JIMMY White is no stranger to heartbreak when it comes to the Betfred World Championship and there was more agony for him in Monday night’s penultimate qualifier against Matt Selt.
The Whirlwind, six times a losing finalist in this tournament, roared into a 7-2 lead after the morning session, a product of some excellent matchplay and being gifted a couple of frames by Selt, who has been much improved generally this season.
But before the evening finale there was an extraordinary public Twitter spat between Selt – suffering with a heavy cold, which bizarrely prompted the exchange - and Legends promoter and White supporter Jason Francis, which probably left each wishing they hadn’t got involved.
Insults and abuse were traded, but the upshot was that a fired-up and focused Selt came out in the evening looking a transformed player and claimed eight of the nine frames played for a famous and gutsy 10-8 win at Ponds Forge. For a player whose temperament has been questioned in the past, it was a sweet success.
White, who was visibly stunned by the sudden reversal of fortune, had been desperate to get to the Crucible for a first time since 2006 - but this defeat which came from nowhere in the classic ‘match of two halves’ was a hammer blow, and it will now be Selt that will play Tom Ford for that privilege.
There was also no fairytale for six-time world champion Steve Davis. The 57-year-old was the only former winner to take up the invitation to take part in the qualifiers.
And he must have wished he had done the same as Dennis Taylor, Joe Johnson and the rest by staying away after a 10-1 mauling at the hands of recent China Open semi-finalist Kurt Maflin.
Ken Doherty and Fergal O’Brien led an Irish charge towards the Crucible.
Former world champion Doherty, 45, beat Lee Walker 10-6 and now stands just one win away from reaching the final stages.
Doherty, who lifted the trophy in 1997 beating Stephen Hendry in the final, has only made it to the iconic venue as a player in three of the past six years.
Also a BBC presenter and pundit, Doherty now faces England’s Mark Davis, who came through against talented tour rookie Oliver Lines 10-7.
The tournament proper starts on Saturday – and world No46 Doherty’s fellow Dubliner O’Brien, the former British Open winner, is also still very much in contention to be there.
World No26 O’Brien, 43, beat the fast-improving Chris Wakelin 10-8 to move into the third and final qualifying round. He now plays Maflin.
For Scotland, Jamie Burnett stands just one win away from the Crucible after beating Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh.
The 39-year-old from Hamilton stood firm and brought his experience and tactical game to bear as he ground out a 10-8 victory.
Burnett will now take on Manchester’s Craig Steadman – but Marcus Campbell could have played his last match as a professional after losing 10-6 to Mark King.
The 42-year-old from Dumbarton has been on tour for 24 seasons – but defeat to King means he will fall off the circuit.
Campbell is most famous for whitewashing Stephen Hendry 9-0 in the UK Championship in 1998, when the seven-time world champion was still in his pomp.
And he also reached the semi-finals of the Wuxi Classic less than three years ago.
However he has paid a heavy price for a disastrous slump in form last season, with the prize money calculated over a rolling two-year period.
Campbell could try to recover his professional status via Q-School in May – but after recent struggles there have also been suggestions he might call it a day.
Photo courtesy of World Snooker