When all is said and done, snooker is ultimately about putting points on the board, preferably without letting your opponent back to the table.
Here's one opinion of the top ten breaks in snooker history. Do you disagree with this list or have you got your own top ten? If so send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org
10. Ronnie O’Sullivan v Dave Harold, 2008 Northern Ireland Trophy final. Break: 76
When O’Sullivan came to the table in the seventh frame of this final in Belfast, he was 60-0 down in points, with seven reds left, four of them clamped to the top cushion. His only option seemed to be to pick off the loose balls and get himself back into the frame. The Rocket had other ideas. Showing his extraordinary break-building skills, he worked the reds off the cushion one by one, nudged the awkward brown and pink loose and cleared the table to leave Harold bamboozled in his seat. This run of 76 was as good an example of his skill as any of the three 147s he made during the same season.
9. Jamie Burnett v Leo Fernandez. 2004 UK Championship qualifiers. Break: 148
Awarded a free ball early in the frame, Burnett potted the brown with another brown to give him five points with all the reds still on the table. The Scot went on to take 15 reds with 12 blacks, two pinks and a blue, plus all the colours, to record an incredible 148 – going one better than the many before him who had scored official 147s. "I didn't even realise I was on it until I'd got over 100," he said. "I didn't really know how to react afterwards. At first I thought it was no big deal, but then I realised I'd made history.” His break may have taken place at Prestatyn with less than a handful of spectators watching, but the fact remains that it’s the highest in professional snooker history.
8. Alex Higgins v Ray Reardon. 1982 World Championship final. Break: 135
Ten years after winning his first world title, Higgins was back in the final. Up against Ray Reardon, in the autumn of his career and well past his best, the Hurricane knew he might never get a better chance to join the small group of players to have lifted the famous trophy more than once. At 15-15, the match was in the balance, but Higgins pulled away to win the next two. On the brink of victory at 17-15, he kept his nerve together and only needed one chance to seal victory, putting together a magnificent 135. It was his highest ever break at the Crucible, and a stylish way to finish for one of snooker’s great characters. The outpouring of joy as Higgins clutched his baby in one arm and the trophy in the other, tears running down his face, was there for all to see.
7. Steve Davis v John Spencer. 1982 Lada Classic. Break: 147
Stephen Hendry and Ronnie O’Sullivan may have scored nine maximum breaks apiece, but they will never be able to take one record away from Steve Davis...the first ever official 147. This landmark came in a televised match in the Lada Classic, and featured some particularly difficult shots towards the end, including a thin cut on the blue and a brilliant clip on the pink with the rest. And the Nugget’s reward for his troubles? A Lada car.
6. John Higgins v Ronnie O’Sullivan. 2006 Masters final. Break: 64
The last match ever played at Wembley Conference Centre, before the Masters moved next door to the Arena, certainly lived up to its billing. Higgins and O’Sullivan, these two snooker titans, played out an epic clash, trading century breaks and brilliant pots. Fittingly, it came down to the last frame at 9-9, and O’Sullivan looked to be flying to victory as he build a break of 60, before rattling a red to a baulk corner. After a safety exchange, Higgins bravely rolled a red into a centre pocket dead weight, then set about the rest of the table. He doubled the last red into a centre pocket, and as the tension mounted, retained a steady hand to clear the colours and take the title. “This win will stay with me for the rest of my days,” he said.
5. Peter Ebdon v Stephen Hendry. 2002 World Championship final. Break: 59
Few players prepare more rigorously for the World Championship than Ebdon, and at the end of the 2002 staging, his whole campaign, and perhaps his whole career, rested on a single frame. Up against snooker’s all-time great in Stephen Hendry, who had beaten him in the 1996 final, Ebdon knew it was now or never when they got to 17-17. Hendry failed to capitalise on a couple of early chances, leaving Ebdon the opportunity he wanted among the balls. Thriving on the pressure, the gritty Englishman constructed a superb break of 59 – far from the highest of his life, but certainly the most courageous. A few moments later than handshake came, and Ebdon was in possession of snooker’s greatest prize for the first time.
4. Cliff Thorburn v Terry Griffiths. 1983 World Championship. Break: 147
Steve Davis may have scored the first televised 147, but surely more famous is Thorburn’s effort the following year, as it was the first at the Crucible. Famously starting with a fluke, he went on to drop all the reds with blacks, then potted a beautifully struck yellow to gain position on the green, and cleared up to earn himself a piece of history. The Canadian sunk to his knees in delight and embraced Griffiths and Bill Werbeniuk to celebrate his achievement.
3. Alex Higgins v Jimmy White. 1982 World Championship semi-final. Break: 69
Fans of Jimmy White remember this break with anguish, as it could so easily have been their man facing Reardon in the ’82 final. White, then a fresh faced 19-year-old, led 15-14 and 59-0 in the next frame, but couldn’t quite get over the winning line. Higgins had it all to do when he came to the table, but executed a series of remarkable pots, each seeming more difficult than the next as he struggled to keep control of the cue ball. On just 13 he crashed in an amazing pot on the blue to a baulk corner, throwing his cue arm at the ball to generate enough power and side to come back to the reds. Eventually the black went down and the match went into a deciding frame, which Higgins won on his way to the title.
2. Stephen Hendry v Jimmy White. 1994 World Championship final. Break: 58
Another moment of despair for White fans, whose man was once again on the wrong side of a superb clearance. This time it was in the deciding frame of the final – a situation which can hardly bring more pressure. White had the first chance but missed a black off its spot. Hendry, who broke his arm earlier in the tournament but refused to let that end his quest for a sixth world title, stepped up to the plate, and the result seemed inevitable. Like Ebdon’s break in 2002, his 58 was nothing special in itself, but due to the circumstances it was the most important run of his glittering career.
1. Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mick Price. 1997 World Championship. Break: 147
The ultimate example of O’Sullivan’s genius, revealing a talent which can barely be matched in all of sport. His first Crucible maximum, the fourth scored at Sheffield, is by far the fastest ever recorded, clocking 5 minutes and 21 seconds, that’s an average of just over nine seconds per shot. Viewers on BBC may have been forgiven for thinking the action had been speeded up as O’Sullivan cruised around the table, thumping balls into their targets without a flinch. Even the colours were dispatched without a pause, despite his chalk dropping to the floor as he potted the blue. Will there ever be a better break?