The Snooker World Championship is now finished. It was on for two weeks, with games shown all day and into the evening. Bliss, pure bliss. Nothing can glue to me to my sofa more than this most British of games, with its angles, pretty colours, bow ties, unworkable maths and unforgiving bright lights on all those pale complexions. Thanks heavens my phobia of tardiness is stronger than my fascination for this game or my work may have suffered majorly. I looked up where the word snooker came from and found my answer here. It’s a good story, so I thought I’d share it with you.

The term ‘snooker’ is reputed to have been given to the game by Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain (no relation to the wartime Prime Minister) in 1875. In the Officers’ Mess at Jubbulpore in India, gambling games such as pyramids, life pool and black pool were popular, with fifteen reds and a black used in the latter. To these were added yellow, green and pink, with blue and brown introduced some years later. One afternoon Chamberlain’s Devonshire regiment was visited by a young officer who had been trained at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. This officer explained that a first-year cadet at the Academy was referred to as a ‘snooker’. Later, when one of the players failed to hole a coloured ball, Chamberlain shouted to him: ‘Why, you’re a regular snooker.’ He then pointed out the meaning and that they were all ‘snookers’ at the game. The name was adopted for the game itself.