Pot Black snooker tournament

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Pot Black
Tournament information
VenueSheffield City Hall
Organisation(s)World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association
FormatNon-ranking event
Final year2007
Final champion(s)Republic of Ireland Ken Doherty

Pot Black was a BBC television series of annual snooker tournaments held in the United Kingdom from 1969 to 1986. The event carried no ranking points but played a large part in the popularisation of the modern game of snooker. It was revived in the form of several one-off tournaments throughout the 1990s and up to 2007. Pot Black helped transform snooker from a minority sport played by just a handful of professionals into one of the most popular sports in the UK.[1] Mark Williams holds the event's highest break record of 119.


The BBC began broadcasting in colour in 1967 and was looking for programmes that could exploit the new technology.[1][2] The idea of broadcasting snooker, then still a minor sport, was the brainchild of David Attenborough who was the controller of BBC2 at the time.[3] The first Pot Black event was held in 1969 at the BBC Studios in Birmingham, and the programme was aired on BBC2 on 23 July 1969.[2] This first contest featured eight players: Gary Owen, Jackie Rea, John Pulman, Ray Reardon, Fred Davis, Rex Williams, Kingsley Kennerley and John Spencer, with Reardon the eventual winner.[4] The event continued until 1986, by which time an increasing number of snooker events were being televised and the Pot Black format was becoming outdated. The programme returned in 1990, but was discontinued after the 1993 event.[1]

A one-day Pot Black tournament, held on 29 October 2005, was broadcast on the BBC's Grandstand. The event featured eight players: Ronnie O'Sullivan, Stephen Hendry, Stephen Maguire, Matthew Stevens, Paul Hunter, John Higgins, Jimmy White and Shaun Murphy, with Stevens beating Murphy in the final.[2][5] The 2006 edition of Pot Black took place at the Royal Automobile Club in Central London on 2 September 2006. Mark Williams defeated John Higgins in the final, achieving the highest break in the history of the tournament with a 119 clearance.[6] The 2007 edition, the final Pot Black to date, was aired on Saturday 6 October 2007 on BBC One.[2][7] Ken Doherty became the first Irishman to win the competition, beating Shaun Murphy 71–36 in the final.[8]

There have only been six century breaks in the history of Pot Black.[6] Eddie Charlton compiled the first-ever century in 1973, a break of 110, which stood as the event record for many years until overtaken by Shaun Murphy's 111 against Jimmy White in 2005. Mark Williams holds the record for the highest break on Pot Black, for his 119 clearance in 2006.[6][9]


The Pot Black tournament used many different formats over its history. Eight players participated in the first event, but the number of players varied between six and sixteen over the years. It was originally played as a knockout tournament, but later employed a round-robin format.[1] The total number of points scored by the players could often become crucial, so matches always ended with the potting of the black ball.[2]

All matches were played over a single frame. Several different formats were used for the final, which was initially also played over just one frame; an aggregate score over two frames was tried in 1974, but this format was abandoned and the single-frame final returned in 1975; from 1978 to 1986, and in 1991, the final was decided over three frames.[1] A "time-frame" format was added in 1991, to limit the time each player could spend at the table.[1]

Other versions

A junior version, called Junior Pot Black, ran from 1981 to 1983. This was also revived in 1991 for a single year. The winners were Dean Reynolds, John Parrott (twice) and Ronnie O'Sullivan. The event was revived as a side event to the World Snooker Championship, with the final played on the main match table.[1] The event remained there until 2009. A senior version, called Seniors Pot Black was held in 1997, featuring players who were over 40 at the time. Joe Johnson won the series.[2]

A Celebrity Pot Black was held on 15 July 2006 in aid of Sport Relief. It was contested between the team of Ronnie O'Sullivan and Bradley Walsh and the team of Steve Davis and Vernon Kay. Davis and Kay won the contest.[2] It was presented by Dermot O'Leary, commentated by John Parrott, and refereed by Michaela Tabb.[10]

In 1980 the games company Waddingtons published Pot Black Snooker Dice, a dice game designed by David Parlett based on the show; custom dice were used to represent the reds, colours and miscued shots. The game was a fair representation of snooker, but as with many dice games, it was mostly a game of chance. There were some elements of skill, for example the use of snookers. Welsh snooker player Ray Reardon endorsed the game.


The events were recorded in a single day at the BBC's Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham, but the matches were shown in half-hour programmes over the winter. The press co-operated by revealing the scores only after a match had been transmitted. In 2005 and 2006, the whole tournament was broadcast over one day.[1] Pot Black's theme tune was the ragtime classic "Black and White Rag", composed by George Botsford and performed by Winifred Atwell. Atwell had made the recording in 1952, on a specially de-tuned grand piano, not the upright piano she acquired later and made famous.[2]

The first series of Pot Black in 1969 was hosted by Keith Macklin. It was then hosted by Alan Weeks until 1984, and David Icke took over in 1985 and 1986. Eamonn Holmes hosted the event in 1991 and 1992, but was replaced by David Vine in 1993. Vine also hosted Senior Pot Black in 1997. The latest revival of the event was hosted by Hazel Irvine.[2] Pot Black is credited with producing one of the most memorable British sports quotes: commentator Ted Lowe, aware that not all viewers had colour televisions, said "and for those of you who are watching in black and white, the pink is next to the green."[11]



