Snooker

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Snooker
Snooker table selby.JPG
Three-time warld champion Mark Selby playin a practice game
Heichest govrenin bodyWPBSA
IBSF
First played1870 i Indie
Characteristics
ContactNon-contact
CategorizationCue sport
EquipmentSnooker table, snooker balls, cue stick, triangle, chalk
VenueSnooker table
OlympicIOC recognition[1]

Snooker (pronountit UK /ˈsnkə/, US /ˈsnʊkər/)[2][3] i a cue sport tha originatit among Breetish Armie officer stationed i Indie i the second hauf o the 19th century. It is played on a rectangular table covered wi a green cloth (or "baize"), wi pockets at each o the four corners an i the middle o each lang side. Usin a cue stick [en] an 21 coloured bawls, players must strike the white bawl (or "cue bawl") tae pot or pocket tha remainin bawls i the correct sequence, accumulatin points fur each pot. An individual game (or frame), is won bi the player scorin the maist points. A match i won whan a player wins a predetermined batch o frames.

Snooker gained identity in 1884 whan armie officer Sir Neville Chamberlain [en], stationed in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, devised a set o rules that combined pyramid [en] an black puil [en]. The word snooker wis a long-uised military term fur inexperienced or first-year personnel. The game grew i popularity i the United Kingdom, an the Billiards Association an Control Club [en] wis formed i 1919. It i noo governed by the Warld Professional Billiards an Snooker Association (WPBSA).

The Warld Snooker Championship haes taken place since 1927. Joe Davis, a key figure i the early growth o the sport, won the championship 15 straight times between 1927 an 1946. The "modern era" began in 1969 after the broadcaster BBC commissioned the snooker television show Pot Black an later began tae air the Warld Championship in 1978. Key figures i the game were Ray Reardon i the 1970s, Steve Davis i the 1980s, an Stephen Hendry i the 1990s, each winnin six or more Warld championships. Since 2000, Ronnie O'Sullivan haes won the maist warld titles, wi five. Top professional players noo compete regularly around the warld an earn millions o pounds on the Warld Snooker Tour, which features players frae across the warld.

History[eedit | eedit soorce]

Sir Neville Chamberlain, a Breetish Army officer who devised the game an its rules in the late 19th century

The origin o snooker dates back tae the latter half o the 19th century.[4] In the 1870s, English billiards wis a popular activity among Breetish Army officers stationed i Indie, an several variations o the game were devised durin this time.[4] One variation that originatit a the officers' mess o the 11th Devonshire Regiment in 1875[5] combined the rules o two pocket billiards games: pyramid [en] an black puil [en].[6][7] The former wis played wi 15 red coloured bawls positioned i a triangle, while the latter involved the pottin o designatit bawls.[7][8] The game wis developed i 1884 whan its first set o rules wis finalised by Sir Neville Chamberlain,[lower-alpha 1] an English army officer who helped develop an popularise the game at Stone House in Ooty on a table built by Burroughes & Watts that wis brought over by boat.[9]

The word snooker wis a slang term fur first-year cadets an inexperienced military personnel, but Chamberlain would often use it fur the performance o one o his fellow officers a the table.[4] In 1887, snooker wis given its first definit reference i England i a copy o Sporting Life which caused a growth in popularity.[5] Chamberlain came out as the game's inventor in a letter tae The Field published on 19 March 1938, 63 years after the fact.[5]

Snooker grew i popularity across the Indian colonies an the United Kingdom, but it remained a game mainly fur the gentry, an many gentlemen's clubs that had a billiards table would not allow non-members inside tae play.[5] To accommodate the growin interest, smaller an more open snooker-specific clubs were formed.[5] In 1919, the Billiards Association an the Billiards Control Board merged tae form the Billiards Association an Control Club (BA&CC) an a new, staundart set o rules fur snooker first became official.[10]

