Billiards, commonly known as pool, is an indoor recreational and sporting game played by two or more people upon a table with six openings. The object of the game is to strike the balls into one of the six openings. Numerous variations of the rules of billiards exist but in all versions the player must strike the ball with the cue so that a second ball goes into one of the six openings.
There are numerous origins for the game of billiards and it is likely that the true origin may never be known.
William Shakespeare mentioned the game in his play ‘Anthony and Cleopatra’ which lead some to believe that the ancient Egyptians invented the game but this is not documented other than Shakespeare's writing.
Some historians suggest that the game might have of evolved from the popular outdoor game of croquet during the 15th century in Northern Europe. There are early illustrations that show hoops on the surface of the billiard table that would support this theory.
Other historians credit the ancient people of Greece inventing the game around 400 years before the birth of Christ.
There are three basic pieces of equipment used in billiards: the balls; a cue; and the table.
The pool balls are made from a polymer or phenolic resin (carbolic acid mixed with formaldehyde). The cue ball, the ball that is struck with the cue, is always white. Object balls are numbered from 1 to 15 and are either solid colored or striped. The size and weight of balls vary but are nominally 2 ¼” (5.72 cm) in diameter with a weight between 5.5 ounces (156 grams) and 6.0 ounces (170 grams).
The cue stick is normally made of wood that has a tapered diameter. Lengths and weights of the cue stick vary according to user preferences. On the smallest diameter end of the cue is a tip that is used to strike the cue ball.
Pool tables vary in size according to the type and location of play. Most tables used in the home are about 7’ (2.13 m) in length. Regulation tables are at 8’ (2.44 m) in length. Tournament tables will most often be 9’ (2.74 m) in length. Snooker tables are the longest at 10’ (3.05 m) in length. Most often, tables will be made from slate and covered with a felt type cloth.
There are numerous variations of billiards. Below is a list of the some of the more common forms of the game.
The most popular form of billiards is 8 Ball where one players tries to pocket the solid colored balls numbered 1-7 while the other tries to pocket the striped balls numbered 9-15. After the player knocks in all of their balls, the player must call the pocket on the last ball remaining, the 8 ball. The winner of the game is the player who pockets the 8 ball.
In 9 Ball play, each player tries to pocket the ball in order from 1 thru 9. The player that pockets the nine ball is the winner.
14.1 is played by the participants predicting which pocket the ball will go into. If correct, the person striking the ball gets one point. After the 14th ball is pocketed and before the final ball is pocketed, the 14 previously pocketed balls are placed back on the table and racked. The player pocketing the last ball in, strokes the cue ball so that it strikes the last ball and also breaks up the racked ball. The first player who reaches a predetermined point amount wins, usually 150 points in tournament play.
Cut Throat is normally played with three players but can be played with more or less players. Each player is assigned a range of balls. The player who knocks in all of the opponent's balls first wins the game.