History of the World Snooker Championship
The competition was first held in 1927, when it was called the Professional Snooker Championship. This was the first championship held for professionals, predating it there was an annual amateur championship that had been running since 1916. The Professional Snooker Championship was played by ten professional players, with the first matches played over 15 frames, followed by the semi-finals played over 23 frames and the final over 31 frames. The winner of the first event was Joe Davis, who won by 20-11 frames against Tom Dennis after four days of matches.
The following year, the structure was changed to a playoff tournament, with the winner facing Davis in the final. Davis took advantage of the system and won his second Championship when he beat challenger Fred Lawrence in the final. The new system was changed in 1929 and the championship was reverted back to a knockout tournament. This did little to stop Davis, who went on to win the following three championships from 1929-1931.
In 1931, the tournament only had two entries, Tom Dennis and Joe Davis, and though the following years saw improved participation, the number of entries dropped back to two in 1934. In 1935, the Championship was restructured to entice more players to participate. The event was renamed the World's Professional Snooker Championship, and all matches were held exclusively in Thurston's Hall in London. The venue could attract larger audiences, and this made it more profitable for professional snooker players to take part in.
Joe Davis managed to defend his championship all the way up to 1940, in a tough final against his brother, Fred Davis. Fred led by 15-10 at the half stage, but then Joe won 11 consecutive frames to retain his title.
In the years from 1941-45, the tournament was not played because Thurston's Hall had been destroyed during The Blitz in 1940. In the following years, Britain was in wartime so no tournaments were held.
In 1946, the championship was held again after the war ended, and Joe Davis won it again. After holding the Championship for almost 20 years and winning 15 back to back titles, Davis retired from the tournament though he continued to play in other snooker competitions. The following years were dominated by his younger brother Fred, who won 8 times in the following 11 years.
During this time the tournament was restructured in 1952. The Professional Billiard Players' Association (PBPA) replaced the World's Professional Snooker Championship with the PBPA Snooker Championship. This was after a dispute between the PBPA and the Billiards Association and Control Council (BACC). The PBPA continued the competition and the BACC boycotted it.
In 1952, the tournament saw 10 entries, with Fred Davis and Walter Donaldson (two time winner, in 1947 and 1950) given byes to the semi-finals. The two met in the finals twice during this period, Davis winning both times. In 1955, Davis met John Pulman in the final, where he won his seventh championship. He would meet Pulman in the final in the following year and won again. In 1957 Davis did not enter the competition, and Pulman went on to beat Jackie Rea and win his first title.
The competition was not held in the years 1958 through 1963, but after calls by the professionals and the public, the BACC approved the relaunch of the tournament. John Pulman won the first tournament after the boycott, in 1964. The championship was restructured to be in a challenger format, with playoffs. The tournament was not played annually in the new structure, with two played in 1964, three in 1965, one in 1966 and then once in 1968. Pulman won all of the championships during this time, establishing himself as the dominating champion in the 1960s.
In 1969, the challenger format was dropped for the current tournament structure. Over the years there have been changes in the entries and the number of frames have changed per match, though the tournament had its final structure in 1969.
In the modern era of the World Snooker Championship, there have been many eras with great players. Ray Reardon, the Welsh snooker player, won his first championship in 1973, and retained his title through to 1976, winning four consecutive titles. In 1977, the championship moved to its current home, the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
John Spencer won the inaugural tournament in the new venue, adding to his championships from 1969 and 1971. Ray Reardon returned to win the following year.
In 1981, the championship was won by Steve Davis (no relation to the Davis brothers who won in the 20s through to the 50s). Steve Davis made a huge impact on the tournament in the 80s, winning the competition six times during the course of the decade.
The 90s were a highly competitive time in the championship. There were the up and coming snooker players John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O'Sullivan, also known as the "class of '92" because they all were born in 1975 and turned professional in 1992. Then there was Stephen Hendry, who burst on the scene slightly earlier in 1990. Hendry won the 1990 Championship, becoming the youngest ever world champion at the age of 21 years and 106 days. Hendry went on to win the competition 7 times in the decade, with the class of '92 never far behind. John Higgins managed to clinch his first championship in 1998 at the age of 22.
Since the 2000s, the trio have won 12 competitions altogether, and between 1998 and 2020, seventeen of the twenty three finals featured at least one player from the class of '92. Ronnie O'Sullivan won his first tournament in 2001, followed by Mark Williams winning his first in 2003. Mark Williams has won the competitions three times to date, John Higgins four times and Ronnie O'Sullivan a total of six times.
In recent years, Mark Selby has emerged as a title contender, winning his first championship in 2014. To date he has won four times, challenging the domination of the class of '92.
Top Winners of the World Snooker Championship
In the entire history of the Snooker World Championship, the Davis brothers and John Pulman are the most successful players. Joe Davis won the championship an unprecedented 15 times, from the inaugural competition until his retirement from the competition in 1946 aged 40. Fred Davis and John Pulman have won the championship 8 times each. During these times, the championship was being restructured and would sometimes be in a knockout format, sometimes be a challenger format with play offs, and sometimes include byes to the semi-finals for the defending champion.
In the modern era, which is considered to have started in 1969, the tournament has been played in a knockout format with no byes.
Stephen Hendry has won 7 times, and leads with the most championships. He is followed by Steve Davis, Ray Reardon and Ronnie O'Sullivan with 6. Mark Selby and John Higgins both have won the championship 4 times each, and Mark Williams and John Spencer winning it three times each.
How to bet on the World Snooker Championship
Here at mr.play, we have plenty of bets that can be placed on snooker matches. With competitive odds and a number of props available, bettors have the chance to form betting strategies that may lead to far larger winnings.
When gambling, you should always do so responsibly. You should never play with more money than you can spare to lose. Should you need more information on the subject, you can turn to organisations such as Gambleaware.co.uk for help and advice.