Here in the UK the endless noise in the media about England goalkeeper Robert Green’s shocking howler against the USA at the World Cup has drowned out even the sound of the vuvuzelas.

“He shouldn’t have made that sort of mistake” is a commonly heard comment. Of course he shouldn’t. That’s why it’s called a mistake.

Sports people make them all the time. Why? Because they are human and humans are fallible.

In snooker, a sport played in a quiet atmosphere in which the focus is entirely on the players and where the tension grows steadily, rising until the pressure becomes almost unbearable, misses have come to define entire careers.

Willie Thorne was a technically very gifted player whose temperament clearly stopped him winning more than just his one ranking title.

Thorne had a great chance to become UK champion in 1985 when he led Steve Davis 13-7. Clearing up in the next frame, he missed the blue off its spot, a slip that would have annoyed him in the club never mind in such a prestigious tournament.

Davis won that frame and would win the match 16-14.

Jimmy White was bang in the balls in the deciding frame of his 1994 World Championship final against Stephen Hendry. After defeats in five finals, three of which were to Hendry, it looked as if finally the title would be his.

But...he snatched at a black off its spot and didn’t get another shot as Hendry coolly cleared. White never reached another Crucible final.

Rex Williams could have been world champion but for his missed blue against Alex Higgins in the deciding frame of their semi-final in the 1972 tournament.

Ken Doherty, for all his success, still cannot escape his failure to pot the final black of what would have been a 147 at the Wembley Masters final in 2000.

Mike Hallett missed the pink needing the black in addition to beat Hendry 9-2 in the 1991 Masters final and ended up losing 9-8.

Even the greats have missed balls for titles.

Steve Davis famously did so when he overcut the final black of his 1985 World Championship final against Dennis Taylor.

Stephen Hendry missed a much tougher black – a re-spotted one at that – against Mark Williams in the deciding frame of their 1998 Masters final.

The difference, though, is that Davis and Hendry carried on winning, did not have their confidence destroyed and their mistakes, though obviously disappointing, are effectively footnotes in their careers.

Others find it much more difficult to escape the feeling of what might have been.


Peter P said...

Great blog entry Dave - do we know who's entered for PTC 1 as yet? Any hints you can give us :)

Dave H said...

It's on worldsnooker.com now. 72 pros including Ronnie O'Sullivan.

mathmo said...

Another good blog entry.

I still get a lump in the throught everytime someone mentions the Jimmy missed black in his sixth Worlds final.
And I still can't believe Ken missed that black for the 147!

Anonymous said...

i think its a pity only 72 entered now the unentered pros will be on the back foot.

it looks like Hendry has not entered and he desperately wants ranking points.

on the subject of being human the mistake Green did was leveled out with the save in the second half or they could have lost 2-1.

my question is what the hell did wayne rooney do and where was he because he was hardly mentioned.

that should be the concern and not what the goalkeeper did.

Dave H said...

Yes, but it's a much simpler narrative to say 'look at this great fool who couldn't keep the ball out'

Same with Davis: he lost that '85 final in the first evening session when he missed a green and allowed Dennis to claw his way back into it

It should never have got down to that final black but that's all anyone remembers

Anonymous said...

Another is Ebdons miss in the deciding frame of the WC v Hendry when he dragged the white attempting to pot the black off it's spot. Hendry of a few years before would've cleared up but not that time and Ebdon clung on to win.

Mat Wilson

Anonymous said...


the black ball final.

no mention of the 35 frames the 1000 + shots everyone mentions that one ball.


Its no surprise that Hendry opted out of the first PTC event - after all it is £100 entry and he is a scotsman.

I think we may be a bit unfair on his missed masters black by deeming it a twitch. That type of shot against the nap is so tricky at any time and it can be guesswork sometimes wondering where the contact on the object ball will be.

The Rex Williams miss in 72 is probably the most significant, as he would probably have knocked out Higgins and averted the media interest in snooker and particularly in Higgins that followed.

Its unlikely that Williams would have beaten Spencer in the final, but if he had, he would probably have spent more time on playing and appearances than on the business end of snooker, which in turn would probably have meant less involvement in snooker politics and a potentially different landscape than there is today.

