Crucible Centuries

At a time when we should all be watching the World Championships from Sheffield we are instead forced to watch highlights from previous years as the Corona virus lockdown destroys yet another sporting occasion for 2020. The first of those broadcasts have centred on maximum breaks and the players who have made them and while it is entertaining to see again the 147s there have also been some other very notable high breaks and high break achievements over the Crucible years which started in 1977 and the first victory there by John Spencer, winning that year’s final against Cliff Thorburn by 25 frames to 21.

The maximum break of 147 points has been achieved 10 times at the home of Snooker during that period. The record of 3 times each is predictably held by two of the giants of the game, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan.

The very first one was by Cliff Thorburn in his match against Terry Griffiths in 1983 and this break was started by Cliff attempting a Red into the left-hand top pocket which jawed and failed to drop, Cliff had played the stroke with a little force which propelled this ball out of the jaws to then run along the top cushion. In its path was another of the Reds which was struck and by the luckiest of flukes, knocked into the right-hand top pocket leaving Cliff with an easy Black and the rest of the Reds in very favourable positions. There have also been 3 other 147s, one by Jimmy White against Tony Drago, one by Mark Williams against Robert Milkins and finally one by Ali Carter against Peter Ebdon.

The record Crucible break before Cliff Thorburn’s maximum was a 145 held by Doug Mountjoy made in 1981, Doug possibly the second-best player after Jimmy White never to have won there.

There have also been 4 occasions where breaks of 146 have been accrued, with the championships of 2010, won by Neil Robertson, made all the more memorable by containing two of them, one by Graeme Dott, Neil’s opponent in the final and the other by Mark Allen. The two others to have been made were by Ronnie O’Sullivan in 2017 and John Higgins in 2018.

One more record of note concerning high breaks belongs to Neil who is the only player to hold that particular accolade three times running in the World Championships. It started in 2013 when he made a tournament high 143, following that up with the best in 2014 of 140 and completing the hat-trick in 2015, although it was shared that year with Stuart Bingham, both compiling 145 breaks.

The 2019 event did not contain any individual records but is still worthy of its place in this blog for its collective record of a century of centuries, reached for the first time, 100 of them exactly.

Two of the most famous referees from the golden age of snooker were in charge for the matches containing Cliff Thorburn’s first Crucible 147 and the one made by Mark Williams. Namesake but no relation, John Williams for Cliff Thorburn’s and probably the most famous referee of all, John Street, for Mark’s.

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