15.10.08

HOW SLOW IS TOO SLOW?

Adrian Gunnell was last night warned for slow play in his match against Shaun Murphy.

Actually, the rules govern time wasting but it's the same difference.

I thought the referee, Leo Scullion, should have warned Gunnell during the interval rather than at the start of frame five. It seemed a strange moment to do it.

All of which begs the question: how slow is too slow?

Adrian is a methodical player. I've seen him play many times in the qualifiers and this is the pace he plays at. He is slower than most.

But is he too slow?

It's hard to say, not least because there's nothing written down in the rules stipulating the time that should be taken over shots.

Interestingly, having been warned by Scullion, Gunnell did not speed up at all. He maintained the same pace. The ref had the option to dock him a frame but did not do so.

Nor should he have. Gunnell plays at the pace he plays at. He's not a Ronnie O'Sullivan or Tony Drago but was not trying to drag the game down deliberately.

One thing I do know is this: Gunnell's match against Steve Davis could be a real grind.

Scrap that.

It WILL be a real grind.

12 comments:

jimo96 said...

I think snooker would really benefit from some kind of rule change to make it more exciting and appealling to TV audiences and the public, and slow play is one area that I think needs tightened up. I accept that Gunnell is playing his natural style, but it's not attractive to watch. Perhaps the Barry Hearn "shotclock" idea is the way forward...look at the crowds for the Premier League over the last few seasons.

Plus, full credit to Mark Selby for speeding up his game to adapt to the Premier League. Mark is a player whose tactics I questioned during the 2007 world final, as I thought he was overdoing the slowness, but he's proved that he can speed up and still maintain his sharpness.

Anyone else think snooker needs a rule change to discourage slowness and negativity?

Anonymous said...

Absolutely not! Those who can't be patient enough to appreciate all styles and speeds of the game are obviously not real snooker fans.

Anonymous said...

The Premier League format, whilst entertaining, is designed for TV.

This, however, is the professional circuit. One of the things that helps to make it interesting is that everybody has a different style.

If everybody was exactly the same, then people would be far more likely to lose interest than they would see somebody playing slow, though as the Premier League has shown, attacking play does help maintain interest.

Equally, whilst I believe players should play at their own speed, it does appear that the rules on slow play are a little vague.

jimo96 said...

I am a snooker fan and player, and have been for over 25 years, but I hate to see it die a slow death...and it is I'm afraid. No sponsors, little money, no new names coming through...the game definitely needs a shot in the arm.

For me, it's not just slow play...it's negative play too. There are too many toughened journeymen pros who know how "not to lose", and take this approach to Prestatyn year after year, where I've seen experience win over talent time and time again in some grim matches.

I don't know the solution, but the shot clock may be one area to explore. Another might be to make it a legal shot only if a ball is made to hit a cushion, thereby eliminating all the slow roll-ups behind a baulk colour, or "nestling" snooker escapes.

I appreciate good safety play, but the more positive play on show, the more enthusiastic the crowds and sponsors will be.

Oliver said...

IS Gunnell too slow? I watched the whole match and wouldn't say he was any slower than Ebdon, Harold, Davis and a few others.

The warning seemed harsh indeed, particularly as (as far as we know) there had been no complaint from Murphy.

Every player has a different style. Some are slower than other, and referees should accept this unless they perceive that there is a gamesmanship element to the slowness.

We couldn't hear much of the conversation between Gunnell and the referee but I was pleased to see that Gunnell appeared to be giving as good as he got.

Anonymous said...

I never heard of Charlton Griffiths or Thorburn being warned for slow play!
Variety and contrast is part of the game and the circumstances on the table dictate the time taken. Unless someone appears to be taking a lot of time over the simplest of shots in order to gain an unfair advantage there is no issue.
Experience never wins over talent for competitive sport is about beating your opponent. If you are stronger at the tactical side of the game than your opponent why not play to your strengths? If their talent is more than yours they will be able to take you on at all aspects of the game instead of a straight potting ability contest which some people strangely percieve as more 'entertaining'. The tactical duals for an opening are the real battle in snooker when mind and ability are pitted against each other. Insisting on playing to certain out and out potters strengths is the equivalent of hitting every shot to Roger Federers forehand in tennis- you should always avoid playing in a way that favours your opponents strengths. Congratulations to John Parrott for his excellent winning matchplay snooker last night and to Adrian Gunnel for a well earned win.
John H

Matt@PSB said...

Players should be able to play how they want to, simple as that for me.

If everyone had the same style then that would be more boring than someone with a 35 second shot time really. Being able to adapt to the speed and style of other players is a skill in itself and it would be a shame to remove that.

Anonymous said...

Did Adrian say anything about the warning after the match? Did he just shrug it off, or did he think he played differently in the second half of the match? When it comes to slow play, I tend to get a bit bored when there are long tactical exchanges and the player who has got the chance breaks down after a couple of pots. This makes for the scrappiest frames, and can make the good tactical play redundant because players can't capitalise from it. But since there's no way to fix that, I'll take all kinds of frames.

Donal said...

To answer your question, Chris Small is/was too slow

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can define if a player is too slow or not as long as that is the way they play.

The average shot time for a player is taking into account their fast shots and their slow ones to get that time.

That is the way it would be used to determine an average time for all players...taking all of their averages. Some have to be slower than others!

IMO it is down to the referee to determine if the player is deliberately playing slow on shots or in frames to put off their opponent, and warn accordingly, but under no circumstances warn them for playing the way they play 'naturally'.

For me, watching snooker is about the shots, not about if the player takes 10 seconds between shots or 30 seconds between shots. Humans are all different in nature.

Certain shots take a lot more consideration and if you are a naturally slow player who is on tv rarely and under a lot of pressure it stands to reason that in this case youd be even slower than a quick player who has a tricky shot ahead.

jimo96 said...

Thanks for the replies!

I just think that TV will intervene someday and suggest something along the lines of my original couple of posts, that is a rule change to discourage negative play.

To the person who said that "the Premier League is designed for TV, but this is the professional circuit", I ask: Has TV had no input on the running of the "professional circuit"?

- who influenced the decision to have byes for the top 16 to the last 32 of every ranking event?
- who suggested that a random draw should follow every round of the GP?
- who scheduled the last 16 draw for 1:30pm on the last day of the last 32, before 4 of the matches had even took place?
- who's idea was it to start the afternoon session at a different time every day this week (so far)?
- ask any player who he blames for the controversy over logos?

Like it or not, TV plays a massive role in deciding how our sport is run, and the WSA bends over backwards to accomodate. If the sports controller at the BBC were to call the WSA today and say they would not cover any more events unless (for example) the miss rule was amended, or the players wore polo shirts or Ronnie gets a bye to every final, believe me, the WSA would pull out every stop to enforce them.

I watched the Shanghai Masters and was amazed at the crowds appreciation of Ronnie O'Sullivan....and nobody else. This week, the Glasgow crowd are predictably loving Hendry & Higgins, but O'Sullivan gets more crowd reaction than either of them. I don't especially like O'Sullivan, but his approach is the only one that gets a crowd buzzing.

In a nutshell, if all players were forced to take a similar approach (to O'Sullivan)through a rule change, then tickets would sell for other matches, and sponsors would be knocking down WSA doors.

Anonymous said...

i think that post is a little sidetracked and is possibly another debate. I thought the point in question was how slow is too slow, currently....?