Billiards: Orgins
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Billiards: Orgins - 03-04-2011, 04:06 AM

History of Billiards

The word billiard is either derived from the French word billiard, one of the wooden sticks used to strike the balls, or bile, one of the billiard balls. The game of billiards evolved from a lawn game very similar to the game of croquet that was probably in France. The game was moved indoors to a wooden table with a green cloth that was supposed to represent grass. The billiard table also had a simple border placed around it’s borders. In the first plays of billiards, instead of being struck, the balls were shoved by wooden sticks called maces.

The cue was developed in the late 1600’s. When the ball lay near the rail, the mace was a very hard thing to use because of it’s big head. Whenever this happened the billiard players would turn the mace around, and hit the balls with the tail end of the mace. The tail was "queue", which is were we get the cue. For a long time, only men were allowed to use the cue. Women were forced to use the mace because it was thought that women would rip the cloth with the sharper cue stick.

Billiard tables originally had flat vertical walls for rails, and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off the table. The rails resembled river banks, and were even used to be called banks. When players found out that the balls would bounce off the rails, the y began to deliberately aiming at the banks. That was the invention of the "bank shot". The "bank shot" is were a ball is aimed, and shot at the wall as part of a shot.

The dominant game of billiards in Britain from about 1770 until the 1920’s was English Billiards. The British billiard tradition is still carried out in a billiard game called Snooker. They say it is possible to see a Snooker tournament in Britain everyday.

Famous Billiards Players

Michael Phelan is considered by many as the “Father of American Billiards” as a player, inventor, manufacturer, and tireless popularize of billiards. He won the first billiard stakes match in 1859. He holds many patents for billiard table designs, and cushions. He is credited to be the first to put diamonds on the table. He authored the book Billiards Without a Master, the first American book on billiards, and set the trend for lavish billiard rooms through his New York room on Broadway.

Eddie Taylor is a two-time world all-around tournament champion. He defeated Hall-of-Famer Luther Lassiter in all-around finals in Johnston City, in 1964. He also defeated Danny Jones, and Mike Eufemia at the 1967 Stardust Open finals in Las Vegas. He lost to Lassiter in the 1967 Johnston City all-around finals, and finished 7th in the 1967 World 14.1 championship in New York. Eddie Taylor being born in Knoxville, Tennessee was known as the “Knoxville Bear” He was inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 1987. He is an active promoter of billiards in Boys Clubs of America, and is regarded as one of the greatest one-pocket and bank pool players of all time.

Ray Martin: Born in 1936, his world titles in straight pool in 1971, 1974, and 1978 make Ray Martin one of only seven players in this century to win three or more world 14.1 titles. He has as many nine-ball tournament wins to his credit as well, including the 1980 Caesars Tahoe Invitational, the 1981 ESPN King of the Hill, and the 1983 Music City Open. While concentrating today more on teaching than playing, Martin is still a threat in straight pool tournaments, finishing 4th and 5th in the 1992 and 1993 BCA U.S. Opens. In collaboration with Rosser Reeves , Martin wrote a book called The 99 Critical Shots in Pool.

Here's some good reference sites to learn more:
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