spot, and the balls forming the pyramid should lie in a compact mass, the base in a straight line with the cushion.
Pyramids is a game entirely of winning hazards, and he who succeeds in pocketing the greatest number of balls wins. Usually the pyramid is made of fifteen red or coloured balls, with the striking ball white. This white ball is common to both players. Having decided on the lead, the first player, placing his ball in the baulk-semicircle, strikes it up to the pyramid, with a view either to lodge a ball in a pocket or to get the white safely back into baulk. Should he fail to pocket a red ball, the other player goes on and strikes the white ball from the place at which it stopped. When either succeeds in making a winning hazard, he plays at any other ball he chooses, and continues his break till he ceases to score; and so the game is continued by alternate breaks until the last red ball is pocketed. The game is commonly played for a stake upon the whole, and a proportionate sum upon each ball or life—as, for instance, 3s. game and 1s. balls. The player wins a life by pocketing a red ball or forcing it over the table; and loses a life by running his own, the white, ball into a pocket, missing the red balls, or intentionally giving a miss. In this game the baulk is no protection; that is to say, the player can pocket any ball wherever it lies, either within or without the baulk line, and whether the white be in hand or not. This liberty is a great and certain advantage under many circumstances, especially in the hands of a good player. It is not a very uncommon occurrence for an adept to pocket six or eight balls in a single break. Both Cook and Roberts have been known, indeed, to pocket the whole fifteen. If four persons play at pyramids, the rotation is decided by chance, and each plays alternately—partners, as in billiards, being allowed to advise each other, each going on and continuing to play as long as he can, and ceasing when he misses a hazard. Foul strokes are reckoned as in billiards, except as regards balls touching each other. If two balls touch, the player proceeds with his game and scores a point for every winning hazard. When all the red balls but one are pocketed, he who made the last hazard plays with the white and his opponent with the red; and so on alternately, till the game terminates by the holing of one or other ball. The pyramid balls are usually a little smaller than the billiard balls; the former are about 2 in. in diameter, the latter 21⁄16 in. to 21⁄8 in.
Losing Pyramids, seldom played, is the reverse of the last-named game, and consists of losing hazards, each player using the same striking ball, and taking a ball from the pyramid for every losing hazard. As in the other game, the baulk is no protection. Another variety of pyramids is known as Shell-out, a game at which any number of persons may play. The pyramid is formed as before, and the company play in rotation. For each winning hazard the striker receives from each player a small stake, and for each losing hazard he pays a like sum, till the game is concluded, by pocketing the white or the last coloured ball.
Pool, a game which may be played by two or more persons, consists entirely of winning hazards. Each player subscribes a certain stake to form the pool, and at starting has three chances or lives. He is then provided with a coloured or numbered ball, and the game commences thus:—The white ball is placed on the spot and the red is played at it from the baulk semicircle. If the player pocket the white he receives the price of a life from the owner of the white; but if he fail, the next player, the yellow, plays on the red; and so on alternately till all have played, or till a ball be pocketed. When a ball is pocketed the striker plays on the ball nearest his own, and goes on playing as long as he can score.
The order of play is usually as follows:—The white ball is spotted; red plays upon white; yellow upon red; then blue, brown, green, black, and spot-white follow in the order of succession named, white playing on spot-white. The order is similar for a larger number, but it is not common for more than seven or eight to join in a pool. The player wins a life for every ball pocketed, and receives the sum agreed on for each life from the owner of that ball. He loses a life to the owner of the ball he plays on and misses; or by making a losing hazard after striking such ball; by playing at the wrong ball, by running a coup; or by forcing his ball over the table. Rules governing the game provide for many other incidents. A ball in baulk may be played at by the striker whose ball is in hand. If the striker’s ball be angled—that is, so placed in the jaws of the pocket as not to allow him to strike the previously-played ball—he may have all the balls except his own and the object ball removed from the table to allow him to try bricole from the cushion. In some clubs and public rooms an angled ball is allowed to be moved an inch or two from the corner; but with a ball so removed the player must not take a life. When the striker loses a life, the next in rotation plays at the ball nearest his own; but if the player’s ball happen to be in hand, he plays at the ball nearest to the centre spot on the baulk line, whether it be in or out of baulk. In such a case the striker can play from any part of the semicircle. Any ball lying in the way of the striker’s ball, and preventing him from taking fair aim and reaching the object-ball, must be removed, and replaced after the stroke. If there be any doubt as to the nearest ball, the distance must be measured by the marker or umpire; and if the distance be equal, the ball to be played upon must be decided by chance. If the striker first pocket the ball he plays on and then runs his own into a pocket, he loses a life to the player whose ball he pocketed, which ball is then to be considered in hand. The first player who loses all his three lives can “star”; that is, by paying into the pool a sum equal to his original stake, he is entitled to as many lives as the lowest number on the marking board. Thus if the lowest number be 2, he stars 2; if 1, he stars 1. Only one star is allowed in a pool; and when there are only two players left in, no star can be purchased. The price of each life must be paid by the player losing it, immediately after the stroke is made; and the stake or pool is finally won by the player who remains longest in the game. In the event, however, of the two players last left in the pool having an equal number of lives, they may either play for the whole or divide the stake. The latter, the usual course, is followed except when the combatants agree to play out the game. When three players are left, each with one life, and the striker makes a miss, the two remaining divide the pool without a stroke—this rule being intended to meet the possible case of two players combining to take advantage of a third. When the striker has to play, he may ask which ball he has to play at, and if being wrongly informed he play at the wrong ball, he does not lose a life. In clubs and public rooms it is usual for the marker to call the order and rotation of play: “Red upon white, and yellow’s your player”; and when a ball has been pocketed the fact is notified—“Brown upon blue, and green’s your player, in hand”; and so on till there are only two or three players left in the pool.
