The Maplin UK Championship has been shortened by four days and will now run from December 8-16 at the Telford International Centre.

The official WPBSA press release states that this “guarantees all of the top 16 players’ participation in the televised stages of one of snooker’s most important tournaments” but this is misleading as there will be four tables, only two of which will be televised.

It also means that, for the first time ever, some matches in the last 16 of the game's second biggest event won't be broadcast at all.

It seems likely the change has primarily been made because Ronnie O’Sullivan, as world no.5, as well as the likes of Stephen Hendry (8) and Ding Junhui (9) would otherwise have to play a match before the TV phase.

The BBC, quite understandably, would rather they competed in front of their cameras.

In previous years, the top four seeds (in this case Peter Ebdon, John Higgins, Graeme Dott and Shaun Murphy) have had their matches held over, but it is by no means certain that any or all of these four players will now play on a TV table.

Indeed, recalling that the WPBSA relegated the Higgins v Mark Selby world final rematch at last month’s Shanghai Masters to a non-TV table, I’d say nothing is guaranteed.

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