Archive for April, 2012


Brilliance of snooker perfectly framed

Ali Carter completed a sensational comeback to reach the quarter finals of the World Snooker Championships (Imago)

It’s not often I write about snooker. It’s probably even less common for any of you to read anything about it. But watching the highlights of the second session between Judd Trump and Ali Carter, and in particular Frame 10, brought forth every facet of the game that makes it such an addictively watchable sport.

The brilliance of snooker is that every single frame is so much more different than sceptics of the game would have you believe, and the first two frames of yesterday’s Trump-Carter session encapsulated that.

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Casey Stoner (#1) edged out rival Jorge Lorenzo (#99) for the win in Jerez (MotoGP.com)

Having missed the 2012 MotoGP curtain-raiser in Qatar, I was really looking forward to yesterday’s second event of the season in Jerez, the first of the two annual Spanish rounds of this currently Spanish-dominated competition.

And although I’ll concede there have definitely been improvements to the MotoGP structure with the addition of the new CRT-rules teams, essentially adding a second tier to the grid while new teams with different bikes adjust to the challenges of the world’s premier two-wheeled motorsport, the race was still light on… well, racing.

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Say hello to the Spanish Terry Connor

Francesc "Tito" Vilanova is hardly a household name, but his inauspicious beginnings could breed similar success to Pep Guardiola, who was hardly a big name signing at the time of his appointment.

Tito Vilanova? Nope, we had no idea either. A quick bit of research reveals that the 42 year old has spent a number of years working in Barcelona’s youth structures, and became Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager in 2008 when the young Spaniard replaced Frank Rijkaard as the Blaugrana boss. Far from being the ilk of manager Real Madrid would wheel out after periodically sacking the latest incumbent to secure a major trophy but inexplicably “fall out” with a star player, Vilanova is, it is fair to say, hardly a high profile replacement. Guardiola’s announcement of his departure had a dual effect: first of all, it unleashed a wave of horrendous “Pep talk” puns, all as inept as the last, and also raised the spectre of the 41 year old moving to Chelsea, conquerors of the Catalan giants in this week’s Champions League semi-final second leg.

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Marlon Devonish (left) and Dwain Chambers could be set to re-unite in the British 4x100m relay team this summer if the latter's ban is lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) appear determined to keep Dwain Chambers, arguably Great Britain’s most famous sprinter of the last decade (perhaps for the wrong reasons) and currently one of the fastest men available to Charles van Commenee, out of London 2012. So determined, in fact, that the BOA has taken its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to overturn a World Anti-Doping Association (Wada) ruling that its unconventional life ban for athletes found guilty of using drugs is too excessive.

The likelihood is, it appears, that the ruling will be upheld and Chambers will available for selection.

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Mourinho’s master plan comes together in style

The script was written for Fernando Torres to achieve the ultimate redemption and put Chelsea through to the final of the Champions League.

It is hard to ignore the possibility that Jose Mourinho may well be in charge of European football at this very moment. From his grand mansion in Madrid, the former Chelsea manager was probably grinning from ear-to-ear as Barcelona, the “greatest” team in Europe, succumbed to a display of defensive solidity unparalleled all season from Chelsea, and with ten men to boot. After John Terry’s brainless sending off for an “accidental” foul on Alexis Sanchez, and Gary Cahill’s injury, which split up the visitors’ defence, they held firm against the home side’s onslaught, and emerged from the Nou Camp with a 2-2 draw. It all worked out perfectly for Mourinho. As the undisputed king of Stamford Bridge, one can only presume Chelsea fans still maintain shrines to the “Special One” in their living rooms. To approach the final in Munich against the man who made the club what it is today will either inspire the Blues or scare the life out of them.

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When sport and politics collide

There were many calls within Britain and throughout the world for the Bahrain Grand Prix to be cancelled on the grounds of the unrest in the country.

Even now, with the dust quite literally having settled following this weekend’s race, many believe the Bahrain Grand Prix should not have gone ahead. In the midst of the greatest social turmoil the country has experienced since the “1990s Intifada”, this prestigious sporting event became almost the pawn in a game that, sadly, has cost the lives of many in the Persian Gulf state.

It was argued by supporters of the race’s abandonment that allowing it to go ahead would legitimise the government of Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, responsible for repressing a wave of protests since early last year demanding greater political freedom and an end to human rights violations. To some extent, it has, and Formula One under Bernie Ecclestone’s ruthlessly money-focused leadership has long ceased to represent any sort of morals or decency. Tradition has been thrown away by Ecclestone and his cronies, as races have slowly “disappeared” from the calendar, for instance the France and San Marino GPs, to be replaced by those in countries such as Bahrain.

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Armchairs vacated… for now!

Much as we realise you’ve all come to rely on The Armchair Pundits for all your sporting updates and insights, we’re sorry to announce that Chris and Rob are on holiday for the next three weeks, touring the western Balkans, so there will be a distinct lack of TAP updates in your feeds and Facebook news between now and April 20th.

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