Cliff Thorburn

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Cliff Thorburn
CM
Cliff-Thorburn-2010.jpg
Born (1948-01-16) January 16, 1948 (age 70)
Victoria, British Columbia
Sport country  Canada
Nickname
  • The Grinder
  • Champagne Cliff
Professional 1972–1996
Highest ranking 1 (1981/82)
Career winnings £988,098[citation needed]
Highest break 147:
  • 1983 World Championship
  • 1989 Matchroom League
Century breaks 92
Tournament wins
Ranking 2
Non-ranking 23
World Champion 1980

Clifford Charles Devlin "Cliff" Thorburn CM (born January 16, 1948) is a Canadian retired professional snooker player. He won the World Snooker Championship in 1980, the first player from outside the United Kingdom to win the title in the sport's modern era. He was also ranked number one that year. In 1983, Thorburn became the first player to compile a maximum break at the World Championship. He is one of two snooker players inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, the other being George Chenier.[1] His slow, determined style of play earned him the nickname "The Grinder".

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Thorburn first went to England to play snooker professionally in the early 70s. He had met John Spencer in Canada, who had advised him to go to the UK to improve his game. He was runner up in the world championship in 1977, and was soon considered a contender for tournaments.

1980s[edit]

Thorburn's finest moment came in the 1980 World Championship. He met Alex Higgins in the final, a personality that could hardly have been more different from his own. Thorburn won the match 18-16 to take the championship,[2] and rose to number two in the world rankings. The BBC's coverage of the final had been interrupted by the broadcast of live footage of the SAS storming the Iranian Embassy.

The following season Thorburn reached number one in the world rankings.

In 1983, Thorburn was made a Member of the Order of Canada. That same year, he became the first player to make a maximum break at the World Championships. He compiled the break in the fourth frame of his second round match against Terry Griffiths (a match he went on to win 13-12). Whilst completing the break, play stopped on the tournament's second table because Thorburn's friend and fellow Canadian Bill Werbeniuk wanted to watch him complete the break. He subsequently went on to reach the final, but lost to then world number 1 Steve Davis. His wife had a miscarriage during his semi-final and partly explains his eventual heavy defeat by Davis in the final. Thorburn himself refused to blame this for his loss, instead citing that he was fatigued after his three back-to-back final frame victories; 13-12 win over Terry Griffiths in the Second Round, 13-12 win over Kirk Stevens in the quarter finals and a gruelling 16-15 victory (from 13-15 behind) in his semi-final against Tony Knowles, which finished at 2:30am and left him physically exhausted before the final commenced later that same day; Thorburn stated that, following the early morning finish against Knowles, he simply had nothing left for the final less than thirteen hours later against the in-form Steve Davis, who eventually defeated Thorburn 18-6, with a session to spare.

Thorburn was a three time champion of The Masters, the most prestigious non-ranking event on the snooker calendar for many years. The event was held at the Wembley Conference Centre near London, England, which is where Thorburn lifted the title on three occasions winning in 1983 beating Ray Reardon 9-7 in the final, 1985 beating Doug Mountjoy 9-6 and in 1986 beating Jimmy White 9-5. Thorburn was the first player to retain the Masters title.

During the 1984/85 season Thorburn enjoyed a resurgence in form. He made the final of the Grand Prix losing to Dennis Taylor 10-2 in the Final. The highlight of the tournament was Thorburn's 9-7 victory over Steve Davis in the semi-final. Thorburn played outstanding snooker to overcome his great rival and the victory came unexpectedly because at that time Davis was in outstanding form.

In January 1985 Thorburn also made the final of the Classic and was again in outstanding form. On this occasion he met Willie Thorne in the final who was in equivalent good form and Thorne ran out the winner 13-8. Thorburn was again runner-up in the 1986 Classic this time losing to Jimmy White in the final 13-12. Thorburn looked certain to win the title but White got a snooker in the deciding frame on the final pink and potted pink and black to win the title.

