The Masters is snooker's leading non-ranking tournament and one of the most prestigious titles in the game.

Its prestige comes from the fact it is open only to the game's elite - the top 16 and, since 1990, two wildcards.

In the build-up to this year's event I will be posting my top three moments in the 34-year history of the tournament.

There were many to choose from and, therefore, many that did not make the cut.

So, in third place...

1984 – STEVENS MAKES 147

These days, maximum breaks are far more commonplace than in the 1980s, although this does not detract from the feat of making one.

It’s hard for those new to snooker to truly appreciate the sense of achievement in Steve Davis’s first TV 147 in 1982 or Cliff Thorburn’s first at the Crucible in 1983.

The same can be said for another Canadian, Kirk Stevens, and his maximum in his 1984 Masters semi-final against Jimmy White.

Kirk was the pin-up boy of the time and, in his all-white suit, resembled John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever.

Wembley Conference Centre was packed for a Saturday afternoon semi-final between two of the game’s biggest crowd pullers.

They did not disappoint. Kirk’s break came in the ninth frame. It was technically one of the more difficult 147s because colours were off their spots and although, for example, Ronnie O’Sullivan’s at the Crucible in 1997 was a greater demonstration of pure skill, Kirk’s effort remains one of the very best.

This is because of the inherent drama of the moment, the fact it was only the third ever made on TV and the atmosphere inside snooker’s biggest venue.

At one point, the BBC commentator, Jack Karnehm, rather huffily suggests the audience should calm down so as not to put Kirk off.

Here’s an interesting fact you may not know: the actor Donald Sutherland was in London and got a ticket for the match. He arrived late and came into the arena just before the 147 frame. He had never seen snooker before and could not understand why everyone was up cheering at the end, presumably believing that this was just a run-of-the-mill frame.

It was anything but and, although his career came to a premature end due to his drug addiction, Kirk will always be remembered for this moment of magic.

Watch the end of the 147 break here.


Anonymous said...

I seem to remember a highly amusing interview that Kirk and Jimmy did after the match too - it was all played in such great spirit.

Shame there is not more chances for the greats of the past to play in seniors events now since I know Kirk still plays.

Anonymous said...

I do not think this 147 break was as fast as any of Ronnies 147s, but it was still good anyway.

Anonymous said...

That White/Stevens game was a great match, the "wind" got 2 100+ breaks and that fantastic banana shot at the end. brilliant.

Point of order though Dave, thought it was the evening session semi-final. sure it was Griffiths/Knowles in the afternoon. sorry if i'm being picky mate.

Anonymous said...

Strange thing it is, how times change. In January 1932 Joe Davis constructed a break of 132 at Middleton, an astonishing achievement in that period. Ironically, in his coloumn in the News of the World, the great Tom Newman esteemed this break higher than Walter Lindrum's record billiards break of 4,137, achieved in the very same month - against the very same Joe Davis. He wrote that Davis' 132 break was so exceptional that it might never be exceeded. Nowadays, with tables designed to make potting easier, and with continously developing playing techniques, 147s are in the danger of becoming a commonplace. Good post, anyway, Dave.


from Hungary

Anonymous said...

This is all snooker has at the moment, past glories, because todays game in the UK is in terminal decline. I expect the credit crisis will finish it off and we'll be back to the exhibition days of pre-mass TV audiences.


Anonymous said...

the last post is way OTT.

the boom of the 80's quite clearly wont be repeated, but that doesnt mean todays regime is doing things all wrong, though they could do things a lot better.

perhaps the 80's was a complete peak, an overpeak, and now we are levelling off, but in the days of satellite tv and much more choice, the breakneck speed a lot of folk live their lives at, its no surprise that "passing traffic" isnt there to tune in. with so many tournaments not on "council tv" too it is harder for the occasional viewer to follow whats happening and who is at the top

its all fine and well if you are a "snooker junkie"

Anonymous said...

no more thoughts?