The 2012 Haikou World Open got under way today with the wildcard round on Hainan Island in China.
The much criticised supplementary round, used in many of the overseas events to garner interest from both local fans and amateur players alike, was enough for two professional qualifiers to bow out before they even had a stab at the last 32 stage.
1995 World Championship runner-up Nigel Bond was defeated 5-4 by China’s Lu Ning but 23 year-old Sam Baird’s defeat will be a lot more difficult to take.
Bond, while undoubtedly will be disappointed to have been dumped out so early, is safe in the knowledge that he is in a comfortable position in the mid-table of the world rankings.
Fellow Englishman Baird, on the other hand, had come all the way from the first qualifying round to reach this stage and is in desperate need of the ranking points to maintain his place on the Main Tour for next season.
Baird, who also qualified for the recent Welsh Open where he should have beaten world number one Mark Selby in the last 32, will surely feel aggrieved that Jin Long, who he lost to 5-3, will now go on to play Chinese hero Ding Junhui in the first round proper for effectively nothing other than pride.
Jin Long, a former pro himself and now into his 30s, has been given the opportunity to progress in a tournament that, in essence, means absolutely nothing to him in terms of the professional game – for this season anyway.
This is not to mention that both Bond and Baird have flown across to the other side of the world for a tournament in which they will feel they have not even taken part in.
For argument’s sake, wildcards make sense in countries where snooker is only in the initial stages of growth and where truly inexperienced amateurs are given a chance on the big stage to progress their careers.
However, such a time has long passed for events in China and the fact that there are going to be five ranking tournaments in the Far Eastern country next season should mean the end of their inclusion.
Anyway, the other six professional qualifiers that had the nuisance of going through the extra round all advanced, though some by narrower margins than they would have liked.
English duo Michael Holt and Tom Ford needed deciding frame clinchers to see off their respective opponents in Zhu Yinghui and Lu Haotian while Robert Milkins saw off Thanawat Thirapongpaiboon 5-3.
Mark King and Jimmy Robertson enjoyed relatively easier 5-2 triumphs while Joe Perry made light work of his clash with Rouzi Maimaiti, winning 5-0.