Date of Birth: 2 February 1907
Died: 26 May 1973
Highest Break: 142
World Champion: 1947, 1950
Walter Weir Wilson Donaldson was a Scottish professional snooker player.
Born in Gardner’s Crescent, Edinburgh, the son of Alexander Donaldson, a Billiard room manager, he was the first Scottish-born player to make a mark in the world of snooker. He was considered one of the greatest long potters of all time and was regarded as a great grafter, who never gave up when he appeared to be in a hopeless situation.
He won the National Under-16 Billiards Championship in 1922 at the age of 15 and then turned professional the following year.
He first entered the World Snooker Championship in 1933 when he lost in the semi-finals to the great Joe Davis. He missed the next few championships but came back in 1939 and reached the quarter-finals and went to the semi-finals the next year. The championship was then suspended for the remainder of the war, in which he served on the front line as Royal Signals Sergeant.
The championship resumed in 1946, with Joe Davis winning again. Following that victory Davis retired from the event, leaving Walter, Joe’s younger brother Fred, and Horace Lindrum vying for the number one position. Walter shortly afterwards set a new world record for the highest professional break in competition, 142, and, to the surprise of many, won the 1947 Championship, beating Lindrum in the semi-final and Fred Davis 82–63 in the final.
This was the first of eight consecutive finals, from 1947 to 1954, featuring the two players, but Walter only won one more title, in 1950. After the 1954 final, in which he lost heavily to Fred Davis 39–21, Donaldson did not enter any further world championships. Donaldson continued to play after this and inflicted Fred Davis’ only defeat in the 1957/8 News of the World tournament (21–16), before finishing 3rd of 5 players in the final table Earlier in the same tournament he defeated Joe Davis, also by 21–16, but had received 14 start. He did however make the highest break of the season – 141. Later in life he converted his snooker room into a cowshed, breaking up the slates from the table to make a path, and died soon after snooker began its modern resurgence.
His name could be found on series of snooker cues on sale until the late sixties and he was featured in the Joe Davis book Advanced Snooker.
He died at his home in Buckinghamshire in 1973.
In 2012 Walter was inducted into the World Snooker Hall of Fame as recognition for his two World Championship victories.
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