Between the pair, they have lost eight times in the final of the World Snooker Championship.
Jimmy White’s 14-year wait for a return to the Crucible Theatre continues after a 6-1 defeat to Robert Milkins in the world qualifiers on Saturday in Sheffield.
Ali Carter also crashed out following a 6-3 reverse against tour rookie Louis Heathcote, while last year’s semi-finalist Gary Wilson succumbed to a similar defeat against Alexander Ursenbacher.
Hopes for the “Whirlwind” were lifted after he successfully emerged from his opening two preliminary matches, in particular fighting back from 3-1 behind to beat Michael Georgiou 6-4 on Thursday.
But the fairy tale was ended in emphatic fashion as Milkins capitalised on a nervy display to reach the final hurdle.
A key moment occurred in the first frame after the mid-session interval when six-time World Championship finalist White potted the final black to seemingly reduce his deficit from 3-1 to 3-2 – only to see the cue ball go in-off and gift his opponent an even bigger advantage.
For Carter, the world number 18 narrowly missed out on an automatic spot in the tournament but such is the competitiveness of this mini event that he is already packing his bags to return home.
The Masters runner-up took too long to get going and was 4-0 adrift at the mid-session interval.
Three frames on the spin offered him hope of a revival, but 23 year-old Heathcote held on.
💬 “Now I’m here, I feel like I can beat anyone”
23-year-old Louis Heathcote has ended Ali Carter’s astonishing 17-year Crucible record and is now just one match away from reaching snooker’s theatre of dreams!
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) July 25, 2020
Meanwhile, there were several other significant scorelines as the players ranked from 17 to 48 entered the fray in the world qualifiers.
While the players are fighting it out for a place at the Crucible, another major subplot of the event is the scramble for tour survival.
Only the top 64 in the official world rankings, as well as the top four on an additional one-year list who have not already safeguarded their position, are guaranteed to return to the circuit next season.
One player who won’t be back for the 2020/21 campaign, or any other for that matter, is Mike Dunn – the Englishman announcing his immediate retirement upon bowing out in a 6-4 reverse against Martin O’Donnell.
Dunn has been a mainstay on the Main Tour since 1991, predominantly scrapping it out in the lower echelons of the professional game.
The 48 year-old reached the last four of the China Open in 2014 and memorably compiled a 147 break in German Masters qualifying two years earlier – a feat he likes to remind everyone about regularly.
In recent campaigns, Dunn has regularly struggled with injury and having dropped outside the top 64 he has decided to call it a day.
“I really have appreciated all the love and support over the years, so thank you everyone,” the Middlesbrough man said.
“I am now a full-time coach looking forward to working with associations and players around the world.
“If you’re just starting out as a player, stick with it, as being a professional is one hell of a ride.”
Elsewhere, Dublin’s Fergal O’Brien maintained his aspirations of avoiding Q School with a trademark nail-biting victory over Luca Brecel.
The latter had been considered a dark horse to feature strongly this year following his Championship League glory last month behind closed doors.
Yet, despite winning three frames on the bounce to force a decider, it was O’Brien who eked through on the colours.
The Irishman’s tour safety situation is still perilous but as things stand he is in a position to remain on the tour – although it’s likely he’ll need to win his next match too and qualify outright for the main event in Sheffield.
One surprise addition to the upcoming Q School looks like being Michael White after the Welshman’s relegation was basically confirmed at the English Institute of Sport.
A two-time ranking event winner, White has struggled both on and off the baize in recent years, and a 6-4 loss to Noppon Saengkham means he’ll be back at the EIS next week in an attempt to regain his card unless a specific set of results allows him to sneak inside the top 4 on the one-year list.
Alfie Burden, like White a former world amateur champion, is also set to be at Q School after losing 6-2 to Liang Wenbo – albeit the Londoner has hinted at a possible retirement in recent weeks as well.
Among the others to reach the final round in the world qualifiers were Alan McManus, Anthony Hamilton, Eden Sharav, Elliot Slessor, and Matthew Selt.
The latter ended the impressive run of amateur Allan Taylor, while Kurt Maflin and Ashley Carty advanced late on Saturday too.
On Sunday, the penultimate stage will reach its climax with Joe Perry, Ryan Day, Matthew Stevens, and Ken Doherty in action.
Live coverage of the world qualifiers continues on Eurosport.
Click here to view the draw (Times: CET)
Featured photo credit: WST