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I must be picking up a bit of a reputation for playing in matches which end up with a deciding frame.

My last four games have all gone the distance and I’ve experienced both the highs and lows of winning and losing matches in this manner.

It’s felt a little frustrating at times because I know that when I come out on the wrong side of these close matches it could be costing me my place on the tour, but the positive is that I’ve been getting close to some big results despite not feeling anywhere near my best.

When I feel confident and start playing how I know I can, I should be able to win plenty of matches. I just need to be patient and keep working hard.

Direct to Daqing

I managed to qualify for the International Championship a few weeks ago after beating Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-5.

This was a good result considering how I played and it was positive that despite not being at my best I found a way to fall over the line and book another trip to a main venue in China.

I’ve seen up close at the club in Darlington just how good Thepchaiya is and a win against him is always going to be a good one.

Brecel in Belgium

My next trip was to Belgium where I lost 4-3 to the home favourite Luca Brecel in the European Masters.

When I feel confident and start playing how I know I can, I should be able to win plenty of matches.

This match was played in quite a tough atmosphere which took a little bit of getting used to. The fans were all behind Luca as you’d expect in his home country. It was a one-sided crowd and that was a new experience for me. Despite failing behind in the early stages of the match, I managed to battle back and make a real match of it.

Luca looked really impressive. I played him in the second round of last year’s UK Championship. He beat me 6-5 then, but I felt like I should have beaten him easily.

In the year since then he’s come a long way winning his first ranking title and getting to the latter stages of many more events. He looked like a real winner. He was more confident and had an improved safety game.

Coming close against Carter

My latest match was another tight one where I narrowly lost 5-4 to Ali Carter in the Shanghai Masters qualifier.

I was 3-1 down at the interval even though I felt it should have been 2-2. I was pleased with how I came back into the match and my breaks of 128 and 141 were especially pleasing as I’ve not been scoring as heavy as that for a while.

It was good to play someone with Ali’s experience. His safety play was very strong and it was easy to see why he’s achieved what he has in the game.

Back at Barnsley

Next up for me is Aditya Mehta in the first round of the English Open. It’s the first time in a little while that I haven’t drawn one of the top 32 players in the first round of a competition so I’m keen to put in a good display and hopefully get the win.

Before I sign off, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has sent me kind messages online over the past few weeks. It’s always nice when people get in touch and say they’ve enjoyed watching me play.

Enjoy the next event.

#SamCraigieBlog

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