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Billiards

Billiards is one of the fastest growing sports and leisure activities around the world. It is played on a table with a stick called cue stick and balls known as cue balls. The cue stick is usually fifty eight inches in length and weighs around eighteen to twenty one ounces. It is used to hit the balls moving around the table and down them in one of six different pockets. Billiards involves the practical application of physics and geometry and is known for increasing hand eye coordination along with focus and concentration. A billiard table is available in four basic sizes. It is either 7 foot (39 inches by 78 inches), 8 foot (44 inches by 88 inches), an oversize 8 foot (46 inches by 92 inches) or 9 foot (50 inches by 100 inches) . The cue balls used in billiards are mostly made from wood, ivory and other synthetic materials but sometimes phenolic resin is also used for manufacturing these balls.

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Billiards is a fun leisure activity that can be enjoyed both at home and pool halls. If a person buys a pool table he can play with his friends and even bet on the games just for the fun of it. Whereas people who go to pool halls can also meet other people and make new friends. There is no real physical activity involved in playing billiards which makes it a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Sports like football, basketball and hockey require us to have a whole team together but the great thing about billiards is that a person can even play by himself in addition to playing with an opponent or playing in teams. Since it is played with the mind so, it doesn't involve sweat or blood that is seen in other sports. In addition to being a fun leisure activity, billiards is played professionally as well.

History

The word billiards has been derived from the French words “Bille” which means ball and art, because it involves the art of playing a game involving balls with a stick. Historical records relating to the introduction of the game of billiards, and its genesis place and form are inaccurate and ambiguous. Even though the French gave new life and meaning to this game by refining and popularizing it, they can't claim that they invented it. During the 15th century, billiards was regularly played as an outdoor lawn game in Northern Europe. But the first actual evidence of this game was found in the form of a billiards board game in the inventory of King Louis XI of France in 1470. Historians are unclear about the introduction of this game, and it is still a topic of debate whether billiards was a source of entertainment in ancient times, or it served some sort of a social or religious function. By the mid 1500's billiards had become very popular among aristocrats and commoners in France, and was known as a game that allowed fair play and equal footage to players of both genders. During that time it graduated from being an outdoor lawn game to an indoor sports.

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A table version similar to the one being played today was introduced in the mid 1600's. Initially, a mace was used for the purpose of playing billiards which was similar to a golf club. Players would turn the mace around and use the tail end of the mace to hit the balls around the table. But the introduction of the cue stick in the 1700's led to the replacement of the mace. The word cue originated from the French word queue, which means tail. It was the introduction of the cue stick that helped billiards acquired its status of being a scientific game involving precisely designed equipment and standardized rules. The year 1797 saw fabric replacing cotton and wool for the purpose of improving smoothness and friction and in 1823, Captain Minguard of England designed the leather cue tip for the purpose of protecting the cue. This cue tip added a new dimension to the game as it allowed the players to add a side spin to the ball and hence the term English shot was crowned.

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The two piece cue was invented in the year 1829 and in 1840 billiards table were placed in betting parlors of horse racing. Those betting parlors then got the name of pool halls and by the year 1850, billiards had dominated most of the world. The cue balls evolved from wood to ivory and then to the present Colloidal coated plastic form in the year 1869.

Rules

The rules governing the game of billiards are pretty much the same all over the world with certain exceptions. The balls are racked using a triangle of a specific dimension in a way that the apex ball is at the foot spot with all other balls following it and making contact with each other. Only those shots are considered legal in which the cue ball is struck with the the cue tip. If the player fails to pocket a ball then the opponent gets to strike. In order to determine which player gets to play the opening shot, a ball of same weight and size is shot by both players at the same time. This ball can either be the cue ball or a non stripe object ball. One players shoots it from the right and the other from the left of the head spot to the foot cushion and back to the head end of the table. The balls shot are required to touch the foot cushion of the table at least once. The player who shoots the ball nearest to the head cushion is considered to be the winner. If the ball jumps out of the table, crosses to the opponents half or falls in to a pocket then the shot is considered as loss of lag. A lag shot is usually used in formal tournaments and competitions to decide which player gets to play the opening shot.

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As soon as the balls are positioned and the cue ball is struck with the cue stick across the head string, the game is considered open. Once the opening break has been shot, if the player tries to stop or deflect the cue ball in any way then, it is considered a foul and the opponent qualifies for the shot. In case of a foul, the player is penalized with the opponent being awarded a cue ball in hand. The cue ball in hand rule allows the player to place the cue ball anywhere he desires as a result of a foul committed by the opponent. A ball is considered pocketed only if certain conditions are fulfilled. Both feet need to be in contact with the floor while playing a shot. The location of the ball is verified by where its base rests and the player is not allowed to shoot any ball which is still in motion. The stroke is considered complete only when the entire ball has stopped moving. There are certain shots that are considered foul like if the cue ball doesn't contact the object ball then that shot is considered foul. Similarly, touching or moving any balls other than the cue ball or scratching the cue ball and moving it in any way other than by striking it is considered foul. Any damage to the equipment whether intentional or accidental is considered a foul as well. Unless specified by the game to the contrary if the cue ball jumps in a shot then it is also considered a foul. A ball is considered to have jumped if it doesn’t return to the table on its own.

