Reanne Evans made a solid start against the 1997 world champion Ken Doherty yesterday as she attempts to become the first woman to play in the World Championship main draw.
England’s 10-time women’s champion, 29, trailed 5-4 after yesterday’s opening session of the first qualifying round, but had led twice before Doherty, 45, went in front.
Graeme Dott, the 2006 champion, took a 6-3 lead at Sheffield’s Ponds Forge against fellow Scot Mark Owens.
Each of the winners must get through two more qualifying rounds to reach the main tournament, which starts on 18 April.
England’s Peter Ebdon, world champion in 2002, beat China’s Lu Ning 10-6 yesterday and Scot Alan McManus, twice a Crucible semi-finalist, won 10-5 against England’s Michael Wasley.
Meanwhile, Steve Davis admits his own swansong hopes look forlorn.
“If me or Jimmy [White] qualify for the Crucible, it’s arguably as big a win as we’ve ever had. I’ve got a little bit of a desire to do it, but Jimmy would certainly love to get back to the Crucible.”
White, who lost six World Championship finals, last appeared at the tournament in 2006, and has fallen short in qualifying every year since.
While 52-year-old White is in the autumn of his career, for Davis these are the winter years before his match cue is finally laid down.
He turns 58 in August and fell off the main tour 12 months ago. A memoir, Interesting, hit the bookshelves this week.
A tricky qualifying opener against Jamie Cope could end in disappointment, but it would be short-lived. “I can’t build up the intensity that I used to have, but I must admit I’m getting excited about pitting my wits against another generation of players,” Davis said. “Of course, it’ll all end in tears.
“I’m not totally committed but I still have the juices running through me a little bit. I’ve been practising but it’s not a pretty sight. They’re wobbling more in the pockets before saying ‘nope’.
“Whether I get to the TV stages, that’s a long shot. That’s tough. I was still practising hard even when I wasn’t getting to the latter stages of the Crucible, and in the end you have to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve tried, but the price is too much investment of time’.”Reuse content