History of Snooker: How was Snooker Invented?'
In this article I am going to explore the origins of the game of snooker. On many occasions through the years I have been met with the question of How was Snooker Invented?
Before I look more closely at the origins of the game of snooker as we know it today we have to go further back to take a look at the game of Billiards.
Billiards has its origin in the 15th century and was played mainly by the noble classes and Royalty, especially throughout mainland Europe. It came about by taking games like Croquet indoors, in fact the early Billiard 'cues' more resembled a hockey stick or crook.
The original game of Billiards was played on a table that looked nothing like a modern Billiard table let alone a snooker table. There were no side rails, no cushions and no corner pockets as we expect to see today. Instead the table bed itself had holes in it (much like a modern Bar Billiard Table) and a 'pot' was made by getting a ball to fall through one of these holes. The early games featured only 3 balls two of which were cue balls, one for each player. There are still games played today that only use three balls like 3-cushion billiards and English Billiards.
19th Century and the game becomes Snooker as we Know it
It wasn't until the 19th century that the game started to make its move towards what we now know as Snooker. Billiards was very popular with British armed forces stationed in India and at this time the original 3-ball game of Billiards was being developed to firstly accommodate more players but secondly, and more importantly for Snooker, was starting to add additional balls that carried differing point values.
Pyramid Billiards, still popular today in Russia and Eastern Europe, was a game played with 15 red balls, this game was combined with other games at the time to form the game of snooker.
This happened in 1875 when a British army officer stationed in India called, Colonel Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain came up with the game that we now know as snooker, even then, the Blue and Brown balls were not added until much later.
The name derives from the slang term 'snooker' which was basically used to describe a first year cadet in the army. Sir Neville referred to someone playing the game as a 'right snooker' and the name has since stuck.
Official Set of Rules Recorded
It was then some 7 years later that the first set of official rules of snooker were recorded at Ootacamund in Madras province in India. Wherever Sir Neville was stationed he would take the new game with him. In 1885 John Roberts, the then World Billiards champion, sought out Sir Neville and went out of his way to learn the new game before taking it with him back to Britain and introducing the game in his home land.
Incidentally this was also the year that Peradon developed the first hand spliced snooker cue (although back then it would have been called a Billiard cue).
The game grew in popularity quite quickly and in 1916 the first English Amateur Championships was played. The great Joe Davis then introduced snooker at a professional level and in 1927 he himself won the inaugural World Professional Snooker Championships, for the win he picked up £6.10 (today's equivalent is about £332.00 but the cost of living was also much less).
the World Championships as we know it has been played at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield since 1977 and the theatre will still be hosting the event for the forseeable future.