Ronnie O’Sullivan had to be reminded of the rules during his second round match with Barry Hawkins at the World Grand Prix on Wednesday.
O’Sullivan faced conceding the third frame for three consecutive misses, with the SPOTY nominee querying whether the rule should apply given he couldn’t see both sides of any red left on the table.
However, the referee insisted that O’Sullivan could see one full ball red – activating the three miss rule – even though he couldn’t hit both sides.
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It all unfolded in a hilarious exchange:
Ref: "If you fail to hit the ball on this occasion you’ll give the frame to your opponent."
O’Sullivan: "What do you mean?"
Ref: "It’s a bit hard to understand. But because the red is the ball on, you can’t be snookered by another red... You don’t need to hit both sides, it’s just full ball contact."
O'Sullivan: "It’s just full ball?"
Ref: "Yeah."
O'Sullivan: "Really, is that the rule?"
Ref: "Yes."
O'Sullivan (to Hawkins): "Did you know that?", before adding to the ref: "Are you sure that’s the rule?"
Ref: "Yeah."
O'Sullivan: "What, full ball?"
Ref: "Yeah."
O'Sullivan: "Has that always been the rule?"
Ref: "Yep, as long as I’ve been refereeing."
O'Sullivan: "Interesting…"

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Still unconvinced, O’Sullivan asked match marker Leo Scullion, who refereed the 2019 World Championship final, for confirmation. Scullion concurred with his colleague.
Despite knowing another miss would see him concede the frame, O’Sullivan elected to go off two cushions to hit a safe red at the bottom of the table, rather than charging into the bunch. He made no mistake.
O’Sullivan went on to take the frame before seeing out a 4-1 win over Hawkins to book his spot in the quarter-finals in Milton Keynes.
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