If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it … break it instead? 

Yesterday in commentary, Anthony Hamilton mentioned that WBPSA had sent a mail to players asking them their opinion about the type of break-off Mark Williams has adopted recently: rolling the white into the back of the pack. Anthony’s opinion was that this clearly pointed at WPBSA’s intention to make this shot illegal and added that, no matter the outcome of the consultation, if this wasindeed their intention they would go forward with the idea.

Really? Yes, really. I’m gobsmacked, and I’m angry.


Is this the spirit? 

Mark is playing a perfectly legal shot. His goal is to avoid leaving a long red from the break-off for his opponent, and it’s efficient at that in the vast majority of instances. Why shouldn’t he then?

Neal Foulds asked Judd Trump’s opinion in the studio. In short, Judd’s answer was : it’s a negative shot, we don’t want to waste five minutes at getting the situation back to normal because it’s not entertaining.

Yes, it’s a negative shot. So what? Will they also consider to make the following illegal?

  • rolling behind a colour
  • rolling into the pack
  • pushing a ball safe on a cushion
  • in general playing safe when a pot is available

That doesn’t make much sense does it? Unless you want to turn snooker in a pure potting game, scrapping off all the tactical side of it. Would that be interesting? Would that be entertaining? I don’t think so. If that’s what some fans want to see, they are watching the wrong sport, they should turn to pool.

I can think of a multiple World Champion who has done extremely well playing a lot of the above, consistently, and slowly, exhausting and frustrating his opponents – and many fans – with his tactics. I did often find it painful to watch and not one bit entertaining. He was praised for it.

Judd’s allegations about wasting time are frankly ridiculous. I watch most Williams’ games and since he’s been doing this, the situation on the table has always been back to “normal” pretty quick, it rarely took more than five shots … with the benefit that the black was usually in open play as well, instead of being tied up which seems to be the case most of the time with the “traditional” break-off nowadays.

There is absolutely ZERO reason in my views for this move by WPBSA.

Here is Mark’s reaction to this move by WPBSA as reported in the press:

Mark Williams defends controversial break-off after first-round win

Mark Williams plays a shot during his win over Sam Craigie.
Mark Williams; ‘Why don’t I just smash it into the pack and leave all the reds on for everyone – would they be happy with that?’ Photograph: George Wood/PA

PA Media

Mark Williams blasted a bid to ban his controversial break-off technique after cruising into the second round of the World Snooker Championship with a 10-4 victory over qualifier Sam Craigie.

The three-time former champion adopted the shot, with which he nudges the cue-ball into the back of the reds off the bottom cushion, at the Masters in January after growing frustrated at leaving frame-winning opportunities for opponent Shaun Murphy.

Williams revealed an email had been sent to some of the sport’s leading names by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association players’ association, canvassing opinion on whether the controversial tactic should be prohibited.

Williams said: “There’s a lot more going on in the world to worry about than my poxy break-off. Haven’t they got anything better to do than send emails out asking players if they like it and should it get banned?

“I’ll think of another break-off. Why don’t I just smash it into the pack and leave all the reds on for everyone – would they be happy with that?

“If they ban the break-off they’ve got to ban rolling up behind baulk colours and rolling up behind the black. It’s not an illegal shot and I don’t see the problem with it, it’s farcical.

The WPBSA confirmed the existence of the email but indicated it was yet to reach the stage of being considered by the organisation’s rules committee.

He’s right. 100%