1977 World Snooker Championship

The 1977 World Snooker Championship was a professional ranking snooker tournament that took place from 18 to 30 April 1977 at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. John Spencer won his third World Snooker Championship title by defeating Cliff Thorburn by 25 frames to 21 in the final. The event was sponsored by cigarette manufacturer Embassy and for the first time was held at the Crucible, which has remained as the venue for the Championship since then.

Embassy World Snooker Championship
Tournament information
Dates18–30 April 1977 (1977-04-18 – 1977-04-30)
VenueCrucible Theatre
CitySheffield
CountryEngland
OrganisationWPBSA
FormatRanking event
Total prize fund£17,000
Winner's share£6,000
Highest break John Spencer (ENG) (135)
Final
Champion John Spencer (ENG)
Runner-up Cliff Thorburn (CAN)
Score25–21
1976
1978

Qualifying matches took place from 28 March to 7 April 1977 at Hounslow Civic Centre and at Fisher's Snooker Centre, Acton, to produce eight qualifiers to meet the eight top seeded players from the 1976/1977 snooker world rankings in the main event. Ray Reardon, who had won the annual championship each year from 1973 to 1976, was defeated 6–13 by Spencer in the quarter-finals. There were six century breaks at the championship, the highest of which, 135, was scored by Spencer in the sixth frame of his semi-final match against John Pulman. Spencer was the first player to win the championship using a two-piece cue. As champion, he received £6,000 from the total prize fund of £17,000.

OverviewEdit

Snooker, a cue sport, was founded in the late 19th century by British Army soldiers stationed in India.[1] Joe Davis won the first World Snooker Championship, organised by the Billiards Association and Control Council, in 1927.[2]: 23 [3] In the "modern" era of the sport, which started in 1969 when the World Championship reverted to a knockout format,[4] snooker has become increasingly popular worldwide, especially in East and Southeast Asian nations such as China, Hong Kong and Thailand.[5][6][7] Since 1977, the championship has been held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England.[8]

The 1977 championship featured sixteen professional players competing in one-on-one snooker matches in a single-elimination format, each match played over several frames.[9] It was organised by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), the governing body for professional snooker,[10] and promoted by Mike Watterson,[11] with sponsorship by cigarette company Embassy.[12] Watterson chose the Crucible after Carol Watterson, his wife, saw a play there and recommended the venue.[13][14][15] Watterson booked the venue, at a cost of £6,600, and made personal financial guarantees for the championship, before Embassy's sponsorship had been secured. With audience members purchasing tickets at prices ranging from 75p to £3.50, the event made a surplus of £12,000.[16][17] Highlights of the semi-finals and final were broadcast on BBC2.[18][19][20]

Prize fundEdit

The breakdown of prize money for this year is shown below:[21]

  • Winner: £6,000
  • Runner-up: £2,000
  • Semi-final: £1,200
  • Quarter-final: £750
  • Last 16: £350
  • Highest break: £500
  • Total: £17,000

Tournament summaryEdit

 
The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (pictured in 2005) has been the venue for the World Snooker Championship since 1977.

QualifyingEdit

The WPBSA first published official world rankings for players on the main tour for the 1976–77 season. Players' performances in the previous three World Snooker Championships (1974, 1975, and 1976) contributed to their points total. These were used for seedings for the tournament. Ray Reardon was seeded first, as defending champion, and was also number one on the ranking list.[13][22] Originally, the top 14 players were due to be seeded into the last-16 round, but the WPBSA members voted 11–10 to change this so that only the top eight players were exempted to the last-16.[23] The draw for the tournament was conducted by journalist Janice Hale at the Albany Hotel, Birmingham.[24]

