|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2013)|
14 January 1947|
|Died||20 January 2003
Vancouver, British Columbia
|Highest ranking||8 (1983/84)|
|Best ranking finish||Quarter-finals,
World Snooker Championship
William Alexander "Bill" Werbeniuk (//; 14 January 1947 – 20 January 2003) was a Canadian professional snooker and pool player. Recognisable for his girth, he was nicknamed "Big Bill". Werbeniuk pioneered the style of safetyshot in which a red ball is hit powerfully, with the cue ball hit low enough to screw all the way back into baulk.[dubious ]
William Werbeniuk was born on 14 January 1947 in Winnipeg. He was the son of a Canadian professional champion and former armed robber, fence and drug dealer. He began playing snooker as a child in his father's pool hall, Pop's Billiards, and spent his formative years, often with his fellow countryman Cliff Thorburn, travelling across North America playing pool for money.
His playing record included an 8–9 quarter-final loss to John Pulman in the 1975 Canadian Open and last 8 places in the 1978 and 1979 World Championships to Ray Reardon and John Virgo respectively. He did reach the semi-finals of the UK Championships (when it open to UK based residents) but lost to the reigning World champion Terry Griffiths 3–9. He suffered a third World quarter-final loss to Reardon in 1981 by 10–13 but reached his first major final in 1983 before being beaten by Steve Davis 5–9. Werbeniuk again reached the quarter-finals of the World Championships, in the same year, losing to Alex Higgins 11–13 and reached his second major final in the summer, losing to compatriot Cliff Thorburn 3–7 in the Winfield Masters in Australia.
Werbeniuk was noted for the copious amounts of alcohol he consumed before and during matches – between 30 and 50 pints of lager per day. He said that he generally drank around six pints of lager before a match and then one pint for each frame. He said he did this to counteract a familial benign essential tremor.[this quote needs a citation] Later in his career he also took propranolol, a beta blocker to cope with the effects of his alcohol consumption on his heart.
Some of Werbeniuk's most famous feats of drinking include: 76 cans of lager during a game with John Spencer in Australia in the 1970s; 43 pints of lager in a snooker match/drinking contest against Scotsman Eddie Sinclair in which, after Sinclair had passed out following his 42nd pint, Werbeniuk was reported to say "I'm away to the bar now for a proper drink"; 28 pints of lager and 16 whiskies over the course of 11 frames during a match against Nigel Bond, in January 1990 – after which Werbeniuk then consumed an entire bottle of Scotch to "drown his sorrows" after losing the match.
Split trouser incident
A memorable incident occurred during a televised World Championship Match against Dennis Taylor at the Crucible. Werbeniuk attempted to stretch across the table, but due to his size was having some difficulty. Eventually, the inevitable happened and he split his trousers. The ripping noise it made caused many in the audience, including his opponent, to laugh out loud. Werbeniuk took it in good humour, asking the audience "who did that?" as if insinuating that the noise was attributed to flatulence.
In another incident, playing against Joe Johnson, Werbeniuk made what the announcer termed the "pot of the century" when he potted a long red by jumping the cue ball so that it bounced in front of and over an interposing red, knocking the object red in. Later in the match, he got an unusual fluke, when he missed a simple brown to the top corner, but it cannoned out of the pocket, off the opposite cushion and into the centre pocket on the same side.
Use of propranolol
Werbeniuk was ranked as high as 8th in the world in 1983 and reached the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championship four times before propranolol was banned in snooker competition, as it was classified as a performance-enhancing drug by the International Olympic Committee, the anti-doping rules of which were adopted by World Snooker. Werbeniuk insisted that his use was medicinal only and under doctor's orders, but was fined and sanctioned anyway. He played his last professional snooker match in 1990. A bankruptcy order was made against him in 1991. Towards the end of his life, he played professional pool, as propranolol is not forbidden by the World Pool-Billiard Association and other pool governing bodies.
He died of heart failure on 20 January 2003, six days after his 56th birthday.
- US dict: wûr′-bĕ-nǐk′
- Virgo, John (29 April 2006 [orig. ver.]). "Where Are They Now? – Bill Werbeniuk". johnvirgo.com. Hersham, Surrey, UK: self-published. Archived from the original on 2006-04-29. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
- Kelso, Paul (23 January 2003). "Snooker star with insatiable thirst for the game dies at 56". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- . "Amazing Snooker Fluke"]
- "Snooker mourns Werbeniuk" BBC Sport website (22 January 2003)