“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” – so wrote William Shakespeare in Henry IV, part two.
Wearing the crown at the Crucible is Neil Robertson, who starts the defence of his Betfred.com World Championship title against Judd Trump this morning.
Steve Davis, a kind of bard of the baize, summed up the pressure of being defending champion thus: “The first shock hasn’t happened yet. It could be you.”
Robertson has coped very well under pressure throughout his career, not least at the Crucible last year.
But he knows – because everyone has told him, many times – that no first time champion has made a successful title defence.
He also knows that Trump is in the form of his life, having just won the China Open.
Trump is not only full of confidence but also now knows how to win: by playing an all round game which mixes his fierce attacking skills with some astute tactical play. Robertson learned the same game and has used it to deadly effect himself in recent years.
Let’s hope the match is a cracker to launch what seems sure to be a great World Championship.
There’s been so much snooker played this season that many players are going to Sheffield in superb form and, unless for some reason the conditions are bad, the standard should be extremely high.
Also in action this morning is Andrew Pagett, one of two debutants, who plays Jamie Cope. How will he take to the Crucible surroundings? Will he freeze completely or just enjoy himself?
I think Ali Carter could go a long way in this tournament but he needs to retain his patience against the obdurate Dave Harold, a seasoned campaigner who can make life very difficult. They play their opening session this afternoon.
Shaun Murphy, one of the favourites this year, meets Marcus Campbell in their first session tonight.
Another favourite, Mark Williams, faces his fellow Welshman Ryan Day. They may be rivals on the table but are good friends off it and last week took their respective families on a caravan holiday in Porthcawl, North Wales.
So three really interesting sessions ahead of us and 17 days of twists and turns, joy and despair, elation and meltdowns to come before we discover who will be crowned 2011 world champion.
It’s been a fascinating season full of innovation - a new ranking event will be announced today - but there’s nothing like the long matches at the claustrophobic Crucible. For snooker fans this is the highlight of the year.
There’s been so much build up, excitement and anticipation around this year’s World Championship.
Now, in the words not of Shakespeare but MC Rob Walker, let’s finally get the boys on the baize...