Stephen Maguire benefitted from a huge slice of good fortune with a fluke at a vital moment as he beat Tian Pengfei 10-9 in the first round of the Betfred World Championship.
Maguire looked certain to lose 10-7 deep in the 17th frame when he needed a snooker on the colours. But he got the snooker on the blue, then went for a risky pot to a baulk corner. He missed his target by several inches, but the blue hit the cue ball again and deflected into the other baulk pocket. He added pink and black to snatch the frame then, almost inevitably, recovered to win 10-9. It was a cruel way to lose for China’s Tian who was making his Crucible debut.
Glasgow’s Maguire had lost in the first round eight times in his previous 15 visits to Sheffield, but this time he’s through to the last 16 to face Ronnie O’Sullivan or James Cahill.
Tian led 5-4 after the first session and won the opening frame tonight. World number 15 Maguire responded with a break of 131, but his opponent won a scrappy 12th frame then made a 104 in the 13th to lead 8-5 at the interval. Runs of 44 and 105 helped Maguire get back to 8-7 before Tian took the next with a 57.
After the drama of the 17th frame which made the score 9-8, Maguire made a 75 to force the decider. World number 81 Tian had first chance and made 42 before running out of position. Maguire replied with 51, then got the better of a safety exchange on the last red before clearing to the brown which proved enough.
“I was very lucky, I fluked a crazy blue,” said 38-year-old Maguire, who reached the semi-finals here in 2007 and 2012. “Before that when I potted the brown I thought I had gone in-off and I took a step towards Tian to shake hands. But the white stayed out and I got the snooker. Then the fluke was outrageous.
“I have been on the receiving end and I know that it’s the worst feeling in the world, when you know you should have already won. So at 9-8 I felt I was going to win. I just can’t believe I am still in the tournament.
“If I play Ronnie in the next round it would be a special occasion because he has an aura about him that no one else has. He is better than he has ever been because he doesn’t let anything upset him. He’s the best ever so I would have to play unbelievable stuff.”