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Snooker: The ultimate mind game?

Postby Tubberlad

Is there any sport that causes as much mental turmoil as snooker? You've built up a great lead... but your opponent is coming back, slowly but surely, frame by frame. You're spending more and more time in your chair, with only your thoughts for comapany. The crowd applauds as another frame is pulled back. And any chance you get at the table, your mind whirls, and with this game being so technical every shot feels like climbing Everest.

The game is a sports psychologist's nightmare. We've seen so many meltdowns in the past...and how your supposed to overcome these collapses is a mystery. Here are some of the great examples.

Jimmy White
1992 v Stephen Hendry.
White leads 14-8, and has a great chance to win the 24th and 25th frames, coming within a shot on both occasions. It's 14-11 instead of 16-9...and White falls apart as Hendry begins to play out of his skin. The World Title that seemed destined to be his in 1992...after losing ten frames in a row. But the effects of the final go much deeper......

1994 v Stephen Hendry.
Just a few shots away from finally achieving what he's always dreamed of...and he chokes on a black he'd put away 49 times out of 50. The despair on White's face as Hendry clears for the title is one of snooker's saddest sights.

Matthew Stevens
2000 v Mark Williams
Leads 13-7, but ends up losing 18-16. A sign of things to come.

2005 v Shaun Murphy
Stevens, possibly the second best player never to have won the World Championship, has a great chance in his second final, leading the unfancied qualifier Shaun Murphy 10-6... but it goes to 11-10. Stevens stupidly plays a simple blue left handed, and Murphy clears blue to black to go level. It's inevitable...the title was gone from that moment.

2007 v Murphy
This is probably the worst. Nobody had EVER lost a best-of-25 match from 11-5 up after two sessions. But Steven's scars came back to haunt him, sickeningly against the man who had already denied him in 05's final. Murphy pulled it back to 11-7, before Stevens moved to within one of his sixth semi-final spot. But things go horribly wrong. By the time Murphy got it back to 12-10, Stevens game had gone to pieces. His mental weaknesses cruelly exposed...he rolls over with barely a whimper. Murphy wins 13-12.

Mike Hallett v Hendry Masters 1992
Hallett leads 7-0 and 8-2, and needs just pink and black to claim one of the game's most coveted titles. He fails, and Hendry slowly reels him in, before winning 9-8. Hallett's career all but ended, failing to recover from these horrors.

Willie Thorne v Steve Davis, UK Final 1985
Thorne leads the all conquering Davis 13-8, before missing a straight blue. His career as good as over.

Any views on these losses? Any other snooker tragedies? And what makes this game so tough mentally?