The "Crucible curse" (also known as the "The curse of the Crucible") refers to the fact that no first-time snooker world champion has retained his title the following year since the event moved to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 1977. The last player to successfully defend his first world title was John Pulman in 1964, when the championship was still decided by challenge matches.

The curse

The following first-time champions did not retain their title the following year. Of the fifteen players to have won their first championship at the Crucible Theatre, five lost in their first match as defending champion (Terry Griffiths in 1980, Steve Davis in 1982, Dennis Taylor in 1986 Graeme Dott in 2007, and Neil Robertson in 2011) and only two went on to reach the final: Joe Johnson in 1987 and Ken Doherty in 1998.

Year Defending Champion Progress Result Opponent
1980 Terry Griffiths Second round 1013 Steve Davis
1981 Cliff Thorburn Semi-finals 1016 Steve Davis
1982 Steve Davis First round 110 Tony Knowles
1986 Dennis Taylor First round 610 Mike Hallett
1987 Joe Johnson Final 1418 Steve Davis
1991 Stephen Hendry Quarter-finals 1113 Steve James
1992 John Parrott Quarter-finals 1213 Alan McManus
1998 Ken Doherty Final 1218 John Higgins
1999 John Higgins Semi-finals 1017 Mark Williams
2001 Mark Williams Second round 1213 Joe Swail
2002 Ronnie O'Sullivan Semi-finals 1317 Stephen Hendry
2003 Peter Ebdon Quarter-finals 1213 Paul Hunter
2006 Shaun Murphy Quarter-finals 713 Peter Ebdon
2007 Graeme Dott First round 710 Ian McCulloch
2011 Neil Robertson First round 810 Judd Trump

In the meantimes, the titles were won by players who had already been world champions (so the "curse" did not apply). Three players have even won consecutive titles: Ray Reardon (197376), Steve Davis (198384 and 8789) and Stephen Hendry (199296), but only after they experienced the "curse".