I’m not really sure why there are wildcards in a ranking event that lasts only five days in a country where snooker is already wildly popular, but this is how the German Masters begins today.

Patrick Einsle, who has been a main tour player, albeit without much success, will play Ken Doherty in the first TV match.

Doherty is at that stage of his career where non-playing interests are vying for his time. He has established himself as part of the BBC snooker team and presents a weekly football show on Irish radio.

He won’t be short of offers for work of this sort. Ken has always been a great pro and ambassador and his genial manner is no image, it’s just how he is.

He has just slipped out of the top 32 on the seedings list by one place and will obviously want to rejoin the top 32 before the next cut-off so that he plays only one qualifier for the World Championship.

Assuming he beats Einsle he will play Mark Williams. If you have read Doherty’s autobiography ‘Life in the Frame’ you will know that the pair are not bosom pals, although it would take a little imagination to describe this as a grudge match.

Williams of course won the title last year after a dramatic battle with Mark Selby. He has not won a title since but has enjoyed a good year, with two major finals and the Crucible semis under his belt.

He also beat Doherty in the semi-finals of the Australian Open last July and I imagine will be fully motivated to do the same at the Tempodrom.

Barry Hawkins is back in action just three days after earning a career highest payday when he pocketed £32,000 for winning the Shootout in Blackpool.

It’s back to normal now, though: ranking event snooker against one of the game’s very best, Shaun Murphy.

Ryan Day seems to blow hot and cold at the moment. He has qualified for Berlin, just as he did for the UK Championship, but in York he was whitewashed by Selby and recently at the World Open qualifiers he was whitewashed by Robert Milkins.

This afternoon he’s up against Stephen Maguire, who enjoyed success in Germany just last month when he won PTC12.

Mark Davis is having a good run and will be full of confidence ahead of his clash with John Higgins tonight.

Davis, the world no.17, earned the best part of £10,000 at the Championship League last week and is match sharp.

Higgins has not yet won a title this season. It’s natural to assume it’s only a matter of time, but sport doesn’t work like that.

One of the best matches of the day could well be Martin Gould v Ricky Walden. Gould continues to impress – witness his 135 total clearance under Shootout conditions the other day – and Walden seems to be coming back to form.

If you have a ticket for the Tempodrom then you are sure to have a great day, with so many matches taking place.

I’m a fan of making tournaments shorter (without reducing length of matches) and playing more sessions to get them done. There’s no reason a ranking event should last nine days (actually, the only reason the BBC ones have done is to provide live sport on two weekends).

Perhaps five days is a little short (six or seven days is probably right) but with the number of tournaments on the increase then this is the way forward.


Anonymous said...

after reading that i want to go out and buy the book, just so i understand what you meant by MJW and KD not being best of friends...

aye right. thats what you wanted. ill just ask about someone who has read it.


Anonymous said...

Could not agree more about the shortening of tournaments - having every ranking event spread over 7/9 days might have worked when the cig people were pouring money in, but in reality the last 32 of a ranking event could easily be dealt with inside 4 days provided there are 4/5 tables.

I know attendance at events in the UK and Europe have improved significantly, but presumably the ticket sales for the first day of a ranking tournament barely cover the cost of the days' play(?)

I'm guessing that the difference in TV income between a 4 and a 6 day ranking event is marginal (?). If that is the case then it makes sense for snooker to reduce its 'footprint' (mainly the cost of venue hire and on-hire charges for the set?).

The goal has to be as many ranking events as possible. £200k prize fund (£30k to the winner) is the bare minimum you can have for a ranking event to be credible, if cutting the days enables more events to do this then it is the way forward.

Dnaiel said...

Totally agreed on shortening events. The one age old problem with that though is making players in cubicals and in effect dividing the tournament into two (ala UK Championships before 2011). The Tempodrom is a unique venue so seems to avoid this problem.

The one massive bug bear of mine is intervals, what exactly to players do in them?

Intervals must eat up an hour of every day and provides an awkward 15 minutes for broadcasters. If fitness/stamina is a problem (which I doubt), then just reduce matches to best of 7.

I don't see tennis players saying "ah we're a bit tired, lets go off for 20 minutes" in 5 set grand slams??

jamie brannon said...

I'd agree with all ranking events outside the UK and World Championship being no more than a week.

I'm guessing you were excluding those two when advocating shorter events.

The two major rankers should be like Grand Slams, longer than the normal diet of tour events.

Anonymous said...

for once (or twice) we agree jamie

(but im still not putting my name)

Anonymous said...

