‘Snooker Plus’ was a variation of traditional snooker invented by 15-time world snooker champion Joe Davis and introduced, professionally, at the ‘News of the World’ Snooker Plus Tournament at Burroughes Hall, London in 1959. As the name suggests, ‘Snooker Plus’ included two additional colours, purple, worth ten points, and orange, worth eight. The purple ball was spotted equidistant between the brown and the blue and the orange ball was spotted equidistant between the blue and the pink. According to Davis, ‘This will make scoring possibilities far greater for the average player and will greatly increase the technique required of the top-grade player’.
Indeed, the inclusion of the purple ball meant that the ‘maximum’ break became 15 reds and 15 purples, followed by all eight colours, for a total of 210 points, rather than 147 points in traditional snooker. Aside from the break-building possibilities, the only other innovation of ‘Snooker Plus’ was that, in the event of a tie, the purple was respotted on the black spot. Only Joe Davis and two other former world champions – his younger brother, Fred Davis and John Pulman – contested the ‘News of the World’ Tournament, played in round-robin format, much to the displeasure of other professional players. The tournament attracted little interest and the ‘Snooker Plus’ format never really gained any traction, despite the Billiards Association and Control Council stating that it should have a ‘fair trial’.
After the World Snooker Championship moved to its ‘spiritual home’ at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1977, the first overseas player to win was Canadian Cliff ‘The Grinder’ Thorburn who, in 1980, defeated the late Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins 18-16 in the best-of-35-frame final.
However, strictly speaking, much earlier in the history of the World Snooker Championship, in the days when it was still contested at various venues around Britain, and elsewhere, the first overseas player to win was Australian Horace Lindrum, in 1952. Be that as it may, the World Snooker Championship that year was an oddity insofar that a financial dispute between the Billiards Association and Control Council (BACC) and Professional Billiards Players’ Association (PBPA) led to a player boycott and left only two entrants.
Lindrum, who had previously finished runner-up to Joe Davis in the World Snooker Championship three times, in 1936, 1937 and 1946, faced reigning Professional Billiards Champion, New Zealander Clark McConachy, in a marathon, albeit one-sided, ‘final’ at Houldsworth Hall, Manchester. The best-of-145-frame match was contested over a total of 13 days between February 25 and March 8, 1952, but was effectively over after ten, when Lindrum took a winning 73-37 lead. Nevertheless, the pair earnestly played out all bar two of the remaining 35 ‘dead’ frames, to make the final score 94-49 in favour of Lindrum.
Of course, the ‘maximum’ break in snooker is generally considered to be 147, comprising 15 reds, 15 blacks and all six colours. According to the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), the first officially ratified 147 break in professional tournament play was compiled by Steve Davis, in a quarter-final match against John Spencer, at the Lada Classic at the Civic Centre, Oldham in 1982. While still not exactly ‘ten-a-penny’, 147 breaks occur much more frequently in modern professional competition than was once the case; Ronnie O’Sullivan, for example, has 15 to his name.
However, under extraordinary circumstances – that is, if one player commits a foul stroke and, in so doing, leaves his or her opponent a ‘free ball’ with all 15 reds remaining – it is possible for a player to pot 16 ‘reds’, 16 blacks and all six colours, such that a break of 155 is theoretically possible. Indeed, retired English professional Jamie Cope recorded a 155 break, albeit in a witnessed practice match, in 2006. So far, the only ’16-red’ clearance over 147 recorded in professional competition was a break of 148 compiled by Scotsman Jamie Burnett, against Leo Fernandez, in the second qualifying round of the UK Championship at Pontin’s, Prestatyn. Burnett potted 16 ‘reds’, 12 blacks, two pinks, one blue and one brown and, obviously, all six colours to reach his record total.