Joe Swail won the last five frames against Adam Duffy on Tuesday night to continue his magical run in the 2013 World Championship qualifiers at the EIS Badminton Hall.
Having dropped off the Main Tour last season, Swail is now officially regarded as an amateur player and thus had to start his matches in the preliminary stages.
But no pundit truly accepts this and indeed it has done nothing to hinder the Northern Irishman having now won an impressive five matches to reach the penultimate round – which included victories over fellow islander David Morris and talented Indian Pankaj Advani.
Swail didn’t perform at his very best against Duffy, with only two breaks over 50 to his credit, but the 43 year-old’s experience told at the end of the game.
At 6-5 down, it looked like the match could be heading for a very nervy and tense finale but Swail dominated the final bout of action to race away with the success.
Swail has been one of the most likable characters on the circuit for a couple of decades.
He endeared himse to the watching public at the turn of the millennium when he went on two memorable runs to the semi-finals of the World Championship.
The fact that Swail is partially deaf also gained him sympathy from fans but in actual fact the former Welsh Open finalist has admitted that, with regard snooker itself and the understandable need for complete silence when down on a shot, his impairment has actually been beneficial.
This then is perhaps one of the reasons why Swail has gained notoriety as being one of the most dogged competitors, boasting a never-say-die attitude.
When the cards are dealt and it gets to the nitty-gritty of the last few frames in a tight contest, Swail appears to be able to handle the pressure better than most.
If he is to return to the Crucible the Belfast native will have to win two more matches, starting with a match-up against Mark Joyce on Thursday.
Elsewhere yesterday, nine other matches were completed as another round came to a dramatic conclusion.
There were four deciding frame thrillers with Scotland’s Alan McManus edging Aditya Mehta 10-9 to ensure a disappointing end to this campaign for the Indian participants having started it so well last summer.
Dechawat Poomjaeng continued the remarkable tournament being enjoyed by Thailand, becoming the fourth player from the country to qualify for the next round with a close triumph over Liu Chuang.
The other two were won by young Englishmen. Liam Highfield pipped Barry Pinches to the post while Sam Baird took advantage of a horrible and untimely miscue from Peter Lines near the end to also prevail 10-9.
Meanwhile, despite his torrid year, Tony Drago has managed to find a little bit of form and supported his win over Mohamed Khairy with a 10-7 defeat of former semi-finalist Andy Hicks.
Rod Lawler ended amateur Fraser Patrick’s hopes, Alfie Burden came from behind to beat Paul Davison while Jimmy Robertson and Yu Delu hammered Li Yan and Ian Burns respectively 10-2.
Today, the third (professional) qualifying round gets under way and what an exciting day there is in prospect.
Two legends of the sport will be competing for a place in the final round with both matches being streamed live online.
Jimmy White overcame a Chinese opponent on Monday but must do it all over again as he takes on the very dangerous Xiao Guodong while six-time champion Steve Davis, who beat the ‘Whirlwind’ in the final 29 years ago, accepts the challenge of Norway’s Kurt Maflin.
It is hard to make a prediction on either because, in truth, both matches will probably turn out to be cagey affairs so the likely scenario is that the pair of clashes will be close ones. This may suit Davis but not White.
The three other Thai players will have their fate decided on Wednesday as well as Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon and James Wattana take on English trio Ben Woollaston, Matthew Selt and Jack Lisowski while Welsh hot prospect Michael White takes on 2010 qualifier Zhang Anda.
Four other encounters – David Gilbert vs Tony Deago, Nigel Bond vs Alan McManus, Anthony McGill vs Rod Lawler, Liang Wenbo vs Jimmy Robertson – will all play their opening session in ties that will be finished on Thursday afternoon.
If the early rounds were tense, you can be guaranteed it is only going to get worse with the dream of gracing the famous theatre now firmly in sight.
Crucible Countdown: 10 Days!
The full draw and results can be viewed by clicking here.
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