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Pot Black

Pot Black
Tournament information
Venue Sheffield City Hall
Location Sheffield
Country England
Established 1969
Organisation(s) World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association
Format Non-ranking event
Final Year 2007
Final champion(s) Ken Doherty

Pot Black was a BBC television series of annual snooker tournaments held in the United Kingdom from 1969 to 1986, which carried no ranking points, but played a large part in the popularisation of the modern game. The event 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 with just a handful of professionals into one of the most popular sports in the United Kingdom.[1] Mark Williams holds the event's highest break record of 119.


  • History 1
  • Format 2
  • Other versions 3
  • Production 4
  • Winners 5
    • Pot Black 5.1
    • Junior Pot Black 5.2
    • Seniors Pot Black 5.3
    • Celebrity Pot Black 5.4
  • Notes 6
  • References 7


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until 1986, by which time more and more snooker events were being televised and the Pot Black format was becoming outdated.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

A one-day Pot Black tournament was held on 29 October 2005, and broadcast on the BBC's Grandstand. The event featured eight players, namely 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 London on 2 September 2006. Mark Williams beat John Higgins and achieved the highest break in the history of the tournament with a 119 clearance in the final.[6] The 2007 edition, the final Pot Black to date, was aired on Saturday 6 October 2007 on BBC One.[2][7] It was won by Ken Doherty, who beat Shaun Murphy 71–36, making him the first Irishman to win the competition.[8]

There have only been six century breaks in the history of Pot Black.[6] Eddie Charlton notched the first-ever century in 1973, and his 110 break stood as the event record for many years until eclipsed by Shaun Murphy's 111 against Jimmy White in 2005. The Pot Black highest break record is currently held by Mark Williams, with his 119 in 2006.[6][9]


In the history of Pot Black the tournament used many formats. In the first year eight players participated, but overall the number of players varied between six and sixteen. It was originally played as a knockout tournament, but later employed a round robin format.[1] A player's total number of points scored could often become crucial, so matches always ended with the potting of the black ball.[2]

All matches were played over one frame, except the final, which used many different formats. Initially it was played just over one frame, but in 1974 an aggregate score of two frames was tried. This was however abandoned and the single frame final returned in 1975. From 1978 to 1986 and in 1991 the final was decided over three frames.[1] In 1991 a "time-frame" format was added, which limited the time each player could spend at the table.[1]

Other versions

A junior version, called Junior Pot Black, ran from 1981 to 1983 and that was also revived in 1991, for a single year. It was won by 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 were the winners.[2] It was presented by Dermot O'Leary, commentated by John Parrott and refereed by Michaela Tabb.[10]


The events were recorded in a single day at the 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]

Pot Black was originally hosted by Alan Weeks. In the 1980s David Icke took over until 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. Legendary 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 Ray Reardon John Spencer 1–0 88–29 Ray Reardon (99)
1970 John Spencer Ray Reardon 1–0 88–27 Fred Davis (54)
1971 John Spencer Fred Davis 1–0 61–40 Fred Davis (73)
1972 Eddie Charlton Ray Reardon 1–0 75–43 John Spencer (66)
1973 Eddie Charlton Rex Williams 1–0 93–33 Eddie Charlton (110)
1974 Graham Miles John Spencer [n 1] 147–86[n 1] Graham Miles (68)
1975 Graham Miles Dennis Taylor 1–0 81–27 Fred Davis (87)
1976 John Spencer Dennis Taylor 1–0 69–42 Eddie Charlton (64)
1977 Perrie Mans Doug Mountjoy 1–0 90–21 Perrie Mans (59)
1978 Doug Mountjoy Graham Miles 2–1 43–55, 97–23, 111–16 Doug Mountjoy (101)
1979 Ray Reardon Doug Mountjoy 2–1 79–51, 25–82, 84–41 Doug Mountjoy (82)
1980 Eddie Charlton Ray Reardon 2–1 16–74, 85–30, 68–54 Dennis Taylor (87)
1981 Cliff Thorburn Jim Wych 2–0 68–39, 85–50 Kirk Stevens (79)
1982[13] Steve Davis Eddie Charlton 2–0 82–40, 85–38 Eddie Charlton (98)
1983[13] Steve Davis Ray Reardon 2–0 61–60, 82–47 Ray Reardon (91)
1984[13] Terry Griffiths John Spencer 2–1 57–65, 77–8, 70–35 Dennis Taylor (81)
1985 Doug Mountjoy Jimmy White 2–0
1986 Jimmy White Kirk Stevens 2–0 Jimmy White (106)[6]
1991 Steve Davis Stephen Hendry 2–1
1992 Neal Foulds James Wattana
1993[14] Steve Davis Mike Hallett 2–0 David Roe (104)
2005 Matthew Stevens Shaun Murphy 1–0 53–27 Shaun Murphy (111)[5]
2006 Mark Williams John Higgins 1–0 119–13 Mark Williams (119)[6]
2007 Ken Doherty Shaun Murphy 1–0 71–36 Graeme Dott (67)[7]

Junior Pot Black

Year Winner Runner-up Final score (frames) Final score (points)
1981 Dean Reynolds Dene O'Kane 151–79[n 2]
1982 John Parrott John Keers 169–70[n 2]
1983 John Parrott Steve Ventham 1-1 Pink ball game
1991 Ronnie O'Sullivan Declan Murphy
2006 Stuart Carrington Anthony McGill 1–0 58–46
2007 Mitchell Mann Jack Lisowski 1–0 76–23
2008 Jason Devaney Duane Jones 1–0 61–28
2009 [15][16] Ross Muir Jak Jones 1–0 24–13[n 3]
2010 [17][18] Jamie Clarke Tom Rees 1–0 43–30

Seniors Pot Black

Year Winner Runner-up Final score (frames) Final score (points)
1997 Joe Johnson Terry Griffiths

Celebrity Pot Black

Year Winner Runner-up Final score (frames) Final score (points)
2006 Steve Davis
Vernon Kay
Ronnie O'Sullivan
Bradley Walsh
1–0 74–45


  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". Retrieved 17 May 2010. 
  3. ^ John Nauright (2012). Sports around the World: History, Culture, and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 191.  
  4. ^ "July anniversaries".  
  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".  
  9. ^ "1991 Pot Black". Global Snooker Centre. Archived from the original on 10 December 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Celebrity Pot Black".  
  11. ^ Oakes, Keily (19 April 2004). "Forty landmarks from BBC Two".  
  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.  
  14. ^ "1993 Pot Black". CueTracker - Snooker Database. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "Knowles Takes Super 6s Crown". World Snooker. Retrieved 20 December 2009. 
  16. ^ "Knowles is crowned Super 6 king".  
  17. ^ "Clarke Wins Junior Title". World Snooker. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  18. ^ Penman, Andrew (29 January 2010). "Breezy and easy for Ronnie and Williams".  
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