In 1927 the first Warld Snooker Championship wis organised by Joe Davis.[4][lower-alpha 2] Davis, a professional English billiards an snooker player, moved the game frae a pastime tae a professional activity.[12] Davis won every warld championship until 1946, whan he retired frae the championships.[13] The game went inna a decline through the 1950s an 1960s wi little interest generatit outside o those who played.[14][7] In 1959, Davis introduced a variation o the game known as "Snooker Plus" tae try tae improve the game's popularity bi addin two extra colours, but this failed to gain interest.[15][16] In 1969, David Attenborough commissioned the snooker television series Pot Black to demonstrate the potential o colour television, wi the green table an multi-coloured bawls bein ideal fur showin off the advantages o colour broadcastin.[7][17][18] The series became a ratings success an wis fur a time the second-maist popular shaw on BBC Twa.[19] Interest i the game increased an the 1978 Warld Snooker Championship wis the first to be fully televised.[20][21] The game quickly became a mainstream game i the United Kingdom,[22] Ireland an much o the Commonwealth, an haes enjoyed much success since the late 1970s, wi maist o the rankin tournaments bein televised.[7] By the 1985 Warld Snooker Championship a total o 18.5 million viewer watched the 1985 Warld Snooker Championship between Dennis Taylor an Steve Davis, a record viewership fur the United Kingdom fur any broadcast after midnight.[23][24] In the early 2000s, a ban on tobacco advertisin led to a decrease i the nummer o professional tournamen,[25] wi professional tournaments bein cut tae only 15 events i 2003, frae 22 i 1999.[26][27] However, the popularity o the game in Asia, wi emergin talents such as Liang Wenbo an more established players such as Ding Junhui an Marco Fu, boosted the sport i the Far East.[28][29] By 2007, the BBC dedicated 400 hours to snooker coverage, compared to just 14 minutes 40 years earlier.[30]

In 2010, promoter Barry Hearn gained a controllin interest in Warld Snooker Ltd. an the Warld Snooker Tour, pledgin to revitalise the "moribund" professional game.[31][32][33] Since this time, the nummer o professional tournaments haes increased, wi 44 events i the 2019/20 season.[34] Events hae an aw been made to be more suitable fur television broadcasts, such a the Snooker Shoot-Out, a timed, one-frame tournament.[35] Prize money fur professional events haes an aw increased, wi top players makin several million pounds durin their careers.[36] The winner o the 2020 Warld Snooker Championship will receive £500,000 out o a total fund o £2,395,000.[37]

Rules[eedit | eedit soorce]

Objective[eedit | eedit soorce]

Snooker table wi bawls placed i their startin position. At the start o the game, the cue ball (white) mai be placed anywhere i the semicircle, known as the "D".
A game played on a half-size table. The player i strikin at the cue ball to pot a red ball into the corner pocket.

The objective o the game i to score more points than one's opponent by pottin bawls in the correct order. At the start o a frame, the bawls are positioned as shown i Figure A, an the players then take turns hittin shots by strikin the "cue bawl" wi the cue stick, their aim bein to pot one o the red bawls (or "red") into a pocket an thereby score a point. Failure to make contact wi the red constitutes a fowl shot.[38] If the striker pots a red, they must then pot one o the six "colours". If the player successfully pots a colour, the value o that ball i added to the player's score, an the ball i returned to its startin position on the table. After that, the player must pot another red, then another colour, in sequence. This process continues until the striker fails to pot the desired ball, at which point the opponen comes to the table to play the next shot.[38] The act o scorin sequentially in this manner i to make a brak (see scorin below).[38]

Computer simulation o a snooker brak-off shot

The game continues in this manner until all reds are potted an only the six colours are left on the table.[38] At this point the colours must be potted in the order frae least to maist valuable bawl, as per the table to the right. The shots are: yellow (two points), green (three points), brown (four points), blue (five points), pink (six points) an black (seven points), the balls not bein returned to play.[38] Whan the final ball i potted, the player wi more points wins.[38] If the scores are equal whan all the balls hae been potted, the black i placed back on its spot as a tiebreaker. In this situation, called re-spotted black, the black ball i placed on its designated spot an the cue ball is played as ball in hand. The referee then tosses a coin an the winner decides which player goes first. The frame continues until one o the players pots the black ball or commits a foul.[38] A player may an aw concede a frame while on strike if he or she thinks there are not enough points available on the table to beat the opponen's score. In professional snooker this i a common occurrence.[38][39] Professional an competitive amateur matches are officiated by a referee. The referee an aw replaces the colours on the table whan necessary an calls out how many points the player haes scored durin a brak.[40] Professional players usually play the game in a sportin manner, declarin fouls which they hae committed but the referee haes missed,[41] acknowledgin good shots frae their opponent, an holdin up a hand to apologise fur fortunate shots, kent as "flukes".[41]

Scorin[eedit | eedit soorce]

