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Billiards and Snooker


The origins of this game are partially shrouded in mystery but it is a number of centuries old and probably derived from an out-door game of the croquet family played during the 15th century in Northern Europe. The word 'billiard' is a French derivative coming either from 'billart' (mace) or 'bille' (ball). The original game was played on a six-pocket table with a croquet-like hoop, an upright stick and balls which were pushed rather than struck with a mace (a stick with a special wooden end which replaced the mallet). The hoop and stick were omitted after a while and in the 1600's, people started to sometimes use the handle (or 'queue'; later 'cue') of the mace to strike the ball instead of the mace head. This was more convenient especially when the ball to be struck was near the edge of the table and this method gradually took over.

Introduced to England from Spain in the late sixteenth century, the green cloth of the table represents the turf of the village green. In common with many other pub games, it was was banned from Taverns in England in 1757 due to its seedy reputation. Since the early eighteenth century the game underwent many modifications and varieties of the rules abounded. This situation abated in England during 1885 when the Billiards Association was established after which its popularity grew to such a level that in the 1923 edition of 'Hoyle's Game Modernised', it was described as one of the 'great national sports'. In 1908 the opposing Billiards Control Board was inaugurated which resulted in much confusion, Amateurs tending to the Association rules while Professionals seceded en-masse to the BCC. In 1919, this unhappy situation was halted when the two merged to form the Billiards Association and Control Club

WBilliards.jpg (26994 bytes)
To the left is a half-size (6' x 3') slate bed Billiards table thought to be from the 1920/30's.
From the author's parent's collection.


While the author isn't sure whether this game is still played today, it was thought wise to include it so as to distinguish it from the American versions of Pool. The game is an eliminative game for a number of players each of which uses a different coloured ball as their own cue ball in order to pot the cue balls of the other players. The name 'pool' comes about because each player lays a stake which is pooled, the winning player being the recipient of the pool.


Another English game which used to be played on a Billiard table, 15 red balls were lined up in a triangle and players took turns to try to pot them with the white ball.


Snooker is actually a combination of Pool and Pyramids, the 15 red Pyramids balls are racked up in a triangle together with the 6 'pool' balls which are placed separately. In the UK Snooker enjoyed a huge increase in popularity from the late 1970s onwards and during the 1980s was a major television sport. In general, Snooker is most popular in the countries of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland together with Commonwealth countries such as South Africa, Australia and Canada. However, other countries are also burgeoning such as Thailand, America
To the right is the same Billiards table with modern snooker balls arranged for the start of a game.
WSnooker.jpg (29249 bytes)

Professional Billiards and Snooker is controlled by World Snooker (formerly The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
Amateur Billiards and Snooker is controlled by The International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) (no website currently).
The World Snooker Federation, an amalgam of the WPBSA and the IBSF, is one of the primary members of The World Confederation of Billiard Sports along with the World Pool-Billiards Association (WPA) and Union Mondiale de Billard


WWW Snooker (with a snooker search engine)
Australian Billiards and Snooker
The Billiard Search Engine
United States Snooker Association
Billiard Congress of America (although this is a site ostensibly about Pool (American Pocket Billiards, it includes 'A History of the Noble Game of Billiards' by Mike Shamos)
Buy Cues and Cases
Global Snooker Centre (based in Wales)
Oran's Billiard links (a huge number!)

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