I enjoyed day one of the 12bet.com World Open.
I liked the fact there was only one table, I liked that we got to see five matches, I thought the set looked good and there was plenty of interesting snooker.
I can understand some players not liking the best of fives but there was only one ‘shock’ and, given his form at the Shanghai Masters, I’m not sure Shaun Murphy losing to Dave Harold registers that high on the Richter scale of upsets.
The format is cutthroat but the Stephen Maguire-Stuart Pettman match proved the tournament isn’t just a lottery.
As I said in one of my previews, a decider is a test of nerve regardless of how many frames there are in the match.
Pettman faltered badly when presented with two excellent chances to win. The length of the match in this scenario is an irrelevance.
I keep hearing that ‘anyone can beat anyone in a best of five.’ So what? Anyone can beat anyone over any distance. It depends entirely on how you play.
And decades ago the World Championship final was played over several weeks. Concessions had to be made to television, and they still do because, without it, snooker wouldn’t be a professional sport in any meaningful way.
Graeme Dott was probably right to say the World Open should not have such a high ranking points tariff but players have to understand the compromises that are made to get these tournaments on in the first place.
It’s a BBC event and understandable that the BBC want it to have the necessary prestige bearing in mind the amount of money they are ploughing into the professional circuit.
There was a good crowd in early on and it tailed off as the day went on. It’s better for the players if it’s a packed house but snooker needn’t beat itself up about this.
I went to tournaments in the ‘good old days’ and I can assure you it wasn’t always standing room only.
Spectators, as in any sport, are discerning and will watch the players who interest them.
Attempts were made yesterday to make it more of an experience for fans, all of which I applaud.
But, put simply, snooker ain’t darts. In that sport part of the appeal is having a drink – usually more than one – and joining in with the atmosphere, singing along when they play music, mugging for the cameras and generally having a laugh.
Snooker is a sport which requires its audience to spend long hours basically sitting still in silence. Nothing much can be done about this: you either like it or you don’t.
So rather than go for changes in the arena, it would be better to make them backstage. Get the players to do autograph sessions or spend half an hour coaching or doing trickshots. Have them interact more with the public and there's more chance that public will return.
The future of snooker rests more on the shoulders of the players than it does on those of Barry Hearn. He can create more opportunities but they have to embrace them and make them work.
Times change. I remember Steve Davis in the mid 1990s saying, ‘There are too many tournaments like the International Open.’
This was when the circuit was rich with events. Right now, snooker would like a couple more tournaments like the International Open.
I can understand it if many players, particularly those higher up the rankings, don’t like the World Open format but getting in a sulk about it isn’t going to improve their prospects or those of the sport.
To today’s action...Brazil’s first professional Igor Figueiredo takes on Mark Williams. Stephen Hendry will attempt to arrest his decline in form against Bjorn Haneveer. People’s champion Jimmy White tackles Paul Davison. Plus, the draw will be made for the last 32.
Much to enjoy, then.
BBC2: 2-5pm, 11.40pm-2.30am (BST)
Eurosport2: 4.30-5.30pm (CET)
Eurosport International: 8.45-11pm (CET)
British Eurosport: 7-10pm (BST)