8.2.12

DOUBLE OR NOTHING

Barry Hearn has been a magnet for ideas since becoming World Snooker chairman. The world, his wife and their step-children has written to him with formats and innovations to ‘take the game forward.’

Most of these are answers to questions nobody has asked, usually involving combining snooker with another sport, adding balls, taking balls away, changing the rules or generally ruining the very thing that attracted anyone to snooker in the first place.

Globally, the game of snooker is more popular than it’s ever been – last week in Berlin was proof of that.

But not every idea is a bad one. Mark Williams came up with an interesting notion for a new tournament: a doubles event with a twist.

Mark’s idea is to have the top 64 in a hat with the pairs drawn out at random. Therefore, players would have to partner whoever came out, even if they were their sworn enemy.

I’m sure you could think of a few tasty pairings which could result under this method.

The event could be played in three days with short matches and would be fun. Many people have called for the return of the World Doubles Championship.

But there was a good reason why it was originally discontinued in 1988. The truth is, doubles was never particularly popular with the viewing public.

ITV showed the tournament but found that their ratings were lower than for their other events. They turned to Hearn for something different and he came up with the World Matchplay: exclusive to the top 12 in the one-year rankings with a best of 35 final (this was before the current mania for shortening everything).

Steve Davis and Tony Meo were the kings of doubles, winning the world title four times. They were eventually superseded by Stephen Hendry and Mike Hallett, who also won the doubles crown at Hearn’s 1991 World Masters.

Much of the fascination lay in who partnered who but doubles snooker was always a little stop-start. In this season’s World Cup a scotch (alternate shot) doubles format was used, but this was even more dragged out.

Maybe Williams’s idea has legs, although the not inconsiderable matter of a broadcaster and sponsor would still need to be sorted out.

It would certainly make for some interesting conversations when the names were pulled out of the hat...

41 comments:

Witz78 said...

Its a bit rich for MJW to propose, what is essentially another novely event, when hes been outspoken in his criticism of the likes of Power Snooker and the Shootout.
Personally i think we have enough novely non ranking events already and the priority for me now would be the downscale the PTCs, Premier League and Championship League to make way for more proper ranking events.

Anonymous said...

Doubles format at the world cup appeared to have been chosen with the intention of deliberately "evening up" some of the mis-matches. Some of it was dreadful to watch - its almost impossible for 2 players to make a decent break playing alternate shots, and matches seemed to descend to the level of waiting for the weaker player in each pairing to make a bad safety.
Doubles has a place but it occupies the same status as it does in Tennis - not that interesting for the viewing public and a sideline to the individual game.

Ron Florax said...

Would be fun to try 9-ball's Scotch Doubles format in snooker, where players alternate after every shot, so one would have to play position for the other.

Colin M said...

I would prefer the doubles tournament over Power Snooker. Another twist could be a forced pairing of a seniors tour player and a main tour player. This would add nostalgic interest, especially if Tony Meo could be persuaded out of retirement!

I would also allow audible consultations on shots.

SnookerFan said...

Not a fan of this. Doubles always sounds more fun than it is. People taking alternate shots takes some of the fluidity out of the game and some of the tension as people aren't living and dying by their own mistakes.

Personally, I agree with what has been said about creating new ranking events, rather than putting all emphasis on these non-ranking 'fun' events.

Anonymous said...

Witz, you're right .. MJW is giving mixed signals.

It's not the same as being too critical + swearing on twitter and such, but still: players should do their thing (play snooker) and let BH do his thing.

Anonymous said...

Marks a great guy, on and off the table.
This kind of format happens in League tournament snooker / 9ball pool up and down the UK, so...well thought out, Mark.

Anonymous said...

Make it the top 32 men and the top 32 women paired up

Ray said...

Dave, at the risk of being accused of being extremely boring, could you tell us how many matches ROS would need to win at the Welsh Open to guarantee his continued participation in the World's top 16? Most grateful.

Dave H said...

Probably just one

Anonymous said...

you forgot the sad face dave ;)

Anonymous said...

