World Billiards Championship (English billiards)

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The World Billiards Championship is an international cue sports tournament in the discipline of English billiards. It has been played annually since 1980, is one of the oldest sporting World Championships in the world, dating in earnest to the mid-19th century.[clarification needed] The event was known as the World Professional Billiards Championship until 2010.



In the early 19th century,[clarification needed] Jack Carr and Edwin Kentfield were the prominent players in the game of English Billiards. Carr challenged Kentfield to a championship game. But, ironically, Carr died on the eve of the match, and Kentfield hence assumed the title. He would remain unchallenged for 24 years.

John Roberts, Sr. won the title,[clarification needed] when after many years trying to build his name, he challenged Kentfield to a game. There was much controversy over the table and the pockets, and Kentfield decided not to play the game. He preferred to be a retired champion, rather than a beaten one, and Roberts Sr. therefore assumed the title of World Champion by default.

Two youngsters then rose onto the Billiards scene. William Cook, and Roberts's son John Roberts, Jr. were very much the understudies, but Cook beat Roberts Jr. in a match in 1869, and challenged Roberts Sr. for the title. Due to this being the first actual match for the World Championship, the players themselves drew up a special set of rules for the game. Roberts managed to get the pocket width reduced to 3–inches (from the original 358–in), and the "D" and spots were adjusted so that Cook's spot stroke strength was weakened. Cook was nonetheless considered the favourite, and the 20-year-old had improved much from his win over Roberts Jr. the previous year. At 1:38 a.m., Cook defeated Roberts to win the title, and won a newly-created trophy, £100 and a Maltese cross. The Prince of Wales even attended the match at St. James's Hall. This match ended the dominance of Roberts Sr., as the wave of new players took over the game.

That initiated the World Championship, and it led to many challenges for the title. Roberts Jr. and Cook were the dominant players of the era. There were occasional uncontested matches. The rule said that a player had to accept a challenge within two months of it being issued. If it were ignored, the challenger became World Champion.

There was still the issue of the rules however. Many players preferred the "spot-barred" style, but some preferred the "all-in" rules. The spot-barred prevented repeat potting of the red, a tactic of the all-in variant that made the game boring for spectators. The tactic was a great strength for William Peall in particular, and he was naturally in favour of the all-in game.

There were three all-in competitions held separately from the title that Roberts held. Roberts was never challenged for that title. Billy Mitchell and Peall excelled in the late 1880s.

In 1892, the Billiards Association took the chance to take control of the situation. They sanctioned two championships, a spot-barred and an all-in. Roberts ignored the competition, but the tournaments went ahead regardless. The "championship table" that Roberts Sr. had created was abandoned, and the normal table was instead used. Peall held the all-in title unchallenged, whereas Mitchell dominated spot-barred.

In 1899, after 5 years without challenges, the Billiards Association changed the rules of the game. After two spot strokes, the red would be replaced on the centre spot, to limit the repetition of "all-in" play. Peall accepted this, although at the detriment of his personal fortunes, voting for the introduction of the new rule. This collectively gave rise to the modern version of English billiards, still played (with minor changes) today.

Until 1910, there were many challenges, but in 1911, the competition was altered so that it became an annual tournament, to cope with the influx of new professionals.

In 1934, the tournament was won by Walter Lindrum, and the championship then collapsed. There were two matches held for the title in a span of decades, in 1951 and 1964.

In the 1970s, the challenges began to return. Rex Williams was dominant in this period.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association had been formed by 1980, and attempted to control the professional billiards game on a tournament basis. Fred Davis won at the age of 67 to become World Champion. During the 1980s, (and again in 2003), the championship has been played on many shorter games.[clarification needed]

Since 1980, the title has been held almost annually. Mike Russell has been the most successful player in that era, closely followed by Geet Sethi. A small number of Australian players had some success in the 1980s, most notably Robbie Foldvari (winner 1986, runner-up 1987) and Eddie Charlton (twice runner-up, 1984 and 1988), and there are now a number of Indian players besides Sethi involved in the game.

World Championship Results

Initial, self-declared World Champions

1825England Edwin KentfieldDeclared Champion
1849England John Roberts Sr.Declared Champion

Challenge "spot-barred" World Championships

February 1870England William Cook1,200England John Roberts Sr.1,083
April 1870England John Roberts, Jr.1,000England William Cook552
May 1870England John Roberts, Jr.1,000England Alfred Bowles752
November 1870England Joseph Bennett1,000England John Roberts, Jr.905
January 1871England John Roberts, Jr.1,000England Joseph Bennett637
May 1871England William Cook1,000England John Roberts, Jr.985
November 1871England William Cook1,000England Joseph Bennett942
April 1872England William Cook1,000England John Roberts, Jr.799
February 1874England William Cook1,000England John Roberts, Jr.784
May 1875England John Roberts, Jr.1,000England William Cook837
December 1875England John Roberts, Jr.1,000England William Cook865
April 1876England William Cook Declared Champion 
May 1877England John Roberts, Jr.1,000England William Cook779
July 1878England William Cook Declared Champion 
November 1880England Joseph Bennett1,000England William Cook949
January 1881England Joseph Bennett1,000England Tom Taylor910
September 1881England William Cook Declared Champion 
February 1885England John Roberts, Jr. Declared Champion 
March 1885England John Roberts, Jr.3,000England William Cook2,908
June 1885England John Roberts, Jr.3,000England Joseph Bennett1,360

