It’s a pub argument for any sport elevated to virtual warfare on the internet: who is the greatest of all time?
The answer rests on semantics. What is the definition of greatness?
In sport, the test of greatness should be achievement, chiefly titles of importance.
However, snooker has had many eras. There was the pre-war dominance of Joe Davis, the rebirth of the game at the end of the 1960s and the decade that followed, in which Ray Reardon was the most successful player.
In the 1980s, Steve Davis was undisputedly the best player, just as Stephen Hendry bestrode the 1990s.
Since then there has not been one consistent dominant force but the three players who have won more of what matters than anyone else have been John Higgins, Mark Williams and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Others would point to Alex Higgins, whose mercurial genius for the game was significant on and off the table.
Comparing eras is pointless, really. You can’t transplant, say, Mark Williams into the 1930s and ponder how he would have fared against Joe Davis, just as you can’t time travel Davis to the present day.
Players of the various eras all had their own specific challenges, be it the quality of the opposition, the conditions or the number of competitive opportunities.
But in the televised age of tournament snooker, which encompasses the last 35 years, the field narrows.
What Steve Davis did in the 1980s should not be underestimated. This was a time when more people watched snooker on TV in the UK than have done before or since.
To be able to handle that sort of attention and pressure and win as many major titles as he did shows a greatness to match any sportsman from any other sport in any other era.
And that Davis has continued to turn up impressive performances into middle age – witness his defeat of John Higgins at the World Championship only last year – further enhances his status as an all round legend.
He must have felt invincible in the 1980s. And then along came Hendry, who kicked down the door to the throne room with quite astonishing grit and self possession.
Noel Gallagher once said that his frustration with the Beatles was that they had the chance to it all before Oasis.
This was perhaps wilful ignorance on his part. The point is without the Beatles, there may never have been Oasis.
In the same way, the style of snooker Hendry pioneered paved the way for the all out attacking game we see in virtually every leading player today.
Hendry’s talent and dedication should not be clouded by the inconsistency he all too often suffers from today.
When he played his best, he was better than everyone else. Under pressure there has never been anyone as formidable.
In terms of sheer skill, O’Sullivan trumps even Hendry. Right or left handed, the man is a genius, although he dislikes that word, pointing out that he has had to practice like anyone else.
O’Sullivan’s best performances have been examples of sporting artistry that are all too rare, providing moments to cherish and admire.
To win three world titles in the last decade, given how competitive snooker has been in this time, is a fine achievement.
If talent were the only ingredient needed for success O’Sullivan would surely have won more times at the Crucible but he has freely admitted that he is of a different mindset to Davis and Hendry.
Higgins has now won four world titles. Davis described him twice in the aftermath of last season’s World Championship as the greatest player ever.
Does this have validity? Do four world titles since 1998 beat seven from 1990 to 1999?
If not, then why shouldn’t Joe Davis get the nod for winning 15 from 1927 to 1946?
It’s a minefield and, ultimately, comes down purely to a matter of opinion. So I shall give mine.
Let's be honest, many people who take part in this debate start from the point of view of being a fan of a particular player trying to twist the facts to best suit their favourite.
I'm not going to do that. If I did, Jimmy White would probably win.
It is purely based on what I have seen and what I have heard from other people I respect.
So who is the greatest player of all time?
Perhaps the real question should be this: why does there have to be one? Why can’t the different skills and achievements of snooker’s colourful past and ongoing present be appreciated for what they are?
Well they can be, but there's no fun in that.
So here goes...I believe that if Hendry played now like he did 15 years or so ago then he would still be no.1.
He may not win seven world titles in the current era but he would still win more than anyone else.
Why? Because he had the game, he had the belief and he had the nerve.
In some ways the game was harder in the 1990s because there were fewer attacking players and more of the old style hard men who tied matches up.
Hendry rolled them all over and was a revelation: five ranking tournament victories in a row, seven centuries in the 1994 UK Championship final, a record 36 ranking titles - just a few headline achievements in a quite remarkable parade of success.
I realise many people reading this now were not watching snooker at the time and may well doubt my judgement but something pretty special is going to have to happen over the next few years to shift my opinion on the greatest of all time.
Doubtless, though, you will have your views on this issue.