Sir Neville Chamberlain: Great Minds

Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain (1856 – 1944) was an officer in the British Indian Army. He is credited with having invented the game of snooker.

The internationally popular game of snooker was invented Sir Chamberlain and his army friends in Ootacamund Club  sometime between   in December 1881 and June 1882.  The friends, according to Chamberlain, were   George  Pretyman,  Captain  Gordon, Captain Ian Hamilton.

The simple rules for the game were prepared by a committee at Ooty  in 1882. Chamberlain  had invented a similar game called “Black Pool”   in 1875 and upgraded it as a new game in Ooty which is now  being played throughout the world. The name of “Snooker” was adopted from a suggestion by Chamberlain.

This is what Chamberlain had to say of this period: “Each summer that delightful hill station had many visitors, either to hunt with the ‘Ooty’ pack of hounds or for a change of climate. Among them were officers from such big garrisons as Bangalore, or Secunderabad, as well as cheery planters of Mysore or Coorg, who rode up for a few days of gallops over ‘The Koondas,’ or a time of good cheer. Snooker soon became a specialty at the club, and, in due course, the news of it was carried far afield, and to billiard players throughout India.” There was a long controversy whether the game was invented in 1875 in Jubbalupore or in Ooty in 1882. Chamberlain himself clarified it in a letter to the Ooty Club in 1939. He wrote, ‘I would like to add that while it is correct to say that the game was first played at Jubbalpore in 1875, it never really made progress until it was played by the members of the Ooty Club’

Nilgiri Documentation Centre

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