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Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
21 April-7 May 2007


John Higgins (Sco) 17-15 Stephen Maguire (Sco)

8-94 (85) 75-58 (Higgins 55) 0-134 (102) 0-79 (79) 127-0 (113) 76-0 (68) 38-73 73-3 40-71 99-0 (90) 0-69 (63) 64-7 61-41 (52) 48-50 13-81 (52) 74-1 0-111 (58) 66-64 (64, 50) 0-82 (82) 49-62 0-131 (131) 134-0 (134) 0-73 48-65 77-46 104-0 (104) 75-2 42-66 123-0 (122) 54-46 64-0 66-14

(best of 33 frames)


By Sam Lyon

"To come through that might just be the making of Higgins' Championship here. I've not seen snooker like that, under such pressure, for quite some time."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

32nd frame: Higgins is there! A fabulous cut pink into the middle seals his progression after one of the most amusing, tense and error-strewn frames of snooker you could ever hope to see. An emotional Higgins punches the air after completing a quite remarkable turn-around. Here's how the last frame panned out... and, I tell you what, dramatic prose is out of the window - this frame's commentary is just a list of misses really.

Maguire lets Higgins in first with a poor attempt at a red but he can make just 11 before running out of position. After that, Maguire misses a red to the corner, Higgins snookers himself after potting the pink, Maguire rattles the jaw with a cut red, Higgins misses the brown in reply, Maguire misses the brown himself and then Higgins goes in-off the yellow. Unbelievably, Higgins then misses a black to the left middle on his next break, Maguire's cut red to the corner is off-target, Higgins strokes a red against the near jaw of the centre pocket, Maguire misses a red to the corner and then rattles a black to the top right corner in and then out, before Higgins gets down on a black with the reds spread - and goes in-off.

"These two used to be able to pot. They've both gone. You should hear the moans and groans in the Crucible media room. Great scenes."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

Another missed black from Higgins and Maguire misses a tough red that he might wish he hadn't gone for and 27 minutes into the frame and the highest break is eight with just three reds left on the table. Remniscent of the Lyon brothers' classic down Wanstead snooker hall in the summer of '06. I can't remember who won - we'd both had a few by the end of the three-hour frame I think...

However, Higgins builds a crucial 31-point lead before snookering Maguire behind the brown. The younger Scot makes it but, minutes later, gives Higgins a chance with a poor safety shot. Higgins takes advantage and later clears to pink to move into the final. Quite remarkable stuff.

The players will need a stiff drink after all this. In fact not just the players, the crowd will want to sink a few you would imagine too - and I wouldn't mind one either. I'll see if Michaela's free...
Higgins 17-15 Maguire

"Stephen is playing brilliantly, but John is proving the master of matchplay snooker. He is not giving Maguire a chance and you can't do anything from your chair. You have to hold your hands up sometimes and admit you're playing someone of utter quality."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

31st frame: Pressure - as Willie Thorne points out - is a wonderous thing, and it appears to be telling on both players. Maguire attempts a long red, misses by a mile, and his path back to baulk was never on. Higgins gets in and then looks to have run out of position as well off the pack with the reds nicely placed. However, the Wizard pulls a fine pink out of his bag of tricks and puts 31 on the board before running out of position. Nothing is easy at this stage.

The Wizard gets another chance, though, when he drives in a long red after an attacking safety from Maguire goes awry, and he uses all his years of matchplay snooker experience to manufacture another 33 points and that's enough to snatch the frame. He's in front for the first time in the match and is just one frame away from the showpiece.
Higgins 16-15 Maguire

"Everything now, the efforts of the past two weeks and beyond - and it all comes down to bottle."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

"This is now the ultimate test of character for both players - but in particular Maguire - and the pressure is utterly immense."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

"What a red from the Merlin. But so, so unlucky on the pink. Higgins steals in. That was huge for the Wizard."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

30th frame: You would need a rather sharp, serated knife to cut the atmosphere at The Crucible. A rare opening for Maguire is wasted when he misses a tough early red and Higgins looks odds-on to take advantage with the balls well spread. However, after building a 31 break, he misses a red with the rest cueing over the bunch and the game swings Maguire's way once more. That is until he runs out of position and, after taking over three minutes to decide on his shot, he jokingly informs the crowd "I haven't a clue what to do". It eases the tension momentarily but a safety exchange ensues and a thick hush comes over the arena.

