The Great Game of Billiards - A Collection of Classic Articles on the Techniques and History of the Game - Read Online
The Great Game of Billiards - A Collection of Classic Articles on the Techniques and History of the Game
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Carefully selecting the best articles from our collection of classic magazines we have compiled a series of informative publications on the subject of sport. The titles in this range include 'The Sport of Rifle Shooting,' 'A Traditional Guide to Swimming and Diving,' 'The Great Sport of Rowing,' and many more. Each publication has been professionally curated and includes all details on the original source material. This particular instalment, 'The Great Game of Billiards', contains information on the techniques and history of the game. Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900's and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. We are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions.
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ISBN: 9781473359178
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The No-Bar Billiard Table


THE past eighteen months have brought to the notice of the public almost as many variations of the ordinary billiard table as there have been during the four hundred years or so which our modern table has taken to arrive at its present state of perfection. Various causes have worked to this end, but the chief of them is the possibility which the ordinary table presents to the competent player of cradling to infinity. To obviate this, and other results of that excellence which verges on monotony, makers have vied with each other in the production of tables whose shapes well nigh defy the science of geometricians and put Euclid in the shade. But there is one—the No-Bar table—which has not departed from the the familiar rectangle, and for that reason alone it is perhaps the most ingenious of the lot. It is the invention of Mr. John Thomson, junior, of Aberdeen, and the leading idea of it is the displacement of the corner pockets from the corner angles of the table to points a few inches along the end cushions. The inventor, like other billiard-table inventors, designed it primarily with the idea of preventing continuous cradle-cannon play. This it does effectively without altering materially the nature of the standard game. To balance the account, a vista of possibilities is opened by the new positions of the pockets. Instead of being half concealed, the two top pockets are wide-mouthed to the player from baulk. This means that a long jenny may be played without the great amount of side which, so necessary on the rectangular table, makes the shot largely a matter of luck to the ordinary amateur. It means, further, that a winning or a losing hazard may be made off the side cushions, a fact full of hope for the player with an eye to position play. The inventor has framed nine rules, which govern the game on the no-bar table, and of these three are so distinctly new that it is worth while to quote them even in this brief survey. The first is that the game is begun with all three balls on the table, the spot ball being placed on the right-hand spot of the half circle, and the plain ball on the left-hand spot. The second rule is that when you pot your opponent’s ball it is replaced on the table, and so is always in play. It is replaced on a spot in baulk corresponding with that of the red at the other end of the table; or, if this happens to becovered, on the middle spot. The third rule is that a safety miss (or a miss of any kind) entails the spotting of the ball and a penalty of one point to your opponent. If the miss is made with the spot ball, it goes on the right-hand spot of the half circle; if with the plain, on the left-hand spot.

A corner of the No-Bar table, showing the position of the pocket.

The position of the balls as spotted at the opening of the game. No misses are allowed.

A half ball losing hazard, showing how the side cushions may be utilised.

The exact location of the pcckets in his new table cost the inventor many months of careful experiments. One of his difficulties was that the shifting of the pocket produced a dead corner, and anyone who has played on an American or a Continental pocketless table will not need to have the inconvenience of this explained to him. The remedy for this was found in cutting out a half-inch groove just in the shoulder of the pocket. Another point which, I think, brings out the ingenuity of the new location, is the fact that it is still possible to get a run-through losing hazard from a ball touching the top cushion. As is shown in the diagram, the white ball, struck with left-hand side full at the red, follows on as in ordinary billiards, and enters the pocket off the side cushion.

A run-through losing hazard. The white is played with left-hand side, which takes it in off the side cushion.

The alteration of the pockets, of course, produces variations in the natural angle shots, with an eye to which the pockets and spots of an ordinary billiard table are arranged. For example, the half-ball shot, from the jaws of either of the middle pockets off the spotted red into the opposite corner pocket, becomes a three-quarter ball shot with check side. Similarly, the half-ball loser, from the jaws of either of the top pockets off the spotted red into the other top corner pocket, becomes a medium strength half-ball struck low with side, which just suffices to take it in off the side cushion. The top-of-the-table game is also worked by potting the red off the side cushions. Altogether, the scheme is full of characteristics of engaging interest, and it should appeal equally to players who are interested in the science of their game and to those who are bored by their own and others’ perfection.

Losing hazard off the spotted red. A medium strength half-ball stroke with side, which takes it in off the side cushion.

A position in top-of-the-table play. The red is potted off the side cushion by striking it with a little right-hand side.



IF you hit a billiard-ball exactly at the centre of its height, and watch its behaviour carefully, you will see it slide for a couple of inches before it begins to roll. This rolling is the result of the friction of the cloth. The beginner will do well to assimilate this and other facts of a like nature, for the whole business of screw, top, and side depends upon them, and in no other game is theoretical investigation more important, or more richly rewarded, than in billiards.

The novice will go on to observe that the forward rotation produced by hitting the ball above its centre is the exact reverse of the backward rotation known as screw. By its means the ordinary rolling which a centrally-struck ball acquires, and which is exactly proportional to the weight and velocity of the ball, so that it is termed perfect rolling, is doubled or trebled. This result is called follow, or top, and is the same as top in golf or lawn tennis. The term follow-through ought to be derived from the fact that a ball so struck does not come to a standstill or a reduced speed after hitting the object-ball, but follows its course through it with undiminished velocity. But it probably was derived from the fact that the cue follows through the stroke. This it should do in every stroke, but the ways of phrases are as incalculable as the ways of beginners at billiards themselves.






Experto crede.


This increased forward rotation, like that of a spinning wheel, has two main results—it adds to the speed of the ball, and it forces the ball forward after meeting another ball or the cushion. It can therefore be used to make the cue-ball travel without extra hard hitting, and also to make it hug cushions as well as follow-through object-balls. There are further refinements of these results:—For instance, to prevent the cue-ball from rebounding from the cushion or from a ball touching the cushion, put on top, and the ball after impact tries to follow its original direction. As every beginner knows, it is possible to make the ball climb over the cushion by using follow. A refinement or curiosity of French billiards is playing on two tables set end to end. The expert makes cannons from one table to the other, his ball, with top, climbing the intervening double cushion. Another useful application is when the cue-ball and object-ball are very close together. A central stun stroke, and the cue-ball stops more or less dead. If then it is required to make the cue-ball travel, top should be used. The novice may reflect upon the fact that in any stroke the thicker the impact, that is to say, the more full the impact on the object-ball, the more resistance there is to the cue-ball. It is a question of weight directly applied. It follows that, to get the full effect of follow-through when the stroke is more or less full, pace is needed. But this must not be overdone; the forward rotation itself is a form of pace. The rule holds that the greater the distance between the cue-ball and the object, the greater the force of the blow.

Now for some practical applications of these fairly obvious principles. As in all billiards, it is essential to study your cue-ball and the