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Wonderful White Strengthens Tour Survival

Does Jimmy White want to stay on the Main Tour? You can bet your bottom dollar he does.

The ‘Whirlwind’ produced arguably one of his best performances in seasons to beat Joe Swail 5-2 and qualify for the China Open on Tuesday.

White is currently just inside the world’s top 64 in the two-year money list that will come into operation before the start of the next campaign.

He must stay there if he is to regain his membership to the circuit, otherwise he’ll drop off the tour for the first time in three and a half decades.

After losing the opening frame to Northern Ireland’s Swail, it was more like 1994 than 2014 as White compiled runs of 99, a 135 total clearance, 64, 61 and a pair of 40s in the last to book his flight out east.

The 51 year-old has clearly been putting in the hard mileage on the practice table and, coupled with a certain degree of focus and determination on match day, he has shown that he has the mettle to succeed in his fight.

White has now ensured he’ll earn valuable coins on his route to safety but the big one, of course, will be the World Championship in April – when there is a considerable prize fund up for grabs.

Elsewhere, it was another great victory for Fergal O’Brien who continued the run of form that saw him reach the final of the Gdynia Open earlier this month by overcoming Paul Davison 5-1.

There were no problems for most of the remaining top seeds who were yet to compete in Gloucester.

Four-time ranking event champion this season Ding Junhui ran out a comfortable 5-0 winner over Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon while Scot Graeme Dott, champion in 2007, also recorded a whitewash success over Alex Davies.

Antrim’s Mark Allen had a 112 en route to a 5-2 triumph over James Cahill and John Higgins saw off Vinnie Calebrese by the same margin.

Barry Hawkins continued the blight of the Chinese in this tournament by ousting Cao Xinlong 5-2, ensuring only half a dozen will feature on home soil in Beijing.

Two-time champion Peter Ebdon held off a stern challenge from Scotland’s Fraser Patrick to advance with a 5-4 victory.

It wasn’t the greatest of days for the Scots actually as Alan McManus, Marcus Campbell and Rhys Clark all were sent back to the Highlands by Jamie O’Neill, Kyren Wilson and Kurt Maflin respectively.

Finally, there were wins for Englishmen Anthony Hamilton, Peter Lines, Matthew Selt, Martin O’Donnell and Stuart Carrington, while Shoot-Out champion Dominic Dale also progressed with a 5-1 drubbing of Ahmed Saif.

The China Open takes place from the 31st March to the 6th April.

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Creator of SnookerHQ and a journalism graduate, David has been actively reporting on snooker since 2011. He has been published in national publications and has appeared on BBC World News and on talkSPORT radio as an analyst.