- World Professional Billiards Championship
The World Professional Billiards Championship is an international
cue sportstournament 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-1800s.Clarifyme|date=December 2007
In the early 19th century,Clarifyme|date=December 2007 Jack Carr and
Edwin Kentfieldwere 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,Clarifyme|date=December 2007 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 Cuegloss|Match|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 3frac|5|8–in), and Cuegloss|"D", the|the "D" and Cuegloss|Spot|spots were adjusted so that Cook's Cuegloss|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 Waleseven 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 Peallin 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 Williamswas dominant in this period.
WPBSAhad 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.Clarifyme|date=December 2007
Since 1980, the title has been held almost annually.
Geet Sethihas been the most successful player in that era. Australian playersWho?|date=December 2007 were successful in the 1980s, and there are now a number of Indian playersWho?|date=December 2007 besides Sethi involved in the game.
World Championship Results
Initial, self-declared World Champions
"Championship of the World" Tournaments
Billiard Association challenge World Championships
WPBSA World Championships
* [http://www.eaba.co.uk/records/professional/worldProfessionalChampions.html EABA (English Amateur Billiards Association) past champions]
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