Stan Hey: 6-5 against

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One of the best jokes in Porridge concerned an escaped convict who had vandalised the prison's snooker table before his departure. When Fletcher queried the connection he was told the escapee had been picked up wearing a green-baize suit.

It's unlikely that fans will turn up in such attire when the World Snooker Championship gets under way at The Crucible in Sheffield early this morning but pyjamas are recommended for the long, cloistered nights before the winner is acclaimed.

The era of one player dominating – Steve Davis (six titles) and Stephen Hendry (seven) – has passed. Ronnie O'Sullivan is the most talented player of his generation but has won only twice, so we have to work out whose turn it is next.

Mark Selby, last year's losing finalist, has won two recent events and must go on the betting slip (£10 win, 13-2 William Hill) while the other most likely first-time winner is last month's China Open champion, Stephen Maguire (£10 win, 7-1 generally). They are both in the bottom half of the draw so we need an outsider from the top. Try Ryan Day (£5 ew, 40-1 Totesport) to light up the Crucible's darkness.

Chelsea (backed at 7-1) meet Liverpool in yet another Champions League semi-final next Tuesday, and though Rafa may out-think Avram, up in the boardrooms Roman Abramovich's desire to reach Moscow will surely hold sway against Anfield's angry Americans.

Last week's wagers

The Masters was dismal – Stricker missed the cut; Rose faded on the second day, Goosen on the fourth; Choi was never in contention. Forty quid down the Swanee, or whatever river flows through Augusta.

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