Norway’s top player Kurt Maflin is looking to move up the rankings and win his first major title…
Kurt, how do you feel the season is going so far for you?
It has been better than last season but still nowhere near good enough. I feel I am under-achieving. My scoring has always been my strength but it hasn’t been that good recently. I am winning more scrappy frames now. In the past I felt I had to win matches with big breaks, now my safety has improved and I feel I can win with a couple of breaks and taking a couple of scrappy frames. It doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you get the results.
When you say you are an under-achiever, do you look at players around you winning tournaments and feel you can do the same?
Definitely. Without mentioning any names I know I’m as good as various players who have won titles over the last few years. A lot of top players rate me highly. But it all comes down to your results, you’ve got to go out there and prove it. Perhaps the fact that I travel a lot more than other players means I give myself less time to prepare for tournaments.
You grew up in England then moved to Norway, and your wife Anita and son Neon are settled there. How difficult does that make your life as a snooker pro?
Kurt and Anita Maflin with son Neon
There’s a lot of travelling back and forth because I come to the UK for practice and tournaments. I probably do 15 or 20 more flights per year than the UK based players, and obviously the likes of Luca Brecel and Robin Hull are in the same boat. The flight itself is only two hours but the whole journey takes most of a day, so that leaves me less time. I don’t want my family to move to the UK though. The standard of living is higher in Norway. My son is in a very safe environment and a school he likes. He’s got his friends, his football, his PlayStation, everything he likes. He has a lot of stability around him and I would be very reluctant to lose that by moving him to the UK. Anita would come over if I felt it was the best thing to do, we would sell our apartment in Norway and buy something in the UK. But I don’t want to take the chance of doing that at the moment, because in four or five years if it doesn’t work out then we’d have to go back to Norway again. We’re going to keep things as they are for the next couple of years and see how it goes.
Some of your best results so far this season have come in China; you reached the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters, the last 32 of the China Championship and you have qualified for the China Open. Do you enjoy playing there?
Yes and I usually do well there, I got to the semi-finals of the China Open in 2015. I have been there so many times that I am used to it and I find it a good place to relax and recharge the batteries, even if I can’t sleep because of the jet lag. I tend to just chill out in the hotel and watch TV, or I might be wide awake at 4am and go for a long practice while it is quiet. And it’s great to be going to the China Open in April as the top prize is £225,000, it’s a chance for players to earn a lot of money.
What do you enjoy watching?
Maflin’s thumb after he was bitten by a worm at the 2016 Yushan World Open
I love the box sets like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Blacklist…I’ve watched them all! The other day I was watching Extras with Ricky Gervais then Only Fools and Horses, I love those kind of comedies.
You missed out on qualifying for the recent World Grand Prix, how much of a blow was that?
It was a shame because I was in the top 32 of the one-year rankings before Christmas, then I lost in the first round of the Scottish Open, then in the German Masters qualifiers I was 4-2 up on Josh Boileau and on a break of 67, but ended up losing 5-4 – it was horrific! Those results set me back and I’m down in the low 30s now. But there is still plenty to play for this season.
Kurt Maflin Career Highlights
2001-2005: Turns pro, has two spells on the main tour but struggles to keep his card.
2006-2009: Wins the World Amateur Championship but again can’t get a secure footing on the pro tour.
2010: Wins the European Play-Offs to regain his tour card. Climbs the rankings and reaches a career high of 31st in 2014.
2012: Makes his second official 147 and is now one of only 26 players to have made more than one maximum.
2013: Reaches the semi-finals of a ranking event for the first time at the Players Championship, before losing to Ding Junhui.
2015. Semi-finalist at the China Open before Mark Selby ends his run. A few weeks later Maflin qualifies for the final stages of the World Championship for the first time, then runs Mark Selby close at the Crucible only to lose 10-9.