Points in snooker are gained frae pottin the correct balls in sequence. The total nummer o consecutive points (excludin fouls) that a player amasses durin one visit to the table is known as a brak. A player attainin a break o 15, fur example, could hae reached it by pottin a red then a black, then a red then a pink, before failin to pot the next red. A maximum brak in snooker is achieved by pottin all reds wi blacks then all colours, yieldin 147 points; this is often kent as a "147" or just as a "maximum".[42]

Colour Value
Red 1 point
Yellow 2 points
Green 3 points
Brown 4 points
Blue 5 points
Pink 6 points
Black 7 points

Points may an aw be scored in a game whan a player's opponent fouls. A foul can occur fur various reasons, maist commonly fur failin to hit the correct ball (e.g. hittin a colour first whan the player wis attemptin to hit a red), or fur sendin the cue bawl inna pocket. The former may occur whan the player fails to escape frae a "snooker" – a situation in that the previous player leaves the cue ball positioned such that no legal bawl can be struck directly withoot obstruction bi an illegal bawl. Points gained frae a foul vary frae a minimum o four tae a maximum o seven if the black bawl i involved.[38]

A foul shot that leaves no valid shot fur the opponent can leave them a "free bawl". A free bawl allows a player to use any other coloured ball in place o the shot they were supposed to play. Doin so wi all 15 red bawls in play can result in a break exceedin a maximum, wi the highest possible bein a 155 break, achieved via the opponen leavin a free bawl, wi the black bein potted as the additional colour, an then pottin 15 reds an blacks wi the colours.[38] Jamie Cope [en] haes the distinction o bein the first player in snooker history to post a verified 155 brak, achieved in a practice frame in 2005, wi other players such as Alex Higgins [en] an aw claimin to hae made a similar brak.[43][44]

Ane game, frae the balls in their startin position until the last bawl i potted, is called a "frame". A match generally consists o a predetermined nummer o frames an the player who wins the maist frames wins the match. Maist professional matches require a player to win five frames, an are called "best-of-nine" in reference to the maximum possible nummer o frames. Tournament finals are usually best-of-17 or best-of-19, while the warld championship uses longer matches – rangin frae best-of-19 in the qualifiers an the first round up to best-of-35 fur the final (first to 18), an is played over four sessions o play held over two days.[45]

Governance an tournaments[eedit | eedit soorce]

The Warld Professional Billiards an Snooker Association (WPBSA, an aw kent as Warld Snooker), fountit in 1968 as the Professional Billiard Players' Association,[46] i the governin body fur the professional competition.[47][48][49] The amateur game (includin youth competition) is governed by the International Billiards an Snooker Federation (IBSF).[50] Events held specifically fur women an events fur seniors are handled by World Snooker under World Women's Snooker an the World Seniors Tour, respectively.[51][52][53]

Tournaments[eedit | eedit soorce]

Professional[eedit | eedit soorce]

Professional snooker players play on the Warld Snooker Tour. Events on the Tour are only open to players on the Tour an selected amateur players, but maist events require qualification. Players can qualify fur the Tour either by bein high enough on the warld rankins frae prior seasons, winnin continental championships, or through the Challenge Tour or Q School [de] events.[54] Players on the Tour generally gain two-year participation fur the events.[54]

The Tour an aw haes an offeecial warld rankins scheme, wi anly players on the Tour receivin a rankin. Ranking points [en], earned by players through their performances over the previous two seasons, determine the current world rankins.[55] A player's rankin determines what level o qualification he or she requires fur specific tournaments. The elite o professional snooker are generally regartit as the "top-16" rankin players.[56] They are not required to pre-qualify fur some o the tournaments, such as the Shanghai Masters, the Masters an the Warld Snooker Championship.[57] Certain other events, such as those in the Coral Cup series, use the one-year rankin list to qualify; these use the results o the current season to denote participants.[58] Currently, the Tour contains 125 players, wi players either in the top-64 on the official rankin list, or finishin as one o the top eight prize money earners durin the maist recent season, guaranteed a tour place fur the next season, this bein assessed after the Warld Championship.[59]

The oldest professional snooker toornament is the Warld Championship,[60] held annually since 1927 (except durin Warld War II an between 1958 an 1963).[61][62] The toornament haes been held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England, since 1977, an wis sponsored by Embassy frae 1976 to 2005.[25] Since the ban on advertisin tobacco products, the championships hae been sponsored by bettin companies.[63][64][65]

