Jan Verhaas made a *ghastly error when he stopped play in the John Higgins-Graeme Dott match last night to correct an error that had not, in fact, been made.

Verhaas had a brain freeze and believed that a foul in which Higgins had caught the brown and then hit the blue should have been worth five rather than four.

He eventually realised and play resumed but Dott, who had been waiting to play his shot, immediately missed.

Dott lost this frame and the match, but it would take a ludicrous stretch of the imagination to blame Verhaas for Dott’s eventual defeat.

The fact is this: Jan is only human and, like the rest of us human beings, is capable of making mistakes.

We all make them. I do, you do, referees do. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t.

In some jobs it is more serious than others. If Jan were a heart surgeon he would probably be feeling worse this morning than for briefly losing the plot in a snooker match.

Referees are unsung heroes (and heroines). They have to retain concentration for long periods of time and are usually only noticed if they get something wrong.

They are also not paid fortunes – far from it – and have to not only ensure the match is played within the rules but also keep the audience in check and deal with the unexpected.

Snooker has been fortunate to have had many top referees over the years. They have all, at one time or another, done something inexplicable in a match.

Jan is one of the best refs and has been for many years. A cheerful Dutchman, he is a popular figure on the snooker circuit. Friendly, courteous and well liked, he is rightly regarded as a safe pair of white gloves.

He will be embarrassed I’m sure by his mistake but when he walks out at the Ally Pally today he will do so as an official trusted by the players and respected by the game at large.

*EDIT: further investigation of the actual footage reveals that Verhaas's call was, in fact, correct. It should have been five away, not four so his mistake was actually in changing his mind.


Anonymous said...

Let's not forget Verhaas is constantly getting himself involved in unecessary controversy. He's an attention seeker, just look at the match between Higgins and Ronnie when he didn't penalise Ronnie for deliberate fouling so Higgins wouldn't be able to ask him play again. And then in the Masters he called a foul on Higgins against Allen that no one saw, only his mind.

Anonymous said...


As a colleague of Jan's I can only say "hear! hear!" to this article.

Most people don't realise that indeed the referee has to concentrate the full 100% of playing time whereas a player could possibly (not suggesting they should btw!) let his/her mind wonder when the opponent is at the table.

That said, indeed to err is human and even the best make mistakes. Owning up to mistakes made is what separates the boys from the men...at least imho.

Jurgen Gruson.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally.I have nothing to do with snooker apart from being a fan and Jan is up there as one of the best

Ray said...

I felt very sorry for Jan Verhaas last night. He always comes across as a strict but likeable referee.There is no sport without them and it's about time they were recognised as valuable participants. Hope they get reimbursed better under the new regime than they did under the old - does anybody know? I think it's a disgrace if they are not because they should benefit from the increase in prize money as well.

Guillermo Momplet said...

Hi Dave,
in fact I think there is not such an error. Higgins touched the brown with is cue, and not with the cue ball, then hitted the blue first. There were two faults in the same shot and the rule says the higher one should be called, wich was hitting the blue, 5 points.
The only error I see here is the marker taking an increidible long time to change a 4 point fault into a 5 one, wich is something it should have been done in a few seconds.
Sorry for my bad english and thanks for your blog, keep the good work.


Anonymous said...

Twice in one week for jan,he put the blue on the pink spot in the last mathc he refereed.Maybe its time he had a rest.

Anonymous said...

It's not inconceivable he's tired with all the extra touraments. I don't watch the mickey mouse events, but does he do the Championship League and PTC as well?

Anonymous said...

@9.54: get your facts straight please before you start befouling someone's name and reputation.

Jan's call in the Higgins-RoS match was perfectly in line with the rules in the rulebook.


Anonymous said...

@12.13PM: Jan is present at the PTCs to oversee the referees and all. The premier league is mostly done by Paul Collier (iirc).


Anonymous said...

this hat is tasty

Anonymous said...

dave, billy s isnt in the police force

Anonymous said...

Jan is nog steeds de man!


Hi David. As I said last night, Verhaas, Even though he should never have done that, was rightly, deeply apologetic and would Never have don that on purpose, In my vie.

Anonymous said...

What actually happened was that Jan was correct in the first place when he suggested that the foul was 5 points and not four.
The BBC commentators seemed to thik it was a 4 point penalty and those with headsets on were shouting out that he had got it wrong, which he hadn't.

Aart said...

In the end, did they leave the scores intact, or did they change it to a 5 point penalty instead of 4? I saw the match, and the foul, but missed the part after that. Jan called "foul 5" so decisively, and then changed his mind to 4 when the score was being adjusted, is that right??