Jimmy White earned a crucial victory over Ireland’s David Morris in the China Open today to help his cause to remain on the professional Main Tour.
The ten-time ranking event champion and overall legend of the sport has been steadily sliding down the rankings for the past couple of seasons.
While he has just about always remained inside the top 64 in the standings list who are guaranteed a spot on the circuit next season, his flirtation with potential peril has been troubling for his fans.
However, he took a major leap towards what would be an incredible 35th consecutive campaign following a determined triumph over Kilkenny’s Morris.
After sharing the opening four frames, in which Morris compiled a 130 in the fourth, 51 year-old White pulled away and sealed the next three frames with breaks of 72 and 43 for an imperative 5-2 success.
The result does not yet safeguard the Londoner’s quest to regain his place on the tour but one would suspect that should he win one more match, especially, at the World Championship qualifiers which start next week, then he may well do enough.
It has been noticeable this season that White’s main problem has been that, though he can usually win his first match in an event, he has struggled to go on any sustained run.
The six-times Crucible runner-up will be thinking he has a chance to do just that in Beijing this week with his next opponent Alfie Burden, a player just above him in the rankings.
Burden had a walkover in the opening round after the withdrawal of Tony Drago – one of five high-profile names to decide against the trip to Asia, including PC Grand Finals champion Barry Hawkins.
One player who did make the effort was world no.1 Neil Robertson, but even though he came through a tough tie with Anthony Hamilton in a decider the Australian looked completely out of sorts at the game’s death.
Struggling with a virus, upon shaking his opponent’s hand at the conclusion Robertson had to sit down in his chair, breathing heavily and appeared visibly distressed.
Thankfully for the 32 year-old, he will have Tuesday off to recover ahead of his next clash against either Mark Williams or Anthony McGill.
Elsewhere on Monday, Ken Doherty was hammered 5-0 by Thepchaiya Un-Nooh, the same scoreline that James Wattana enjoyed over Mark Joyce.
Former champion Graeme Dott had a much more difficult time of it in his deciding frame marathon match with Rory McLeod while Mark King also needed all nine frames in his encounter with Aditya Mehta.
Current and Former Shoot-Out champions Dominic Dale and Nigel Bond enjoyed 5-3 and 5-2 respective victories over Jack Lisowski and Barry Pinches while Jamie O’Neill withstood a spirited fightback from Kyren Wilson to eventually prevail 5-3 despite having opened up an initial 4-0 advantage.
A 142 century, the highest break of the tournament so far, by Xiao Guodong helped him to a 5-2 win over Hammad Miah while Mike Dunn edged Peter Lines 5-4.
There is almost a sense of disdain toward the China Open this year, usually one of the more respected and enjoyed tournaments on the calendar.
Sandwiched in between the Players Championship Grand Final and the World Championship qualifiers, both of which staged in England, the scheduling has ensured a difficult and tiring few weeks for a lot of the players – hence the withdrawals from top 16 members Hawkins, Stuart Bingham, Stephen Maguire and Mark Allen.
There is a pretty big issue at hand here and one that I will certainly be commenting on at the end of the season.
However, for now it simply is what it is and there’s nothing further that can be done about it.
So let the relentless snooker continue.