Defending champion Stuart Bingham has been eliminated from the 2016 Betfred World Snooker Championship in the first round. "Ball-run" beat the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan, Judd Trump and Shaun Murphy en route to a maiden victory at the Crucible last year, but was unable to repeat that feat as he lost a thrilling contest 10-9 to Ali Carter late on Saturday evening (16 April).
Bingham trailed narrowly after the opening session, fighting back from an early deficit to win four consecutive frames to later tie the match at 5-5. His equally experienced opponent then took the next two to lead 7-5, but quickly let the 39-year-old back into the tie and was teetering on the brink at 9-8 before making a crucial century to force a decider.
The 'Curse' strikes again?
Carter's initial break in the 19th frame was ended at 39, although he was able to capitalise after Bingham botched two attempts to pot the pink. Such an exit is another example of the so-called "Crucible Curse", as no first-time champion has successfully defended his title since the tournament moved to Sheffield back in 1977. That list includes Steve Davis, seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry and O'Sullivan as well as the likes of Terry Griffiths, Cliff Thorburn, Dennis Taylor, John Parrott and current number one Mark Selby.
"I'm obviously gutted, I didn't really get a clear chance in the last frame," Bingham said after the defeat. "I didn't feel comfortable all the way through the match, I missed chances and maybe it wasn't meant to be. I made too many errors, in fact I can't believe I made a match of it.
"Hats off to Ali, I hope he goes on and wins it. I'll keep the roar I got this morning with me for the rest of my life. I tried to keep a smile on my face when things weren't going right."
Carter, who has battled cancer twice in recent years and also suffers from Crohn's disease, added: "I'm delighted to win. I fancied winning the decider, I felt as if it was my turn. I'm fitter than anyone here, I'm feeling better than I've ever felt. I don't feel like it's taken anything out of me, I'm really enjoying being here.
"Everything was set up to go wrong for Stuart, the writing was on the wall for him. Hopefully, I can bring another title back to Essex. This season is a rebuilding season for me, one brick at a time."