Two men who deserve your sympathy in the coming weeks are Mike Ganley and Martin Clark, World Snooker's excellent tournament directors.

Mike and Martin well be especially tested at the Royal London Watches Grand Prix in Aberdeen, and before that at the qualifiers in Prestatyn, because the tournament is being played under a new round robin format.

Put simply, at Prestatyn this means 224 matches in just five days. There are eight groups of eight players with the top two from each going forward to the final stages. All matches are best of five frames and there will be as many as six sessions a day.

What a logistical nightmare this could prove to be. A couple of slow matches could throw a serious spanner into the works.

However, there are more worrying possibilities with this new format, namely collusion.

If player A has lost his first five matches and can no longer qualify, why should he try especially hard to beat player B? Equally, why should player C, already assured of qualification, be bothered about beating player D?

Perhaps player E would rather play in group 1 than 2 at Aberdeen and so conspires to finish second rather than first in his group.

Perhaps player F has lost six matches already and simply drives home rather than play match seven, skewing the group by handing someone a walkover.

In the final stages, faced with a choice of playing Ronnie O'Sullivan in the last 16 or the world no.80 if he lost, what would player G realistically choose?

I'm not suggesting any of this will happen, or that the players aren't honest (they are, almost universally) but this is the very real danger of such a bold new format.

That said, there is a general - though misinformed, I'd argue - notion that snooker is staid and desperately in need of changes.

At least by trying something new World Snooker have got people talking, which is no bad thing.

My main worry is that a best of five is far too short a test in a ranking event, even if players will play a number of matches.

The format favours lower ranked players. The world no.80 (I'll have to look up who this is...according to the ranking list on worldsnooker.com there isn't one!) would be very unlikely to beat O'Sullivan in a best of 19 frame match but would have every chance over a much shorter distance.

So it will be interesting to see what happens. Most top players appear to welcome the change, however cautiously, although one of them - a member of the top 16 - told me he thought it was "a shambles."

Fingers crossed it will prove to be a good decision, but spare a thought for Mike and Martin when it all begins on September 30.


Anonymous said...

Do you know where I can find the draw?

Anonymous said...

Or could you tell me who the players are in John Parrott's group?

The Statman said...

Hi David, Chris here down in sunny Bournemouth.

I agree with your comment that snooker does not need changing that much, and agree that collusion or unbotheredness could become a (potential) problem.

Why not give players a ranking-point bonus for each match they win, in addition to the tariffs for group standings?

Although you say that best-of-5s are too short, it must be remembered that players are playing 7 such matches, so they will be playing between 21 and 35 frames during a round in which they would previously have played only 9 maximum.

Dave H said...

Hello Chris

Good points, though some players - John Parrott among them - would rather the qualifiers were played normally.

I guess as with any change the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

As for the draw, it isn't out yet but I'd keep checking www.globalsnookercentre.co.uk, who always have these things first.

Anonymous said...

It's just like football knocking-out stage's rules. We all depend on players' moral standard if there's no ranking points.

Anonymous said...

John Parrott... should be pleased. At least he'll finally win a match cause I cant see him losing all 7.

Dave Hendon, you were at the qualifiers for NI Trophy.
They had White's match on the 'Pontins TV Channel' - do you if its possible to get recordings from that table? I think the camera is only for Table 1.

Anonymous said...

I dont want White's match... but I wouldnt mind Parrott's future matches on tape though. Most of his matches are on Table 1 I think.

Dave H said...

To be honest, I don't know if the matches are actually recorded as they're being streamed.

It does occur to me though that there's no reason in principle why they can't be broadcast on the internet as well, although there is obviously a cost involved with that.

Anonymous said...

Yes it looked like a security camera they were using. I watched White's match so I dont really know how it came out on TV but its got to be better than nothing.

Anyway I cant wait for the Grand Prix qualifiers. Going for all the qualifiers if I can actually speak to someone at Pontins who'll book it. According to them there's no snooker on then and the park is shut! Same problems in March at the World Qualifiers

Dave H said...

I'd advise caution with regards to booking anything as some of the qualifiers - we don't know which ones yet - will be played at the new World Snooker Academy in Sheffield.

The Northern Ireland Trophy qualifiers in July were supposed to be in Sheffield. We published in good faith that they were having been told so by World Snooker, only for them to be switched to Prestatyn at the last minute.

One of our readers duly went to Sheffield to watch only to find there was nothing happening there.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I think the Grand Prix is in Prestatyn though cause it says so Worldsnooker.com

The draw is now out apparently. People have seen it but keeping it to themselves.
GSC is updated when she gets time(She is very busy woman so I understand).

I only want John Parrotts group for now - could you give to me if you have it? :)

Anonymous said...

Draw is now on GSC at last :)

Lots of good matches in Pontins.

Dave H said...

Indeed there are, but I notice Dene O'Kane hasn't entered meaning that there are only seven players in Jimmy White's group.

For many years Snooker Scene has called for a reserve system to be used to counteract withdrawals but nothing has ever been done about this.

Why not?

Anonymous said...

Maybe because it'd only be good for prize money?

But they should trow him off the tour if he has no intention of playing in the other events and give the place to someone else I think.

Anyway, what do you think of Parrotts chances in Pontins.
I'm not staying overnight now. Will probably just get the train there for the 1st 2 days(from Liverpool, not that far)
Do you think its a bit silly the way the match scheduale is?

I think what you said about it will definetly happen with some players:
"Perhaps player F has lost six matches already and simply drives home rather than play match seven, skewing the group by handing someone a walkover."

I mean even if Parrott lost his first 4 matches on the 1st 2 days, whats the point in him going to the next 3 days if its not going to make a difference? Not saying he would just using it as example.

Anonymous said...

well thats unless you get extra ranking points depending where you finish on the table of course.

Anonymous said...

A word of caution: I see they're playing the final set of matches in each group "consecutively", which throws up many more collusional possibilities. Wouldn't it be better and fairer to play the last 4 matches in each group simultaneously? The international football world adopted this in all round robin scenarios after the infamous Austria-Germany match in the 1982 World Cup.