Today sees the start of the World Six Red Championship over in Thailand, a faster, more streamlined version of our traditional sport which is actually fairly entertaining to watch compared to other bastardized forms that have reared their ugly heads over the years, namely Power ‘Cue the Revolution’ Snooker (remember that?) and the ghastly Blackpool Shootout.
As ever, for those of us with nothing better to talk about, watching a ‘new’ version of the sport usually has us prattling on about bringing some of the concepts and ideas from these other formats into the main arena. Thankfully, that’s not happened despite even some leading players calling for shotclocks at the Crucible, which for me would be akin to inviting members of the Islamic State to play a round of golf with some Americans to talk things through. Both would ultimately end in carnage.
One player that took to Twitter last week to bemoan the time my mate Rod Lawler was taking to play was Andrew Pagett, who is never short of a word or ten when it comes to such things. He called it ‘disgusting’ that Rod had taken an average of 41 seconds a shot in dispensing with his pal Mark Williams in Germany, ‘pathetic’ he cried in pointing out that a best of 7 match shouldn’t take 4 hours. He didn’t get personal with Rod, but it was clear from his tweets that our Padgey wanted action on this matter.
There have always been slow players in snooker, but I suppose the question is when does the speed at which a player plays become gamesmanship? There are players that were and are naturally slow, Cliff Thorburn was one but he remained usually very entertaining to watch and there was never a hint of any bad blood arising from his way around the table.
Eddie Charlton was another, his coma-inducing snooker meant that when he was on the telly, even as a baize obsessed youngster, I’d eagerly seek out a wall to stare at rather than watch. Many believed that he did this deliberately and I wouldn’t argue with that given his incredibly competitive nature, I’m sure he rose to heights in the sport that he’d otherwise not have done simply through boring opponents to death.
Then there’s another Aussie, Robby Foldvari. The snooker equivalent of a three toed sloth. He holds every record there is when it comes to snail-like snooker and was so turgidly slow that he often left slime trails around the table. Let’s hope we never see his like again, opponents would be bored into submission frequently by this geezer and it wasn’t pretty let me tell ya.
In more modern times there are those who prefer to take their time more than others, Rod is one but he’s also posting some great results with it. Others include Rory McLeod, who Ricky Walden famously labelled ‘The Dentist’ after a particularly gruelling Crucible slogfest, Peter Ebdon has also frequently been accused of using slow play to get results, this split screen You Tube video is a must watch if you haven’t seen it before. Even the World Champion hasn’t escaped criticism from fellow players and fans alike, Ronnie labelling him ‘The Torturer’ and fans referring to him as Mark Slowby. How mean is that?
So is it time to act and stamp out the snails from the sport and start penalising them in some way?
No, of course it isn’t.
OK, we’d all usually prefer to watch the likes of Ronnie and Judd bashing them in from all angles and getting on with it in free-flowing style, but some of the sport’s greatest moments happen when there is a contrast of styles and for me, long may that continue. So if Rod wants to take several hours sizing up a tricky green, let him, if Rory wants to reach for the lower incisor whilst pondering a straight blue to middle bag, I say that’s up to him, if Ebbo wants to munch down a field of carrots in between shots, then go right ahead I say.
Just don’t dig Eddie Charlton up unless you’ve got a wall handy and under no circumstances let Mr Foldvari consider a comeback, there are some things that are beyond taste and decency and these cross that line in spades.
In the meantime enjoy the 6-Reds, it’s not that bad for a once a year comp and it’s live all week on Eurosport, with lots of betting opportunities.