Ben Woollaston reveals social distancing struggles with wife and referee Tatiana

Ben Woollaston is having to confront a new normal in the Championship League this week as he has to remain socially distanced from wife and referee Tatiana.

Wollaston sealed his place in the next round of the tournament with two wins and a draw in his three round-robin matches in Group Eight, whitewashing Liam Highfield and Thor Chuan Leong 3-0 and drawing 2-2 with Jimmy Robertson.

Topping the group has the added bonus of being able to continue seeing his wife, who has been at the Milton Keynes venue before the tournament started and will remain there until it is completed next Thursday.

The players, meanwhile, travel to the Marshall Arena the day before they play and leave after their last shot.

Wollaston said on the tournament’s Twitter page: “It’s a really strange situation to be in the same building and say ‘hello’ to each other from metres away.

“We had a sandwich together earlier but we were two tables apart, basically shouting at each other!

“You’ve just got to get on with it and it’s only for a few more days.”

Robertson also overcame Thor 3-0 but drew against Highfield, which ensured Woollaston moves into the next stage.

Stuart Bingham won just one of his three matches but it was enough to send the 2015 world champion into the next phase.

Bingham started the tournament in convincing fashion with a 3-0 victory over Jamie Clarke but the world number 13 settled for a 2-2 draw against Jordan Brown in his next outing.

Nevertheless, Bingham seemed well placed when leading 2-1 in his final match against Ricky Walden but a missed pink would prove costly as his English opponent cleared up to gain a share of the spoils.

Walden, recorded identical scorelines against Clarke and Brown as Bingham to leave the pair level-pegging at the top of Group One.

Bingham’s highest break of 94 gave him the edge over Walden, whose best was 89, but the former world number two could only breathe a sigh of relief once Clarke snatched a frame against Brown.

Brown could have usurped Bingham to top spot with a 3-0 win over Clarke and a break of 95 or higher but he himself was whitewashed.

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