The Warld Championship i the maist highly valued prize in professional snooker[66] i terms o financial reward (£500,000 fur the winner, formerly £300,000), rankin points an prestige.[67][68] It is televised extensively in the UK by the BBC[69] an gains significant coverage in Europe on Eurosport[70] an in East Asia on CCTV-5.[71] The Warld Championships is part o the Triple Crown along wi the UK Championship an the non-rankin Masters.[72] These events are valued by some players as the maist prestigious, an are an aw some o the oldest competitions. Winnin all three events is a difficult task, an haes only been done by 11 players.[73][56][72]

Wi some events havin been criticised fur matches takin too long,[74] an alternative series o timed toornaments haes been organised by Matchroom Sport [en] chairman Barry Hearn [en]. The shot-timed Premier League Snooker [en] wis established, wi seven players invitit to compete at regular United Kingdom venues, televised on Sky Sports.[68] Players haed twenty-five seconds tae take each shot, wi five time-outs per player per match. While some success wis achieved wi this format, it generally dinna receive the same amount o press attention or status as the regular rankin toornaments.[74] This event haes been taken oot o the tour since 2013, whan the Champion o Champions [en] wis established.[75] The Champion o Champions sea players qualify by virtue o winnin other events in the season, wi 16 champions competing.[76][lower-alpha 3]

In 2015, the Warld Professional Billiards an Snooker Association submitted an unsuccessful bid fur snooker to be played at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.[77][78] Another bid haes been put forward fur 2024 Summer Olympics through the Warld Snooker Federation, founded in 2017.[79][80] A trial fur the format fur cue sports to be played at the 2024 games wis put forward at the 2019 Warld Team Trophy [en], an aw featurin nine-ball an carom billiards.[81] Snooker haes been contested at the Warld Games since 2001, an wis included as an event at the 2019 Africaen Games.[82][83][84]

Criticisms[eedit | eedit soorce]

Several players, such as Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Allen an Steve Davis, hae warned that there are too many toornaments durin the season, an that players risk burnin out.[85] In 2012, O'Sullivan played fewer toornaments in order to spend more time wi his children, an ended the 2012–13 season ranked 19th in the warld.[85] Furthermore, he dinna play any toornament in 2013 except the Warld Championship, which he won.[85] O'Sullivan haes suggestit that a "breakaway tour" wi fewer events would be beneficial to the sport, but as o 2019 no such tour haes been organised.[86]

Some leagues hae allowed clubs to refuse to accept women players in toornaments.[87][88] League committee leadership defended the practice, saying, "If we lose two o these clubs [wi the men-only policies] we would lose four teams an we can't afford to lose four teams otherwise we would hae no league."[87] A Warld Women's Snooker spokesperson said, "It is disappointin an unacceptable that in 2019 that players such as Rebecca Kenna [en] hae been the victim o antiquated discriminatory practices."[89] The All-Party Parliamentary Group said, "The group believes that bein prevented frae playin in a club because o gender is archaic."[89]

Equipment[eedit | eedit soorce]

Cue-tip chalk, cue, white chalk-board chalk, an a slidin score-keeper

The Accessories uised fur snooker include chalk fur the tip o the cue, rests o various sorts uised fur playin shots that cannot be played by hand, a triangle to rack the reds, an a scoreboard. One drawback o snooker on a full-size (12 ft × 6 ft [366 cm × 183 cm]) table i the size o the room (22 by 16 feet [6.7 m × 4.9 m]), which i the minimum required fur comfortable cuein room on all sides.[90] This limits the nummer o locations in which the game can easily be played. While puil tables are common to many pubs, snooker tends to be played either in private surroundins or in public snooker halls. The game can an aw be played on smaller tables usin fewer red bawls. Variant table sizes include 10 ft × 5 ft (305 cm × 152 cm), 9 ft × 4.5 ft (274 cm × 137 cm), 8 ft × 4 ft (244 cm × 122 cm), 6 ft × 3 ft (183 cm × 91 cm) (the smallest fur realistic play) an 4 ft × 2 ft (122 cm × 61 cm). Smaller tables can come in a variety o styles, such as fold-away or dining-table convertible.[91]

A traditional snooker scoreboard resembles an abacus an records the score fur each frame in units an twenties an the frame scores. They are typically attached to a wall by the snooker table. A simple scorin bead is an aw sometimes uised, called a "scorin string", or "scorin wire".[40] Each bead (segment o the string) represents a single point. Snooker players typically move one or several beads wi their cue.[40]

