Tuesday, 31 October 2017


In a series of articles over the coming weeks here at The Cue View, we take a look at some of the most surprising, long-shot tournament winners in the history of professional snooker.

First up is Bob Chaperon...

One of the unlikeliest champions of a ranking event ever was Canada's Chaperon at the 1990 British Open. He would become one of the sport's cult figures because of it.

Lower profile than his fellow professional countrymen at the time, as it stands, Chaperon is still the last Canadian to lift a ranking trophy. He based himself in Gainsborough to further his top tier snooker career and worked his way into the World's Top 32. His previous best performance was a Quarter-Final finish at the 1987 Grand Prix.

His 1989/1990 campaign had been uninspiring, though; of the seven previous events he had competed in, he failed to get past the Last 32 in any of them. However this sequence, and his life, was to dramatically change for the good at the Assembly Rooms in Derby in early March.

The 1990 British Open was screened on ITV and featured an FA Cup style draw for each round of the main stages. It would be a tournament of early eliminations for the big names with World Number 16 Steve James the highest ranked player left come the Quarter-Finals.

Chaperon came through his opening rounds which included a defeat of the World Number 6 Mike Hallett. 

In the Last 16 he would face good friend and compatriot Alain Robidoux. The match went all the way to a deciding frame where Robidoux had one foot and four toes in the Last 8 after forging a 47 point lead with just one red remaining.

Despite requiring three 4 point snookers just to tie, Chaperon elected to carry on. Sensationally, he managed to get the snookers and forced a freeball opportunity from his opponent. Blessed with a bit of luck when fluking the last red after he had inadvertently snookered himself, he managed to pull off one of the most famous turnarounds on the final black.

Now perhaps 'freerolling', the French Canadian then dispatched Neal Foulds 5-3 and Robert Marshall 9-5 in the Quarters and Semi-Finals respectively.

Chaperon's opponent in the final would be none other than a resurgent Alex Higgins.

Now into what would be the twilight of his career, 'The Hurricane' had slipped to 24th in the World Rankings, although a 9-3 victory over James in the Last 4 secured his first berth in a ranking event final for over 16 months. It would turn out to be his last ever professional final appearance.

Visibly, Higgins was emotionally charged for this match; at times it seemed as if he was attempting to intimidate his less experienced rival with his antics away from the table of play. He also complained about Chaperon and referee Alan Chamberlain disturbing him whilst he was at the table.

The maiden finalist took an early 4-1 lead, settling in with a 110 break in Frame 2 after losing the opener, but was pegged back to 4-4. From there, there was never more than one frame between them as they moved on to 8-8.

Understandably, the remainder of the match was a ragged, nervy affair, but it would be the pre-tournament 150/1 shot who kept his cool in winning 10-8. The unexpected champion collected £75,000 for his win – one of the most surprising in professional snooker history.

This would be his solitary ranking success - in fact he never reached another ranking Quarter-Final, although amazingly he did win the World Cup a few weeks later alongside partners Robidoux and Cliff Thorburn. Coincidentally, the Canadians beat Northern Ireland (Dennis Taylor, Tommy Murphy and Higgins) 9-5 in the final.

Chaperon retired in 2003 after flitting on and off the tour, but still plays back home in Canada. Only last week he reached the final of a North American invitational event.

He will forever be in the books as a major ranking event winner – a very exclusive club.

The picture above is courtesy of Markus Noe from www.cuesportnation.com

Written and published by Michael Day on the 28th October 2017