CHRIS Melling admitted that being without his own cue was ‘like losing your right arm’.
It was lost at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport while he was on his way to play the Riga Open earlier this month and Melling had a devil’s own job getting it back.
"I have lost several other items of baggage there over the years but had no option but to fly via there on the way to Latvia," said the 35-year-old Keighley man.
"You can’t take your cue as hand luggage because it is classified as an offensive weapon, but losing it is like losing your right arm. It’s like asking Lewis Hamilton to win a Grand Prix driving a Lada."
However, despite borrowing a cue off Joe O’Connor and defeating former World and UK semi-finalist Joe Perry 4-2, Melling then played badly and lost 4-1 to Ian Glover.
Melling added: "You might play well with a borrowed cue one day but the next time when things start to go wrong it scrambles your mind."
The saga of the missing cue was far from over.
Melling explained: "I was told twice that it was at Riga Airport, so went to collect it each time, costing me 20 euros in taxi fares each time, only to find it wasn’t there and when I enquired, I was told ‘no information’.
"Then when I was on my way home, I was told it was at Amsterdam Airport, only to find that it had been sent on the next plane back to Riga.
"I said ‘That can’t be true as I have just come in on that plane’.
"Eventually, after buying a new cue in Leeds – they took pity on me and charged me only £90, which was pretty much cost price, instead of £270 – for the Shanghai Masters qualifiers in Barnsley a week last Tuesday, I played badly and lost 5-1 to young Chinese lad Lyu Haotian.
"I sent an e-mail to the baggage handlers and discovered that my cue had been at Leeds-Bradford Airport since the previous Sunday and no-one had told me to collect it.
"The case was a bit damaged but the cue was all right. Other snooker players cannot believe what I have gone through."
At least Melling has done his bit for charity this week, playing in a 24-hour pool marathon at the Royal Oak in Oakworth and helping to raise £2,500 for Nicole’s Wish To Walk.
"She needs £70,000 for treatment in America," said Melling of 22-month-old cerebral palsy sufferer Nicole Vendettuoli from Oakworth.
Today world No 83 Melling, who was awake for 44 hours during his pool marathon, flies out to Germany to face world No 40 Cao Yupeng tomorrow afternoon in the fourth round of the Paul Hunter Classic qualifiers in Furth.
Yupeng, 23, and known as Eric, reached the quarter-finals of the Wuxi Classic earlier this season and the second round of the World Championships two years ago, defeating Mark Allen on his Crucible debut.