It’s a festival of snooker in Doncaster this week, not a sentence that necessarily screams ‘thank God for summer’ but the Dome seems a good venue, if a little hot for some player’s tastes.

20 or so years ago it hosted the World Matchplay, won in 1991 by Gary Wilkinson who these days helps runs tournaments for World Snooker.

I used to like the Matchplay, promoted by one Barry Hearn, which replaced the World Doubles as part of ITV’s portfolio.

There was none of this ‘fairness’ nonsense back then: it was all about elitism and rewarding achievement. The tournament comprised the top 12 in the provisional rankings. Matches were best of 17 and the final, like the World Championship, best of 35.

Some saw it as Hearn’s attempt to set up a rival World Championship, or even fool people into thinking it was the World Championship, but of course nobody thought that and just enjoyed it for what it was: the top players engaged in a prestigious invitation event.

Fast forward to 2013 and the preliminary round of the Indian Open gets underway this morning, featuring star names aplenty.

This event will be best of seven frames all the way until the final, which is best of nine frames.

I’ll repeat that: the final is best of nine.

Why? Well, the event is only five days long and because of the new ‘fair’ system there are 63 matches to cram in.

It would surely have been better to take 32 players to India and have a proper final of at least best of 17.

Still, it’s a new event which might not have happened at all so slightly churlish to complain about the format. I just hope Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta, India’s two promising professionals, qualify.

Following the Indian qualifiers it’s the Bluebell Wood Open, the latest European Tour event, which starts on Tuesday.


Armbrust said...

Well it's actually 69 matches, you forgot that there are 6 wildcards.

wild said...

Bluebell Wood Open starts on wednesday

Anonymous said...

Great to see Ali Carter back.

Anonymous said...

Quantity not quality - that is Hearn's philosophy. It's all about money with Sir Barry.
And a big thanks to Snooker Scene for repeating some of Hearn's tweets. Vital information from the voice of snooker.

kildare cueman said...

Its disconcerting to find that the future editor of Snooker Scene believes fairness is nonsense.

I personally find the flat format a million times more interesting than the old "winner stays on" format.

I'd be inclined to agree that best of 9 is not long enough for a final. Should be minimum 17. I think its important to distinguish the difference between the ranking events and the Ptcs. If they're both best of 7 people are going to see no difference and the ranker will be belittled in stature.

JIMO96 said...

There's nothing wrong with different formats for ranking events, and the Indian Open format is certainly different(!)

There's already a precedent for this, as the World Open in Glasgow of a few years back was best of 5 all the way to a best of 9 final, and it was 2 elite players who contested that. At the end of the day, it's the prize money that will motivate the players from now on (with it being tied to ranking), and if the end prize is big enough (and £50000 has never been a PTC first prize yet), then the players will be motivated to win, regardless of match length.

Anyway, I think that the PTC Grand Finals should be played over more than 7 frames, and that's for double the prize money! I don't hear too many loud complaints about that format. Barry Hearn did state that the aim of PTC events was to grow into full ranking events....of the current crop of PTC's, the Paul Hunter Open is heading the list of events ready for an "upgrade". But can you really see them changing the format once it happens, cos I can't?

Reducing match length is not a route I'd have wanted snooker to go down, but it's hardly the disgrace that some absurdly upset snooker fans are calling it.