It seems to me that the Welsh Open has, through no real fault of its own, become the poor relation of the ranking event circuit.

It’s a long established tournament, first staged in 1992, and has seen some terrific snooker and very tense finals down the years.

But the Welsh Open does not stand out from the pack and now carries a lower ranking points tariff than the two Chinese ranking events.

Why is this? Well, it doesn't receive BBC network coverage so is a little below the radar. Newport, fine place though it may be, does not excite players like some venues.

But the main reason is that the tournament basically feels like all the others, just not as big. It is played under the tried and tested best of nine format so there is nothing ‘special’ about it.

The answer, then, is to change it in some way. A new look, a new format, a new approach is needed.

One idea is a shot clock, as a novelty. The Premier League uses one but it is yet to be introduced in a ranking tournament.

I’m wary of the shot clock because I’m not sure it would improve the standard of snooker. Two players who can’t pot a ball between them will still be involved in a rubbish match regardless of how long they are given to play each shot.

My other worry is that it would be used to artificially speed up the pace of play. Some of the most compelling snooker matches have been when the pace has slowed and the tension increases.

Steve Davis took an age over the final few balls of his victory over John Higgins at the Crucible last season and it made for fascinating, nerve-shredding viewing. Running round the table would have detracted from this.

A shot clock should be used to police play rather than forcing players to play at tempos outside their natural speed.

If one is introduced for the Welsh Open it should be 35, maybe 40 seconds, not 25 or, God forbid, 20.

Another change could be to the dress code. Some see the waistcoats and bowties as an anachronism. Others like the smart dress, although you can look smart without wearing a waistcoat.

The danger here, though, is that it would make the event look even less important because players wouldn’t be wearing the clobber associated with the top tournaments.

The format could change. How about best of sevens with no intervals? Just play the matches straight through so that they don’t outstay their welcome. Play the final over 13 frames in one session.

Again, though, would this make the event any more appealing?

We’re constantly told that ‘people today want everything shorter and faster’ but where is the actual evidence for this?

The Welsh Open’s best days were when it was staged at the Cardiff International Arena from 1999 to 2003. It is a top class venue but too expensive in these belt-tightening times.

It’s a tricky one for World Snooker: there’s the feeling that something has to change but any alteration to the format or look of the Welsh Open would be a risk and they do not want to alienate the traditional fans.

Wales is a snooker hotbed. It has produced many top players and has a loyal fanbase.

The Welsh Open has a proud history but it will surely need to embrace innovation to survive.

But what to do?


Anonymous said...

play all bo9 matches without interval.

players allowed to leave for no more than 5 minutes each frame.

no screen barrier between frames.

wear what you want dress code.

no music!

no shot clock!

get itv or sky to cover it

Sparky said...

Here's a crazy idea: As a consolation to being the poor relation in terms of ranking points, why not some kind of bonus-ranking-point system?

For instance: You get 100 bonus ranking points for every century you make. (Which is about fair since the top prize is 5000 ranking points).

That would make centuries worth more than a neat applause.

Or, some kind of bonus points if you beat a player that is ranked above you.

Or bonus points for a whitewash.

Or bonus points for winning a certain number of frames (say, 6 or 7) in a row, counting back-to-back matches?

Or bonus points for all of the above?

Betty Logan said...

The Welsh Open certainly looks shabby these days, but it doesn't help that it carries little for than a PTC event for the main prize. I suppose it's better to have it than not have it. I still don't like the idea of a shot clock in a ranking event because I believe that no player should be given an advantage over other players, but if they are going to introduce the shot clock this is obviously the event to do it in.

Personally I'd make it an "exciting players" tournament. Make everyone play in the qualifiers, and instead of having the top 16 seeds have 16 wildcards made up of all the big names and all the exciting players in the game.

Teo said...

One thing that is better this year is that it is the last tournament before the ranking cut-off that will be in place for the World Championship. That could add a bit of tension.

Anonymous said...


some of your ideas are open to abuse... ;)

Anonymous said...

I can't remember which tournament it was but didn't we have a tournament where the players played in blue & red shirts. The higher ranked player wore the blue and the lower the red, or vice-versa. Have red and green shirts for the colours of Wales. That way we keep the smart attire but it's slightly different.

I know it's not a major change but we don't do this in any other current tournament.

Betty Logan said...

It was the British Open, and to be fair it made the event look like a BNP convention.

Janie Watkins said...

Move it away from Newport for starters:
Back to Cardiff or down to the new venue at Llanelli.
Get rid of the BBC Wales coverage and make it an internet streamed event so the whole world can watch.
Introduce some Welsh wild cards to bring the local fans in to the early rounds.
Give it a proper amount of ranking points and prize money.
And introduce some "off table" marketing and entertainment for the fans between matches and sessions.

kildare cueman said...

