Saturday, 14 March 2015

The best of snooker

(Originally posted on Saturday, 22 April 2017)

At the end of the post there are several Youtube examples of snooker at its best.

Right now the 2017 World Snooker Championship is taking place at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. There is still over a week of play as the tournament is nearing the quarter-finals right now.

I've been a fan of snooker for a long time, even though I have never played it in the real world. I did play plenty of snooker using computer thanks to an old DOS game from 1991 – Jimmy White's 'Whirlwind' Snooker. That was an awesome game! Thanks to it I learned the rules of snooker the hard way.

Now snooker is much more known and the rules are easily available through the Internet. And when you know the rules there is no doubt that snooker is by far the best, the most sophisticated and the most difficult kind of billiards. Pool doesn't compare to snooker, to say the least.

In snooker the table is significantly bigger and the balls are smaller which makes it much harder. There are also more balls and the colour balls (balls other than red) are returned to the table after they are potted unless there are no red balls left (to legally pot a colour ball you need to pot a red ball first). A red ball is worth 1 point, yellow 2 points, green 3, brown 4, blue 5, pink 6 and black 7.

What makes snooker so fun to watch is the fact that there are many strategical aspects of this game. For example a player can lay a snooker, which means that the opponent can't target any red ball directly in a straight line. So, the opponent has to either play a curve shot (the white ball travels in a slight curve omitting an obstacle) or he (or she) has to use a table bound (or bounds) to make the white ball reach a red ball. A snooker can be laid for colour balls too, because when there are no red balls left on a table the colour balls have to be potted in a particular order: yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black.

The most impressive plays actually don't consist in potting a ball (no matter how hard), but they consist in laying a snooker or going out of a snooker. Beautiful plays! But vastly undervalued by people who don't know much about snooker.

The first video shows awesome pots, as well as awesome snookers and awesome escapes from snookers.

In the second video Ronnie O'Sullivan (who won the World Snooker Championship 5 times – in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013) shows incredible control over the white ball. At the end of the video you can see 2 other former World Snooker Champions – John Parrott (in 1991) and Steve Davis (in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989) commenting on the game.

The third video shows some great shots by Steve Davis himself.

The fourth video shows why Jimmy White was called Whirlwind. He advanced to the World Snooker Championship Finals 6 times, but unfortunately didn't winy any of them.

The fifth video shows another great snooker player Stephen Hendry (who was the World Snooker Champion in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1999) making a maximum break (147 points – after every red ball he potted the black ball). He made that break in 2012 when he was 43 years old! Quite an achievement, even for such a great player.

The last video shows the fastest maximum break ever, made of course by Ronnie O'Sullivan.

PS. I had never traced personal lives of snooker legends and I was saddened by what I found about some of them. I guess it is hard to be a superstar and it is even harder to be a former superstar.

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