"Such formats are very popular on the WSA Main Tour. The Royal Watches Grand Prix last month also had the same format. It was a great success with the players and fans as it keeps the interest alive throughout the whole week."

So said Neal Stevens, World Snooker's Commercial Manager, at the launch of the Malta Cup, played using a round robin format.

I wonder if Mr. Stevens still believes this following the revelation in this morning's Guardian newspaper that the tournament is under investigation by the Gambling Commission after irregular betting patterns were reported.

Criminal prosecutions may follow if any hard evidence is discovered.

I doubt whether there was any malpractice. The problem is simple and applies throughout round robin snooker: players aren't motivated when there's no chance of getting through to the next stage.

Peter Ebdon, a World Snooker board member, was even smashing the pack against Mark Williams.

Bookmakers who offer betting on such matches are asking for trouble. Anyone who bets on a 'dead' match needs their head looking at.

What it all does, though, is create the idea in the public mind that the game is somehow corrupt.

It isn't but there is only one way to prevent this notion from festering: ditch the round robins.

Contrary to what Mr. Stevens asserts, most players don't like it. There's little evidence that spectators or TV viewers enjoy it either.

The Malta Cup should have been a ranking tournament once plans for one in the Middle East fell through.

It would be a shame if this established event fell by the wayside because of the fallout from last week.

(Guardian story here: http://sport.guardian.co.uk/snooker/story/0,,2255835,00.html)


Unknown said...

Couldn't agree more. Round robins are drawn out, long, of indifferent quality, confusing, and as you suggest, possibly unfair.

andy said...

Hi Dave,

I still don't completely agree with your arguments. I've posted a few more counter arguments here linking back to this/your article.


kimball144 said...

We use double elimination in groups
for the Swedish Championship
and then knockout.
It is simple but works the best
with 4 or 8 players.
You are out after two losses and
it actually is a double knockout
We switched from round robin because of dead matches et.cetera.

Kim Hartman

andy said...

Hi Kim,

I think they used this system in the World Pool Championships in Manila as well. Jonni Fulcher was telling me about it. Seems like it works well and could be an alternative solution.


Anonymous said...

Yes, of course not only is there no incentive in a match which has no meaning in terms of progress, further, it is virtually impossible to play as if it did!

If you are already out (or even if you are already through), why not bash the pack open and go for a maximum every frame? No player is going to find it easy to resist.

If the Association is going to insist on such a system, could it not offer financial incentives on a per-frame basis, as is the case with the Premier League? That would surely help.