Snooker: White a brighter shade than pale: Potter in the pink as early night pays off in World Championship

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Early nights, if he thinks about them at all, probably mean mounted men on the way to the Crusades as far as Jimmy White is concerned.

So it came as a surprise when he announced he had gone back to his hotel at a civilised hour on Sunday evening brooding about his surrendering of a 6-2 lead against Neal Foulds. At 8-8, he reasoned, it was a game either player could win. Something drastic was required: hence the rest.

It worked, too. White came out like a man refreshed yesterday for what was effectively a best-of-nine frames match and clinched a quarter-final match against Ken Doherty in the Embassy World Championship with a 13-10 victory.

He announced his intent with breaks of 83, 66 and 87 in the first five frames of the day, four of which he won, and by the end he had fully re-established himself as a potential champion. 'I felt he would pot a ball every time he went to the table,' Foulds said.

White was equally upbeat. 'I'm playing some good snooker,' he said. 'It was a good test for me at a good time. It went closer to the wire than it should have done because of my own stupidity.'

The 'stupidity' on this occasion related to snooker. A scrupulously honest player, he called his own foul when he inadvertently touched the pink at 12-9 and allowed Foulds a glimmer of a chance.

The Londoner, whose provisional ranking of 28 underlines his slump from the world No 3 position, took that frame 78-53 and he had another chance in the next. He missed the blue, however, and allowed White to cross the finishing line.

'Anyone who thinks Jimmy can't win this tournament is mad,' Foulds said. 'I know he's been in the final five times and not crossed the barrier but he is playing well enough to do it.'

So would this herald a new fastidious regime for White, who last won a ranking tournament 18 months ago? 'No,' he smiled. 'I went to bed early the previous night too and it didn't do me much good.' What about the pre-session odds that placed him as fifth favourite for the title? 'The bookmakers rarely get things wrong.'

The odds were not in James Wattana's favour either when he began the day 6-2 down to Brian Morgan in their second- round match. The fifth seed earned a match with Steve Davis, however, allowing his opponent only three frames yesterday to win 13-9.

The turning point was yesterday's first frame when Morgan appeared to be about to establish a 7-2 lead. The pink went into the pocket but somehow rebounded upwards instead of down and bounced off the table. Wattana, given this reprieve, then stole the frame 71-49 and launched his recovery.


Sporting Digest, page 35

(Photograph omitted)