We can surmise indefinitely, but there is no doubt that certain misses can change not only the direction of a players career, but can change or shape elements of the games history.

CHRISK5 said...

Rob Green's fumble was not the worst mistake he made.

It was being positioned almost on the goal line - with the speculative shot coming from 25 yds
R.G should have been on his 6 yard
box instead - to cover the angles.

It's the warped negativity of humanity that you can be brilliant or superb 99% of the time & yet people focus needlessly on the
one mistake or blunder.

Snooker players,like footballers have to put in endless years of
dedication,practice & training to get to where they are - that has to be admired - even before getting critical.

It's not so much the mistakes - but the importance of the event & match situation that highlights
occasional errors of pressure.

72 pros entering the debut PTC is a decent turnout - it will also give 56 amateurs a taste of action.

If Hendry & others want to stay away & lose seeding position & points - more fool them !

Kiss Zsolt said...

Hello Dave and hello to everybody!

I found the videos:

Willie Thorne missed the blue (1985 UK Champ. final): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aM5Iwvbf4gs

1994 World Championship final, deciding frame:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Fm3yIi5gfA (Jimmy White missed tha black at 2:00!)

Ken Doherty missed 147 v. Matthew Stevens, 2000 Masters final:

Steve Davis v. Dennis Taylor, 1985 WCH final, final frame:
Summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDNpyNHrmjk

Stephen Hendry famous black ball missed v. Mark J. Williams, 1998 Masters final:
Another videos: http://www.thoughtequity.com/video/searchResults.do?search.project=Home&search.type=intermediate&search.keywords=Masters%20final%20Stephen%20Hendry%20vs%20Mark%20Williams&search.withinKeywords=&filter=

Have a nice day to everybody!

Kiss Zsolt said...

And the Mike Hallett v Stephen Hendry: http://www.jogyjogy.com/watch.php?id=186d9

Dave H said...

I agree Hendry's was much more difficult than the others discussed

He didn't miss many pressure balls full stop

RichP said...

I have to reply to anon 12.22, Green's second half save was hardly text book. He was very very lucky that the ball bounced onto the post otherwise it was nearly another howler, (he deffo shouldn't have been beaten at that near post) that save hardly inspired confidence.

On this blog entry in general it's definitely a different kind of pressure for snooker players/golfers/darts players as you're being proactive in these sports whereas football or many team sports you being reactive where surely the pressure isn't as great. Football you can let all your nervous energy out through running, kicking a ball etc etc sports such as snooker the tension builds inside and there is no real let out for these tensions until you sink that final black. Basically what i'm trying to say is that snooker/golf/darts require more balls than playing footie. By the way I love football but don't think the pressure is as intense once a match actually starts and you've had a bit of involvement.

jamie brannon said...

He didn't miss many in his pomp, but he misses lots now.

I like your tweets about the World Cup, Dave. I was particularly amused by the Rob Walker and the vuvuzela's tweet! The problem for goalkeepers they don't do as much so there mistakes are magnified.

However, Im backing us to bow out in the quarters of an event that is more lifeless so far than Robertson v Dott's World Final!

CHRISK5 said...

8 players of the current Top 16 have entered the debut PTC -
surely that ratio must improve in the PTC's to come.(12 of the top 16
should be the aim in future events)

It does display that those further down the rankings are more eager to capitalise on this opportunity.

Betty Logan said...

The Rex Williams miss in 72 is probably the most significant, as he would probably have knocked out Higgins and averted the media interest in snooker and particularly in Higgins that followed.

It would be like Back to the Future - Dave's blog would fade away!

CHRISK5 said...

No Steve Davis in the debut PTC ?

The same guy who said that PTC was an integral part of Snooker's rebuild strategy & that he planned to enter as many events as possible ?!?!

Talk about setting an example !

Or did they put Mark Davis on the list by mistake ! LMAO

Anonymous said...

Great blog post, Dave. Possibly the best I've read on this forum.

England are shite, though :-)

Ramona Dragomir said...

Great article, Dave!
We all make mistakes, that`s for sure!
How was that song? "I won`t back down" by Johnny Cash :)

Dave H said...

On a strict point of accuracy it's by Tom Petty and covered by Cash

Greg P said...

