Welcome to the somewhat unusual occasion here on Telegraph Sport of us live blogging the qualifying rounds of the World Snooker Championship. Why the interest? Well, it’s only ruddy Stephen Hendry playing Jimmy White. They have, of course, won this tournament seven times between them… and as we all know Stephen has all seven. But what finals they served up, what heartbreak for Jimmy fans, in the 1990s. Four times they met, and four times Hendry won – some of the most exquisite torture and sporting drama we have seen in our lifetimes.
I remember them all very well, 1994 being the absolute peak, when Stephen won 18-17 and your heart just broke for Jimmy. I never cared much for Hendry at the time, but he seems like a pretty good guy all things considered (for a Hearts fan). I find something admirable and inspiring about both of them still playing at their ages: Hendry is 52 and Jimmy is 58, for goodness sake, and given how much he has packed into those 58 years, he might as well be a hundred and fifty eight.
They compete tonight in round one of the qualifying tournament, it is best of 11. There are 144 people competing in the round; winners go through obviously to round two, in which 112 compete.
In round two, those 32 winners will face players seeded 49-80.
In round three, those 32 winners will face players seeded 17-48.
In round four, those 32 winners play each other, with the 16 winners going through to the Crucible.
Should be a great trip down memory lane, I’m not too sure in all honesty what the standard will be like. I did a press thing with Jimmy and Ronnie O’Sullivan a year or two ago and Jimmy was still hitting them lovely, so who knows.
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