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Ssb - terms and conditions

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  • Ssb - terms and conditions

    As long as I’ve covered snooker, players have complained about playing conditions.

    Not constantly and not at every tournament, but frustration with tables has always been there and concern seems to be increasing.

    Michael Holt and Marcus Campbell were among those to complain on Twitter this week after defeats in the International Championship qualifiers at Barnsley Metrodome.

    Yesterday, Neil Robertson made four centuries in winning his match. In response I tweeted: “These tables must be terrible.”

    This was a bit of red-ragging, or trolling to give it its modern name. And sure enough it worked.

    Campbell immediately snapped back: “if you played you might know what the players are talking about.”

    A good slapdown but, actually, you don’t have to be a professional player to have observed the inconsistency in conditions at venues. Some tables play great, others not so good. Kicks are one thing but what we get far too often now is big bounces off cushions.

    Some players feel the balls are too light. Mark Allen, who won his match, tweeted: “I got the white changed after one frame. Way too light. Table was decent though for me.”

    A championship snooker table has a fine cloth and is heated underneath. This makes it super-responsive – beautiful to play on in theory. But sometimes it seems they are if anything too responsive, with balls flying off cushions causing players to lose position.

    Robertson is not a moaner – far from it – but he had some interesting things to say: “It can make some tournaments a raffle. Big bounces off cushions and kicks are becoming a big problem in the game.”

    These are not the hasty comments of some hothead but the measured opinion of the world no.1.

    And it seems someone in authority is listening. Jason Ferguson, the WPBSA chairman, tweeted: “I’m in contact with Saluc [the manufacturers] about the balls, Clarky [tournament director Martin Clark] and I are also doing our own testing.”

    I have no doubt Ferguson is genuine in trying to improve things. I can also understand his frustration at players airing their views on Twitter rather than in private, although sometimes it can be more effective to make complaints public.

    World Snooker has previously denied claims from players that tournament balls have been made lighter. But if enough players are unhappy then there must come a time where a heavier ball is considered.

    Holt was quick to point out the table had not been the problem: “My gripe wasn’t with the tables. It was with the lighting on my particular table.” It seems there was a glare which was off-putting.

    Qualifying venues have never been popular – precisely because they are qualifying venues. It’s no fun for anyone and tempers can become frayed.

    Some may write off the complaints of players who have lost as sour grapes. Sometimes it is sour grapes but there is a general theme here: that playing conditions are not as good as they could or should be.

    The table-fitters generally do a first rate job. They have to deal with a multitude of venues, each with its own issues and challenges. A mass set-up like the one at Barnsley presents an even bigger challenge.

    But professional players deserve professional conditions, I don’t hold with the argument that it’s the same for everyone so you should just get on with it.

    Example: if they let the grass grow for a year between Wimbledons I’d have a much better chance of beating Roger Federer than if the lawns were trimmed to championship standards.

    Under the best conditions, the best players win. This is a profession for these guys so they can be excused for demanding the best.

    The problem at the moment seems to be that at some venues it’s a lottery: you get a good table or a not so good one. With so much snooker being played it will be a challenge to eradicate these problems.

    As Campbell put it: “Gonna have to deal with it because it’ll happen again.”


  • #2
    Interesting comment again about "light balls" and "light white", this has been mentioned before on another thread, that currently the balls for tournamants are "new" or just "light".
    Nothing concrete came out from the other thread if the balls have changed from what we understand as the tournament standard, namely Aramith Tournament Champions 1G, or if they are indeed slightly lighter (across the set or just the white)?
    Maybe that the tables are now so fast with ultra fine cloths and heating that the 1Gs just fly around as if they are lighter.

