There is a good chance when the Betway UK Championship cues off next week, fans at the York Barbican will see a maximum 147 clearance.
For Tuesday sees the start of 13 days of snooker in York, with 128 players chasing a trophy, one that is second only to the World Championship in terms of prestige.
I actually go down to play with top spin and go through for a baulk colour, or blue, to make sure of the frame, but then thought chances don’t come up for a maximum too often.Stephen Hendry
A 147 is a pinnacle moment for any player – Ronnie O’Sullivan holds the record with 13 official maximums in his career – and any fan who is lucky enough to witness it live in the arena.
And while they are not common, with snooker’s expanded tour now seeing tournaments being staged most weeks, the chance of a 147 today is much higher than it was back in the Eighties and Nineties. Steve Davis made the first official 147 in the 1982 Lada Classic – he won a car for his feat – but after that there were only 15 other maximums in the next 13 years.
Seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry was one of those players, in the 1992 Matchroom League – but the Scot then produced two maximums in 1995, at snooker’s two biggest tournaments.
First at the Crucible in the World Championship, then seven months later at the UK Championship – 22 years ago today, on November 25 1995.
When Kyren Wilson potted a 147 at the recent International Championship, it was the 133rd official maximum in snooker history.
Nine of those have come in 2017 – including Liang Wenbo’s 147 in Barnsley last month at the English Open.
But back in 1995, it was a rarity and Hendry was in an elite group of players to have achieved such a feat.
On his way to clinching the UK title for a fourth time at Preston’s Guild Hall, Hendry came up against world No 23 Gary Wilkinson in the last 16.
Leading 3-1, Wilkinson broke, but hit the blue on his retreat back up the table to leave Hendry an opening.
He potted the opening red, nudging a second red out of his path to free up the black.
The break continued, until Hendry had to break open the bunch of reds.
This is always the money shot, where luck plays a big part in where the cue ball lands.
Fortune favoured the Scot, as he had a clear shot on a loose red into the distant yellow pocket.
“This was the first time I had a slight thought about the 147, because the reds opened nicely,” said Hendry.
“I thought if this went in, I had a great chance.
“At this stage, with the reds sat nicely, you just try and concentrate and make sure you don’t finish straight on the black.”
On 72, he had a red into the centre pocket, and the easy option was to drop onto the blue.
But he attempted the more difficult shot, in pulling back for the black.
“I actually go down to play with top spin and go through for a baulk colour, or blue, to make sure of the frame, but then thought chances don’t come up for a maximum too often.
“I decided to go for it, and my concentration was now 100 per cent on ‘make the 147.’”
The final red was the one tricky shot.
He had an angle on the black, to race up the table, and managed to avoid being snookered behind the yellow to drop the red into the centre.
The colours were swept up, with little drama, as the world No 1 wrapped up the maximum.
“It was a fairly straightforward break, as far as a lot of the shots that were played, I didn’t have to play many tough shots.”
It was one of 11 maximums achieved by Hendry, including three at his beloved Crucible, as he went on to win 9-2, before beating Ken Doherty, John Higgins and Peter Ebdon to be crowned UK champion.