World Snooker Championship


World Snooker Championship

The World Snooker Championship, currently held at the Crucible Theatre in the English city of Sheffield, is the climax of snooker's annual calendar and the most important snooker event of the year in terms of prestige, prize money and world ranking points. The current champion is Ronnie O'Sullivan.

History

The first championship was held in 1927, and the legendary Joe Davis helped to organise the event. Matches were held at various venues, and the final took place at Camkin's Hall, Birmingham. Joe Davis won the event, beating Tom Dennis 20-11. His prize money was £6.10s. The highest break of the tournament was 60 by Albert Cope.

In subsequent years, finals were held at various venues. Joe Davis won every year until 1940, when he just beat his younger brother Fred 37-36. No tournaments were organised during the remaining war years, and it only resumed in 1946 when Joe Davis won again for the 15th time, a record that still stands. Joe Davis never contested the world championship again, though he continued to play professional snooker. Some have speculated that he did not want to risk losing his unbeaten record.

Walter Donaldson won in 1947, but it was Fred Davis who dominated the next few years, winning it three times in 1948, 1949 and 1951.

In 1952, as a result of a disagreement between the governing bodies (the Billiards Association and Control Council), and some of the players, two tournaments were held. The World Matchplay, organised by the players and widely viewed as the "real" world championship, continued until 1957. The BA&CC event only lasted one year. Meanwhile the 'official' world championship did attract two entrants in 1952, Horace Lindrum (Australia) beating New Zealander Clark McConachy – and it is Lindrum's name that is inscribed on the familiar trophy.

Snooker then went into a period of decline, and no tournament was held between 1958 and 1963. In 1964 it was revived on a challenge basis, a format which lasted until 1968. This meant that matches took place on an irregular basis, sometimes more than once a year. John Pulman completely dominated during this period, overcoming all challengers in a total of seven matches.

The championship reverted back to a knockout tournament in 1969. That year it was won by John Spencer, but it was Ray Reardon who was to dominate over the coming years, winning six times between 1970 and 1978.

1976 was the first year the championships were sponsored by the cigarette brand Embassy. The following year, the event moved to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, UK, and the BBC started providing major television coverage. The Crucible provides a unique atmosphere to the tournament, both for spectators and live television viewers. The venue seats fewer than a thousand people with the front row of seats only a few feet from the players. This was about the time snooker started attracting very large television audiences, and for most fans The Crucible is synonymous with snooker. The most successful players at The Crucible are Steve Davis, who won six times in the 1980s, and Stephen Hendry, who won seven times in the 1990s. Recently, the tournament has been more open, with six different winners in the last six years (2002-07). The most famous final occurred in 1985, when Dennis Taylor beat Steve Davis 18-17 in one of the most closely contested matches of all time (see 1985 World Snooker Championship final for details). It finished at 00:19 but was superseded as the latest finish first by the 2006 final (00:52 BST), then the 2007 final (00:55 BST).

In 2004, the championship offered a total of £1,378,920 ($2,665,589) in prize money, including £250,000 ($483,274) for the winner and £125,000 ($241,637) for the runner-up. A further £147,000 ($284,165) was on offer for a 147 break, though no player achieved this.

Recent United Kingdom legislation has placed restrictions on tobacco advertising, including sponsorship of sporting events. Embassy had a special dispensation to continue snooker sponsorship until 2005. The Championship is currently without a title sponsor after 888.com pulled out of their five year sponsorship deal after three yearsUnknown author [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/snooker/7544214.stm "Huge financial blow hits snooker "] , "BBC Sport", 6th August 2008, (Retrieved 6 August 2008)] . During the 2005 Championship it was announced that the Championship would remain at the Crucible for at least another five years. Plans to build a purpose-built billiardrome in the city are in their early stages. It is anticipated that the World Championships will be switched to the new venue once the current Crucible contract ends.

A recent contract ensures that the BBC will continue to televise this event (along with three others) until 2011. IMG Media (initially as TWI) have produced the BBC's Snooker coverage since 1998.

Records (since 1969, data shown is for finalists only)

1969 is regarded as the start of the 'modern' era as the championship reverted to a knock-out tournament format from a challenge format.

Most successful nations (since 1969)

Trivia

* The greatest number of wins is fifteen, by Joe Davis. This was in an era when there were few professional players and far fewer matches required to win, and is unlikely to be beaten. In the modern game, the best record is that of Stephen Hendry, who has won seven times to date. Steve Davis won six times in the 1980s, as did Ray Reardon in the 1970s.

* The first 147 in the championship was achieved by Cliff Thorburn in 1983. Ronnie O'Sullivan is the only player to achieve the feat more than once, scoring a maximum in 1997, 2003 and 2008. He is also the only player to lose a match in the World Championship after scoring a 147. His maximum in 1997 was, at 5 minutes 20 seconds, the fastest ever recorded in the professional game. Jimmy White (1992), Stephen Hendry (1995), Mark Williams (2005) and Ali Carter (2008) are the other players to have made a maximum break at the World Championship.

* The World Snooker Championship 2008 was the first ranking tournament ever where there have been two 147 breaks at the latter stages, in that event they were scored by Ali Carter and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

* Fergal O'Brien is the only player to score a century in his first frame at the Crucible, which he did in 1994.

* The longest ever frame at the Crucible lasted 1 hour and 17 minutes, and was played between John Higgins and Mark Selby in the 2007 final.

* Stephen Hendry was the youngest ever champion when he won in 1990 aged 21.

* Joe Swail in his second round match at the 2008 World Championships, Joe potted a black which Willie Thorne described as a "1 in 1000 pot".

* Horace Lindrum of Australia, who won in 1952, Cliff Thorburn of Canada, who won in 1980 and Ken Doherty of Ireland, who won in 1997 are the only champions from outside the United Kingdom.

* Surprising wins at The Crucible include Joe Johnson and Shaun Murphy, who won in 1986 and 2005 respectively against odds of 150-1 each, and Terry Griffiths, whose 1979 victory was only his second professional tournament.

* Jimmy White has reached six finals, but never won. The closest he got was 18-17 in 1994 against Stephen Hendry, on his 32nd birthday.

* Ken Doherty is the only player to have won the world title at junior, amateur and professional level.

* John Parrott is the only player to have recorded a whitewash in the final tournament. He beat Eddie Charlton 10-0 in the first round in 1992.

*Stephen Hendry holds the all time record for consecutive matches won at the World Championship with 29. The streak started at the 1992 Championships and continued until he was defeated by Ken Doherty in the 1997 final. Joe Davis won more titles in succession however at that time the defending champion only had to play one match (the challenge match).

*Since the tournament has been held at the Crucible only two players have ever successfully defended a world title: Steve Davis who won three times in succession and Stephen Hendry who won five times in succession. No player has successfully defended their first title in the modern era.

External links

* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/snooker/default.stm BBC Sport Snooker]
* [http://www.worldsnooker.com/ World Snooker, commercial arm of snooker's governing body]
* [http://www.billiardrome.com Billiardrome plans]

References


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