The playin surface, 356.9 cm (11 feet 8.5 inches) by 177.8 cm (5 feet 10 inches) fur a staundart full-size table, wi six pocket holes, one at each corner an one at the centre o each o the longer side cushions.[92] The fully wool cloth is usually green, wi a directional nap runnin frae the baulk end o the table towards the end wi the black bawl spot. The cloth is often called "baize"; although true baize is a lower quality cloth sometimes uised on puil tables. The nap will affect the direction o the cue ball dependin on which direction the cue ball is shot an an aw on whether left or right side (spin) is placed on the ball. Even if the cue bawl is hit in exactly the same way, the nap will cause a different effect dependin on whether the bawl is hit down table (towards the black ball spot) or up table (towards the baulk line). The cloth on a snooker table i not vacuumed, as this can destroy the nap. The cloth is brushed in a straight line frae the baulk end to the far end wi multiple brush strokes that are straight in direction (i.e. not across the table). Some table men will an aw then drag a dampened cloth wrapped around a short piece o board (like a two by four), or straight back o a brush to collect any remainin fine dust an help lay the nap down. The table is then ironed. Strachan cloth, uised in official snooker toornaments, i 100% wool. Some other cloths include a small percentage o nylon.[93][94]

Notable players[eedit | eedit soorce]

In the professional era that began wi Joe Davis i the 1930s an continues until the present day, a relatively small nummer o players hae succeeded at the top level.[95][96] Joe Davis wis warld champion fur twenty years, retirin unbeaten after claimin his fifteenth warld title in 1946 whan the toornament wis reinstated after the Second Warld War.[97] Davis wis unbeaten in Warld Championship play, an wis only ever beaten four times in his entire life, wi all four defeats comin after his Warld Championship retirement an inflicted by his own brother Fred Davis [en].[97] He did lose matches in handicapped toornaments, but on level terms these four defeats were the only losses o his entire career.[98] He wis an aw warld billiards champion.[97] It is regarded as highly unlikely that anyone will ever dominate the game to this level again.[99]

After Davis retired frae Warld Championship play, the next dominant force wis his younger brother Fred Davis, who had lost the 1940 Warld Snooker Championship [en] final to Joe.[97] By 1947, Fred Davis wis deemed ready by his brother to take over the mantle, but lost the warld final to the Scotsman Walter Donaldson.[100] Davis an Donaldson wud contest the next four finals. After the abandonment o the Warld Championship in 1953, wi the 1952 final boycotted bi Breetish professionals, the Warld Professional Match-play Championship became the unofficial warld championship.[101] Fred Davis won the event every year until its penultimate one, in 1957, which he dinna enter.[102]

John Pulman wis the maist successful player o the 1960s, whan the warld championship wis contested on a challenge basis.[103] However, whan the toornament reverted to a knockout formula in 1969, he dinna prosper. Ray Reardon became the dominant force in the 1970s, winnin six titles (1970, 1973–1976 an 1978), wi John Spencer winnin three.[104][105]

Steve Davis' first warld title in 1981 made him only the 11th world champion since 1927, includin the winner o the boycotted 1952 title, Horace Lindrum.[106][107] Davis would win six World Championships (1981, 1983, 1984 an 1987–1989), an competed in the maist watched snooker match ever, the 1985 Warld Snooker Championship final wi Dennis Taylor.[108] Stephen Hendry became the 14th in 1990 an dominated through the 1990s, winnin seven titles (1990, 1992–1996 an 1999).[102][109] Ronnie O'Sullivan is the closest to dominance in the modern era, havin won the title on five occasions in the 21st century (2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 an 2013).[102] Mark Williams haes won three times (2000, 2003 an 2018) an John Higgins four times (1998, 2007, 2009 an 2011), but since the beginnin o the century, there haes not been a dominant force like in previous decades, an the modern era haes seen many players playin to a similar staundart, instead o one player raisin the bar. Davis, fur example, won more rankin toornaments than the rest o the top-64 players put together by 1985. By retainin his title in 2013, O'Sullivan became the first player to successfully defend the Warld Championship since Hendry in 1996 (Mark Selby would an aw do this in 2017).[110]

See an aw[eedit | eedit soorce]

Notes[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. not the Prime Minister o the same name
  2. The event wis known then a the Professional Snooker Championship.[11]
  3. Under certain circumstances, some runners-up participate at the event.[76]

References[eedit | eedit soorce]

Citations[eedit | eedit soorce]

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Sources[eedit | eedit soorce]

  • Gadsby, Paul; Williams, Luke (2012). Snooker's World Champions: Masters of the Baize. Random House. ISBN 978-1-78057-715-9.

External links[eedit | eedit soorce]

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