Steve Davis: Difference between revisions

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After a successful amateur career in which he won age-group titles in both snooker and billiards, including the Under-19 Billiards Championship in 1976,<ref name="gsc" /> Davis started travelling and playing at the Lucania Snooker Club in Romford. At the age of 18, his talent was brought to the notice of the chairman of the Lucania Snooker Club chain, [[Barry Hearn]], by the then-top Essex amateur player Vic Harris.
After a successful amateur career in which he won age-group titles in both snooker and billiards, including the Under-19 Billiards Championship in 1976,<ref name="gsc" /> Davis started travelling and playing at the Lucania Snooker Club in Romford. At the age of 18, his talent was brought to the notice of the chairman of the Lucania Snooker Club chain, [[Barry Hearn]], by the then-top Essex amateur player Vic Harris.
Davis ended his amateur career with international honours. One of his last wins as an amateur was against another future professional [[Tony Meo]] in the final of the [[Spring Open|Pontin's Spring Open]] of 1978.<ref>{{cite web
In an article for The Gaurdian newspaper, Davis claims that he would have turned professional sooner had it not been for the incessant beatings at the hands of his stepfather Dominic Hoey. Hoey married Davis' mother for money and was eventually arrested and placed in detention on a prison ship. Davis ended his amateur career with international honours. One of his last wins as an amateur was against another future professional [[Tony Meo]] in the final of the [[Spring Open|Pontin's Spring Open]] of 1978.<ref>{{cite web
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Revision as of 15:51, 7 December 2010

Steve Davis
Nickname The Nugget
Ginger Magician
Romford Slim
Professional 1978–present
Highest ranking 1 (seven years)
Career winnings £5,614,630[1]
Highest break 147 (1982 Classic)
Tournament wins
Ranking 28
Non-ranking 53
World Champion 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989

Steve Davis, OBE (born 22 August 1957 in Plumstead, London)[2] is an English professional snooker player. He has won more professional titles in the sport than any other player, including six World Championships during the 1980s, when he was the world number one for seven years and reached eight world finals, becoming the sport's first millionaire.[3]

Though he has not won a major tournament since 1997, Davis continues to play snooker at a high level. He was still ranked in the world's top 16 at the age of 50, and is ranked no. 23 for 2009/10 season. He now combines his playing career with his role as an established television analyst and occasional commentator for BBC's snooker coverage.


Early career

After a successful amateur career in which he won age-group titles in both snooker and billiards, including the Under-19 Billiards Championship in 1976,[4] Davis started travelling and playing at the Lucania Snooker Club in Romford. At the age of 18, his talent was brought to the notice of the chairman of the Lucania Snooker Club chain, Barry Hearn, by the then-top Essex amateur player Vic Harris.

In an article for The Gaurdian newspaper, Davis claims that he would have turned professional sooner had it not been for the incessant beatings at the hands of his stepfather Dominic Hoey. Hoey married Davis' mother for money and was eventually arrested and placed in detention on a prison ship. Davis ended his amateur career with international honours. One of his last wins as an amateur was against another future professional Tony Meo in the final of the Pontin's Spring Open of 1978.[5]

Davis turned professional in September 1978 and made his professional television debut on Pot Black where he played against Fred Davis.[6] He made his World Championship debut in 1979,[7] losing 11–13 to Dennis Taylor in the first round.[8]

Dominance of snooker

Davis came to public prominence after his performance at the 1980 World Championship, where he reached the quarter-finals, knocking out defending champion Terry Griffiths en route,[9] before losing to Alex Higgins. Davis won his first major title in the same year – the UK Championship – during which he beat Griffiths 9–0 in the semi-finals and Higgins 16–6 in the final.[10] This began an 18-month period of dominance. He won the Classic and then the International Masters and English Professional titles in 1981,[4] and became the bookmakers' favourite to win the 1981 World Championship, despite being seeded only 15.[11] After struggling to a 10–8 win over a young Jimmy White in the opening round, he defeated Higgins in the second round and Griffiths in the quarter-finals, before outlasting defending champion Cliff Thorburn in a gruelling semi-final. Davis's 18–12 victory over Doug Mountjoy in the final confirmed bookmakers' early predictions, and in celebration his manager Barry Hearn charged across the arena to lift him up in the air.[12] He would go on to reach seven out of the next eight world finals.

