Sport country: England
Highest ranking: ¹ 2
Highest break: 147
Career winnings: £4,685,403
Nickname: The Whirlwind
Tournament wins: 35
James Warren "Jimmy" White, MBE (born 2 May 1962) is an English professional snooker player. Nicknamed "The Whirlwind" because of his fluid, attacking style of play and popularly referred to as the "People's Champion", White is a six times World Championship finalist, the 1980 World Amateur Champion, 2009 Six-red World Champion, 2010 World Seniors Champion and 1984 World Doubles champion with Alex Higgins.
White's non-world championship achievements include the UK Championship, the Masters and the Nations Cup. A two times winner of both the World Cup and the British Open White was also the first left-handed player, and second player overall, to record a maximum break at the World Championship.
White was born in Streathbourne Road, Tooting, London, England, and studied at Hillcroft Comprehensive (later renamed Ernest Bevin College). He never achieved academic success, as he was often truant from school from the age of eight or nine, spending more and more time at "Zans", Ted Zanoncelli's snooker hall. The club was affectionately known as "Zans" and after Ted's death in 1978 it was handed down to his daughter. It was around this time that White met Tony Meo with whom he would compete in money matches in many venues. His natural aptitude for snooker, perhaps only bettered by Ronnie O'Sullivan led to a successful amateur career. After winning the English Amateur Championship in 1979, a year later he became the youngest ever winner of the World Amateur Snooker Championship, aged 18, a record since surpassed by Ian Preece and Hossein Vafaei.
With a host of major titles and achievements, including ten ranking tournaments, White's overall record ranks him well up the list of snooker's most successful players. The BBC describes him as a "legend". A left-hander, he reached the World Professional Championship Final on six occasions (1984, 1990–1994) but failed to win the sport's most prestigious title since his first attempt in 1981. Nonetheless, his consistency waned in the 2000s and a first-round defeat in the 2006 World Championship saw White drop out of the world's top 32 player rankings. White's continued slide down the rankings saw him drop to 65th but he recovered slightly to move up to no. 56 for the 2009/10 season. White is one of only six players to have completed a maximum break at the Crucible Theatre, doing so in the 1992 World Snooker Championship. He has compiled more than 300 century breaks during his career.
White established himself as a top professional in 1981. After losing 8–10 to eventual champion Steve Davis in the first round of World Championship, White went on to win his first professional titles – the Scottish Masters (defeating Cliff Thorburn in the final) and the Northern Ireland Classic (defeating Davis).
The World Championship has provided the theatre for White's greatest disappointments. In 1982, he led Alex Higgins 15–14 in their semi-final, was up 59–0 in the penultimate frame and was a red and colour away from the final. After missing a red with the rest, however, he could only watch as Higgins compiled a frame-winning 69 break. Higgins won the deciding frame that followed to reach the final.
In 1984 White won the Masters for the only time to date, beating Terry Griffiths 9–5 in the final. He followed this success by reaching his first World Championship final. Trailing Steve Davis 4–12 after the first two sessions, White responded by reducing the deficit to 15–16. He then made an aggressive clearance of 65 to take the score to 16–17, but was unable to build upon a 40-point lead in the following frame, and lost 16–18. White did, however, become a World Doubles Champion later that year when he and Alex Higgins defeated Willie Thorne and Cliff Thorburn 10–2 in the final of the World Doubles Championship.
In 1986 White reached his second Masters final, but was defeated by Cliff Thorburn. However he won the Classic and also retained the Irish Masters title he won in 1985. White won the Classic when he beat Thorburn in the final frame after needing a snooker. Later in the year he overcame veteran Rex Williams 10–6 to win his first Grand Prix title.
White's third ranking win – the 1987 British Open – helped him to end the 1986/1987 season as World number 2, behind Steve Davis who defeated him 16–11 in the semi-finals of the 1987 World Championship. Later that year White and Davis contested a memorable UK Championship final which Davis won 16–14.
