Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Jimmy White to snooker suspicious minds
• O'Sullivan does White no favours with 3-1 World Open win
• 'No credence should be attached to unsubstantiated rumour'
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 23 September 2010 16.23 BST
Photograph: Steven Paston/Action Images
Ronnie O'Sullivan defeated Jimmy White to set up a last-16 match against Stephen Hendry at the World Open in Glasgow.
Ronnie O'Sullivan's 3-1 win over Jimmy White to reach the last 16 of the World Open in Glasgow exposed the falsity and perhaps malice of a rumour of uncertain origin, circulated by email, that O'Sullivan would lose on purpose because he owed White a favour.
Neither O'Sullivan, in an 18-year professional career, nor White, in one of 30, has ever had a whiff of suspicion attached to them for such a malpractice.
David Douglas, the high‑ranking former Scotland Yard policeman who has special responsibility, as a member of the World Professional Billiard and Snooker Association board, for the integrity of the circuit's matches and disciplinary matters generally, was made aware of the situation just as the match started and afterwards commented: "This was an unsubstantiated rumour to which no credence should be attached" – a judgment of course emphasised by the result.
White, 48, now languishes at 66th in the rankings and rarely qualifies for the televised phase of tournaments. Slow to settle on that account, he was quickly 2-0 down but began to look more like the player who reached six world finals in his prime by stitching together a frame‑winning 88 in the third.
It could easily have been 2-2 if White, in with 56 and beginning to fancy his chance, had not missed a tricky red to a middle pocket. As it was, O'Sullivan rose unperturbed from his chair to make the nerveless 80 clearance which put him through to play Stephen Hendry tomorrow for a place in the last eight.
It was a match that illustrated how fine is the line between winning and losing in a mere best-of-five contest. The players are enjoying the event and the crowds have found it entertaining but the consensus is that it carries too many ranking points, particularly in the light of its random draw with no seeding, in comparison with others that start at the best of nine.
Whatever the distance, though, a crisis point usually arrives at which leading players make their class, composure and self-belief tell – as O'Sullivan did.
Afterwards he took the opportunity to emphasise that his reluctance to pot the last black of his 147 break on Monday in protest against the absence of a bonus prize for a maximum was only in the spirit of playful provocation.
"I'm a bit of a showman and I like to be given a bit of stick sometimes because I need reasons to play," he said of some of the criticisms which come his way. "I don't care about money. I live on a shoestring. I'm a bit of a hermit. I like to wind people up sometimes."
Even so, among the players, there seems to be a consensus in favour of a bonus of some sort for a 147, even if it is not of the order of the £20,000 they could expect in previous seasons. A prize for the most maximums in a season has been mooted.
I wonder if other top players are the targets of such libellous spams also. Disgusting.
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