What’s the biggest shock result of all time?
Many would argue Tony Knowles’s 10-1 demolition of Steve Davis in the first round of the 1982 World Championship remains hard to beat in this particular pub discussion.
Indeed, Davis’s surprise defeat of John Higgins in the 2010 World Championship would have to be up there, as would his reverse to Joe Johnson in the 1986 Crucible final.
A shock is so-called because nobody saw it coming. It can only feature a really big name.
For this reason, Stephen Hendry’s 9-0 defeat to Marcus Campbell in the first round of the 1998 UK Championship in Bournemouth has to rate very highly on the Richter scale of unfathomable results.
True, it was a pre-televised match, and thus more of a leveller. Also, Campbell had beaten Hendry at the Scottish Open the previous season.
And Hendry had been going through an unproductive period by his standards. He lost the 1997 world final to Ken Doherty and was bundled out of the first round in 1998 by his old foe, Jimmy White.
Even so, 9-0? Hendry losing to anyone 9-0? You could have named your own price at the start of the day.
I was there. The match was played over two afternoons. On the first of them, I can guarantee it took a while for anyone in the pressroom to even notice anything was happening.
Without wishing to shatter illusions, journalists tend not to be glued to the scoring monitors every waking moment.
By the time lunch has been eaten, the racing pages digested and all petty arguments got out of the way, usually about who has nicked whose chair or some such issue of great import, the matches are well underway.
I don’t remember much about that first afternoon but I’d imagine someone deigned to glance up at the monitor when Hendry was 3-0 down and remark that he’d have to pull his socks up.
It was best of 17. There was still plenty of time for him to get going.
At 5-0, the first mutterings of a shock result would start and at 8-0 at the end of the session the obituaries would be hammered out on every laptop in the room.
Hendry had staged many comebacks in his time but this would have been beyond the means of Lazarus.
He lost 9-0 the following day and we all piled into the press conference, fearing the worst.
This was a man who took to losing like Admiral Nelson took to arm wrestling.
However, he’d clearly had time overnight to accept his fate and think through the ramifications.
He spoke eloquently about the need to go back to the drawing board, to pull his game apart and rebuild it.
Looking back, losing 9-0 did him a favour. Had it been, say, 9-3 he may have been able to persuade himself that it was just one of those things, a bad day at the office.
But he was a proud man and to lose 9-0 to anyone was a humiliation.
It didn’t take long for Hendry to get it together again. In fact, he won a small tournament in Malta the following week.
By the time of the World Championship he had won the Scottish Open and Irish Masters. At the Crucible he would produce one of his best ever performances to land a seventh world title.
He was at his highest ever peak, but it started with one of his greatest ever lows.
It's arguable whether Hendry's defeat to Campbell ranks as the biggest shock of all time but, in terms of the effect it had on him and therefore the history of the game, it could well be the most significant.