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|Born||18 June 1917|
Tufnell Park, London
|Died||28 July 2002 (aged 85)|
|Best ranking finish||Last 24 (1977 World Snooker Championship)|
Jack Karnehm (18 June 1917, Tufnell Park, north London, England – 28 July 2002, Crowthorne, Berkshire) was a British snooker commentator, who was regularly heard on BBC television from 1978 until 1993, and a former amateur world champion and professional national champion at the game of English billiards. Karnehm was also a professional snooker and billiards player.
Besides his commentary, perhaps his major contribution to the game was his development of the swivel-lens glasses, which enabled Dennis Taylor to win the World Snooker Championship in 1985. These were spectacles which were set at a compensatory angle, so the player could look along the shot through the optical centre of the lens. The originals had been designed by Theodore Hamblin, and pioneered by Fred Davis in 1938. Karnehm, who had served a five-year spectacle-making apprenticeship, made many pairs in his family business, but his upside-down design was a considerable improvement - it offered wider peripheral vision - and helped Taylor win the 1985 world title. It has helped countless players since.
Despite being best-known to snooker audiences, Karnehm's passion was billiards. As a non-professional player, he was a ten-time London Amateur Billiards Champion, and also won the English Amateur Billiards Championship in 1969. That October, he took the World Amateur Champion title.
In 1980, Karnehm beat Williams to win the UK Billiards Championship, his only professional title. Karnehm also turned professional in snooker in 1971, his best result coming when losing 4-5 to Chris Ross in the U.K. Championship of 1977. Perhaps what Karnehm is best-known for is his famous one-liner when he was commentating on a match between Cliff Thorburn and Terry Griffiths, at the Crucible in 1983. The match was famous because, during the match, Thorburn completed the first maximum at the Crucible. As he lined up to pot the black, Karnehm uttered just three words: 'Good luck, mate'.
Karnehm was never too far from controversy especially in his latter years in the commentary box. Fellow pro John Virgo recalls an incident when he had just started commentating and was seen as an understudy to Karnehm. John was explaining to the viewers that the frame was basically over but the player was getting some potting practice to get his eye in for the next frame when Karnehm threw his microphone down in disgust as it was always him that finished the closing commentary on a frame. Virgo didn't take too kindly to this and their relationship was soured from that day on.
Karnehm was also a noted snooker coach, and, in 1985, released an instructional video, 'Understanding Modern Snooker'. He continued to coach, and was still President of the Radstock Billiards association until 2000. He died suddenly in 2002, aged 85, after an afternoon working on his garden in extreme heat.
- UK Billiards Championship - 1980
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