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history of billiards

history of billiards

The roots of billiards are in 12th and 13th century, at a time, where all today known ballgames have been mixed or related and not had very wide individual characteristics. As Carl Diehm describes in his world history of sport, at that time there were only two elementary different versions of ball games, the bidirectional game and the pushing game. Billiards has developed from the second sort, whereby a special kind, the Mail game, in respect of billiards is very interesting. At this game the ball was pushed with a little mallet on the earth and so it is seen as the directly base of cricket, golf, croquet and billiard.

The billiard game was developed in the 14th century and the first half of the 15th century. In the 15th century also the first billiards are documented by entries in account books.

So billiards is principally a grass game, lifted to a table. The cushion, today the rubber filled heightened frame, had originally the function to prevent falling down of the balls. The padding probably was made to reduce the nasty sound of thudding balls on the wood. The side-effect, that with improvement of the cushions the "rebound" becomes stronger and space made for putting on the bat (Mace), also might be important.

The trying to associate the invention to a country or a person is impossible. At the time of renaissance there was a very intensive cultural interchange in the highest societies. With marriages of dynastic reasons also cultural peculiarities have been transported over great distances. But also other occasions effected transplantation of custom and tradition.

A sample: Ferdinand I: transplanted the ballgames of his homeland Spain to Vienna and built the Ballhaus in 1525. You ca say it would played in two plains. One was the plain of games rooted by the crowd, the other had the improved games, which were cultivated by a circle which thought European and supranational.

Billiards in the 15th century are documented predominantly in account books, in the following century they became important in history. Often displayed in word and picture is the scene as Karl IX. (1560-1574) during massacre of protestants in the Bartholomäusnight (23/24 August 1572) interrupted his billiard game to shoot out of the window of the Louvre with a crossbow or a gun against fleeing Hugenots. That anyway affirm Brantome and d'Aubigne, but they could not be eyewitnesses, because they were not in Paris at this time. Moreover the scene could not be so, because this part of the Louvre was built many years later under Heinrich IV. when Karl IX. and his two brothers, Franz II and Heinrich III., long ago were dead. This a sample of history falsification. Nevertheless the Parisian convent resolved the construction of a shame pale on 20th October 1793 at the place, where Karl IX should have shot to the people.

In the 16th century the billiard game was general introduced in suavity circles. The unlucky Maria Stuart informed the archbishop of Glasgow in a letter about her threatening execution short before the bloody drama, to which she was the immolation on 8th February 1587 in castle Fotheringhay, with the remark that her "table de billiard" has been removed to have place for the execution. Also Spenser, famous poet of the shepherd calendar and the fairy queen, who died 1599 in London was buried in Westminster as the last romanticist of the renaissance, wrote:

The billiard game (balyard)
makes incapable,
and badminton dresses bad
the mans mind.

On an other he noted about "monkeys" in "Nother Hubbards Tale":

Thousand things you could teach him,
he could all difficult games,
he could all imitate,
cube - and card games,
but he was unable to play billiard!

Some years later, 1605, King James I of England ordered a billiard table from the carpenter Henry Waller, who so became the first known manufacturer of billiard tables by name.

1634 the item "Akademmie" is used at the first time for a billiard hall. It was in an edict of Ludwig XIII of France for limitation of excessive luxury in the billiard halls.

The Frenchman Michel de Chamillard should assume highest offices through billiard game. He was financial controller and permanent partner of King Ludwig XIV. With deftness the well known as good and skillfull billiard player Chamillard knew, not to play too good and not too bad to keep majesty in good humor. So he became minister of war. As the French army lost her fortune Chamillard had to go out of office. An epigram of a sneerer is preserved:

Here lies the famous Chamillard,
his kings chiefnotary,
a hero on billiard,
a nought in ministry was

As it was impossible to levy taxes for board games and other small dimensioned games, it was different at billiards. The heavy table had his fix place in the local. Everywhere taxes have been levied for billiard tables; so in Hamburg it was regulated on 24th November 1710, that everyone, who had a public billiard table in his house, had to pay 20 Reichstaler.

A profound change was made in the middle of the 18th century. Instead of the Mace the cue, a conical stick, which is taken with the hand on his thick end and the thinner end is led over the hand lying on the billiard and hit against the ball, won recognition. Because the sureness of hits was much higher then with the mace, the use became universal. This new cue also effects, that women who played billiards before, more and more retired from billiards. The reason was the clothing. As the clothing af a man about 1770 was comfortable and allowed turning and lolling the body, women has noble robes with funicular skid, which only allowed a upright stance. Also the high hair style inhibited a good head attitude for playing. So the ladies were inferior in play and more rare pictured on plates at that time. Some billiard manufacturers added also Maces beside the cues to their products until middle of 19th century to give the ladies the chance to play this game. But they might not come into operation. Who wants to play with, if he is inferior from beginning!