For me, the missed blue by Thorne in the '85 UK Champs final sticks out, out of all of them (and it's not just bias from me because I can't stand his commentary). Because of both the long-term historical context (he never won much of anything else, that would have been by far his biggest win), and the fact that it was just such an easy ball too, with such a comfortable lead...

White's missed black was in the final, deciding frame of a world championship. So it is more understandable, even if he did miss it by a huge margin, a lot more than a lot of people really realised, I think.

And this may sound silly to some but, in a way I think White is actually a little lucky that at the time the BBC snooker team wasn't full of today's tech geeks who are obsessed with giving a super slow-motion replay of every miss 5 times over, because he really did miss it by a mile.

But still, somehow I still find Thorne's blue to be worse.

Nothing Rob Green could do will ever alter the historical context of England's World Cup campaign, because we all know, they are bound by fate, to reach the quarter finals and lose on penalties. The only question is "Who will get themselves sent off this time?"

Willie Thorne's blue can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEeZ94v-uIo (skip to 7:00)

Does anyone here know anything more about the blue Rex Williams missed? Was it basically the same as Thorne's? The fact that the 1972 world championship was not televised has got to be one of the most awful TV travesties outside of Red Dwarf: Back to Earth getting a green light.

Anonymous said...

Davis hasn't entered? That is surprising considering what he said during the world championship... Quite disappointing.

Dave H said...

William's blue was slightly more difficult, the cue ball was closer to the side cushion

Ramona Dragomir said...

You`re right about the song. My mistake! :P Sorry, I only knew Johnny`s version .

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kildare @ 2:30, Hi Dave
You often speak with great authority mister K on different aspects of snooker. Your posts are no doubt very welcomed by Dave The Brave but your strong opinions should be more enlightening and lased with some detail.

Your remark about the effect of “Nap”! The modern “Cloths” have so little nap that few players would know the difference if the “Cloths” were reversed or the baulk end was at the black ball end.

A point to note Sir! Do you personally alter your cue action to suit the cloths nap? Do any of the Dave Den blogs ever give the “Nap” one single thought during play?
Granted the weave of the cloths can make a slight difference (When played slowly) on heavy duty cloths but should never be mentioned by TV commentators who’s words are likely to be copied.

Easy misses is a great thread Dave! The reason for the Jimmy White “Missed Black” against Hendry was the wee man was off balance and played the shot with his knees together. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

11.43 idiot. please dave stop printing this guys rubbish. jimmy missed through the pressure of the situation ,nothing else.the possibility of winning the world after so many chances every ball is missable. you could have the best technique in the world and still miss in that situation.can u actually play to a good level hey u ,i very much doubt it as its obvious u know nothing about the game.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr X @ 1:57 pm Hi Dave!
I am a bit sorry for you mister you seem to have all the attributes of a “Stationary Stalker”. You are 100% right dear Sir about pressure, but pressure is an excuse not a reason.
Pressure is a kind of panic within mister which in turn causes us to act irrationally without order.

I sometimes think Sir you are a frustrated old fashioned coach of the “Watch Me” and “I’ll show you again brigade”. This type of coach actually transfers to keen youngsters his own bad habits.

Snooker technique mister isn’t something a player picks up it has detail and a point’s value to advance snooker. Please accept Sir that snooker stood still for almost forty years and trying still to retain a “Closed Shop” policy for the coaching dinosaurs. Mr Hey You

SupremeSnooker.com said...

Anyone remember Mika Immonen's missed pink that cost Europe the Mosconi Cup in 9-ball pool a few years ago? Ouch!


Mr Hey you-

The point I was making with the Hendry black is that had the shot been at the other end of the table, i.e the black end, then the shot would have been considerably easier.

It is also noticeable, that top pros miss a lot more balls along the baulk cushion than they do along the top cushion.

As it happens, they generally refuse baulk cushion pots unless they are perfect on them, whereas you see them rolling balls along the top cushion on a regular basis, so regarding your theory about players not noticing if the cloth was the wrong way around, well Im afraid yOu're wrong there old chap.

Regarding my speaking with authority, I do not intend to convey that impression, but I have played to a reasonable club standard and know that slow rolling balls at different parts of the table have different results on contact.

