Desislava Bozhilova, Crucible debutante referee but with lots of experience at other tournaments and venues, took charge of the match between Shaun Murphy and Luo Honghao in round 1. Desislava is one of two female referees from Sliven in Bulgaria, the other being Proletina Velichkova, and was actually the grand final referee for the Shoot Out won by Michael Georgiou, the first round opponent of Neil.
She is a very good referee and has an excellent command of English that allows her to control the crowd and also be fully conversant for T.V. broadcasts. In this match a couple of things went awry for her but her recovery on the first was commendable in that she did not try to hide an embarrassing moment and was open and honest in her mistake.
After a Pink had been sunk by Shaun with its spot covered by the pack of reds and the baulk colours and the Black on their spots, she was perfect in placing the ball in what would have been its correct position, in line with the top cushion, as near as possible to its own spot and a millimetre or less between it and the offending red. After this was achieved and Shaun about to cue in preparation for his next stroke she belatedly noticed the centre spot free with the Blue ball close to it but not on it and with enough room to spot another ball. She immediately apologised to Shaun before he could make the stroke and moved the Pink to the Centre Spot. All this in front of a full house and millions watching around the world. I have to say that she handled it excellently, without any outward sign of embarrassment and even with a little humour and then continued to perform her duties as referee with only one other very slight stumble.
The only comment I will make, just as a note to my fellow referees and not as a demeaning criticism of this very good referee, is to be diligent in your calls right up to the last. The final stroke of the 4th frame was a foul by Luo when missing the Blue, already needing snookers and so ending the frame. Desislava called 5 immediately the cue ball passed the Blue without any contact, instead of waiting to see where it came to rest. It did eventually, but not before slightly contacting the Black whereupon she had to change the call of a 5-point penalty to one of 7.