He followed up his world title win with a 9–0 final victory over Dennis Taylor in the International Open and then retained the UK Championship with a 9–0 whitewash over White in the semi-finals and a 16–3 win over Griffiths in the final.[10] This began a period of six months in which Davis and Griffiths contested almost all the major tournament finals. During this run, in January 1982, Davis made television sporting history when he compiled the first televised maximum break at the Classic at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham, against John Spencer,[13] though he was subsequently beaten 9–8 in the final by Griffiths.[14] He made amends for that defeat in February by beating Griffiths in the final of the 1983 Masters, the first of his three titles there.[15]

Davis's 18-month period of dominance ended at the 1982 World Championship, when he succumbed to the so-called "Crucible Curse", suffering a 1–10 loss to Tony Knowles in the first round.[8] Later that year, he was denied a third consecutive UK title with defeat in the quarter-finals to Griffiths. Following those two setbacks, he won the first of four World Doubles Championship titles with partner Tony Meo.[4] In 1983 Davis regained the world title the following season with a session in the final to spare, defeating an overwhelmed Thorburn 18–6; Thorburn had seen his previous three matches go to a deciding frame and a late finish.[16] Davis lost 15–16 to Higgins in the 1983 UK Championship final,[10] despite having led 7–0 in the opening stages.[17] In 1984, he became the first player to retain his world title at the Crucible Theatre by beating Jimmy White 18–16 in the final.[18] He also regained the UK title in 1984 by beating Higgins 16–8, the start of a four year, 23-match unbeaten run for Davis at that tournament.[10]

Black ball final

One of his most memorable matches was one he lost: the final of the 1985 World Championship against Dennis Taylor. Davis seemed set for his third consecutive win, with an opening session of near-faultless snooker giving him a 7–0 lead, which he extended to 8–0 in the evening session, before Taylor bounced back to trail only 7–9. From 11–11 the pair traded frames before Davis forged ahead to lead 17–15. However, Taylor clawed his way back to 17–17 and the match went into a deciding frame. With the scores close, Taylor potted to the final colours to leave the black as the winner-takes-all ball. After a series of safety shots and attempts at potting it, Davis overcut the black, leaving Taylor with a reasonably straightforward pot to secure the championship. The "nailbiting" finale drew 18.5 million viewers, a record post-midnight audience on British television and a record audience for BBC Two.[19] The black-ball finish was voted the ninth greatest sporting moment of all time in a 2002 Channel 4 poll.[20]

File:Steve Davis.jpg
Davis holding the World Championship Trophy

He gained a measure of revenge over Taylor later that year, winning their Grand Prix final, also in the deciding frame. At 10 hour 21 minutes, this match is the longest one-day final in snooker history.[21] In the 1985 UK Championship final Davis looked set to lose to Willie Thorne, who leading 13–8 in the best of 31 frames match, missed a blue which would have given him a 14–8 lead. Davis won the frame and then seven of the next eight to win 16–14.[10] At the 1986 World Championship, having seen off White 13–5 in the quarter-finals and Thorburn 16–12 in the semi-finals, Davis's opponent in the final was Joe Johnson, who had started the tournament as a 150–1 outsider. Davis lost 12–18 to the Yorkshireman.[22] The result did not affect his position at the top of the world rankings, as he had won the UK Championship, the Grand Prix and the British Open in the 1985/1986 season. At the end of 1986 he beat Neal Foulds 16–7 to retain the UK Championship.[10]

Davis started 1987 well as he won the Classic in January, beating defending champion Jimmy White 13–12. At the World Championship, he beat Griffiths 13–5, his fifth win over Griffiths in five meetings at the Crucible, and was a 16–11 semi-final victor against White. In the final he again met Johnson, and regained the title by winning 18–14.[23] In beating Johnson he became the first player to win the UK Championship, Masters and World Championship in the same year (this feat has since been equalled by Stephen Hendry, John Higgins and Mark Williams).[24] In December he retained his UK title with a hard-fought 16–14 final win against White. He retained the Classic, and the Masters title with a 9–0 final whitewash of Mike Hallett, won the World Cup with England and won his fourth Irish Masters title. In the World Championship he rarely looked back, beating Hallett 13–1, Tony Drago 13–4 and Thorburn 16–8 en route to the final, where at 8–8 with Griffiths after two sessions, he pulled away to secure his fifth world title, winning 18–11.[25]

Davis won the first ranking event of the 1988/89 season with a 12–6 win over White in the International Open; in the same match, he became the first player to make three consecutive century breaks in a major tournament.[26] In October, Davis won the Grand Prix, beating Alex Higgins 10–6 in the final to hold the World, UK, Masters, Grand Prix, Classic and Irish Masters titles simultaneously. However, his four year unbeaten run at the UK Championship came to an end in December with a 3–9 semi-final loss to Hendry. He did not win another major title that season until the 1989 World Championship, where he beat Hendry 16–9 in the semi-finals before going on to complete the heaviest victory in a world final in the modern era with an 18–3 win over John Parrott, his last world championship to date.[27] In the same tournament he also set the record for the fewest frames conceded (23) at an individual world championship en route to winning it. By the end of the 1980s, he was snooker's first millionaire.[4]