    Can anyone confirm that before a tournament/match are the balls/sets weighed (by TD/referee) to check they are within tolerance, i.e. 139-142g each ball and within 1g across the set?
    Up the TSF! :snooker:


    • #3
      I doubt if anyone weighs the balls before a tournament but maybe it would be a good idea. If I was a ref I think I would be entitled to accept that the balls have been correctly weighed by Aramith before they were sent out. From the professional players point of view I guess it would be a problem having 15 reds all weighing 142g and a white which was 141g. If this was the case I think it would quite easy to sort out within minutes without all the grumbling. You just need to have a small set of digital scales on hand. I think the problem of bouncy cushions might be more of a problem for the pros.
      Last edited by Bigmeek; 3 October 2013, 12:04 PM.


      • #4
        Anyone else feel that the "bouncy cushions problem" has been an issue just since Star table were introduced?
        Can't remember being it an issue on the Aristocrats.

        Concerning the balls I would hope for slightly heavier balls ... maybe even close to 150g. This will most likely make the throw / path of the cue ball more stable and predictable. (Actually I would hope for this more for Billiards than Snooker).


        • #5
          I do wonder about the density and the material that the balls are made from today. I still play with my own old set of super crystalate balls, before they were discontinued and the TC's were brought in to replace them as the current standard for tournament play.

          Now I've used all kinds of balls, from the two mentioned, to older crystalate, aramith premier, and some of the chinese branded balls and obviously these all play completely differently to each other.

          However I thought or expected that the super crystalate and TC's should be near enough identical as the weight and dimensions are the same but they don't play alike at all. The TC's feel much lighter to move around, sometimes to my disbelief that the cueball must be 15-20 grams lighter but no its the same as the other balls.

          I can only draw the conclusion that maybe the elasticity from the material used to make the balls reacts far more responsively now and perhaps explains why sometimes the ball tends to have a big bounce, perhaps its not the cushions at all but the heat warming up the material of the ball giving it an extra amount of elasticity enabling it to bounce further than when it comes from a cool box or case?


          • #6

            I also think it's the heat under the tables combined with the heat from the TV lights which in turn heat the rubber up and make it react much better than the rest of us peons playing on unheated tables.

            Weirdly enough I remember the first time I used the Aramith TC balls I thought they were heavier than the Super Crystalate balls I had been using. I had occasion to use some Supers awhile ago but unable to tell since the sets in the club were 18yrs old and the cueball was around 1/8" smaller and played like a ping-pong ball, so screwing the cueball a table length on a slow cloth was no challenge at all.

            I would expect the balls used by the pros on TV are the normal 1G balls the rest of us use and although not weighed by the referees before matches they would have been weighed by Aramith before being sent out. My set of 1G balls is right at 141gms with little variance across the set but on my Precision cloth with steel-blocked cushions I am able to move the cueball easily but I still get lots of kicks but have never noticed any exceptional bounces off the cushion.

            Since I still get a lot of kicks with a different cloth manufacturer I would say the kick problem is the fault of the composition of the balls rather than the make-up of the cloth. It would be nice if Aramith could resolve this problem however it would mean a new set of tournament approved balls which for sure would cost us more moolah to buy.

            Terry Davidson
            IBSF Master Coach & Examiner


            • #7
              I think kicks have always been around, even in 'ye olde days'. They just missed a lot more way back when and so it wasn't quite as noticeable!

              The big bounce thing is fairly recent, as far as I'm aware. The only reason I can think of that doesn't defy the laws of physics, is that players are imparting a trace of side that speeds up the bounce. Anyone who has ever played on these cloths knows that a fraction off centre and the cueball is throwing like you've tried to swerve it! All it would take for a bigger than expected bounce would be a slight off centre strike, and the only way to check the theory would be to use a red-spot cueball as this would flag any spin applied unintentionally.
              I often use large words I don't really understand in an attempt to appear more photosynthesis.


              • #8
                exactly what i'm thinking, with the table so fast, you only need a small trace of sides to make the bounce off the cushion much smaller or bigger, especially when played with pace, you only need to overrun by 3-4 inches and you're out of position, it's so easy to blame the table though, too bad even with a spotted white it'll be hard to notice the trace of side from a distance unless the camera is right behind the white where the player is standing, and any surprise that these so called big bounces mostly occurs when a player is screwing back, not running through?