In 1988 he defeated John Campbell, Stephen Hendry and Tony Knowles to reach his fourth World Championship semi-final. He played Terry Griffiths and, trailing 11–13, lost a tied frame on a respotted black. Griffiths went on to reach the final courtesy of a 16–11 win. White did at least manage to consolidate his number-2 world ranking. However the 1988/1989 season was less successful, and White's ranking slipped. He trailed John Virgo 11–12 in the second-round of the 1989 World Championship and looked beaten when his opponent was on a break of 26 in the following frame. Virgo, however, called a foul on himself and White was able to win 13–12. The reprieve was short-lived as White was soundly beaten 7–13 by eventual finalist John Parrott in the quarter-finals. White avenged this defeat later in the year by beating Parrott 18–9 in the final of the invitational World Matchplay.
In 1990, White recorded a 16–14 victory over Steve Davis in the semi-finals of the World Championship. It was Davis's first defeat in the event in four years. White subsequently lost his second World Championship final 12–18 to Stephen Hendry. However, White beat Hendry 18–9 to retain his World Matchplay title later in the year and that win was followed by a 10–4 victory over Hendry (after leading 9–0) in the final of the 1991 Classic. White continued his run of success with victory in the short-lived World Masters, beating Tony Drago 10–6 in the final.
Steve James ended Hendry's reign as World Champion in the 1991 World Championship and White in turn defeated James to reach the final. He played John Parrott and was whitewashed in the first session 0–7. Although White managed to close the gap to 7–11, Parrott was able to seal an 18–11 victory. Parrott then overcame White 16–13 to win the UK Championship later in 1991.
White started 1992 positively and picked up his second British Open title, beating Steve Davis in the semi-finals and James Wattana in the final. He won another ranking title, the European Open, shortly after.
White was drawn against Tony Drago in the first-round of the 1992 World Championship. After opening up an 8–4 lead, White made history in the 13th frame by becoming only the second player to make a maximum break in the World Championship. He won £100,000 in prize money for this achievement. Close wins over Alain Robidoux and Jim Wych followed before White met Alan McManus in the semi-finals, where he pulled away from 4–4 to win 16–7. He played Stephen Hendry in the final and won each of the first two sessions to open up a 10–6 lead, which he extended to 12–6 and 14–8. From 14–9, White lost three successive frames from commanding positions. At 14–12, White went in-off when compiling a potentially frame-winning break. Hendry drew level at 14–14 without conceding a further point and won the closely contested 29th and 30th frames to lead 16–14. Two century breaks completed Hendry's ten-frame winning streak and a remarkable 18–14 victory.
White responded well from this significant setback in the early part of the 1992/1993 season. He defeated Ken Doherty 10–9 to claim his second 1992 Grand Prix title and followed this with an impressive victory in the 1992 UK Championship. After defeating Alan McManus 9–7 in the semi-finals, White opened up a commanding 6–1 lead in the first session of the final against John Parrott, from where he secured a 16–9 win. White has stated that this was among the best matches he has ever played.
However White toiled for the remainder of the season, and his struggles continued at the 1993 World Championship. He did, however, manage to overcome Joe Swail, Doug Mountjoy and Dennis Taylor to reach the semi-finals. White lost the first five frames of his semi-final with James Wattana but, from 2–6, he won 12 successive frames en route to a 16–9 victory. However he proved no match for Stephen Hendry in the final, and Hendry's century break in his first visit to the table proved portentious as White was beaten 18–5 with a session to spare. Only John Parrott (in 1989) has suffered a heavier defeat in a World Championship final. White did, however, manage to end the season on a high-note when he beat Alan McManus to win the Matchroom League.
White endured a lacklustre campaign in the 1993/1994 season, but managed to reach the 1994 World Championship final for a fifth successive year, becoming only the second player after Steve Davis (1983–89) to achieve this. For the fourth time in five years, White's opponent in the final was Stephen Hendry and the defending champion opened up a 5–1 lead. White recovered well to lead 13–12 and made a break of 75 to take the match into a deciding frame. In the final frame, White was on a break of 29 and leading the frame by 37 points to 24 when he missed a straightforward black off its spot. Commentator Dennis Taylor memorably observed: "Dear me, that was just a little bit of tension". As it happened, Hendry cleared with a technically straightforward break of 58 to win the title. Gracious in defeat, White joked that Hendry was "beginning to annoy" him in the post-match interview.
