History:Who invented snooker and when?

Often people don’t know how or who invented snooker so lets take a look at how it all began.

Snooker as most people will know originated from Billiards in the 1800’s.

Billiards itself was believed to be invented in or around the 15th century, England and some people argue that it originated from croquet although this is unproven. The belief is, is that gentlemen of the aristocratic society invented billiards to play in the winter or when the weather was too poorly for outdoor games.

Although most of the historical data point towards the late 15th century this might not be entirely accurate. The first known reference to the game with any traditional or historical accuracy occurs in Abbe McGeoghegan’s “History of Ireland.” Cathire More, a sub-king who ruled over Leinster, died A. D. 148. The Abbe, quoting from King Cathire’s will, says, “To Drimoth I bequeath fifty billiard balls of brass with the cues of the same material.”

Additionally, William Shakespeare also references billiards in his Anthony and Cleopatra play.

As you can see, the billiards game has a long history attached to it and its origins are not quite known.

So who invented snooker?

Moving forward now to 1875 where a man by the name of Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain, a young officer with the British military was sent to be stationed on military duty in India. During dark and rainy days Chamberlain and his friends would spend a lot of time in the billiards room gambling among themselves as a pastime. Here they would play of mixture of ‘pyramids’ (a game where 15 reds were set like a pyramid and each time a player potted a red his opponent would pay out) and ‘black pool’ (Where each player had a different colour ball and each time a opponent potted another players ball, they were out of the game).

Chamberlain took elements from each of these two games and combined them to create a brand new game and so Chamberlain was the man who invented snooker. He went on to convince his fellow officers to try out his new game which quickly became popular. In those days, snooker was a slang term for a ‘new recruit’ in the military, so anytime someone missed a shot the officers would say “you snooker”, and so the name snooker stuck.

The first official set of rules for snooker was published in 1882.

It was John Roberts (world billiards game champion) who brought Chamberlains game (who invented snooker) to England from India. On a visit to India 1885, Roberts saw and played snooker with Chamberlain and was impressed enough to bring it back to England.

The First Snooker Tournaments

The first snooker tournament (English amateur snooker championships) was played in 1916 and the first professional world championships in 1927 in which Joe Davis won.

Snooker has grown to the mega sport that you see today, played by millions on every corner of the earth. The popularity of snooker can be attributed to some of the more flamboyant players such as Alex “the hurricane” Higgins in the 80’s and Ronnie O’Sullivan in this generation who have brought crowds from far distances to see them in action, playing with natural talent which the people love. Thanks to Chamberlain who invented snooker, we have one of the best table sports in the world.

Billiards itself is still very popular around the world. Although not as popular as snooker or pool, many forms of billiards game have formed. Some tables have pockets, while some other forms of the game don’t allow pockets on the tables. Billiards, snooker and pool are all very distinct games, each with their own governing bodies and totally separate rules.

As snooker grows, players from all around the world are starting to play and win tournaments, such as Neil Robertson (Australia) who became the first non UK player to win a world title.

When Chamberlain (who invented snooker) first set out to invent a new table game i doubt he would have foreseen just how popular it would become.


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