The Game of Snooker

History of Snooker

Snooker is often believed to have begun in the second part of the 1800s. UK Army officers in India were keen English billiards players and began offering variants on the original theme. "Snooker" was a term for cadets or young soldiers. One story tells of Sir Neville Chamberlain calling his opponent a "snooker" when he didn’t pot a ball - the name has stayed and the game became the global sport that we have today.

20th century snooker

Following its birth and into the 1900s, the game grew. Having been returned to the UK by the Officer Class, it was a game linked to gentlemen and gradually developed in popularity. In the twenties, Joe Davis (a professional English billiards and snooker player) set up the first World Championships. This was the start of the professional game and he won all the World Championships till he retired in 1946. In the 1950's and 1960's, the game stayed popular with cue sports fans, but gained little attention with the public at large.

This transformed in 1969, when David Attenborough of the BBC began the programme "Pot Black". This was a televised snooker contest designed to champion the benefits of colour TV broadcasting - a green table and multi-coloured balls made a strong visual spectacle in the first days of colour TV. "Pot Black" was one of the best two programmes on BBC2 for several years and helped to created increased interest in snooker as a sport. The 1978 World Championship was fully televised and snooker became a big sport in the UK, Ireland and the Commonwealth.

Get in touch with Snooker - the game and the players

The Game of Snooker

This site is about snooker and snooker players such as Ricky Walden and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

It is generally thought that cue sports have evolved from outdoor stick and lawn games. The word "billiard" perhaps developed from the French "billart", which meant a tool used in many outside games of the time.

The game’s origins

To start with, billiards games were generally obstacle and betting games, for example bagatelle and pin pool. Some kinds had structures like modern-day mini golf and others were done on a sloped table - these were probably the forebears to modern-day pinball tables. The hazards had many functions in the games: some were obstacles that needed to be avoided; others were goals that had to be hit or passed through to record a score. In many instances, the hazards had to be utilised to score in other ways, such as bouncing off them to reach a hole or trapping opponent's balls.

Snooker balls

These games ultimately led to the creation of carom billiards - games of three or often four balls, usually on a table without holes. The goal of the game is generally to bounce a ball in a way that the cue ball bounces off one or more cushions to hit another ball. There are several different variations and rules for this kind of game and they once totally dominated the cue sports world. However, they have gone down in popularity over the years.

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