The International championship 2016 last 128 qualifying round concluded yesterday and, with the longer best of 11 format, the vast majority of matches were won by the highest ranked player.
There were a few noticeable exceptions though. The biggest casualty was probably Mark Allen, who lost by 6-5 to Daniel Wells, the very man Ronnie will be facing tomorrow night. Needles to say, this won’t be an easy match! However, truth to be said Mark Allen looked very out of sorts, especially at the start, and when he finally found something he was already 5-1 down.
Other players who won’t be in Daqing are Peter Ebdon, Barry Hawkins, Ben Woollaston, Robert Milkins, Mark Davis and Thepchaya Un-Nooh. This means that Barry Hawkins is now sliding out of the top 16.
Speaking of ranking, Ronnie climbed to 8th in the provisional seeding list, but this is a bit misleading: indeed he has a lot of points to defend from the UK Championship on and really needs results to avoid to have to qualify for the Crucible come April.
This round of qualifying matches raised a few questions again, IMO.
Neil Robertson, who wasn’t playing badly, only beat young Sam Craigie by 6-5, from 5-3 down and later came on twitter claiming that Sam’s was the best safety game he had to face for a long time. I couldn’t agree more and the match is well worth a watch; it’s on youtube. However Sam will get nothing for it: no money, no points. Barry Hearn’s justification for not giving anything to first round losers is allegedly that he doesn’t want to reward mediocrity. Well, this was far from mediocre I tell you, and still … I have always disagreed with this reasoning about mediocrity and with the comparison with golf (“You don’t make the cut, you get nothing”). First the comparison is not a valid one: in golf they play for a performance, not against an opponent; how the other golfers play has no bearing whatsoever on anyone else game. In snooker, like in tennis, it needs two players to have a match, and where you place the ball impacts your opponent’s game. By playing both players contribute to the tournament, and bring value to the promoters and sponsors. They should have something for it, even if minimal. It would help the rookies massively – the tour is extremely expensive – and it won’t promote mediocrity. Even with a minimal prize money, not counting towards the ranking maybe, those who don’t win enough matches won’t be able to retain their tour card.
Fergal O’Brien beat Fraser Patrick in yet another marathon match. I write “yet another” because Fergal is a bit of a specialist in those. Patrick then came complaining on twitter calling for a shot clock and criticizing his opponent ways:
19 mins for him to fluke it. (about the black ball game) He was on 31 earlier on and had had the white cleaned 7 times, took 7mins to pot 4 balls 1 frame
refs need to clamp down on it, absolute joke, I get warned for swearing under my breath yet nothing said to him
1minute shot clock that match would of finished in morning session, no need to come back 8 hours later
don’t know, ain’t hard to see what’s needless messing about tho
not really, any pro can see a shot within a minute I’d say, would cut out the messing around and get the games flowing
Well I agree with him for most of what he says. No need for a shot-clock though: section 4 of the rules states that unnecessary long time to play shots is deemed ungentlemanly conduct and as such can be punished. It’s the referee’s responsibility to decide whether or not a player is taking unecessary long time as, obviously, it all depends on the table situation and the context of the match. But Patrick is right: it’s never enforced and it should be enforced because it’s in the rules. Not enforcing the rules makes a mockery of any sport.
Tomorrow is another day though … and the European Masters 2016 will get underway. In a couple of hours I will start my journey to Bucharest. Someone else is already on his way …
Safe trip to everyone who’s traveling today!