Crucible curse

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The "Crucible curse" (also known as "The curse of the Crucible") refers to the fact that no first-time snooker world champion has retained his title the following year since the tournament moved to the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield in 1977.[1][2][3][4] The last player to successfully defend his first world title was John Pulman in 1964, when the championship was still decided by challenge matches.[5]

The curse[edit]

The following first-time champions did not retain their title the following year. Of the fifteen players to have won their first championship at the Crucible Theatre, five lost in their first match as defending champion (Terry Griffiths in 1980, Steve Davis in 1982, Dennis Taylor in 1986 Graeme Dott in 2007, and Neil Robertson in 2011) and only two went on to reach the final: Joe Johnson in 1987 and Ken Doherty in 1998.

Year[5][6] Defending champion[5][6] Progress Result Opponent Ref
1980 Wales Terry Griffiths Second round[N 1] 10–13 England Steve Davis [7]
1981 Canada Cliff Thorburn Semi-finals 10–16 England Steve Davis [8]
1982 England Steve Davis First round 1–10 England Tony Knowles [9]
1986 Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor First round 6–10 England Mike Hallett [10]
1987 England Joe Johnson Final 14–18 England Steve Davis [11]
1991 Scotland Stephen Hendry Quarter-finals 11–13 England Steve James [12]
1992 England John Parrott Quarter-finals 12–13 Scotland Alan McManus [13]
1998 Republic of Ireland Ken Doherty Final 12–18 Scotland John Higgins [14]
1999 Scotland John Higgins Semi-finals 10–17 Wales Mark Williams [15]
2001 Wales Mark Williams Second round 12–13 Northern Ireland Joe Swail [16]
2002 England Ronnie O'Sullivan Semi-finals 13–17 Scotland Stephen Hendry [17]
2003 England Peter Ebdon Quarter-finals 12–13 England Paul Hunter [18]
2006 England Shaun Murphy Quarter-finals 7–13 England Peter Ebdon [19]
2007 Scotland Graeme Dott First round 7–10 England Ian McCulloch [20]
2011 Australia Neil Robertson First round 8–10 England Judd Trump [21]

In the meantime, the title was won by players who had already been world champions, and thus the "curse" did not apply. Three players have won consecutive titles at the Crucible: Steve Davis (1983–1984 and 1987–1989), Stephen Hendry (1992–1996) and Ronnie O'Sullivan (2012–2013), but only after they experienced the "curse".[5][22]

Pre-Crucible[edit]

Even before the World Championship was staged at the Crucible, no player in the modern game successfully defended his first world title. Of all first-time world champions, only three retained their title at the next World Championship: Joe Davis in 1928, his brother Fred in 1949 and John Pulman at his first challenge match in 1964. Additionally, Ray Reardon, Alex Higgins and John Spencer won the World Championship before the event was moved to the Crucible in 1977, but they all failed to retain the title after winning it for the first time at the Crucible.

Year[5][6] Defending champion[5][6] Progress Result Opponent Ref
1970 England John Spencer Semi-finals 33–37 Wales Ray Reardon [23]
1971 Wales Ray Reardon Semi-finals 15–34 England John Spencer [24]
1973 Northern Ireland Alex Higgins Semi-finals 9–23 Australia Eddie Charlton [25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Griffiths, along with the other top 8 seeds, received a bye in the first round, thus the second round was his first match.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dee, John (14 April 2006). "Murphy aiming to exorcise the Crucible curse". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2007. 
  2. ^ Dee, John (28 April 2006). "Cruise for Ebdon as Crucible curse strikes champ". nationalmultimedia.com. Retrieved 21 April 2007. 
  3. ^ "Crucible Curse Strikes Ebdon". Sporting Life. 30 April 2003. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2007. 
  4. ^ Jackson, Jamie (15 April 2011). "Australia's Neil Robertson aiming to break the curse of the Crucible". London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Turner, Chris. "World Professional Championship". cajt.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk. Chris Turner's Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 16 April 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Hall of Fame". Snooker.org. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  7. ^ "1980 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  8. ^ "1981 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "1982 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "1986 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "1987 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  12. ^ "1991 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  13. ^ "1992 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  14. ^ "1998 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  15. ^ "1999 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  16. ^ "2001 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  17. ^ "2002 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  18. ^ "2003 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  19. ^ "2006 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  20. ^ "2007 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  21. ^ "Betfred.com World Championship (2011)". Snooker.org. Retrieved 23 February 2011. 
  22. ^ Dirs, Ben (6 May 2013). "Ronnie O'Sullivan beats Barry Hawkins to win fifth World title". BBC Sport. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "1970 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  24. ^ "1971 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  25. ^ "1973 World Championships Results". Snooker Database. Retrieved 28 December 2010.