Another tournament, another incredibly dramatic final and, ultimately, another disappointment for Mark Williams.
Having lost 10-9 from 9-5 up to John Higgins in last season’s UK Championship final and 9-8 from 8-5 ahead to Stuart Bingham in the Australian Open final two months ago, Williams was beaten 10-9 having led Mark Selby 9-7 in the Shanghai Masters.
But those bald facts do not do justice to a tension-filled finale to the tournament, which ground on until 12.45am.
There were twists and turns right through the final but it turned on a bizarre incident in the 17th frame.
Williams looked set to win at this point. He was the more relaxed of the two and held a 47-5 lead and snookered Selby tight behind the brown, with the reds everywhere.
Selby, not knowing how to get the cue ball safe, played a hit and hope but it wasn’t immediately clear whether he had hit a red first or the pink.
Eirian Williams, the referee, thought red. Williams thought pink which Selby, in his sporting way, accepted, as did the referee.
But Williams [Eirian, that is] wanted to check the replay. This went on for several minutes as it was unclear to the naked eye which ball was contacted first. The referee, rightly in my opinion, insisted it was the red.
So Williams came back to the table and there was only a half chance waiting - Selby having been very lucky with his escape - which he missed.
Selby eventually won this frame and the whole psychology of the match swung in his favour, with Williams not quite the same again.
The Welshman still had chances to win, missing a green off its spot in the 18th frame after fluking a snooker from out of a snooker on the last red. It may have been a bad contact on the green, but by now it looked as if Williams was simply fated not to win.
In the decider, snookered while trailing 32-0, he took a wild swipe at the cue ball, a sign of his frustration and that even the most ‘laidback’ of characters feel pressure and disappointment.
He didn’t even let Selby finish his winning break, but snooker is a game that takes a heavy mental toll.
So a tough old match and ultimately a great victory for Selby, who once again went right to the brink.
It is only his second ranking title but everyone knows how good he is. It was surely inevitable that he would win another eventually.
As for Williams, the three close defeats are strange. This is a twice world champion and someone who once edged Stephen Hendry on a re-spotted black in a decider in the Masters.
His temperament is usually strong but snooker is an unforgiving sort of game, a curious mix of high skill and luck, where the unexpected can play its part in affecting a player’s thinking.
And it is this, particularly over a longer match where there is time for shifts in the psychological balance of power, that makes it such a fascinating, and often infuriating, sport to play and watch.