Trying Times



In reply to Mr Everton’s article last seasons in Snooker Scene.

One event that occurred last Snooker season stuck with me in a way that revealed some disturbing issues relating to performance and the aftermath of matches. 

The event that I am referring to was the infamous match with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Quinten Hann. I am concerned that this match inadvertently penalised the gambling fraternity which forms a significant portion of Snooker’s following. 

I have spoken to a number of people who feel that Quinten let them down for not trying in the same way that perhaps a Jockey might be accused of not pushing his mount at a strategic point in a race thus allowing a competitor to take the prize. 

I am not accusing Quinten of cheating myself but feel sorry for those punters who might have placed bets on him to either win or perhaps take a specific number of frames based on reading previous form. The way that Quinten played and chose his shots meant that the form book was quickly rendered useless, when the charge is levelled at certain players for bringing the game into disrepute I wonder whether Quinten’s behaviour is included in this definition? 

Speaking of reputation, it might be worthwhile canvassing several Snooker gamblers and asking the question, “would you consider betting on either Quinten Hann or Fergal O’Brien”? 

Fergal may not be blessed with the same degree of natural talent as Quinten, in the accepted sense. But he is blessed by a high degree of tenacity and fighting spirit, which means that you as a punter would be sure that your money would be given a serious chance by the application of the afore mentioned battling qualities in the pressure cooker atmosphere of competitive match Snooker. 

Perhaps some players believe that against certain opposition they have absolutely no chance and therefore consider that trying at all flies in the face of common sense? I would like to take this opportunity to name some players who do not subscribe to this view and to illustrate how we, the paying public have benefited. 

Tony Knowles; if he had not tried in 1982 against Steve Davis the final may not have resulted in the win for Alex Higgins that has become part of Snooker folklore. As we all know, if someone like Steve Davis in his heyday squeezed through the first round at Sheffield, he was sure to get stronger as the tournament went on. 

If Dennis Taylor had crumbled in 1985 and started smashing the pack from behind at 0-7 down we would not have been treated to a final black ball shoot out watched by 18.5 million people, and another piece of history would not have taken its place in the following years.

If Quinten Hann did his talking with the cue and not with flamboyant gestures about the futility of it all, we as paying customers might have been treated to the sight of him lifting his first major trophy and then as the floodgates had been opened many more to follow. 

I wonder whether people with inside information close to the players get a feeling of when to bet on their associate and when to leave it alone? 

I once heard a story about a top player who lost his cue in the post, apparently the buzz went around that due to this factor and the fact that he was playing a very capable and competitive player in the next round, “perhaps it would be a good idea to bet against the player who had lost his cue”. 

Ironically the top player in question was John Parrott and due to John Parris finding that he had a virtual replica available took this cue in to the match and emerged victorious. 

I heard that due to the fact of this story getting around inside the Snooker fraternity, it cost a well-known gambler £15,000 because he assumed that John Parrott couldn’t possibly beat Ken Doherty with a new cue. Well done again to the tougher competitor coming through on the day despite the odds. 

Returning to the example that I used about Jockeys; I believe that they are fined if it is proven that they did not try sufficiently at least in part to make sure that the reputation of the sport is as clean as possible. It might be a good idea to have a serious word with Mr Hann prior to the new season getting underway in earnest so that the faith of the Snooker gambler might be restored a little? 

David Smith