In France, billiards is generally considered a simple pastime, an activity to do at the bar with friends over a beer while putting the world to rights. But on the other side of the Channel, a version of billiards has become a real sport in its own right, with its stars, its world championship, its fans and its codes. Besides, it is no longer called billiards (or pool in English), but snooker. Created in India by English officers, snooker has become a real institution specific to Great Britain, a bit like baseball in the United States or cricket in India.
hhistory of snooker
It was in 1875 that snooker made its appearance, when an English colonel stationed in India proposed to add colored balls to traditional billiards, which then only consisted of 15 red balls and one black, in addition to the white one. . In total, 5 new balls will be added, yellow, green, pink, brown and blue. The rules of snooker therefore diverge quite strongly from those, relatively simple, of classic billiards with its red and yellow balls differentiating the two teams in addition to the black one not to enter before the end or from those, just as clear, of billiards American with its balls numbered from 1 to 15.
The rsnooker rules
Here, players must always alternate between a red ball and a colored ball. It is therefore necessary first to enter a red ball (which is worth 1 point) before being able to enter a colored ball (worth 2 to 7 points) and so on. As the colored balls are always put back on the table after being pocketed, unlike red balls which do not come back, it is perfectly possible to chain red-color 15 times, although there is only 6 colored balls against 15 red balls. Once all the red balls have been pocketed, you still have to return the 6 colored balls in ascending order of their points, knowing that this time they are not put back into play. The black ball, worth 7 points, is like always the last ball to have to be returned.
In addition to these attack rules, there are also defense strategies consisting of placing the white ball in an area where the opponent cannot play without making a mistake, namely touching or entering a ball of the wrong color. It is from this way of playing that the name “snooker” comes, because it is synonymous with “naive or easy to trap” and was used to describe new recruits in the English army.
The reputation snooker
This game quickly became hugely popular in England. Snooker has even had its own international competitions for a long time, followed by many British fans, and on which it is now possible to bet like on more traditional sports, proof of its great popularity. Indeed, the first World Snooker Championship took place in 1927 and it has since become the most prestigious of billiards competitions, all variants combined, throughout the world. After a slight decline in the 1950s and 1960s, snooker returned to center stage thanks to live broadcasts from the BBC. In 1985, there were 18 million English people, or a third of the country, to watch the final of the World Championships.
While most players come from the United Kingdom, snooker is beginning to be exported abroad, particularly to China and Thailand. In France, it took until 2020 and Brian Ochoiski to see a Frenchman participate in the qualifications for the World Championship. However, of the 86 World champions in history, only 3 are neither English, nor Scottish, nor Welsh, nor Irish, nor Northern Irish, it is 2 Australians and one Canadian. China, New Zealand and South Africa are the only 3 other nations to have managed to place one of their representatives in the final.
Finally, who says British sport says dress code, like the famous white outfit required at the Wimbledon tennis tournament. Here, as often across the Channel, snooker has a reputation for gentlemen’s play and fair play. The players’ outfits are therefore very structured and consist of black pants, a white shirt, a sleeveless vest and polished shoes, to which are often added a tie or a bow tie, even if this last accessory is no longer mandatory. for a few years in order to attract an audience and especially younger players.
Thus, if snooker hardly exists in France and billiards is considered there as a simple a relaxing activity, this game has become a way of life in England and its competitions, bringing in millions of pounds, are followed by millions of enthusiasts throughout the United Kingdom.