When the Welsh Open was staged at Cardiff International Arena, as it was from 1999 to 2003, it was one of the best tournaments on the circuit.
Crowds were large, the venue was superb, the tournament’s reputation was strong and the snooker was high quality.
Only the latter now remains true. The Welsh Open, through no real fault of its own, has gradually been made into the poor relation of the circuit.
The enforced loss of Regal as sponsors and general WPBSA mismanagement meant a change of venue, first to Sofia Gardens and now the Newport Centre, where the Welsh Open began life in 1992.
Prize money is lower than for any other ranking event and even the length of frames was reduced two years ago to best of sevens until the quarter-finals.
This year’s genius idea to further degrade the tournament is to make several top players pre-qualify, thus potentially depriving spectators of recognisable faces.
Ali Carter, who has just won the German Masters, will have to play in a soulless cubicle in Sheffield with no room for an audience, as will Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy, Stephen Maguire, Mark Allen and all but six of the top 16.
Parochially, four Welsh players, none of whom are in form and the youngest of which is 32, have their matches held over to the venue.
The decision to change the qualifying structure for this tournament makes no sense because three of the sessions in Newport are not even being televised, whereas last year every match was broadcast.
Why does the Welsh Open keep getting hit like this?
Many decisions are, quite correctly, made due to financial restrictions and realities. Others seem almost deliberately designed to deal a fatal blow to what is the third longest running ranking event on the calendar.
Wales has a wonderful snooker heritage and has produced several legends of the game. It is a stronghold which should be nurtured.
I don’t doubt the tournament will still produce some good snooker and close matches but the Welsh Open currently bears the air of a tournament not far from being put out of its misery, which is a great shame for those of us who remember its glory years.