There are some varieties of the game which need brief mention.
Single Pool is the white winning hazard game, played for a stake and so much for each of three or more lives. Each person has a ball, usually white and spot-white. The white is spotted, and the other plays on it from the baulk-semicircle; and then each plays alternately, spotting this ball after making a hazard. For each winning hazard the striker receives a life; for each losing hazard he pays a life; and the taker of the three lives wins the game. No star is allowed in single pool. The rules regulating pool are observed.
Nearest-Ball Pool is played by any number of persons with the ordinary coloured balls, and in the same order of succession. All the rules of pool are followed, except that the baulk is a protection. The white is spotted, and the red plays on it; after that each striker plays upon the ball nearest the upper or outer side of the baulk-line; but if the balls lie within the baulk-line, and the striker’s ball be in hand, he must play up to the top cushion, or place his ball on the spot. If his ball be not in hand, he plays at the nearest ball, wherever it may lie.
Black Pool.—In this game, which lasts for half-an-hour, there are no lives, the player whose ball is pocketed paying the stake to the pocketer. Each player receives a coloured ball and plays in order as in “Following Pool,” the white ball being spotted; there is, in addition, however, a black ball, which is spotted on the centre-spot. When a player has taken a life he may—in some rooms and clubs must—play on the black ball. If he pockets it he receives a stake from each player, paying a stake all round if he misses it, or commits any of the errors for which he would have to pay at “Following Pool.” The black ball cannot be taken in consecutive strokes. Sometimes a pink ball, spotted on the pyramid spot, is added and a single stake is paid all round to the man who pockets it, and a double stake on the black; it is also permitted in some rooms to take blacks and pinks alternately without pocketing a coloured ball between the strokes. Again it is the custom in certain rooms to let a player, after the first round, play on any ball. The game is more amusing when as much freedom is allowed as possible, so that the taking of lives may be frequent. At the end of the half-hour the marker announces at the beginning of the round that it is the last round. White, who lost a stroke at the beginning by being spotted, has the last stroke. If a player wishes to enter the game during its progress his ball is put on the billiard-spot just before white plays, and he takes his first stroke at the end of the round.
Snooker Pool.—This is a game of many and elaborate rules. In principle it is a combination of pyramids and pool. The white ball is the cue-ball for all players. The pyramid balls, set up as in pyramids, count one point each, the yellow ball two points, green ball three, and so on. The black is put on the billiard-spot, the pink on the centre-spot, blue below the apex ball of the pyramid; brown, green and yellow on the diameter of the semicircle, brown on the middle spot, green on the right corner spot of the D, yellow on the left. The players, having decided the order of play, generally by distributing the pool balls from the basket, and playing in the order of colours as shown on the marking board, are obliged to strike a red ball first. If it is pocketed, the player scores one and is at liberty to play on any of the coloured balls; though in some clubs he is compelled to play on the yellow. If he pockets a coloured ball he scores the number of points which that ball is worth, and plays again on a red ball, the coloured ball being replaced on its spot, and so on; but a red ball must always be pocketed before a more valuable ball can be played at. When all the red balls have been pocketed—none are put back on the table as at pyramids—the remaining balls must be pocketed in the pool order and are not replaced. The