Did you know that the origins of the English billiard game of the 16th century were the basis for the creation of snooker, a cue sport that came into being in its current form in the late 19th century? The British Armed Forces stationed in India created the pool game. Since pool and billiards could only be played by two people, other games like life pool and pyramid pool were created to support many players. Snooker is the result of the eventual combination of these two games.
If you’re interested in learning about where billiard – AKA snooker and pool – originated from and the history of the game, you’ve come to the right place. Our team of betting experts have also prepared a list of the best betting sites for snooker that you can try your luck on, where you’ll also discover a wide selection of reliable bookies’ welcome bonuses and the greatest odds out there.
The History of Snooker
How The Original Version of Snooker Was Created and 1875
In the sixteenth century, the game of snooker was created. Because members of the Royal Family enjoyed playing it so much, it was dubbed a “gentleman’s game.” There were simply holes on the wooden tables for the balls to be potted; no side rails, pockets, or cushions. The ball dropped to the floor each time a pot was made. A further distinction from contemporary billiards was the ivory nature of the balls. It was becoming a popular game in India, and a lot of British Armed Forces soldiers stationed in India played the game in the 19th century and wanted to bring the sport back to England.
The original version of pool was a two-man game with three balls—two for each player as the cue balls. Different versions of pool with several snooker players were added to the game as a result, so that others could also join in on the game. Pyramid and life pools were added to the new versions. Numerous coloured balls were used in the life pool as object and cue balls respectively. For every red ball potted, a player in the pyramid pool scored one point. There were fifteen red balls and one white cue ball. The table was progressing toward its present condition along with the creation of new games. The other version was called Black Pool. Apart from the addition of the black ball from the life pool to the game and the ability to pot for extra points, black pool was identical to the pyramid pool.
Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain proposed including the additional coloured balls in the revised version in 1875 while he was at the officers’ mess at Jabalpur, in the Central Provinces. Though the blue and brown balls were added in subsequent years, the game was starting to resemble snooker as we know it today.
Snooker got its name from a version made by Chamberlain regarding a player who missed a shot. Referring to his inexperience—”snooker” being a colloquial name for a first-year cadet – he labelled him “a true snooker.” In Ootacamund, Madras Province, the first formal set of rules of snooker was created in 1882. After meeting Chamberlain while visiting India in 1885, British Billiards Champion John Roberts decided to bring snooker to England.
The Early Years of The Game
In 1916, the English Amateur Championships were the first recognised tournaments. Joe Davis organised the first-ever professional World Snooker Championship in 1927. Joe Davis became the winner and collected the £6.10 in prize money. Given that the tournament’s highest break was just sixty at the time, the playing standards were not particularly high. By the 1930s, snooker had become highly popular.
Up until his retirement in 1946, Joe Davis remained the era’s dominant player, having won every World Championship. There had been a disagreement between the Billiards Snooker Association and the Control Council, the organisation that regulated the games, from 1952 and 1957. Consequently, just two individuals took part in the official World Championship, even though an unofficial one was planned. At the time, most people thought that the unofficial tournament winner was the greatest player in the world. Horace Lindrum secured the title of World Champion during this period. There were no world championships held between 1958 and 1963 due to a drop in the popularity of the game of snooker.
The Beginning of the Modern Game of Snooker
The BBC successfully brought snooker back into the public eye in 1969 when it started the first official Pot Black event at BBC Studios in Birmingham. The BBC looked for shows that could make use of this new technology when they started to broadcast in colour. The show was first broadcast on BBC2 on July 23, 1969. The BBC aired Pot Black, a British series of snooker events about the game of black pool that were not ranked and which significantly contributed to the sport becoming a popular game.
With his combination of bluster, charm, and ability to grab attention, 23-year-old Alex “Hurricane” Higgins became the first real celebrity billiard player in 1972 and helped popularise it in the era of coloured television. It went on until 1986 when the Pot Black format became outdated due to the increasing number of televised snooker competitions. 1990 saw its comeback, but following the 1993 incident, it was cancelled.
Up until 2007, the event was brought back to life in the 1990s with several one-off competitions. Pot Black had a major role in making snooker one of the most popular sports in the UK, having taken it from being a minority sport with only a few professional players. The highest break record for the event, set by Mark Williams, is 119. In 1973, the World Championship made its television debut. In 1976, the World Rankings were established, and the World Championship moved to Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 1977. It has remained there ever since. In 1978, the Professional Snooker Championship started to be shown on television every day.
The sport was becoming more and more popular by the 1980s. Due to his flawless technique, all-around skill and immense devotion beyond the game from his aspirational manager Barry Hearn, Steve Davis dominated for most of the decade. In the style of his close friend and hero Alex Higgins, the wild-card contender Jimmy White emerged as the front-runner. During the 1984–1985 snooker season, ITV began airing three additional ranking events: the International, Classic, and British Open. This meant that there would be even more tournaments on the schedule.
