Mark Selby reckons his blue Taom chalk is propelling him back to the big time – and arch-rival Ronnie O’Sullivan agrees, writes Will Jennings.
The Jester from Leicester waltzed into the second round of the Northern Ireland Open on Tuesday after a convincing 4-1 victory over world No.54 Andrew Higginson.
The three-time world champion then appeared in the Eurosport studio and became locked in an enthralling exchange with six-time Crucible king Sullivan about the benefits of his blue, Taom-branded chalk.
That choice of equipment is designed to reduce the amount of debris on the table – and therefore the number of kicks – and the world No.4 believes switching from the green to the blue chalk was a masterstroke.
The 37-year-old said: “I just think the texture’s a little bit different – it’s not as gritty as the green one when you’re chalking.
With the green one, you’re still used to little bits of debris on the cloth but with the blue one you don’t seem to leave anything. Even back home I’ve been practicing for a few hours and apart from the finger-marks you wouldn’t even know anyone’s played on it.
“It seems every time I play people with the Taom you hardly get many kicks at all.
“I’ve been saying to [John] Higgins for a while he should use the Taom stuff because he said he didn’t like the feel of it being round.
“But now he’s using this blue chalk, [Stephen] Maguire’s on it, [Anthony] McGill’s on it and he swears by it. Last time I saw him at the comp he said it was unbelievable.”
O’Sullivan, who beat Selby in a thrilling World Championship semi-final in the summer, echoed Selby’s sentiments in the studio and said he ‘likes the blue stuff’ and it was ‘quite nice.’
Selby crafted a second frame break of 93 and despite making no other visits of note, had enough to breeze past Merseyside opponent Higginson.
Fellow city player Tom Ford was also in first round action on Tuesday, beating Lee Walker 4-2.
The world No.23 hit breaks of 82 and 57 and while the lowly-ranked Walker made 122 and 60, Ford had enough to motor over the line.
Leicester potters Joe O’Connor and Louis Heathcote played their first round matches on Monday evening, with Heathcote beating Brandon Sargeant 4-2 but O’Connor surrendering a 3-0 lead against Matthew Selt to go down 4-3.
World No.50 O’Connor struck consistent visits of 79, 76 and 75 but Selt, the world No.26, produced a roaring comeback to win a late night marathon in Milton Keynes.
City player Ben Woollaston was also in action in his first round match on Tuesday evening, beating three-time ranking event winner Ricky Walden 4-3.