White's form continued to decline the following season and he failed to reach a ranking final. However his results on the table were greatly overshadowed, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer during the season. He was able to make a successful recovery after having his left testicle removed. Shortly after, White underwent further surgery to correct his bald spot.
At the 1995 World Championship, White was involved in a controversial first-round match against South African Peter Francisco. From 2–2 White was able to pull away and win convincingly by 10 frames to 2. Shortly after it emerged that large sums of money had been placed on White to win the match by the eventual scoreline. The ensuing investigation found Francisco guilty of misconduct and banned him for five years. However no evidence was found against White, and he was completely cleared of any wrongdoing.
White put this controversy behind him and overcame David Roe and John Parrott to reach his tenth World Championship semi-final. In his match with Stephen Hendry, White could only watch as the defending champion made a 147 break to go 8–4 in front. White recovered well to 7–8 and won three successive frames to reduce his arrears from 9–14 to 12–14. However Hendry proved too strong and ran out a 16–12 win.
White's ranking slipped from 7th to 13th at the end of the 1995/1996 season and he was beaten 13–12 in a second-round encounter with Peter Ebdon in the 1996 World Championship. White endured further personal problems later in 1996 with the deaths of his brother Martin and mother Lil. His mother's death caused him to pull out of the 1996 Mosconi Cup pool competition.
In the 1996/1997 season White failed to win a professional match until February and a first-round defeat at the 1997 World Championship against Anthony Hamilton (9–10, after leading 8–4) saw him drop out of the top-16 in the world rankings.
A run to the semi-finals of the 1997 Grand Prix helped to remedy this and White then enjoyed a great form at the 1998 World Championship. After qualifying to play Stephen Hendry in the first-round, White opened with a century break and uncharacteristically shrewd matchplay enabled him to open up a 7–0 lead with only one further break over 50. Despite losing the next three frames from winning positions, White was able to seal a memorable 10–4 success and became the first player to beat Hendry twice at the World Championship. White followed this with a 13–3 win over Darren Morgan which included a break of 144. In his quarter-final against Ronnie O'Sullivan, however, White reverted to his more familiar all-out attacking style and lost the first session 1–7. Although he fought back to 6–9, White succumbed to 7–13.
After regaining his top-16 ranking in the 1999/2000 season White started 2000 by reaching the semi-finals of the Welsh Open, where he lost 5–6 to Stephen Lee, despite leading 4–1 at one point of the match. He then defeated Marco Fu and John Higgins to reach the quarter-finals of the Masters, and he followed this up with a run to the quarter-finals of the World Championship. On both occasions, however, he was beaten by Matthew Stevens. Largely due to his poor form in the 1998/1999 season, White also lost his top-16 place. He fought back the following season, and reached the final of the British Open (losing 6–9 to Peter Ebdon) and the semi-finals of the 2000 Grand Prix in the early part of the campaign. His only other victory of note, however, was a 6–2 defeat of Ronnie O'Sullivan in the 2001 Masters and White subsequently failed to qualify for the 2001 World Championship.
Ranked 11 at the start of the 2001/2002 season, White performed steadily in the ranking events without reaching a semi-final. In the invitational 2002 Masters he beat Matthew Stevens 6–1 and came back from 2–5 behind to defeat O'Sullivan 6–5 in the quarter-finals. He similarly recovered from 2–5 down in his semi-final with Mark Williams but lost 5–6. He lost 3–13 in his second-round match with Matthew Stevens at the 2002 World Championship and issued an immediate apology after hitting the cue ball off the table in frustration when trailing 2–5.
White won only two ranking event matches in the 2002/2003 season but was able to maintain his top-16 ranking. He memorably came back from 1–5 down to defeat World Champion Peter Ebdon 6–5 in their first-round at the 2003 Masters.In
the 2003/2004 season White produced his most consistent season in over a decade. After reaching the semi-finals of the UK Championship in November 2003, White defeated Neil Robertson, Stephen Hendry and Peter Ebdon to reach the semi-finals of the 2004 Masters – where he lost a tight match against Ronnie O'Sullivan. White followed this up with further victories over Hendry and Robertson en route to the final of the European Open in Malta, but was beaten 3–9 by world number 48 Stephen Maguire. His last ranking victory to date came in April 2004, when White defeated Shaun Murphy, John Parrott, Ian McCulloch, Peter Ebdon and Paul Hunter to win the Players Championship in Glasgow – his first ranking title in over 11 years. Victory in the 2004 World Championship could have given White the number-one ranking, but he was beaten 10–8 by qualifier Barry Pinches after leading 4–2.
