The Origins of Snooker

Snooker is a cue sport that is popular around the world, particularly in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Pakistan, India, and China.

The game is generally considered to have been invented in 1875 by Sir Neville Chamberlain (1856-1944), then a Lieutenant in the British Army in India and not to be confused with British Prime Minister of the same name.

The creation of the game was inspired by Chamberlain’s observations of a game played by Indian army officers. This game was called “pilot” and involved using a wooden board with fifteen colored balls. Chamberlain adapted this game by replacing the board with a billiards table and adding an additional colored ball – the cue ball. He named the game “snooker” after a military slang term for a novice soldier.

It spread to England following a visit to India by famous billiards player John Roberts, and quickly became popular among the upper classes. In the late 19th century, the game began to be played in clubs and by the early 20th century, there were snooker halls all over England.

In 1919, the Billiards Association and Control Council (BACC) was established to organize and oversee the game, and the rules of snooker were codified that same year. The first World Snooker Championship took place in 1927 and was won by Joe Davis, who went on to dominate the sport for the next 15 years. Davis was the first professional player of the game and set the standard for the sport for decades. In the 1970s, television coverage of snooker began, making it one of the most popular sports in the United Kingdom. The introduction of color television further increased the popularity of the game, and the sport began to spread to other countries.

You can read more about the History of Snooker and some Snooker Greats in the following articles:

The Class of ’92: Living Legends of Snooker