Qualifying matches were scheduled from 28 March to 7 April 1977 and took place at Hounslow Civic Centre and at Fisher's Snooker Centre, Acton.[23][25][26] In the preliminary round, John Virgo eliminated Roy Andrewartha 11–1. In the next round, he won four consecutive frames to go from 7–6 against John Dunning to win 11–6. Willie Thorne won six consecutive frames to complete an 11–6 defeat of Bernard Bennett. Jim Meadowcroft gained a 6–3 lead against Patsy Fagan, but lost 9–11 after the pair had been level at 8–8. David Taylor whitewashed David Greaves 11–0 and made a century break in the fourth frame. there were two other 11–0 whitewashes, by Cliff Thorburn against Chris Ross, and by Dennis Taylor against Jack Karnehm. Veteran Jackie Rea was 8–6 and later 9–8 ahead of Masters champion Doug Mountjoy, a first-season professional who was the reigning World Amateur Champion. Mountjoy won three consecutive frames to take the match 11–9. Maurice Parkin withdrew due to illness, giving John Pulman a walkover.[23][26] Fagan, Virgo, Mountjoy and Thorne all qualified to make their World Championship debuts.[27]

First roundEdit

The first round took place from 18 to 21 April, each match played over three sessions as the best of 25 frames.[28] Reardon and Fagan each won four frames in their first session,[29] before Reardon opened up a 10–7 lead during the second session and completed a win at 13–7 the following day.[30] John Spencer was three frames behind Virgo at 1–4 and 4–7, but won three successive frames to equalise both times, and won 13–9.[29][9] Graham Miles was a single frame in front of Thorne, at 4–3, after their first session,[29] and from 5–4 ahead won eight frames in a row to seal a win.[9] Pulman led his fellow former world champion Fred Davis 5–3,[29] and then 11–6, finally winning 13–12.[31]

Eddie Charlton won seven of the first eight frames against David Taylor, made a 105 break in the 12th frame, and progress to the next round 13–5. Thorburn won seven successive frames during his 13–6 defeat of Rex Williams. Dennis Taylor concluded a 13–11 win against Perrie Mans with a break of 76, the highest of their match, in the 24th frame.[9] Alex Higgins, the second seed, was 9–7 ahead of Mountjoy after two sessions, but Mountjoy won the opening frame of their third session with a 102 break, and then four of the following five frames. Higgins, took the following two frames, and led by 36 points in the deciding frame. Higgins missed an attempt to pot the pink ball, and a break of 31 by Mountjoy immediately afterwards terminated when he failed to double the final black ball. Two visits later, Mountjoy potted the black to seal victory.[32]

Quarter-finalsEdit

The quarter-finals were played as best-of-25-frames matches over three sessions, on 23 and 24 April.[28] Defending champion Reardon was never ahead against Spencer, and was eliminated 6–13. Pulman reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1970 by defeating Miles 13–10.[9]

Thorburn and Charlton were level several times, at 3–3, 7–7, 10–10 and 11–11. Charlton won the 23rd frame on the final black, but lost the match when Thorburn took the next two frames to win 13–12.[33][9] Mountjoy took the first three frames against Dennis Taylor but then lost the next five.[33] Taylor won 13–11.[9]

Semi-finalsEdit

 
Cliff Thorburn (pictured in 2007) reached the final for the first time, and was runner-up to John Spencer.

The semi-finals took place from 24 to 27 April as best-of-35-frames matches played over five sessions.[28] Pulman took a 3–0 lead, but Spencer recovered to 3–3, and compiled a total clearance of 135 in the sixth frame. Pulman then went 7–3 ahead, before Spencer levelled the match by winning the next four frames. Spencer went on to lead 13–9 and 16–2, and won 18–12, thus qualifying for the final for the first time since 1972.[9][34][35]

Thorburn led 4–3 after the first session, and was level at 7–7 with Taylor after the second session. Thorburn recorded a 100 break, which included a cocked-hat double on the final red ball, at the start of the third session, and led 12–9 at the close of the penultimate day. Taylor added three frames to his tally at the start of the fourth session to equalise, and the pair were again level four frames later at 14–14. Four frames into the last session, they were at 16–16. Thorburn produced a break of 111 in the 33rd frame, during which the only time he potted the black ball was at the end, then took an 80–0 points lead in the 34th frame, which ended 98–30, meaning that Thorburn qualified for the final for the first time.[9][35]

