Snooker is a cue sport that originated among British Army officers stationed in India in the second 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 stick and 21 coloured balls, players must strike the white ball (or “cue ball”) to pot or pocket 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 identity in 1875 when army officer Sir Neville Chamberlain (1856–1944), stationed in Ootacamund, Madras, devised a set of rules that combined pyramid and black 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. Joe Davis, a key figure and pioneer in the early growth of the sport, won the championship 15 straight times between 1927 and 1946. The “modern era” began in 1969 after the broadcaster BBC commissioned the snooker television show Pot Black and later began to air the World Championship in 1978. Key figures in the game were Ray Reardon in the 1970s, Steve Davis in the 1980s, and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s, each winning six or more World championships. Since 2000, Ronnie O’Sullivan has won the most world titles, with six. Top professional players now compete regularly around the world and earn millions of pounds on the World Snooker Tour, which features players from across the world.
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