I'm heartened to see that during my absence from the country all seems to have suddenly come right with the snooker world once again. The short-match format of the World Open at the SECC really seems to have put a bit of zing into what would otherwise have been a routine and quickly-forgotten second-tier event, Ronnie O'Sullivan's antics have yet again given the lie to the hoary old complaint that "there are no characters in the game anymore", and most importantly of all, the nightmare of the world number one being handed a lifetime ban from the game for match-fixing has been averted. Many will be sceptical about the circumstances in which John Higgins' name has been "cleared", but personally I've always been much more troubled by the many cases where sportsmen and women have seen the principles of natural justice turned on their head, and have found that they were essentially guilty until proved innocent. A classic example from our own shores was Alain Baxter, who for making an innocent mistake with a nasal spray had his career blighted, lost his Olympic medal, and had to suffer disgraceful slurs from senior administrators who really should have known better, all the way up to the IOC chief Jacques Rogge.
There was a bizarre incident in Stephen Maguire's match last night, when he was warned by the referee for conceding a frame in a situation where he did not yet require snookers. Now if ever there was an irrational rule, surely that must be it. Warnings are appropriate for non-specific offences like unsportsmanlike conduct, but if you don't want players to concede too early, where is the barrier to simply banning it? A rule stating that a player cannot concede a frame in those circumstances without also conceding the match ought to do the trick.