The World Seniors Championship takes place later in January with some doubt hanging over the event as to what its intended purpose is.
The very name suggests some sort of trip down memory lane, a chance to see former greats and not-so-greats of previous eras and wallow in some always welcome nostalgia.
If you were asked anyone whether the Seniors should more closely resemble the atmosphere at a Snooker Legends set-up, or that of a proper ranking tour tournament, I think the answer would be fairly unanimous.
It should be a fun event, there are no ranking points, the money should be a nice bonus for someone who basically doesn’t earn any, or very little, from playing snooker any more.
All of which makes the decision last year, to lower the age limit to 40 from 45 as long as the birthday fell in that season, look bizarre in the extreme.
That decision allowed Mark Williams to lift the trophy and pocket the £18,000 at the age of 39, coming as it did just a few days before his milestone birthday.
At least Williams, a man with a well developed sense of humour, permitted himself to look a little sheepish after his victory.
He saw the chance of some easy-ish money, the rules allowed it, so why not? And you cannot blame anyone entering for the same reasons if allowed to.
But the point here really is should they be allowed to, and shouldn’t the rules be changed? This is not a criticism of those players, more a compliment.
Many that fall into this five-year category are still very good players. They are still punching away on the main tour, getting wins, earning money, with plenty of playing opportunities.
Some 40-year-olds didn’t do too badly on the tour of late. Ronnie O’Sullivan has just won the Masters, John Higgins has won two ranking titles at 40, Joe Perry won one.
Cannot this one Seniors event be left to a slightly older crowd, many with fewer playing opportunities, as originally intended?
Just looking at this year’s line-up from qualifying onwards, the following are not 45: Jamie Burnett, Mark King, Gerard Greene, Mark Davis, Rory McLeod, Rod Lawler, Lee Walker, Fergal O’Brien, Mike Dunn, Anthony Hamilton, Rob Milkins, Dominic Dale plus defending champion Williams.
There is bound to be speculation that the hand of the broadcasters could have been in some way involved, hoping for a bigger complement of recognisable faces.
And this is not suggesting a total ban on current tour players. If you are still doing it over the age of 45, like Ken Doherty, Joe Swail or Nigel Bond, then you’ve earned it.
You do see players on the Seniors golf tour playing Majors. Not many, but there are a few. And in golf, both on the European and PGA tours, the qualification age is 50.
The Seniors is a good event, worth its place on the calendar, and provides something different. Who wouldn’t want to see John Parrott, Joe Johnson, Jimmy White, Tony Knowles and Tony Drago?
But the sooner the age limit is put back up to 45, the better.
Photograph courtesy of Monique Limbos