The first thing that needs to be done is to move to a venue/town that will attract decent crowds in the early rounds.

There is nothing more off putting than an empty arena.

Best of 7, no interval? No harm trying. The interval is a bit of a pain and invites the casual viewer to switch to another channel.

I would change the name too.
Take the word "Welsh" out of the title, and maybe give it a title like "The classic" or something.

It is also an opportunity to award the SPA one of their wonts in that the top 32 could be seeded through to the first round instead of the top 16.

The ranking tariff needs to be increased as well. Poor relation or not, it is absurd that the winner of the Chinese tournaments receives 7000 compared to the Welsh's 5000.

darrus said...

As Welsh Open is for now the only best-of-9 tournament based in the UK, it now stands out as it is, so maybe it's better to leave it be?
If 3 best-of-9s in one season is considered too much, it makes more sense to make changes in one of two Chinese tournaments that look excactly the same. But I doubt that Chinese will be too eager to make changes for changes sake.

If you want to make Welsh Open look important - make some changes in ranking tariffs. Everything else is cosmetic changes and if it will do any good - there is a lot of doubt.

Changing the dress code? We've seen some of it already. Colored shirts (I wonder who chose those colors, I don't remember any player who looked good in that red and that blue), getting rid of bow-ties, playing without waistcoats.
Maybe if we ditch the waistcoats at Welsh Open, it will make this tournament look different from others (but wouldn't it look like Premier League then?). But waistcoats are part of the game's image. For people who are not fans but just watch from time to time, the easiest way to tell cue sports from each other is not even the color of the baize or sets of balls, but the way players are dressed. And I wonder, is it so important to make snooker look like pool and will it really do so much good?

As for shot-clock, it's hard to see how it may work.
If the limit is 25 seconds, it will make most of the players rush their shots. But is the limit will be say 40 seconds, do we need it at all? Rarely any player, even the slowest ones, take so much time on their shots. And if the shot is complicated, there will be a timeout anyway.
Again, limited amount of timeouts (say, 5 per frame) may interfere with tactical play - there are frames when position becomes complicated after first few shots. If the amount of timeouts is unlimited, shot-clock becomes a farce.
And again, do we need a ranking tournament to be confused with Premier League?

Now getting rid of walk-on music - that's a good idea. It will really make the tournament look unique.
Moving it to somewhere (Cardiff?) where there wil lbe decent crowds.
Maybe playing the match without interval (though I doubt the casual viewers will be prepared to sit through 2-hour match without break).

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with Janie but moving it away from Newport is a must but when the venue costs very little, it's like a magnet to World Snooker. It's comes across like a cheap and nasty event in a cheap and nasty town. BBC is not keen on it but wouldn't this be the ideal place to re-introduce Sky or ITV or indeed as Janie said, be a little more innovative and stream it?

Anonymous said...

sort out the ranking point tarriff- points should be dependant upon length of matches- the longer the more points. a bit of common sense on rewarding the better players with more points for longer matches would help. I went to Cardiff 3 years running and found it to be one of the best tournaments on the circuit! - second only to the crucible.
after all the gimmicks lately it will be lovely to watch a normal proper best of nines tournament- if you want to experiment with shot clocks etc try it with a new event in China or Brazil.

Sonny said...

Get it back into the Cardiff International Arena, lay it out like the World 9-ball Pool was a few years ago with several tiers of tables and viewing galleries and get an instant buzz of an open plan atmosphere with loads going on at the same time.

As mentioned by another person the Welsh will be crucical for Crucible qualification spots this time around so that should give it some extra clout too.

Absolutely not to any suggestion of a shot clock. That is a ridiculous idea in a ranking tournament.

And Dave is right, where is the evidence that people want "faster and shorter" snooker? Does Power Snooker not cater for that audience now? Leave proper snooker alone, it needs no changes.

Matt said...

get itv to cover it on itv4

Anonymous said...

Altered dresscode
30 or 35 sec shotclock
Best of 13 onesession Final

Sounds good to me.

Sparkys idea of bonus pts for whitewashes and centuries could be introduced for all counting events in the seasons to come.

Betty Logan said...

I suppose if it was as simple as getting Sky or ITV to cover it, or streaming it, then we'd have tons more tournaments. To the best of my understanding the BBC finance it as part of its deal with BBC Wales, so I don't think a change of broadcaster is on the cards unless BBC Wales decides to drop it. At least it has a home on BBC Wales — Sky or ITV could show it for one season and then dump it and then you're an event down on the calender. If Sky or ITV are willing to broadcast a tournament then give them the newly dumped Grand Prix.

