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The Amateur Billiard Player : June 1996

JOHN BARRIE

by MARK WILDMAN

All billiards lovers will be saddened to hear of the death of this
billiards legend who died recently at Kings Lynn aged 71 years.

William Barrie Smith was born in Wisbech in 1924 and soon
developed an interest in the three ball game, which was at its height
when Barrie was a youngster. He won the boys’ Billiards Championship and
by the time he had matured at 21 to become in the opinion of Joe Davis
“potential Lindrum material”, the game had already been caught up by
snooker.

Barrie had almost missed his slot, but managed to win the United
Kingdom Championship at Burroughes Hall, making a break of 714 in the
final.

Soon after, he retired from the profession and took over the
running of The White Lion Hotel, a family business on the North Brink at
Wisbech.

I first met Barrie in 1950. I was in the audience when he compiled
the 714 break. Subsequently, a two year period under his expert tuition,
bestowed on me the hidden mysteries at the”top end”and also at snooker
at which he excelled. That period was so important to my game in those
far off days.

Eventually, Barrie returned to the competition table for an
“Indian summer”, highlighted by a superb performance in the 1977 World
Billiards Open, in New Zealand, where he was beaten in the
semi-finals. During that visit he earned the total respect of all by the
quality of his play, which included the highest break of the
championship. This was a break of 690 – against his former pupil! This
was at the age of 53!

Upon his return, when one was expecting to see even more of him at
the billiards table, his health began to decline and, understandably his
rekindled interest began to flicker. The hotel was sold in the 70s and
Barrie and Joan settled in their retirement in Hunstanton.

Barrie, like Herbert Beetham, was a high ranking Freemason and the
pair were an excellent example of what everyone, let alone billiard
players, should attempt to achieve in life.

Respected by all who knew him, Barrie’s game will be remembered
for his particularly advanced technique at the “spot end” in the
floating white position. If students of the game wish to witness this
kind of play, they should watch Russell and Chapman, both of whom
specialise in this department. Barrie’s. undoubted influence on the game
is still in evidence and will remain so.

He is sadly missed and our sincere condolences go to Joan his
devoted wife, Jonathon and Louise.