Higgins gets another opportunity with a fortunate plant into the corner but is then forced to tuck Maguire up behind the blue - twice - with just one red on the table and 16 points the difference. The younger Scot escapes brilliantly, though, and forces a snooker of his own behind the black near the blue spot. It brings a glimmer of a chance and Maguire smashes in a long red under the severest of pressure to spark a break of 21 - but an agonising miss on frame-ball pink lets Higgins back in, and he pots pink and black to level.

Do not go anywhere folks - it's best of three.
Higgins 15-15 Maguire

"The worrying thing for Maguire is that he's not been able to get among the balls. That mis-hit on the red in the pack didn't help."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

29th frame: There is no let-up in quality at The Crucible as Higgins claws his way back into the match once again. The Wizard wastes an early chance after missing the black off it's spot following a fine long red but Maguire miscues next shot to let him back in. It is all the invitation Higgins needs and, aided by a fabulous dead-weight pink into the right centre, he brings up the 1000th century break at The Crucible - the 60th at this Championship - with a fabulous 122. Dennis Taylor quotes the stat as "a little bit of history" - he's clearly been reading my framewatch. You're in good company folks. Anyway, there's only one frame in it and, as expected, this is going right to the wire.
Higgins 14-15 Maguire

"I am not a big snooker fan but I cant stop watching it, it is so good."
jjis007 on 606

With the players taking a 15-minute comfort break, Steve Davis gives Olympic rower Matthew Pinsent a lesson on the baize. I say that, it appears it is just an excuse for the pair to compare royal honours. Pinsent, once an OBE, then a CBE and now a sir, laughs derisorily at Steve Davis, now an MBE. He promises to 'put a word in', but I'd say the Golden Nugget's chances of being made a Knight of the Realm are slim. I mean, you wouldn't want to go into battle with him on the front line would you?

"What a brave effort from Maguire. That may be just what he needs to turn things around back in his favour."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

"Stephen's made many century breaks in his career, but that run of 10 to the green will give him as much pleasure, if not more, than any of them as he re-opens the gap to two frames."
BBC Sport's Willie Thorne

28th frame: My comment on Michaela Tabb below has caused some debate among my colleagues here. Apparently not everyone is convinced of her allure. Personally, I wouldn't half mind her looking after my game down the local snooker hall on a Tuesday night, but maybe it's just me? Anyway, Stephen Maguire is clearly unaffected by her attraction as he gets his hand on the table for the first time proper today and pulls off a couple of tough positional shots on his way to a 42-point lead. A poor run off the white ends the break, though, and Higgins replies with a 38 break of his own. He is unable to score more heavily with three reds on the cushion and a poor safety shot moments later lets Maguire back in. The 26-year-old makes the most of his chance as he clears to green to open up a two-frame lead at the mid-session interval. He breathes a hefty sigh of relief as the players head for the changing room.
Higgins 13-15 Maguire

For the Michaela fans among you -

"Stephen just has to have confidence in himself right now. He's not had chance after chance, so he's just got to believe that when his next opportunity comes, he will take it."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

"I'll go back on my last comment; Maguire looks rattled."
andy_drake on 606

27th frame: Well, Andy Drake on 606 may not think Higgins is up for it but he's back to just one frame down now. The Wizzard of Wishaw emerges from a cagey start with a run of 36 before missing a red to the middle to end the break. It does not prove costly, though, as Maguire rattles the jaw with an attempted long red in reply and Higgins returns to knock in 39 more and seal the frame. Maguire, understandably, looks more than a little concerned. Referee Michaela Tabb (take note, Carl in Norfolk), as always, just looks lovely.
Higgins 13-14 Maguire

"What is the name of the lady referee. I think she is gorgeous."
Carl in Norfolk

"Higgins may have won the first two frames but I fear that he does not look up for it this afternoon."
andy_drake on 606

"Poor Higgins. He's missed out on a 147 again. I'm sure I heard another sigh of relief from the sponsors."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

26th frame: Higgins is well and truly back in this now as he brings up his 12th frame, but he will be rueing another missed opportunity at a 147. Thirteen reds and thirteen blacks put him within touching distance but he runs out of position after a huge kick on a red and he can't recover. Still, it was a brilliant 104 break and he is exuding confidence right now.

