Trump, Ebdon and Dott all in action on day one of UK Championship
Day one of the UK Championship Snooker event, sponsored by Coral, from York’s Barbican Centre has 15 fixtures split across afternoon and evening sessions, but three men in particular stand out in this part of the draw.
Judd Trump, the current world number 11, 9/1 fourth-favourite for the tournament and winner of this prestigious ranking event in 2011, takes on Chinese cueman Rouzi Maimaiti, who is ranked 111 places beneath the Bristol native.
This opponent for Trump is by no means a famous Far East snooker name, and Maimaiti has never been past the first round of any ranking event. It will come as little surprise to punters then, that the proponent of ‘Naughty Snooker’ is massively odds-on at 1/16 to win the match.
A whitewash could be on the cards, and that is where the real value with betting on Trump lies. Odds of 9/2 say he wins 6-0, while there is a 13/4 price available for him to win six consecutive frames.
Peter Ebdon, UK champion in 2006, meanwhile, is ranked outside the top 32 going into his clash with up-and-coming Scottish teenager Ross Muir. The 19-year-old will be buoyant, having made his career best break in senior snooker of 130 at the Haining Open in October.
Muir, a 15/8 chance to upset 2002 Crucible king and odds-on 2/5 match favourite Ebdon, reached the last 16 of that minor ranking event in China, running world number nine Stuart Bingham close in a 4-3 loss.
‘Captain Slow’, as Ebdon is somewhat irreverently nicknamed, will be using all his experience to school this exuberant youth, and that should prove to be the difference.
A more illustrious snooker Scotsman, in 2006 world champion Graeme Dott, has been dropping in and out of the top 16 in recent times, and takes on Swiss youngster Alexander Ursenbacher.
There is a huge gulf in the rankings between these two, but the 18-year-old reached this round in York last year. Dogged Dott is massively odds-on at 1/16 to bar Ursenbacher’s path to a career-best second round ranking tournament appearance, however.
Elsewhere in this section, world number five Barry Hawkins (1/16) takes on virtual unknown Ashley Carty (10/1), Bingham (1/8) battles Thailand’s Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon (11/2) and Robert Milkins (1/6) meets Michael Leslie (4/1).
All those odds-on favourites occupy spots in the current top 16. Other standout players are world numbers 23 and 24 Michael Holt (1/6 to defeat the exotically named Zak Surety) and Alan ‘Angles’ McManus (1/2 to beat Joel Walker).
Finally, the name’s Bond… Nigel Bond is in action. The 1995 World Snooker Championship finalist faces Stuart Carrington in one of the closest to call first round fixtures at the Barbican. Snooker’s secret agent namesake is actually a 5/4 outsider to advance. Will he be shaken or stirred?