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936
BILLIARDS

misses (not hitting an object-ball), 1. All these forfeits involve the termination of the turn. There are also “foul strokes” which score nothing to the opponent, and only involve the termination of the turn: such as playing with the wrong ball, forcing a ball off the table, hitting a ball twice, &c. When the red ball is pocketed it is replaced on the billiard-spot; if that is occupied, on the pyramid-spot; if that too, on the centre-spot; but if the opponent’s white ball is pocketed it remains out of play till his turn comes. Public matches between adepts are played for higher points, but the rules which govern them are the same. The players have alternate turns, each being “in play” and continuing his “break” until he fails to score.

The game commences by stringing for the lead and choice of balls. The players standing behind the baulk line, strike each a ball from the semicircle up to the top cushion, and he whose ball on its return stops nearest the bottom cushion has the choice of lead and balls. The red ball is placed on the spot at the commencement of the game, and the first player must “break the balls.” The balls are said to be “broken” when the first player has struck the red or given a miss; and the opponent’s ball when off the table is said to be “in hand.” Breaking the balls thus takes place whenever the position, as at the beginning of the game, recurs. The first player (or the player at any stage of the game when he plays after being “in hand”) must place his own ball in any part of the D, or on the lines that form the D, and must play into the part of the table outside the baulk line, for he may not hit direct any ball that is “in baulk,” i.e. on or behind the baulk-line; if he wishes to play at it he must first strike a cushion out of baulk (or, as it is called, bricole). If a player fails to score, the adversary plays, as soon as all the balls are at rest, either from baulk (if “in hand”) or from the place where his own ball has stopped. If by the same stroke a player makes two scores, i.e. a cannon and a hazard for instance, or a winning and a losing hazard, he scores for each of them. Thus if he pockets the red ball and the cue-ball, he scores six, or if he makes a cannon and holes the red ball, five. In the case of a cannon and a losing hazard, made by the same stroke, the value of the hazard depends on the ball first struck. Thus if the cue-ball strikes the red, cannons on to the white, and runs into a pocket, the stroke counts five points, but only one cannon can be made by the same stroke, even if the cue-ball strikes each of the others twice. If both object-balls are struck simultaneously it is considered that the red is struck first. Ten points are the most that can be scored by a single stroke with the cue, namely by striking the red ball first and then the white, and holing all three. If the white ball be struck first and the same series occurs, the value of the stroke is nine points. When the cue-ball and object-ball are touching, whatever the position, the red ball is spotted, the white object-ball put on the centre-spot, and the player plays from baulk.

There are various subtleties in the art of striking, which may be indicated, though only practice can really teach them; the simple stroke being one delivered slightly above the centre of the ball.

The side-stroke is made by striking the object-ball on the side with the point of the cue. The effect of such a mode of striking the ball is to make it travel to the right or to the left, according as it is struck, with a winding or slightly circular motion; and its purpose is to cause the ball to proceed in a direction more or less slanting than is usual, or ordinary, when the ball is struck in or about the centre of its circumference. Many hazards and cannons, quite impossible to be made with the central stroke, are accomplished with ease and certainty by the side-stroke. It was the invention of the leather tip which made side possible. The screw, or twist, is made by striking the ball low down, with a sharp, sudden blow. According as the ball is struck nearer and nearer to the cushion, it stops dead at the point of concussion with the object-ball, or recoils by a series of reverse revolutions, in the manner familiar to the schoolboy in throwing forward a hoop, and causing it to return to his hand by the twist given to its first impetus.

The follow is made by striking the ball high, with a flowing or following motion of the cue. Just as the low stroke impedes the motion of the ball, the follow expedites it.

In the drag the ball is struck low without the sudden jerk of the screw, and with less than the onward push of the follow.

