Saturday April 17, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Snooker
On this Day:
In 1875, Modern Snooker was invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain, a bored British officer in Jabalpur, India.
Snooker is a cue sport that was first played by British Army officers stationed in India in the second half of the 19th century. It is played on a rectangular table covered with a green cloth (or “baize”), with six pockets: one at each corner and one in the middle of each long side. Using a cue stick, the players[a] take turns to strike the white “cue ball” to pot the other twenty-one snooker balls in the correct sequence, accumulating points for each pot. An individual frame of snooker is won by the player who has scored the most points by the end of the frame. A snooker match ends with one of the players having won a predetermined number of frames, thus winning the match.
Snooker gained its identity in 1875 when army officer Sir Neville Chamberlain (1856–1944), stationed in Ootacamund, Madras, and Jabalpur, devised a set of rules that combined black pool and pyramids. The word snooker was a well-established derogatory term used to describe inexperienced or first-year military personnel. In the early 20th century, snooker was predominantly played in the United Kingdom where it was considered a “gentleman’s sport” until the early 1960s, before growing in popularity as a national pastime and eventually spreading overseas. The standard rules of the game were first established in 1919 when the Billiards Association and Control Club was formed. As a professional sport, snooker is now governed by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, founded in 1968.
The World Snooker Championship has taken place since 1927. Joe Davis, a key figure and pioneer in the early growth of the sport, won fifteen successive world championships between 1927 and 1946. The “modern era” of snooker began in 1969 after the broadcaster BBC commissioned the television series Pot Black, later airing daily coverage of the World Championship which was first televised in 1978. Key figures in the game were Ray Reardon in the 1970s, Steve Davis in the 1980s, and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s, each winning the World Championship on multiple occasions. Since 2000, Ronnie O’Sullivan has won the most world titles.
Top professional players compete in regular tournaments around the world, earning millions of pounds on the World Snooker Tour, a circuit of international events featuring competitors of many different nationalities. The three main professional tournaments—the World Championship, the UK Championship, and the Masters—together make up the Triple Crown Series, considered by many players to be the most highly valued titles. Competitive snooker is also available to non-professional players, including seniors and people with disabilities. Although the main professional tour is open to females, there is a separate amateur women’s tour organised by World Women’s Snooker. The popularity of snooker has led to the creation of many variations based on the standard game, but using different rules or equipment, for example six-red snooker, the short-lived “snooker plus”, and the more recent Snooker Shoot Out version (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
There was a snooker tournament on the TV. The announcer said: “Who will take the second shot in the snooker match? We will find out after the break.”
Second, a Song:
Chas & Dave (often billed as Chas ‘n’ Dave) were a British pop rock duo, formed in London by Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock. They were most notable as creators and performers of a musical style labelled rockney (a portmanteau of rock and cockney), which mixes “pub singalong, music-hall humour, boogie-woogie piano and pre-Beatles rock ‘n’ roll”. For a time, Rockney was also the name of their record label, their major breakthrough being “Gertcha” in 1979, which peaked at No. 20 in the UK Singles Chart, and was the first of eight Top 40 hit singles the duo played on. They had their biggest success in the early 1980s with “Rabbit” and “Ain’t No Pleasing You”. They also had nine charting albums. In October 2013 they released That’s What Happens, their first studio album in 18 years.
“Snooker Loopy” is a humorous song which was released as a single in May 1986, and entered the UK Singles Chart, reaching #6. It was written and performed by Chas & Dave and featured snooker players Steve Davis, Dennis Taylor, Willie Thorne, Terry Griffiths and Tony Meo, as backing vocalists under the name ‘The Matchroom Mob’ – Matchroom Sport being the company owned by promoter Barry Hearn which employed all these snooker professionals at the time.
The lyric is a mild satire on the style and antics of the players involved: “old Willie Thorne, his hair’s all gawn”, for example. The verse on Steve Davis also makes light of the 1985 World Snooker Championship final and his missed black in the final frame, and notes his manager is not concerned who should win the upcoming 1986 Championship, “because he’s got the rest of us signed up!”
Chas & Dave performed the song at their live shows with the original lyric during the subsequent part of their career, even after all the players mentioned had retired from the professional game.
Here is Chas & Dave’s “Snooker Loopy” mashed up to clips of Ronnie O’Sullivan playing snooker. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“The most important thing, the biggest love of my life, is my snooker. I’ve never been so emotionally ingrained in something – in a person, an object, anything – as I have in snooker.” – Ronnie O’Sullivan
“How does Ronnie O’Sullivan play snooker the way he does? You can’t explain it.” – Bradley Wiggins
Further to the Great Train Robbery Smile, Frank Fowlie of Richmond, BC, Canada writes:
“Winnipeg has an even better gold heist story:
In retirement Scotty Gardner became an investigator with the BC Ombudsman.”
Bill MacLeod of Vancouver, BC, Canada writes:
“Thanks David. Had to watch “Will it Blend?” again. Love seeing “iSmoke”.
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Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky