The Curse of the Crucible

Graeme
By
Posted: December 13, 2015


The Curse of the Crucible is a superstitious phenomenon which is believed to prevent first time winners of the world snooker championship from retaining the title. The Crucible Curse has affected 16 world champions between 1977 and 2015.

Background to the Curse of the Crucible

The Snooker World Championship dates back to 1927 with Joe Davis being one of the major organizers of the tournament. Joe Davis would also win every installment of the tournament between 1927 and 1940, perhaps underlining the contrasting lack of success for first timers in recent years. At the time, the championship was held at different venues each year with Camkin’s Hall in Birmingham hosting the inaugural showpiece. The tournament took a break between 1941 and 1946 due to World War II. When the tournament returned, Fred Davis, the younger brother to Joe Davis, won it in 1948, 1949 and 1951. Another prolonged hiatus took place between 1958 and 1963. When it returned in 1964, the challenge basis was abandoned and a knockout system was established and it still lasts to date. Ray Reardon dominated the event between 1970 and 1978, winning six times. In 1977, the BACC started stopped using a rotary system to determine the venue of each installment and instead moved it permanently to the Crucible Stadium in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Effects of the Curse of the Crucible

The curse is believed to have started following the relocation of the championships to the Crucible Theatre in 1977. Before that the last time a first time champion had retained the title was in 1964, with the tournament still being decided by challenge matches. In fact retaining the title has remained a very rare occurrence throughout the history of the tournament. Only Joe Davis and Fred Davis in 1928 and 1949 respectively had successfully retained the title before 1964. The first person to be affected by the Crucible Curse was Terry Griffiths who had won the championship on his first appearance in the tournament in 1979. In 1980, he was eliminated in the second round by Steve Davis.

Mark Selby, the 2014 champion is the latest victim of the Crucible Curse. In 2015 he came in with high hopes but the Crucible Curse seemed to be hunting him from the outset as he barely scraped past Kurt Maflin 10-9 in the first round. In the second round however, he fell 13-9 to qualifier Anthony McGill to keep the curse running at least one more year. Eventual champion Stuart Bingham will be the next player to come face to face with the hex as he tries to defend his title come 2016.

In total, sixteen first-time champions have fallen victim to the Crucible curse since 1977. Of these, four of them have dropped out at the first round with the most embarrassing of losses going to Steve Davis in 1982. The 1981 champion lost 1-10 to Tony Knowles in the 1982 showpiece. Three other first-time champions have exited the championship at the first round; Dennis Taylor in 1986, Graeme Dott in 2007and Neil Robertson in 2011. Just two defending first time champions have made it to the final in the following year’s tournament. These are 1986 champion Joe Jonson and 1997 champion Ken Doherty.

Mark Selby, the 2014 champion is the latest victim of the Crucible Curse. In 2015 he came in with high hopes but the Crucible Curse seemed to be hunting him from the outset as he barely scraped past Kurt Maflin 10-9 in the first round. In the second round however, he fell 13-9 to qualifier Anthony McGill to keep the curse running at least one more year. Eventual champion Stuart Bingham will be the next player to come face to face with the hex as he tries to defend his title come 2016.

In total sixteen first-time champions have fallen victim to the Crucible curse since 1977. Of these, four of them have dropped out at the first round with the most embarrassing of losses going to Steve Davis in 1982. The 1981 champion lost 1-10 to Tony Knowles in the 1982 showpiece. Three other first-time champions have exited the championship at the first round; Dennis Taylor in 1986, Graeme Dott in 2007and Neil Robertson in 2011. Just two defending first time champions have made it to the final in the following year’s tournament. These are 1986 champion Joe Jonson and 1997 champion Ken Doherty. Just two defending first time champions have made it to the final in the following year’s tournament. These are 1986 champion Joe Jonson and 1997 champion Ken Doherty.

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