Judd Trump dodged the so-called “Crucible Curse” to move on to the second round of the World Billiards Championship as the tournament was preparing to return to full block mode.
Those fans who saw the defending champion turn a 5-4 deficit in the first session into a 10-8 victory over qualifier Tom Ford will likely be the last this season after the government has ruled that the event must go. doors closed from Saturday onwards.
They saw Ford take the lead 3-0 and 5-2 before Trump came back to seal a win which, although largely unconvincing, pushed him one step closer to becoming the first winner for the first time. keep the title in the Crucible Age.
“I started really badly because you never want to be 3-0 behind, and from then on it will always be a tough battle,” Trump told Eurosport.
“It was different from how I played all season, but I was never a Crucible starter, I always had to jump over the first round and it always took me some time to get used to the surrounding environment.
“I’d like to say it looked the same as last year, but it’s a little creepy around Sheffield, it’s usually something special but it’s a little quieter, you can only feel that something is not right.
“But to be able to get in with my family and brother, I managed to get them all on the same day, and I enjoyed experimenting with all the crowds who could do it, and for me that makes the experience special.”
In the meantime, off the table, the tournament officials had been ordered to track down their carefully organized pilot program which had allowed a controlled number of socially spaced spectators on the opening day.
World Snooker President Barry Hearn launched a defiant note stating that there was still a chance that spectators would be admitted to the final, which is expected to begin on August 15th.
Hearn told Eurosport: “There is an external possibility, perhaps a little lean, which perhaps could be relaxed for the final. But it is I who hope.
“It came out of nowhere and we have to adapt. We always have a plan A and a plan B in mind and plan B is behind closed doors.
“We know this is a difficult decision for the whole country, not just for a sporting event, even if it is one of the largest in the world. We have to do the right thing and we have done the right thing. “
The decision to remove fans came after qualifier Anthony Hamilton withdrew from the event saying that he feared for his health as a chronic asthmatic, leading to criticism from Hearn and others that he had prevented someone else from playing.
Hearn indicated that Hamilton, who was scheduled to start his first round game against Kyren Wilson in front of a crowd on Friday afternoon, would not be invited to the tournament again.
Those fans who hold what Hearn described as “gold tickets” for Friday’s comedy almost witnessed a spectacular start when Ford sank 13 reds and 12 blacks into the opening frame before losing a black with a high apparently at the mercy of him.
The near-tie doesn’t seem to have influenced the world’s 26th who punished Trump’s mistakes for taking the lead 3-0.
A gaping red from Ford helped Trump move within a frame of victory, and although Ford rallied with a 69 break to make it 9-8, Trump maintained his courage to cross the line. .
On the other table, veteran Alan McManus set a 5-4 lead overnight over three-time former champion Mark Williams.
In other games ending Saturday, former world champion Stuart Bingham has established a 5-4 lead over rookie Ashley Carty, while Ding Junhui leads veteran Mark King with the same score.