BANGKOK // The six-times World Championship runner-up Jimmy White is proving to his huge army of fans at the inaugural SangSom 6-red Snooker International being held at the Montiem Riverside Hotel that the time hasn't come just yet to write him off. White, the people's champion worldwide and known as the Whirlwind, was in fine form as he edged out top seed Mark Selby 5-4 in their Group A encounter yesterday.
While it is still too early to say if White, a qualifier for the first time for all of next season's Main Tour ranking events, will reach the knockout stages, Supoj Saenla, of Thailand, and Saleh Mohammed, of Pakistan, have virtually secured their places in the last 32 round tomorrow to ensure themselves a minimum cheque of 17,500 baht (Dh1,900) each. The unpredictability of the whirlwind format showed up when White, ranked No65 in the world, suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Greg Kopec, late on Tuesday, an amazing result considering the Frenchman had lost 5-0 to Selby that same day.
Supoj continued to impress as he thrashed Ian Wells, of Scotland, 5-1 to register his third straight Group C in a tournament. He is now scheduled to face former world champion Ken Doherty today in front of the TV cameras with the Irishman yet to taste victory after two matches in which he was beaten by Mark Davis and Joe Swail. Saleh, a former IBSF World championship runner-up, has also been in splendid form since the start of the tournament and now has a 3-0 win-loss record in Group E.
The Pakistan cueist hammered world amateur champion Atthasit Mahitthi, of Thailand, 5-0 and in the process also became the most talked-about player of the tournament. Saleh knocked home a riveting break of 75, the maximum possible in 6-red snooker, in just 2min 54sec in his clash with Atthasit to take the fastest mini maximum honours on day one. It earned him a US$1,000 (Dh3,670). The Thailand No1 and former Asian champion Issara Kachaiwong was left close to elimination after conceding his third straight loss yesterday, a day which also saw the giant-killing run of another Thai, Suchart Phookang, come to halt as he was twice defeated.
Phaithoon Phonbun, the winner of the 6-red snooker gold medal at the 2007 Korat SEA Games and a last-minute replacement for Stephen Lee, made things a bit rosier for the locals by winning his third match and booking his place in the next stage. But Qatar's Mohsen Aziz lost both his opening matches 5-3, first to Australian Steve Mifsud and then to Thailand's Noppadom Noppachorn. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org