Thorburn enjoyed success in the 1985 and 1986 Scottish Masters, an invitational event which opened the snooker season. Thorburn defeated Willie Thorne 9-7 in 1985 final and Alex Higgins 9-8 the following year.

Thorburn won the opening ranking event in the 1985-1986 snooker calendar, the Matchroom Trophy. Thorburn beat Jimmy White in the final 12-10 having trailed 0-7 and 4-8 and was runner-up in the same event the following two seasons.

Later years[edit]

He last qualified for the World Championship in 1994, where he faced Nigel Bond in the first round. Thorburn led by 9-2 but lost 10-9.

In 2001 Thorburn was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.[1] The same year he won the pro-am Canadian Open Championship; he had previously won the tournament in 1974, 1975, 1976, and 1977.[3][3]

During the 2006 World Championships, Thorburn flew to Sheffield to unveil a lifesize painting of his break, by the artist Michael Myers. It is on display at the Macdonald St. Paul's Hotel in Sheffield.[4] In 2010 Cliff Thorburn returned to the UK to compete on the Snooker Legends Tour where he faced Alex Higgins, Jimmy White and John Parrott.

Along with the highs there were a few lows. His manager Darryl McKerrow was killed in a hunting accident during the mid 80s and he was fined £10,000 and banned for two ranking tournaments in 1988 after failing a drug test.

He is the father of two children, Jamie and Andrew. Thorburn won around C$2.5 million in prize money during his 25-year career but also received a considerable income from inter alia billiards equipment endorsements, exhibition games, a snooker instruction book and an autobiography, Playing for Keeps, published in 1987.[5]

Performance and rankings timeline[edit]

