‘No will’ for WPBSA to pursue rule change in response to Mark Williams break-off

Mark Staniforth, PA
·2-min read

Snooker’s world governing body has denied it has plans to ban Mark Williams’ controversial break-off shot despite consultations with top players and its own Rules Committee.

Williams expressed anger over an email sent by the WPBSA’s Players’ Association courting opinion over his shot, in which he plays the cue ball off the bottom cushion and gently into the pack of reds.

Speaking after Wednesday’s night’s win over Sam Craigie in the World Championship first round, Williams derided the “farcical” email and added: “There are a lot more things to worry about than my poxy break-off.”

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 – Day Five – The Crucible
Msrk Williams has vowed to continue with his controversial break-off (George Wood/PA)

In a statement to the PA news agency, the WPBSA confirmed the existence of the email but said that following discussions at the behest of some players, it does not intend to pursue the matter further.

The statement read: “The issue of the ‘defensive break-off’ was raised by a small number of players to the WPBSA Players Board earlier this year.

“As a representative body of the current tour players, WPBSA Players sought opinion from the playing membership on this issue. The WPBSA Rules Committee was also being consulted at this time.

Betfred World Snooker Championships 2021 – Day Five – The Crucible
Mark Williams is set to face John Higgins in round two (George Wood/PA)

“Following this process, however, it became clear that there is currently no will from either the membership as a whole, or the Rules Committee, for the WPBSA as the sport’s governing body to embark upon a rule change at this time.”

Williams began opening with the shot during the Masters in January, when he became frustrated at opponent Shaun Murphy’s repeated ability to capitalise on his failure to prevent leaving reds in play.

After his first round win over Mark Davis at the Crucible on Thursday, Murphy backed Williams’ tactic and described the governing body’s decision to court opinion on the shot as “absolutely ridiculous”.

Murphy said: “It was an absolutely ridiculous conversation to even get involved in about banning a certain shot.

“I was part of the rules rewrite a couple of years ago and there’s just no room for stuff like that – it’s a perfectly legal shot.

“If opponents don’t like it, they’ll have to find a way of getting out of it.”

World number one Judd Trump is one of those who is against the tactic, describing it as “just so negative”, although he stopped short of calling for the shot to be outlawed.

Williams has vowed to continue with the shot in his second round match against John Higgins, which starts on Friday. He laughed off the notion of a ban, insisting: “It’s not an illegal shot and I don’t see the problem with it, it’s farcical.”