Ronnie is safe without a win unless Ricky Walden reaches the quarters or Mark Davis reaches the semi-final. There are a load of permutations depending on what happens with Bingham and Lee too, but if Walden went all the way Ronnie could guarantee his top 16 place with a SF finish.

tmv23 said...

@Ray: see: http://prosnookerblog.com/2012/02/06/closing-in-on-the-cut-race-for-the-crucible/

@Topic: I'm not a huge fan of this idea as well. I really liked the World Cup last year, because you see also players from smaller snooker nations etc. It also has a "David vs Goliath" atmosphere that makes it unique. (plus it maybe helps a bit to "globalize" the sport)

but just the regular main tour players in random pairs against each other without any ranking influence sounds not that interesting to me.

jibjib said...

I'm with Witz78 on this. It's hypocritical of Williams to lay into the Shootout for being a novelty event which relies on luck, only to suggest a format which will also rely on luck (who gets paired with who at each stage).

I have to say the more I read from certain players on Twitter, the more crystal clear it becomes why snooker was in such a state when they ran the game.

Anonymous said...

Bad idea.

Anonymous said...

I think the novelty formats hold the game back in all fairness, I'd scrap them all and focus entirely on developing the international markets. Germany worked out great, and if we had one foot in the door in China when Barry took over we have both feet firmly under the table now, with five ranking events from next season. South America didn't work out, and the jury is still out on Australia, but now snooker has dipped its toes in Europe with the ptcs it's time to take the plunge and maybe convert a couple of them to full rankers. I have observed Mark Williams in two environments: snooker arenas, and Twitter; my two deductions are that he is a brilliant snooker player, but not an overly bright man; so on that basis he should leave the thinking to Barry and play as much as he can.

Tim Sandle said...

Doubles can work sometimes. The Alex Higgins & Jimmy White 9-6 victory over Steve Davis & Tony Meo was a thrilling game in 1984 (the year Higgins and White won), especially Higgins' performance in dominating mots of the last five frames. Some of this match is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KB9M6BzZkPU&feature=related

Rick Bacon said...

This kind of format actually happens in formal tournament. The initiation of the fight isn't necessary for them to take either single or double. But for me, single battle suits their search for who's the best.

Anonymous said...

The World Doubles was played with alternating visits to the table, not alternating shots. The current Snooker rules on the governing body's website also state this for doubles play.

I wonder how keen the players would be being paired randomly and it's unlikely that the Higgins/White dream team would have happened under this system.

I'm looking forward to O'Sullivan/Trump.

kimball said...

TMV23 read my mind, World Cup was a
succsess with viewers and to me the
only slowmoes were a certain couple
from the green island. In the end, it was not boring, just hilarious.
World Cup should stay the way it is,
just bring a shotklock.
And of course most comments here comes from the UK, but for the rest of the world it was great to see new faces from new countries.

kimball said...

World Cup could allow a "wild card team" from f.ex England,Wales and Scotland.
Could be The Rocket and the Smurf:-)
Dott and Hendry and Dale and Day.

Urindragon said...

I think it would be fantastic if the pairs were redrawn after each round. That would guarantee more excitement.

JIMO96 said...

When I read the title of this, I thought "double elimination ranking event". Alas, it was not to be.

Some interesting pairings I'd like to see.....Dott/McCulloch, Williams/Doherty, Robbo/Trump

Johan said...

Don't like the idea of having 'another novelty', certainly not doubles.

As you mentioned Dave, the most interesting thing would be the draw of the teams.

jamie brannon said...

The best pairing would be Allen and Bingham!

Anonymous said...

Slightly off topic but it appears that Championship League Group 6 had some interesting but gruelling matches.
This is proper snooker in my opinion, no frills and long matches.
The group of death.

Anonymous said...

Dave -- off topic -- but your link to Mark Selby's website on the right is broken. It should be www.markselby.info I think, not www.markselby.com. Cheers

Anonymous said...

Is Mark Selby's 18 century haul in the championship league a record? I recall Stephen Hendry making 16 centuries in the 2002 world championship, so is this a new record for a single event?

Anonymous said...

are centuries in the CL counted to players tournament totals?

Greg P said...