Recent years

In the 1990 World Championship, Davis was denied an eighth consecutive appearance in the final by Jimmy White, who won their semi-final 16–14.[28] Davis was replaced as world number one by Stephen Hendry at the end of the 1989/90 season. He was ranked #2 for the 1990/1991, 1991/1992, 1994/1995 and 1995/1996 seasons. He reached the semi-finals of the World Championships in 1991 and 1994.[29][30] He also won the Irish Masters in 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994, the Classic and the Asian Open in 1992, the European Open in 1993, and consecutive Welsh Open titles in 1994 and 1995. His successful defence of his Welsh Open title in 1995 is to date his last ranking title.[31]

Davis's last victory in a major tournament came at the Masters in 1997. Trailing his opponent Ronnie O'Sullivan 4–8 in the final, he won the next six frames to secure a 10–8 win.[32]

Davis dropped out of the top 16 after the 2000 World Championship and failed to qualify for the championship for the next two years, before subsequently enjoying an up-turn in form and winning his place back in the top 16 for the 2003/2004 season. He was runner-up in the Welsh Open to O'Sullivan in 2004, losing 8–9 after having led 8–5.[31] In 2005 he reached the quarter finals of the World Championship before losing to eventual winner Shaun Murphy.[33]

The 2005 UK Championship, held in York, saw Davis reach his 100th career final, and make his first appearance in the UK final since 1990. En route he beat defending champion Stephen Maguire 9–8, despite having trailed 4–7, a win which included a 145 break in the penultimate frame; and then Stephen Hendry (for the first time in twelve years) 9–6 in the semi-finals. He lost 6–10 in the final to rising Chinese star Ding Junhui.[34] In the same season he reached the second round of the World Championships, again losing to Murphy.[34] Davis's performances through the 2006/2007 season, including reaching the 2006 UK Championship quarter-finals and the Welsh Open semi-finals, ensured he "achieved his dream" to still be a top-16 player at the age of 50.[35]

He dropped out of the top sixteen a year later, but showed form in the 2008/2009 season by reaching the quarter-finals of both the Shanghai Masters and Grand Prix, the first time he reached consecutive ranking quarter-finals since 1996.[36]

In the first 2 tournaments of the 2009/2010 season Davis failed to qualify for the main event as he lost 4–5 against Matthew Selt in the Shanghai Masters and 0–5 against Mark Davis in the Grand Prix. In the next tournament, the UK Championship, he beat Michael Judge 9–7 to set up a clash with Hendry, which he lost 6–9.

Davis started 2010 by failing to qualify for the Welsh Open and the China Open, losing 2–5 against Dominic Dale and 3–5 against Mike Dunn respectively in the final qualifying round. He qualified for the World Championship by defeating Adrian Gunnell 10–4, giving him a provisional ranking of 24 and securing his place in the top 32 for the next season. In the first round he played Mark King, winning 10–9, becoming the oldest player to win a match at the Crucible since Eddie Charlton beat Cliff Thorburn in 1989. In the second round match against defending champion John Higgins, Davis led 6–2 after the first session, 9–7 after the second session, and ultimately won 13–11.[37] This made him the oldest quarter-finalist in the championship since Eddie Charlton in 1983. In the quarter final match against Australian Neil Robertson, Davis recovered from a 2–12 deficit to force the match into a third session, eventually losing 5–13.[38]

On 29 April 2010, to mark the 25th anniversary of their black-ball final of 1985, Davis appeared with Dennis Taylor before the beginning of the first semi-final, to stage a humorous re-enactment of their historic final frame. Taylor entered the arena wearing a pair of comically oversized glasses, while Davis arrived sporting a red wig.[39]

He started the 2010/2011 season by qualifying to the main event of Shanghai Masters, whitewashing Rod Lawler 5-0,[40] but lost in the first round 3-5 against Jamie Cope.[41]. He lost his first round matches in the next two tournaments, he lost 1-3 against Peter Ebdon in the last 64 of the World Open[42] and 2-9 against Mark Joyce in the last 48 of the UK Championship.[43]


In the book Masters of the Baize, a detailed comparison and ranking of snooker pros, authors Luke Williams and Paul Gadsby rated Davis amongst the top three greatest snooker players of all time.[44]

