Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 17, 2014
Snooker table

Snooker table

April 17, 1875: The game of snooker, a variation of pool, is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain. Cue sports, also called billiard sports, are games played on a specially built table with pockets to catch balls that are moved across the field by use of a cue stick. The sides of the table are padded, allowing for rebounds and freer movement of the balls. All cue sports are thought to have evolved from an outdoor stick and ball game and are therefore related in some ways to trucco, croquet, and golf. An outdoor form of billiards was being played as early as the 1340s and King Louis XI of France had the first known indoor billiard table and he went on to refine the game.

Snooker was invented in India and played on a table that accurately measures 11 feet 8.5 inches by 5 feet 10 inches but is called a 12 x 6 table for convenience. The baize cloth covering the table has a nap running in the direction from the baulk end toward the end with the black ball spot. There are 22 snooker balls: one white cue ball, 15 red balls each worth one point, and six different color balls each with a different point value – yellow is 2, green is 3, brown is 4, blue is 5, pink is 6, and black is 7. The game can be played between individuals or between teams. Points are awarded for potting a ball and the player or team with the highest score wins.

British Army officers stationed in India played billiards. The addition to this game was to add the colored balls and the series of point values. The rules were formalized by Chamberlain in Ootacamund. The term snooker has military origins and was slang for first-year cadets or inexperienced personnel. The legend behind the naming of the game comes from an opponent’s failure to pot a ball and being called a Snooker by Chamberlain. It became attached to the game as played in the outlying region and inexperienced players were called snookers. Although it grew in popularity even back in England, it was still a game for the gentry and many gentlemen’s clubs would not permit nonmembers to play. These outcasts formed their own snooker clubs.

Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain was born in 1856 and should be confused with the later Prime Minister. He was born into a military family and educated at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was commissioned a sub-lieutenant in 1873 and promoted to lieutenant a year later. He was stationed in Afghanistan and wounded (slightly) in the Battle of Kandahar. He rose to the rank of colonel and served in both India and South Africa. In 1900 he was appointed Inspector-General of the Royal Irish Constabulary and worked in that capacity for many years. He received many awards and retired in March 1938. He returned to live in Ascot, Berkshire, England where he remained until his death in 1944 at the age of 88.

Snooker is a game of simple shots played to perfection. – Joe Davies

I think it’s a great idea to talk during sex, as long as it’s about snooker. – Steve Davis

A lot of people think international relations is like a game of chess. But it’s not a game of chess, where people sit quietly, thinking out their strategy, taking their time between moves. It’s more like a game of billiard, with a bund of balls clustered together. – Madeleine Albright

The game of golf would lose a great deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. – Ernest Hemingway

Also on this day: America’s Renaissance Man – In 1790, Benjamin Franklin dies.
FedEx – In 1973, FedEx began operation.
Stories – In 1397, Chaucer presented the Canterbury Tales for the first time.
Frenchman Takes Off – In 1944, Henri Giraud escaped a POW prison.

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