JUDD TRUMP’s post-midnight defeat to Jamie Burnett completed a Black Tuesday for the seeds as he followed Neil Robertson, Barry Hawkins, Shaun Murphy and Joe Perry in making a last 32 exit at the International Championship in Chengdu.

Trump had produced two very good breaks to recover from 4-2 down and lead Jamie Burnett 5-4 but the Scot completed an excellent pressure clearance of 56 to force the decider. Not surprisingly, the last frame developed into a thriller. Trump seemed to have the momentum but unexpectedly miscued, jumping the cue ball off the table when nicely in.

Burnett got back into the frame until Trump was left requiring a snooker on the yellow. He got it but Burnett later potted the yellow and, after much more playing on for snookers, clawed his way across the winning line.

In fact, Trump played pretty well. His long potting was sound and he made some good breaks, but he failed to impose himself on the match.

The truth is, much of the fear factor of playing top players has gone because there are so many events and so many opportunities to play – and beat – them on a regular basis. The gap has narrowed, even though tournaments are invariably still won by one of a circle of ten or so players.

Robert Milkins did for Murphy 6-1, not a huge shock in terms of Milkins winning but certainly a surprise scoreline given Murphy’s terrific recent form.

Perry was beaten 6-1 by Peter Ebdon, who seems to be enjoying one of his periodical good weeks, and Hawkins lost 6-2 to Mark Williams, again a minor upset but another top 16 seed nevertheless dumped out.

The real surprise was the manner in which Neil Robertson exited. The Australian started the season superbly but hasn’t really got going again since the summer break in July.

He was in charge against Joe Swail but got dragged into the mire, his fluency went and Swail, one of the best battlers the game has ever seen, pulled off another hard fought win.

Robertson is an excellent match player with sound tactical awareness but his great strength lies in potting and break-building, and there was precious little of either towards the end.

Ronnie O’Sullivan avoided the carnage with a superb all round display against Anthony McGill. In every department O’Sullivan was strong: long potting, break-building [he made three centuries], safety, patience and general attitude.

He has to be favourite now to land the £125,000 first prize on Sunday, particularly with so many of his rivals already heading home licking their wounds.


Photographs by Monique Limbos.