The WPBSA World Billiards Championships are a pair of international, professional cue sports tournaments in the discipline of English billiards. The formerly singular championship has been divided, since 2010, into separate timed and points divisions, like the amateur world championships. In its various forms, and usually as a single World Billiards Championship, the title is one of the oldest sporting world championships, dating in earnest (though irregularly) to 1869.
Cue sports, also known as billiard sports, are a wide variety of games of skill generally played with a cue stick, which is used to strike billiard balls and thereby cause them to move around a cloth-covered billiards table bounded by elastic bumpers known as .
English billiards, called simply billiards in the United Kingdom, where it originated, and in many former British colonies such as Australia, is a cue sport that combines the aspects of carom billiards and pocket billiards. Two and a red are used. Each player or team uses a different cue ball. It is played on a billiards table with the same dimensions as a snooker table and points are scored for and pocketing the balls. English billiards has also, but less frequently, been referred to as "the English game", "the all-in game" and (formerly) "the common game".
The IBSF World Billiards Championship is the premier, international, non-professional tournament for the game of English billiards. Dating to some form to 1951, the event has been sanctioned by the International Billiards and Snooker Federation since 1973.
The rules adopted by the Billiards Association in 1899 are essentially the rules still used today. The tournaments have been played on a regular annual schedule since 1980, when it became administered by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA). The event was known as the World Professional Billiards Championship until 2010, and has had other names in the past, e.g. Billiards Championship of the World. In addition, the World Ladies Billiards Championship has been played since 1931 (with interruptions) and organized by World Ladies Billiards and Snooker since 1998.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), founded in 1968 and based in Bristol, the United Kingdom, is the governing body of men's professional snooker and English billiards. It owns and sets the official rules of the two sports and engages in promotional activities on behalf of the sports.
In the early 19th century,[ clarification needed ] Jack Carr and Edwin Kentfield were the prominent players in the game of English Billiards. Carr challenged Kentfield to a championship game. Carr unfortunately died on the eve of the match, and Kentfield hence assumed the title. He would remain unchallenged for 24 years.
John Roberts, Sr. took on the title,[ clarification needed ] 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 again.
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 –inches (from the original 35⁄8–in), and and were adjusted so that Cook's 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.,[ when? ] Cook defeated Roberts to win the title, and won a newly created trophy, £100 and a Maltese cross. The Prince of Wales even 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.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
William Cook was a professional player of English billiards in the 19th century. He won the World Championship on several occasions.
The Maltese cross is a cross symbol, consisting of four "V" or arrowhead shaped concave quadrilaterals converging at a central vertex at right angles, two tips pointing outward symmetrically.
Prince of Wales was a title granted to princes born in Wales from the 12th century onwards; the term replaced the use of the word king. One of the last Welsh princes, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, was killed in battle in 1282 by Edward I, King of England, whose son Edward was invested as the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.
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 Peall in 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 (later Billiards Association and Control Council or BA&CC, a precursor of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association or WPBSA) 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 Williams was dominant in this period.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association had 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.[ clarification needed ]
Since 1980, the title has been held almost annually. Mike Russell has been the most successful player in that era, closely followed by Geet Sethi. A small number of Australian players had some success in the 1980s, most notably Robby Foldvari (winner 1986, runner-up 1987) and Eddie Charlton (twice runner-up, 1984 and 1988), and there are now a number of Indian players besides Sethi involved in the game, especially Pankaj Advani. He has won several world championships.
In 2011 WPBSA formed World Billiards (Limited) to administer the sport worldwide. As of 2012, the distinction between professional and amateur players was removed and the WPBSA World Professional Championship was merged with the former IBSF World Billiards Championship and simply became the World Billiards Championship. Tournaments were held in both points and timed format.
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