The British Open was a blue-chip event on the snooker calendar for three decades, but the return of the tournament with a new shorter format after a 17-year absence next month makes it resemble a lottery rather than a true attempt at quality control.
It will be staged this time at the Morningside Arena in Leicester with 128 players contesting the second World Snooker Tour ranking event of the season between Monday, August 16 and Sunday, August 22 with fans allowed access under UK government health guidelines.
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The first four rounds will be played over the best-of-five frames with the quarter-finals and semi-finals contested over the best-of-seven frames and the final increased to the best-of-11 frames.
Adding to the element of pot luck, a random draw will be held before each round in similar style to football's FA Cup which could see the world's top-16 players face each other in the opening matches as they chase a £100,000 first prize.
"We are delighted to give snooker supporters the opportunity to watch the best players on the planet in what will be a fabulous week of top class sport," said WST Chairman Steve Dawson.
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John Higgins was the last British Open winner in Brighton in 2004 when he defeated fellow Scot Stephen Maguire 9-6 in the final, but with such a sprint to the line in the early rounds it gives less fancied players the chance to make an impression. It is certainly a departure from the tournament's rich traditions.
Silvino Francisco won the first British Open when he defeated Kirk Stevens 12-9 in Derby in 1985 with Jimmy White completing a 13-9 win over Neal Foulds in the 1987 final and Stephen Hendry dismantling Mike Hallett 13-2 a year later in the first of three triumphs.
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Steve Davis was a 10-2 winner against James Wattana in the 1993 final with Ronnie O'Sullivan completing a 9-4 victory over Wattana a year later.
Other notable champions include Mark Williams in 1997, Peter Ebdon in 2000 and Paul Hunter in 2002.
In its previous life, a top-16 player needed to win 35 frames over five rounds to become British Open champion. This time the winner will require 26 frames over seven rounds which guarantees rapid conclusions to matches, but also waters down the need for staying power over a distance.
British Open prize money
- Winner: £100,000
- Runner-up: £45,000
- Semi-finals: £20,000
- Quarter-finals: £12,000
- Last 16: £7,000
- Last 32: £5,000
- Last 64: £3,000
- High break: £5,000
- Total: £470,000
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