Tuesday, December 22, 2009

me and him and them and me

We went over to Cardiff last night to sample the BLOOD-RED RAW GLADIATORIAL COMBAT that is LIVE SNOOKER. The Welsh Institute of Sport were hosting a tournament in the new experimental OneForSeven format - it's a sort of attempt to sex up the sport a bit in the way the Twenty20 format has done for cricket.

A few big names: Ken Doherty, Matthew Stevens, Ryan Day - as well as a few spotty little herberts who are presumably the next generation of champion snookerists: Michael White, Ben Woollaston, Andrew Pagett, Alfie Burden and Liam Highfield.

I'm not sure I'm totally convinced by the format - four tables on the go at once, everyone plays everyone else, frames limited to 21 minutes (though in the event none of them ended up lasting nearly that long) and whoever accumulates the most points overall wins, regardless of how many frames they've won and lost. In particular I think they need to make the scoring a bit slicker - they had some volunteers manning the scoreboards, but they only put the points up at the end of each break, and no-one was calling out the break scores as they were happening, so it was difficult to get a grip on what was going on if you arrived at a table in mid-frame. You've also only got a 25% chance of watching the most exciting of the frames in progress at any one time, as proven when Ryan Day knocked in the highest break of the tournament (a 128) while I was elsewhere - possibly at another table, possibly at the bar. Day ended up winning overall, as befits the highest-ranked player present - Highfield was second despite appearing to be about 12, and Burden third.

The general informality is quite nice, though, you can wander round, chat, get drinks in at the bar - a bit like being in a snooker club, only with famous people and less chance of getting beaten up. It's not really conducive to photography, but I did get a few snaps which can be found here. Note the couple of indistinct shots of double world champion Mark Williams hanging out in the crowd wearing some nice baggy sports casuals and supping from a bottle of blue WKD. You don't get that at the Crucible. I also thought I recognised Alfie Burden's coach - turns out it was 1977 UK champion and former world number 11 Patsy Fagan. There's one to tell the grandchildren.

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