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Willie Smith (billiards player)

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Willie Smith
Born(1886-01-25)25 January 1886
Darlington, England
Died2 June 1982(1982-06-02) (aged 96)
Leeds, England
Sport country England

Willie Smith (25 January 1886 – 2 June 1982) was an English professional player of snooker and English billiards.[1] Smith was, according to an article on the English Amateur Billiards Association's website, "by common consent, the greatest all-round billiards player who ever lived".[2]

Smith (right) and Claude Falkiner in 1949

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] Smith became a professional player in 1913.[4]

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.[5]

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.[5]


  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. ^ Wood, Paul. "Willie Smith: The great All-Rounder". eaba.co.uk. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Willie (1930). "Willie Smith – His Page". The Burwat Billiard View (3): 6–7.
  4. ^ "Smith to retire". Birmingham Daily Gazette. 21 March 1930. p. 10.
  5. ^ a b "Willie Smith". Billiards and Snooker Archive. Archived from the original on 25 July 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2011.