Mark Allen negotiated a tricky opening fixture as the 2023 British Open got under way on Monday in Cheltenham.
The Northern Irishman, who was runner-up to Ryan Day in the ranking event a year ago, compiled breaks of 94, 81, and 57 to beat Anthony McGill at The Centaur.
Following Ronnie O’Sullivan’s withdrawal and Luca Brecel’s defeat on day one, Allen has an outside shot at becoming the world number one for the first time.
The Pistol needs to capture the title and the £100,000 top prize in order to usurp his two rivals into top spot on the official list.
However, it doesn’t get much easier for Allen, who has been paired with Kyren Wilson in the random draw for the second round.
A run to the last 32 this week could have been enough for world champion Brecel to leapfrog O’Sullivan into first place in the world rankings.
But the Belgian Bullet was way out of sorts for much of his contest with Ding Junhui – the Chinese number one eventually prevailing in a scrappy encounter that lasted the distance.
Elsewhere, the other heavy hitters from the top 16 who had their first-round matches held over to the venue stages all advanced.
Local favourite Jack Lisowski was taken all the way to a seventh frame in a high-scoring battle with Joe O’Connor.
The 32 year-old countered his opponent’s breaks of 105, 65, and 64 with contributions of 133, 102, 77, and 69 of his own.
Pre-tournament favourite Judd Trump survived a scare, fighting back from 2-0 down to deny Ukraine’s Anton Kazakov what would have been a famous victory.
Last year’s winner Day enjoyed a much more straightforward route through to the last 64, making a hat-trick of half-century breaks in whitewashing Sean O’Sullivan.
Shaun Murphy and Barry Hawkins, who have emerged triumphantly in the first two ranking events of the 2023/24 snooker season, also recorded routine successes.
Among the other high-profile contenders to advance were Mark Selby, Neil Robertson, Mark Williams, and John Higgins.
There were wins as well for Robert Milkins, Gary Wilson, and Jimmy Robertson – the latter taking advantage of Ronnie O’Sullivan’s withdrawal with a 4-0 defeat of replacement Steven Hallworth.
On Tuesday, the round of 64 commences with a lot of the same names back in action.
2023 British Open draw
(held over fixtures)
Robert Milkins 4-2 Jiang Jun
Judd Trump 4-2 Anton Kazakov
Ali Carter 4-3 Allan Taylor
Luca Brecel 3-4 Ding Junhui
Gary Wilson 4-1 Ahmed Aly Elsayed
Neil Robertson 4-1 Jamie Clarke
Mark Allen 4-1 Anthony McGill
Mark Williams 4-1 Peng Yisong
Mark Selby 4-2 Ben Woollaston
Ryan Day 4-0 Sean O’Sullivan
Kyren Wilson 4-1 Martin O’Donnell
Steven Hallworth 0-4 Jimmy Robertson
Shaun Murphy 4-1 Rebecca Kenna
Jack Lisowski 4-3 Joe O’Connor
John Higgins 4-1 Long Zehuang
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Stan Moody
Xu Si 4-0 Ali Carter
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh 1-4 Oliver Lines
Ma Hailong 4-0 Mohamed Ibrahim
Yuan Sijun 4-0 Ben Mertens
Judd Trump 3-4 Hammad Miah
Oliver Brown 2-4 Hossein Vafaei
Lyu Haotian 3-4 David Gilbert
Noppon Saengkham 2-4 Fergal O’Brien
Si Jiahui 4-1 Neil Robertson
Stephen Maguire 2-4 Mark Williams
Scott Donaldson 4-0 Liam Graham
Jamie Jones 0-4 Julien Leclercq
Robert Milkins 1-4 Barry Hawkins
Ken Doherty 3-4 Matthew Stevens
Jimmy Robertson 4-3 Wu Yize
Andy Hicks 2-4 Graeme Dott
Jack Lisowski 4-3 Shaun Murphy
Gary Wilson 4-3 Chris Wakelin
Anthony Hamilton 0-4 Xiao Guodong
Rod Lawler 4-1 Dominic Dale
Ryan Day 4-1 Thor Chuan Leong
Ding Junhui 4-3 Liu Hongyu
Fan Zhengyi 4-1 Ross Muir
He Guoqiang 4-1 Muhammad Asif
John Higgins 1-4 Robbie Williams
Mark Selby 4-2 Tian Pengfei
Daniel Wells 2-4 Ashley Carty
Matthew Selt 4-1 Zak Surety
Mark Allen 0-4 Kyren Wilson
Stuart Bingham 2-4 Ishpreet Singh
Tom Ford 4-3 Ashley Hugill
David Grace 3-4 Sanderson Lam
Matthew Stevens 3-4 Fergal O’Brien
Yuan Sijun 2-4 Hossein Vafaei
Mark Williams 4-2 Gary Wilson
Hammad Miah 3-4 Ma Hailong
Graeme Dott 4-0 Ashley Carty
Ali Carter 4-2 Ryan Day
Julien Leclercq 0-4 Ding Junhui
Oliver Lines 1-4 He Guoqiang
Scott Donaldson 4-1 Robbie Williams
David Gilbert 4-1 Ishpreet Singh
Xiao Guodong 4-1 Sanderson Lam
Barry Hawkins 4-1 Kyren Wilson
Si Jiahui 1-4 Mark Selby
Jimmy Robertson 0-4 Tom Ford
Rod Lawler 2-4 Fan Zhengyi
Jack Lisowski 4-2 Matthew Selt
Ding Junhui 2-4 Mark Williams
Graeme Dott 2-4 Hossein Vafaei
Ali Carter 2-4 Xiao Guodong
Tom Ford 4-1 Scott Donaldson
Barry Hawkins 3-4 He Guoqiang
Fan Zhengyi 4-1 Ma Hailong
David Gilbert 3-4 Mark Selby
Jack Lisowski 4-2 Fergal O’Brien
Mark Williams 5-1 Fan Zhengyi
Hossein Vafaei 5-2 He Guoqiang
Tom Ford 3-5 Xiao Guodong
Mark Selby 5-4 Jack Lisowski
Mark Williams 6-3 Hossein Vafaei
Xiao Guodong 0-6 Mark Selby
Mark Williams 10-7 Mark Selby
Featured photo credit: WST