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Tue 16 Dec 2008 03:32 AM

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UK snooker Championship hit by betting scandal

Bookmakers suspend market on all-Scottish match after flurry of suspicious bets.

Snooker found itself having to deal with a betting scandal here on Monday after bookmakers called in the governing body during a UK Championship match between Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett.Bookmakers suspended their market on the all-Scottish first round encounter after receiving a flurry of bets for Maguire to win 9-3.

That indeed proved the final scoreline after Burnett missed a black in the 12th frame which would have cut the gap to 8-4.

Bets for Maguire, last year's losing finalist, to win 9-3 came in after he opened up a 6-2 overnight lead and an anguished Burnett told the BBC: "In the last frame I have never felt more pressure in my life. I didn't think I could have played the colours knowing people have been saying things.

"On the black I said to myself, 'I need to get this, I need to get this' in case some people start talking. I just felt so under pressure, probably the most pressure I have felt in my life.

"Then to come off was the lowest feeling, I felt terrible."

Turning to the general subject of match-fixing, Burnett added: "People have been laughing and joking about things like that for years, but to my knowledge nobody has ever done anything.

"Snooker is too important, there is a career here."

World Snooker, the sport's governing body, would not comment directly on the match but instead issued a statement outlining their procedures when incidents were brought to their attention by the betting industry.

"We have arrangements in place with both Betfair and and the Association of British Bookmakers, who contact World Snooker confidentially if irregular betting patterns emerge," it read.

"In such cases the match in question is carefully monitored by World Snooker and a fair assessment of the player's performance will be made.

"In past incidents, which are extremely rare, World Snooker has a particularly stringent line where players have been judged guilty of match-fixing or intention to match-fix."

Maguire, the world number two, was in dominant form but might have been kept at the table a little longer had not an anxious Burnett overcut the final black in the 12th frame to give his compatriot a long pot for victory.

"I could see he was a different Jamie from when he started the match," Maguire said.

"But that's to be expected really - I'd be the same if I was 6-2 down.

"I was surprised he missed it but I was just relieved. I was just trying to win," Maguire added.

In other matches former world champion John Higgins advanced into the second round after the Scot saw off Northern Ireland's Joe Swail 9-7

China star Ding Junhui, the 2005 UK champion, also progressed beating snooker great Steve Davis 9-6, holding off a late charge from the Englishman.

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