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Billiard Trivia and Facts


Billiard Trivia and Facts

Billiard Trivia and Facts

Here are a few (well, 30+) probably little known billiard trivia. They are facts collected from various sources and all confirmed by the BCA via the wayback machine.

  1. According to the BCA, billiards is one of the safest sports in the world. It should be noted that there is considerable disagreement around whether or not billiards is actually a sport. It takes much skill, practice, and dicipline, but there is little to no physical aspect.
  2. In the days of Thomas Jefferson, billiards was illegal in the state of Virginia. Jefferson's home, "the dome on Monticello" however, was built to conceal a billiard room so that he could play away from prosecution from the law.
  3. In 1586, the castle of Mary - Queen of Scots, was invaded and subsequently captured. The invaders made a note of forbidding her to utilize her pool table before killing her and covering her body with the pool table cover.
  4. According to BCA research from the 1990s, billiards had the highest average age of it's professionals as compared to any other sport. That average billiard professional's age was 35.6 years.
  5. In the 1986 blockbuster billiard film, the Color of Money, Tom Cruise did his all of his own billiard shots except for one shot where he had to jump over two object balls to pocket another. Tom was offered to have enough time to learn, but it would have taken several days, and would have held up production costing thousands of dollars per day. Instead, professional player Mike Siegel performed the shot.
  6. The first billiard room in history was build in 1765 in England. The game of one-pocket billiards was played there, but not the one-pocket that we all know today. The one-pocket was a game that was played with a billiard table with one hole and four balls.
  7. 1903 was the year in which the first coin-operated (coin op) billiard table was patented. The cost for one game on this table was one penny.
  8. Today, billiard balls are made from various plastics. Before plastics were invented, billiard balls were made from ivory. Billiard balls were once cut from the center of a tusk, and one elephant yeilded approximately 6-8 balls.
  9. As far back as is known, billiards has been a game that has bridged the societal gap between the masses and aristocracy. This has been evident in pool rooms all around the world where people could watch both street toughs and gentlemen play together.
  10. Captain Mingaud was a political prisoner during the French Revolution. Beleive it or not, he was able to have a pool table installed in his cell, with the assistance of another prisoner. He became obsessed with the game during his imprisonment, and invented the leather cue tip while imprisoned. He felt that the equipment, not his skill, was holding back his game. In fact, he became so obsessed with the game of billiard, that at the end of his prison sentence he requested a longer sentence so that he could perfect his study of the game.
  11. The world's Largest billiard hall, called "The Recreation", was built in Detroit during the 1920s, which was billiar's Golden Age. This pool hall was a massive, seven story health spa with 103 billiard tables, 88 bowling lanes, 20 barber chairs, 14 cigar stands, a lunch hall with 300 seats on each floor, and an exhibition room with theatre seating for 250.
  12. The billiard movie "The Hustler" which is one of the movies that is considered to have popularized billiards was based on a novel by Walter Tevis. The novel, however, was based on a short story he had earlier submitted to Playboy Magazine. Before "The Hustler" was released, the "Philco TV Theater" aired an episode called "Goodbye, Johnny", which bore an uncanny resemblance to the Playboy short story. In it, Cliff Robertson portrayed a cocky young hustler, making Robertson - not Newman - the original "Fast Eddie" Felson.
  13. You have all probably noticed the intricate inlays in pool cues and wonder how they are crafted. Well, this art, call Marquetry, has been practiced and perfected in Egypt and the Orient for the past 3000 years. This art of making pictures or designs with thin slices of wood, shell, or other materials has enhanced the beauty of pool tables and pool cues since the inception of billiards.
  14. The game of billiards has been played, and played quite well, by handicapped folk. One amazing story comes to mind, and that is the story of "Handless George" Sutton is truly one of inspiration. orn in 1870, Sutton lost both hands in a sawmill accident at the tender age of eight. Despite his handicap (and long before the days of advanced prosthetics), he studied medicine and graduated from the University of Milwaukee. During his college years, he took up the game of billiards. He became so proficient, he set an 18.2 Balkline world record with a run of 799, in 1921. He took his playing skills on the road, touring the country and amazing audiences for nearly 35 years. He left an everlasting legacy - the resolve of the human spirit - upon his death, in 1938.
  15. For most of the 1800s, billiard players used "blackboard chalk" also known as carbonate lime, to chalk their cues because that was all that was available at the time.
  16. In the 15th century in France or Northern Europe, there was a lawn game that was much like croquet. This was the game from which billiards evolved.
  17. The word "cue" in pool cue is derived from the French word "queue" meaning tail. Before the cue stick was designed, billiards was played with a mace. The mace consisted of a curved wood or metal head used to push the ball forward, attached to a narrow handle. Since the bulkiness of the mace head made shots along the rail difficult, it was often turned around by the players and the "tail" end was used. Players eventually clued in and realized that this method was far more effective, and the cue as a separate instrument grew out of the mace's tail.
