We were talking about the miss rule in the office the other day – those long summer afternoons fly by.
It was chiefly in response to Fergal O’Brien’s outburst during the Shanghai Masters.
Fergal’s normally implacable temperament cracked when referee Johan Oomen failed to call a miss after Steve Davis failed to escape from an exceptionally difficult snooker on the last red during the first frame of their opening round encounter.
Oomen’s argument was that, as the shot was so difficult, a miss should not be called. Fergal, with some vehemence, said that as Davis had not left the red on he was gaining the advantage – which is precisely the situation in which a miss should be called. In the end, Oomen stood his ground and Davis went on to win the frame on the black.
I had sympathy for Oomen. The fact was that it was a tough escape and Davis spent a long time considering how to get out of it.
But the central point the matter raises is this: what’s the point in laying a really difficult snooker?
Referees tend to look sympathetically on the snookered player in such circumstances so the player laying the snooker would actually be better advised to lay a snooker that is missable but not nigh on impossible.
A miss is called 99% of the time when a player escapes. The only time it isn’t (apart from when snookers are required) is when the snooker is so fiendish – surely down to the expert skill of the player laying it – that an escape is very difficult. So the player snookered actually has a form of advantage.
There’s something not quite right about all this.