Origins of Snooker

SNOOKER - Its invention

Snooker Balls

At the beginning of the notes I did say that I would later on refer to the Game of Snooker, which I think we must admit is now very much more popular amongst ordinary club players than the original game of Billiards. (See Also days of Old Origins of Snooker)

It seems that Snooker was originally "thought up" by a young officer serving with the 11th Regiment (now the Devonshire's) in India at Jubbulpore in 1875. Apparently a popular game in the Officers Mess at the time was called Black Pool. This young subaltern suggested adding another coloured ball to the game. Gradually more coloured balls were added, and so the game of snooker was invented.

It was probably at this time relatively easy to add additional balls of other colours, as they would be made of Ivory, and Ivory is easily stained to almost any required colour.

This story was originally revealed by Sir Compton Mackenzie in an article which was published in "The Billiard Player" in 1939. (see Article on 'Origins of Snooker) Sir Compton said he had heard it from the inventor himself. He went on to say that the man who added the coloured ball to the game of Black Pool was Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain who died as recently as 1944 at the age of 88.

The word or name "Snooker" was evidently a word used by army officers who referred to First Year Officer Cadets at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as being "Snookers". Understandably this new game was spread by the army officers from India to England when they returned home - this taking place during the 1880's, and of course this new game was also taken from one officers mess to another by Sir Neville Chamberlain and others whenever there were posted, to a new station.

© Norman Clare 1990. © E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. 2018.
Reproduction of this article allowed only with the permission from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.  

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