When snooker isn't on the TV, people assume there is nothing happening.

Actually, there's plenty going on this month, not least in Jordan where the IBSF World Amateur Championship continues until Wednesday.

It features players from countries as diverse as France, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Iraq and Libya, none of which are usually noted as being snooker hot spots.

Sport, of course, brings people and cultures together like nothing else and it is proof of snooker's global appeal that so many nations are being represented.

Meanwhile, Matthew Couch, the world no.69 from Scunthorpe, has won the Swiss Open, beating Dave Harold 4-3 in the final.

Switzerland is another emerging snooker nation and an example of how Eurosport's blanket coverage has helped to popularise the game in Europe.

Couch has a good record on the continent. Seven years ago he won the German Open and was runner-up in the Austrian Open in 2000.

He'll certainly be match fit for the UK Championship qualifiers, which start at Pontin's, Prestatyn tomorrow (Nov 14).

It's a big week for the 64 players involved, particularly Jimmy White who currently occupies 51st place on the provisional rankings and is already out of the Malta Cup.

He may yet qualify for the final stages of the Betfred Premier League, which pitches up in Glasgow on Thursday.

There is a major question mark here as to whether Ding Jun Hui will play in the semi-finals or travel to Doha for the Asian Games.

It would be a huge disappointment for everyone involved if he missed out on the semis but if the Chinese authorities order their citizens to do something there isn't usually any discussion.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Since the loss of the German/European Masters (is the Maltese tournament the substitute for the European?) - how come the Swiss Open receives little or no publicity and no TV coverage on Eurosport? Is it purely because it hasn't been upgraded by the WPBSA to a World Ranking tournament, yet. If so, why not. Which begs another question: Did Matthew Couch receive WR points for his great victory or just a cheque?

I find the Ding situation compelling. If this was a few seasons back I could understand as the Premier Snooker League hadn't been relaunced in its new shiny format and, there were more tournaments on the calendar.

Now, with tournaments few and far between - the public now have to make do with the PSL, instead - poor Ding is caught between a rock and a hard place.

I think unless Ding 'throws' his matches at the PSL - which would be unthinkable - he will qualify for the latter stages of the tournament. Do the WPBSA have much contact with those in charge of the PSL? As I can see some sort of fine being imposed here. And I doubt Barry Hearn et al will be too pleased if he does pull out. What does that say about him playing all those matches and then leaving it. Surely, it makes a mockery of the calendar and the WPBSA have got it wrong again. What do they do exactly when drawing up the calendar for the qualifiers/tournament dates etv?

As for the UK Ding flies back on the 7 December to play his opener on the 9 doesn't he? Really not the build-up he needs to a big tournament, huh?

A tough week for White, but I really hope he qualify's.

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

The Swiss Open is a private event. It's actually very hard to make it into a bigger tournament. For this, you need TV. To get TV you need the top players. To get them you need money. To get this you need a sponsor. To get this you need TV. It's a complicated business.

Unfortunately, the WPBSA only think in terms of ranking events, which are hugely costly to put on. This is because they have to be accountable to all their members and 'give them all a chance.' Actually, they all have a chance to get in the top 16, but since voting rights were opened out to the top 64 in 1998 there's zero chance of the WPBSA putting invitation events on: the lower ranked players won't accept it. This is the main reason there are so few tournaments.

As for Ding, that's not the WPBSA's fault - they have nothing to do with the PL. The Chinese now want Ding to play in the doubles as well as the singles, which would mean he would have to miss the League semi-finals.

Anonymous said...

The amount of good players that featured in this year's Swiss Open should start to get the sponsors and, even local TV sniffing...then Eurosport. We can only hope.

I hate to keep going back to the Masters, but since B&H ended their sponsorship 2 years ago, ticket prices have risen to over £10 more. Maybe that should be explained to players outside the top 16. Surely, if the players outside the top 16 vote for more invitational tournaments it might curry their favour in the long run with the chance of more world ranking tournaments and thus, more chance of points and making the top 16. I cannot believe journeymen/struggling snooker players would vote against that rule!

Yup. I knew it wasn't the UK that Ding was going to miss - thats more a point of jetlag - but I do fear repercussions for someone if, like you say, Ding pulls out the PSL weekend for doubles...

Thanks, Joe

Dave H said...

Barry Hearn and Sky are unlikely to be happy about it but I suspect Ding will be back in the PL next year.