And talking of useless snooker stats - here's another one for the anoraks among you - Higgins' century break was the 999th in 30 years of snooker at The Crucible. Now THAT'S a good stat.
Higgins 12-14 Maguire

Between frames the BBC's Hazel Irvine explains that Stephen Maguire is permitted not to wear a bow tie because of a skin complaint. Those of you who were reading this on Thursday will have already known that. Two whole days of bragging to your friends about your snooker knowledge thanks to me that was. I sometimes wonder where you lot would be without me...

"That was a big miss on the pink from Maguire. Is this the start of Higgins' fightback?"
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

King-Booker's reply on 606

25th frame: It's just the start Higgins needs as he snatches the opening frame of the session from Maguire's grasp. A couple of early long reds indicates Maguire has lost none of his potting power overnight and, at 30-19 down following a brief few minutes of safety, the younger Scot pulls another superb red out of the bag to seemingly put himself in pole position. However, a missed pink into the middle lets Higgins back in and, following a magnificent red into the baulk right corner, he builds a break of 47 to reduce his deficit to three and he might just be right back in this.
Higgins 11-14 Maguire

"What a tall order this is for John Higgins but, if anyone can do it, this young man can."
BBC Sport's Dennis Taylor

We're back at The Crucible ladies and gentleman and, like the proverbial hot potato, I will be taking over from Ben and Phil to talk you through the latest action from the Battle of Scotland.

Ben Dirs pleaded with me to continue his commentary in the hope of casting his eye over continued snooker genius in the vein of Murphy-Selby but, alas, I ordered him to skoot and prepare for tonight's De La Hoya-Mayweather match. Judging by our man's luck covering matches of late, it might not be the classic we're all hoping it will be...

Anyway, in Sheffield the players are behind the curtain awaiting their introduction. Let's get it on.


By Phil Harlow

24th frame: Another long red flies in for John Higgins and sets him on his way to a run of 42 before he runs out of position with the reds spread.

Maguire makes a stunning long red to get himself into the frame and a 53 break looks to have won the frame only for the Scot to miss a frame-ball black off the spot with a lapse in concentration. Unfortunately for Higgins, he dollies one up for Maguire to pot up to the brown and leave his opponent needing a snooker.

Higgins tries gamely to put Maguire in trouble, but a terrible effort with just pink and black left sees him concede the frame. He has given himself an awful lot to do.
Higgins 10-14 Maguire

23rd frame: Willie Thorne has likened this match to a shoot-out at OK Corral. I've heard of it, but what was it? A quick glance at Wikipedia reveals that 30 shots were fired in 30 seconds during the incident in Tombstone, Arizona, back in 1881. But maybe they weren't such hot-shots after all - only three people died.

That compares unfavourably, depending on how you look at it, with the "Four Dead in Five Seconds Gunfight" in Texas in the same year which sounds pretty hardcore.

Either way, an early burst from Stephen Maguire takes him to 32 before he slips up to let John Higgins in. Higgins misses with a long red and Maguire makes a 41 to seal the frame and restore his three-frame lead.
Higgins 10-13 Maguire

"This just sums up snooker - before the break it was 40, 50-minute frames. The last two frames have been all about great break-building."
BBC Sport commentator John Virgo

22nd frame: Wallop! John Higgins gives it straight back to Stephen Maguire with an exquisite 134 and another total clearance. He starts it off with an awesome long red and it's pot o'clock from then on.

Higgins clearly hasn't been intimidated by Maguire's form, and we could be witnessing the start of his comeback.
Higgins 10-12 Maguire

"I think John Higgins and his followers will be worried mainly because of his scoring - or lack of it."
BBC commentator Willie Thorne

21st frame: That's a bit more like it. A risky long red is missed by John Higgins and Stephen Maguire hoovers up the balls for his seventh century of his run to the semi-final. A total clearance of 131 sees him surge into a three-frame lead.
Higgins 9-12 Maguire

"Now, is it just me or did a few of you think that 20th frame was one of the best long frames seen at The Crucible. Just for sheer quality in the safety play and at the end with Maguire's superb potting."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury at The Crucible

20th frame: Don't worry - your computer hasn't stopped updating. This frame is 50 minutes and counting - we're down to the colours with just seven points separating the two players.

