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  Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 15:08 GMT
Whirlwind's tip for the top
Jimmy White
White last won the B&H title back in 1984
Jimmy White tells BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh of his secret weapon as he prepares for a 20th year in the B&H Masters at Wembley, which starts on Sunday.

The ever-popular Jimmy White would bring the house down if he was to secure a second Benson and Hedges Masters trophy.

And the flamboyant Londoner, sure of huge support at Wembley, believes he may have discovered the key to regaining the title he won in 1984.

White says he has noticed a marked improvement in his practice sessions at a south London snooker centre after he began to use a larger cue tip.

Although his new tip is only a fraction of a millimetre bigger in diameter, White believes it can make a big difference, and the jovial Cockney appears to be serious.

"I've had my tip made from a 9.4mm to a 9.8mm, and I'm really hitting a few shots that I've been missing," said White.


This is my 20th year, and there's no reason why I can't win it
Whirlwind Jimmy White on his Wembley chances

"If you've got a thin tip, you have to hit the centre of the ball all the time.

"With a bigger tip, it gives you a little bit of room for error on the cushions."

White's successes in the game have been countered by his near-misses.

He has famously never won the Embassy World Championship, losing six times in the final including five years in succession from 1990 to 1994.

But his title victories do include the B&H Masters, with a 9-4 win over Terry Griffiths.

He also made the final two years later, but fell to Canadian Clif Thorburn's third triumph in the tournament.

White knows the magic of Wembley can inspire him again.

"It's my home-town venue. This is my 20th year, and there's no reason why I can't win it," declared White, who was made a MBE in 1999.

Jimmy White withis MBE
White with his MBE award in 1999

"The victory in 1984 was brilliant. It was the first-ever tournament in London that I won, and it must be up there in the top three or four moments in the game for me."

Ask White who he regards as the biggest danger and only one name is mentioned: "Rocket" Ronnie O'Sullivan.

If the Whirlwind, given a special wild card invitation to the tournament by organisers, can overcome Joe Swail in his first round match, he meets Essex boy O'Sullivan on Tuesday night.

The clash is a mouthwatering prospect which would be savoured by a sell-out crowd keen to enjoy the game's two most exciting players.

'Really buzzing'

"It would be great to have the Whirlwind and the Rocket together. He attacks the game like me, and really goes for his shots," said White.

"My record against him is not too bad. I've lost a couple of matches. But if I make it through, I shall put that right."

White began the season in typically brisk fashion, finishing runner-up to Peter Ebdon at the British Open and making the Grand Prix semi-finals.

The promising start saw him rise nine places to a provisional world ranking of nine, and he believes a return to form is close.

"I had a great start to the season and then I eased off a bit," he acknowledged.

"But I've been hitting the balls superbly, and I can't wait to get to Wembley. I really am buzzing."

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