Anonymous said...

ive said that matt

i disagree with those who dont think asian tournaments deserve higher tarrifs.

making them higher in the welsh PROBABLY means we have saved a few no shows.

you know, like the player(s) who like(s) to make excuses at the last minute when asian tournaments are on

Anonymous said...

The danger of getting ITV4 to screen it is to risk a spectacle similar to the recent Powersnooker shambles. The presenting there was awful.

Anonymous said...

Play the tournament in Barry Island.

» رياضة said...

Maybe hold it outside of Wales.

The Tour de France visits other countries, so why not snooker?

Betty Logan said...

Holding the Welsh Open outside of Wales is certainly the most radical idea so far!

Anonymous said...

Make the matches 9 frame aggregate scores with the highest ranked player wearing a yellow bow tie to distinguish the champion from the underdog with the actual World Champion wearing a bow tie which lights up.
Also referees must announce the players scores/breaks in Welsh which would set this marvellous event apart from any other.

Anonymous said...

Possibly you could get a hapless commentator to interview the winner after the final and annoy his losing opponent with some scripted load of crap.
This would make the Welsh Open unique and embarrass just about everyone else on the planet.

Steve K said...

Have a giant Welsh dragon painted onto the baize!

In all seriousness though, I think best of 7 would help a bit but then it would be confusing with the PTC finals...

Anonymous said...

Referees calling the scores out in Welsh? Now there's a thought. Mr Williams would have his hands full teaching the others how to count in Welsh ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favour of best of 7 with no interval becoming the standard for ALL ranking events (except of course World and UK) in the early rounds, before increasing to best of 9 for quarters and semis. Some matches in early rounds do, in fairness, drag on way too long.

The Welsh Open, as with most other events, could also really benefit from getting bigger crowds, particularly early on. I'm not pretending I know how to do that, but I'd like to see some ideas from people who might.

Anonymous said...

What about giving Ronnie O'Sullivan and Stephen Hendry a bye into the final so at least we're guranteed something half decent rather than Ali Carter v Peter Ebdon

Anonymous said...

The Welsh doesn't need shot clocks or shortened matches , let Power Snooker and the Premier League cater for the "short, fast" snooker crowd. Move the venue back to Cardiff, let Sky or ITV4 screen it and give it a proper ranking points tariff and prize money structure.


TazMania said...

Well last year there was a problem as this was the lowest ranking tournament, but whats the problem this year? There are now 12 events that only carry no more than 2000 points for the winner. Welsh open is worth 5000. 150% MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Im sure the Welsh open is now a big event on the calender of 21 events.

Anonymous said...

it should NEVER go anywhere near the CIA that was the worst venue ive ever been to in my life by a country mile it makes Telford feel like the crucible.

never should shot clock be introduced in ranking events phil yates suggested that on thursday in the PL...he should stick to on table action and forget about organising a tour he knows nothing.

there needs to be something done to the welsh open but those 2 points forget it.

Anonymous said...

The organisers should recruit a warm-up man before the sessions start and rather than toss for break off there should be a short paper scissors stones match to decide who breaks off in frame one.

Eurig Jones said...

Have very long matches. The complete opposite to power snooker to attract "test-match" snooker fans and stream it over the internet in HD.

It would be a bit of a gamble, but as snooker catches on elsewhere in quicker format tournaments it might attract the new and older core snooker fans who are looking for a real marathon.

Also, how about giving a grand for each century and 200quid for a 50 break? I think it would introduce slightly more attacking match of snooker whilst not having the negative effects of a shot clock.

Sparky said...

There is no point in raising the ranking tariffs for EVERY tournament. If the Welsh is given more points, the only tournament left with a "normal" tariff is the German Masters, plus the fact that the value of the WC is being decreased, 10000 is not so much more than 7000. IMO, it should go back to WC-10000, UK-75000, TheOthers-5000. Maybe ChinaOpen-75000.

The benefits of my bonus-ranking-point-suggestion is that it

1)Doesn't change the game itself in any way. No shotclock, no 6-reds, no best-of-7-frames.

2)Still gives an extra excitement around the tournament. The "Win-6-frames-in-a-row-bonus" will yield publicity like:

"John Higgins went from 1-1 to win the match 5-1 by winning 4 frames in a row. If he wins the first two frames of his QF encounter with Mark Allen, he'll get 200 bonus ranking points!"

This way, the players travel to Welsh Open with "I'll have the chance to score lots of bonus points" in mind. For centuries, whitewashes, etc.

