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Snooker (UK: , US: ) is a cue sport which originated among British Army officers stationed in India in the latter half of the 19th century. It is played on a rectangular table covered with a green cloth, or baize, with pockets at each of the four corners and in the middle of each long side. Using a cue and 22 coloured balls, players must strike the white ball (or "cue ball") to pot the remaining balls in the correct sequence, accumulating points for each pot. An individual game, or frame, is won by the player who scores the most points. A match is won when a player wins a predetermined number of frames.
Snooker gained its own identity in 1884 when army officer Sir Neville Chamberlain (not the Prime Minister of that name), while stationed in Ooty, devised a set of rules that combined pyramid and life pool. The word "snooker" was a long-used military term used to describe inexperienced or first-year personnel. The game grew in popularity in England, and the Billiards Association and Control Club was formed in 1919. It is now governed by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
The World Snooker Championship has taken place since 1927, with Joe Davis becoming a key figure in the early growth of the sport with 15 championship wins from 1927 to 1946. The modern era began in 1969 after the BBC commissioned the snooker television show Pot Black and began to air the World Championship in 1978, leading to the sport's new peak in popularity. Ray Reardon dominated the game in the 1970s, Steve Davis in the 1980s, and Stephen Hendry in the 1990s; Ronnie O'Sullivan has won the most world titles since 2000.
Top professional players now compete regularly around the world and earn millions of pounds. The sport has become increasingly popular in China.
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