No offence to Mark Williams but this is the silliest idea since Willie Thorne thought to himself "I'll just have a nice relax while I pot this blue".

First of all, snooker's biggest rivalry in recent times before this little Robertson/Trump thing started hating was the Murphy/Maguire thing and that was over a piece of chalk. It's not exactly Rocky IV stuff is it? And even if it was why would that make compelling snooker viewing? This is snooker not WWE. It also sounds like something out of a corny "task" on Big Brother...

What if, say, for instance, Williams himself gets paired with some guy who's just barely clinging on to the top 64 and then Williams goes out in the 1st round for no fault of his own and the tournament and audience are robbed of a great player? That's the other side of this gimmick. Could happen to Ronnie or Trump too.

Why can't we just have a doubles tournament with the top 64 but everyone pairs off however they want to? It would be a lot better to see players choose their own partnerships. You'd have interesting partnerships anyway. Steve Davis partnered with almost anyone else on the tour would be hilarious just because of the age difference. Unless he decided to team up with Jimmy White which would be brilliant in its own way (because of their past rivalry including a world final). But when it comes to the top players it'd be better if they all chose their own team-mates. That way you'd almost definitely get a quality end of the tournament because most of the best players would probably want a fellow elite player as a team-mate. Maybe even someone could convince Higgins and O'Sullivan to team up, that would be epic.

A doubles tournament would be good enough without this silly gimmick.

Also, I have to agree with all the others here who pointed out how crap "Scotch" doubles format is for snooker.

Anonymous said...

Greg P said...
No offence to Mark Williams but this is the silliest idea since Willie Thorne thought to himself "I'll just have a nice relax while I pot this blue".

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no offence, but thats not what Willie thought to himself, no matter how silly you are.

Anonymous said...

Best pairing would be Murphy and Maguire. Murp could ask if Maguire's brought his chalk along with him.

Anonymous said...

64 players, doubles and partners drawn from a hat (best of three).
32 remaining drawn from a hat, doubles again but re-draw new partners (best of three).
16 remain, random draw doubles again (best of three) leaving 8 players.
8 players left, no longer doubles but a random draw singles played under shoot-out rules leaving 4 players.
Semi-final singles played under 30 mins of Power snooker conditions.
2 players remain, the final a bona fide best-of-nine, no restrictions to find the Champion.
All played at the o2 arena.

Anonymous said...

1055, your best chance of watching something like that is if you murder a few people first and go to Hell.

Anonymous said...

1.45pm,

I'd rather witness the o2 extravaganza than sit through a billiards match.
Tha is hell,.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Best pairing would be Murphy and Maguire. Murp could ask if Maguire's brought his chalk along with him.

10:48 AM
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is there a joke in that somewhere?

Anonymous said...

Refering to 2004 grandprix in which maquire got docked a frame for not having his chalk with him.
He won 5-2 and was really fired up, remember it well.

Rudy Bauwens said...

The only real addition to the hectic schedule would be a "Champion of Champions" tournament, inviting every winner of a proper ranking tournament, the Masters, the Premier League, the Shoot Out, the PTC Grand Final, some recognized big invitational events (Brazil Masters) and - why not - the World Amateur Champion. Free draw. The idea would be to create a 16 player tournament. If for some reason more players would qualify, there could be a prelim first round match. If you get short of 16 (which probably would be the case), you invite a few wild cards to have 16. My guess is that a major sponsor could like this idea and this week event could be sold to a TV-station because of the only champions formula. The schedule is debatable, but why not use the Masters format?

JiggyStardust78 said...

its about time the Masters was changed to a ranking event...and i like short format but one more ranking event over longer would be a good mix..like the mercantile final used to be to 13...n change uk final back to best of 31.

Gerard said...

A reverse of the changes at the UK won't happen,though I still need to digest them.

Changing the Masters to a ranker would be too much to swallow for me.

Convert a few ptc's to full rankers and get better + more broadcasting deals for the whole season.

Anonymous said...

No thanks Jiggy, I want to watch the stars of the game go up against each other rather than a bunch of journeyman turning into bottle jobs once they reach the quarter finals.