Hendry beats colour blindness: Snooker

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Stephen Hendry achieved the narrowest possible victory at the British Open in Plymouth yesterday before disappearing "to practice and read the rule book."

Hendry scraped past Paul McPhillips into the quarter- finals after a 5-4 win over his fellow countryman in a game in which the scoreline did not reflect how tight the match actually was. In the end, it required a nerveless clearance from green to black to send the world champion through to the last eight of the competition.

"Only Stephen Hendry could produce a clearance like that," McPhillips said after his hopes of a top 64 place vanished. "Any other player and you would have fancied them to miss at least once. I don't know how many times he wins last-frame deciders, but he seems to make a habit of it."

Earlier, Hendry had been only one ball from defeat with McPhillips attempting to compile his own game-winning clearance. The world No 65 from Glasgow tried to double the final green leading 43-22, but it rapped the knuckle of a middle pocket.

"I had to go for it because you don't get too many opportunities in the last frame against Hendry. Both of us were a bit edgy at the end but I really fancied winning."

McPhillips had taken the 28-year-old Scot by surprise in establishing a 2-0 lead and even though a somewhat lacklustre Hendry won four in a row, the left-handed McPhillips refused to submit.

The 26-year-old, a first-round winner over James Wattana, rolled in his second century of the competition to pull back a frame and then knocked in 65 to put himself in the driving seat in the eighth.

Then two moments of misjudgement showed just how much pressure both players were under. McPhillips attempted to roll up to the brown from three inches away to snooker his opponent.

Inexplicably, the cue ball failed to make contact leaving Hendry back in command. He nominated the green as a free ball and duly knocked it in to a top pocket. With only the colours remaining, Hendry should have taken the yellow. Instead he potted the green again and McPhillips made the most of his break.

"I totally lost the plot," Hendry said later. "I don't ever remember doing that before. It shows you just how badly I was concentrating.

"I would have gone for the double myself and Paul can probably count himself a little unlucky because he outplayed me for large pieces of the match. One shot and I was out. But I was delighted with that last clearance because none of the balls were easy."

Earlier, Michael Judge of Dublin reached his first ranking tournament quarter-final. The 21-year-old Irishman defeated Dominic Dale of Wales 5-3.

"After losing 10-9 in the World Championship qualifiers last week I refused to get downhearted," Judge said. "I decided to take the good points out of the game and not the bad and I always thought I could do well here."