SNOOKER: Ebdon slow show ends in defeat

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The Independent Online
THE CHORUS of disapproval from a Wembley crowd is normally reserved for a poor performance by England's footballers. But last night the jeers were for the decision to call a premature halt to a snooker match next door at the Wembley Conference Centre.

On the stroke of 6pm, the best-of-11 frames second-round contest between Peter Ebdon and Mark King in the Benson and Hedges Masters was halted, with Ebdon 5-4 in front, because of slow play.

Ebdon described the move as "not the best decision in the world", and both players looked bemused when the referee, Alan Chamberlain, failed to re-rack the balls for a 10th frame. A slow handclap was struck up by the 719 spectators and boos rang out as the duo departed from view.

It is only the third time in the 25-year history of the event that a match has been called off without a result. Ebdon, the world No 8, and King, who is playing at Wembley for the first time, had to wait until the conclusion of the match between Ronnie O'Sullivan and James Wattana late last night before they could resume.

Ebdon had led for most of the afternoon, building leads of 2-0, 4-3 and 5-4 with high breaks of 68 and 65, but when the players came back out, King added to Ebdon's anger when he came from took the last two frames for a 6-5 victory.

King admitted the extra interval saved him. "It suited me because I wasn't playing well," said King who meets the world champion John Higgins for semi-final place. "But it's his own fault. If he hadn't played so slowly and cleaned the white ball every couple of shots then maybe we would have finished on time."

The players waited four hours to resume and it took King only 50 minutes to complete his second successive 6-5 victory after an opening round win over Jimmy White.