How much was first prize money in the inaugural World Snooker Championship?

Nowadays, the World Snooker Championship is the most prestigious, and valuable, tournament in professional snooker, with the 2022 winner, Ronnie O’Sullivan, receiving £500,000 in prize money. It is also the oldest, having been established, as the Professional Snooker Championship, in 1927.

The Professional Snooker Championship was the brainchild of professional billiards player Joseph ‘Joe’ Davis and billiard hall manager William ‘Bill’ Camkin. Recognising the growing popularity of the 22-ball game, the pair persuaded the governing body, the Billiards Association and Control Council (BACC), to sanction a professional snooker tournament.

The snooker was intended an auxiliary attraction to existing billiard matches, played at various venues across the country, with a single frame of snooker played at the end of each billiards session. Nevertheless, the championship attracted ten entries, including most of the leading billiards players of the day and all bar three of them paid the five-guinea entry fee for the Professional Snooker Championship.

The best-of-31 frame final was staged at Camkin’s Hall in John Bright Street, Birmingham between May 9 and May 12, 1927, with Camkin himself acting as referee. Joe Davis proved far too good for his opponent, Thomas ‘Tom’ Dennis, winning the first seven frames on his way to establishing a winning 16-7 lead, which became 20-11 after the remaining ‘dead’ frames.

Davis received the distinctive silver World Championship trophy – which is still in use today – and first prize money of £6/10/–, from gate receipts, for his trouble. He would go on to dominate professional snooker, winning the Professional Snooker Championship, or World’s Professional Snooker Championship, as it became in 1935, on 15 consecutive occasions between 1927 and 1946 – no tournament was held between 1941 and 1945 – before retiring unbeaten.

Which player won the first World Snooker Championship staged at the Crucible Theatre?

Having previously been staged in various locations, mainly in Great Britain, but also in Australia, the World Snooker Championship moved to its current venue, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in 1977. On that occasion, the winner was the late John Spencer who, alongside six-time world champion Ray Reardon, dominated professional snooker during the seventies.

Seeded eighth of eight seeded players, and thereby exempted into the last 16, Spencer faced qualifier John Virgo, who was making his World Championship debut, in his opening match. Virgo led 4-1 and 7-4, but Spencer eventually won 13-9. Following a pillar-to-post 13-6 victory over Reardon in the quarter-finals, Spencer met John Pulman in the semi-finals. In the best-of-35 frame match, played over five sessions, Spencer again trailed 0-3 and 3-7, before recovering to win 18-12.

The best-of-49 frame final, played over eight sessions, was a protracted affair, with Spencer and his opponent, Cliff ‘The Grinder’ Thorburn, locked together for most of the match. It was not until the first session on the third, and final, day that Spencer edged ahead 22-20 and, although Thorburn reduced his lead to 22-21, he won the next three frames to take the title 25-21.

Spencer was, in fact, winning the World Snooker Champion for the third time. He had previously done so, at the first attempt, in 1969 and again in 1971. The 1969 world championship, which reverted to a knockout format for the first time since 1957, is generally considered to be the first of the ‘modern’ era. The best-of-73 frame final was staged at Victoria Hall, London, with Spencer beating Gary Owen 37-24. The 1971 world championship was actually staged in September, October and November, 1970, in Australia. In the final, again over 73 frames, at the Chevron Hotel, Sydney, Spencer was never behind and eventually beat Warren Simpson 37–29.

Who is Stephen Lee?

Stephen Lee is a former professional snooker player who, in 2013, was banned for 12 years after being found guilty of match and spot fixing. Lee appealed against the ban, which excludes him from competitive snooker until October 12, 2024, when he turns 50, but his appeal was dismissed.

According to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), Lee fixed first frame results, match results and correct scores in seven matches, including a World Championship match against Ryan Day in 2009. He did so on behalf of three different groups, known to his sponsor, his manager and himself, who profited to the tune of £97,000 because of his wrongdoing.

A month after his ban was dismissed, in June, 2014, Lee plead guilty to fraud at Swindon Magistrates’ Courtafter ‘selling’ his cue to Hong Kong resident Marco Fai Pak Shek on Facebook for £1,600, but failing to send the item. He was fined £110 and ordered to repay the buyer.

In 2015, Lee revealed that he had set up a snooker academy in Shenzen, southeastern China to make ends meet. In 2018, he fell foul of the Hong Kong authorities when caught offering one-on-one snooker coaching, for money, by an undercover immigration officer. Lee was arrested and bailed for breaching the conditions of his tourist visa, but he escaped imprisonment when his lawyers negotiated a 12-month good behaviour bond.

Do the Rules of Snooker cater for an ‘impossible’ snooker?

In snooker, it is possible for a player to be faced with a snooker from which it is, literally, impossible to escape. Obviously, such a situation is rare, but could occur, say, if a player pots a red and the cue ball becomes surrounded by a cluster of reds, or if the cue ball comes to rest in the jaws of a pocket and becomes obstructed by a colour. Either way, a player cannot anything but a foul stroke.

However, Section 3, 14 of the ‘Official Rules of Snooker and English Billiards’ explicity covers this scenario. Initially, the rule states, ‘The striker shall, to the best of his ability, endeavour to hit the ball on.’ Nevertheless, in a situation ‘where it is impossible to hit the ball on’, for whatever reason, the striker should play ‘directly or indirectly, at the ball on with sufficient strength, in the referee’s opinion, to have reached the ball on but for the obstructing ball or balls.’

Regardless of the outcome of the shot, the referee will call ‘Foul’, but, provided the player has played the shot with enough pace to hit the nominated object ball, not ‘Foul and a Miss’. Obviously, the ‘referee’s opinion’ is subjective, so it still possible that ‘Foul and a Miss’ may be called, in which case, the non-offender has the options of requesting that the offender plays again, from the original position, once the balls have been replaced, or from the position left, or to take his turn to play.

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