Epic Matches



Memories of past Snooker events

When you watch a Snooker match, what are the things that stick in your mind long term?

Is it the big breaks? Is it the safety exchanges between two evenly matched competitors? Is it the long potting and precise cue ball control?

I think that “it is a combination of all the above as well as a preference for one or other of the two players that are competing to add additional edge to the spectacle”.

Think of Alex Higgins matches with Steve Davis in the 1980’s, the audience was filled with people who preferred one or the other with hardly a neutral in sight. 

Look at Jimmy White and almost whomever he plays. But in World Championship finals Stephen Hendry is the main protagonist of recent years, again hardly a neutral could be found.

Now we are lucky enough to be blessed with the next generation in a line of people’s champions to carry the expectation and hopes of the viewing public either pro or con, dividing the audience between those in favour and those who wished to see them beaten. The current player in question is of course Ronnie O’Sullivan.

I watched Ronnie O’Sullivan in a tournament on Sky Sports. The first frame started very much as usual but as it progressed Ronnie stroked in a total clearance of I believe 140, the match was only best of nine but later in the session Ronnie came to the table and majestically completed a break of 147. This break was made with such apparent ease that the game itself was made to look ridiculously easy. I can’t remember enjoying a session of Snooker more or being more impressed with a player’s ability.

Perhaps the most compelling match ever witnessed ended with two players so mentally spent and perhaps physically drained that they were in no condition to demonstrate the skills that Ronnie did in the above mentioned match even if at their best they were capable of it?

The match I refer to was the final of the World Snooker Championship in 1985 between Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis. The match was characterised by a tremendous fight back from Dennis and a nerve jangling, shoot out on the colours in the very last frame. This match stands out in many people’s minds as the most epic match they have ever witnessed.

My own personal favourite of recent times was the match between Steve Davis and Ronnie O’ Sullivan in the final of the 1997 Masters. Not many people gave Steve a chance of winning but in the end he overturned the formbook to record a satisfying victory for experience versus youth.

If you have a memory of a specific match or a view about a given player and their particular popularity and perhaps a theory as to the reason why, please feel free to write in with your thoughts.

David Smith