Snooker: Taylor cut out to be the marathon man: Griffiths ground down in Crucible

ON the basis that if you do something long enough you will eventually become good at it, the Dennis Taylor versus Terry Griffiths match in the Embassy World Championship took on a grisly fascination. No one had anticipated a quick contest when they were paired together in the second round; few had expected it would drag on to nearly 2am yesterday.

Taylor won it 13-11 to avenge his defeat in the 1979 final, but it took a long, long time. More than 13 hours in fact, and that was just the aeons they spent on the table. If intervals and the time spent re-racking the balls was taken into account the true statistic was nearer 16 hours.

Almost inevitably given the gridlock, the decisive blow in Taylor's favour was a fluke, a blue ball into the middle after it had rattled in the jaws of an end pocket. That final frame had lasted more than 40 minutes, although the most life-stalling one, the sixth, had been a 51min 47sec act thick with safety play and caution. Time did not stand still but there was only the barest sense of movement.

Griffiths was one of the leads in the latest finish in The Crucible's history, a little matter with Cliff Thorburn that stretched out to 3:51am. And, as if to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that epic, it was the Welshman's fightback that dragged his latest match into the early hours.

At 10-4, Taylor looked likely to be a decisive if slow winner, but Griffiths chipped away at this advantage, taking 20 points here and there until the accumulated pile became 8-10 and then 11-12. By the end a bore had become a tense, interesting contest.

Taylor will now meet either Jimmy White or Doug Mountjoy although the likelihood of the latter is remote. White, whose rapid potting could not have contrasted more with what had preceded him, leads 11-5 after extending his overnight 5-3 advantage and needs only two frames this afternoon to reach the quarter-finals.

Steve Davis, six times the champion, is in a more precarious position. He trails Alan McManus 9-7 after the Scot took five of last night's eight frames. Davis's task could have been even more strenuous had he not taken the final two frames 86-13, 69-3. The match resumes this morning.

Scores, Sporting Digest, page 29