White's consistency diminished in the 2004/2005 season. Although his ranking rose to number 8 he was unable to reach the quarter-finals of any ranking event. However he made two more memorable comebacks in the 2005 Masters. White trailed Matthew Stevens 2–5 in the first-round and pulled back to 4–5 after needing two snookers in the ninth frame. White went on to win 6–5 and beat Stevens's compatriot Mark Williams by the same score in the quarter-finals after trailing 4–5. But White was soundly beaten 6–1 by Ronnie O'Sullivan in the semi-finals.
White fell out of the top-32 at the end of the 2005/2006 season and has not regained this status to date. He lost in the first round of the 2006 World Championship, although he did beat Stephen Hendry, Ding Junhui and World Champion Graeme Dott to reach the final of the 2006 Premier League.
In the 2006/2007 season he qualified for only one ranking event, the 2007 China Open. He had a walkover Stephen Lee, before he lost 1–5 against John Higgins. After the season he fell out of the top-48.
In the 2007/2008 season he won 7 of his 16 qualifying matches. He won 4 straight matches at the 2007 Grand Prix and finished in the third place of his group, thus not qualifying for the main draw. He won one match at the 2008 Welsh Open and two matches at the 2008 World Championship. After the season he fell out of the top-64 and remained on the tour only via the one year list.
He began the 2008/2009 season by qualifying for the main draw of the 2008 Northern Ireland Trophy and the 2008 Shanghai Masters, but lost in the first round against Barry Hawkins 3–5 and Mark King 4–5 respectively. He won 4 of his next 7 qualifying matches (2 at the 2008 Grand Prix and at the 2008 UK Championship. After this he qualified for the main stage of the 2009 Welsh Open, but lost in the first round 1–5 against Ali Carter. He won his next qualifying match at the 2009 World Championship. In the second qualifying round he defeated Vincent Muldoon 10–8, but lost his next match 8–10 against Andy Hicks. At the end of season he has the provisional ranking of No. 56.
At the beginning of the 2009/10 season White reached the final of the Champion of Champions Challenge in Killarney, eventually losing 1–5 to Shaun Murphy. Provisionally No. 47 for the season it has seen White have a surprising return of form. His 2nd tournament of the season was the Sangsom 6-red World Grand Prix in Bangkok Thailand. White won the tournament, putting an end to his drought of titles by winning his first since 2004. On his way to the final he beat Shaun Murphy, defending champion Ricky Walden, Mark King and Mark Williams, eventually beating Barry Hawkins in the final 8–6. Only 1-month later in the Paul Hunter Classic he again reached the final, however this time lost to Shaun Murphy 0–4. Two months later on 18 October White reached the final of the World Series of Snooker in Prague, his fourth final of the season. This time he was victorious, claiming his 2nd title of the season by defeating Graeme Dott 5–3.
On 17 December 2009 it was confirmed that White received a wild card for the Wembley Masters. White played against Mark King in the wild card round, but lost the match 2–6. Prior to the world championship White won only 2 of his 6 qualifying matches. he defeated Bjorn Haneveer 5–0 at the Shanghai Masters and Jordan Brown 5–1 at the Welsh Open. Due to this and skipping the UK Championship for I'm a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here! he was in danger to losing his Main Tour spot for the following season. However he secured his place on the Main Tour for another season with a 10–8 victory over Mark Boyle at the World Championship Qualifiers. He then lost 3–10 against Ken Doherty in the next round.
White started the 2010/2011 season by entering the Players Tour Championship, his best performance coming in the first European event and at the sixth event in Sheffield, where he reached the quarter-finals each time. After 12 out of 12 events White was ranked 34th in the Order of Merit.
