in, he has plenty to do with the cue
ball in potting this red. If the yellow passes he may take it
on. Still going to be a long way away
from the next red. Does he have an angle to get on to the black in the
same pocket? If he does, this is a good chance.
I think he has the perfect angle on the black.
Yes. Oh he bounced it in and that is the
end of break. The fact that the white bounced there, just took it
away. He seemed to stun it, he needed the, a lot more top-spin
rather than stun on it. Presume it must will have been some
sort of kick, because both balls took off there, everything is is
covering one of those, or the six reds, so he needs a good safety
shot. He can do it off the red, that's just between the two reds and
the black, he can stun up past the pink and get in behind green and
blue. It's pretty good.
There is one red to pot and John will have to take it on but there is
a slight angle here, if this goes in, he could finish on brown or
black here, but this requires good cueing.
It was Barry's shot, he should have got over on the brown and green
there, the way John is potting, you can't leave a shot like that.
But this is not straightforward. It will pay dividends if this goes
on in. Just about.
Chance is there now for possibly taking a 2-0 advantage. That was a
fabulous pot on the black. He would be bound to be leaving the two reds
but just went in off the jaw. With the black big available, all
four reds are available, every chance is he is going to be leading
2-0. And I don't think like saying this,
but what John Higgins is doing now, he is not making any careless shots,
over the last four or five seasons, he would play really well and all of
a sudden he would miss the easiest of shots, he has cut that out of his
game, that is why he is winning lots of tournaments again.
39 in front, so just the red needed. He wants to pot both reds to keep
Barry in his chair. As long as he doesn't do anything
too flash with the red, he should just pot the red and that should
keep Barry sitting in his chair. John Higgins conceded so John
Higgins has evened the scores at one all.
HAZEL IRVINE: John taking a quick break, that is an appropriate time
for us to leave you here on BBC Two, but we are going nowhere, we hope to
continue sharing the evening with you, over on our red Button
coverage, now, so I do hope you will grab the remote. We will catch you
again in just a moment's time. Otherwise I will be back with the
highlights here on BBC Two, at 11.15. We will catch you soon.