147 v 9 Darter – Pub sports greatest debate

Two sports, two instances of perfection. The 147 maximum break in snooker and the 9 dart finish in darts are as good as it gets for their respective sports. A 147 in snooker requires 15 reds, 15 blacks and the colors potted in sequence, while a 9 dart finish in darts requires 8 high-value trebles being hit in a row, usually treble 19 or treble 20, and then the requisite double.

In both games, given the tiny fractions between success and failure of a particular shot or throw, they are outstanding achievements. Something which is highlighted when you take a look through the list of players who have achieved these feats.

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s maximum against Mick Price is the perfect example of snooker perfection. Of the 36 shots he played in the break, there was barely a ‘difficult’ shot in there. This illustrates how important the craft of break-building is. Every shot is played in a way which makes the next shot an easy pot, every angle left on a black is left in such a way that Ronnie can make the necessary cannon, or leave the necessary position on the next red. The only shots in the whole break where the cue-ball travels any distance of note are the opening red and the final black-to-yellow positional shot. For me this will always be the ultimate 147 break. Sit back, relax and enjoy it one more time.

Ronnie O’ Sullivan’s 147 at the World Championships v Mick Price in 1997

While a 147 maximum break requires 36 positive elements to its success, a 9 darter requires 27 less. That alone could be argued makes it an easier task, until you fully understand the dimensions involved. The dart is launched at the board from a distance of 7 feet 9 1/4 inches, aiming at a target that is no bigger than a pen lid. A milimetre too high or a milimetre too low and the treble is missed. Phil Taylor below, making a incredibly difficult achievement look easy.


Phil Taylor’s 9 dart finish at the World Matchplay v Michael Smith In 2014

For me, the 147 break in snooker should always be considered a more impressive achievement. The repetition of the throw action in darts helps a player to fire at the target with greater precision. Each throw is from the same standing position, and there is generally very little requirement for change of angle of the throw (indeed the first 6 darts at the treble 20 can be seen in many matches, its only when the player has to switch down the board to 19s or 17s does the difficulty increase). In contrast, every single shot of a 147 break is different. No two frames of snooker are the same. The players necessity to plot his way around the snooker table to enable him to take a black after every red makes the maximum break a feat which to this day never ceases to amaze and inspire respect.

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