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The "Crucible curse" (also known as "The curse of the Crucible" or sometimes the "Crucible jinx") refers to the fact that no first-time snooker world champion has retained his title the following year since the tournament moved to the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1977.[1][2][3][4]

The last player to successfully defend his first world title was John Pulman in 1964, when the championship was still decided by challenge matches,[5] and before the tournament relocated to the Crucible Theatre. Since 1977, seventeen world champions have experienced the curse, the most recent being the 2015 World Champion Stuart Bingham who lost his title the following year at the 2016 World Snooker Championship. The current world champion, Judd Trump, was a first-time winner in 2019 and if he defends his title in 2020, his challenge will be to overcome this long-standing "curse".

The curseEdit

The following first-time champions did not retain their title the following year. Of the seventeen players to have won their first championship at the Crucible Theatre, six lost in their first match as defending champion (Terry Griffiths in 1980, Steve Davis in 1982, Dennis Taylor in 1986, Graeme Dott in 2007, Neil Robertson in 2011 and Stuart Bingham in 2016) and only two went on to reach the final: Joe Johnson in 1987 and Ken Doherty in 1998.

Year[5][6] Defending champion[5][6] Progress Result Opponent Ref
1980   Terry Griffiths Second round[N 1] 10–13   Steve Davis [7]
1981   Cliff Thorburn Semi-finals 10–16   Steve Davis [8]
1982   Steve Davis First round 1–10   Tony Knowles [9]
1986   Dennis Taylor First round 6–10   Mike Hallett [10]
1987   Joe Johnson Final 14–18   Steve Davis [11]
1991   Stephen Hendry Quarter-finals 11–13   Steve James [12]
1992   John Parrott Quarter-finals 12–13   Alan McManus [13]
1998   Ken Doherty Final 12–18   John Higgins [14]
1999   John Higgins Semi-finals 10–17   Mark Williams [15]
2001   Mark Williams Second round 12–13   Joe Swail [16]
2002   Ronnie O'Sullivan Semi-finals 13–17   Stephen Hendry [17]
2003   Peter Ebdon Quarter-finals 12–13   Paul Hunter [18]
2006   Shaun Murphy Quarter-finals 7–13   Peter Ebdon [19]
2007   Graeme Dott First round 7–10   Ian McCulloch [20]
2011   Neil Robertson First round 8–10   Judd Trump [21]
2015   Mark Selby Second round 9–13   Anthony McGill [22]
2016   Stuart Bingham First round 9–10   Ali Carter

In years not listed above, the title was won by players who had already been world champions, and thus the "curse" did not apply. Four players have won consecutive titles at the Crucible: Steve Davis (1983–1984 and 1987–1989), Stephen Hendry (1992–1996), Ronnie O'Sullivan (2012–2013) and Mark Selby (2016–2017), but only after they experienced the "curse".[5][23]

Pre-CrucibleEdit

Even before the World Championship was staged at the Crucible, no player in the modern game successfully defended his first world title. Of all first-time world champions, only three retained their title at the next World Championship: Joe Davis in 1928, his brother Fred Davis in 1949 and John Pulman at his first challenge match in 1964.

Additionally, Ray Reardon, Alex Higgins and John Spencer won the World Championship before the event was moved to the Crucible in 1977 (and failed to retain it the year after their first title); they all also failed to retain the title after winning it for the first time at the Crucible.

Year[5][6] Defending champion[5][6] Progress Result Opponent Ref
Defending FIRST WORLD TITLE
1970   John Spencer Semi-finals 33–37   Ray Reardon [24]
1971   Ray Reardon Semi-finals 15–34   John Spencer [25]
1973   Alex Higgins Semi-finals 9–23   Eddie Charlton [26]
Defending FIRST WORLD TITLE at CRUCIBLE THEATRE
1978   John Spencer Last 16 8–13   Perrie Mans [27]
1979   Ray Reardon Quarter-finals 8–13   Dennis Taylor [28]
1983   Alex Higgins Semi-finals 5–16   Steve Davis [29]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Griffiths, along with the other top 8 seeds, received a bye in the first round, thus the second round was his first match.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dee, John (14 April 2006). "Murphy aiming to exorcise the Crucible curse". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2007.
  2. ^ Dee, John (28 April 2006). "Cruise for Ebdon as Crucible curse strikes champ". nationalmultimedia.com. Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2007.
  3. ^ "Crucible Curse Strikes Ebdon". Sporting Life. 30 April 2003. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2007.
  4. ^ Jackson, Jamie (15 April 2011). "Australia's Neil Robertson aiming to break the curse of the Crucible". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Turner, Chris. "World Professional Championship". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d "Hall of Fame". Snooker.org. Retrieved 19 April 2014.
  7. ^ "1980 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  8. ^ "1981 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  9. ^ "1982 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  10. ^ "1986 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  11. ^ "1987 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  12. ^ "1991 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  13. ^ "1992 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  14. ^ "1998 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  15. ^ "1999 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  16. ^ "2001 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  17. ^ "2002 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  18. ^ "2003 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  19. ^ "2006 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  20. ^ "2007 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  21. ^ "Betfred.com World Championship (2011)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  22. ^ "Betfred.com World Championship (2015) - round 2". Snooker.org. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  23. ^ Dirs, Ben (6 May 2013). "Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Barry Hawkins to win fifth World title". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  24. ^ "1970 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  25. ^ "1971 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  26. ^ "1973 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  27. ^ "1978 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  28. ^ "1979 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 6 December 2014.
  29. ^ "1983 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 6 December 2014.