A very interesting and entertaining day’s snooker left us with several well known faces through to the last 16 of PTC9 in Antwerp.
The Michael Holt-Shaun Murphy was typical of why I enjoy watching snooker. The standard wasn’t world beating throughout, but this is the point: it was dramatic and the unexpected was what sustained the interest.
You can admire sport when it is a continued stream of excellence, but when mistakes creep in and a bit of twitching too, snooker comes into its own.
I enjoy watching a century break as much as anyone, but give me a good old scrap on the colours as well.
While you’re there, give me flukes and miscues and misses and self-inflicted trouble. Sport is not science, it’s chaos, just like life. It’s a test of skill but also psychology. Snooker comes into its own when the doubts and difficulties increase.
But back to excellence. Ronnie O’Sullivan played a starring role as he lost only one frame in 13 played to coast into the last 16.
At times he was simply brilliant and he did what TV sport is supposed to do: he entertained.
But the test for O’Sullivan, as for any snooker player, will come when he is properly put under pressure.
This was a test that Graeme Dott once again passed yesterday, winning all three of his matches in deciding frame finishes, including from 3-0 down to Liang Wenbo.
Dott is one of the best pressure players in snooker. Many wilt when it really matters but the Glaswegian seems to grow stronger, and this has been one of the keys to his success.
Neil Robertson also demonstrated his guts and determination by recovering from 3-1 down to beat Kurt Maflin 4-3 in the last 32.
Some younger players made it: Michael White, who is having an encouraging season, Davey Morris and Jack Lisowski.
Stephen Lee and Alan McManus, two vastly experienced campaigners, completed the line-up from the top half of the draw.
Today, the likes of Mark Selby, John Higgins, Ali Carter, Judd Trump and Mark Williams enter the fray.
The two leading locals, Luca Brecel and Bjorn Haneveer, will also be centre stage, Haneveer against Jimmy White.
There were large, enthusiastic crowds in Belgium from early on yesterday and I’m sure this will continue through to the conclusion of the tournament tomorrow night.
Players have justifiable concerns about the PTC series regarding the financial drain on their resources, but for snooker fans these events have been a breath of fresh air.
And if they do grow into bigger tournaments for bigger money then they will have been well worth it.