The Charm of the Green Baize

Monday 28th April

Sports come in all shapes and sizes, from the Marathon to the 50 metre indoor sprint.  From eighty minutes of frenetic physical contact on the rugby pitch to the five days of chess-like concentration of a test-match where a draw is often a great result.  But for sheer endurance of concentration little can match Snooker, and the World Championships are the where you find the longest matches.  In some sports it is all over in the blink of an eye, with a photo-finish as a decider but in snooker even the lowly second round matches are over 25 frames, each of which can last a half-hour or more.

And it is incredibly skillful, and tactical and a beautiful game at the same time.  The frustration as often for frame after frame after a reasonable safety shot you find yourself sitting helpless as your opponent clears up the table, waiting for that one slip when you might just get back and have a chance to play a few shots.  In some ways it is akin to physics, working out the angles, the trajectory of both the target ball and just as important the cue ball, the possible plants, the snookers and the escapes often round three sides of the table.

And for me, I can watch it for hours; I find nothing more relaxing than watching the slow glide of the balls over the green baize.  It is the ultimate couch potato sport, even if you nod off chances are that they will still be playing when you open your eyes again and you won’t have missed that much.  What a wonderful sport.