Rex Williams

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Rex Williams
Born (1933-07-20) 20 July 1933 (age 83)
Halesowen, England
Sport country  England
Professional 1951–1997
Highest ranking 6 (1976/77)
Career winnings £223,432[1]
Highest break 143 (1983 Classic)
Century breaks 22[2]
Best ranking finish Final (1986 Grand Prix)
Tournament wins
Non-ranking 2

Desmond Rex Williams (born 20 July 1933), son of Minnie Roberts and William Williams, is a retired English professional snooker and billiards player. Williams was an excellent junior player in both snooker and billiards.


Williams had a successful career as a boy and youth and in 1951, at 17 years old, became the youngest winner of the English Amateur Snooker Championship, beating the 1939 champion Percy Bendon 6–1 in the final.[3]

Williams turned professional and entered the 1952 World Professional Match-play Championship. He met Alec Brown in the first round in a match over 61 frames played from 17 to 22 December 1951 at Darlaston, Staffordshire. Darlaston was near Williams's home in Blackheath, Staffordshire. Brown won comfortably, taking a winning 33–17 lead after the fifth day and eventually winning 39–22.[4] Williams made his debut at Leicester Square Hall in early 1952, playing John Pulman in an exhibition match on level terms.[5] Pulman won the six-day match 42–31.[6] Williams then beat John Barrie 40–33 in another exhibition match, receiving 10 points each frame.[7][8]

In May and early June 1952, Williams played in the qualifying competition for the 1952/1953 News of the World Snooker Tournament. In his first match he played 66-year-old Willie Smith and won 22–15.[9] The qualifying was won by Jackie Rea who advanced to the main event.[10] Williams met Kingsley Kennerley in the first qualifying round for the World Championship. Kennerley had already beaten him 23–14 in the News of the World qualifying and beat him again, this time 25–12.[11] Albert Brown was ill for two of his matches in the News of the World Tournament and Williams played Fred Davis in a three-day exhibition match, in place of the planned second contest. Williams received a 14-point start but Fred Davis won the match 23–14.[12] In March 1953, Williams played Joe Davis in an exhibition match. Williams received a 21-point handicap but Joe Davis won 43-30, scoring 4 centuries on the final day.[13]

Williams met Harry Stokes in the 31-frame qualifying round of the World Championship in early October 1953 and led 3–2 after the first day's play.[14] Williams was then ill and the match was rearranged for a later date.[15] The match was, however, later cancelled and Stokes advanced to the next round.[16]

In 1964, when the World Championship was run using a challenge system, he faced John Pulman, the holder. The match was of 73 frames, played over 6 days from 12 to 17 October at Burroughes Hall. Williams led 8–4 at the end of the first day[17] but Pulman won 11 of the 12 frames on the second day to lead 15–9.[18] Pulman extended his lead to 31-17 after four days[19] and won the match on the fifth day, taking a 37–23 winning lead. Pulman made a break of 109 in frame 57.[20] The remaining 13 "dead" frames were played on the final day with Pulman finishing 40–33 ahead.[21] Williams and Pulman met again in late 1965 in a series of short matches in South Africa, but was unsuccessful again, losing 25 matches to 22. In one of these matches in East London, Williams made a break of 142, breaking the World Championship record of 136 set by Joe Davis in 1946.[22] In December 1965, during an exhibition match in Cape Town, he followed Joe Davis as the second man to make an accredited 147 break.[23]

He won the World Professional Billiards Championship seven times from 1968 to 1983, including a reign as champion from 1968 to 1980.

Williams was less successful at snooker, although he did become the oldest player to reach a world-ranking final when, aged 53, he lost to Jimmy White in the final of the 1986 Rothmans Grand Prix. He twice reached the semi-final of the World Championship, losing in 1972 to Alex Higgins (having been four frames ahead with five left to play) and, in 1974, to Graham Miles. He gained the unfortunate distinction of never winning a World Championship match at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, after it became the Championship's permanent venue in 1977, despite playing at the venue on eight occasions (a record he shares with Cliff Wilson). He's also remembered for recovering from 8-2 down to win 9-8 against Terry Griffiths in the first round of the 1978 UK Championship, in Griffiths's first televised match (Griffiths was World Champion the following year).


Williams was heavily involved in the administration of snooker and billiards. In 1968, he inspired the resurrection of the defunct Professional Billiards Players Association in the guise of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) and served as its chairman from 1968 to 1987 and 1997 to 1999.[24] In 2001, he was expelled from the Association following alleged fiduciary irregularities and asked to repay legal costs of £28,268,[25] but was reinstated as a full member the following year. The Association apologised for its actions "unequivocally".[26]

He was also a commentator for BBC and ITV snooker coverage during the 1980s.

Tournament Wins[edit]

Amateur Snooker[edit]

Professional Snooker - Non Ranking Wins (2)[edit]

  • World Open Matchplay Snooker Championship - 1966/67
  • Bass and Golden Leisure Classic - 1982

Professional Billiards[edit]

  • World Professional Billiards Champion - 1968, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1976
  • WPBSA World Billiards Championship Winner - 1982, 1983


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Amateur Snooker Championship". The Times. 2 May 1951. p. 2. 
  4. ^ "Snooker". The Times. 24 December 1951. p. 7. 
  5. ^ "Rex Williams". Dundee Courier. 11 March 1952. Retrieved 9 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ "Rex Williams". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligence. 17 March 1952. Retrieved 9 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Snooker Close". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 18 April 1952. Retrieved 9 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "Snooker". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 21 April 1952. Retrieved 9 January 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 8 May 1952. p. 7. 
  10. ^ "Snooker". The Times. 9 June 1952. p. 3. 
  11. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 20 October 1952. p. 9. 
  12. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 1 September 1952. p. 9. 
  13. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 23 March 1953. p. 11. 
  14. ^ "World Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 6 October 1953. p. 2. 
  15. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 7 October 1953. p. 9. 
  16. ^ "Title match cancelled". The Glasgow Herald. 27 October 1953. p. 4. 
  17. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 13 October 1964. p. 5. 
  18. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 14 October 1964. p. 5. 
  19. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 16 October 1964. p. 6. 
  20. ^ "Snooker". The Glasgow Herald. 17 October 1964. p. 6. 
  21. ^ "Snooker". The Times. 19 October 1964. p. 5. 
  22. ^ "World Snooker Record". The Times. 17 November 1965. p. 4. 
  23. ^ "Williams Achieves Break of 147". The Times. 24 December 1965. p. 3. 
  24. ^ Thompson, Dan (1999-08-15). "Snooker: D-day looms for Williams - Sport". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  25. ^ "Snooker: Williams is expelled after investigation - More Sports, Sport - The Independent". The Independent. London. 
  26. ^ Sporting Life - Snooker World Championship 2002[dead link]