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Postby Wildey ... ecial.html

There’s much talk about new formats in snooker, about speeding up play, about attracting a new, young audience.

I’ve got no problem with any of that. Outsiders look at snooker and see a sport that has barely changed in years.

The late, great Alex Higgins shook it up in the 1970s but it’ll take more than a single figure to do the same now. No sport can be that lucky twice.

But while I welcome innovation, I would warn those charged with leading this bright new era not to mess too much with the very ingredients that have created so many great memories for millions over the decades.

Snooker’s attractiveness is based on its capacity to author dramatic psychological sagas. It is not a physical sport but the mental strengths and weaknesses of players are laid bare for all to see and this leads to an emotional investment on behalf of the viewer.

Who will hold their nerve? Who will crack up completely? These are the fascinations through which audiences can become hooked for hours at a time.

In the August issue of Snooker Scene, out next week, we include an interview I have done with Martin Gould in which he speaks honestly about his 13-12 defeat to Neil Robertson from 11-5 up at the Crucible last season.

The only good news for Martin is that he wasn’t the first – and certainly won’t be the last – to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

So many careers are littered with regrets at having lost matches, and particularly finals, having held commanding, surely unimpeachable, leads.

But what makes these at times heartbreaking losses so compelling is the amount of time they took. Finals, especially at the Crucible, allow time for doubt to creep in, anxiety to take hold and seemingly unsurpassable leads to be overturned.

Snooker’s great appeal has always been the slow burning drama it generates.

Shortening the length of matches will dilute this drama.

The shot clock will do the same. A shot clock is not necessarily a bad idea but it should not be introduced to artificially speed play up. Rather, it should guard against players dragging the pace of play down.

That is why 20 seconds a shot is certainly too short and 25 almost certainly too short.

In the Premier League, where there are no ranking points up for grabs and which has in any case always been attacking, the players cope fine but in a ranking tournament, with more at stake, all a 25 second shot clock would do would be to drag the standard down.

Players would panic, rush and miss more. Balls would run scrappy and frames could well take longer to complete than normal.

But a 40 second per shot limit would be a different matter entirely. It would stop players taking a minute or more to consider reasonably straightforward shots but should not cause rushing and the errors that brings either.

I remain unconvinced about the need for a shot clock at all, but it is almost inevitable it will feature at some point during the season.

And, as I said at the start, there’s nothing wrong with trying new ideas. Snooker should move with the times and take a look at itself instead of arrogantly assuming all is rosy in the garden.

But drama in snooker comes from the possibility that exists for whole matches to turn round, and these have to be of a certain length for that to happen.

Snooker is a sport of many facets. A scrap on the colours can be as enjoyable as a flawless century break.

But the best matches tend to be the close ones and the most memorable of these tend to be where one player has held a big lead only to see it reduced: think Taylor v Davis in 1985, Higgins v Davis in the 1983 UK Championship, Davis v Thorne in the same event in 1985, Paul Hunter's three Masters comebacks, Hendry v White in 1992 and so on, and so on.

Alex Higgins’s 69 break against Jimmy White at 15-14 down in their 1982 semi-final would have been considered a great contribution at any time in any match.

But what makes it so iconic and so well remembered is the point at which he made it: with his back to the wall at the end of a four session match. It was appreciated all the more because the audience, like Higgins, had come through the battle and were into the endgame.

How a player stands up in such a scenario, after so many hours, so many frames, is what makes top level snooker such a gripping sport.

Jimmy White would probably have been world champion had the final been best of 11. But it wasn't and he wasn't and that's the point.

Shorter formats, though fun, do not have the same appeal because they cannot generate the same drama.

Barry Hearn understands this. Some characterise him as a populist who cares little about the history of the sport but this is nonsense. In fact, he is steeped in the history of the sport. He was there in the 1980s. He knows what made snooker great in the first place.

And that is why he has pledged to 'ring fence' the majors and leave them free of gimmickry.

At the same time he has to work on snooker's staid image and find a way of marketing it to bring in new fans.

That's why shorter formats and events aimed more at entertainment than pure sport have their place - as long as they augment the traditional game and do not encroach so far into it that people no longer believe it's worth watching.

The challenge for Hearn and snooker as a whole is to recognise what makes the green baize game special and safeguard that while at the same time still embracing the age in which we live.

Its success at balancing the two will to a large degree decide the fate of the sport over the next decade.


Postby Monique

Well I disagree with Dave here on one point... if the final had been best of 11 Jimmy wouldn't have won neither probably. Tension and anxiety would have kicked in earlier. Looking at who came through the two first PTC we see that the best still come on top even with very short formats.
Don't get me wrong: I don't plead for getting rid of long formats, they have their merits and should stay. They throw less shocks but there are not that many real shocks even in short formats. Statistics from the last 21 years regarding the Crucible finals show that the player in front after 2 sessions (16 frames) is the winner in more than 80% of the cases. And if you dismiss the two finals Stevens lost, it's over 90% of the cases.
The reason is stress on Stevens is that he has lost more important matches being in front than anyone else... he really has got a match clinching problem irrespective of the format. And in a way so has Jimmy to a lesser extend.


