About Billiards and Pool

Billiards may have its origins in croquet, a lawn game which involves hitting wooden or plastic balls through hops with a matte. Perhaps this explains why the table is green, probably representing the grass from croquet. A mace similar to the one used in croquet later transformed into the present day stick as far back as the 1600s. Since the original billiards table had rails that resembled river banks, even today the borders are known as banks and bounced shots are known as bank shots. Predominantly a British game, it spread across the world, developing various versions but the British version of it known as snooker, thrives among billiards professionals.

There are two players or two teams playing the game, each playing with a designated cue ball, a yellow and a white one. A red object ball is used in all form of billiards. The late 1700s saw further developments with the red used as a cannonball, placed on the pyramid spot. The 1800s led to the three-ball game becoming hugely popular. Gameplay in that period was based on winning hazards and losing hazards, later going on to becoming the basis for the modern form of the game, known as the winning and losing game. While the British continued with the three-ball game, the Americans developed a four-ball game. Ivory balls were popular throughout the century. Use of straight wooden cues superseded the use of mace.

The billiards table used to be made from wooden planks and a variety of coverings were tried out. Slate was used as was rubber and finally cloth became the universal material of choice for the covering the slate forming the base. By 1885 leading manufacturers of tables and professional players formed a Billiards Association of Great Britain and they formed rules to govern game play. Until then both ends of the cue stick could be used but the new rule made it mandatory to use only the tip. Later on, the dimensions of a billiard table were standardized and pocket openings were fixed at 3.5 inches, still in use today. Challenge matches were used to determine championships until regular tournaments were instituted around the later part of the 19th century.

The pure form of English billiards uses only three balls and no pockets whereas pool, a further development of the game uses 8 to 16 balls (including the cue ball) and the pool table has six pockets. There are variations using 9 balls and 7 balls and the cue ball. Pocket billiards is today more popular. Today the IBSF or the International Billiards and Snooker Federation is the body governing English billiards and non-professional snooker throughout the world. It is the snooker division of the World Confederation of Billiard Sports (WCBS).



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