On Wednesday 24th April 2013, I was back at the Crucible for the second time this year to watch Stuart Bingham take on Sam Baird in Round 1.
The World Snooker Championship always throws up a few surprises, and this year’s tournament has been no different. Just 5 days in and some of the biggest names had already gone, including former World Champions Mark Williams and John Higgins. The first round was coming to a conclusion, with the final opening round game starting this evening between world number 8 Stuart Bingham, and Crucible debutant Sam Baird.
Me and my Dad had front row seats for this clash and we arrived around 45 minutes before the action began, wandering around chatting to a few of the regulars as well as watching Martin Gould, who had been defeated by Shaun Murphy in the first round, have a few frames in the cuezone.
We then took our seats inside the venue, watching MC Rob Walker warm up the crowd and have a quick chat with the parents of Sam Baird who were clearly very proud of their son’s achievement. The players were then introduced and the game got underway.
Baird, who reached the last 16 of the Welsh Open earlier in the season, struggled to get going and Bingham quickly took the first frame with breaks of 64 and 71. The reigning Premier League champion made it 2-0 before sneaking a tense third frame on the colours after Baird had looked like clearing up.
The debutant was clearly feeling the pressure of the Crucible and he continued to miss some easy balls to let Bingham in. The seed made it look easy as he ran into a 6-0 lead before Baird finally got his first frame on the board with a break of 87, breaking down when looking on for a century break. The qualifier also had a chance in the 8th frame but he failed to take advantage and Bingham extended his lead before a break of 80 saw him come away from the first session with an almost unassailable 8-1 lead.
You had to feel a little sorry for Sam Baird, who had crumbled under the pressure but Stuart Bingham had remained focused and was good value for his huge lead.
That was my final taste of first round action at this year’s Championship, but I am back at the Crucible on Monday evening to watch reigning World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan play Ali Carter in a repeat of last year’s final. Certainly one to look forward to!