An interesting line this afternoon from World Snooker, with the news that the tour card of Chinese youngster Yan Bingtao will now be deferred until the start of the 2016/17 season due to difficulties in obtaining a visa for him to travel to the UK.
With a tour place opened up, the decision has been taken to issue an ‘International Development Main Tour Card’ to Brazil’s Igor Figueiredo, who you may remember was relegated from the tour at the end of last season.
Looking at the tour qualification criteria usually published by the governing body during the preceding season, the option to defer the issue of a two-year tour card is not one expressly set out, but certainly in this instance the decision is one of common sense.
While Yan’s credentials should not be in doubt, having already won the IBSF World Championship and more recently the World Cup, his age (15) counts against him in respect of an application for a working visa and as a result his appearances would realistically have been limited to Asian Tour events.
The decision to defer his tour card however does not come at the expense of another player and for Yan it means that he will be able to complete his education in China, before then having a proper shot at the circuit, with the same chance to break into the top 64 at the expiration of his two-year card, now in 2018.
In a way the decision is similar to that a year ago to award Hossein Vafaei Ayouri another year on tour in order to aid his pursuit of a visa and for me shows that the WPBSA and World Snooker are prepared to be increasingly flexible, in order to see that players who have earned an opportunity to compete on tour are given a fair chance to take advantage.
For me it is certainly preferable to see Yan’s card deferred, than to see him granted a visa in a year’s time and for him to start playing with only one year of his tour card still to run, through no fault of his own.
Turning to Igor, the decision does not come as a huge surprise as he did win the Brazilian national championship a year ago, a tournament that had previously offered a main tour card to the winner. It is not the first time he has been on tour and readers will be aware that he has previously found funding to play in the circuit hard to come by, limiting his appearances at professional events.
Midway through last season the situation changed for Igor and he began to play a largely full schedule, but already too far behind the top 64 on the ranking list and unable to compete in the Pan American Championship (won by compatriot Itaro Santos), due to being a current professional at the time, he was unable to retain his tour card at the end of the 2014/15 season.
His desire to play on the tour though has remained undimmed and by awarding this International Development card, assuming that he continues to retain his funding, over the next two years he now has the chance to establish himself on the tour.