Phew... Stephen Maguire finally wins the frame after more than 50 minutes of tight, tactical play. The players went more than 20 minutes without anyone making a pot, but the safety play was right out of the top draw. To cut a long story short, a superb yellow by Maguire put him back in control, and he cleared the colours up to the pink to go into the mid-session interval with a two-frame lead.

A few more frames like that and I'll be looking at some overtime...
Higgins 9-11 Maguire

19th frame: Stephen Maguire is showing no signs of letting the unfortunate end to the last frame get to him as he powers to an 82 break to take the frame. John Higgins has the first chance but is unable to get on the scoreboard, and Maguire makes no mistake.

There really is nothing to choose between these two at the minute. My money is staying in my pocket.

18th frame: An incredible end to a thrilling frame. Stephen Maguire's 60 is stopped in its tracks by a bad contact that leaves him well short of his intended position, but he produces an awesome long red to keep the break going.

Another pot goes awry soon after though and John Higgins is back into the swing of things. Commentator Willie Thorne is getting a bit worked up about the unpredictable bounce off the black cushion, but Higgins manages to shrug off the conditions to fight his way back with a superb 50. But having cleared everything up the pink, the black rattles in the jaw to give Maguire the long black to clinch the frame.

Maguire pots the long-range black but the cue ball travels back the length of the table and drops in the green pocket, prompting Maguire to drop his cue on the table in anger and walk out. He's furious.
Higgins 9-9 Maguire

17th frame: Stephen Maguire gets his nose in front again as he makes breaks of 34 and 58 to take the first frame

Higgins does not get much of a look-in, except to try to get out of some horrible snookers. He needs five attempts to get out of the first, and the second lets Maguire in. Higgins looks a bit frustrated at the moment.
Higgins 8-9 Maguire

Welcome back everyone. We're now into the third session of the all-Scottish affair and there's still nothing to separate John Higgins and Stephen Maguire.

"The Merlin of Milton" is first out (that's Stephen Maguire to you and me), followed by Higgins. It's handshakes all round, and we're away...

Incidentally, if you haven't seen it, may I draw your attention to this interview by my colleague Saj Chowdhury (aka our man at The Crucible) with a fan you can't fail to have missed if you've watched a few frames this year.

It's the guy with the unruly hair who always seems to be on the front row of every match...


By Ben Dirs

Frame 16: Maguire pots the black to hand Higgins seven points, but the cue ball runs safe. Higgins rattles up a run of 32 before Maguire contrives to miss the whole pack of reds attempting a couple of escapes. Higgins goes too thin on a red into the bottom-left, but Maguire, with the table at his mercy, makes a rookie error, hitting the wrong red first and missing the pot. The Wizard steps up and clinches the frame and we're all square again going into lunch. This is a strange little dance these two Scots are doing, they're clinging to each other like a couple of love-struck 11-year-olds at a youth club disco.

"I think it's safe to start calling him 'On Fire' Maguire again..."
Clive Everton on BBC Sport

Frame 15: Maguire is in the balls first, but he breaks down on 19, over-cutting a black. But Higgins misses a sitter into the bottom left - the standard's not getting much better. That said, Maguire lands a 10-foot red before cannoning into the bunch and reeling off a 52 break to reclaim the lead. Better from Maguire - can he open up a bit of daylight in the final frame of the session?

Frame 14: Not quite with it today Maguire, and he misses a cut into the right centre to put Higgins in. Higgins, however, gets a mule-like kick on his first attempted black. Maguire gets the better of the safety exchange. He tucks the cue ball right behind the brown and Higgins pots the white attempting the escape. Maguire, however, runs out of position after just one red and aims a little girly kick at the table.