At the begin of 18th century the number of coffee houses in Europe grew up. To hold the guests various games were offered. Mostly it was played with cubes, Tric Trac (today's Back Gammon) and check. Also billiards augmented turned up. Their placement mostly have been bound to a magisterial licence. In Vienna the billiards generally have been allowed unter the title "part-time of cafetiers". As long as the cafes in Vienna have been mainly within the city wall - 1779 it have been 21 undertakings - problems of place prevented addition of billiards. The cafes outside the city centre sometimes had billiard halls. The most famous were in suburb Leopoldstadt at the Schlagbrücke (today Schwedenbrücke) and one of them, the Hugelmann, was deemed to be then "university of billiard player". Also here ladies were excluded. The public of classic cafe was a society of men. Additional there was the smog of pipes which reduced the sight to a few meters. Specific in winter it was unbearable as reported because to air has been prohibited by the owners because of thermal deficit. Also unappetizingly traditions, one of the most harmless was to hand around of a pipe by the guest servant, was nothing for the tender nerves of the ladies.

Some years women are pictured more often, but in private circles. It was the time of Empire with his hellenophile attitude. Women were freed of their closely wear had had long flowing clothes, often gleaming. Only handicap: the fashion demanded the proportions of a Greek goddess.

A revolutionizing invention has been made 1807. The Frenchman Francois Mingaud taped a little part of leather on the top of his cue. In concern with chalk the ball could be hit out of centre and give him angular momentum, in special language effete. So the game spread out colossal. A ball played with effete had an other angle at the cushion, a ball hit under the centre returned after collision with an other ball!

The game as sport was nearly unknown at this time. At best it was usual for conversation. Billiard was played for money. The minimum was the billiard fee or a sum fixed before. In 18th century there were so named billiard champions. They lived professionally from the game and searched their victims under the players which overestimated their ability. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (look at Homo Luden V) was the most prominent of them.

The in England developed sports idea also influenced the billiard game. With realisation of tournaments with exact rules billiard went to sport. The intention was the victory and the felling to be the best. It was played for medals, cups and honorary gifts. The top player also played for money. But it was not the money of the opponent but rather a sum raised different. The first tournaments have been realised in England. Edwin Kentfield, who wrote the book "Kentfield on Billiards with Illustrations" 1839, characterized himself as champion of England and won this title 1825.

history of billiards

Also the science called attention to the billiard game. The famous French mathematician Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis wrote the book "Theorie Mathematique des Effets du Jeu de Billiard" 1835 and counts among the preciousness of the billiard museum.

At the middle of 19th century technical innovations of the billiard tables generally won recognition. The wooden plates were replaced by marmor or schist. The stone plates could be polished nearly plane. This enabled thinner and slicker cloths, because unevennesses needed not to be concealed. So the running way of the balls could be elongated and the possibilities of combinations increased. Also the cushion got a substantial correction. The stuffed cushion - a padding of the billiard border filled with elastic material like cotton or horsehair, came out of use. Instead of this the rubber cushion came in use, whose precise, mostly triangle profile made a manageable rebound of the balls possible.

After that national billiard federations originated. The first of them, the Billiard Federation of USA, in 1873. Her established rules and laws of the game about game and materials where generally took over. The now beginning international sports operation, first France against USA, resulted in a further promulgation of the billiard game. The differentiation of pros and amateurs was strictly observed and all national federations represented predominantly amateurs while the pros either worked free or where under contract of billiard manufacturers. The first world championship of pros was 1873 in New York, amateurs founded their event 30 years later.

If we spoke about billiard, so if has not to oversee, that there are many variants whose promulgation related to colonisation. The carum game is played with three balls on billiard tables without pockets. It originated in the mind of the French enlightenment. All handicaps, pockets, doors, gates etc were removed. Only the game area at the rate of 1:2 and the problem to hit the both other balls with the playing ball remained. In countries with colonial British history it not or nearly not present. Pool is played with 15 numbered balls and a white playing ball on billiards with 6 pockets. It was developed in USA from older games and is spread all over the world. 22 balls are used at Snooker. The table is largest common billiard with 3.5 x 1.75m. Snooker was invented by British military officers in India at the end of 19th century. It repressed the classic English variant English Billiards. This is played on the same table but with 3 balls.

