The simple answer to that question would be ‘no’ but that doesn’t fill up half a page on the internet.
John Higgins recently told STV in Scotland that he thinks there is an argument for reducing the world final to a single day.
Ronnie O’Sullivan said this year that ‘if we can’t play for an hour and find out who is the best then there’s something wrong.’
When 110sport announced their breakaway tour ten years ago I remember Stephen Hendry saying he thought the World Championship should last 12 days and no longer.
These three great champions have more than earned their right to hold an opinion on this and are worth listening to but I suspect snooker fans may not agree with them.
Let’s take Higgins’s comments. If the world final were reduced then it logically follows that all the other matches would have to be as well, leading to a shorter World Championship.
Times change. Maybe people today prefer a ‘quick fix’ than to sit for hours following sport but the fact remains that snooker, and the World Championship in particular, pulls in viewers because it provides absorbing drama, and this by its very nature is slow burning.
Admittedly, it can sometimes be so slow burning that it almost gets extinguished altogether but the 17 day marathon provides exactly what it should: the ultimate test of a snooker player.
But is 17 days really that much more of a test than, say, 14 days? After all, the World Championship is longer than the Olympics and every major annual sporting event outside of the Tour de France.
Well, if the BBC wants to show 17 days of continuous snooker then I’m certainly not going to talk them out of it.
In truth, some of the matches are too long. The first round would be better as best of 17 frames because this would reduce pull-offs and late finishes. The semi-finals seem to go on forever.
But this format has basically worked for the last three decades and I wouldn’t advocate changing it.
The longer matches provide more subplots and greater drama. This is why six reds, shot clocks et al will never replace the traditional game, even if they do have their place on the fringes of the sport.
Of course, the old sweats from the 1940s and 50s would look down their noses at the notion that today’s World Championship is long at all. In 1948, Fred Davis won the title by beating Walter Donaldson 84-61.
These days you can afford to have a bad session. Back then you could afford to have a bad week.
Society changes and with it so does television. Snooker needs to change as well but its major event is fine as it is. It’s a showpiece occasion that puts snooker front and central for a fortnight every spring.
Snooker’s problem is not the World Championship, it’s the low profile most of the other tournaments have.
This is why I would go along with format alterations for other ranking events. I find it absurd that in finals players play for eight frames, everyone goes away for three hours with nothing to do and then they come back to finish off.
This doesn’t happen in any other sport I can think of.
The Premier League play best of 13 frames right through in one session. This would be better for the likes of the Grand Prix and Welsh Open. You could start at 5 or 6pm and there’s half a chance the audience could get home before turning into pumpkins.
Traditionalists will howl in protest and disbelief that anyone could conceive of changing anything.
Well, when it comes to the World Championship I would agree with them. When it comes to everything else I’d say there is a very strong case to look again, including getting rid of intervals.
All this doesn’t mean reducing every tournament to a lottery but snooker has to reach out to casual sports fans as well as its own diehard constituency. Balancing the needs of both isn’t easy but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t try.
In any case, television will ultimately decide. What they want is what snooker will have to accept because, without TV, the professional game will be back to where it was in the 1950s.
Still, in that scenario we could always go back to three week world finals...
buck ME NOW DAVE HENDON AT IT
- Posts: 60950
- Joined: 02 October 2009
- Location: North Wales
- Snooker Idol: Mark Selby
- Highest Break: 25
- Walk-On: the one and only