But Higgins is all over the oche in this frame, handing back the initiative to Maguire...but again Maguire loses position and misses a fine cut to the right centre. This is really scrappy stuff, it's like they're playing on sheet ice. Maguire gets back in, cutting in a dreamy red into the right centre...but again he leaves nothing on. Maguire appears to have used up all his luck yesterday - he's left nothing after a good long red and then gets a stinker of a kick attempting a red down the bottom cushion. Higgins starts filling his boots...but runs in behind the brown after potting the final red. Another choker for Maguire, who cuts the yellow in and goes in-off the brown.

But Higgins, inexplicably, misses the yellow off its spot. This is like watching a couple of blokes playing pool down my local after 10 pints of Lowenbrau. Actually, I haven't got a local any more, it was turned into an Esso garage. However, Maguire dredges up a bit of class, slamming home a long green, cutting in the brown before mopping up the blue, pink and black. All square again - this is a bar-room brawl of a snooker match.

"We don't seem to get as many strippers as we used to. O'Sullivan not verbally (or better still physically) abusing anyone hasn't helped either. I still think Maguire 'Glasgow Kissing' Murphy prior to the final would make the Championships an overwhelming success though."
rogthedog on 606

Frame 13: Crackerjack shot to get Maguire under way, an acute red into the right centre. When Maguire's on song, as he has been in this event, he stalks around the table, like a big cat trailing its prey. I'm quite intimidated by him. However, Maguire runs out of position using the rest, and his run breaks down on 35. Bit iffy with the rest Maguire, it's about his only weakness.

Maguire gets another chance, but rattles the jaws with a cut into the bottom right. And Higgins is in like a rat up a drainpipe, caressing home a long red and gaining perfect position on the pink. The Wizard very nearly runs out of position, but pulls out the long stuff and pots a tricky red. But he does miss a fine cut into the bottom left and the break is over at 52. Maguire, however, is unable to deliver the coup de grace, missing the brown, and Higgins clears to the pink to take the lead for the first time in the match.

Bit odd that. Maguire needed the one snooker and looked to have found one behind the black, but decided to concede instead. Maguire, I'm told, has a raft of nicknames. Originally, I thought my favourite was 'On Fire Maguire', but then I thought, if he's playing rubbish, it doesn't really work. So now I like 'Live Wire Maguire' instead.

"Higgins and Maguire will go to the wire, I'm a poet and I didn't even know it! Don't be surprised if there's a 147 in this Battle Royal!"
HydeHaggis on 606

The players are back out after the mid-session interval, stand by for another eight, gruelling frames.

"I predict Higgins to win on a technicality after Maguire has his chalk stolen by a masked fat man at 16-all."
rogthedog on 606

Frame 12: Higgins strikes the first blow, slamming home a long red into the bottom left. He digs out the rest to dispatch a tricky brown and keep the run going, but loses position on 45 and is forced to play the safety. Maguire has a chance, but goes in-off after making just seven and Higgins piles in with another run of 13 before sealing it at the next visit. Still all square at the mid-session interval and this is like De la Hoya-Mayweather, except in evening dress and with sticks. Our man at the Crucible, Saj Chowdhury, tells me Lee Cattermole of Middlesbrough and G4 were at the Crucible on Thursday. G4 are to opera what George Best was to literature. Saying that, I quite liked The Good, The Bad and The Bubbly.

"Whoever comes through this match will go on a win the title, me thinks. If I were a betting man, I'd back Higgins (yes, he does look like Stan Laurel)."
braxious on 606

Frame 11: First blood to Maguire, slotting home a long red into the bottom right. Maguire plays one magnificent shot, applying a ton of top-spin on a black, coming off the side cushion and spreading the reds on the way back, but loses position on 63 and lays a snooker behind the green. Maguire pots another long red, but passes on a game ball brown and a yellow into the middle pocket - this is a cagey little frame. Maguire shows restraint again, passing on a lengthy red into the bottom left, but Higgins finally blinks, allowing Maguire to clinch things. Regarding the comment below, surely eating a whole pack of biscuits in a single morning session is just decadent. Was someone filing down your bunions while you munched?