The big variant of billiards is the skittles game. Because it invented by old, national limited variants in different regions and hardly no international contacts have been, it is the most non-uniform group. Primary regions are Italy and regions with a great quota of italic population like Uruguay or Argentina. Also the region of Sachsen. Skittles, billiard table and rules are very different to italic skittles game. The third region is Denmark, Skandinavia up to the western parts of Russia.

In summary you could say billiard is spread worldwide. You can fin billiard tables in the highlands of Tibet as well as in jungle villages of Amazons. The material is already very different to the high precision materials used in sports, but it are billiards.

From 1878 until 1956, pool and billiard championship tournaments were held almost annually, with one-on-one challenge matches filling the remaining months. At times, including during the Civil War, billiard results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them. Pool went to war several times as a popular recreation for the troops. Professional players toured military posts giving exhibitions; some even worked in the defence Industry. But the game had more trouble emerging from World War II than it had getting into it. Returning soldiers were in a mood to buy houses and build careers, and the charm of an afternoon spent at the pool table was a thing of the past. Room after room closed quietly and by the end of the 1950's it looked as though the game might pass into oblivion.

Billiards was revived by two electrifying events, one in 1961, the other in 1986. The first was the release of the movie, "The Hustler". The black-and-white film depicted the dark life of a pool hustler with Paul Newman in the title role. New rooms opened all over the country and for the remainder of the 60's pool flourished until social concerns, the Vietnam War, and a desire for outdoor coeducational activities led to a decline in billiard interest. In 1986, "The Colour of Money", the sequel to "The Hustler" with Paul Newman in the same role and Tom Cruise as an up-and-coming professional, brought the excitement of pool to a new generation. The result was the opening of "upscale" rooms catering to people whose senses would have been offended by the old rooms if they had ever seen them. This trend began slowly in 1987 and has since surged.

In the 1920's, the poolroom was an environment in which men gathered to loiter, smoke, fight, bet, and play. The rooms of today bear no resemblance to those of the earlier times. Until very recently, billiards was completely dominated by men. The atmosphere of the poolroom was very forbidding and women had trouble being accepted there. Nonetheless, women have been enthusiastic players since the game was brought up from the ground in the 15th century. For over 200 hundred years, women of fashion have played the game. In the past, it was very difficult for a woman to develop billiard skills because male players, her family, and friends usually did not support her efforts and it was not easy to find experienced female instructors or coaches. As these situations have changed, and continue to change, we can expect women to equal or even exceed men in ability and take the game to new heights.

history of billiards

Ballard game is not only known at active athletes or viewers of sports transmissions. Billiards is the art to hit coloured balls with the assistance of the white playing ball and bring them to a collision or to sink them in one of the 6 pockets of the billiard table with a playing stick, the cue. But who would guess, that this game, for which a big quantum of concentration and condition is necessary, has a tradition of more than 2000 years?

If you scroll in the annals of sports, you can find names like Mozart, who was a great fan of billiard, the philosopher Immanuel Kant, to whom it is alleged, that he sometimes lived from the billiard game, the Scottish queen Maria Stuart or the French sinking. If you go back to the beginnings of descriptions of billiard, you will see in pictures, that also the Egypt's knew about billiard. And already 2000BC the Greek philosophy Anarchies reports about a game with balls, which was similar to today's billiards.

Since the 13th century you will find in sports history of the middle ages indications about ball and skittle games. King Louis XI had to built a billiard table in 1469, overdrawn with a cloth, and it is known, that billiards was not only a game for men, also prominent women were enjoyed of this ball game. The best example is the Scottish queen Maria Stuart, who regretted at her capture, that her billiard table was removed, but she was allowed a last billiard game before her execution.

Billiard became popularly during the French revolution 1789, as the game, which was played before only by kings and sovereigns, than also was played by the populace. At the end of 19th century the game changed from amusement game to tournament sport. By 1878 in America the first American pool-tournaments took place and 1884 the French champion Maurice Vignoux founded the first billiard-academy of the world in parisienne "Café Mangin".

Today billiards is not only played in spare time but also international in tournaments. There are world and European tournaments. Billiards was accepted as Olympic discipline at the 105th meeting of IOC in Atlanta. So Billiards can go out of the shady side of side sport, because it is sport also achievement-oriented as well as wide sport. In 2004 it could be played for Olympic medals for the first time.

Tournaments are made in three varieties (carum, pool and snooker). They are tiled in the following disciplines:

Carum with: Free game (all billiard sizes)
Cadre 35/2 (small billiard)
Cadre 47/2 (large billiard)
Cadre 47/1 (large billiard)
Cadre 52/2 (small billiard)
Cadre 71/2 (large billiard)
One cushion (all billiard sizes)
Three cushion (all billiard sizes)
Artist que (large billiard)
Skittle-billiard (small billiard) and
5-Skittle-billard (all billiard sizes).

