All through the 1990s the perennial question asked every year before the World Championship was ‘can Jimmy White win it?’
For the last couple it has been ‘can he qualify?’
This year it’s ‘can he stay on the tour?’
That’s the stark scenario facing the popular Londoner, who reached six Crucible finals between 1984 and 1994.
White goes into the Betfred.com qualifiers this week placed a precarious 60th in the provisional rankings.
He may well have to win his first match to remain in the top 64. If he slips out he will be relegated from the professional circuit after 30 years.
The WPBSA do have at least one wildcard at their discretion. I would find it incredible if this didn’t go to White so that he could continue his career but he could not rely on it indefinitely.
And with the qualifying structure likely to change he might not be able to.
If White gets through a round he ought to be safe. If he loses, his fate with rest in the hands of the players below him on the list.
Either way, it’s a parlous state of affairs for a former world no.2 who, despite the vagaries of form, has never lost his love for the game.
Jimmy’s had some disappointing setbacks this season, losing 5-4 on a re-spotted black from 4-0 up to Ian McCulloch in the Welsh Open qualifiers and then 5-4 to Xiao Guodong in the China Open.
But it was his withdrawal from the UK Championship qualifiers to go on I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here which has proved most costly.
Nobody goes on forever but White’s vast army of supporters will hope their man can go on a little longer.
Regardless of his current fortunes, he’ll still attract plenty of support both at the qualifiers and from those glued to live scoring.