FinalEdit

The final took place from 28 to 30 April as the best of 49 frames,[28] refereed by John Smyth.[36] Spencer won his third world title by defeating Thorburn 25–21.[13] The first session ended with Spencer 4–2 ahead after he had won the initial three frames,[9] and he extended his lead to 5–2, before Thorburn took four of the next five frames to leave the score at 6–6 at the day's conclusion.[37] The third session ended with them again tied, at 9–9. Spencer made a break of 105 in the eighteenth frame.[28]

Thorburn gained a 13–11 advantage during the fourth session,[38] and extended this to 15–11, but Spencer won the next four frames to make it 15–15. The players were also level at 18–18 at the start of the last day of the final. Spencer won the first three frames of the day. Thorburn won the following two frames, before Spencer took the 42nd frame with a break of 67, to lead 22–20. Thorburn narrowed his deficit to one frame at 21–22, but saw Spencer win the next three frames to claim victory.[23]

Spencer was the first player to win the title with a two-piece cue. His previous cue was smashed in a car accident just before the 1974 Norwich Union Open, and despite repairs, Spencer was not confident about using it, and purchased the new two-piece implement whilst on tour in Canada. Having made several century breaks with the new cue following his return to England, Spencer decided to use it for the championship only two months before the tournament. A few months after his victory he replaced it with a different one that had been manufactured in Japan.[23][39] Snooker historian Clive Everton wrote that Spencer "exploded two myths" by winning with a two-piece cue, a type of implement that was generally seen as suitable for pool but not snooker, and having only used it for two months, when most professional players thought it took many months to become proficient with a new cue.[23]: 50  Thorburn also used a two-piece cue for the match, as was common in his native Canada.[23]

An article in Snooker Scene contrasted Spencer's playing his earlier World Championship victories, which featured "aggressive" long potting, to the way he played in 1977, which included fewer long pots and consistent mid-distance potting, and praised his "coolness and steadiness of nerve" and his choice of which shots to play.[40] The same magazine described Thorburn's strengths at the tournament as "concentration and consistency".[41]

Main drawEdit

The results for the tournament are shown below. The numbers in brackets denote player seedings, whilst match winners are denoted in bold.[28][42]

 
Last 16
Best of 25 frames
Quarter-finals
Best of 25 frames
Semi-finals
Best of 35 frames
Final
Best of 49 frames
 
              
 
18 & 19 April
 
 
  Ray Reardon (WAL) (1)13
 
22 & 23 April
 
  Patsy Fagan (IRL)7
 
  Ray Reardon (WAL) (1)6
 
18 & 19 April
 
  John Spencer (ENG) (8)13
 
  John Spencer (ENG) (8)13
 
24, 25, 26 & 27 April
 
  John Virgo (ENG)9
 
  John Spencer (ENG) (8)18
 
18 & 19 April
 
  John Pulman (ENG)16
 
  Graham Miles (ENG) (5)13
 
22 & 23 April
 
  Willie Thorne (ENG)4
 
  Graham Miles (ENG) (5)10
 
18 & 19 April
 
  John Pulman (ENG)13
 
  Fred Davis (ENG) (4)12
 
28, 29, & 30 April
 
  John Pulman (ENG)13
 
  John Spencer (ENG) (8)25
 
20 & 21 April
 
  Cliff Thorburn (CAN) 21
 
  Eddie Charlton (AUS) (3)13
 
22 & 23 April
 
  David Taylor (ENG)5
 
  Eddie Charlton (AUS) (3)12
 
20 & 21 April
 
  Cliff Thorburn (CAN)13
 
  Rex Williams (ENG) (6)6
 
24, 25, 26 & 27 April
 
  Cliff Thorburn (CAN)13
 
  Cliff Thorburn (CAN)18
 
20 & 21 April
 
  Dennis Taylor (NIR)16
 
  Perrie Mans (RSA) (7)11
 
22 & 23 April
 
  Dennis Taylor (NIR)13
 
  Dennis Taylor (NIR)13
 
20 & 21 April
 
  Doug Mountjoy (WAL)11
 
  Alex Higgins (NIR) (2)12
 
 
  Doug Mountjoy (WAL)13
 

FinalEdit

Details for the final are shown below.[28]

