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Stuart Bingham Compiles Maximum Break in NI Open

Stuart Bingham constructed his sixth career maximum break break en route to a 4-3 first round victory over Lu Ning in Belfast on Tuesday.

Bingham’s opening fixture in the Northern Ireland Open ended up being a close affair despite establishing an early 3-0 lead.

The 2015 world champion opened the contest with a superb 147, the third maximum break of the season so far.

A total of 20 maximum breaks need to be compiled before the end of this season to unlock the £1 million jackpot bonus on offer for the players on the Main Tour.

Lu fought back to force a deciding frame but Bingham survived to book a second round clash with home player Jordan Brown.

A similar storyline developed in defending champion Judd Trump’s encounter with James Cahill.

The world number one raced into a seemingly commanding lead with a hat-trick of century breaks.

However, old failings almost came back to haunt the 30 year-old as he inexplicably squandered his position to allow Cahill in to restore parity.

A run of 75 spared Trump’s blushes and the Englishman was joined in the last 32 by Ronnie O’Sullivan and local star Mark Allen.

The former wasn’t anywhere near his free-scoring best again but still managed to emerge unscathed against Oliver Lines.

Allen, meanwhile, began his quest for a maiden title on home soil with a 4-1 victory over Sam Craigie.

It was another busy day of action at the Waterfront Hall as the last 128 reached its conclusion.

The last clash to reach its climax was Neil Robertson’s bout with Mark Joyce, finishing just shy of midnight.

Robertson was still probably recovering from his titanic Champion of Champions triumph over Trump on Sunday because the Australian went down in a shock 4-3 loss to Mark Joyce.

Other upsets had Jack Lisowski suffer a surprise reverse against Soheil Vahedi while World Championship semi-finalist Gary Wilson exited to Chinese youngster Yuan Sijun.

There were comfortable 4-0 triumphs for Kyren Wilson and Ricky Walden, with fellow former ranking event winners Joe Perry and Liang Wenbo advancing too.

Elsewhere, veteran world champions Peter Ebdon and Graeme Dott recorded respective 4-2 successes over Jimmy White and Duane Jones.

Among the others to make it through was Ross Bulman, the amateur teenager from Cork who represents one of the newest “great hopes” for Irish snooker.

There has been a long list of cueists in the last couple of decades who have threatened to emerge from the Emerald Isle and make a name for themselves.

Aside from a brief spell of form from David Morris, none of these players have fully realised their potential and, as such, there is always a degree of expectation when the newest talent comes along.

Bulman has a long way to go in his snooker career but winning his first tie on the professional circuit – against China’s Zhang Jiankang – will get him off to a tidy start.

The action continues on Wednesday with the completion of the last 64.

Live coverage continues on Eurosport and Quest TV.

Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)

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