In todays blog, we will take a look at the history of billiards, which comes with its own vocabulary and rules, and the popular American pool game, eight ball.
Evolved from lawn games like croquet, billiards refers to a game played with a cue stick which is used to strike billiard balls moving them around a cloth covered billiard table cushioned with rubber rails. Billiards refers to all games played on such a table with our without pockets. On the other hand, pool (also called pocket billiards in some places) is billiard game played on a table with six pockets (one in each corner and two in the center of the longer rail).
The earliest documented record of a billiard table was made in 1470? The table, made of stone, with a cloth covering, and a hole in the center which balls could be driven into, was on an inventory of property owned by King Louis XI of France. Louis wasnt the only royal to enjoy a game of billiards. Mary, Queen of Scots was known to enjoy the game, and it was played in many royal courts.
The stick, known as a cue short for the French queue, came along later. Pool was originally played with maces being used to strike at the balls, which was difficult when they were positioned close to the edge of the table. Thus the cue stick was an improvement. Wool is still the fabric choice for covering pool tables, being in use for over 400 years (though todays wool is a high-tech blend). Billiard balls were once made of ivory, Sorel cement (an imitation ivory), and a composite called nitrocellulose; today various plastics and resins are used.
Billiards claim the honor of being the first sport to have a Worlds Champion, happening in 1873. Some notable pool players include Thomas Jefferson, (who had a pool room concealed in Monticello) W.C. Fields, and Tom Hanks.
The most popular American pool game is 8 ball. In this game each player tries to claim a suit (usually stripes or solids), pocketing all of the balls in that suit, then legally pocket the 8-ball, at the same time denying ones opponent opportunities to do the same with their suit and without pocketing the cue ball.
So the next time you head to the clubhouse for a game of pool, reflect for a moment on the history of the game. And feel free to share a story about pool in the comments.