I think the interval is probably more for the audience than the players. When the average sepctator age is 75 incontinence is an issue!

Anonymous said...

Within a few years I anticipate a German superstar player to emerge from the spectre of the likes of Lassie Munsterman and Patrick Einsle.
Then all the British press will be suggesting we invented the game and others have taken it to new levels.
When of course everyone knows the game was spawned in China by a lover of Pandas.

Anonymous said...

players could be in a perspex dome, similar to squash matches.

then, whispers, sweetie rustling, drinking and farting will not put off the players.

players can come and go during frames and the creeky stairs will not be as bad.

Anonymous said...

A perspex dome? This isn't Logan's Run.

Anonymous said...

I say yes to shorter events. But not all. The season should have many rankers with unique properties. In one case it's the format but it might just be the atmosphere or something else.

PS: MJW whitewashed his 'rival'. Anyone think KD will announce his retirement (for real) in 2012? And what about Ebdon?

Janie Watkins said...

10 minute intervals should be plenty of time for players to get a quick cup of tea or whatever.

maybe not be long enough for audience to queue for the lu, drinks etc

so maybe 15 minutes max - sometimes in recent bbc events interval have stretched to nearly half an hour at times.

Janie Watkins said...


I am not a fan of the long straight line set up in uk events for 3-4 tables

The Tempodrom is perfect - theatre in the round.

If you could find uk venues to accommodate 3-4-5 tables in the round, that could create superb atmospheres and shorten length of tournaments too.

Anonymous said...

Do any players actually have a cup of tea at the interval?

Anyway, I think six days is a perfect length for a tournament, with a day each for the semis and the final, and a couple for the quarters once the event hots up. 1st and 2nd rounds don't need to be longer than a day really if the venue can accommodate an accelerated schedule. In theory a six day tournament faciliates a weekly calendar, whereas a 9 day tournament effectively dictates a biweekly calendar.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
A perspex dome? This isn't Logan's Run.

9:30 PM

nobody said it was!

thanks for your time and effort though.

Anonymous said...


let the people bring drinks in.

no shouting out, but a creeky stair or two shouldnt hurt.

have refreshments brought in by staff at the back of the hall, pints and cans of soft drink.

lastly, i would prefer a three table set up, in an arc, with no dividing walls. that way a long traditional hall could be used, but its more open plan. 5 looks good, but it is too many.

audiences can watch the table nearest them and have anywhere near the same experience from the same seat watching the one furthest away.

if it was 3 in an arc, 2 of the 3 matches could be watched easily and a third with decent viewing.

jamie brannon said...

No intervals that I can remember have gone on for thirty minutes, twenty at most.

However, Janie is right about ten minutes being the correct amount. The audience and players do welcome a toilet/coffee break.

jamie brannon said...

Doherty and Williams have not got along since the late nineties according to Dave's book.

I think Doherty, who is not the only one, believes Williams not to be entirely professional in his conduct.

In addition, Williams got Doherty's back up prior to one of the big BBC finals they contested in the 02/03 season.

However, it's not Higgins v Taylor in the grudge stakes. Doherty says there is always an edge when they play but no nastiness.

Would like to take to this opportunity to say I enjoyed reading the book over the festive period, it has made me warm further to Ken and wish him well in his attempts to qualify for Sheffield.

Anonymous said...

i thought the book was ok.
well written

£16 for a thin book with big type was not my idea of a bargain though.

WRT Ken moaning about mjw wearing joggies

its made me think of ken as a complete whinger.

marks off duty backstage and can wear what he wants....whether you think its scruffy or not.

we cant all wear shirts and jeans with false heeled shoes, or wed all look the same.

and before anyone asks, ive been backstage more times than the average person has been in an audience

jamie brannon said...

They both seem very similar type characters, which makes their animosity seem baffling.

However, when Williams was in his pomp he used to get my back up for reasons that I couldn't quite pinpoint.

Anonymous said...

theyre both really nice guys jamie

both will chat away with you no problem

theyre not similar though

well, they have eyes and ears and stuff, but they really arent similar at all.

you probably didnt like williams in his pomp as he was one of the few who could match the player you idolise.

jamie brannon said...

I do agree with what Dave says about the more events may make it a must to have five day events.

It had nothing to do with Ronnie, and it was only a marginal dislike of him, if at all.

They do seem alike in their laidback manner, and their genial wit.

Anonymous said...

one of them has genial wit. the other is ken,

im fairly certain its not just dave u r agreeing with. im fairly certain he wasnt the first one to have those thoughts too, by law of averages.

nice pat on the back for dave though, teachers pet. :)