Unofficial "all-in" World Championships

October 1887England Billy Mitchell15,000England William Peall13,733
March 1888England William Peall15,000England Billy Mitchell5,753

"Championship of the World" Tournaments

January 1889England Billy Mitchell
February 1890England William Peall
March 1891England William Peall

Billiard Association tournament World Championships


April 1892England William Peall5,000England Billy Mitchell1,755


April 1892England Billy Mitchell3,000England John North2,697
February 1893England Billy Mitchell9,000England John North7,525
January 1894England Billy Mitchell9,000England Charles Dawson8,163

Billiard Association challenge World Championships

January 1899England Charles Dawson9,000England John North4,715
April 1900England Charles Dawson9,000England Harry Stevenson6,775
January 1901England Harry Stevenson9,000England Charles Dawson6,406
April 1901England Charles Dawson9,000England Harry Stevenson5,796
November 1901England Harry Stevenson Declared Champion 
March 1903England Charles Dawson9,000England Harry Stevenson8,700
1908England Melbourne Inman Declared Champion 
March 1909England Melbourne Inman9,000England Albert Williams7,662
April 1909England Harry Stevenson Declared Champion 
October 1910England Harry Stevenson18,000England Melbourne Inman16,907

Billiard Association tournament World Championships

1911England Harry Stevenson18,000England Melbourne Inman16,914
1912England Melbourne Inman18,000England Tom Reece9,675
1913England Melbourne Inman18,000England Tom Reece16,627
1914England Melbourne Inman18,000England Tom Reece12,826
1919England Melbourne Inman18,000England Harry Stevenson9,468
1920England Willie Smith16,000England Claude Falkiner14,500
1921England Tom Newman16,000England Tom Reece10,744
1922England Tom Newman16,000England Claude Falkiner15,167
1923England Willie Smith16,000England Tom Newman15,180
1924England Tom Newman16,000England Tom Reece14,845
1925England Tom Newman16,000England Tom Reece10,092
1926England Tom Newman16,000England Joe Davis9,505
1927England Tom Newman16,000England Joe Davis14,763
1928England Joe Davis16,000England Tom Newman14,874
1929England Joe Davis18,000England Tom Newman17,219
1930England Joe Davis20,198England Tom Newman20,117
1932England Joe Davis25,161New Zealand Clark McConachy19,259
1933Australia Walter Lindrum21,815England Joe Davis21,121
1934Australia Walter Lindrum23,553England Joe Davis22,678

Post-WWII challenge World Championships

1951New Zealand Clark McConachy9,274England John Barrie6,691
1968England Rex Williams5,499New Zealand Clark McConachy5,234
June 1971England Leslie Driffield9,029England Jack Karnehm4,342
1971England Rex Williams9,250England Bernard Bennett4,058
January 1973England Leslie Driffield9,204England Albert Johnson4,696
September 1973England Rex Williams8,360England Jack Karnehm4,336
September 1974England Rex Williams7,017Australia Eddie Charlton4,916
1976England Rex Williams9,105Australia Eddie Charlton5,149

WPBSA World Championships

May 1980England Fred Davis5,978England Rex Williams4,452
November 1980England Fred Davis3,037England Mark Wildman2,064
1982England Rex Williams3,000England Mark Wildman1,785
1983England Rex Williams1,500England Fred Davis605
1984England Mark Wildman1,045Australia Eddie Charlton1,012
1985England Ray Edmonds3England Norman Dagley1
1986Australia Robby Foldvari3England Norman Dagley1
1987England Norman Dagley3Australia Robby Foldvari1
1988England Norman Dagley7Australia Eddie Charlton4
1989England Mike Russell2,242Singapore Peter Gilchrist1,347
1991England Mike Russell1,352Australia Robby Foldvari957
1992India Geet Sethi2,529England Mike Russell718
1993India Geet Sethi2,139England Mike Russell1,140
1994Singapore Peter Gilchrist1,539England Mike Russell645
1995India Geet Sethi1,661India Devendra Joshi931
1996England Mike Russell2,534India Geet Sethi1,848
1998India Geet Sethi1,400England Mike Russell1,015
1999England Mike Russell2,000Singapore Peter Gilchrist832
2001Singapore Peter Gilchrist1,287England Mike Russell863
2002England Mike Russell2,251Singapore Peter Gilchrist1,273
2003England Mike Russell6Singapore Peter Gilchrist4
2004England Mike Russell2,402England David Causier1,349
2005England Chris Shutt1,620England Mike Russell1,365
2006India Geet Sethi2,073England Lee Lagan1,057
2007England Mike Russell2,166England Chris Shutt1,710
2008England Mike Russell1,823India Geet Sethi1,342
2009India Pankaj Advani2030Qatar Mike Russell[1]1253
2010Qatar Mike Russell[2]1738India Dhruv Sitwala1204
2011England Mike Russell1500England David Causier558