An extremely busy opening day in the Welsh Open led to 64 matches being won and lost at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.
However, rather than any of these matches generating headlines, all the talk from day one surrounded Ronnie O’Sullivan’s controversial, but magnificent, 146 break.
The ‘Rocket’ effortlessly cleared the table and was on course for a 147 before opting to take a pink with the penultimate red in protest at, in his opinion at least, the relatively low prize of £10,000 for the completion of a maximum.
This led to a barrage of abuse aimed at the five-time world champion, with many labeling it arrogant and disrespectful.
While it was obviously arrogant, I don’t really see how it can be deemed as disrespectful or in any way damaging to the image of the sport.
In fact, while World Snooker supremo Barry Hearn preached about players having a duty to entertain, surely O’Sullivan’s decision brought just as much entertainment and talking point, if not more, than if he had actually compiled the 147.
Ali Carter stated that O’Sullivan should have won the £10,000 and given the money to charity, which is a fair point to make but probably, and understandably, not something O’Sullivan was thinking at the time.
At the end of the day it actually benefits all of O’Sullivan’s rivals because the prize stays in the pot and will continue to rollover by an extra £5,000 with every ranking event that doesn’t produce the magical break.
The ironic thing is, while making a 147 is naturally deemed as the pinnacle break in the game, a 146 is actually more unique and, without knowing the exact statistics, has probably been achieved less times.
Regardless, the break helped O’Sullivan into the second round as he beat Barry Pinches 4-1.
Most of the top players made it through safely, with the most notable exception being world champion Stuart Bingham who was downed 4-1 by Anthony Hamilton.
Hamilton is in danger of dropping off the Main Tour this season but there have been a few signs of late of a return to form, so there’s still time for the popular 44 year-old to save the situation.
Somebody whose fate doesn’t look very good is Ireland’s David Morris.
The Kilkenny cueist lost for the ninth time in his last ten matches and will have to rely on a strong World Championship if he is to avoid losing his tour card for a second time.
It was a better day for his countrymen, though, in particular amateur Leo Fernandez as he took full advantage of his invitation to make up the numbers by beating Shanghai Masters champion Kyren Wilson 4-3.
Fergal O’Brien also won in a decider while 1997 world champion Ken Doherty eased past Lu Ning 4-0.
On Tuesday, the entire round of 64 is contested.
There have been 119 147 breaks and just 19 146 breaks. Curiously, Mark Allen, Ronnie and Hendry have achieved it twice. Personally I was sick when he played for the pink. I saw he had made a 146 but hadn’t seen it. Watching the replay I couldn’t see how he could have a shot on the pink and not on the black so was dreading the finish. It didn’t disappoint, a horror show in every sense, for the spectators (listen to the groans), the promoters and sponsors, and Hearn himself who’s busting a gut to promote the game. He still wanted to ‘pull it off’ after Jan Verhaas made him pot the black a few years ago. Hopefully he’s got it out of his system now. No doubt he’s made a 1000 147s with the cameras off.
Well there’s been plenty of promotion in the last 24 hours, probably more than if he had actually made the 147.
That 146 stat is even lower than I expected. Cheers!