The first day of the Betfred.com World Championship must be the best opening there has ever been to this great tournament.
There was Stephen Hendry’s superlative session, highlighted by his maximum, Neil Roberton’s three successive centuries, seeds Martin Gould and Mark Allen left trailing and then last night a genuine Crucible thriller.
John Higgins, who has struggled all season to replicate the game which brought him a fourth world title last year, scraped through 10-9 against Liang Wenbo.
I don’t know how snooker players find the nerve to make clearances like the one Higgins eventually completed to finally win but it ensured he did not become the eighth Crucible champion to fall at the first fence.
It is likely he will now face his fellow Scot Hendry for the first time in the World Championship.
Today, Luca Brecel makes history as the first Belgian to play at the Crucible and, having turned 17 last month, the youngest player to do so.
Belgian journalists have packed into the pressroom to follow his progress. Indeed, the teenager was front page news back home after qualifying. Hendry telephoned him to congratulate him on taking his record.
Amid the swirl of emotions going through his mind today, Brecel may find it hard to concentrate on actually playing. Stephen Maguire is a tough-as-old-boots opponent.
But Brecel seems level headed and has already beaten four experienced opponents to qualify. A fascinating session awaits.
Cao Yupeng certainly took to life at the Crucible impressively, although his 5-2 lead over Allen was trimmed to 5-4.
Dave Gilbert was good value for his 6-3 lead over Gould, whose residency in the elite top 16 seems to have affected his thinking.
In an interview for Eurosport, Gould revealed that at one point this season he started packing a case for the qualifiers before remembering he was in the top 16.
Being a seeded player brings its own pressure. You are there to be shot at.
However, Gould potted an extraordinary last red to win the final frame yesterday and a comeback certainly can’t be ruled out.