Jimmy White's return falters as Masters gets the Barry Hearn treatment

• White beaten 6-2 by Mark King at Wembley Arena
• Mark Selby comfortable winner over China's Ding Junhui

Jimmy White, ranked 56th but awarded a wild card to the Masters on the strength of his crowd-pulling potential, entered the arena at Wembley to Money For Nothing by Dire Straits but departed a 6-2 loser to the world No16, Mark King.

Musical introductions are part of Barry Hearn's formula for enlivening the presentation of the sport and commercially the decision to offer White his wild card was amply justified. An attendance of 1,368, the equivalent of one and a half full houses at the Crucible, produced a tumultuous welcome, emphasising the affection in which the 47-year-old Londoner is held.

Celebrity friends like Ronnie Wood, Colin and Justin, the interior designers, and Gino D'Acampo, the television chef who won the latest series of I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here – in which White finished third – were among an expectant audience.

However, the powers of nostalgia, hype and enthusiastic support do little to compensate for frequent failures at routine pots, even if King's own standard of performance often left much to be desired. "It's sickening to play like that," White admitted. "I lost the plot, I didn't know how to gather my thoughts."

One notably ghastly error, this time from King, came when he needed only the last red to clinch a 2-0 lead. It lay on the brink of a baulk pocket but a local league player might have been embarrassed by the way he sent the cue ball in after it.

White won that frame and also the fifth but Hearn's pre-match advice "to enjoy it because it might be the last time you're here" seemed increasingly appropriate the longer the evening wore on.

At least White departed with a loser's cheque for £3,500 to supplement his meagre previous earnings from the circuit this season of £1,400 – small change compared with his fee for I'm a Celebrity, variously reported as between £65,000 and £100,000.

Mark Selby, walking on to Underdog by Kasabian, proved himself anything but with a 6-1 win over Ding Junhui, winner of last month's UK Championship but admitting he was under-prepared after being "busy in China" with personal sponsors in the interim. Peter Ebdon made the Real Thing's Can You Feel The Force? an appropriate choice by beating Marco Fu 6-2.

Contributor

Clive Everton at Wembley Arena

The GuardianTramp

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