Tools

If a person desires to truly understand how billiards is played he needs to be aware of all the tools of the game and should know about the terms and equipments used in playing the game of billiards. Billiard balls are the first on the list. There are different types of balls available and they vary in terms of size, structure and design. A carom billiard ball is the largest in size and has a diameter of about 2 7/ 16 inches. Whereas regular billiard balls which are the most popular are about 2 ¼ inches in diameter and snooker balls have a diameter of 2 1/ 16 inches. A billiard table is required to play billiards and like the cue balls it also varies in style and sizes. Whatever the type of table maybe the only constant thing required of it is that it should have a length twice as large as its width. The billiard tables are covered with a piece of cloth which is also known as the felt. The cloth is mostly a woven kind of wool or a blend of wool and nylon known as the baize.

Since a billiards table is used quite a lot in places like bars and taverns, the cloth of the table is likely to wear out easily. This is the reason why slower and more durable clothes are preferred for these tables. Whereas a billiard table for homes and upscale pool halls makes use of a faster cloth that offers less friction. The balls tend to roll even further across the table bed of these billiard tables. For the purpose of competition 100 percent wool cloth is used for the billiard tables. A person cannot play billiard without a cue. The cue is a stick that is used to hit the billiard balls across the pool table. This cue can either be a single piece of tapered stick or two pieces of sticks that are divided with the help of a phenolic resin or a metal joint across the middle. Next comes the billiards chalk which is another important accessory in billiards and is used for the purpose of reducing the friction caused by perspiration between the cue shaft and the bridge hand. A triangular rack is also needed for a game of billiards and it is made from different materials like aluminum, plastic and wood. With the help of this rack, the billiard balls are organized before the start of each game.

Types of Games

Eight Ball is without a doubt the most popular game of pool across the world. It is played with all six pockets. Today when you utter the word pool or billiards most people will think of it as Eight ball. That is how popular this game has become world wide. There are many ways of playing eight ball. Alabama Eight ball, Missouri, Last Pocket and Soft Eight are some of the popular ways of playing eight balls. Regular eight ball is one of the easiest game of billiards and any novice and amateur can easily break into it and excel. Nine ball is another game of pool which is also very popular. It started off in the United states in the Year 1920. In its early period it was known as the money game and the gambler's pool game but as the prohibition era passed, the reputation of nine ball also got better and today it is one of the most popular games of billiards. The object of the game is to hit all the balls into the pockets in numerical order and the first player to legally pocket the nine ball wins the game.

Cutthroat is another popular game of billiards in which three players can play at the same time. Each player is assigned five balls and they are required to go through the game without losing all of their designated pool balls. If a player pockets all of them then he is out of the game unless another player scratches which then bring the player back. Although this game requires three cues but if you don’t have enough you can always share. One pocket is another famous two player game of billiards which is played with only two pockets, one per player. This game involves point system and you lose a point if you pocket the ball in the wrong pocket. This game is very famous among the top players of the world but is not as popular as eight ball and nine ball. Straight pool or 14.1 continuous is another game of billiards. It is not as famous as the other games of billiards but it is still played all over the world. The game involves naming your shots and executing them perfectly. There is a predetermined points total and the first player to reach that number wins. What makes this game unique is that it is not only creative but it also brings an element of innovation to the game.

Conclusion

It is not difficult to understand the game of billiards. With practice you can easily master the game and win your first match within a few hours. There maybe different types of billiard games out there but there are also simple ways to learn each and every one of them. Reading a how-to-book is one of the most simplest ways of learning the game of billiards . Every book store has different types of these books available from various authors. However, some writers may write the steps in a way that it becomes difficult for a beginner to understand them. So you need to chose the right book that can help you learn the game of billiards without confusing you. Reading these books can help beginners get a know how of the game but some of the techniques can't be learned just by reading. You have to watch someone actually doing them and for this purpose many how-to videos are also available on the internet. A billiards forum is also a great place to get opinions. If you have any query relating to the game, you can post your question on these forums and experienced players will guide you. If you want to be a pro player of billiards then you need to hire a qualified BCA trainer to teach you. An instructor is helpful because he can teach you how to stand, how to hit the ball and how to improve your skill level. Becoming an advanced billiards player takes a lot of practice but with the correct mindset and dedicated effort you can master the game easily because many professionals claim that becoming successful is mainly a question of practice, correct mindset and playing technique.

References

1. The Origin And Evolution Of Billiards http://www.the8knights.com/history.htm

2. What Is Billiard And How Did It Start https://www.pooltables.com/history-of-pool

3. Rules Of Playing Billiards http://www.sneakypetemafia.com/rules/

4. How To Play Billiards http://billiards.colostate.edu/pool_tutorial.html

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