The small billiard has a game area of 2.10 x 1.05 meters and the large (international) billiard a game area of 2.84 x 1.42 metres.

Pool is played as
14/1 endless
9-ball and
Trick wrench

Snooker is tiled in
Snooker and
Trick wrench

All billiard-variants and disciplines have common, that the white ball (since a few years also yellow in carum) is the playing ball. That is the ball, which is moved by the sportsman with the cue to resolve the problem. Also common is for all disciplines, that the opponent comes to play, if the active player makes a fault.

Free game
This discipline is played to a given distance (depending on the position-table). Base is to hit the two other balls with the playing ball as often as possible and to bring them in good positions.

For complicating the billiard is tiled in fields. Depending on the discipline the player may make only one/two collision/s in one field. After considering execution minimum one of the balls to hit has to leave the field, but he can return into the field. Also at this variant the positioning of the balls to hit is the problem for making following collisions. Cadre also is a series-game played to given distances depending on the position-table.

One cushion
Also a series-game to given distances with complication. Before the playing ball hits the second to hit ball, he has to touch minimum one cushion. Also allowed are pre-cushions.

Three cushion
The same principle as one cushion, but much more difficult, because it is necessary, that the ball touches three cushions. Series of 10 are world class. In one-cushion series of more than 100 are common at international tournaments.

Here the sportsman has to resolve predefined figures based on the base rules of billiard. He has three trying for each figure: depending on the difficulty of the figures they are classified by different coefficients.

Here 5 skittles are placed in the middle of the billiard. Beside normal collisions also the skittles have to fall by different rules. Depending on the number they are classified specially.

14/1 endless
Here the base discipline is pool. It is played to predefined distances depending on the position-table. The sportsman has to sink the 14 of 15 balls into the pockets. As long as there is one coloured ball on the table the other are replaced and the game continues "endless" up the end of the distance.

Beside the playing-ball (white) all 15 coloured balls are on the table. Number 1 - 7 full coloured, number 9 - 15 half coloured. The game is won if the black 8 is regular played in a pocket after sinking the other balls (full- or half coloured) regular.

Beside the playing-ball there are only the half coloured balls 1-9 placed on the billiard. The game is won if the 9 is sunk regular in a pocket. Normally the balls are to sink in ascending order (1 - 9). An exception is the untimely indirect sinking of the 9.

Snooker is a variant of serial games played to a given distance depending on the position table. There are the playing ball (white), 15 red balls and 6 different coloured balls. Alternately a red bal and a coloured ball have to be sunk in the pockets. The red balls have a count of one and leave in the pockets. The coloured balls have different valances and are positioned again after sinking. After the last red ball is sunk all balls are positioned as in base and the sportsman continues the game (series).

Trick wrench
A specific show program with according valances according to various criteria's.

Timetable from 1807 to 1937

1807 - The Frenchman Mingaud develops the cue leather and starts a revolution i billiard game.
1818 - The chalking of the cuepeak with cubes specially produced for this purpose is mentioned. The roughing was done before mostly in plaster of the walls.
1820 - The Szamborian Emanuel Scholz gets the patent for production of synthetic balls in Austrian Steyr.
1826 - The first billiard is produced with a schist plate in England.
1835 - The cushion with natural caoutchouc is introduced and displaces the stuffed cushion, which was filled with elastic materials like horse hair, hide or kerchief stripes. In the same year the book "Théorie mathématique des Effets du jeu billard" of the famous French mathematician Gaspard Gustave Coriolis appears in Paris.
1845 - Through vulcanization of the rubber the cushion becomes less independence of temperature.
1865 - At his travels around the world the Frenchman Pierre Carme also visits New York. The Parisian billiard champion was authoritative responsible for launch and propagation of carum game in Japan, Middle- and South America.
1878 - Leon Magnus from USA wins the first three-cushion-tournament in Saint Louis/Missouri of the world.
1883 - In Chicago the first Cadre-Tournament is played. The cadrelines are drawn in a distance of 20cm of the cushions. Winner is Jake Schaefer with 23.23 general average. More than 3000 viewers come to the final game.
1903 - The first world championship for amateurs is executed in Paris. The game variant is the at this time dominant cadre 45/2, winner Rerolle has a general average of 15.91.
1925 - Jake Schaefers son ends a Cadre-world-championship-game against Hagenlocher up to 400 Points with balls made of ivory in only one admission.
1937 - In England a billiard game is shown in television for the first time - Joe Davis against Tom Newman.