William Cook (billiards player)

William Cook was a professional player of English billiards in the 19th century. He won the World Championship on several occasions.

William Cook, champion of English Billiards.jpg
William Cook
BornJune 1849
Sandy, Bedfordshire
Died30 June 1893
Brompton Consumption Hospital
Sport countryEngland

Cook beat John Roberts Jr., son of the dominant player of the time, John Roberts Sr., in a match in 1869, and then challenged Roberts Sr. for the title. As this was the first actual match for the World Championship, the players themselves drew up a special set of rules for the game. Cook was an expert at the spot stroke, whereas Roberts was superior in the all-around 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, derived from his proficiency at consecutively potting the red ball from its spot 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. on the morning of 12 February 1870, Cook defeated Roberts 1,200-1,083 to win the title, and won a newly created trophy, £100 and a Maltese cross. The Prince of Wales 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.[1][2]

Roberts Sr. then retired, but Cook was to meet his match in the son, John Roberts Jr., who beat him 1,200-552 in a challenge match for the Championship in April 1870.[3] Cook struggled to match Roberts in the matches, but after improving he was able to hold the championship until 1875. He was then beaten again by Roberts, who would go on to dominate billiards for the next thirty years.[2]

Cook popularised the "spot-barred" version of English billiards, whereby the red could not be potted more than twice in succession from its spot. This helped to relieve monotonous play in billiards, and encourage spectators to watch the sport.[2]


  1. ^ "The Professional Championship". The English Amateur Billiards Association. 14 April 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Everton, Clive (16 October 1986). History of Snooker and Billiards. Haywards Heath, West Sussex: Partridge Pr. ISBN 1-85225-013-5.
  3. ^ Bennett, Joseph (1899). Billiards.

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