UK Championship history
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Snooker History: The UK Championship

Steeped in history, the UK Championship is the third-oldest professional tournament on the snooker calendar.

A mainstay on the schedule since 1977, most of the sport’s biggest names have etched their names onto the trophy.

What began as a tournament for only players from or with permanent residency in the UK, it ultimately became a ranking event open to the whole circuit in 1984.

Here is a rundown of all of the UK Championship snooker finals in its long and illustrious history.

Patsy Fagan 12-9 Doug Mountjoy

The inaugural UK Championship was, somewhat ironically, won by an Irishman with Patsy Fagan beating Doug Mountjoy in the final.

Fagan, a Dubliner living in London, won a couple of deciders to reach the title-deciding affair where he duly secured the biggest title of his career.

Doug Mountjoy 15-9 David Taylor

Redemption for Mountjoy came a year later when the Welshman triumphed with a 15-9 scoreline against David Taylor.

This edition of the UK Championship was staged at the Preston Guild Hall, a venue that would become the tournament’s permanent home for 20 years.

John Virgo 14-13 Terry Griffiths

The 1979 final proved to be a memorable affair for a number of reasons, with John Virgo pipping Terry Griffiths in a decider despite having been docked two frames for arriving late for a session.

A strike by BBC personnel during the final frames, however, meant that Virgo’s career highlight was neither broadcast nor recorded.

Steve Davis 16-6 Alex Higgins

The first of three UK Championship finals in five years between Steve Davis and Alex Higgins, the Nugget comprehensively won his maiden major title.

At the time Davis was only 23 years-old, and the pair’s fractious rivalry in the following decade would become iconic.

Steve Davis 16-3 Terry Griffiths

Davis became the first two-time champion of the event with an even more convincing final victory in 1981.

Having beaten Terry Griffiths 9-0 in the previous year’s semi-finals, another thrashing ensued here with Davis dropping just three frames.

Terry Griffiths 16-15 Alex Higgins

Griffiths bounced back from that crushing defeat by beating Davis en route to reaching the final again in 1982.

The 1979 world champion won the last three frames of the final to edge Higgins in a thrilling battle, 16-15.

Alex Higgins 16-15 Steve Davis

A similar theme materialised in 1983 when Higgins conjured a comeback for the ages to overcome Davis by the same one-frame margin.

Having beaten Griffiths in the last four, the Northern Irishman lost the first seven frame of the final before mounting a remarkable turnaround.

Steve Davis 16-8 Alex Higgins

In 1984, Davis raced into a 5-0 lead, and this time there were no meltdowns suffered.

On this occasion, the reigning world champion kept his foot on the gas to dominate his old foe and capture the first UK Championship staged as a ranking event.

Steve Davis 16-14 Willie Thorne

A different year but a similar outcome as Davis won his fourth UK title with a 16-14 triumph over Willie Thorne.

The latter was left to rue an infamous missed blue that would have given him a 14-8 advantage.

Steve Davis 16-7 Neal Foulds

Three in a row for Davis, with Neal Foulds a powerless victim on the opposite side of the table.

This edition is perhaps remembered more for Alex Higgins’ headbutting of a tournament director – an incident that resulted in a five-tournament ban for the Hurricane.

Steve Davis 16-14 Jimmy White

Make that four on the bounce, with Davis edging Jimmy White in a classic battle.

The 1987 UK Championship was also notable for Willie Thorne’s 147, marking only the fourth ever in snooker history.

Doug Mountjoy 16-12 Stephen Hendry

Davis was finally stopped in the 1988 semi-finals by an emerging star from Scotland named Stephen Hendry.

But Hendry was to be denied his first major title by a resurgent Doug Mountjoy, who won his maiden ranking title at the age of 46.

Stephen Hendry 16-12 Steve Davis

The first of two UK Championship finals that signalled the changing of the guard at the top of the game.

Hendry, who was beginning to make winning feel like a habit, beat Davis 16-12.

Stephen Hendry 16-15 Steve Davis

The same protagonists and a similar outcome, albeit it was a tighter affair than the year previously.

Hendry won the last two frames to deny Davis a record seventh UK crown in a decider.

John Parrott 16-13 Jimmy White

Having already beaten the Whirlwind in the 1991 World Championship final, John Parrott made it a delightful double at the UKs.

White beat defending champion Hendry in the semi-finals but fell short in the final, losing 16-13 to Liverpool’s Parrott.

Jimmy White 16-9 John Parrott

Twelve months on and White got his revenge to secure the most prestigious ranking title of his career.

