The last 128 round of the China Championship 2018 was played in Preston over the last four days.
You can find all the results here on snooker.org, as well as the footage of the streamed matches.
With a slightly longer format – best of 9 – there weren’t many surprises: Thepchaiya Un-Nooh losin to Rhys Clark (although by 5-4) and Ben Woollaston losing by 5-0 to Alexander Ursenbacher are the two big ones for me. To a lesser extend Elliott Slessor going down by 5-3 to martin O’Donnell is a bit unexpected as well, although it’s not the first time that Elliott seems to struggle in qualifiers about more methodical players.
Among the veterans, Alan Mc Manus and Jimmy White are clearly struggling, whilst Anthony Hamilton, Ken Doherty and Nigel Bond fight on.
Among the young, Alexander Ursenbacher, Sam Craigie, Xu Si and, Yan Sijun and Zhao Xintong confirm their solid form. Yuan in particular beat Rick Walden, convincingly, by 5-2.
About the previous “slow play” debate, this chart came up on social media yesterday
What this chart shows is that there is a “loose” correlation between pace of play and % of wins, faster players having, on average, a higher % of wins.
That does of course not prove that by forcing players to play faster, you will have them improving.
Actually this chart can be “read” in many ways. It may be that in form players, play faster simply because they are more confident in their instinctive shot selections, whilst those who struggle are more prone to indecision. But it may also be that, by over-thinking, some players get bogged down, look for problems where there are none and fail to get into any rhythm. I have heard players, including very top players, saying that the latter had happened to them.
Whatever, AST is not the tool to detect deliberate unnecessary slow play, which is the only situation that the rules recognise as a problem, nor is it in any way useful to tackle extreme negativity which tends to produce long tedious matches. If Barry Hearn wants to promote entertainment, this isn’t the right tool, neither is the shot-clock.