Where, and when, was the first officially ratified 147 break in snooker?

Notwithstanding the fact that a break of 155 is theoretically possible, under extraordinary conditions, 147 is generally accepted as the maximum break available in a frame of snooker and, as such, represents the pinnacle of achievement in the sport. The first witnessed, but unofficial, 147 break was made by New Zealander E.J. ‘Murt’ O’Donoghue in Griffiths, New South Wales, Australia on September 26, 1934. The exact circumstances are not entirely clear, but presumably the break was considered ineligible for ‘official’ consideration because it was made on a table with pockets not cut to template – which determines the width of the jaws and other characteristics – and/or in the absence of a certified referee.

In any case, the first maximum break that did meet the required criteria was made at Leicester Square Hall, formerly Thurston’s Hall, in London on January 22, 1955. Almost inevitably, the player responsible was the so-called ‘Sultan of Snooker’, Joseph ‘Joe’ Davis, who had won the World Snooker Championship – or the Professional Snooker Championship, as it was known initially – 15 consecutive times between 1927 and 1946, before turning his attention to exhibition matches. It was in such a match, against Willie Smith, that Davis made his historic 147.

Although reduced to the role of spectator on that occasion, Smith had won the World Billiards Championship twice, in 1920 and 1923 – the only occasions on which he entered the competition – and reached the final of the World Snooker Championship twice, in 1933 and 1935. For the record, the first televised maximum break was compiled by ‘The Nugget’, Steve Davis, during a 5-2 victory over John Spencer in the quarter-finals of the Lada Classic at the Civic Centre, Oldham on January 11, 1982.

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