The German Masters got underway yesterday with most of the favourites surviving but with Judd Trump dodging a bullet against James Wattana and John Higgins being eliminated by Peter Lines.

Berlin holds unhappy personal memories for Higgins. Two years ago, after winning his first match, he withdrew because his father was seriously ill, and subsequently passed away. It’s inevitable that being back at the same venue would serve as a poignant reminder.

This is not to detract from Lines’s win. He has beaten Higgins before, notably in Shanghai in 1999. Peter’s son, Oliver, is a very promising prospect himself and was rightly proud of his dad’s win yesterday.

Trump could have lost to James Wattana, a great player of years past who just failed to close out victory.

This would have been another major setback for Trump, whose form of late has not been good, but few would be surprised if, having avoided an early exit, he went on to have a good run. Sometimes a win or two is all that’s required to rediscover lost confidence.

Some players have complained about playing conditions. Neil Robertson described the outside tables as ‘unplayable’ and claimed they hadn’t even been tested. I was at the venue early yesterday morning where table fitters were in fact testing them but when a player wins a match and still complains they can hardly be accused of sour grapes.

Berlin itself seems a very friendly place. One member of our party left his phone in the backseat of a taxi and assumed that was the last he would see of it. In fact, the taxi driver, on finding said phone, made a detour back to the hotel to hand it back.

I arrived at the Tempodrom early, armed only with my GCSE German, which is basically only good for asking the way to the town hall, a fine place I’m sure but not strictly relevant to the business in hand.

I had difficulty making myself understood but was fortunate that Rolf Kalb, German Eurosport’s commentator, the master of ceremonies and Germany’s leading snooker evangelist, soon arrived to give me a tour of the venue.

It is a very impressive place. My only concern was how much of each match the audience could concentrate on with five tables in progress but I’m sure grown adults can cope with such a conundrum and it’s a much better layout than having partitions up everywhere.

This is the sort of venue you would want to come to and to come back to.

The local bars have had good business from the snooker fraternity and, in the course of journalistic duty, I have been reluctantly dragged to a couple myself. Inevitably, chat has turned to the new ‘flat’ structure.

“Many players are against it and an EGM will be called to put a stop to it,” was what one seasoned professional told me.

Actually, I’m not convinced such a vote would be carried by those against the move but then I’m not convinced World Snooker would even need to take any notice if it was.

I did try and point out to said seasoned professional that the players no longer run the sport and that the days of vote after vote to protect self interest were over but he had by then moved on to conspiracy theories about Ronnie O’Sullivan’s return and I was losing the will to live.

What yesterday proved was that most of the top players still win if they play their matches at the venue.

What sceptics of the new system, myself included, are concerned about is top players having to play in soulless cubicles before tournaments begin, which is of no commercial value to the sport at all, especially if they lose.

Anyway, all of that can wait. The actual snooker is far more interesting and there’s another busy day in prospect.

This morning Mark Williams and Michael Holt take their Twitter bromance to the main table while Mark Selby, who played yesterday as if there was a shot-clock, aims to continue his great run when he tackles Joe Perry on the TV table this afternoon.

The top 16 starts tonight, with the TV match to be decided later.


Anonymous said...

As a regular traveller to Germany, I can assure you most Germans have a very good understanding of English - but its good fun winding the Brits up :)

As to the "time delay" on ES I dont think there is one on this occasion.

kimball said...

On another note, confirmed now that Stephen Lee is in the PTC final line up.
can't get mote confusing if you make it up.

Anonymous said...

Wish they'd get a snooker fan to choose the TV match. If you wanted to turn people away from the game you'd make them watch Selby V Perry.

Anonymous said...

@319 They probably love Selby in Germany. Anything that is slow and methodical will go down well.

Anonymous said...

Michael Holt described as Anthony Hamilton. Do these commentators have a basic grasp of snooker knowledge ?

Anonymous said...

Camera work awful once again. Little point Joe Johnson letting us know about a great canon while the producer obsesses over the object ball's journey into the pocket. Even until it comes to rest in the ball tray ffs !

Anonymous said...

Dave, do you think a set up like this would work for an event in the UK (is the table set up in any way similar to that One For Seven event in Cardiff a couple of years back)?

It strikes me that 5 days is much better than 7 as a duration for a ranking event (given how few people turn up during the week for UK ranking events) and it might be a good way to rejuvinate the Welsh Open?

Dave H said...

I'm sure it would work. Actually years ago the Welsh Open did last five days and it felt like there was something happening all the time.

Anonymous said...

don't think so, I havent met anyone speaking of Selby in Germany. Rather O'Sullivan, Higgins, Robertson.
I would prefer one of them to Selby...

Greetings from Germany!

Anonymous said...

The only problem with todays game is that players need time to prove they can play well over a long period of time. Then they will prove to be as good as RoS, MjW, Higgins, Hendry, Davis (legend, still playing!), Reardon, Alex, Jimmy, Cliff, Terry, ...

Robbo and Selby will join that list in 5-6 years and Trump soon after that.

kimball said...

8:09 - at the moment Trump is in Murphy 2006-07 moood, nothing works
that worked.
You name nine players over a 45 year
period,bring on John Spencer, Fred
and Joe Davis and snooker legend list
is more or less full to the brim.
Regarding coming classic players, I'll give a nod to Hendry's view that Ding Junhui should be top four in the ranking. 25 now, 4-5 year hcp. to Selby and Robbo. Those three + Trump (when he get his act together) might become the new Big four. watch out for Lu Haoutian though!!!

Anonymous said...

to kimball 2.02

The list on ws site is just that - a list - of players who qualified to play PTC finals

it is not a list of the entries to the event.

theres no chance of lee playing in the event.

Anonymous said...

But wasn't it the BBC who wanted two weekends and scuppered shorter UK tournaments? I would love to see a tournament golf style - say 4 days of intensive all day coverage.