Ken Doherty won the last four frames to edge Andy Lee 10-8 in a gruelling first qualifying round encounter for the upcoming World Championship in Sheffield.
The Irishman, who famously won the world crown at the Crucible Theatre in 1997, rarely scored heavily but relied on his “crafty” moniker to get the job done on Saturday.
Hong Kong’s Lee, who has recorded only a couple of victories on the Main Tour throughout the entire campaign, looked on course to seal an upset when he led 8-6.
The 38 year-old subsequently had opportunities to win the 15th frame but Doherty pinched it to reduce the arrears to one before dominating the next two exchanges to reverse the advantage in his favour.
Doherty duly won a close and dramatic last frame on a re-spotted black to confirm his place in the penultimate round, where he’ll face Scott Donaldson.
The latter also had a hard time of it as he edged Craig Steadman by a similar margin in a match that finished just shy of midnight.
Meanwhile, a few of the heavy hitters managed to make it through on the fourth day of action at the English Institute of Sport.
Jimmy White and Ali Carter, with eight runners-up medals between them, advanced earlier in the day to set up a meeting between a pair of former elite members.
💬 “As soon as the draw came out I fancied it would be me against him.”@jimmywhite147 looks ahead to his blockbuster clash with @TheCaptain147, following a 10-5 win over European U21 finalist Ross Bulman this afternoon.#ilovesnooker pic.twitter.com/YH3qnvfxnA
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) April 13, 2019
World number 17 Ryan Day, who just missed out on an automatic berth in the last 32, had too much for Oliver Lines while countryman Matthew Stevens hammered Thor Chuan Leong 10-3 with the aid of a brace of tons.
Graeme Dott went one better as the 2006 world champion secured a 10-2 drubbing of Hamza Akbar in a rout that included a superb 140 total clearance.
It was a somewhat mixed day for the large number of Chinese competitors in action.
Twelve months ago, five players from China qualified for Sheffield and with the significant number in action it is highly possible that number could be equalled or even surpassed this season.
The standout scoreline had Stuart Carrington losing 10-6 to Pang Junxu, one of the amateurs who have been invited to make up the numbers in the qualifiers.
Lyu Haotian, Tian Pengfei, Li Hang, Xu Si, and Lu Ning also managed to emerge safely from their initial tests.
But Fan Zhengyi lost to Chris Wakelin and up-and-coming teenager Yuan Sijun was perhaps an unexpected loser as he fell in a 10-8 reverse against John Astley.
Elsewhere, Mark King had a routine passage against Igor Figueiredo, 1995 runner-up Nigel Bond overcame Mike Dunn, and Kurt Maflin thumped Mitchell Mann.
Among the others to progress were Ben Woollaston and Ian Burns, with the second round of qualifying set to get under way on Sunday.