Snooker: Hairy White cut short

At the 21st anniversary of the Benson and Hedges Masters, the first of the semi-finals flashed by like an express train. John Higgins of Scotland became the first wild card player in the tournament to reach the final, beating Jimmy White six frames to one. Blink and you would have missed it, although you probably would not have regretted that. It was one of White's most dismal performances in what has of late become a string of them.

The game promised more than it gave; fireworks versus solidity, raffish elder statesman versus squeaky clean youth. Higgins, fresh-faced, snub- nosed and 19 years old is the lad from near Motherwell who has made such progress up the rankings that he has almost stopped being mistaken for his namesake, the increasingly loose cannon Alex.

He had reached the semis with efficient wins over Darren Morgan and Alan McManus, while White, perhaps surprisingly, found himself there after beating James Wattana 5-3 in a rather humdrum encounter on Friday. This has been the first tournament since the start of the year that White has managed to string two wins together.

Nethertheless, White is a changed man, at least from the eyelids up. Most of his face still looks like a hotel room before the chambermaid has been in, but above the eyes a remarkable revolution has taken place. The bald patch which White-watchers have seen grow from the size of a sixpence in 1990 to the proportions of a beer mat in 1994 has gone. Thanks to an excruciating-sounding hairlifting operation, White now has the forehead of a 20-year-old and locks of which Joan Collins would be proud, although at the price of several jokes, such as that he could have avoided the hazards of a general anaesthetic and simply put himself under by watching re-runs of old Eddie Charlton games instead.

White's drastic beauty treatment is unlikely to start a trend. These days, many of snooker's biggest names are so young they barely look in need of a shave, let alone a hairlift, and Willie Thorne, the sport's most famous baldie, has been judged too far gone for treatment, their being nothing left to lift except his eyebrows.

More and more, White's personal battle between brilliance and inconsistency has been ending with the latter quality dominant. In yesterday's semi- final, he barely got the chance to show either. Higgins' display was stolid rather than inspiring, but in each of the first three frames he got his foot in the door early, and pushed it open with leads of 38, 48, and 69 which in all cases were enough to crush his opponent against the wall.

White sent out for a half of lager, and when he made a 44 break in the fourth frame to lead 63-17 with 41 on the table it looked as though belatedly he might have got into his stride. White went on to take the frame but then the mid-session break intervened, and after that Higgins' inexorable progress re-started and he quickly led 5-1. At four down with five frames left to play, White never looked a decent bet to get out of trouble and his rumpled face said it all, from the eyebrows down, of course.

Afterwards, Higgins was unassuming about winning his crack at the £120,000 first prize. "Jimmy played terrible and I just about played okay," he said, going on to reflect on the new breed of players that he believes are coming through - "some of the top players right now are struggling and I'm getting stronger." White, meanwhile, was philosophical. "I just didn't play a good safety in the first three frames," he said, "and that put me under a lot of pressure. I didn't compete and that's disappointing. John's got a very solid all-round game and he's very difficult to beat." White can say that again, and indeed will probably find himself doing so in the coming months.

Sport
formula oneLive lap-by-lap coverage of championship decider
News
Boxing promoter Kellie Maloney, formerly known as Frank Maloney, entered the 2014 Celebrity Big Brother house
people
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
News
peopleFormer civil rights activist who was jailed for smoking crack cocaine has died aged 78
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin