Joseph Davis snooker and English billiards player. He was the dominant figure in snooker from the 1920s to the 1950s and has been credited with inventing aspects of the way the game is now played, such as -building. With equipment manufacturer Bill Camkin, he drove the creation of the World Snooker Championship by persuading the Billiards Association and Control Council to recognise an official professional snooker championship in 1927. Davis won the first 15 championships from 1927 to 1946 and remains the only undefeated player in World Snooker Championship history. He scored the championship's first break, in 1930.(15 April 1901 – 10 July 1978) was an English professional
Davis c. 1920
|Born||15 April 1901|
Whitwell, Derbyshire, England
|Died||10 July 1978 (aged 77)|
Davis was a professional English billiards player from the age of 18 and was World Billiards Champion four times between 1928 and 1932. He was the first person to win world titles in both billiards and snooker. After his 1946 World Snooker Championship victory, Davis no longer played in the World Championship but participated in other tournaments and exhibition matches until 1964, winning four News of the World Snooker Tournament titles. He also continued to wield considerable influence over the professional game through his chairmanship of the professional players' association, his co-ownership of the venue Leicester Square Hall, and his negotiation of television contracts. His younger brother Fred Davis was the only person to beat Joe Davis in a competitive snooker match without receiving a start.
In 1955, Davis was the first player to make an officially recognised maximum break. He collapsed whilst watching Fred play Perrie Mans in the semi-final of the 1978 World Snooker Championship. Whilst convalescing, Davis contracted a chest infection that led to his death on 10 July that year.
Early life and billiards careerEdit
Joseph "Joe" Davis was born in Whitwell, Derbyshire, on 15 April 1901; he was the eldest of the six children of coal-miner and pub landlord Fred Davis and his wife Ann-Eliza. Joe's snooker-playing brother Fred was the youngest of the six children. Joe learnt to play English billiards in the billiard room of The Queen's Hotel, his family's pub in Whittington Moor, and was coached by local player Ernest Rudge. Joe also read Charles Dawson's book Practical Billiards. He scored a break in billiards at the age of 12 and won the Chesterfield and District Championship at the age of 13.(pp108–110) Davis would later manage billiard halls that were owned either by his family or by Rudge.
Davis became a professional billiards player in 1919 at the age of 18.:30 In 1920, he lost to Fred Lawrence in the semi-final of an invitational professional tournament at Thurston's Hall. He also lost to Lawrence in the final of his first open professional championship, the 1921 Midlands Counties Billiards Championship. Davis won the 1922 Midlands Counties Billiards Championship, beating Tom Dennis 6,417–4,433 in the week-long final.
Later in 1922, a victory in the second-division championship, which included a win in the final over Arthur Peall—son of former world champion W.J. Peall—gave Davis an entry into the Billiards Association and Control Council (BA&CC) Professional Championship.:54 According to The Birmingham Daily Gazette he was "outclassed" by Tom Newman in their professional championship match, losing 5,181–8,000. davis failed to qualify for the 1923 event, losing to Lawrence in the second-division semi-final, and although he was eligible for 1924, Davis chose not to enter. In 1925, only Newman and Tom Reece entered the championship.(pp79–81)
In 1926, Davis and defending champion Newman were the only entrants in the Professional Championship. Newman beat Davis 16,000–9,505,(pp212–213) with an average score of 82.9 per .(p82) Davis reached the final the following year and despite making a break of 2,501, he was again defeated by Newman.(p83) In his third final, in 1928, Davis defeated Newman to become the world champion at English billiards for the first time, making sixty in the last final to be played with ivory balls.(p84) Davis successfully defended his title for the next three years. In the 1929 final against Newman, Davis made 63 century breaks and his average score per visit to the table was 100.(p86) In 1930, he set a new record average score-per-visit of 113.3, beating Newman 20,198–20,117.(p94) The event was not held in 1931 as most of the leading professionals did not enter, mainly due to a disagreement with the BA&CC over the to be used. The only entrant was Willie Smith, who was not declared champion. In 1932, Davis faced New Zealander Clark McConachy in the final; McConarchy had won three of their four warm-up matches but in the championship itself, Davis won 25,161–19,259, scoring over 11,000 of his points through a series of runs of "close cannons", in which the three balls are kept close together for consecutive .(p96–100) Davis contested the final again in 1933 and 1934, losing on both occasions to Australian Walter Lindrum.(pp212–213)
Coinciding with Davis' peak as a billiards player, public interest in billiards was waning because the top players were becoming so proficient the game was seen as boring for spectators. By 1924, amendments to the rules to make high breaks more difficult were discussed but of over 1,000 became increasingly common.(pp81–86) As a billiard hall manager, Davis noticed the increasing popularity of snooker and with Birmingham-based billiards equipment manager Bill Camkin, persuaded the BA&CC to recognise an official professional snooker championship in the 1926–27 season. In 1927, the final of the first snooker world championship was held at Camkin's Hall; Davis won the tournament by beating Dennis 16–7 (20–11 after "dead frames" were played to take the total to the agreed 31 frames) in the final, for which he won £6 10s.:27–30
Davis won the world championship every year until 1940, and made the tournament's first official century break in 1930.:16–17 In 1928, the final was held in the back room of a pub owned by the losing finalist Dennis;:49 in 1931 and 1934, the tournament was twice contested only by Davis and another player.:1 In 1934, Davis travelled to Australia to play Horace Lindrum in an invitational match, The World Snooker Challenge, which some called an unofficial world championship. Davis beat Lindrum by 46 frames to 29. From 1935, the championship became more remunerative for players.:49 The 1940 final was contested between Joe Davis and his brother Fred; Joe took an early lead but Fred won 11 frames in a row to take a 20–14 lead. Eventually Joe won the match 37–35, with Fred winning the dead frame that took it to 37–36.
Due to World War II, the world championship was not held again until 1946. Davis successfully defended his title, his 15th consecutive win, and thereby held the title for 20 consecutive years. As of 2020[update], he has won more world championships than any other player. Davis retired from the event following this victory, having won the title at all 15 events from 1927 to 1946, making him, as of 2020, the only undefeated player in the history of the world championships. Davis remained the best player until his retirement in 1964; his brother Fred came closest to Joe's standard during this time.:50–51 According to snooker historian Clive Everton, Joe Davis' retirement from the world championship reduced its prestige, a view that is shared by snooker journalists and authors Hector Nunns and David Hendon.:50
With the exception of the world championship, tournaments were played on a handicap basis; Davis would concede a set number of points in each frame to his opponents, for example beginning each frame from 0 points whilst his opponent started from 14.:50–51 He won the News of the World Tournament on three occasions during the 1950s,:27–29 whilst his brother Fred and future world champion John Pulman each won it twice. In 1959, Davis attempted to popularise a new version of the game called snooker plus, which had two extra —an orange and a purple—and was used for the 1959 News of the World Snooker Plus Tournament.:123 According to Everton, "the public rejected the game for the gimmick it was".
Davis scored the first officially recognised maximum break of 147 on 22 January 1955 at Leicester Square Hall in an exhibition match against Willie Smith. Because the match had taken place under the rules used by professionals that included the "play again" rule under which the opponent can require a player who has made a shot to play the next shot as well, the BA&CC initially refused to recognise the break because it was not made under their own version of the rules. The BA&CC recognised the break in April 1957, shortly before the "play again" rule was incorporated into their own rules for amateur players.(p50)
In 1962, at over 60 years of age, Davis made a televised break of exactly 100 on his first visit to the table in the first frame of a match against the sitting World Champion John Pulman; the break consisted of seven blacks, two pinks and five blues, and came to an end when Davis missed a long red into the top right hand pocket. The missed shot was the only time during the break when Davis was faced with a difficult pot, such was the quality of his positional play.
Davis was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1963. He continued to play professionally until 1964.(p50) Davis died on 10 July 1978, two months after becoming ill while watching his brother Fred play Perrie Mans in the 1978 World Snooker Championship semi-final. The day after the match, he collapsed in the street and required a lengthy operation. He died from a chest infection he contracted whilst recuperating from the operation.(pp48–51):67 The house in Whitwell where he was born bears a plaque commemorating him.:27–30
Joe Davis won four world billiards championship titles and 15 World Snooker Championship titles over a 20-year period during which he was undefeated. Other than in handicapped matches in which he conceded a start, he lost only four times, all of which came towards the end of his career and were against his brother Fred, Everton has said of Davis' influence on the game in the early 1920s;"In those days, the prevailing idea was to pot a red or two, a couple of colours and play safe but in the time he could spare from billiards Davis devoted considerable thought and practice to evolving the positional and breakbuilding shots, sequences and techniques which are taken for granted today".:49–50
Joe Davis was not able to focus with his right eye; he played with his cue to the left of his chin. Coach Frank Callan, in his book "Frank Callan's Snooker Clinic", compared the most successful player at the time, Steve Davis to Joe Davis and concluded Joe Davis was the better player. Callan also stated; "many players who tried to emulate Joe's stance (which was unusually off-centre due to left eye striking) simply gave up the game when they found they couldn't play like that".
Steve Davis was heavily influenced by Joe Davis's book How I Play Snooker when learning to play. Ronnie O'Sullivan said of one of Davis's coaching books; "2007-8 … was one of my best years and it was all because I was reading the Joe Davis book".
Davis's influence on the game was such that, according to Callan, "his word was law". Everton said following his retirement from the world championship, Davis "through his force of personality … controlled the game", being the pre-eminent player, chairman of the professional players' association, a co-owner of the Leicester Square Hall, the main venue for professional matches, and the negotiator for television contacts.:9–10
Joe Davis married Florence Enid Stevenson (b. 1898/99) in 1921 and they had two children. The marriage was dissolved in 1931. In 1945, he married Juanita Ida Triggs (b. 1914/15), who was a singer performing under the stage name June Malo.
Snooker performance timelineEdit
|Daily Mail Gold Cup[nb 1][nb 2]||Tournament Not Held||1||1||4||6|
|Sunday Empire News Tournament[nb 1]||Tournament Not Held||1||Tournament Not Held|
|News of the World Snooker Tournament[nb 1][nb 3]||Tournament Not Held||1:91||3||7||1:91||2:91||2:91||1:91||5||5||2||1:91|
|Sporting Record Masters' Tournament[nb 1]:4||Tournament Not Held||1||Tournament Not Held|
|World Championship:54–55||W||A||A||A||A||A||A||Tournament Not Held|
|Performance Table Legend|
|W||won the tournament||#R/N||lost in the early rounds of the tournament
(N = position in round-robin event)
|A||did not participate in the tournament|
Snooker world championship finals: (15 titles)Edit
Other snooker tournament wins: (9 titles)Edit
|Winner||1934||World Snooker Challenge||Horace Lindrum (AUS)||46–29|||
|Winner||1936||Daily Mail Gold Cup||Horace Lindrum (AUS)||Round-robin|||
|Winner||1938||Daily Mail Gold Cup||Willie Smith (ENG)||Round-robin|||
|Winner||1948||Sunday Empire News Tournament||John Pulman (ENG)||Round-robin|||
|Winner||1950||News of the World Snooker Tournament||Sidney Smith (ENG)||Round-robin||:91|
|Winner||1950||Sporting Record Masters' Tournament||Sidney Smith (ENG)||Round-robin||:4|
|Winner||1953||News of the World Snooker Tournament||Jackie Rea (NIR)||Round-robin||:91|
|Winner||1956||News of the World Snooker Tournament||Fred Davis (ENG)||Round-robin||:91|
|Winner||1959||News of the World Snooker Tournament||Fred Davis (ENG)||Round-robin|||
Billiards world championship finalsEdit
|Outcome||No.||Date||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score|
|Runner-up||1||May 1926||Billiards Association and Control Club Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||9,505–16,000|
|Runner-up||2||May 1927||Billiards Association and Control Club Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||14,763–16,000|
|Winner||1||May 1928||Billiards Association and Control Club Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||16,000–14,874|
|Winner||2||April 1929||Billiards Association and Control Club Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||18,000–17,219|
|Winner||3||May 1930||Billiards Association and Control Club Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||20,198–20,117|
|Winner||4||March 1932||Billiards Association and Control Club Championship||Clark McConachy (NZL)||25,161–19,259|
|Runner-up||3||May 1933||World Professional Championship of English Billiards||Walter Lindrum (AUS)||21,121–21,815|
|Runner-up||4||October 1934||World Professional Championship of English Billiards||Walter Lindrum (AUS)||22,678–23,553|
UK professional billiards championship finalsEdit
The UK championship was instituted in 1934. It was not held from 1940 to 1946.
|Outcome||No.||Date||Championship||Opponent in the final||Score|
|Winner||1||1934||United Kingdom Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||18,745–18,309|
|Winner||2||1935||United Kingdom Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||21,733–19,910|
|Winner||3||1936||United Kingdom Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||21,710–19,791|
|Winner||4||1937||United Kingdom Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||22,601–18,321|
|Winner||5||1938||United Kingdom Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||20,933–19,542|
|Winner||6||1939||United Kingdom Championship||Tom Newman (ENG)||21,601–18,383|
|Winner||7||1947||United Kingdom Championship||John Barrie (ENG)||walkover|
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- BBC Snooker Century Breakers VHS home video 1993
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- Davis, Joe (1929) [First published 1928]. Billiards Up-To-Date. John Long. ASIN B0008BPL3M.
- Davis, Joe (1946) [First published 1936]. Improve Your Snooker. London: Methuen Publishing. ASIN B000WVCH8A.
- Davis, Joe (1954). Advanced Snooker. Country Life. ASIN B0000CJ1MO.
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- Davis, Joe (1974). Complete Snooker. W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01521-6.
- Davis, Joe (1976). The Breaks Came My Way – Autobiography. W. H. Allen. ISBN 0-491-01686-7. Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2004.
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