Billiards History As A Sport

At least the games with regulated international professional competition have been referred to as “sports” or “sporting” events, not simply “games”, since 1893 at the latest.[3] Quite a variety of particular games (i.e. sets of rules and equipment) are the subject of present-day competition, including many of those already mentioned, with competition being especially broad in nine-ball, snooker, three-cushion and eight-ball.

Snooker, though technically a pocket billiards variant and closely related in its equipment and origin to the game of English billiards, is a professional sport organized at the international level, and its rules bear little resemblance to those of pool games.

A “Billiards” category encompassing pool, snooker and carom was featured in the 2005 World Games, held in Duisburg, Germany, and the 2006 Asian Games also saw the introduction of a “Cue sports” category.

Billiards History

All cue sports are generally regarded to have evolved into indoor games from outdoor stick-and-ball lawn games (retroactively termed ground billiards) [2], and as such to be related to troco, croquet and golf, and more distantly to the stickless bocce and bowling. The word “billiard” may have evolved from the French word billart, meaning “mace”, an implement similar to a golf club, which was the forerunner to the modern cue. The term “cue sports” can be used to encompass the ancestral mace games, and even the modern cueless variants, such as finger pool, for historical reasons….

Accordingly, in addition to the three general subdivisions listed earlier, a now rare obstacle category was prevalent in early times.

The early croquet-like games eventually led to the development of the carom or carambole billiards category – what most non-US and non-UK speakers mean by the word “billiards”. These games, which once completely dominated the cue sports world but have declined markedly in most areas over the last few generations, are games played with three or sometimes four balls, on a table without holes (or obstructions in most cases, five-pins being an exception), in which the goal is generally to strike one object (target) ball with a cue ball, then have the cue ball rebound off of one or more of the cushions and strike a second ball. Variations include three-cushion, straight rail, balkline variants, cushion caroms, Italian five-pins, and four-ball, among others.

Over time, a type of obstacle returned, originally as a hazard and later as a target, in the form of pockets, or holes partly cut into the table bed and partly into the cushions, leading to the rise of pocket billiards, especially “pool” games, popular around the world in forms such as eight-ball, nine-ball, straight pool and one-pocket amongst numerous others. The terms “pool” and “pocket billiards” are now virtually interchangeable, especially in the US. English billiards (what UK speakers almost invariably mean by the word “billiards”) is a hybrid carom/pocket game, and as such is likely fairly close to the ancestral original pocket billiards outgrowth from 18th to early 19th century carom games.

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 5:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cue sports

“Billiards” redirects here. For other uses, see Billiard.
Illustration of a three ball pocket billiards game in early 19th century Tübingen, Germany, using a table much longer than the modern type.

Cue sports (sometimes spelled cuesports) are a wide variety of games of skill generally played with a cue stick which is used to strike billiard balls, moving them around a cloth-covered billiards table bounded by rubber cushions.

Historically, the umbrella term was billiards. While that familiar name is still employed by some as a generic label for all such games, the word’s usage has splintered into more exclusive competing meanings among certain groups and geographic regions. In the United Kingdom, “billiards” refers exclusively to English billiards, while in the United States it is sometimes used to refer to a particular game or class of games, or to all cue games in general, depending upon dialect and context.

There are three major subdivisions of games within cue sports:

* Carom billiards, referring to games played on tables without pockets, including among others balkline and straight rail, cushion caroms, three-cushion billiards and artistic billiards
* Pocket billiards (or “pool”) generally played on a table with six pockets, including among others eight-ball (the world’s most widely played cue sport), nine-ball, straight pool, one-pocket and bank pool.
* Snooker, which while technically a pocket billiards game, is generally classified separately based on its historic divergence from other games, as well as a separate culture and terminology that characterize its play.

More obscurely, there are games that make use of obstacles and targets, and table-top games played with disks instead of balls.

Billiards has a long and rich history stretching from its inception in the 15th century; to the wrapping of the body of Mary, Queen of Scots in her billiard table cover in 1586; through its many mentions in the works of Shakespeare, including the famous line “let us to billiards” in Antony and Cleopatra (1606–07); to the dome on Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello, which conceals a billiard room he hid, as billiards was illegal in Virginia at that time; and through the many famous enthusiasts of the sport including, Mozart, Louis XIV of France, Marie Antoinette, Immanuel Kant, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, George Washington, French president Jules Grévy, Charles Dickens, George Armstrong Custer, Theodore Roosevelt, Lewis Carroll, W.C. Fields, Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, and many others.

Published in: on January 24, 2009 at 5:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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