The new International Championship, for which the qualifiers started today, carries a first prize of £125,000 and is played over a best of 11 format with semi-finals best of 17, essentially the same as the UK Championship.

So does this new event new qualify as the fourth ‘major’?

The big three titles are generally accepted to be the World Championship, UK Championship and Masters.

Their prestige is proven over decades. They are tournaments every snooker player wants to win.

However, there are no actual grand slams as in tennis or official majors as in golf. In snooker, the ‘majors’ are merely tournaments which have developed into the biggest on the calendar.

This was relatively easy for the big three as for a time they were pretty much the only tournaments on the calendar.

Crucially, they are also televised by the BBC. This means that, in the UK, they reach the biggest possible audience.

There’s no doubt that winning one of these three titles is a significant achievement. Paul Hunter, whose name adorns the European Tour event in Germany this week, won the Masters three times, which is often mentioned in relation to him. Far less often mentioned are his three world ranking titles.

It’s unlikely Dennis Taylor’s black ball defeat of Steve Davis would have been so celebrated had it been in the deciding frame of, say, the British Open final.

However, the Grand Prix, the BBC’s fourth tournament until they dropped it, was never really considered to be any bigger than the other British ranking events, though it was much more prestigious when sponsored by Rothmans and held in Reading than in its later, peripatetic years.

Can the International Championship have major status conferred on it so early in its life?

Probably not, although it is clearly now the biggest Chinese event.

And what does it matter anyway? The truly competitive players try and win every tournament they enter.

When you hear a player say at the start of the season that they are ‘targeting the majors’ it’s a sure sign that they will have a poor campaign.

You’ll have better chance of success in a ‘major’ if you win other titles because your confidence and form will be sky high.

A Davis or a Stephen Hendry tried to win everything and pretty much did. Barry Hearn once said that Davis never even used to ask what the first prize was in tournaments he played in. It didn’t matter. He just wanted to win.

Then again, if he hadn’t won six world titles, six UK titles and three Masters (seven, five and six for Hendry) then he wouldn’t be thought of as such a legend.

This new Chinese event certainly is prestigious and it’s nice to see in an era where short formats are the fashion that a (slightly) longer format has been introduced.

Personally I’d like to see a return to the old ITV finals played over 25 frames, but something tells me that isn’t going to happen.


Anonymous said...

I'm very much in favour of longer framed matches. It will be interesting to see who turns up for this one.

Alan said...

Although it has the same format as the UK Championship, I guess most snooker fans would suggest this International Championship does not merit the status as a "Major" at this specific moment in time.

However, you cannot identify an event as a major without staging it in the first place, so all credit must go the Chinese organisers for hosting it, and hopefully it will go from strength-to-strength and possibly reach that status in the future.

I think it would have been better though if the Chinese Billiards & Snooker Association had tried to develop the China Open into a "major", as this would have probably given the event a better identity mirroring the national Open events used in tennis.

Anonymous said...

ban all those whove failed to go to chinese events in the past (making up excuses) from playing in this, i say.

Anonymous said...

do we know the prize money breakdown. I know its £125000 for the winner but what about the rest?

Anonymous said...

I would argue that we only have two majors now.

wild said...

"When you hear a player say at the start of the season that they are ‘targeting the majors’ it’s a sure sign that they will have a poor campaign."
Absolutely right.

i hate a player coming out with that it shows lack of Ambition.

a true great just wants to win and annihilate the opposition. that's what Davis and Hendry did.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure it's strictly true of Hendry, he always seemed especially focused and determined in the WC and Masters. I think winning those two meant a good season to him. Hendry actually had a few seasons in the 90s where he didn't win anything before the UK...I'm sure he wanted to win them all, but some events are obviously better at motivating players.

Anonymous said...

529, leave the guessing alone.

ive known stephen for years and im sure he tried as hard and worked hard in every event during the season.

Anonymous said...

Don't be so naive 617. You really think he put as much effort into a PTC as he did for his world titles? What a silly thing to say. Even Hendry himself has admitted to not being motivated in some of the lesser events, which makes me doubt your claim of knowing him for years.

Peter Norrie said...

You don't think that Nicklaus or Woods targeted the Majors? How about Sampras & Federer? Of course they want to win every event they enter, but their whole season is built around peaking at the Majors.

Arnd, Germany said...

I think there is a personality with the British that if a tournament is not on the BBC then a snooker tournament is not very big.

Would BBC show snooker outside of UK? This can only get bigger in future.

