Creator of Dennis Taylor's spectacles

 

A creator of snooker spectacles, Jack Karnehm, who has died, aged 85, of a heart attack, was best known as a mellifluous BBC television snooker commentator from 1978 to 1993

He notably caught the mood of the moment at the Crucible theatre, Sheffield, in 1983 with the words "Good luck, mate," as Cliff Thorburn settled over the black to complete the world championship's first 147 maximum score.

His most lasting contribution to the game, however, was the development of Dennis Taylor's distinctive, swivel-lens spectacles, which were set at a compensatory angle so the player could look along the shot through the optical centre of the lens.

The originals had been designed by Theodore Hamblin, and pioneered by Fred Davis in 1938. Karnehm, who had served a five-year spectacle-making apprenticeship, made many pairs in his family business, but his upside-down design was a considerable improvement - it offered wider peripheral vision - and helped Taylor win the 1985 world title. It has helped countless players since.

However, Karnehm's lifelong passion was not snooker but billiards. He was 10 times London amateur champion, though he reached the English amateur championship semi-finals only once before winning it in 1969. That October, he also took the world amateur title.

He turned professional in February 1970, and resigned his chairmanship of the game's then governing body, the Billiards and Snooker Control Council, after a stormy two years in office. The professionals were dissatisfied with his handling of affairs, and also believed there was a hidden intention for him to play another pillar of the council, Leslie Driffield, for the world professional title.

When the council stripped Rex Williams of that title, the professionals continued to recognise him as champion, and set up the new World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association on December 12th, 1970.

When they did meet for the council's version of the world title the following year, Karnehm lost heavily to Driffield.

For most of his career, which also included coaching and setting up a table-making firm, Karnehm was frustratingly unable to bring his practice form into the arena, although he did beat Williams for the 1980 UK title, his only professional first prize.

Born in Tufnell Park, north London, he put his spectacle-making skills to use as an instrument maker during the second World War. In 1939, he married his wife Jean, who survives him, as does his son.

Jack Karnehm, born 1917; died July, 2002