Final: Best-of-49 frames.
Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. 28–30 April 1977.
Referee: John Smyth
Numbers in bold and with a symbol represent frame-winning scores.
John Spencer
 
25–21 Cliff Thorburn
 
First session, 28 April, 11:00 a.m. start
Frame 1 2 3 4 5 6
Spencer
50+ Breaks
63
98
79
41
28
73
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
49
21
24
46
94
13
Frames (Spencer first) 1–0 2–0 3–0 3–1 3–2 4–2
Second session, 28 April, 3:15 p.m. start
Frame 7 8 9 10 11 12
Spencer
50+ Breaks
70
(68)
39
11
29
87
(75)
32
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
46
77
72
64
21
70
Frames (Spencer first) 5–2 5–3 5–4 5–5 6–5 6–6
Third session, , 28 April, 7:30 p.m. start
Frame 13 14 15 16 17 18
Spencer
50+ Breaks
41
51
84
(54)
105
(97)
44
118
(105)
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
90
62
40
21
69
0
Frames (Spencer first) 6–7 6–8 7–8 8–8 8–9 9–9
Fourth session, 29 April, 11:00 a.m. start
Frame 19 20 21 22 23 24
Spencer
50+ Breaks
60
71
73
33
53
38
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
71
31
45
85
85
(58)
70
Frames (Spencer first) 9–10 10–10 11–10 11–11 11–12 11–13
Fifth session, 29 April, 3:15 p.m. start
Frame 25 26 27 28 29 30
Spencer
50+ Breaks
38
48
87
90
81
63
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
58
77
(77)
31
40
20
58
Frames (Spencer first) 11–14 11–15 12–15 13–15 14–15 15–15
Sixth session, 29 April, 7:30 p.m. start
Frame 31 32 33 34 35 36
Spencer
50+ Breaks
29
59
78
(78)
70
39
46
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
82
26
58
44
75
(75)
85
Frames (Spencer first) 15–16 16–16 17–16 18–16 18–17 18–18
Seventh session, 30 April, 11:00 a.m. start
Frame 37 38 39 40 41 42
Spencer
50+ Breaks
93
64
74
9
36
107
(67)
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
20
51
21
83
(58)
72
20
Frames (Spencer first) 19–18 20–18 21–18 21–19 21–20 22–20
Eighth session, 30 April, 2:30 p.m. start
Frame 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
Spencer
50+ Breaks
17
83
69
72
(51)
Thorburn
50+ Breaks
74
14
36
12
Frames (Spencer first) 22–21 23–21 24–21 25–21
105 Highest break 77
1 Century breaks 0
7 Other 50+ breaks 4
John Spencer won the 1977 World Snooker Championship

QualifyingEdit

Results for the qualifying rounds are shown below. Players in bold denote match winners.[43][44]

Round 1 (Best of 21 frames)Edit

Player Score Player
  John Virgo (ENG) 11–1   Roy Andrewartha (WAL)

Round 2 (Best of 21 frames)Edit

Player Score Player
  Patsy Fagan (IRL) 11–9   Jim Meadowcroft (ENG)
  John Virgo (ENG) 11–6   John Dunning (ENG)
  Willie Thorne (ENG) 11–4   Bernard Bennett (ENG)
  John Pulman (ENG) w/ow/d   Maurice Parkin (ENG)
  David Taylor (ENG) 11–0   David Greaves (ENG)
  Cliff Thorburn (CAN) 11–0   Chris Ross (SCO)
  Dennis Taylor (NIR) 11–0   Jack Karnehm (ENG)
  Doug Mountjoy (WAL) 11–9   Jackie Rea (NIR)

Century breaksEdit

There were six century breaks at the championship. The highest break of the tournament was 135, made by John Spencer.[45]

ReferencesEdit

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