Stuart Bingham held off a remarkable fight back from Graeme Dott to prevail in a first round World Championship classic encounter in Sheffield on Tuesday.
In a battle of two former world champions, Bingham raced into a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 lead after a one-sided opening session.
The 2015 Crucible champion compiled a break of 107 and five additional runs above 50 as he coasted towards the winning line.
But a dramatic evening session on day four saw the tenacious Dott, champion 13 years ago, stage an unlikely revival.
The Scot opened with a terrific 114 that set his comeback into motion, restoring respectability in the scoreline with further breaks of 77 and 70.
When Bingham pinched the last frame before the mid-session interval to lead 9-4, it appeared as though any fleeting hope had passed.
However, the typically gritty Dott began to assert his dominance as the contest developed into a more scrappy affair.
The signs of Bingham’s potential meltdown were never more evident than in the 16th frame when, trailing 8-1 in points, the 42 year-old joined an exclusive club in Crucible history to forfei a frame because of the three-miss rule.
After that, Dott was firmly in control and a timely break of 88 – the first meaningful contribution in several frames – ensured that the pair went the distance.
Both competitors had chances in the decider but it was Bingham who somehow managed to scramble home right at the very death to triumph in this World Championship classic.
“There’s a football saying ‘the game of two halves’ and literally it was like that,” Bingham said in his post-match press conference.
“This morning, I felt really good but this evening Graeme took the game to me.”
“I just tried to stay positive but how I got over the line in the end, I’ll just never know. I was shaking.
“I think I need to hit the table after that – it feels like I’ve lost really – I’ll go home, have a couple of days practice and press the reset button.”
The thrilling climax placed an appropriate rubber stamp on another scarcely believable day in Sheffield.
Making the most headlines was obviously James Cahill, after the debut amateur qualifier stunned Ronnie O’Sullivan with a 10-8 scoreline to reach the second round.
Judd Trump and Mark Allen, who ordinarily would be hoping to take advantage of O’Sullivan’s demise in the bottom half of the draw, are in trouble too after disappointing first sessions.
Trump, highly fancied this year after winning the Masters in January, trails the enigmatic Thai Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 6-3.
Northern Ireland’s Allen finds himself in a more desperate scenario after falling 7-2 down to an excellent display of heavy scoring from Zhou Yuelong.
💬 “My little girl’s one on Thursday, so we’ll get her a cake I wanna eat”
David Gilbert is past Joe Perry and into the last 16 to face defending @Betfred World Champion Mark Williams!
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) April 23, 2019
Tuesday’s other winner was David Gilbert, who held Joe Perry at bay to inflict a tough 10-7 victory on his fellow Englishman.
Wednesday will see the Trump and Allen encounters conclude while the remaining round of 32 matches also get under way.
Pick of the bunch is Jack Lisowski’s meeting with Ali Carter, but also in action will be Barry Hawkins against Li Hang and Kyren Wilson versus Scott Donaldson.