The 1971 World Snooker Championship was a professional snooker tournament that took place between 28 September and 7 November 1970 in Australia. Matches were held at various locations in New South Wales with one match played in Brisbane.
John Spencer won his second World Championship title by defeating Warren Simpson 37–29 in the final. Eddie Charlton made the highest break of the tournament with a break of 129 in the final session of his match against Gary Owen.
This was the first time the championship was held outside the United Kingdom. It would be hosted in Australia again in 1975.
The initial stage was a round robin in which each competitor played a 3-day, 37-frame match against four of the other eight competitors. It is the only time a round robin format has been used in the world championship.
The first match between Paddy Morgan and Warren Simpson was from 28 to 30 September and was won by Morgan by a score of 21–16. Eddie Charlton and Norman Squire met in the second match, during which Charlton made a break of 106, the first century of the championship. The British players did not start their matches until 6 October when John Spencer, John Pulman and Gary Owen started their first matches.
Ray Reardon started his first match on 9 October, beating Perrie Mans. Spencer made a break of 105 in his second win, over Norman Squire. Reardon and Spencer played again from 12 to 14 October. Reardon beat Charlton while Spencer beat Pulman. Charlton made a break of 116 while Pulman made one of 113 while Spencer a 102 break. Simpson met Owen from 13 to 15 October. Owen led 17–14 and 18–17 but Simpson won the last two frames to win 18–17.
Owen scored his first century in his match against Squire, a break of 102. Owen and Charlton won their second matches and met over the following three daysl. Reardon met Morgan in Brisbane and led 20–10 after the final afternoon session. The third win guaranteed his place in the semi-final where he would meet John Spencer.
Charlton beat Owen to give him his third win and a place in the semi-final. Charlton made breaks of 129 and 124 on the final day. Simpson then beat Perrie Mans 19–18 to gain the last semi-final place.
The first semi-final between Charlton and Simpson was played from 25 to 28 October at Forbes Golf Club. Simpson led 7–5 after the first day and maintained a 13–11 lead after the second day. Simpson won the last 5 frames on the third day to lead 21–15. Simpson clinched the match of the final day when he won the third frame of the evening session to lead 25–20. Dead frames were played with the final score being 27–22. the best break of the match was a 95 by Simpson.
The second semi-final between Spencer and Reardon was played from 27 to 30 October at Parramatta Leagues Club, Sydney. Spencer took a 9–3 lead on the first day. Reardon made a 108 break during the evening session. Spencer extended his lead to 19–5 after two days and won the match 25–7 on the third evening. Spencer made a break of 106 on the third afternoon and Reardon made one of 109 in a dead frame on the third evening. The match ended with Spencer leading 34–15. Reardon's defeat meant he held the record as the player with the shortest reign as world champion.
The final was held from 2 to 7 November at the Chevron Hotel in Sydney. Spencer won his second world title and earned £2,333. Spencer led 8–4 after the first day and 17–7 after the second day. He made a break of 105 on the second afternoon and then made breaks of 126 and 107 in the second and third frames of the evening session. At the half-way stage Simpson had reduced Spencer's lead to 20–16 but Spencer led 29–19 after four days and eventually won 37–29 on the final day. Simpson reached the final at his first attempt.
Morgan missed the final session in his match against Reardon. Reardon had won the match and was leading 20–10.
The basis on which the semi-final draw was organised is not known. The 22 October edition of The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Reardon would play Spencer in the second semi-final. At the time Reardon and Spencer still had to play each other and Charlton, Owen and Simpson also had one match to play. So the final order of the group was still undecided.