There are broadly three types of singles competition in snooker: open tournaments, conducted over the best of seven frames or more, which carry ranking points; invitation events where the top players in the world play against each other, normally for high sums of money (as with the Masters); or novelty tournaments. Novelty are played under different conditions and often with rule variants outside of tournament snooker. Examples include having six red balls on the table instead of fifteen, something called ‘power snooker’ where the value of balls potted varies with the pocket selected, and the shoot–out.
was set up as a fun competition. Open to all players but played over only one frame. There’s also a rule variant relating to how long players have to play a shot. There are other aspects that don’t necessarily appeal to the pursuit like players wearing t-shirts and allowing the crowd to shout out support for their favored player. When all’s said and done, the shoot-out resembles the look and feel of a nine-ball pool competition.
This might be fair enough to many. It’s bold, brash and fun and allows players to earn some money and the event is played to an end in one day. What has poked the flames of controversy this year, however, is the assigning of ranking points. For some, including this journalist, one frame is not a test of ability in the same way that a best of nine frames match is. Moreover, playing under a different set of rules puts the competition at odds with the rest of the circuit.
In winning the completion
, staged at the Watford Colosseum, Watford, England, Anthony McGill
was required to play seven single frame matches. With single frame games some are better than others (take Jimmy White’s 45 to 44 points win over Chen Zhe in the second round, where the low score reflected the erratic nature of play).
However, McGill, aged 26, held up well throughout the day. He opened by beating Oliver Lines by 43 points to 22, a solid win but there was nothing to suggest he would win the tournament based on this performance. This was followed by an even scrappier win over Jamie Barrett, 30 points to 12 to McGill when time was called.
Mark King was despatched 57-28, followed by Jack Lisowski by 78-0. Into the quarter-final, McGill despatched Anthony Hamilton 36-19 and then faced former world champion Shaun Murphy in the semi-finals. The frame went to McGill 64-41.
In the final, refereed by Andy Yates, McGill beat China’s 28 year-old Xiao Guodong by the score of 67-19. McGill won the match with a break of 67.
On winning the completion, McGill received £32,000 ($40,000). A high prize for day’s work. And with it, more controversially, a set of ranking points.