Let’s get the first complaint of the day out of the way good and early: it is wrong that Judd Trump’s match against Stuart Bingham hasn’t been given a TV table.
World Snooker have been handed a gift in the shape of Trump: an exciting young player who plays an attractive game but, crucially, someone who is also a winner.
That’s why he features on posters and advertising literature. But none of that is any use if he isn’t seen as widely as possible.
The governing body comes up with all manner of expensive marketing wheezes to promote the sport but there are much better ways of spreading the word...and many of them are free.
And Bingham won the last ranking title, so a case could be made for this being the tie of the round.
The reasons for the snub are two-fold. First, the hugely popular wildcard round took an entire day out of the schedule. Also, and needlessly, the top half of the draw was played yesterday and the bottom half today.
There’s no need for this. The best matches should be chosen for TV. One of the main functions of televised sport is to provide entertainment. That’s why it’s televised.
John Higgins, as world champion, and Mark Williams, as world no.1, have earned the right to play on TV, as has crowd pleaser Ronnie O’Sullivan and the two Chinese stars Ding Junhui and Liang Wenbo. I’d put Trump in that list too. He’s a massive attraction in China after winning in Beijing and his Crucible exploits.
More thought needs to go into formats and schedules. Mind you, this is the tournament that four years ago put Higgins v Mark Selby – a rematch of that year’s world final – on an outside table.
O’Sullivan certainly entertained yesterday but his victory over James Wattana was little more than an exhibition as the Thai struggled badly.
There was no sign of how O’Sullivan would respond if put under pressure, but he looks in good shape both on and off the table.
Selby’s match against Nigel Bond tested the patience of even hard core snooker fans. Selby scrapped through, although to be fair to the players they seemed to have a large amount of kicks, thunderous ones at that. This could be down to humidity and therefore little can be done about it.
Usually you only have to play better than the other guy to win. Shaun Murphy yesterday played worse than Dominic Dale for most of their match but still won.
This is a credit to Murphy’s attitude. He didn’t bang his cue or smack the table or generally allow frustration to overwhelm him.
He just stuck in there as Dale began to fade and it’s one of those matches players who win titles often scramble through before improving.
So to today...Higgins faces Mark Davis, who is now a top 16 player after 20 years on the tour (although he needs to stay there until the end of the month to be seeded through to tournaments).
Higgins won the first ranking event played in Shanghai 12 years ago but does not have a great record in China, although I’d still expect him to come through.
Mark Williams, who got stuck in a lift for 45 minutes on Sunday, will hopefully make it to the table in time to play Andrew Higginson.
I trust Ding Junhui and Martin Gould will produce some entertainment in the second session in what is likely to be an open match, in which Ding can expect plenty of chances.
Another interesting match features Neil Robertson against Liang Wenbo. Robertson has never done much in China while Liang is enigmatically difficult to predict. He was runner-up two years ago but has since struggled badly.
Oh, and there’s Trump v Bingham as well.