What Is Power Snooker?
Chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) Barry Hearn seems to be right on cue with his latest invention to brighten up the snooker calendar.
With the help of Rod Gunner and Ed Simons, the traditional rules of snooker have been tweaked and re-worked in what should be a thrilling day of snooker for fans at the indigO2 Arena in London.
Previously, frames are what wins a player the match, not in Power Snooker. Players now have 30 minutes to accumulate the most points, the match ending after the time is up or the final black is potted.
Even the table is different, although the size is the same; it is covered in bespoke Power Snooker baize.
Here is where it all gets a little more complicated but the basic rules include:
- Only nine red balls which are placed into a diamond rack with the tip of the diamond touching the pink ball.
- The middle red is known as the 'PowerBall'. When this is potted a two minute 'PowerPlay' begins where all points are doubled. If a player misses, control of the remainder of the PowerPlay goes to their opponent.
- Each game lasts half an hour.
- 20 second limit on each shot.
- If the shot clock expires then player will receive a 20 point penalty and still has to play.
- The match clock starts when the reds are broken and stops when the final black is potted in each frame.
- Players on break off must make two or more reds reach the cushion to retain control if not control hands over as normal.
- The area behind the baulk line is known as the 'PowerZone.' Any colour balls potted from behind this line are doubled in value and are quadrupled in a PowerPlay.
- A century break is worth 50 bonus points. If the feat is achieved in the next frame then it is worth 100 bonus points and if it is achieved 3 times in a row 200 bonus points and so on.
- Fouled player is awarded with "ball in hand", that means the cue ball can be placed anywhere within the PowerZone.
- If the game is tied on points after the half an hour, the table is cleared and the game is decided by potting the re-spotted black.
As you can see from the rules, the onus is on speed and the new rules really drag the game into a more modern arena. The quote from the official website states the game is "presented in an energetic, contemporary style, which will deliver excitement, tension and spectacle."
One of the more intriguing rules put in place is players wearing microphones and being encouraged to interact with the crowd, which could be entertaining - especially if Ronnie is in one of his more vocal moods.
The first six in the field of eight players all looked pretty standard, you have Ronnie O'Sullivan (9/4), Mark Selby (9/2), Ding Junhui (9/2), Neil Robertson (5/1), Shaun Murphy (7/1), Ali Carter (9/1).
Then, to the delight of snooker fans everywhere, snooker legend Jimmy White will also line up against the best players of the day. At 16/1 it is hard to really find much value in him winning it outright but it is always a pleasure to see Jimmy in on the action.
Rounding off the field at 20/1 outsider is a young man from Belgium, widely regarded as one of the most promising talents in the game. Luca Brecel became the youngest European U-19 champion at 14 years of age last year. He is now 15 and it should be fascinating to see how the young man handles himself against the biggest names in snooker.
The tournament will be split in to two sessions and the first round of matches are as follows:
- Ronnie O'Sullivan (3/10) v Luca Brecel (12/5)
- Ding Junhui (2/5) v Jimmy White (7/4)
- Mark Selby (8/13) v Ali Carter (6/5)
- Neil Robertson (4/6) v Shaun Murphy (11/10)
The pick of the matches has to be the first one, the most entertaining and sometimes frustrating player, Ronnie O'Sullivan taking on the unknown and exciting prospect of Luca Brecel who could be worth a punt.
Neil Robertson seems to struggle in the Premier League format compared to his impressive success in the ranking tournaments of late. With the shot clock still present here, Shaun Murphy could be a decent bet to upset the world number one.
I am personally really looking forward to the new format and hope it is a success so we see repeat events which are planned in China, Singapore, Germany and the Middle East, to be followed by a series final back at the indigO2.
With the walk-on music, bright lights, capacity crowd and vibrant new rules - this could be the sort of event to bring new fans to the sport and dispel the myths that it is just a pub game for old men.
Personally I can't see how an event where the brown can routinely be worth eight points depending on the position of the cue ball, foul shots could give away 28 points and a half-hour match will see between 500 and 600 points scored could possibly be a failure!
Catch Power Snookers debut on Saturday at 13:00 - live on ITV4