  18. Have you ever wondered where the term snooker came from? In the course of play, one day a visiting military cadet remarked that first-year cadets at this particular academy were known as "snookers". When the cadet missed a particularly east pot, a remark was made "Why, you're a regular snooker"!
  19. The term scratch as it realates to a player who pockets the cue ball, comes from the fact that when players received a penalty for such an act, the score change was "scratched" on a chalkboard. When a player committed such a foul, his or her opponent would "scratch" a point of the fouling player's score.
  20. In the beginning of the game of billiards, the church denounced it as sinful, morally corrupt, and dangerous. In fact, in the 15th century France, billiards play was forbidden, by the Church, as well as the King. This attitude was not limited to European regions. In early American history, actual laws were passed (thanks to religious influences), outlawing the game in many parts of the land.
  21. At times throughout history, including during the Civil War, the news of billiard tournament results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them.
  22. The main component of billiard cloth has remained unchanged for over 450 years. Worsted wool was used in the 1500's, and remains the fabric of choice today. It has, of course, undergone some perfecting. Also, some wool and nylon blends have since been produced.
  23. We've all heard the term "poolroom" and perhaps use it to refer to the establishment in which we shoot pool or billiards. In the 19th century, however, a "poolroom" in the 19th century was a betting parlour where patrons wagered on horse racing. Billiard tables were installed by the proprieters so that the patrons could pass the time between horse races. Because of this, the poolroom and the game of billiards became connected in the minds of the public. In today's society, the two terms are use interchangably.
  24. 1913 was the year in which the first 18.2 Balkline billiard championship. This championship was actually decided by the high court. (meaning that the outcome had to go to the high court for a decision.) After six days of play, three contestants had tied for first place. When a tie-breaking playoff was suggested, Maurice Vignaux, the French champion and notorious whiner when things weren't going his way, scoffed at the suggestion. He insisted the title should be awarded based on the highest overall average. Of course, he held the highest overall average at the time. Vignaux refused to continue, and the matter wound up in the French courts. The courts awarded Vignaux, their countryman, the title, after a delay of more than two months.
  25. The earliest documented billiard table on record was made in 1470. This was documented in an inventory of posessions of King Louis XI. The documention described the billiard table as containing a bed of stone, a cloth covering, and a hole in the center of the playing field, into which billiard balls could be driven.
  26. In terms of women's tournaments, there were few, if any in the early 1890's. Whatever titles there were, were local, and usually self-proclaimed. Until, of course, Frances Anderson came along. The Indiana native merely proclaimed herself Champion of the World, and offered $5,000 to any woman who could beat her at pocket billiards. Anderson toured the country, playing both men and women. Legend has it, she went undefeated for 25 years against her female competitors. She was paid handsomely for her appearances throughout the 1920's, taking on challengers and giving exhibitions, in both America and Europe. She followed this up with a well-publicized announcement that shocked the pool-playing world. Her real name was Orie (from Kansas), not Frances - and she was actually a he.
  27. Until roughly 1920, American billiards was dominated by the carom style billiard games. Pool was a dead, or at least a dying sport. When the first championship pool tournament was held in 1878, the winner, and the event itself, all but went unnoticed.
  28. Charles Goodyear, the inventor of vulcanized rubber, died a poor pauper. His invention revolutionized billiard cushions. Unfortunately his company was run into the ground, and Charles Goodyear was imprisoned for debt.
  29. Speaking of cushions, pool tables originally had flat vertical walls for rails and their only function was to keep the balls from falling off. They resembled riverbanks and even used to be called "banks". Players discovered that balls could bounce off the rails and began deliberately aiming at them. Thus a "bank shot" is one in which a ball is made to rebound from a cushion as part of the shot.
  30. Billiards was in fact the world's first sport to have a "World Championship" event. That event occurred in 1873.
  31. We hope you have enjoyed these tidbits of billiard and pool trivia.

    If you have any short, interesting tidbits to add to this billiard trivia article, please post a comment below.

    • Title: Billiard Trivia and Facts
    • Author: (Billiards Forum)
    • Published: 12/18/2008 2:08:00 AM

    Billiard Trivia and Facts Comments

    1. smoothstrokesmoothstroke from Kansas City, KS on 8/4/2009 1:05:18 AM

      The longest championship winning streak in all professional sports is held by an American professional player and trick shot artist, at 22 consecutive world titles, causing a change in the format for the tournaments. His name is Paul Gerni, also known as "The Ambassador of Pool", a nickname given to him for all his unselfish and enthusiastic promotion of the sport in 53 countries around the world, more by far than all other players combined.

    2. Annette SmithAnnette Smith from Long Beach, CA on 7/25/2012 3:05:33 PM

      I am a pool league statistician for a not-for-profit 8-ball league in California.

      We publish our stats to our members every week, and the former statistician always provided random cue sports trivia that our pool player members seemed to enjoy reading.

      I was looking for billiards trivia and came across this page and found it very interesting.

      Would you mind if I use your pool trivia tidbits in my weekly stats newsletters?

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