White also reached the quarter-finals of the Six-red World Championship, topping his qualifying group along the way. He failed to qualify for the Shanghai Masters, losing his first qualifying match 3–5 against Liam Highfield. He won his two qualification matches for the World Open; but lost 1–3 against Ronnie O'Sullivan in the last 32.
White won the World Seniors Championship, defeating Steve Davis 4–1 in the final. At the UK Championship in December White lost 8–9 to Stephen Hendry in the first-round after he had come through three qualifying rounds to get to Telford. It was only the fifth time in 24 years that White and Hendry had taken each other to the final frame and 16 years since Hendry's 18–17 win over White in the 1994 World Championship final. He participated at qualifying stages of the German Masters, but lost in the second round 1–5 against Jimmy Robertson, White reached the last qualifying round of the Welsh Open, but was whitewashed by Ryan Day, and has qualified for the final stages of the China Open, by defeating Liu Chuang, Peter Lines and Dominic Dale. but had to withdraw from the tournament due to visa problems. White lost his first qualifying match for the World Championship 9–10 against Jimmy Robertson
White began the 2011/2012 season ranked number 55. At a Legends Tour event in June 2011, White compiled a maximum break, unusual for the fact that he potted the first ball off the break, meaning his opponent never played a shot in the frame. White couldn't qualify for the first two ranking events of the season, as he lost 3–5 against Rory McLeod at the Australian Goldfields Open and 0–5 against Nigel Bond at the Shanghai Masters White couldn't defend his World Seniors Championship title, as he lost in the semi-finals 0–2 against eventual champion Darren Morgan. White couldn't qualify for the next two ranking events, as he lost 5–6 against Jamie Jones at the UK Championship, and 4–5 against Peter Ebdon at the German Masters. After the FFB Snooker Open White was ranked number 47.
At the 2013 World Seniors White lost to Hendry in the quarter final.
In 2014 White almost lost his place on the professional World Snooker circuit as he finished the 2013/2014 season ranked World No 64. While White remained on the tour fellow veteran Steve Davis, however, lost his place, landing outside the top 64.
In 1995, after a routine check-up with his doctor, White was diagnosed with testicular cancer after discovering a lump. He was operated on almost immediately, and was given the all-clear soon afterwards. He married Maureen Mockler, and they have five children: Lauren (born 1981), Ashleigh (born 1987), Georgia (born 1988), Breeze (born 1989), and Tommy (born 1998). He currently lives in Epsom, Surrey. He is also related to amateur snooker player, John White (born 1979): John's father, Bernard White, is Jimmy White's cousin.
Despite being best known for snooker, White is also a pool and poker player. Along with Steve Davis and Alex Higgins, White was a member of Europe's victorious Mosconi Cup pool team of 1995, and won the deciding match against Lou Butera. He won the second Poker Million tournament, held in 2003, which also had Steve Davis at the final table. He was also good friends with professional poker player, Dave "The Devilfish" Ulliott.
In the late 1990s, White's bull terrier, Splinter, was dognapped and held for ransom. Splinter became the first dog to have a colour poster on the front page of The Times. White paid the ransom, and Splinter was returned to him. Splinter went on to live for another three years.
In 1999, he was awarded an MBE. Coincidentally, the three players to have beaten him in the world finals (Davis, 1984; Hendry, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994; Parrott, 1991) have also received an MBE. In 2005, as part of a sponsorship deal with HP Sauce, he changed his name to Jimmy Brown for the Masters.
In November 2007, his father, Tommy White, died aged 88. With his daughter, Lauren Albert, White is a director of Jimmy White Ltd., which had a turnover of £180,359 in 2006. White has been a fan of Chelsea Football Club since 1972.
In December 2012, Jimmy got engaged to Kelly Singh.
In his autobiography, released in November 2014, it was revealed that White was addicted to crack cocaine during a three-month spell of his career. White revealed that he went from taking cocaine to crack following his defeat by Steve Davis in the 1984 World Championship final.
White was, together with Neal Foulds, commentator for Eurosport-UK at the 2015 German Masters in Berlin.
In April 2015, he appeared as a guest at a campaign event when his friend Kim Rose was standing as the UK Independence Party candidate to be MP for Southampton Itchen.
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