Jan Verhaas has just been on twitter announcing that the new rule book is ready and will come in operation at the China Championship Qualifier on August 15, 2019. This is a project on which himself and other experienced referees, have been working hard for three years. Here is the announcement.
New WPBSA Rulebook Published
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) is today pleased to announce the launch of a new version of the Official Rules of Snooker and English Billiards.
The new edition represents the most significant rules update in our sport in many years and will take effect on the World Snooker Tour from the start of the China Championship qualifiers on 15 August 2019.
Overseen by the WPBSA Rules Committee chaired by Jan Verhaas, in consultation with experienced referees around the world, the update adds clarity and consistency of wording to the existing rules, as well as making a small number of key changes.
With snooker and billiards now played in more countries than ever before, the revised rules have also been written to be easier to translate into other languages.
Jan Verhaas, WPBSA Director and Senior Referee said: “Today is a proud day for everybody involved in this monumental project of revising the rules. Players and former players, professional and amateur referees from all over the world as well as referee examiners and tutors have worked relentlessly over the past two years to produce a revised Rulebook for the games of Snooker and English Billiards and we are confident that we have created a Rulebook to suit the need of our ever developing worldwide sport.”
The first event on the World Snooker Tour to be played under the new rules will be the China Championship qualifiers on 15 August 2019.
This date has been selected out of respect for both the professional calendar and the international amateur calendar, as the first opportunity to introduce the new rules outside of the staging of ongoing amateur competitions or between the qualification and venue stages of a professional event.
All referees who will be officiating at the China Championships qualifiers will be invited to participate in a full seminar by Jan Verhaas on 14 August, who will also be on site during the event for the sole purpose of answering any queries that players may have.
Learn more about the Rules Committee and access the full rules here.
I browsed through the explanatory document – quickly – and through section 4 of the rules. There is one change that I find interesting: deliberate slow play and time wasting are no more seen as “unsporting conduct”, it’s a separate issue and the way they are tackled is different. If I understood correctly, in case of unsporting conduct – including early concession – the rule stays the same as before. In case of repeated offence: first a warning, next awarding a frame to the offending player’s opponent, next, awarding the match. In case of time wasting though, the offending player will be warned first, then if they persist, their opponent will be awarded a frame, and if they still persist their opponent will be awarded another frame … etc. This without further warning.
I think it’s an interesting change because it may help referees to take the decision to indeed act in case they suspect time wasting. It’s a bit less “radical” than the previous situation where after “docking” the offending player a frame, the only options were either to just ignore the situation or to terminate the match, which of course is very harsh and definitive. Referees are always a bit uneasy with the “time wasting” issue as so many factors can come into play that can cause a player to slow down or even, in extreme situations, to find themselves unable at actually decide/play/deliver the shot.