History of Snooker
is what we understand to be the 'History of Snooker'.
Snooker compared to Billiards is a relatively new
game that has fast become one of the nations most
popular spectator and participation sports. Find out
more below about how it was first invented and the
unexpected way the name 'Snooker' was given it's name.
Billiards which snooker derived from was
thought to be played as early as the 1340's, with Louis
XI of France owning a billiard table in the 1470's.
The term 'snooker' was given to the game
by Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain in 1875 whilst serving
in the Army. In the Officers' Mess at Jubbulpore in India,
gambling games such as pyramids, life pool and black pool
were popular, with fifteen reds and a black used in the
latter. To these were added yellow, green and pink, with
blue and brown introduced some years later. One afternoon
Chamberlain's Devonshire regiment was visited by an young
officer who had been trained at the Royal Military Academy
in Woolwich. This officer explained that a first-year cadet
at the Academy was referred to as a 'snooker'. Later, when
one of the players failed to hole a coloured ball, Chamberlain
shouted to him: 'Why, you're a regular snooker.' He then
pointed out the meaning and that they were all 'snookers'
at the game. The name was adopted for the game itself.
Chamberlain himself joined the Central
India Horse in 1876, taking the game with him. After being
wounded in the Afghan War, he moved to Ooatacamund and the
game became the speciality of the 'Ooty Club', with rules
being posted in the billiards room.
John Roberts (Junior), who was then Billiards
Champion, visited India in 1885, met Chamberlain at dinner
with the Maharajah of Cooch Behar and enquired about the
rules of snooker. He then introduced the game into England,
although it was many years before it became widely played
there. Manufacturers of billiards equipment, however, soon
realised the commercial possibilities of snooker, and by
the end of the 1800's the game had developed as had the
tables into as we know them today.
The biggest individual contribution to
snooker came from Joe Davis and his brother Fred who dominated
the game for over 50 years between them and were instrumental
in the games transition from a grand aristocratic game to
a working class pastime. Joe won 15 consecutive world championships
and Fred won 8 world championships. There was only a handful
of decent players but the standard was relatively low the
highest break in 1922 being 33, Joe's game developed to
a point where he made a 147 maximum break which was recognized
in 1957, and was obviously way ahead of his time in terms
of skills and techniques. Fred was younger than Joe by 12
years and was unlucky not to have had his name highlighted
in snooker history like his brothers. Fred came very close
to beating Joe on a number of occasions especially when
you consider that three of their finals came down to the
final frame, Joe winning them all and some which spanned
80+ frames with Joe the victor.
With the introduction of Pot Black on
TV snooker began to grow in popularity. In the 1960's the
game began to get some appeal and Riley leisure began implementing
some tables in clubs for commercial use even though the
game had not caught on. Ray Reardon and John Spencer emerged
in the 1970's along with Dennis Taylor and others which
gave the game a boost. The biggest boost undoubtedly coming
from the introduction of colour TV which made snooker an
Players became national heroes and there
was a large demand for tables at the grassroots level. In
the 1980's lots of youngsters were taking up the game at
a very early age but the massive amount of hours with which
snooker was on the TV caused a withdrawal of peoples interest
quelled only by Steve Davis and his 6 world championship
victories during that decade. The single greatest moment
for snooker was without doubt the 1985 world final where
the championship came down to the final black with Dennis
Taylor claiming the prize. Over 18.5 million people tuned
in at 12.30am to watch this piece of sporting history and
the game is still talked about today.
During the 90's, snooker was arguably
the nations most played table sport with a steady popularity
base. Stephen Hendry's finals with Jimmy White kept interest
high, especially as Jimmy never won the world title and
crowd interest was maintained.
There are lots of youngsters who excel
greatly at the game and the dour image of snooker in the
early 1980's is being replaced by a trendy new image which
is set to keep interest in snooker high. Players such as
Ronnie O'Sullivan and Mark Williams have brought a new attacking
flair to the game and the former being one of the greatest
talents ever to play the game.