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How many world titles did Steve Davis win in the 1980s, and what was his heaviest defeat in that time?
Jim Storey, Islington

THE JUDGE: Davis won six world titles - in 1981, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989. His heaviest defeat came in 1982 when defending his world title for the first time. Tony Knowles beat him 10-1 in the first round of the Embassy World Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

Why is the game of snooker called snooker, and when was it first played?
Percy Tattersall, Worcester

THE JUDGE: In the 1870s, 'snooker' was a slang name given to a raw recruit at the Woolwich Military Academy. Colonel Neville Chamberlain (not he of 'Peace in our time' fame) used the name in a derogatory way to describe his opponent after he had missed a shot during a form of Black Pool in the Devonshire Regiment's officers' mess in Jubbulpore, India, in 1875. It caused such merriment that the officers adopted the name for the pool game to which they gradually added more and more coloured balls. The game of snooker was born. The Billiards Association, formed in 1885, introduced the sport's first set of official rules in 1900.There is also a theo ry that a form of snooker was being played at the Garrick Club in London in the 1860s.

How long had Dennis Taylor been a professional before he won his first major championship?
George Williams, Blackpool

Taylor had been playing for pay for 13 years when he at last broke his duck by winning the 1984 Rothmans Grand. The following year he hit the jackpot when he beat Steve Davis on a sensational final black of their best of 35 frames world championship final. at the Crucible in Sheffield.

Which was the first maximum 147 break shown on television?
Andy Paddick, Basingstoke

THE JUDGE: Steve Davis scored the first 147 in front of the Granada cameras in the Lada Classic at Oldharn in 1982. It featured on ITV's Midweek Sports Special, and his opponent was the unlucky John Spencer (see following question).

Who achieved the first maximum 147 break in an official major tournament?
Greg Walters, Cleveland

THE JUDGE: John Spencer was the first player to make a 147 break in a major championship in the Holsten Lager International at the Fulcrum Centre, Slough, on 13 January 1979. That was the good news for the three-times world champion. The bad news was that the pockets on the table were oversized and the break did not receive official recognition. There was more bad news for Spencer. The Thames Television camera crew were at a lunch break when he made his clearance, and there were only a handful of spectators in the hall.

Who was the opponent when Cliff Thorburn made his 147 break. the world championships?
Matthew Stewart, Twickenham

Terry Griffiths was the player who sat it out as Canadian Cliff 'The Grinder' Thorburn became the first player in the history of the world championships to score a maximum in the first round of the 1983 tournament.

Was Cliff Thorburn ever trailing when he beat Alex Higgins to the world championship?
Arthur White, Seven Oaks, Kent

THE JUDGE: Thorburn was 5-9 down and battled back to beat Higgins 18-16 in a memorable final at the Crucible Theatre in 1980.

Is it true that Ray Reardon was once buried in a mining accident?
Alec Baker, Gloucester

THE JUDGE: I went to six-times world champion Ray Reardon for the facts. He told me, 'I was working a shift at the Florence Colliery in Stoke when I was buried in a roof fall. I was unable to move a muscle until rescued three hours later. I knew I could do myself serious damage if I tried to move, and I kept my concentration going by playing endless frames of imaginary snooker and games of marbles in my mind with my younger brother. It was a terrifying experience that ended my appetite for mining, and soon after I joined the city of Stoke police force before becoming a full-time snooker professional in 1967