PSA moves to best of three

PSA moves to best of three

Following yesterday’s London Squash Classic semi-finals, the Professional Squash Association (PSA) has announced that it will be adopting the best of three games format with immediate effect.

12.00 1st April – yes, this is an April Fool story 

The London Classic – formerly the Canary Wharf Classic – has been taking place over the last few days at London’s Alexandra Palace with the finals set to take place later today.

“The Canary Wharf Classic was a pioneer in moving to best of three,” said PSA Event Director and promoter of both events Tim Garner, “and though we were disappointed not to be able to continue at Canary Wharf, the response to the event at Alexandra Palace, with a women’s event included for the first time, has been fantastic.

“The first four days, where we used best of three, ran like clockwork, there were fantastic matches in a great new venue and the media interest from around the world has been unprecedented.”

Yesterday’s semifinals – played as best of five – threw a spanner in the works though, as a four-match session that was scheduled to take three and a half hours ended up taking twice as long and created problems on many fronts.

The first semi-final between Malaysia’s Sivasangari Subramaniam and Belgium’s Nele Gilis took 96 minutes to complete – four times as long as the average match time for the first four rounds of the tournament.

And it didn’t get any better, with the first men’s semi-final taking 86 minutes to complete.

Kiwi Paul Coll, who won that match and who came from two games down to beat World #1 Ali Farag in last month’s Optasia Championships final in London in 91 minutes, was ambivalent about the change :

“Court, Bar, Bar, Court … it’s a tough decision but I’ll take the [unintelligble]”

PSA COO Lee Beachill explained the decision  :

“I’ve advocated best of three for a long time. Apart from the fact that if it had been best of three during my playing days I’d have been world #1 for much longer, I have to be at the venue for the whole duration of every event, and frankly I’d rather be at the Bar.”

Even though the second women’s semi-final ‘only’ took four games, it started way past its scheduled time and still took over an hour to complete.

“When I went two-nil up I thought I’d won the match,” said finalist Hania El Hammamy. “It was only when Nouran [Gohar] refused to shake my hand and my coach started talking about tactics for the third game that I realised we’d gone to best of five.”

“I’m so glad I won the fourth, but my head was all over the place and I think PSA need to sort this out to bring some consistency to the game.”

The fans had also their say :

“I’m flabbergasted,” said Bob from Bolton. “I’ve been getting the trains down and back from Bolton each day and it’s been perfect. Then suddenly today, the matches take like four times as long and I have to choose between leaving before matches I’ve paid to see even happen, take a big hit on train fares, or book a last minute hotel. The PSA will be getting an invoice from me, I can tell you that.”

The last quarter-final, won by Mostafa Asal, finished in a leisurely 55 minutes, by which time much of the audience had donned fancy dress and retreated to the Ally Pally bar to play darts.

“I was so pleased that Declan had produced two terrific upsets to reach the semis,” said Declan’s Dad. “But by the time he got on court all my mates were in the bar so I had to go and join them. How did he do ?”

The crowd reaction seems to have had a big bearing on the PSA’s move to best of three.

“We saw the reaction from the crowd, and decided we needed to do something fast,” said PSA Commercial Officer Tommy Berden. “We were pleased with our cut from the bar takings and merchandise sales for the first few days of the tournament, and frankly with beer prices so high in London that has to be our priority.

“Plus, with Squash in the 2028 LA Olympics, the IOC made it clear to us that the schedule and merchandise sales was priority number one.

“So the decision to move today’s finals – and all future events – to best of three was an easy one, it’s a win win situation for us and squash fans worldwide.

Anyone for darts ?