Mike Dunn’s 147 break in the German Masters qualifiers tonight proves two things: that the standard throughout the ranks is high and that maximums are still relatively rare.
There are a number of players who have been on the circuit a while who get routinely written off as ‘mediocrity’ or ‘deadwood’. People ask what they have done for snooker.
Well the answer to that is this: they have played it. True, professional sport relies on its star names for commercial appeal but snooker would be nothing without the many foot-soldiers who comprise the tour.
They can all play to a much higher standard than many realise. Hopefully the introduction of streaming for the qualifiers has illuminated this. Just because they aren’t all tournament winners doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be respected.
(Neither, incidentally, should they be artificially propped up. Money in sport should be earned through performance.)
Dunn had never previously made a maximum in a tournament but will now be placed on a list of players, some legends, others long since forgotten, to have achieved the perfect run.
We are fast approaching the 30th anniversary of snooker’s first officially ratified 147 break, made by Steve Davis at the Lada Classic in January 1982.
Since then there have been hundreds of thousands of frames of professional snooker played around the world, yet Dunn’s 147 was only the 79th maximum in the game’s history.
Make no mistake: it is still a very difficult thing to accomplish. In a match environment more so.
Ken Doherty says that the biggest regret of his entire career is his missed black for a 147 at the Masters at Wembley in 2000. He has woken up in the middle of the night thinking about it.
Cliff Thorburn became world champion in 1980 but he is still best known for making the first 147 at the Crucible in 1983.
Whenever Kirk Stevens is mentioned so is his white suit and maximum break at the 1984 Masters.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s five minute, 20 second maximum at the Crucible in 1997 is rightly talked about as a remarkable exhibition of skill.
Dunn’s 147 was not made in such lofty surroundings but it is still a significant personal achievement.
It’s a shame so many people immediately began to bellyache about the fact there is no financial prize for making one in the qualifiers, as if everything has to be about money. Dunn didn’t make the break for cash (though he would obviously welcome it), he did it because it’s a holy grail in our sport.
Whether there should be a prize or not, the feat of accomplishing a maximum break in competition is one all snooker players aspire to and most don’t achieve.
So Dunn can be proud to have done so.