Postby Wildey

As ive pointed out before Stamina needed in the PTC is second only to the World Championship that is why the best players come out on top had the PTC Being played over a week there would be more shocks thats why i think the World Open will cause More Shocks and i think a shock winner.

Snooker is at it best over longer matches theres no doubt about that.

what Dave has said there is spot on and if snooker and Barry Follow that lead that would be fine with me.


Postby Casey

IMO White would have won a world title had he not been at his peak in the early 90’s, any time before or after that and he would have won it.

Best of 11? Yea for sure he would have got it, his lifestyle was not the best and might have been a contributing factor to the culmination of loses in the final.

Yes he missed one easy black in 4 finals and a SF against Hendry, that doesn’t make him an overall chocker.

Anybody remember the black Ebdon missed in the 34th frame against Hendry in 02? It was 10 times worse than Jimmy’s but I don’t see people calling Ebdon a chocker.


Postby Wildey

one thing is 100% over 11 frames nobody would be talking about the 1985 World Final 25 years on.


Postby Smart


For me it is because no single frame can ever be the same as another......................its physically impossible for the balls to land or behave in the exact same way .................. so you have unpredicatability - and that is PRICELESS - factosmarto. <ok>


Postby Roland

I think the whole of the World Championships should be left untouched in terms of format. It's been this way for years, it's always sold out and the 4 session semis over 3 days is something I personally revel in once a year. If tv don't want it this long, then don't broadcast until round 2! I hope that never happens obviously but that's one solution.

As for best of 25's, they should bring those back for certain ranking finals like used to happen in the 80's.

But the shorter format event such as the PTC and the new World Open I equally don't have any problems with. If there were only 6 of them in a season and nothing else, then obviously I would. But in terms of sheer numbers of events I embrace them. But equally the season ideally needs 2 to 3 longer format events as well to balance things out.

And the one concept I am absolutely 100% dead against is a 40 second shot clock.

If you bring a shot clock into an event then fair enough, it's a shot clock event and you see a different sort of snooker. But keep it to the 20 - 25 seconds so it has identity.

If you bring in 40 seconds across the board you'll alienate snooker clubs across the land. How do you play a game when you're spotting the balls for your opponent and equally beeping away at a stopwatch? When someone is down on the shot do you say "5 seconds" like in pool? How off putting would that be?

Also when you watch the Premier League there is a vast inconsistency at the point the clock starts. It's down to the judgement of the player controlling the clock.

Finally speaking as a fan of Mark Selby it would mean I would miss out on his inventiveness when he thinks his way out of a difficult position. The fact he takes more than a minute occasionally is neither here nor there. He does it when he's faced with a challenge, and it gives the commentators time to discuss what the problem is and possible solutions.

If you have to bring in anything, it should be an average shot clock with a player being warned if it exceeds 40 seconds for the duration of a session or something like that. The referee has the power to talk to the players if they feel they are taking too long. Maybe backed up by average shot time stats they will feel more obliged to have a word. And naturally this would only happen in televised events so it wouldn't affect the way the next generation are being brought up through the clubs of the land.


Postby Wildey

Regarding the 40 seconds that could be a benchmark for the ref to play with but i dont agree with time outs and 5 second bleeps at all in Ranking or Main Events.

but it could be that a player is warned if to many shots taking 40+ seconds.

me personally dont mind shots taking long it adds to the tension .


Postby Monique

Taking time over shots when there is a problem to solve adds to the tension. Taking excessive time over straightforward shots is just irritating and should be deemed ungentlemanly conduct.


Postby JohnFromLondonTown

Monique wrote:Taking time over shots when there is a problem to solve adds to the tension. Taking excessive time over straightforward shots is just irritating and should be deemed ungentlemanly conduct.

It will be called unlady like soon. :john:



Postby Wildey

Monique wrote:Taking time over shots when there is a problem to solve adds to the tension. Taking excessive time over straightforward shots is just irritating and should be deemed ungentlemanly conduct.

i understand that but there is a law against that as it is i remember in the 80s that being used more than once in a match featuring Dean Raynolds against Tony Meo.


Postby Smart


For me it is because no single frame can ever be the same as another......................its physically impossible for the balls to land or behave in the exact same way .................. so you have unpredicatability - and that is PRICELESS - factosmarto. <ok>

Smart :ahh:
Stalin <cool>
TimothyLeary :D
HollowRobbo :)
Desmond_2-2 <laugh>