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2014, 2016 and 2017 world champion Mark Selby playing a practice game

Snooker (UK: /ˈsnkər/, US: /ˈsnʊkər/) is a cue sport which originated among British Army officers stationed in India in the later half of the 19th century. It is played on a rectangular table covered with a green cloth, or baize, with pockets at each of the four corners and in the middle of each long side. Using a cue and 21 coloured balls, players must strike the white ball (or "cue ball") to pot the remaining balls in the correct sequence, accumulating points for each pot. An individual game, or frame, is won by the player scoring the most points. A match is won when a player wins a predetermined number of frames.

Snooker gained its own identity in 1884 when army officer Sir Neville Chamberlain, while stationed in Ooty, devised a set of rules that combined pyramid and life pool. The word snooker was a long-used military term for inexperienced or first-year personnel. The game grew in popularity in the United Kingdom, and the Billiards Association and Control Club was formed in 1919. It is now governed by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).

The World Snooker Championship has taken place since 1927, with Joe Davis becoming a key figure in the early growth of the sport winning the championship fifteen times from 1927 to 1946. The "modern era" began in 1969 after the BBC commissioned the snooker television show Pot Black and later began to air the World Championship in 1978, leading to the sport's new peak in popularity. Ray Reardon dominated the game in the 1970s, Steve Davis in the 1980s, and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s. Since 2000, Ronnie O'Sullivan has won the most world titles, with 5.

Top professional players now compete regularly around the world and earn millions of pounds. The sport has become increasingly popular in China.

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In snooker, a break is the total point score achieved by a player in a single visit to the table. A player's proficiency at building big breaks, particularly century breaks (scores over 100), is widely used as a measure of their overall skill.

The maximum break possible under normal circumstances is 147. This is often known as a maximum, or a 147 (or orally a one-four-seven). The 147 is amassed by potting all 15 reds with 15 blacks for 120 points then all six colours for a further 27 points. Scores above 147 are possible in the case of free balls due to fouling by the opponent.

In six-red snooker, the maximum break is 75 points (83 with free ball), as there are fewer reds and thus fewer black-scoring opportunities. In snooker plus, the maximum is 210 (221 with free ball) due to the additional, high point-value colours.


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MC2008 M10 012 - Tony Drago.JPG
Malta's champion pool and snooker player Tony Drago, at the 2008 Mosconi Cup in Malta.

Selected biography

Alexander "Alex" Gordon Higgins (18 March 1949 – 24 July 2010), also known by his nickname of Hurricane Higgins, was a Northern Irish professional snooker player who was twice World Champion and twice runner-up. Higgins earned the nickname The Hurricane because of his speed of play. Higgins was also a former World Doubles champion with Jimmy White and won the World Cup three times with the All Ireland team. He also came to be known as the People's Champion because of his popularity.

Higgins is often credited to have brought the game of snooker to a wider audience and contributing to its peak in popularity in the eighties.


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