Tournament 1972/
73
1973/
74
1974/
75
1975/
76
1976/
77
1977/
78
1978/
79
1979/
80
1980/
81
1981/
82
1982/
83
1983/
84
1984/
85
1985/
86
1986/
87
1987/
88
1988/
89
1989/
90
1990/
91
1991/
92
1992/
93
1993/
94
1994/
95
1995/
96
Ranking[6] No ranking system 13 6 5 5 2 1 3 3 3 2 2 4 6 7 18 36 36 41 54 41
Ranking tournaments
Thailand Classic[nb 1] Tournament Not Held NR A 1R 1R 1R LQ LQ LQ
Grand Prix[nb 2] Tournament Not Held 3R QF F SF 1R 2R A 2R 1R 1R LQ LQ 1R LQ
UK Championship Non-Ranking Event SF 3R QF QF QF 2R WD 1R LQ LQ LQ LQ
German Open Tournament Not Held LQ
Welsh Open Tournament Not Held 1R LQ LQ LQ LQ
International Open[nb 3] Tournament Not Held NR 2R F 1R W F F A 1R Not Held LQ 2R 1R LQ
European Open Tournament Not Held QF 1R SF 2R 1R LQ LQ LQ
Thailand Open[nb 4] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event Not Held 1R 1R LQ LQ 1R SF WD
British Open[nb 5] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 3R 3R SF SF 3R 1R 1R 1R LQ 1R LQ LQ
World Championship 2R 1R QF 1R F QF 1R W SF 1R F QF QF SF 1R SF 1R QF LQ LQ LQ 1R LQ LQ
Non-ranking tournaments
Australian Masters[nb 6] Tournament Not Held A A A RR W 1R A A QF NH R Tournament Not Held A A
Scottish Masters Tournament Not Held F A SF QF W W SF NH QF A A A A A A
The Masters Not Held 1R 1R A F QF QF SF QF W 1R W W SF QF QF 1R A LQ A A A A
Irish Masters[nb 7] Not Held A A A A A RR SF QF A QF QF SF QF QF 1R 1R A A A A A A
European League[nb 8] Tournament Not Held A Not Held RR RR RR RR A A A A A A
Former ranking tournaments
Canadian Masters[nb 9] Not Held Non-Ranking Event Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking QF Tournament Not Held
Hong Kong Open[nb 10] Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event NH LQ Tournament Not Held NR
Classic Tournament Not Held Non-Ranking Event 1R F F 2R 2R SF 2R 1R 2R Tournament Not Held
Strachan Open Tournament Not Held QF MR NR Not Held
Former non-ranking tournaments
Champion of Champions Tournament Not Held A NH RR Tournament Not Held
International Open[nb 11] Tournament Not Held 2R Ranking Event Not Held Ranking Event
Northern Ireland Classic Tournament Not Held QF Tournament Not Held
UK Championship Tournament Not Held A A A A 2R A A Ranking Event
British Open[nb 12] Tournament Not Held A RR 2R A A Ranking Event
Classic Tournament Not Held A QF QF QF Ranking Event Tournament Not Held
Pot Black A RR A A SF RR A A W SF A A SF SF Tournament Not Held A A A NH
Canadian Masters[nb 13] Not Held W QF QF QF W W W Tournament Not Held SF QF SF R Tournament Not Held
Canadian Professional Championship Tournament Not Held W Not Held SF W W W W SF Tournament Not Held
Dubai Masters[nb 14] Tournament Not Held QF Ranking Event
World Matchplay Tournament Not Held 1R 1R A A A Not Held
Shoot-Out Tournament Not Held 3R Tournament Not Held
World Seniors Championship Tournament Not Held 1R Tournament Not Held
Performance Table Legend
LQ lost in the qualifying draw #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(WR = Wildcard round, RR = Round robin)
QF lost in the quarter-finals
SF lost in the semi-finals F lost in the final W won the tournament
DNQ did not qualify for the tournament A did not participate in the tournament WD withdrew from the tournament
NH / Not Held means an event was not held.
NR / Non-Ranking Event means an event is/was no longer a ranking event.
R / Ranking Event means an event is/was a ranking event.
  1. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Masters (1988/1989) and Dubai Classic (1989/1990–1994/1995)
  2. ^ The event was also called the Professional Players Tournament (1982/1983–1983/1984)
  3. ^ The event was also called the Goya Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
  4. ^ The event was also called the Thailand Masters (1983/1984–1986/1987 & 1991/1992) and the Asian Open (1989/1990–1992/1993)
  5. ^ The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
  6. ^ The event was also called the Hong Kong Open (1989/1990) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
  7. ^ The event was also called the Benson & Hedges Ireland Tournament (1974/1975–1976/1977)
  8. ^ The event was also called the Matchroom League (1978/1979–1980/1981)
  9. ^ The event was also called the Canadian Open (1978/1979–1980/1981)
  10. ^ The event was also called the Australian Masters (1979/1980–1987/1988 & 1995/1996) and Australian Open (1994/1995)
  11. ^ The event was also called the Goya Matchroom Trophy (1985/1986)
  12. ^ The event was also called the British Gold Cup (1979/1980), Yamaha Organs Trophy (1980/1981) and International Masters (1981/1982–1983/1984)
  13. ^ The event was also called the Canadian Open (1978/1979–1980/1981)
  14. ^ The event was also called the Dubai Classic (1989/1990–1994/1995) and Thailand Classic (1995/1996)

Career finals[edit]

Ranking finals: 10 (2 titles, 8 runner-ups)[edit]

Legend
World Championship (1–2)
Other (1–6)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Runner-up 1. 1977 World Snooker Championship England John Spencer 21–25
Winner 1. 1980 World Snooker Championship Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 18–16
Runner-up 2. 1983 World Snooker Championship (2) England Steve Davis 6–18
Runner-up 3. 1983 International Open England Steve Davis 4–9
Runner-up 4. 1984 Grand Prix Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 2–10
Runner-up 5. 1985 The Classic England Willie Thorne 13–8
Winner 2. 1985 Matchroom Trophy England Jimmy White 12–10
Runner-up 6. 1986 The Classic (2) England Jimmy White 12–13
Runner-up 7. 1986 International Open (2) England Neal Foulds 9–12
Runner-up 8. 1987 International Open (3) England Steve Davis 5–12

