Origin

The popular legend concerning the origin of Snooker holds that it was invented around 1875 by British army officers stationed in India, who modified the game of Black Pool by adding several coloured balls from Life Pool to the normal complement of 15 reds and black. Col. Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain (not the gentleman who later became prime minister) was with the Devonshire Regiment in Jubbulpore. One day he found himself without a shot at this hybrid game when his opponent failed to hole a ball, and he called the man a “snooker,” which was a term of derision applied to first-year cadets at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich. The name stuck. Stories reached England of the new game in 1880. In 1885 Roberts visited India and brought Snooker back with him. Unfortunately, there are no contemporary accounts of the invention of the game, and the preceding story was not related until the 1930s. No description of Snooker before that time contains any mention of its genesis and news articles concerning Chamberlain make no reference of any role he may have had in its invention.

The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards, Mike Shamos, 1999