As of 2009, Davis has won a record 81 professional titles from 101 finals,[45] 28 of them in ranking events. His record of six world titles in the modern era has been bettered only by Stephen Hendry and no player has yet matched his tally of six UK titles. Davis has also compiled over 300 competitive centuries during his career.[46]


From 1994 to 2007, Davis played in professional nine-ball pool events regularly. He was instrumental in the creation of the Mosconi Cup.[47] He has represented Europe in the tournament on eleven occasions,[48] and was a member of the team's 1995 and 2002 wins; his victory against the US's Earl Strickland clinched the 2002 competition for Europe.[49][48]

He has taken notable victories in his pool career, including his "shock" winning streak at the 2000 WPA World Nine-ball Championship, where he came back from an 2–8 deficit to take a 9–8 win over then-reigning world champion Efren Reyes, following it up with victories over 1997 world champion Ralf Souquet and 1998 champion Takahashi Kunihiko.[citation needed] He has also become well known for being involved in some of the most dramatic matches in that event's history, including the aforementioned match against Efren Reyes in 2000, Rudolfo Luat in 2002, and a particularly heated and controversial encounter with Earl Strickland in 2003.

His participation in the WPA World Nine-ball Championship and Mosconi Cup has been curtailed in recent years, as the former event has taken a hiatus, while the latter now clashes with the UK Championship, and requires players to earn their place through performance through tournament results through the previous year.

In 2001, Davis nearly won his first title in pool at the World Pool League. However, Efren Reyes defeated him 9–5 the final.[50] Sky Sports' pool commentator Sid Waddell gave him the nickname "Romford Slim",[51] suggesting him to be the UK's answer to the famous American pool player Rudolf "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone. Waddell later also dubbed him "The Prowler" for his unusual habit of pacing up and down the side of the table between racks and during breaks in play.

He dislikes eight-ball pool as played on English-style tables in British pubs and clubs, considering it a "Mickey Mouse game" because of its under-sized cue ball in relation to the other balls,[52] but made it clear that he is only critical of the game when it is played with an undersized cue ball. In the WPA blackball standardised variant and in the related internationally-regulated stripes-and-solids game, known as eight-ball more narrowly, a full-sized cue-ball is used and Davis uses these balls when competing internationally in the Mosconi Cup.

Off the table

Davis has become known for his coolness and impeccable conduct in high-pressure situations, earning himself the nicknames the "Ginger Magician" and the "Nugget".[53] His initial lack of emotional expression and somewhat monotonous interviewing style earned him a reputation as boring. As a result, the satirical television series Spitting Image gave him the ironic nickname Steve "Interesting" Davis.[54] Davis himself has long played upon this image, particularly as a pundit and commentator for the BBC's snooker coverage and as a guest on television quizzes such as They Think It's All Over.[55] In 2007, his image is being used as "reliable" in a series of advertisements for Irish Life.[56]

In 1986 he joined musical duo Chas & Dave and several other snooker stars of the time (under the name "The Matchroom Mob") on the novelty record Snooker Loopy, which was a Top 10 hit in the UK.

File:How to be really interesting by Steve Davis book cover.jpg
How To Be Really Interesting front cover

He was co-author (with Geoff Atkinson) of the comedy book How To Be Really Interesting (1988)[57] and the more serious Matchroom Snooker (1988) [58] and Steve Davis Plays Chess (1995) (with David Norwood).[59] In 1988, Davis was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year and was made an MBE.[60] He was awarded an OBE in 2001,[32] and is currently honorary president of the Snooker Writers' Association.[61]

Davis has taken up his non-snooker interests in the public arena, too. In 1983, he hosted The Steve Davis Sports Quiz for Channel 4 and later the music show Steve Davis' Interesting Soul for The Superstation. Since 1996 he has presented a show dedicated to progressive rock and the Canterbury scene on his local radio station, Phoenix FM.[62] He is also a keen chess player and was, for a while, the President of the British Chess Federation.[1] He also appeared in a Heinz Baked Beans advertisement in the 1980s (featuring snooker commentator Ted Lowe with the pay-off line "really interesting" and Davis 'assessing' his beans on toast as if it were a snooker situation, and chalking his cutlery).[63]

He has also become a proficient poker player, with successful appearances at televised tournaments;[64] one of these included an appearance at the final table of the 2003 Poker Million together with fellow snooker player Jimmy White, who eventually won.[65] Later, at the 2006 World Series of Poker, Davis finished 579th in the no limit Texas hold 'em main event, winning $20,617.[66] At the 2008 World Series of Poker he finished 389th in the main event, winning $28,950. Davis is a big fan of the French progressive rock band Magma, and even organised a concert in London so he could watch them.[67] He is on the board of Leyton Orient football club, which he has revealed to be more of a gimmick; Davis has been a Charlton Athletic fan most of his life,[68] and Barry Hearn is the Orient chairman.[69] Along with Hearn, he has most recently become involved with online pool in their collaboration of PoolStars, where he serves as the spokesman and technical advisor.