When heavy favourite and early leader Steve Davis fell to an incredible comeback from Northern Ireland veteran Dennis Taylor in the 1985 World Snooker Championship Final, snooker reached its greatest hour and ultimate apex. A record 18.5 million UK TV viewers turned in for the suspenseful conclusion of the 35th and decisive frame, which lasted 68 minutes and had the entire country on edge when Taylor sank the last black at 12:20 am.
The 1986 World Snooker Championship Final between Steve Davis and Bradford underdog Joe Johnson, which Johnson unexpectedly won 18–12, also attracted a sizable audience of 16 million UK TV watchers, even though the record-watching figure was never surpassed. The novelty hymn “Snooker Loopy,” which Chas and Dave recorded with the Matchroom Mob (Barry Hearn, Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Willie Thorne, Terry Griffiths, and Tony Meo), peaked at number six in the UK Singles chart in the run-up to the 1986 World Championship.
Even in the later part of the 1980s, snooker remained popular domestically. In this period, competitions were beginning to spread throughout Europe, Asia, and North America thanks to Barry Hearn’s assistance. It wasn’t until 1988 that a ranking tournament was held outside of the UK, the Canadian Masters. The first £100,000 winner’s prize professional event took place in December 1988, with the world’s top 12 players competing in the invited Matchplay.
Former world champion Stephen Hendry began to pose a threat to Steve Davis’ hegemony in the late 1980s, while over 200 professional players were active by the end of the decade; in the 1990s, that number rose to over four hundred.
The Billiard Table Beyond the ’90s
In the 1990s, a new breed of players emerged, front-runner Stephen Hendry being one of them, who dominated most of the decade. The most World Championships, ranking titles, and (BBC) major titles won by Hendry exceeded several of Steve Davis’ records. Hendry’s aggressive, break-building style of play, which frequently won frames in a single game, brought in a new age of players. Having defeated Hendry in the 1993 UK Snooker Championship Final, Ronnie O’Sullivan, at 17 years old, became the youngest-ever winner of a ranking tournament.
Even as the quality of the game was still rising quickly, its enormous appeal began to decline. Following the 1993 British Open, ITV ceased to broadcast ranking tournaments. During this time, mostly because of the economic downturn, prize money totals for events other than the World Championship began to decline.
The BBC’s continued broadcasting of the main tournaments and the support of tobacco companies meant that Snooker continued to receive some attention starting in the mid-1990s. Embassy’s longstanding relationship with the World Championship came to an end with the tournament in 2005, while Benson & Hedges’ last sponsorship of the Invitational Masters took place in 2003 due to the tightening regulations or eventual ban on tobacco advertising in sports.
The main tour roster was downsized to 96 pros at the beginning of the 2005–2006 season as a result of required cuts (caused by the loss of tobacco financing) and fewer events. There were fewer and fewer events on the circuit. However, the online gaming and gambling business has stepped in to sponsor several events on the calendar since tobacco funding was lost. After a vote of no confidence removed WPBSA chairman Sir Rodney Walker in December 2009, veteran sports promoter Barry Hearn was able to try to bring the sport back to life.
After being transformed into an organisation governed by regulations, Barry Hearn was named chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. By a vote of 35 to 29, players on June 2, 2010, Hearn became the new owner of World Snooker Ltd., the league’s business division. Many new competitions have been added to the schedule, including the Player Tour Championship and Sky Shootout. As the World Open, the Grand Prix competition has undergone a redesign.
Providing players with greater opportunities to play and earn was one of the issues that was most important in the previous WPBSA board’s removal and the return of Barry Hearn. There were six ranking tournaments during the 2009–2010 snooker season (before Hearn). When invitationals are included, the total number of events on the schedule for the majority of professionals is about 15. For those players farther down the ranks, the game had become a part-time choir, and they needed second occupations to enhance their revenue.
The 2011–2012 season’s tentative schedule, in contrast, called for nine ranking tournaments, thirteen minor ranking events under the Players Tour Championship banner, and seven invitationals, including the Premier League and the Wembley Masters. 29 official World Snooker tournaments, a record, were added to the calendar.
There were 35 events available on the circuit for the 2011–2012 season if format changes like Power Snooker and Six Reds are included. These tournaments feature the best players. An extended tour calendar allows players to select the tournaments they want to compete in, much as in other sports like tennis and golf.
John Higgins and Ronnie O’Sullivan are still among the best players in the current generation. New international stars have surfaced in recent years, including Chinese Ding Junhui, Englishman Judd Trump, and Australian Neil Robertson. For the 2010–2011 snooker season, Reanne Evans, a multiple World Snooker Ladies champion, became the first ever female to be awarded a spot on the main tour. Currently, £5 million ($8 million US dollars) is allocated as prize money for each season. The main prize for the sport’s World Championship is £250,000 ($400,000 in US dollars).