What is the highest break in the history of professional snooker?

Of course, under normal circumstances, the ‘maximum’ break possible in a frame of snooker is 147, consisting of 15 reds, 15 blacks and the six colours in sequence. The first such break, officially ratified by the world governing body, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), was compiled by Steve Davis in a quarter-final match against John Spencer in the Lada Classic at the Civic Centre in Oldham, Greater Manchester in January, 1982. According to the WPBSA, at the last count, 185 ‘maximum’ breaks had been made in professional tournament play.

However, if, after a foul, the cue-ball is snookered – that is, no ball ‘on’ can be hit on both extreme edges without obstruction by a ball, or balls, not ‘on’ – the striker may nominate any ball, other than the ball ‘on’, as a ‘free ball’. If this situation occurs with all 15 reds remaining on the table, it effectively creates an ‘extra’ red, such that a maximum break of 155 is theoretically possible.

No professional snooker player has compiled a 155 break in tournament play, but Scottish former professional Jamie Burnett did complete 16-red clearance during his second round qualifying match against Leo Fernandez in the UK Championship at Pontins in Prestatyn, North East Wales in October, 2004. Early in the fourteenth frame, Burnett was snookered after a foul and hence nominated brown as a free ball, followed by brown again, and went on to complete a total clearance – 15 reds, 12 blacks, two pinks and one blue plus, of course, the colours in sequence – for a total of 148. His remarkable feat remains the highest break in the history of professional tournament play and seems unlikely to be beaten any time soon.

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