Interview with Graeme Dott (part 3 of 3)

by Roland Cox

(continued from part 2)

It’s time for a few stock questions and questions from the members so let’s kick off with: who was your main influence in snooker when you were growing up?

Jimmy White

A young Dotty (photo by Janie Watkins)

Are you a snooker fan? Do you watch and talk to your fellow professionals a lot about snooker?

I’m not really a good snooker watcher. It’s different when it’s your job, like if you’re playing snooker all day then the last thing you want to do when you get home is watch it. You want to get away from it and watch something else. But I’ll generally watch finals, especially the final of the World, you always watch that.

Which match do you take the most satisfaction from and which match left you the most devastated?

I’ve probably taken the most satisfaction from beating Ronnie O’Sullivan in the semis of the World and the most devastated I’ve been was probably losing in the first round as defending champion to Ian McCulloch. It was horrible to go out playing the way I played.

You said you don’t see yourself playing exhibitions once your playing career has ended. Do you have anything in mind you’d like to do when you hang up your cue?

I honestly haven’t got any idea! I would probably have to do something to get an income, maybe go into business. I’d like to do something towards snooker but I don’t really know what I could do.

You don’t fancy a bit of punditry?

I don’t know if you’d understand me, you’d probably need a translator! (laughs) But I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of commentary. I certainly wouldn’t be as harsh as Willie Thorne!

Do you think if there was a seniors tour say by the time you reach 50 that you’d be interested in carrying on your career as a senior player?

It depends how well I was playing at the time. I don’t know how long I’ll play on for so if I’d chucked it in for about 10 years then probably not, I’d probably be doing something different. But it depends how long I play on, and if I’m still playing then I probably would. But it’s a long way off, I’m not nearly 50 yet!

This question comes from Smart and he says: Your match with Mark Allen at last year’s event was one of the stand out matches. You both seemed to be having a really great time and having a laugh whilst playing superb standard snooker. Can you tell us more about that match from your perspective, because it was like a boxing match from a viewer’s perspective?

Well to be honest it actually did feel like a boxing match. We knew we were both playing well and that match was to get back in the top 16 for me so obviously it was a very important match for me. But Mark was playing that well and he was hitting say a century break in the way that it would actually hurt people normally, and he would walk back and I would say “Good break” and then he would do the same, I would go out and make a century and walk back and he would say “Good break”. It was played in a great spirit and even when it went 12-12 he said “Well played good break” so I think we both appreciated how well we were playing. And it was great to actually win the match.

This a question from Tubberlad and he asks: Graeme, what is your take on the revolution that has taken place over the last year or so under Barry Hearn’s leadership?

Graeme in action in the German Masters (photos by Monique Limbos)

It’s been fantastic. It’s made players want to play again. Considering we only had 6 tournaments (the previous season) it was hard to call yourself a professional, it was more like being a part time snooker player. Now we’re playing all the time and even though the PTCs aren’t everybody’s best friend it still keeps you playing, and I think it’s been fantastic and it’s only going to get better.

What do you think of what’s been suggested with the PTCs for next season? I think there’s talk of 18 events with 6 played in China?

I think it’s good. I would like to see if there’s going to be 18 something like taking your best 13 results of the 18 towards your ranking because then you wouldn’t need to play in all of them. That’s the only thing I don’t really like because you’re kind of blackmailed into playing in them because if you don’t play in them you’re going to fall down the rankings. If that happened you could then say I’ll not play in this one, not play in that one, and try to space it out a bit. But it’s good to sit here complaining about that when we only had 6 tournaments a couple of years ago.

I don’t know if you’ve heard of him but there’s a member called Alex0paul on the forum?

Oh yes I have heard of him.

Well he’s a big fan of yours and when I opened up the forum to questions for you he had the most so I’ll ask a few of his. The first one he asks is which defeat in your career have you learnt the most from?

The 2004 final with Ronnie O’Sullivan. I think you learn more from losing than you do from winning and especially safety wise I learned so much from that match.

Why do you change your game so drastically from best of 5s to best of 9s? I asked Alex to elaborate and he said you’re very gung ho in best of 5s and go for everything when there’s only a couple of frames difference compared to best of 9s.

