The history of billiards begins in the fourteenth century.  The game was invented in Europe, but there was a conflict as to what country.  The French believed that the English invented the game, but at the same time, the English thought the French did. 

In the end, a French billiards specialist found evidence that the game originated in France about the fourteenth century. 

The word “billiard” is derived from two French words, “billiart” and “bille”.  These two words mean “stick” and “ball”.  Put them together, and you get stick-ball or pool as it’s called these days.  At first, the game was played outside, but during the winter it got too cold so the game was moved inside onto large tables. 

After a couple of years, a green cloth was installed on the bed of the table to make an illusion of the grass outside.  The sticks used at the time were large, and men used slightly curved sticks while the women used straight, narrow ones.  The sticks weren’t used as they are today to hit the ball but rather to push the balls around the table, similar to the game of shuffleboard.  As the game got more popular, as it is today, the sticks got narrower and easier to use (Billiards, http).

A few games today are similar to billiards, such as shuffleboard, and the same equipment – stick and balls.  One of the most important tools to playing any game of this type is the table.  In the fourteenth century, the length of the tables was much longer than today because they were used instead of playing outside.  Today the size of the tables varies all over the world.  The dimensions range anywhere from nine by four and a half feet to ten by five feet (“Billiards,” Colliers).

Another tool used to play the game is the cue stick.  The cue stick weighs in a range of twelve to twenty-two ounces, and the straighter the cue, the better.  At the end of the cue is a leather tip, which is used to hit the ball with great accuracy. 

If the stick were to hit the ball with the leather tip chalked, then a better shot would be made rather than one without the chalked end.  As most people now know, chalk is used to give a better shot.  The chalk is blue in color and comes in a little square-inch type cube.

Another item needed to play a game of billiards is the balls, fifteen object balls, and one cue ball.  The cue ball is the only ball that is to be hit with the stick.  To play a game of nine-ball, only ten balls are needed to play: nine object balls, numbered from one to nine, and then the cue ball.

When all the necessary equipment is gathered, the game can start but what shots should be used in what situations?  The first shot of the game is called the break shot.  After that, a variety of shots can be used.  Some of them might be the draw shot or the follow shot.  These are the more common shots that people use without knowing it. 

They are so easy to master that even the beginner shoots them.  The break shot should be shot from the opposite side of the table that the racking, or positioning all the balls, except the cue ball, in a triangle, is done on (Ireland, Denise).

After the break is done, it really doesn’t matter what shot is used next.  The object of pool or billiards is to make balls in the pockets so the shots taken should be thought through well.  After the break, if a solid ball is hit in then those are the balls that need to be hit in the rest of the game.  The same if a stripped ball is knocked in, those are hit in instead of the solids. 

So if a ball just happens to go in on the break, the player keeps shooting until he/she misses.  In an eight-ball game, hit all the balls that fall into the color of the one hit in at the break, in the pockets, and then the eight-ball.  The draw shot is used to reverse the direction of the cue ball.  The way the cue ball jumps is by having the top-down of the stick hit it at an angle.  This will make the ball hit the table at such a rate that it will cause it to jump.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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