Let’s face it: Those other examples are mere pretenders. Nothing can ever, or will ever, match the most boring event in the history of sports. It was off to a flyer when the challenge was made: first player to half a million points. And one of them, poor soul, had to sit there doing nothing for more than five weeks.
This was 1907, a few years after a new technique had been introduced to the popular game of billiards (so popular that eight million tuned in to a BBC radio broadcast of Tom Reece explaining a new shot).
Reece, a great player of the time, was up against Joe Chapman in the big match, which was staged in Soho with the specific aim of setting a world record before the rules changed.
The method for scoring all these points was the "cradle cannon," in which a player manoeuvres the balls until two of them are "locked" at the entrance to a pocket, and thus never move when the object ball delicately kisses them for a scoring cannon.
Chapman had the better of the exciting early play, building a lead of 878-483, before Reece got what he wanted, playing the balls into the "cradle" position (the move was banned a few months later).
He then set about scoring at a rate of 10,000 a day, took a day off and carried on scoring even more quickly as time went by.
Spectators drifted in and out, and off to sleep. One of them went into such a deep sleep the players left him there overnight, to be found the following morning by the cleaners.
There were frequent breaks in play to move to another table, where snooker challenges took place, just to give Chapman something to do. Some sessions were played overnight, and when the players took a break, the balls were covered with a hat box so they’d be in position for a restart.
The match went on for more than five weeks, and Reece—who later became a favourite of King George V—won with a break of 499,135. The match was publicised throughout the British Empire, thanks largely to the unsung hero of the match.
As Reece wrote in Cannons & Big Guns in 1928, George Reed of the Sporting Life sat through every minute of the break. "His job was harder than my own," said Reece. "He stuck it out like a Briton."