Janie Watkins said...

scores in Welsh could be hilarious! 5 = pimp! 6 sounds like sex - yes this could be the answer!!!

Anonymous said...

5000 = 2000 x 250% not 150% TazMania

Had to laugh at suggest of holding outside Wales. Dead against any shot clock or best of 7 reductions in format too.

Executor said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Welsh Open! What is wrong is Shanghai Masters and China Open having 7000 rankings points for the winner, for what??? As one person once put it, I can't imagine how winning in Shanghai could be harder than winning in Newport. That's actually the only thing that makes Welsh Open look lost in the current ranking tournaments schedule. And it's not fair.

Best of nines are OK, ideal format for a ranking event, and hand off the dress code as well! Do we want a ranking event that has an atmosphere of a low-class pub entertainment?

And I also do not understand the need of every event looking different. What other major sport do we see it at? Tennis? Athletics? Football? Swimming? Etc.,...

And damn BBC, too they are too stupid to even realize how stupid they are. It's Eurosport that brings snooker to millions these days.

From my point of view, based on ranking points alone, the schedule should be like this:

WCH: 10.000 pts
UK: 8.000 pts
World Open & China (just to make them happy): 6250 pts
Shanghai, Welsh, German: 5.000 pts
PTC Finals: 3.000 pts
PTC events: 2.000 pts

Where does that Welsh Open leave? I would say somewhere in the middle, where it also should, and where it always was. No shame in it at all.

jamie brannon said...

I would totally agree with the excecutor, apart from the BBC not brinnging the game to millions.

Tennis has many tournaments that are the same format, so does golf.

I am all for variety, but it is okay to have two or more events the same. You could make these cosmetic changes to the Welsh Open, but it would make negilible difference to it's popularity, as the prestige of the event would remain unaltered in the eyes of the casual snooker fan.

Executor said...

Jamie: thank you. Of course, I understand the importance of BBC for British viewers but if Eurosport can cover every major event why can't BBC? I think that would be the point here...

(Personally I dislike BBC for several other - mainly political - reasons, snooker only adds to that.)

Anonymous said...

Janie, 5 is not "pimp". It's "pump" as the letter 'u' is pronounced differently in the Welsh language. You always did have sex on the brain ;-)

Anonymous said...

jamie, for the 135th time, we are not tennis and never will be and making comparisons to that sport is like comparing snooker with badminton.

different !

Anonymous said...

Rebrand the Welsh Open as the
International,Classic or Matchplay or something like that.

If all else fails,just get 12bet to sponsor it.

Problem solved.

jamie brannon said...

You can still compare sports, every journalist that has lived has done it at some point.

The BBC is not a specialist sports broadcaster, it would be ludicrous to think they could show every tournament.

Also, one boost for the event in 2012 when the switchover is complete, the event will be available to everyone, as everyone will have a freeview television that supplies the red button access.

Anonymous said...

Shwmae Janie, In Welsh 6 is chwech, i wont even attept to try to explain how to pronounce it but it definitly doesn't sound like 'sex'.

I think you got your Welsh and German mixed up (and you dont hear that very often)

Diolch a nos da


Anonymous said...


i never said you cant compare

read it again

i said we are not tennis

i didnt say you cant compare sports

might as well be basketball or badminton though, as they have nothing in common either.

Executor said...

ANON 7:25

The fact that we are not tennis or whatever does not mean that we need every single tournament to look different, othherwise our sport will not survive.

We do not. The different looks, if there are too many, effectively erase the actual point (or idea) of some events looking different.

That's why this years World Open looked so refreshing, and that's why UK and World are the ultimate test of excellene in the sport and Top 2 events in the calendar.

Anonymous said...

If you have a Welsh Open than you should also have a Scottish or Irish Open too. The importance of the WO has declined since those two tournaments ended because it stands out now. The tour has changed. The number of big TV ranking events is lower than a decade ago and the PTC events are now the standard format. The TV events now need some specific to make them stand out. A normal best-of-5 event is fine in large regions like Germany or China but for smaller countries thereneeds to be a format to make it stand out. I think the PTC Finals should be in Wales and shown on ITV4. They could also pick a second event to make up for the loss of the WO.

Anonymous said...

i agree executor

from 725

TeslaBoy said...

Definitely change the event structure to stop this over-protection of the elite that has stagnated the game preventing a lot of new talent coming through over the last 15 years (although Barry's new fluid ranking system is, at last, changing this).

Pre-Televised Stages
R1 (Last 96): 33-64 vs 65-96
R2 (Last 64): 1-32 vs 32 R1 winners

Televised Stage - straight knockout Last 32 onwards.