Non-ranking finals: 28 (23 titles, 5 runner-ups)[edit]

Legend
The Masters (3–1)
Other (20–4)
Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 1970 North American Snooker Championship [citation needed]
Winner 2. 1971 North American Snooker Championship (2) [citation needed]
Winner 3. 1972 North American Snooker Championship (3) [citation needed]
Winner 4. 1974 Canadian Open Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 8–6
Winner 5. 1974 Australia World Masters [citation needed]
Runner-up 1. 1978 The Masters Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 5–7
Winner 6. 1978 Canadian Open (2) England Tony Meo 17–15
Winner 7. 1979 Canadian Open (3) Wales Terry Griffiths 17–16
Runner-up 2. 1980 Bombay International England John Virgo 7–13
Winner 8. 1980 Canadian Professional Championship Canada Jim Wych 9–6[7]
Winner 9. 1980 Lada Snooker Championship [citation needed]
Winner 10. 1980 Canadian Open (4) Wales Terry Griffiths 17–10
Winner 11. 1981 Pot Black Canada Jim Wych 2–0
Runner-up 3. 1981 Tolly Cobbold Classic England Graham Miles 1–5
Runner-up 4. 1981 Scottish Masters England Jimmy White 4–9
Winner 12. 1982 Canadian Professional Championship [citation needed]
Winner 13. 1983 The Masters Wales Ray Reardon 9–7
Winner 14. 1983 Australian Masters Canada Bill Werbeniuk 7–3
Winner 15. 1984 Canadian Professional Championship (3) Canada Mario Morra 9–2
Winner 16. 1985 The Masters (2) Wales Doug Mountjoy 9–6
Winner 17. 1985 Canadian Professional Championship (4) Canada Bob Chaperon 6–4
Winner 18. 1985 Scottish Masters England Willie Thorne 9–7
Winner 19. 1986 The Masters (3) England Jimmy White 9–5
Winner 20. 1986 Canadian Professional Championship (5) Canada Jim Wych 6–2
Winner 21. 1986 Scottish Masters (2) Northern Ireland Alex Higgins 9–8
Winner 22. 1987 Canadian Professional Championship (6) Canada Jim Bear 8–4
Runner-up 5. 2000 World Seniors Masters England Willie Thorne 0–1
Winner 23. 2018 The Seniors Masters England Jonathan Bagley 2–1

Team finals: 5 (2 titles, 3 runner-ups)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Team/partner Opponent(s) in the final Score
Runner-up 1. 1980 World Challenge Cup  Canada  Wales 5–8
Winner 1. 1982 World Team Classic  Canada  England 4–2
Runner-up 2. 1986 World Cup (2)  Canada Ireland 7–9
Runner-up 3. 1987 World Cup (3)  Canada Ireland 2–9
Winner 2. 1990 World Cup (2)  Canada  Northern Ireland 9–5

Amateur finals: 7 (5 titles, 2 runner-ups)[edit]

Outcome No. Year Championship Opponent in the final Score
Winner 1. 1974 Canadian Amateur Championship Canada Julien St Dennis 13–11
Winner 2. 1975 Canadian Amateur Championship (2) Canada Bill Werbeniuk
Winner 3. 1976 Canadian Amateur Championship (3) Canada Bill Werbeniuk 11–1
Winner 4. 1977 Canadian Amateur Championship (4) Canada Robert Paquette 10–6
Winner 5. 2001 Canadian Amateur Championship (5) Canada Tom Finstad 4–3
Runner-up 1. 2002 Canadian Amateur Championship Canada Kirk Stevens 1–6
Runner-up 2. 2003 Canadian Amateur Championship (2) Canada Alain Robidoux 2–6

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Achievements
First Maximum break-scorer
in World Championship

23 April 1983
Succeeded by
Jimmy White