Pot Black

Year Winner Runner-up Final score (frames) Final score (points) Highest break[13]
1969 Wales Ray Reardon England John Spencer 1–0 88–29 Wales Ray Reardon (99)
1970 England John Spencer Wales Ray Reardon 1–0 88–27 England Fred Davis (54)
1971 England John Spencer England Fred Davis 1–0 61–40 England Fred Davis (73)
1972 Australia Eddie Charlton Wales Ray Reardon 1–0 75–43 England John Spencer (66)
1973 Australia Eddie Charlton England Rex Williams 1–0 93–33 Australia Eddie Charlton (110)
1974 England Graham Miles England John Spencer Aggregate score[n 1] 147–86[n 1] England Graham Miles (68)
1975 England Graham Miles Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 1–0 81–27 England Fred Davis (87)
1976 England John Spencer Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 1–0 69–42 Australia Eddie Charlton (64)
1977 South Africa Perrie Mans Wales Doug Mountjoy 1–0 90–21 South Africa Perrie Mans (59)
1978 Wales Doug Mountjoy England Graham Miles 2–1 43–55, 97–23, 111–16 Wales Doug Mountjoy (101)
1979 Wales Ray Reardon Wales Doug Mountjoy 2–1 79–51, 25–82, 84–41 Wales Doug Mountjoy (82)
1980 Australia Eddie Charlton Wales Ray Reardon 2–1 16–74, 85–30, 68–54 Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor (87)
1981 Canada Cliff Thorburn Canada Jim Wych 2–0 68–39, 85–50 Canada Kirk Stevens (79)
1982[13] England Steve Davis Australia Eddie Charlton 2–0 82–40, 85–38 Australia Eddie Charlton (98)
1983[13] England Steve Davis Wales Ray Reardon 2–0 61–60, 82–47 Wales Ray Reardon (91)
1984[13] Wales Terry Griffiths England John Spencer 2–1 57–65, 77–8, 70–35 Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor (81)
1985 Wales Doug Mountjoy England Jimmy White 2–0 64–5, 66-30 England Jimmy White (80)
1986 England Jimmy White Canada Kirk Stevens 2–0 60–46, 106-21 England Jimmy White (106)[6]
1991 England Steve Davis Scotland Stephen Hendry 2–1
1992 England Neal Foulds Thailand James Wattana 1–0
1993 England Steve Davis England Mike Hallett 2–0 England David Roe (104)
2005 Wales Matthew Stevens England Shaun Murphy 1–0 53–27 England Shaun Murphy (111)[5]
2006 Wales Mark Williams Scotland John Higgins 1–0 119–13 Wales Mark Williams (119)[6]
2007 Republic of Ireland Ken Doherty England Shaun Murphy 1–0 71–36 Scotland Graeme Dott (67)[7]

Junior Pot Black

Year Winner Runner-up Final score (frames) Final score (points)
1981 England Dean Reynolds New Zealand Dene O'Kane 151–79[n 2]
1982 England John Parrott England John Keers 169–70[n 2]
1983 England John Parrott England Steve Ventham 1–1 Pink ball game
1991 England Ronnie O'Sullivan Republic of Ireland Declan Murphy 2–0 126–0, 98-30
2006 England Stuart Carrington Scotland Anthony McGill 1–0 58–46
2007 England Mitchell Mann England Jack Lisowski 1–0 76–23
2008 Republic of Ireland Jason Devaney Wales Duane Jones 1–0 61–28
2009 [14] Scotland Ross Muir Wales Jak Jones 1–0 24–13[n 3]
2010[citation needed] Wales Jamie Clarke Wales Tom Rees 1–0 ?

Seniors Pot Black

Year Winner Runner-up Final score (frames) Final score (points)
1997 England Joe Johnson Wales Terry Griffiths 2–0 85–32, 70–17


  1. ^ a b Final decided on aggregate score over two frames. The individual frame scores were 77–37 and 70–49.
  2. ^ a b Final decided on aggregate score over two frames
  3. ^ Events were played with the six-red snooker variant.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Pot Black, Junior Pot Black". Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Pot Black". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  3. ^ John Nauright (2012). Sports around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 191. ISBN 159884301X.
  4. ^ "July anniversaries: Pot Black first transmitted 23 July 1969". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b "2005 Pot Black Cup". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 15 August 2007.
  6. ^ a b c d e "2006 Pot Black Cup". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 27 June 2007.
  7. ^ a b "2007 Pot Black". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009.
  8. ^ "Doherty secures Pot Black title". BBC Sport. 6 October 2007. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  9. ^ "1991 Pot Black". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 10 December 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Celebrity Pot Black". IMDb. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  11. ^ Oakes, Keily (19 April 2004). "Forty landmarks from BBC Two". BBC News. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  12. ^ "Pot Black History". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 24 December 2008.
  13. ^ a b c d Perrin, Reg (1984). Pot Black 1985 (New rev. ed.). London: British Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 9780563202936.
  14. ^ "Knowles is crowned Super 6 king". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
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