The 1992 edition also saw a young Ronnie O’Sullivan make his debut in the tournament, where he reached the last 32.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-6 Stephen Hendry

O’Sullivan was to do much better on his second attempt, going all the way to the final in Preston.

Just shy of his 18th birthday, the Rocket announced himself as the sport’s newest star by beating world number one Hendry in the final.

Stephen Hendry 10-5 Ken Doherty

Hendry was not to be denied in 1994, coming through a tight semi-final with Peter Ebdon before orchestrating an incredible display in the final.

Against Ken Doherty, Hendry compiled seven century breaks in one of the most legendary displays of all time.

Stephen Hendry 10-3 Peter Ebdon

Only a brace of tons from Hendry in this final but a similar outcome, as he thrashed Peter Ebdon 10-3.

The Scot made a rare 146 break in the final frame to wrap up his fourth UK Championship success.

Stephen Hendry 10-9 John Higgins

Hendry was tested significantly more in 1996, with countryman John Higgins another relatively fresh face on the scene.

A topsy-turvy tie ended with Hendry winning the last two frames to clinch UK glory for the last time.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-6 Stephen Hendry

Four years on from their first UK Championship final, O’Sullivan and Hendry met again with silverware on the line in 1997.

The outcome was the exact same, a 10-6 victory for O’Sullivan in what proved to be the event’s last visit to Preston.

John Higgins 10-6 Matthew Stevens

O’Sullivan withdrew from the 1998 tournament, and it was fellow Class of 1992 graduate John Higgins who benefited.

The Wizard of Wishaw had already won the World Championship earlier in the year, and he added a first UK title by beating Matthew Stevens.

Mark Williams 10-8 Matthew Stevens

Stevens was to be on the losing side of the final again a year later.

A close all-Welsh title decider went the way of Mark Williams, and the outcome would be the same at the World Championship final later that same season.

John Higgins 10-4 Mark Williams

By the turn of the millennium, Williams had become the most dominant force in the game.

But he was powerless to prevent Higgins from winning the 2000 final, losing a one-sided battle 10-4.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-1 Ken Doherty

In what was the first UK Championship staged at the Barbican Centre in York, O’Sullivan annihilated Ken Doherty in the final.

The Rocket claimed his third UK title with a dominant 10-1 victory over the Irishman.

Mark Williams 10-9 Ken Doherty

Doherty experienced the disappointment of defeat in a final for a third time a year later.

This time, he offered a much stronger challenge but was denied success by Williams in a decider.

Matthew Stevens 10-8 Stephen Hendry

By 2003, Stevens had established a reputation as the best player to have never won a ranking event.

The 2000 Masters champion finally put that to rest, edging a resurgent Jimmy White in the semi-finals and then Stephen Hendry in the final.

Stephen Maguire 10-1 David Gray

When Stephen Maguire destroyed the field at the 2004 UK Championship, many believed he would become the sport’s newest star.

It didn’t quite work out that way, and this title remains the Glaswegian’s only Triple Crown piece of silverware.

Ding Junhui 10-6 Steve Davis

Approaching his 50s, Steve Davis rolled back the years with defeats of Maguire, Doherty, and Hendry in 2005.

A young Ding Junhui proved to be a step too far for the fairy tale ending, with the Chinese competitor becoming the first non-British or Irish UK Championship winner in snooker history.

Peter Ebdon 10-6 Stephen Hendry

After accounting for Ding in the last eight, Peter Ebdon proceeded to beat Scottish duo Higgins and Hendry to bag his second Triple Crown trophy.

The 2006 UK Championship is also remembered for a strange moment when Ronnie O’Sullivan conceded his quarter-final match against Hendry in the middle of the sixth frame.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-2 Stephen Maguire

O’Sullivan was back to his brilliant best in 2007, though, as the event moved to Telford.

After reaching the final by compiling a 147 break in the deciding frame against Mark Selby, O’Sullivan thumped Maguire 10-2.

Shaun Murphy 10-9 Marco Fu

A much tighter showdown followed in 2008, with Shaun Murphy edging Marco Fu in a 10-9 thriller.

While he was already in the ascendancy in the final frame, a fluke for Murphy cruelly ended Fu’s hopes of a first major title.

Ding Junhui 10-8 John Higgins

Ding Junhui’s second UK title came at the expense of John Higgins in 2009.

Ding beat reigning champion Murphy in the last 16 and later edged out the Scot in a close final.

John Higgins 10-9 Mark Williams

In 2010, Higgins had only recently returned to the sport following a six-month ban for bringing the game into disrepute.