The spot-stroke is a series of winning hazards made by pocketing the red ball in one of the corners from the spot. The great art is, first, to make sure of the hazard, and next, to leave the striking ball in such a position as to enable the player to make a similar stroke in one or other of the corner pockets. To such perfection was the spot-stroke brought, that at the end of the 19th century it was necessary to bar it out of the professional matches, and the “spot-barred” game became consequently the rule for all players. The leading English professionals so completely mastered the difficulties of the stroke and made such long successions of hazards that they practically killed all public interest in billiards, the game being little more than a monotonous series of spot-strokes. In 1888 W. J. Peall made 633 “spots” in succession, and in 1890 in a break of 3304—the longest record—no less than 3183 of the points were scored through spot-stroke breaks. J. G. Sala, by use of the screw-back, made 186 successive hazards in one pocket, but C. Memmott is said to have made as many as 423 such strokes in succession. The spot-stroke was known and used in 1825, when a run of twenty-two “spots” caused quite a sensation. The player, whose name was Carr, offered to play any man in England, but though challenged by Edwin Kentfield never met him, so the latter became champion. Kentfield, however, did not regard the spot-stroke as genuine billiards, rarely played it himself, and had the pocket of his tables reduced to 3 in., and the billiard-spot moved nearer to the top of the table, so as to make the stroke exceedingly difficult. John Roberts, sen., who succeeded Kentfield as champion in 1849, worked hard at the stroke, but never made, in public, a longer run than 104 in succession. But W. Cook, John Roberts, jun., and others, assisted by the improvements made in the implements of the game, soon outdid Roberts, sen., only to be themselves outdone by W. Peall and W. Mitchell, who made such huge breaks by means of the stroke that it was finally barred, the Association rules providing that only two “spots” may be made in succession unless a cannon is combined with a hazard, and that after the second hazard the red ball be placed on the centre-spot.

Top-of-the-Table Play.—When the spot-stroke was dying, many leading players, headed by John Roberts, jun., assiduously cultivated another form of rapid scoring, known as “top-of-the-table-play,” the first principle of which is to collect the three balls at the top of the table near the spot. The balls are then manipulated by means of red winning hazards and cannons, the winning hazard not being made till the object-white can be left close to the spot.

The Push-stroke.—Long series of cannons were also made along the edge of the cushion, mainly by means of the “push-stroke,” and with great rapidity, but eventually the push-stroke too was barred as unfair. It was usually employed when cue-ball and object-ball were very close together and the third ball was in a line, or nearly in a line with them; then by placing the tip of the cue very close to the cue-ball and pushing gently and carefully, not striking, the object-ball could be pushed aside and the cue-ball directed on ball 3.

Balls Jammed in Pockets.—If the two object-balls get jammed, either by accident or design, in the jaws of a corner pocket, an almost interminable series of cannons may be made by a skilful player. T. Taylor made as many as 729 cannons in 1891, but the American champion, Frank C. Ives, in a match with John Roberts, jun., easily beat this in 1893, by making 1267 cannons, before he deliberately broke up the balls. In Ives’s case the balls, however, were just outside the jaws, which were skilfully used to keep the balls close together; but in this game, which was a compromise between English and American billiards, 2¼-in. balls and 3¼-in. pockets were used. Under the aegis of the Billiard Association a tacit understanding was arrived at that the position must be broken up, should it occur. A similar position came into discredit in 1907, in the case of the “cradle-double-kiss” or “anchor” cannon, where the balls were not actually jammed, but so close on each side of a pocket that a long series of cannons could be made without disturbing the position—a stroke introduced by Lovejoy and carried to extremes by him, T. Reece and others (see below).

The Quill or Feather Stroke.—This stroke was barred early in the game’s history. It could only be made when the cue-ball was in hand and the object-ball just outside that part of the baulk-line that helps to form the D. The cue-ball was set so close to the object-ball as only not to touch it, and was then pushed very gently into the pocket, grazing the other so slightly as just to shake it, and no more. A number of similar strokes could thus be made before the object-ball was out of position.

A jenny is a losing hazard into one of the (generally top) pockets when the object-ball is close to the cushion along which the pocket lies: it requires to be played with the side required to turn the ball into the pocket. Long jennies to the top pockets are a difficult and pretty stroke: short jennies are into the middle pockets.

Massé and Piqué.—A massé is a difficult stroke made by striking downwards on the upper surface of the cue-ball, the cue being held nearly at right angles to the table, and the point not being directed towards the centre of the ball. It is generally used to effect a cannon when the three balls are more or less in a line, the cue-ball and the object-ball being close together. The term massé is often used irregularly for piqué, made when the object-ball is as close to the cue-ball as the latter to the cushion, or the third ball, or to make screwing impossible; the cue is then raised to an angle of almost 45° or 50° and its axis directed to the centre of the cue-ball, so that backward rotation is set up. Vignaux, the French player, says, “Le massé est un piqué.” Massé is in fact piqué combined with side.

The perfection of billiards is to be found in the nice combination of the various strokes, in such fashion as to leave the balls in a favourable position after each individual hazard and cannon; and this perfection can only be attained by the most constant and unremitting practice. When the cue-ball is so played that its centre is aimed at the extreme edge of the object-ball, the cue-ball’s course is diverted at what is called the “natural” or “half-ball” angle. If the balls were flat discs instead of spheres the edge of one ball would touch the centre of the other. The object-ball is struck at “three-quarter ball” or “quarter-ball” according as the edge of