History of billiards Essay

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Andrew Beauchesne
Mrs. Minore
English 10
The Game of Billiards He walks around the table to see what his next move will be. The easiest ball to hit is near a corner pocket. He has to cut it just the slightest bit to make it into the pocket. Not too hard, but not too soft of a hit. He strikes the ball, makes it, and then it is on to the eight ball. He calls the pocket. Then he hits and makes it with a breeze. The game he was playing was billiards. The game of billiards had a slow start, has been changed many times both rules and equipment, and has entered American life. The beginning of billiards is uncertain, but it is similar to games played in fourteenth-century Britain. Billiards evolved from a game called croquet or ground billiards, which was played outdoors with a wooden mallet-like stick. The object of the game was to hit a ball through a series of hoops and hit a stick stuck in the ground. The outdoor play of ground billiards continued growing in popularity from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth-century. It was played throughout Europe and acquired many different names, such as; biglia, bilhard, and virlota. Its current name, “billiards—is believed to be the derivative of two French words: billart (mace or club) and bille (ball)” (Wall and Crimi). In the fifteenth-century billiards was introduced to the indoors and onto a table. When it was brought inside the cloth on the table was green to represent the grass it was originally played on. The game became popular in the upper class, and in most of Europe, but along with enjoyment it brought gambling. Even Queen Victoria bought a billiards table for the Windsor Castle in 1838 (Byrne). The playing of the game continued and in the 1920s the pool room was a place where men came to smoke, bet, and play the game (Shamos). As the game caught on different variations came about. The first one called English Billiards was the main game played throughout Britain from about 1770 to the 1920s. It was played with three balls and six pockets. Now Britain plays a similar game called snooker, but it is played with twenty-two balls. The popular American billiard game up to the 1870’s was American Four-Ball Billiards. This was only a four pocket table with four balls, two of which were red and two white. It was a straight extension of English Billiards. The offspring of American Four-Ball Billiards was Fifteen-Ball Pool. Its popularity continued passed the 1870s and became one of the modern pocket billiards game. Fifteen-Ball Pool was played with fifteen balls, numbered one through fifteen. This game was in the first American championship pool tournament in 1878. From the span of 1900 to 1920 Eight-Ball, Nine-Ball, and Straight Pool were all invented (Shamos). Until about 1750 billiard tables were poorly constructed, with little concern about stability. The bed of the table was nothing more than a thin wooden board which didn’t keep the board from warping (Mizerak and Panozzo). Tables had flat walls to prevent the balls from falling off of the playing surface of the table (Shamos). The sides were experimented with by putting cloth on them and padding them with hair or cotton for more bounce. In 1835 crude rubber had replaced the cloth sides, but it came with more problems. If the room temperatures dropped the rubber would become hard as a rock. To make the rubber playable, detached rails were set out in front of a fire and hot irons were used to heat the