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Players and records

The (British) Squash Rackets Association conducted its first British Open championship for men in 1930, using a 'challenge' system: Charles Read was designated champion, but was beaten in home and away matches by Don Butcher. This championship continues to this day, but now using a knockout format since 1947.

Since its inception, the men's British Open has been dominated by relatively few players: F.D. Amr Bey (Egypt) in the 1930s; Mahmoud Karim (Egypt) 1940s; brothers Hashim Khan and Azam Khan (Pakistan) 1950s and 1960s; Jonah Barrington (Great Britain and Ireland) and Geoff Hunt (Australia) 1960s and 1970s; Jahangir Khan (Pakistan) 1980s; Jansher Khan (Pakistan) 1990s.

The women's championship started in 1921, and has similarly been dominated by relatively few players: Joyce Cave and Nancy Cave (England) in the 1920s; Margot Lumb (England) 1930s; Janet Morgan (England) 1950s; Heather McKay (Australia) 1960s and 1970s; Vicki Cardwell (Australia) and Susan Devoy (New Zealand) 1980s; Michelle Martin (Australia) 1990s; Sarah Fitz-Gerald (Australia) 1990s and 2000s.

Heather McKay, with her lengthy and absolute dominance of the game (she remained undefeated in her 18 year career during the 1960s and 1970s), is undoubtedly the greatest woman player of all time. Amongst the men, most modern commentators consider Jahangir Khan (1980s) or (the distantly related) Jansher Khan (1990s) to be the greatest male players. Other worthy contenders are Jonah Barrington, Geoff Hunt and Hashim Khan.

Because of its traditions, the British Open has been considered by many to be more prestigious than the World Open, which began in the mid-1970s. However, some have shown concern about the ability of the former to sustain its prominence, citing its failure in 2005 to attract top players, probably due in part to the disparity in prize money. In 2005 the combined men's and women's prize money for the British Open came to $71,000, compared with the 2005 World Open's prize money, estimated to be about $270,000.

Hashim Khan was the first of a line of great Pakistani squash champions, including Jahangir Khan and Jansher Khan. Jahangir, now president of the World Squash Federation, won the British Open ten times and the World Open eight times. Jansher took over his mantle in 1989 with his first of World Open titles.