Stan Hey: 6-5 Against

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The Independent Online

Into the darkness we go, with the click-and-clack of the balls as company for two-and-a-bit weeks. The World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre comes round again today, with some new names, among them Michaela Tabb, who will become the first woman to referee the final.

But one significant old name, the veteran commentator Clive Everton, has been shamefully sidelined by the BBC. And there are rumours a future final might move to China or Dubai, so enjoy Everton's atmospheric sallies and snooker at the Crucible while you can.

In the tournament, everything depends on the mood of the champion Ronnie O'Sullivan, the 9-4 favourite. But if he goes into his "what's it all about?" funk he could go out early. O'Sullivan has never won back-to-back championships but I think he will this time. £10 win at 9-4, with £5 each-way at 14-1 on the former champion Shaun Murphy.

The bookies have reaped rich profits from the Nationals this season – Notre Pere at 16-1 in the Welsh; Mon Mome at 100-1 in the Grand; and 33-1 Niche Market in the Irish. So today's Scottish Grand National at Ayr should carry a wealth warning. Small each-ways on the Philip Hobbs duo, Out The Black (18-1 Bet 365) and Chiaro (20-1 generally) may reward.

*Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson eclipsed the bumbling play-off trio at the Masters with their thrilling last-day assault. I added to my stakes on Woods on Sunday morning, at 18-1, and was that rare thing, a happy loser.