Snooker

Snooker (British English pronunciation: pron.: /?snu?k?r/, American English pron.: /?sn?k?r/) is a cue sport that is typically played on a table covered with a green cloth or baize, with pockets situated in each of the four corners and a further two, commonly referred to as the middle, or side pockets, that sit in the middle of each of the long side cushions. The (baize) cloth on a snooker table has a directional nap running from the balk end of the table towards the end with the (black ball) spot. This affects how a ball rolls depending on which direction it is hit or shot. A regular (full-size) table is 12 ? 6 ft (3.7 ? 1.8 m). It is played using a cue and 22 snooker balls: one white cue ball, 15 red balls worth one point each, and six balls of different colours: yellow (2 points), green (3), brown (4), blue (5), pink (6) and black (7). A player (or team) wins a frame (individual game) of snooker by scoring more points than the opponent(s), using the cue ball to pot the red and coloured balls. A player wins a match when a certain number of frames have been won. Snooker, generally regarded as having been invented in India by British Army officers, is popular in many of the English-speaking and Commonwealth countries, with top professional players attaining multi-million pound career earnings from the game. The sport is now increasingly popular in China. It is commonly accepted[by whom?] that snooker originated in the later half of the 19th century. Billiards had been a popular activity amongst British Army officers stationed in India, and variations on the more traditional billiard games were devised. One variation, devised in the officers' mess in Jabalpur during 1874 or 1875, was to add coloured balls in addition to the reds and black which were used for pyramid pool and life pool. The rules were formally finalized in 1884 by Sir Neville Chamberlain at Ootacamund.[citation needed] The word snooker also has military origins, being a slang term for first-year cadets or inexperienced personnel. One version of events states that Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain of the Devonshire regiment (not the later Prime Minister of the same name) was playing this new game when his opponent failed to pot a ball and Chamberlain called him a snooker. It thus became attached o the billiards game now bearing its name as inexperienced players were labelled as snookers. One such effect of snooker in England was its growing popularity, but generally it was still a game for the gentry and many well established gentleman clubs which had a billiards table would not allow nonmembers inside to play. To accommodate the popularity of the game, smaller and more open snooker-specific clubs started to be formed. The game of snooker grew in the later half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, and by 1927 the first World Snooker Championship had been organised by Joe Davis who, as a professional English billiards and snooker player, moved the game from a pastime activity into a more professional sphere. Joe Davis won every world championship until 1946 when he retired. The game went into a decline through the 1950s and 1960s with little interest generated outside of those who played. In 1959, Davis introduced a variation of the game, known as snooker plus, to try to improve the game's popularity by adding two extra colours. However, it never caught on. A major advance occurred in 1969, when David Attenborough commissioned the snooker tournament Pot Black to demonstrate the potential of colour television, with the green table and multi-coloured balls being ideal for showing off the advantages of colour broadcasting. The TV series became a ratings success and was for a time the second most popular show on BBC Two. Interest in the game increased and the 1978 World Championship was the first to be fully televised. The game quickly became a mainstream sport in the UK, Ireland and much of the Commonwealth and has enjoyed much success in the last 30 years, with most of the ranking tournaments being televised. In 1985 a total of 18.5 million viewers watched the concluding frame of the world championship final between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis. In recent years the loss of tobacco sponsorship has led to a decrease in the number of professional tournaments, although some new sponsors have been sourced; and the popularity of the game in the Far East and China, with emerging talents such as Liang Wenbo and more established players such as Ding Junhui and Marco Fu, bodes well for the future of the sport in that part of the world