Snooker was invented in India in 1875. It was the rainy season and British army officers were indoors mucking about with the rules of existing cue sports.
The invention of snooker is credited to Colonel Neville Chamberlain, who was in fact only 19 and not a colonel in 1875. With just a few minor tweaks here and there the rules he instituted are still the rules by which the game is played today. They have more than stood the test of time.
This is not leading up to me making the old gag about snooker starting in an officer’s mess and ending up in a total mess but a way of drawing attention to the exploits this week of the professional circuit’s two Indian players, Pankaj Advani and Aditya Mehta.
Advani is a former world professional billiards champion, his main sport. Just 27, he is much admired at home where billiards remains a popular sport.
Advani has received many national honours, including the Khel Ratna, which I suppose is a bit like the BBC Sports Personality of the Year but an award which recognises that cue sports exist and are popular (although Steve Davis did win SPOTY in 1988).
Mehta is a double Asian Games medallist and has already this season appeared in the final qualifying round of two ranking events.
He has just won the Arjuna Award, another national accolade for sporting achievement.
On Sunday, both Advani and Mehta made back-to-back centuries in winning their matches in the first qualifying round of the International Championship.
Advani then made two more today in beating Alan McManus in the third qualifying round, where Mehta is playing Jimmy White at the time of writing.
Advani must beat Michael Holt tomorrow to qualify, which would be a significant achievement.
India has a proud cue sports history but has never really had a top player at snooker.
There was O. B. Agrawal, who beat Stephen Hendry in his first ever match in the UK Championship, Yasin Merchant and Geet Sethi, a former world billiards champion, a great bloke and also a journalist for the Hindu.
It was Geet who pretty much killed off the press tournament due to the fact that he kept winning it.
He was usually accompanied to tournaments by Michael Ferreira, another billiards player who wrote for The Times of India.
Michael was always great company but would usually spend a good ten minutes shouting at the fax machine when the time came to send his copy home, the vagaries of technology often defeating him.
Now, India has Advani and Mehta: two young men starting to make strides on the other side of the world.
I don’t know either personally but on Twitter they come across as polite, professional and dedicated and the results are starting to come.
There was talk last year of a ranking event in India (there have been invitation tournaments in the past).
This will surely be made more likely if Advani and Mehta can continue their encouraging progress.