Snooker news: Has any pool player conquered snooker? Judd Trump to emulate Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Selby and Steve Davis
Judd Trump will become the latest in a long line of snooker players to make the transition from the green to blue baize when he appears at the US Open Pool Championship next week with Ronnie O'Sullivan, Steve Davis, Jimmy White and Mark Selby all notable snooker icons to take on the world's best pool players. But have any pool players managed to successfully switch up to the bigger table?
American pool great Jim Rempe (standing right) tried his luck at snooker in the 1980s.
There is a reason why Ronnie O'Sullivan describes snooker as the "daddy of all cue sports".
It is probably the same reason why no professional pool player has made the step up from the pocket billiards table (4.5 by 9 feet) to the more exacting environs of the UK-based snooker circuit despite a few notable attempts by American icons of the past to bridge the chasm.
Technically, the demands on precision of potting, positional, game and time management and tactical play of snooker on a much larger surface area (6 by 12 feet) over a longer period of time tends to disturb even the most proficient and considered of pool players.
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Yet it would be fair to say Trump already has a better chance of a pool player doing likewise in snooker.
Of course, there are different skills involved in both games, but snooker players tend to be equipped with attributes that makes the technical transition from playing snooker to the smaller environs of pool much easier to handle than the reverse.
The great Jim Rempe, a world champion pool player nicknamed 'King James' with over 100 pool tournaments carried off between 1971 and 1999, and his fellow US icon the late Steve 'the Miz' Mizerak, who won the US Open straight pool championship four times between 1970-1973, both attempted professional snooker in the 1980s without much joy.
Rempe defeated 'Steady' Eddie Charlton during a tour of Australia in 1975 when he faced the New South Wales professional in nine-ball, rotation and straight pool.
Rempe attempted to replicate his pool dynasty in snooker, but ended up as a cannon fodder, losing 10-4 to a young Stephen Hendry in the last 64 of the 1987 World Championship.
Despite his limitations in snooker, Rempe did contribute a break of 59 in that match and also rolled in a knock of 105 in a 10-9 win over Martin Smith in the first round to suggest his pursuit of snooker was not a ridiculous concept.
Steve Mizerak attempted snooker in the 1980s.
Image credit: Eurosport
The late Mizerak faced world champion Steve Davis and Jimmy 'Whirlwind' White in a pool/snooker challenge in the 1980s coming out on top courtesy of victories in the straight pool and nine-ball legs of the format.
Mizerak lost heavily in both snooker matches, but remarkably did win a frame from Davis in a 5-1 defeat.
Appearing to play with a pool cue on a snooker table that looked to have been set up with relaxed jaws to help the New Jersey man, Mizerak compared the table to a "football field".
Davis himself carved out a successful secondary career as a pool player, helping Europe defeat the US in the Ryder Cup style Mosconi Cup contest in 1995 and 2002 with a victory over nine-ball world champion Earl 'The Pearl' Strickland securing victory for his team.
He also reached the final of the 2001 World Pool League, losing 9-5 to Efran Reyes, the first man to win world titles in two different pool disciplines.
Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins and White enjoyed a famous victory over Bobby Hunter and Mike Massey at the 1995 Mosconi Cup with White sealing the victory in a singles match against Lou Butera.
O'Sullivan has played various pool competitions during his career including a trip to the US to examine the history of pool in his recent American Hustle series in 2016 while world champion Mark Selby was the World Eight-ball Pool Federation champion in 2006.
With a gap in the snooker calendar the English Open qualifiers, Selby will play with his brother-in-law Gareth Potts at the Ultimate Pool Pairs Cup in the UK.
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“It has been a long time since I’ve played eight-ball competitively but having seen what Ultimate Pool has done with its recent TV events, I can’t wait to get out into the arena and sample the atmosphere," said Selby.
Snooker has never captured the imagination of the American public, but it is fair to say pool continues to fascinate snooker players and audiences in the UK with Paul Newman's Oscar-winning turn as Fast Eddie Felson opposite Jackie Gleason in The Hustler and Tom Cruise in the Color of Money capturing the imagination of audiences worldwide well beyond pool.
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The green baize is perhaps not as user friendly for TV audiences but the same could be said of straight pool with Philadelphia's 'Mr Pocket Billiards' Willie Mosconi spending around three hours at the table in 1954 when he set the world record in straight pool of 526 consecutive balls.
"But can he play the jump shot? Can he break? Can he get out of snookers on a pool table? I don’t think so. He could play pool 20 hours a day for two or three weeks, but that’s not enough time to really learn those shots."
Still, it would be easier than teaching Earl the Pearl to make a century in snooker. The demands on the Juddernaut in Atlantic City will not be so great.
Trump playing pool in America is unlikely to change the enduring dynamics, perception or awareness of snooker away from its natural habit, but it is a timely challenge for Bristol Slim on a personal level, already a black ball belt in snooker, the ultimate event in cue sports.
The Northern Ireland Open is the third ranking event of the season and is LIVE on Eurosport and Quest between October 9-17 as part of the Home Nations Series including the English Open, Scottish Open and Welsh Open