Seeking redemption, he completed an incredible comeback by winning the last five frames to deny Mark Williams in a decider.

Judd Trump 10-8 Mark Allen

In 2011, the UK Championship returned to the Barbican Centre in York, where it has mostly stayed ever since.

Judd Trump and Mark Allen cooked up an exhilarating pre-Christmas helping of snooker, with the Englishman holding on to win 10-8.

Mark Selby 10-6 Shaun Murphy

Mark Selby claimed his first UK Championship title with a 10-6 victory over Shaun Murphy in the 2012 final.

This edition boasted an amazing three 147 breaks – two in the qualifying stages and one by John Higgins at the venue.

Neil Robertson 10-7 Mark Selby

Selby returned to the final in 2013, but on this occasion he was denied by Neil Robertson.

By winning the UK Championship title for the first time, Robertson became the eighth player in snooker history to complete the career Triple Crown.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-9 Judd Trump

Another UK title for O’Sullivan, who bounced back strongly from losing the World Championship final to Selby that same year.

O’Sullivan sat and watched as a charging Trump fought back from 9-4 down to force a decider, but the Rocket held on.

Neil Robertson 10-5 Liang Wenbo

Robertson’s triumph over Liang Wenbo in 2015 brought him a second UK crown in three stagings.

The Melbourne man compiled a 147 against Liang, becoming the first player to accomplish the feat in a Triple Crown final.

Mark Selby 10-7 Ronnie O’Sullivan

The Selby-Robertson-O’Sullivan stranglehold on the tournament continued in 2016.

Selby etched his name onto the silverware for a second time with a 10-7 triumph over O’Sullivan.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-5 Shaun Murphy

O’Sullivan returned to the champion’s enclosure in 2017, however, by beating Shaun Murphy in the final.

In doing so, the Englishman matched Steve Davis’ longstanding record of six UK titles.

Ronnie O’Sullivan 10-6 Mark Allen

That record was duly broken in 2018, with O’Sullivan successfully defending the crown courtesy of a 10-6 victory against Mark Allen.

This success also represented O’Sullivan’s 19th in the Triple Crown series, eclipsing Stephen Hendry’s tally of 18.

Ding Junhui 10-6 Stephen Maguire

An unexpected 2019 final encounter pitted a resurgent Ding Junhui against a resurgent Stephen Maguire.

Few expected the pair to challenge for the honours, but they served up an entertaining final – compiling seven century breaks between them – as Ding sealed his third UK crown.

Neil Robertson 10-9 Judd Trump

Staged behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes as a result of a global pandemic, the 2020 UK Championship had a very different feel to it.

Yet the final between Neil Robertson and Judd Trump went all the way down to the final pink, which Trump missed and Robertson potted to win 10-9.

Zhao Xintong 10-5 Luca Brecel

Returning to York a year later, there was huge excitement surrounding the emergence of two young stars.

Zhao Xintong downed Luca Brecel 10-5 in the final, although the former’s reputation took a severe hit not long after amid match-fixing allegations.

Mark Allen 10-7 Ding Junhui

Leading 6-1, it looked as though Ding was going to bag a fourth UK crown in what was turning into his favourite tournament.

But Mark Allen fought back in tremendous fashion by winning nine of the remaining ten frames to deny the Chinese cuiest.

The 47th UK Championship in snooker history takes place from November 25 to December 3, 2023. More details on the tournament can be found here.

Featured photo credit: WST


  1. My greatest final is 2011. I go back to about 1993 in terms of my viewing history.

    My favourite moment was O’Sullivan winning in 2018.

    • Daniel White

      I recall the emergence of Ding and the ever so nearly story of a Steve Davis win with the most clarity! Also the staggering performance of Stephen Maguire: around 2004/5 he looked to me like the Scottish cueist who would be winning everything after Stephen Hendry! This two years, back to back were when the UK Championship still seemed like a true big beast by any yardstick.

    • 2011 would be high up my list too. As a supporter of Ken when I was young, the 2002 final was quite painful with Williams beating him in a decider, and then almost the same thing happened at the Worlds.

  2. The 1990 final could objectively be seen as the greatest final but before my time.

    Higgins coming from 9-5 down to beat Williams, in 2010, was a genuine classic.

    I was in the crowd for the 2008 final. That year I also witnessed Ding make a 147, the only one I’ve seen in person.

    I’ve always wished for the whole of Hendry’s 1994 final to be made available on YouTube.

    Five centuries in six frames during the last session of the 2016 showpiece between Selby and O’Sullivan.

  3. scratch games

    A very good and meaningful tournament

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