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billiards

billiards, any one of a number of games played with a tapered, leather-tipped stick called a cue and various numbers of balls on a rectangular, cloth-covered slate table with raised and cushioned edges. Games similar to billiards were popular in England and France in the 16th cent., and evidence even suggests that a billiardslike game was played in the 14th cent. The country of origin is disputed—England, France, Italy, Spain, and China have been credited by various historians with its invention. The game in its present form was probably fully developed by 1800. There are three main types of billiards: carom billiards, pocket billiards (also known as pool), and snooker. Carom billiards is played with three balls, a cue ball and two object balls, on a pocketless table; scoring is by caroms only, i.e., by causing the cue ball to strike the object balls in specified ways. Pocket billiards is played with 15 object balls and a cue ball on a table with six pockets; the essential object of the game is to cause the object balls to enter the pockets. Snooker is similar to pocket billiards, except that it uses 21 object balls and smaller pockets. There are many additional variations of the basic games, depending on the number of balls used, the positioning of the balls, the boundaries on the table, and the scoring. Among the variations are Chicago, golf, rotation, balk-line, and bumpers. William Frederick Hoppe is generally considered the foremost billiards player of all time.

See R. Byrne, Byrne's Standard Book of Pool and Billiards (1987).

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billiards and snooker

billiards and snooker. Billiards is a game of some antiquity which evolved as a popular pursuit in the 19th cent. A version was played in the 16th and 17th cents. with a hoop and a king-pin as a skittle. A modern billiards room was opened in Covent Garden and then in many London clubs, with a slate base, three balls, and rubber cushions. A Billiards Association was founded in 1885, a Control Club in 1908, and the two amalgamated in 1919 into the Billiards Association and Control Council. Snooker developed from it in the Indian army and is believed to have taken its name from the slang term for a new cadet. Billiards has never achieved wide popularity but snooker acquired a considerable TV following and its simpler variant, pool, is played in many pubs, since the tables are smaller.

J. A. Cannon

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billiard

bil·liard / ˈbilyərd/ • n. (billiards) [usu. treated as sing.] a game usually for two people, played on a billiard table, in which three balls are struck with cues into pockets around the edge of the table: play billiards at home [as adj.] billiard ball billiard room. ∎  (English billiards) a game played on a billiard table with pockets, in which points are made by caroms, pocketing an object ball, or caroming the cue ball into a pocket:

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billiards

billiards XVI. — F. billard name of the game and the cue, f. bille; see BILLET2 and -ARD. Made pllike bowls, etc.

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