Next season’s Shanghai Masters will start on a Wednesday and finish on a Tuesday (October 1-7). This will be the first time a ranking event has ever ended on a Tuesday, unless you count the last two world finals, which both finished post-midnight on successive May Bank Holiday Mondays.
It is unusual but there’s a reason for it: the day in question is a public holiday in Shanghai, just as we have the May Day holiday in the UK.
When you think about it, there’s no real reason why events always have to end at the weekend, apart from that it is when people are less likely to be working and can therefore attend.
However, such is the competition with other sports for media coverage that a midweek final could end up being a huge plus.
What is less easy to comprehend is how the Shanghai tournament fits in with the rest of the schedule.
When it finishes, there will be just four days until the Grand Prix in Scotland. After that, the next ranking event – the UK Championship – will not be staged for another two months.
Remember, next season’s first ranking event – the Northern Ireland Trophy – is on from August 24-31 so there will be a whole month between this and Shanghai.
Of course, there may be – and we all hope there will be – more events to be slotted in, but this seems unlikely given that Matchroom have already published their Premier League dates.
Twenty years ago, indeed ten years ago, you knew where you were. Each tournament had a recognisable sponsor, venue and slot in the calendar.
If it was October, it’d be the Rothmans Grand Prix in Reading. February would mean the B&H Masters at Wembley, and so on.
Now, tournaments are moved about with such regularity that you need Sat Nav to find them.
And the huge gaps between them hardly convince a sceptical media that we have a thriving circuit.
This is not meant as explicit criticism of World Snooker. Staging ranking tournaments is hard work and securing venues not a piece of cake. World Snooker’s on site tournament team do a good job and rarely get any praise for this.
But to have a month between next season’s first and second tournament, four days between second and third and then two months between third and fourth is going to strike almost everybody – not least the players – as very odd indeed.
There has been criticism in the press – albeit anonymously – from players of late and this only seems likely to continue until new tournaments are announced.
Edit (on April 24): I'm now assured that the Shanghai Masters will now end on Sunday, October 5 after all, having been moved forward two days