Are the tables affecting the quality of snooker at the World Championships?

Various 'kicks' off the tables have been blamed for disrupting breaks by players.

Are the tables affecting the quality of snooker at the World Championships?
The Crucible tables have been a big talking point in the first week of the World Championship (photo: Maximum Snooker)

Anyone who has tuned into the snooker World Championship this year has more than likely heard the commentators or players talk about bad kicks off the Crucible tables.

An unfair disadvantage?

In one of the most open tournaments in years, some snooker fans are claiming that the two tables are causing the quality of the competition to be dampened as it provides an unfair disadvantage. In the opening days of the World Championship, it seemed as though one table was playing well, whilst the other was almost impossible to judge.

Yet as the first and second rounds have progressed, issues have appeared on both tables at the Crucible as kicks off the cushions have broken up various sequences formulated by players. Worryingly for players and organisers alike, the situation seems to be getting worse, reaching a pinnacle during Saturday's second round match between Ali Carter and Alan McManus. Experienced Carter explained that it was "the worst" that he's ever played on as conditions "were horrific" because there were "kicks off every other shot and big bounces off the cushion."

A common occurrence 

It is not a new phenomenon at the Crucible as both Ronnie O'Sullivan and Barry Hawkins, meeting again in this year's last sixteen, complained about the table during the 2013 final. Joe Swail also launched a famous scathing attack on organisers over a decade ago.

Local club players will be wondering what the fuss is all about, as such problems are almost second nature to deal with in pubs and snooker clubs across the country. Some may argue that it adds even more entertainment and unpredictability to this year's competition. The issue is that it could prove very costly, both financially and in terms of tournament progress, to a player later on in the competition.

"Changes have been made"

Tournament organiser Barry Hearn is yet to comment, although some individuals involved in the process of making tables have explained that it's a "difficult job" because it's done on moving platforms.

World Snooker have however made changes to try and overcome the problems. In a statement a spokesperson said the following:

"We have changed the balls after every match, changed the cushions three times on table one, which is the problem table, turned the heating down and done static tests. We also keep all the individual players updated with what we are doing to keep things fair."