"Fortunately, a well-known high street supermarket is offering the Fabulous Bakin' Boys cupcakes at three for two quid - needless to say, all of those boxes will be gone by the end of the session!"
dinlowe on 606

Frame 10: Maguire leaves a red over the bottom right pocket and Higgins is able to swerve round the blue and make the pot. Higgins runs out of position after just a couple of pots - but Maguire lets him in again and this time the Wizard rubs his compatriot's nose in the felt and sheds some rust with a run of 90.

Frame nine: Higgins is into the balls first and he racks up a break of 20 before losing position. His safety, away from the reds to the baulk end, isn't that clever either, but neither is Maguire's and Higgins makes him pay with a good long red into the bottom right. The Wizard, however, errs again, overrunning on a simple pot before sending the cue ball back to baulk. Maguire gets the better of the safety exchange, sticking the white behind the brown and forcing Higgins into a couple of fouls. Maguire then makes a howler, following in with the white after missing a regulation black. Higgins is unable to capitalise, but Maguire gets a dirty great kick off the pink, loses position and has to play safe again. However, Higgins muffs the yellow and Maguire steps in to clinch a scrappy opening frame.

Hello ladies and gents - Sam has got his feet up today, so I'm calling the shots for the second session. So grab yourself a couple of Um Bongos from the fridge, fan out some biscuits on a plate and make yourself comfortable - I've got a funny feeling we're in for an epic.

"What a difference between the two matches. The Higgins-Maguire game has been full of great long pots, tremendous break-building and purposeful safety exchanges. The Murphy-Selby game has resembled me and my mates trying to thrash the ball round the table after a couple of jars on a Saturday night."
Hewitt on 606


By Sam Lyon

So, we're all square going into Friday's sessions. Be sure to come back then but, in the mean time, we have the prospect of Shaun Murphy v Mark Selby this evening - join me at 1900 BST for that.

Oh, and by the way Jamie Lynch - I am reliably informed by an ex-colleague of mine, and co-author of "Masters of the Baize" Mr Paul Gadsby, that Stephen Maguire has permission from the WPBSA not to wear a bow-tie in all matches as he has a medical certificate - something about it giving him a rash on his neck. So there you go.

"Stephen looked like a runaway train at the beginning but, as things stand, you would think that John will be the happier because he's fought his way back into it brilliantly."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

"Tactically, the play has been of the highest quality. The last two frames dragged a bit but that gave everyone a chance to see some quality safety. Maguire's was good, Higgins' was better. It's nicely poised."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

Frame Eight: Alright, blame me, but it all got a bit slow and a bit tactical at the Crucible. Who said it might be a classic? The slower game seems to favour Higgins more, though, and he builds a 50-point lead in two visits with pink and black tied up in a bunch of reds on the bottom cushion. Higgins misses the opportunity to break that pack up off a blue but Maguire cannot take advantage, allowing his opponent back in for a break of 23 to level things up overnight.

"Should Stephen Maguire not be wearing a tie for his semi-final match with John Higgins?"
Jamie Lynch

Let us know your thoughts on 606.

"ohisayjimmy - I can see where you are coming from with the Stan comment. I think it's because Higgins always seems to have a worried look on his face. So if he's Laurel, who's Hardy? Parrott?"
RodandEamo on 606

"Higgins beat the rocket, Maguire beats Hamilton.... and you are quick to write off Higgins?! Madness. He has been very much the form player of this tournament, and I think he will pull away from Maguire in the second session."
gary2k50 on 606

Frame Seven: Following six frames of fantastic break-building, the Crucible crowd are treated to over 15 minutes of top-drawer safety - which leads to the longest frame of the match. Maguire appears to crack first early on, leaving a red to the left corner, but Higgins' miss lets in his opponent. However, a break of 42 is ended when he inadvertently frees the pink spot which, when replaced on the table, blocks his targeted red. It was a poor lack of foresight from the 26-year-old and, for the first time in the match, things get very scrappy. A run of 26 from Maguire leaves Higgins in need of two snookers, one of which he gets with just the colours on the table, but it is not enough and Maguire regains the lead in the match after a 45-minute frame.

