Daily Mail Gold Cup

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Daily Mail Gold Cup
Tournament information
Venue mostly at Thurston's Hall
Location London
Country England
Established 1935
Organisation(s) BACC
Format Round-robin handicap
Final year 1939/40
Final champion(s) England Alec Brown

The Daily Mail Gold Cup was an important professional cue sports tournament from 1935 to 1940. In the first two tournaments it was contested as an billiards event before becoming a snooker event. It was sponsored by the Daily Mail. The tournament was suspended following the 1939/40 event and not played again. The concept of a handicap snooker tournament was revived for the 1948 Sunday Empire News Tournament.

The tournament was always played as a round-robin handicap event. Most matches were played at Thurston's Hall in London, England, although, in most seasons, a few matches were played in other major cities. Matches lasted a week (Monday to Saturday) and generally followed each other, week after week, so that the tournament ran for an extended period of about 3 months.


The first two tournaments were billiards events. In the first tournament in early 1935 there were 5 competitors: Joe Davis, Tom Newman, Willie Smith, Melbourne Inman and Tom Reece. The event was a "sealed handicap" in which the handicap for each match was determined before the event started but was not disclosed to the players until after the tournament finished.[1] Tom Newman won the Gold Cup, winning all his four matches, ahead of Willie Smith who had three wins.[2]

The second event had the same format as the first and was played in early 1936. There were 7 competitors. Willie Smith did not play but there were three new players: Claude Falkiner, Horace Lindrum and Sidney Smith.[3] With 5 wins Melbourne Inman won the tournament, winning five of his six matches, ahead of Sidney Smith who had four wins.[4]


The third event was a snooker tournament and was played in late 1936. There were 6 competitors: Joe Davis, Horace Lindrum, Sidney Smith, Willie Smith, Tom Newman and Melbourne Inman. Each match was over 71 frames. The event had two handicapping aspects. Each player had a handicap which was given in each frame. The handicaps were: Joe Davis - 0, Horace Lindrum - 7, Sidney Smith - 14, Willie Smith - 18, Tom Newman - 24, Melbourne Inman - 35. In addition there was a sealed handicap for each match. This was an additional adjustment to be made after each match (a number of frames) which was kept secret until the end of the tournament.[5] It seems that the handicapper decided to make no adjustments since the final table simply reflects the actual results. Despite giving a handicap to all the other players, the cup was won by Joe Davis who won all his five matches. The Australian Horace Lindrum finished in second place in the final table.

During the 1936 tournament Sidney Smith scored a record 133 break, becoming the first player to make a total clearance in snooker competition. It happened in frame 58 of his match against Tom Newman on 11 December. Smith's total clearance included the 15 reds with six blacks, six pinks, two blues, a green and then all the colours.[6]

The 1937/1938 event was played from September 1937 to January 1938. There were 7 competitors; the 6 who had played in the 1936 event with the addition of Alec Brown. The handicaps were: Joe Davis - 0, Horace Lindrum - 10, Sidney Smith - 17, Willie Smith - 21, Alec Brown - 24, Tom Newman - 27, Melbourne Inman - 45. The "sealed" aspect of the 1936 event was abandoned.[7] Despite the slightly higher handicaps, Joe Davis won the cup for the second successive year. Willie Smith finishing in second place in the final table, having beaten Joe Davis 36–35.[8]

The 1938/1939 event was played from October 1938 to January 1939. There were 6 competitors, the same as in the 1937/38 event without Melbourne Inman. The handicap system was revised, each match having a separate handicap. Joe Davis gave Horace Lindrum 20 points, Sidney Smith 30, Willie Smith 25, Alec Brown 35 and Tom Newman 40.[9] The cup was won by Alec Brown with Sidney Smith finishing in second place in the final table. Both players had won 4 of their 5 matches but Brown had won more frames, 200 to Smith's 190.[10]

During the 1938/1939 tournament Joe Davis scored a new official record break of 138, beating the previous record of 137. It happened in frame 53 of his match against Alec Brown on 9 December. Brown made only two visits to the table before Davis made the total clearance which included the 15 reds with 11 blacks, a pink, two blues, a green and then all the colours.[11]

The 1939/1940 event was played from October 1939 to February 1940. There were 7 competitors and a total of 21 matches. Each match lasted six days and was the best of 61 frames, a reduction from the 71 frames played in previous years. There were 7 competitors which included three new to the event: Fred Davis, Walter Donaldson and Sydney Lee. Joe Davis gave Sidney Smith 20 points, Alec Brown 25, Walter Donaldson 25, Fred Davis 30, Tom Newman 40 and Sydney Lee 45. The cup was won for the second time by Alec Brown who won 5 of his 6 matches. Sydney Lee finished in second place ahead of Fred Davis. Both players had won 4 of their 6 matches but Lee had won more frames, 206 to Davis's 188.[12]


Year Winner Record Runner-up Season
1935 England Tom Newman 4–0 England Willie Smith 1934/35
1935/36 England Melbourne Inman 5–1 England Sidney Smith 1935/36
1936 England Joe Davis 5–0 Australia Horace Lindrum 1936/37
1937/38 England Joe Davis 5–1 England Willie Smith 1937/38
1938/39 England Alec Brown 4–1 England Sidney Smith 1938/39
1939/40 England Alec Brown 5–1 England Sydney Lee 1939/40


The following 12 players competed in at least one of the tournaments:


  1. ^ "Billiards – Gold Cup Tournament". The Times. 2 January 1935. p. 5.
  2. ^ "Billiards – Newman wins the Gold Cup". The Times. 18 March 1935. p. 6.
  3. ^ "Billiards – Sealed Handicap". The Times. 30 December 1935. p. 5.
  4. ^ "Billiards – Inman wins the Gold Cup". The Times. 23 March 1936. p. 6.
  5. ^ "Billiards – Sealed Snooker Handicap". The Times. 28 September 1936. p. 6.
  6. ^ "Snooker Pool – World record by S. Smith". The Times. 12 December 1936. p. 5.
  7. ^ "Snooker Pool – The Handicap Tournament". The Times. 28 September 1937. p. 5.
  8. ^ "Snooker Pool – The Tournament won by Davis". The Times. 31 January 1938. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Snooker – The Gold Cup Tournament". The Times. 10 October 1938. p. 3.
  10. ^ "Snooker – The handicap tournament". The Times. 23 January 1939. p. 4.
  11. ^ "Snooker – Record break by Davis". The Times. 10 December 1938. p. 6.
  12. ^ "Snooker". The Times. 12 February 1940. p. 2.