Anonymous said...

hey u .you stated jimmy missed the black cus his knees were together. ive watched it on utube and his knees are nowhere near together . proof you just make this crap up in your own head.thanks for proving yourself to be clueless.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kildare @ 8:21 am
How are you Sir, Hello Dave! You seem very keen mister K on the lovely game and you would probable make a very good coach, that is if you new (in words) how to play.

Please don’t misunderstand me Sir but coaching is a different subject from playing. If you barred the “Watch Me” and I’ll show you again method, the many so called great and authorised coaches would be rendered speechless.

Snooker people never apply logic to coaching. If ex-world champion “A” was the top coach he would have his “method” wrapped up in the “Laws of Copyright”, but there is no copyright.
Therefore every one has a different “Tariff” for saying the exact same words.

The lucky TV player that won a forgotten ranking event 25 years ago is maybe charging £70 plus per hour but the ordinary club champ that averages five centuries per day in practice is only charging £10 an hour to the local youngsters.
Good luck to that chap that’s opened the new club Dave, I wish him well. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr Kildare
About the reaction of the balls with and against the “Nap”! You will find Sir that all these reported vagaries were unsubstantiated though proved with an unnatural strike of the cue ball.

The popular “Going through the Spots” is a completely senseless exercise that causes frustrating unless the student is told to always use the “Exact Middle” of the “Cue Tip” as striking the exact middle of the cue ball is not a problem.

A tip worth recording mister K for you and the brand new club is! The “Cue Tip” is like a compass and has a N S E and West for contact on the “Cue Balls” one and only centre.

The “Mechanics of the balls” and the awareness of “Physics in snooker” is sadly beyond the games old timers and the many self appointed coaches. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

talking of balls mr hey u . u didnt seem to reply to my 12 25 comment on jimmy .think u looked at utube and realized u make this nonsense up.you have been found out as the fraud you are.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr X @ 2:27 pm Hello Dave
I’m afraid dear Sir you have caught me out on the Jimmy White missed black. In mitigation Sir the unnatural stance may have been another Jimmy final.

Standing “Knocked Kneed” like a young maiden protecting her honour is not unique to Jimmy White, many players sub consciously adopt this stance occasionally.
For the record mister X the world champion of 19-91 Mr John Parrott adopts this bad habit often. The reason John does it could be to bring the snooker cue down to table level.

A point to note Mr X the viewer that sees only the balls potted and entering the “Bags” is either a Moran or a life long infantile. The Joy of the game is observing the various branches of technique and the success seen often in blatant faults. Mr Hey You

Anonymous said...

there is no such thing as a correct style. not everyone can cue the same it would be like watching a load of robots.standing like parrott is not a bad habit its just his own style and hes not done bad on it.graeme dott moves on the shot but hes been in 3 world finals.i suppose u would have everyone cue like joe (yawn)davis.at least u admitted to being wrong about jimmy but then again your pretty much wrong about everything.

Anonymous said...

Snooker © The Fine Art Method
A secret is wasted if not shared
Dear Mr X 12:46 pm, Hello Dave
How are you both! Your determination to be “Right” mister X shows actually the female streak of the nagging and neglected house wife.
No offence ladies to the genuine “Nag” as she probable has some justification; probable a life long “Snooker Widow”.

Why Mister X do you have to be “Right”? Granted there are many styles of coaching snooker but the “Knocked Kneed” stance has never been recommended.
I apologise Sir if your “Personal coaching Certificate” suggests the comfortable option of “Holding a Balance” till the strike is complete, as it is the most popular.

The “Fine Art” method does not claim Sir the only method, but is positively the games only Copyright method and until a different story on coaching with “New” words are published, the “Fine Art” method is without an alternative. Mr Hey You

thetubberlad said...

A fine entry, wrote something similar myself on 606 & SI. Certainly, in Willie Thorne & Mike Hallet's cases, their careers fell apart due to their errors. While Hendry & Davis showed why they are arguably the greatest ever.

Dave H said...

Willie's career didn't fall apart after missing that blue - far from it, he remained a top player for another decade

But it did mark him out as a player who couldn't quite hack it under pressure, whether fairly or not