In snooker, a break is the total score achieved by a player in a single visit to the table. A player's proficiency at building big breaks, particularly century breaks (scores over 100), is widely used as a measure of the player's overall skill.
The highest snooker break possible where fouls are not a factor is 147 (15 reds, 15 blacks and then the six colours). This is known as a maximum. Stephen Hendry holds the record for the most maximums in official competition, having made eight. He also holds the record in televised matches, with seven. The one session record is held by Adrian Gunnell who made three 147 breaks in four frames during a practice session in Telford in 2003.
However, if a player commits a foul stroke with all 15 reds still on the table, and snookers the opponent, the opponent may choose to hit any coloured ball as a free ball which is scored as a red. A break in excess of 147 will be achieved by potting that free ball and a colour, then all of the reds followed by blacks, then all colours. In this case, the highest possible break is 155 (16 "reds", 16 blacks).
At least three breaks in excess of 147 have been recorded. A 149 by Tony Drago in West Norwood, UK in 1998 is recorded by the Guinness Book of Records as the highest. In that match Drago was foul snookered and chose the brown as the free ball, to score one point. He then potted the brown again, for four more points, before potting 13 reds and 13 blacks, a red and a pink, a red and a blue, then all the colours. In October 2004, during qualifying for the UK Championship, Jamie Burnett achieved a 148 against Leo Fernandez, becoming the first player to achieve a break of more than 147 in a professional match.
Wally West was reported to have made a 151 break in the final of a club competition in Hounslow in 1976. Jamie Cope was reported to have made a break of 155 in a practice frame during 2005.
The five fastest 147s have been made by Ronnie O'Sullivan. The times of the three fastest are
1997: 5 minutes 20 seconds
2003: 6 minutes 30 seconds
2001: 6 minutes 36 seconds
James Wattana cleared in 7 minutes 9 seconds in 1992.
In professional tournaments, there is usually a substantial prize awarded to any player achieving a 147 break. For example, Ronnie O'Sullivan's 1997 maximum earned him £165,000 - or £515 per second.