|Dates||19 November–1 December 1979|
|Total prize fund||£15,000|
|Highest break||Terry Griffiths (119)|
The 1979 UK Championship (known as the 1979 Coral UK Championship for sponsorship reasons) was a professional non-ranking snooker tournament that took place between 19 November and 1 December 1979 at the Guild Hall in Preston, England.
The event was won by John Virgo, who defeated Terry Griffiths in the final 14–13 in Virgo's only major championship win. The defending champion, Doug Mountjoy, was defeated by Steve Davis in the opening round 5–9. Griffiths would make the tournament's highest break of 119 in his semifinal win over Bill Werbeniuk. The tournament final saw Virgo deducted two frames for arriving late. The final session of the final was broadcast by the BBC show Grandstand. Due to a strike by the BBC personnel, the final frames of the match, including Virgo being awarded the championship, were never broadcast or recorded.
The 1979 UK Championship was a professional non-ranking event held between 19 November and 1 December 1979 at the Preston Guild Hall, England. The event saw 27 players compete, with the highest-ranked 8 players receiving a bye to the last 16, and the last 6 players competing in a playoff round. Matches played until the final were played as best of 17 matches. The preliminary rounds saw two matches reach a final frame decider, with both John Dunning and Jackie Rea winning matches 9–8.
The last 24 was played on 20–23 November 1979. Future 6-time world champion Steve Davis made his debut in the competition and defeated John Dunning 9–3. Another future world champion Joe Johnson also made his debut in the competition, playing his third professional tournament, and lost 3–9 to Bill Werbeniuk. All three players who competed in the preliminary round were defeated in the last 24.
The round of 16 saw Steve Davis overcome reigning champion Doug Mountjoy 9–5. World number 4 and three-time world champion John Spencer was defeated by Bill Werbeniuk 8–9. Former winner Patsy Fagan defeated two-time Pot Black champion Graham Miles 9–5. John Virgo defeated Tony Meo 9–6, despite being 5–0 and 5–3 down after the first session, making a break of 102 in frame 11. Dennis Taylor and Willie Thorne contested a final frame decider, with Taylor defeating Thorne to win 9–8. Having won the 1979 World Snooker Championship earlier that year, Terry Griffiths defeated Cliff Wilson 9–4.
The quarter-finals were contested on 24–26 November 1979. John Virgo took an early lead over Steve Davis at 4–3, and later 8–7. In frame 16, Virgo had the chance to win the match, and Davis dropped his cue, making a loud sound. Virgo still potted the next shot during the noise and make a clearance to win the match 9–7. Post-match, Davis commented to Virgo that it was the only time he had ever wanted his opponent to not miss. Elsewhere, Dennis Taylor defeated Patsy Fagan 9–6, Bill Werbeniuk defeated Ray Edmonds 9–8, and Terry Griffiths defeated Alex Higgins 9–7.
The semi-finals were played on 27–29 November 1979. The semifinals were almost an exact mirror of the 1979 World Snooker Championship, where John Virgo played Dennis Taylor and Terry Griffiths played Eddie Charlton. In place of Charlton, Bill Webeniuk took on Griffiths. Despite having lost heavily at the world championships (12–19), Virgo defeated Taylor 9–4 to reach his only major final. In the second semi-final, Terry Griffiths defeated Werbeniuk 9–3.
The final was a best-of-27 frame match, held over 30 November and 1 December 1979. The match was held over three sessions, two on the 30th and the final on 1 December, between John Virgo and reigning world champion Terry Griffiths. Virgo took an early lead, winning five frames in a row, to lead 5–0, including breaks of 63 and 67. Griffiths won two of the remaining frames, but trailed 7–2 after the first session. The second session saw Griffiths win the first 3 frames to trail 7–5 before Virgo led 11–7 at the end of the session.
The final session was played on 1 December 1979 and broadcast on Grandstand. With the final being broadcast, the match was moved from the regular 1:45 p.m. start time to start at 12 p.m. Virgo, having not seen that the times had changed, was late to the arena and was docked two frames for arriving late. Griffiths took the two remaining frames before the interval to tie the match 11–11.
During the interval, Griffiths approached Virgo and offered half of the prize money for the event, apologetic at the situation of having frames awarded. Virgo replied: "You haven't won it yet," noting the match hadn't finished.
Virgo won frame 23 to lead 12–11, before Griffiths tied the match again at 12–12. Griffiths made a break of 68 to lead 13–12, before a break of 50 in frame 26 by Virgo took the match into a decider. John Virgo won the final frame and his sole major title to win 14–13. The final frames of the final were unaired, due to a strike of BBC staff, with cameramen leaving the arena during the final frame.
|Round of 16||Quarter-finals||Semi-finals||Final|
|Final: Best of 27 frames. Referee: |
The Guild Hall, Preston, England, 30 November and 1 December 1979.
|First session: 70–60, 67–9, 81–24, 100–24 (63), 103–26 (67), 52–61, 73–24 (69), 96–29, 22–90|
Second session: 32–68, 4–126 (60), 49–51, 86–38, 50–59, 136–3 (93), 57–56 (57), 8–108 (71), 55–45
Third session: 2–0 Griffiths (Virgo docked 2 frames)
43–61, 50–73, 65–44, 17–91 (56), 26–96 (68), 74–19 (50), 78–8
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