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 35⁄8–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.
As of 2012, the WPBSA World Championship was merged with the former IBSF World Billiards Championship. Under the name World Billiards Championship, tournaments were held in both points and timed format.
|1825||Edwin Kentfield||Declared Champion|
|1849||John Roberts Sr.||Declared Champion|
|February 1870||William Cook||1,200||John Roberts Sr.||1,083|
|April 1870||John Roberts, Jr.||1,000||William Cook||552|
|May 1870||John Roberts, Jr.||1,000||Alfred Bowles||752|
|November 1870||Joseph Bennett||1,000||John Roberts, Jr.||905|
|January 1871||John Roberts, Jr.||1,000||Joseph Bennett||637|
|May 1871||William Cook||1,000||John Roberts, Jr.||985|
|November 1871||William Cook||1,000||Joseph Bennett||942|
|April 1872||William Cook||1,000||John Roberts, Jr.||799|
|February 1874||William Cook||1,000||John Roberts, Jr.||784|
|May 1875||John Roberts, Jr.||1,000||William Cook||837|
|December 1875||John Roberts, Jr.||1,000||William Cook||865|
|April 1876||William Cook||Declared Champion|
|May 1877||John Roberts, Jr.||1,000||William Cook||779|
|July 1878||William Cook||Declared Champion|
|November 1880||Joseph Bennett||1,000||William Cook||949|
|January 1881||Joseph Bennett||1,000||Tom Taylor||910|
|September 1881||William Cook||Declared Champion|
|February 1885||John Roberts, Jr.||Declared Champion|
|March 1885||John Roberts, Jr.||3,000||William Cook||2,908|
|June 1885||John Roberts, Jr.||3,000||Joseph Bennett||1,360|
|October 1887||Billy Mitchell||15,000||William Peall||13,733|
|March 1888||William Peall||15,000||Billy Mitchell||5,753|
|January 1889||Billy Mitchell|
|February 1890||William Peall|
|March 1891||William Peall|
|April 1892||William Peall||5,000||Billy Mitchell||1,755|
|April 1892||Billy Mitchell||3,000||John North||2,697|
|February 1893||Billy Mitchell||9,000||John North||7,525|
|January 1894||Billy Mitchell||9,000||Charles Dawson||8,163|
|January 1899||Charles Dawson||9,000||John North||4,715|
|April 1900||Charles Dawson||9,000||Harry Stevenson||6,775|
|January 1901||Harry Stevenson||9,000||Charles Dawson||6,406|
|April 1901||Charles Dawson||9,000||Harry Stevenson||5,796|
|November 1901||Harry Stevenson||Declared Champion|
|March 1903||Charles Dawson||9,000||Harry Stevenson||8,700|
|1908||Melbourne Inman||Declared Champion|
|March 1909||Melbourne Inman||9,000||Albert Williams||7,662|
|April 1909||Harry Stevenson||Declared Champion|
|October 1910||Harry Stevenson||18,000||Melbourne Inman||16,907|
|1911||Harry Stevenson||18,000||Melbourne Inman||16,914|
|1912||Melbourne Inman||18,000||Tom Reece||9,675|
|1913||Melbourne Inman||18,000||Tom Reece||16,627|
|1914||Melbourne Inman||18,000||Tom Reece||12,826|
|1919||Melbourne Inman||18,000||Harry Stevenson||9,468|
|1920||Willie Smith||16,000||Claude Falkiner||14,500|
|1921||Tom Newman||16,000||Tom Reece||10,744|
|1922||Tom Newman||16,000||Claude Falkiner||15,167|
|1923||Willie Smith||16,000||Tom Newman||15,180|
|1924||Tom Newman||16,000||Tom Reece||14,845|
|1925||Tom Newman||16,000||Tom Reece||10,092|
|1926||Tom Newman||16,000||Joe Davis||9,505|
|1927||Tom Newman||16,000||Joe Davis||14,763|
|1928||Joe Davis||16,000||Tom Newman||14,874|
|1929||Joe Davis||18,000||Tom Newman||17,219|
|1930||Joe Davis||20,198||Tom Newman||20,117|
|1932||Joe Davis||25,161||Clark McConachy||19,259|
|1933||Walter Lindrum||21,815||Joe Davis||21,121|
|1934||Walter Lindrum||23,553||Joe Davis||22,678|
|1951||Clark McConachy||9,274||John Barrie||6,691|
|1968||Rex Williams||5,499||Clark McConachy||5,234|
|June 1971||Leslie Driffield||9,029||Jack Karnehm||4,342|
|1971||Rex Williams||9,250||Bernard Bennett||4,058|
|January 1973||Leslie Driffield||9,204||Albert Johnson||4,696|
|September 1973||Rex Williams||8,360||Jack Karnehm||4,336|
|September 1974||Rex Williams||7,017||Eddie Charlton||4,916|
|1976||Rex Williams||9,105||Eddie Charlton||5,149|
|May 1980||Fred Davis||5,978||Rex Williams||4,452|
|November 1980||Fred Davis||3,037||Mark Wildman||2,064|
|1982||Rex Williams||3,000||Mark Wildman||1,785|
|1983||Rex Williams||1,500||Fred Davis||605|
|1984||Mark Wildman||1,045||Eddie Charlton||1,012|
|1985||Ray Edmonds||3||Norman Dagley||1|
|1986||Robby Foldvari||3||Norman Dagley||1|
|1987||Norman Dagley||3||Robby Foldvari||1|
|1988||Norman Dagley||7||Eddie Charlton||4|
|1989||Mike Russell||2,242||Peter Gilchrist||1,347|
|1991||Mike Russell||1,352||Robby Foldvari||957|
|1992||Geet Sethi||2,529||Mike Russell||718|
|1993||Geet Sethi||2,139||Mike Russell||1,140|
|1994||Peter Gilchrist||1,539||Mike Russell||645|
|1995||Geet Sethi||1,661||Devendra Joshi||931|
|1996||Mike Russell||2,534||Geet Sethi||1,848|
|1998||Geet Sethi||1,400||Mike Russell||1,015|
|1999||Mike Russell||2,000||Peter Gilchrist||832|
|2001||Peter Gilchrist||1,287||Mike Russell||863|
|2002||Mike Russell||2,251||Peter Gilchrist||1,273|
|2003||Mike Russell||6||Peter Gilchrist||4|
|2004||Mike Russell||2,402||David Causier||1,349|
|2005||Chris Shutt||1,620||Mike Russell||1,365|
|2006||Geet Sethi||2,073||Lee Lagan||1,057|
|2007||Mike Russell||2,166||Chris Shutt||1,710|
|2008||Mike Russell||1,823||Geet Sethi||1,342|
|2009||Pankaj Advani||2,030||Mike Russell||1,253|
|2010||Mike Russell||1,738||Dhruv Sitwala||1,204|
|2011||Mike Russell||1,500||David Causier||558|
|2012||Points||Rupesh Shah||6||Matthew Bolton||2|
|Timed||Pankaj Advani||1,895||Mike Russell||1,216|
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