"I've not seen such a quality start to a match in a long time. Higgins and Maguire are performing to a fantastic level."
BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury

"Is it me, or does John Higgins look a bit like Stan Laurel?"
ohisayjimmy on 606

Frame Six: Ladies and gentlemen, we might just have a classic on our hands here. Higgins is back in the balls, and a run of 68 leaves Maguire needing a snooker. The younger Scot gets just one shot in the frame before Higgins returns, sinks a long red, and we're back level.

"It was not quite time for the panic button, but John will be delighted to rack up a century break."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

Frame Five: The first notable safety exchange of the match sees Higgins emerge with a chance after Maguire leaves a fraction of an angle on a red along the cushion to give his opponent a break-building opportunity. The run is not without a couple of scares, but Higgins finds the heart of the pocket time and again to build a superb 113 break and reduce his deficit.

"Gretil, you will regret the comment about Higgins looking different class when Maguire wins 17-6."
DeBates on 606

The players return from the break and so far it's been a case of "On-Fire" Maguire v "Withered of Wishaw" John Higgins (ey thank yoaw). Will that 15-minute rest have helped Higgins, who had to endure 215 unanswered points in those last two frames? Keep your thoughts coming on 606.

"It's going to be Maguire. He wants it more. You can see it in his eyes. Like Rocky Balboa, he has the Eye Of The Tiger!"
Dave the Rave on 606

"Stephen Maguire really looks in fearsome form. He's obviously very comfortable with his game, is playing very aggressively, and is looking dangerous."
BBC Sport's Steve Davis

Frame Four: Maguire's 'On the Spot' snippet reveals he would perform Chesney Hawkes' "The One and Only" if he were to appear in Stars in their Eyes - and there's no doubting he's the one and only player in form here at the moment (sorry, could not resist). A fine long red kicks off another run and, with Maguire taking the more aggressive shot at every opportunity, he does not let Higgins get his hand back on the table with a break of 79 to go into the mid-session interval 3-1 up. If this had been a football match, Higgins would have welcomed the referee's whistle with a huge sigh of relief. Straight to the practice table for him you would think.

Frame Three: According to the little snippets of interview on BBC Two, Higgins "prefers Y-fronts to boxers". What kind of self-respecting male admits to that?! Anyway, you wonder if they might be a little tight at the moment because he's yet to find his form at all. After a 27 break, Maguire splits the pack and then tucks Higgins up well behind the pink at the baulk end. Higgins' attempt to escape the snooker is poor and he hits the blue full in the face to hand Maguire the initiative. The 26-year-old needs no further invitation and a fabulous run of 102 puts him back in front.

"Maguire is playing well but Higgins looks different class at the moment. I fancy Higgins to win by 4 or 5 frames."
gretil on 606

"That was a real nervy frame from both of them out there, but you'd like to think the match can settle down a bit now."
BBC Sport's John Parrott

Frame Two: The players might be figures of sheer concentration, but the nerves are there for all to see, still. Higgins makes his first meaningful break with a run of 55 in and around the black, but then runs out of position. Maguire responds with a 45 but an awkward red on the side cushion means it is back to a safety exchange. Maguire flukes a snooker behind the blue and, following a foul and a miss, Higgins goes in-off. A slight distraction from the crowd brings a glare from Maguire - who, let's be honest, you wouldn't mess with - but he gets down to fire a long red before missing a testing yellow. Higgins gets back with a run of 14 but, with a lead of 11 and 13 still on the table, is forced to put the pink safe after an unfortunate kiss. He knocks in a fabulous long pink two shots later, though, to seal a topsy-turvy frame and we're all square.

Frame One: First blood to Maguire. A long red early in the frame settles the nerves nicely, though missed position on the black two shots later ends a short break. However, it matters little as a Higgins missed red lets him back in and the young Scot starts where he left off against Hamilton in the quarters with a run of 85 to seal the frame in style.

Pre-match: A rapturous round of applause welcomes the two players into the Crucible arena, though both Higgins and Maguire are figures of sheer concentration.

This is the first time since 2001 that Higgins has played in the one-table set-up in Sheffield, and friendship will have to be put to one side as he faces good pal and fellow Scot Maguire.

BBC Sport's Saj Chowdhury says "Higgins is looking great...but Maguire is looking even better and I think he can reach the final."

Let us know your thoughts on the 606 website.

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