The new Caesarcasino.com Shootout in Blackpool is intended not to be a serious test but a bit of fun.
It may well be, but the format runs the risk of it turning into a farce.
Each match will be stopped after just ten minutes. There is a 20 second shot limit for the first five minutes and one of just 15 seconds for the next five.
This means there will not be time to play certain shots, such as ones needing the extended rest. Amid the panic, players may well end up just whacking the balls about.
Players will hopefully be fully appraised of the rules before they start, although these were still being refined yesterday after it became clear they were somewhat ambiguous.
In short, the players lag – or string – to see who breaks. The frame then continues as normal but players have to hit a cushion with either cue ball or object ball or pot a ball on every shot.
The rules state the opposing player will then have the cue ball ‘in hand’ after a foul. In the official rules of snooker, this means the cue ball in the D but, in the Shootout, it means the player can place it anywhere on the table. Hopefully this important distinction will be made clear.
If points are level at the end of the ten minutes, players will take part in a blue-ball shootout.
The whole of the top 64 is involved. Prize money starts at £500 in the first round and the winner will receive a cheque for £32,000.
One question I’d be interested in having answered is this: what happens if there is, say, ten seconds left in the match when a player comes to the table? Will he have to play his shot in this time or have the full 15 seconds?
I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night.
Despite a few reservations, I’m all for new innovations such as the Shootout which, unlike Power Snooker, is at least snooker in a recognisable form.
This is not the World Championship. It is supposed to be entertainment and I’m sure the players and fans will enjoy something a bit different.
The danger, though, with events such as this is that it gives those who enjoy sticking the knife into snooker the chance to claim it has dumbed down, sold its soul and generally become desperate.
Such people don’t mention the new German Masters, the two new ranking events next season or the general way in which the sport is going forward under Barry Hearn’s stewardship.
No doubt the Shootout will bring about great debate, which is actually one of its functions.
There is an option, though, for those who take against it: switch off.