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  Themes Homepage > The invention of snooker
Famous Slough
The invention of snooker

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Snooker was invented by a Slough man - Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain, who was born at Upton Park on 13 January 1856.

Chamberlain trained at Sandhurst Military College before joining the 11th Devonshire Regiment in 1873 and being posted to India.

It was in 1875 that Chamberlain created snooker. During the rainy season, young officers spent much of their time in the billiards room, and several of the games they played allowed for gambling. Two of the most popular games were 'pyramids' and 'black pool'.

In 'pyramids', there were 15 reds, arranged in a pyramid, and each time a player potted a red his opponent had to pay a forfeit. In 'black pool', each player had a different coloured cue ball, and when an opponent potted it they had to pay a fee to rejoin the game. If the opponent potted the black ball after an opponents ball, the fee was greater.

Chamberlain combined elements of these two games to create a new game, which he persuaded his fellow officers to try. One day, when a player missed an easy shot, Chamberlain remarked that he was a 'snooker' - this was slang for a new recruit at Woolwich Military Academy. Chamberlain went on to say that they were all snookers at this game, and the name stuck.

Chamberlain had various postings throughout India, and introduced the game wherever he went. He was stationed in Madras from 1881 to 1885 and the game became very popular at the Ootacamund Club there. This is where the rules were worked out in detail for the first time.

During a visit to India in 1885, John Roberts, the world billiards champion, sought out Chamberlain in order to learn the game of snooker. He then introduced the game to England.

Chamberlain was promoted to captain in 1885, major shortly afterwards, and lieutenant-colonel in 1887. He was military secretary to the Kashmir government between 1890 and 1897, when he reorganised the Kashmir army. In 1899 he was promoted to colonel.

As well as India, Chamberlain also served in South Africa and Ireland. He died at his home in Ascot in 1944.

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  Themes Homepage > The invention of snooker
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