Reece, Tom

Reece, Thomas

Born Oldham 1873, son of a shoemaker originally from Worcestershire. Billiard marker, then cotton mill worker and then professional billiard player

Tom Reece was one of the greatest billiard players ever but he preferred the sport of swimming. He once said that he only played billiards because he had to walk through a billiard room to get to the pool; by age 17 he had a job as a billiard marker. He was a member of the Seals Swimming Club in Oldham

He first announced his intention to swim the Channel in 1904. He is recorded as arrived in Dover from Manchester on the evening of 24/8/1905 for training and almost immediately got on Annette Kellerman’s pilot boat. He was pacemaker for Kellerman’s and Burgess’s Channel attempts in 1905, but is not recorded as making any attempt himself

The first man to enter the water after the lady had been swimming a quarter of an hour was Tom Reece of Manchester, a fine swimmer, who is training to attempt the Channel next season.
Kellerman’s attempt of 24/8/1905

He again announces he will make attempts in 1906 and in 1907 and was pacemaker for Stearne and Lily Smith in their 1907 attempts, but seems to make no attempts himself; he announced in early May 1907 that he was going to his training quarters at Dover at the end of the month for the summer to attempt the Channel. A week later he announced these plans were cancelled. This was because he had arranged the match in London with Joe Chapman to try and break the Billiards world record. This took place on July 6th and Tom scored 499,135 in the first break of the match, taking about 5 weeks! In August he returned to Dover and made some pacemaker swims but seemingly no attempt himself

Tom Reece (12 August 1873, Oldham, Lancs – 26 October 1953, Worthing, Sussex) was a professional player of English billiards. Reece competed for the World Professional Billiards Championship six times (1912–1914, 1921, 1924, and 1925) but each time finished as runner-up.

In 1907, he scored a record break of 499,135 points over a period of five weeks, without a miss, using an anchor or cradle cannon nurse system. His opponent was Joe Chapman, and the match (which was played to 500,000 points with the express intention of trying to better the recently set record for highest break) was played in Soho, London, England. Under the current rules, which forbid such repetitive nurse shots, it is unlikely that this score will even remotely be approached (the modern-rules world record is a 1276 break by Geet Sethi). His robotic play went a long way to developing new rules to stop such high breaks based on monotonous, duplicate shots: Immediately after his record was set, rules were implemented such that no more than 25 consecutive cannons could be used; other, more stringent restrictions followed in later years.

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