Tournament needs a little history first.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see how they've managed to get a bigger first prize even though the prize fund is smaller than the UK Champs:

UK Champs 2011
Winner: £100,000 (1 player) Total = £100,000
Finalist: £46,000 (1 player) Total = £46,000
Semi: £23,250 (2 players) Total = £46,500
Quarter: £16,450 (4 players) Total = £65,800
L16: £12,050 (8 players) Total = £96,400
L32: £8,750 (16 players) Total = £140,000
L48: £5,500 (16 players) Total = £88,000
L64: £2,300 (16 players) Total = £36,800
TOTAL Prize Fund = £619,500

International Championship 2012
Winner: £125,000 (1 player) Total = £125,000
Finalist: £62,500 (1 player) Total = £62,500
Semi: £30,000 (2 players) Total = £60,000
Quarter: £17,500 (4 players) Total = £70,000
L16: £12,000 (8 players) Total = £96,000
L32: £7,000 (16 players) Total = £112,000
L48: £3,000 (16 players) Total = £48,000
L64: £1,500 (16 players) Total = £24,000
TOTAL Prize Fund = £597,500

Basically the bigger prize is there because the prize money is lower before the L16 stage. Depends on your point of view if this is a good thing, but I suspect it is the way things are going to be if Hearn wants to avoid "rewarding mediocrity"

Anonymous said...

Well they had to do something to give one of these Chinese events a semblance of a unique identity.

Anonymous said...

722 having less motivation and not trying as hard are two totally separate things.

not only are you happy guessing wrongly about people you dont know, youre happy posting rubbish comments at someone who does know the person youre guessing about.

Anonymous said...

Motivation is a key factor in how much effort you put in. Most of Hendry's seasons are "second half" heavy and that is because he was gearing up for the events he desperately wanted to win. The 1992/93 season is a classic example of this: he only won three events, the Masters, the tournament immediately prior to the world championship, and the world championship. In fact he had quite a few seasons where he didn't win anything before the UK, back in the days when there was a season before the UK. So I think it's safe to say Hendry's focus was on winning the triple crown events.

Anonymous said...

safe to guess, yeah

jamie brannon said...

I agree that tennis players and golfers do tend to try and peak for the majors, just like athletes do.

However each player is different in what works for them. A number of players need to be battle hardened and play regularly, but Serena Williams and Ronnie O'Sullivan are quite clearly getting their schedule in place to peak for the majors, the events that define your legacy.

I'm of the iew that the China Open is up their as the next biggest event, as it has established itself, and was vital in underscoring the Chinese boom.

Having said that, this event has the potential to outstrip it. I'm also pleased to see no world moniker being attached to the title.

wild said...


in Latter years Yea when he had about 3 WC Behind him and in all about 15+ Ranking Events he did set his stall out to Win the "MAJORS" But by then he had that Luxury to do that But in his early Career he went out to win them All.

Today players are happy winning one then diapering not to be seen for a while.

Domination Means Winning Everything and Building up a aura around you of invincibility you cant do that just by winning here and there.

Anonymous said...

i agree 401, but some "athletes" get a nosebleed when china comes around

Anonymous said...


Just out of interest, can you compile a list of how many 'majors' players would have won if we could the UK, Masters, and Worlds as the 3 majors historically. For example, would Stephen Hendry be better than, say, Jack Nicklaus, etc.

Dave H said...

Well Hendry has won 18 of the 'big three' titles and Nicklaus 18 majors

Anonymous said...

So what we're saying is that if Hendry is the Nicklaus....then O'Sullivan is the Woods? I always knew he was a dirty dirty dan!!!

Anonymous said...

Woods is the dirtiest dan out there!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dave...do you think Woods can match Nicklaus' record of 18 majors?

Anonymous said...

I think that it's going to be difficult for Woods to catch Nicklaus now. It's possible, but he has to win a major next year I'd say, and his best chance will come at Augusta. I think that's the one he really wants and if he can do it there it will be so sweet for him.

In the longer term, there's also a chance McIlroy could be good enough to get 10+ majors, but time will tell.

Any thoughts Dave?

Dave H said...

I can't claim to know enough about golf to comment, but I do like McIlroy

jamie brannon said...

Given Rory has won two majors at a younger age than either Nicklaus and Woods the signs are promising.

In addition, to win both of his majors by eight shots is Woods-esque, and indicates that he is cut from a different cloth than most, which is vital if you are to become a super-legend.