(laughs) I never realised I did that! If I did it wasn’t on purpose. I must’ve been in a bad mood that day and felt like going for everything! But I don’t really know, I don’t really like best of 5s, I’ve not got a good record in short formats. Like in the round robins (Grand Prix a few seasons ago) I did dreadful in them. I can’t get involved in a short game so I really don’t like them. I think that’s why I do so well in the World because it’s longer games. I don’t feel comfortable in best of 5s so I guess I just end up going for everything.

How do you feel the World Open went down? From a viewer’s point of view I really enjoyed it because it had the bottle element of latter stages of a close match, but you do miss out on things like strings of century breaks. But from a viewer’s point of view it was really good seeing every match and the quick fire nature of it with the one match table and roll on roll off.

Yes I can understand a lot of people liking it but there’s a couple of things I don’t like. I don’t like the fact there’s more points at stake in that tournament. I think it’s totally wrong that there’s a lot more points than say in the Welsh Open. At the end of the day anybody can win a best of 5. It didn’t affect me but there were lots of people that maybe lost the first match and ended up outside the top 16 because of it.

But when you look at the players who won through to the latter stages, did having the higher ranking point tariff not add to the pressure and therefore emphasise the bottle element more?

I don’t think so. I said I didn’t like it on the basis of the points but also it’s hard to be put under pressure from the start. I think it’s different when the pressure builds like in my game with Mark Allen say, then when it gets to 10-10 it’s the best of 5 but when you’re put straight out there in that situation you’re not even warmed up. You don’t even know what the pace of the table is like. It is a bit different, and some people can cope with that but I’m just not very good at it, I feel like a fish out of water and it’s obviously got nothing to do with pressure because if you can play at the Crucible then you can play under pressure!

Other than the Crucible, what is your favourite venue?

I really liked the German Masters at the Tempodrom in Berlin. If that was on every year then that would be my pick. The venue was fantastic and the crowd were fantastic, 2000 people watching, it was brilliant!

Graeme in action in the 2010 World Championship semi-final.

Do you think you’re still improving as a snooker player and what targets have you set yourself for the future?

I don’t know if I’m improving but if I can play to the standard I played at in the 2010 World Championships then that standard is good enough to win tournaments and compete for World titles. So as long as I can play to that standard, I will be quite happy.

I generally don’t set myself targets but obviously I want to be winning titles and if not then at least reaching the latter stages of them. The more times you reach the semis and the finals of tournaments the more tournaments you’ll win.

Do you have any matches you look back on and think “Blimey I played well there!”?

I’m pretty bad at self-criticism, I know Ronnie O’Sullivan criticises himself a lot but I don’t think anybody criticises themself more than I do. So there aren’t many times I’ll go off and say “My god I was really good tonight”, even if I was good. I sometimes think “I shouldn’t have missed that” and it ruins it for me. I think I played really well against Mark Selby in the 2010 semis, up until the final session when I felt I was starting to hit the wall a wee bit. But really I’m not one for thinking I was that good.

I have to say you were extremely good against Selby and it was a really good match!

Yes it was good.

If there’s one rule you could change in snooker what rule would it be?

The miss rule.

Haven’t you recently been given a choice of several different options to replace it?

Yes and every one was pathetic! I couldn’t have any of them. They were all worse than the rule we’ve already got. I just don’t see why they don’t go back to what the rule initially was. The rule was initially a deliberate miss. I don’t see why they can’t get the referee to decide if I had deliberately missed. If he thinks I’ve deliberately missed it then it’s a miss. And if he thinks I’ve not deliberately missed it then it’s not a miss.

As it is right now, if you’re snookered then it’s an automatic miss. You could count on one hand the number of times the referee just says “Foul 4”. It’s ALWAYS a miss! You can go off 5 cushions and nearly hit it and it’s still called a miss! I think the rule is totally out of hand. Can you remember when that is what the rule was?

I can but it needed honing back then because different referees had different interpretations didn’t they?

Yes that is the problem. See if you had referees that were actually good enough and could understand what we were actually doing, the rule would be fine. If the players refereed then the rule would be fine. They would know if you’d gained an advantage by deliberately missing it. But now some of the shots you’re missing by an absolute fraction, I mean how good do they think we are?!

