Willie Smith (billiards player)

Willie Smith (25 January 1886 – 2 June 1982) was an English professional player of snooker and English billiards.[1] Smith was "by common consent, the greatest all-round billiards player who ever lived".[2]

Willie Smith
Willie Smith.jpg
Born(1886-01-25)25 January 1886
Darlington, England
Died2 June 1982(1982-06-02) (aged 96)
Leeds, England
Sport country England
Highest break2,743 made against Tom Newman in Manchester in November 1928.

He studied previous Billiard players such as Melbourne Inman, Harry Stevenson, Tom Reece, Edward Diggle and George Gray, describing his play as "the combination of Gray's striking and Diggle's top-of-the-table play".[3]

He entered the World Billiards Championship in 1920 and then again in 1923, winning it on both occasions. Arguments with the governing body prevented him from taking part in the competition more often.[4]

In 1930 he started writing for The Burwat Billiard Review, a magazine published by the Cue Sport Manufacturers Burroughes and Watts. These were instructional articles with accompanying illustrations and photographs.[3]

He turned to snooker for purely monetary reasons but never really took to the game. His natural talent as a billiards player still enabled him to reach the World Snooker Championship final in 1933 and 1935 where he was beaten by Joe Davis.[4]


  1. ^ Tony Rennick, ‘Smith, William Robert (1886–1982)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2011 accessed 2 May 2014
  2. ^ http://www.eaba.co.uk/mags/bqr/1992/07/willieSmithTheGreatAllrounder.html
  3. ^ a b Smith, Willie (1930). "Willie Smith – His Page". The Burwat Billiard View (3): 6–7.
  4. ^ a b "Willie Smith". Billiards and Snooker Archive. Retrieved 1 February 2011.