He lives in Brentwood, Essex,[51] and is divorced from his wife Judith. Together, they have two sons called Greg (born 1991) and Jack (born 1993).[70]

Performance timeline

Major Tournaments
Tournament 1978/
Career W-L
UK Championship A QF W W QF F W W W W SF F F 2R SF QF 2R 1R 3R 2R QF 3R 2R 2R 3R 2R 3R F QF 1R 1R 1R LQ 6 / 31
Masters A A 1R W QF QF 1R SF 1R W SF SF 1R QF QF 1R 1R QF W SF 1R 1R A WR 1R 1R QF 1R 1R 1R A A A 3 / 27
World Championship 1R QF W 1R W W F F W W W SF SF 1R 2R SF 1R QF 2R 2R 1R 2R LQ LQ 1R 1R QF 2R 1R 1R 1R QF 6 / 30
Performance Table Legend
LQ lost in the qualifying draw #R lost in the early rounds of the tournament
QF advanced to but not past the quarterfinals SF advanced to but not past the semifinals
F advanced to the final, tournament runner-up W won the tournament
A did not participate in the tournament

World Championship finals: 8 (6 titles, 2 runner-ups)

Outcome Year Opponent in the final Score in the final
Winner 1981 Wales Doug Mountjoy 18–12
Winner 1983 Canada Cliff Thorburn 18–6
Winner 1984 England Jimmy White 18–16
Runner-up 1985 Northern Ireland Dennis Taylor 17–18
Runner-up 1986 England Joe Johnson 12–18
Winner 1987 England Joe Johnson 18–14
Winner 1988 Wales Terry Griffiths 18–11
Winner 1989 England John Parrott 18–3

Career wins


Ranking wins

Non-ranking wins

Team wins

Pro-am wins




  1. ^ a b Became a ranking tournament in 1982. In all, Davis has won this tournament six times. See Players Championship (snooker)
  2. ^ a b Became a ranking tournament in 1984. In all, Davis has won this tournament six times. See UK Championship (snooker)
  3. ^ a b Became a ranking tournament in 1984. In all, Davis has won this tournament six times. See Classic (snooker)


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  50. ^ "World Pool League Back In Poland". 2001. Retrieved April 11, 2007. 
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  54. ^ "Mr Interesting...On the Spot". BBC Lancashire. Retrieved April 14, 2007. 
  55. ^ ""They Think It's All Over"". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  56. ^ "Snapshot of our Select investments". Irish Life. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  57. ^ Davis, Steve (1988). How To Be Really Interesting. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 0-1401-1306-1.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  58. ^ Davis, Steve (1988). Matchroom Snooker. Pelham Books. ISBN 0-7207-1826-0.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  59. ^ Davis, Steve (1995). Steve Davis Plays Chess. B.T. Batsford Ltd. ISBN 0-7134-7813-6.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  60. ^ "Sports Personality 2006 – Past winners: 1988–1992". London: BBC. 2003-11-27. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  61. ^ Jonathan Rawcliffe & Phil Harlow (2005-04-17). "Crucible Diary – Day Two". London: BBC Sport. Retrieved April 15, 2007. 
  62. ^ "The Interesting Alternative Show". Retrieved 2010-09-29. 
  63. ^ "Davis: An "Interesting" legend". London: BBC Sport. 2001-04-12. Retrieved 2008-02-25. 
  64. ^ "Steve Davis Profile". The Mob Poker Database. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  65. ^ "Poker Million History". Poker Million. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  66. ^ "Player Database – Results for Steve Davis". Retrieved April 14, 2007. 
  67. ^ Lee Honeyball (2004-03-07). "My obsession". London: The Observer. Retrieved April 14, 2007. 
  68. ^ Nicoli, Luke (2007). "Steve Davis". FourFourTwo: 110.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  69. ^ "Barry Hearn And The Board Of Directors". Leyton Orient. Retrieved April 29, 2008. 
  70. ^ Susie Boniface (2005-03-06). "Steve's Cutie". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 2009-08-19. 


External links

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