I was at the World qualifiers at the EIS in Sheffield and I spoke to a few of the players there and I asked them about the miss rule and generally amongst them the feeling was the lesser of all the evils was to keep it as it is. Personally speaking I think if there’s an easier route to getting out of a snooker like a pack of reds and you choose to play for a more difficult loose red and miss then it’s a miss, but if you’re playing the right shot and you hit it with enough weight to hit the ball but it passes the ball then it shouldn’t be a miss.

Yes I can understand why it should be called with certain shots, but there must be an easier way than basically calling it a miss for every single shot. And that is exactly what they’re doing just now.

The next question comes from jojo and he asks: What is the best shot you’ve ever played?

I potted a blue against Robin Hull in the UK in I think 2007. I was clearing up and the pink was near the baulk cushion, the blue was on the spot and the white was near the green pocket, and I potted the blue and screwed back full length for the pink and potted pink and black. So the blue was probably the best shot I’ve played.

Do you know what, I think I can actually remember that shot! I think that was actually 2006 because you were World Champion at the time…
Yeah that’s right.

…because I live in York and I was down at the Barbican and I was the sole member of the public watching your match. How surreal! I approached you after the game and congratulated you on being World Champion, I don’t know if you remember that, probably not…

Oh well, but I do remember the shot now you mention it. (Click here to see my cameo appearance!)

Yes it was a good shot. I think the brown was near the baulk cushion and I was too straight on it so all I could do was roll the brown in and leave the difficult blue. So I remember that shot.

Which of the younger players has impressed you the most?

Jack Lisowski. I saw Jack Lisowski and Anthony McGill and they both look as if they’ll be pretty good, for different reasons. I think Anthony McGill has probably got more of an all-round game than Jack Lisowski, but Jack Lisowski has got a lot of talent and looks sure to be a good player in the future.

Berlin\’s Tempodrom has gone down well with the players

This question comes from SnookerFan and he says: I read an interview with Ali Carter before this year’s Welsh Open, and he suggested that once you’ve had success at a certain venue, you relax and play better there in following years, hence why he always does well in Newport and Mark Selby does well at Wembley. You seem to have picked the right venue in The Crucible. Do you feel more relaxed there? Or do you feel there are other reasons you have been so consistent at this venue?

I think what you say there is right and some players definitely do better at certain venues. Ali Carter feels relaxed in the Welsh because he’s got a lot of good memories there. And that would be the same as Mark Selby at Wembley. Like with me my best venue is the Crucible because that’s where I have the best memories. So I think it’s good to go to a tournament that you’ve done well in, knowing that you’ve managed to complete the job at that particular venue.

It sounds like you’re a pretty handy golfer from reading Frame of Mind so will you be tuning into the US Masters this weekend?

Yes definitely.

Are you aware that every time Phil Mickleson wins you reach the final of the World Championships?

Is it? Every time Phil Mickleson wins the Masters I’ve reached the final of the World?

Yes in 2004, 2006 and 2010. It’s quite funny because on the forum last year after he won Alex0paul said “that means Graeme Dott will reach the final this year” and he turned out to be right! So I guess you’ll be cheering him on again this time?!

No I’ll be cheering on Westie! (laughs)

Finally, you had a dig at snooker forums in Frame of Mind where you expressed thoughts about members of the public saying hurtful things about you, and having been around snooker forums for several years I think I know exactly the sort of things you must have read so I can understand your perception. Just so you know Snooker Island loves Dotty…


…and we hope you change your mind about snooker forums in any afterword in future editions of Frame of Mind! I think you’d go down well on Snooker Island because you have a lot of opinions yourself!

Well I don’t think there’s many players that do that (join forums) but I think Shaun Murphy does. I know a lot of people don’t like Shaun but at least he’s honest and tells you what he’s thinking. There’s a lot of snooker players that just tell you what you want to hear and I’ve never been like that, I’d rather just tell it how it is.

And you’re spot on for that. Anyway, thanks for your time and best of luck in your match a week on Tuesday!

No problem and thanks very much.

You can buy Graeme’s autobiography by clicking on the cover:

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