penalties for missing a ball, running into a pocket, &c., are deducted from the player’s score; they correspond to the values of the balls, one point if the red be missed, two if the yellow be missed, &c. If, before hitting the proper ball, the player hits one of a higher value, the value of that ball is deducted from his score, but there is no further penalty. A player is “snookered” if his ball is so placed that he cannot hit a ball on which he is compelled to play. In this case he is allowed in some rooms to give a miss, but in such a way that the next player is not snookered; in others he must make a bona fide attempt to hit the proper ball off the cushion, being liable to the usual penalty if in so doing he hits a ball of higher value. In some rooms it is considered fair and part of the game to snooker an opponent deliberately; in others the practice is condemned. The rules are so variable in different places that even the printed rules are not of much value, owing to local by-laws.
Among other games of minor importance, being played in a less serious spirit than those mentioned, are Selling Pool, Nearest Ball Pool, Cork Pool and Skittle Pool. The directions for playing them may be found in Billiards (Badminton Library series).
French and American Billiards.—French and American billiards is played on a pocketless table, the only kind of table that is used in France, though the English table with six pockets is also occasionally to be found in America. For match purposes the table used measures 10 ft. by 5 ft., but in private houses and clubs 9 ft. by 4¼ ft. is the usual size, while tables 8 ft. by 4 ft. are not uncommon. The balls, three in number as in English billiards, measure from 2¼ to 23⁄8 in., the latter being “match” size. Since they are both larger and heavier than the English balls, the cues are somewhat heavier and more powerful, so that better effects can be produced by means of “side,” masses, &c. Only cannons (called in America “caroms,” in French caramboles) are played, each counting one point.
The three-ball carom game is the recognized form of American billiards. The table is marked with a centre-spot, “red” spot and “white” spot. The first is on the centre of an imaginary line dividing the table longitudinally into halves; the red (for the red ball) and white spots are on the same line, half-way between the centre-spot and the end cushions, the white spot being on the string-line (corresponding to the English baulk-line). The right to play first is decided, as in England, by “stringing.” The opponent’s white ball and the red ball being spotted, the player plays from within the imaginary baulk-line. Each carom counts one point; a miss counts one to the opponent. A ball is re-spotted on its proper spot if it has been forced off the table. Should red be forced off the table and the red spot be occupied, it is placed on the white spot. White under similar conditions is set on the red spot. The centre spot is only used when, a ball having been forced off the table, both spots are occupied. If a carom be made, and the ball afterwards jumps off the table, it is spotted and the count allowed. If the striker moves a ball not his own before he strikes, he cannot count but may play for safety. If he does so after making a carom the carom does not count, he forfeits one, and his break is ended. If he touches his own ball before he plays, he forfeits a point, and cannot play the stroke. Should he, however, touch his ball a second time, the opponent has the option of having the balls replaced as exactly as possible, or of playing on them as they are left. It is a foul stroke to play with the wrong ball, but if the offence is not detected before a second stroke has been made, the player may continue.
Such long runs of caroms, chiefly “on the rail” along the cushion, have been made by professional players (H. Kerkau, the German champion, making 7156 caroms in 1901 at Zürich), that various schemes have been devised to make the game more difficult. One of these is known as the “continuous baulk-line.” Lines are drawn, 8, 14, 18 or even 22 in. from the rails, parallel to the side of the table, forming with them eight compartments. Of these 14 and 18 are the most general. Only one, two or three caroms, as previously arranged, are allowed to be made in every space, unless one at least of the object-balls is driven over a line. In the space left in the middle of the table any number of caroms may be made without restriction. In the case of the Triangular Baulk-line, lines are drawn at the four corners from the second “sight” on the side-rails to the first sight on the end-rails, forming four triangles within which only a limited number of caroms may be made, unless one object-ball at least be driven outside one of the lines. The Anchor Baulk-lines were devised to checkmate the “anchor” shot, which consisted in getting the object-balls on the rail, one on either side of a baulk-line, and delicately manipulating them so as to make long series of caroms; each ball being in a different compartment, neither had to be driven over a line. The “anchor baulk-lines” form a tiny compartment, 6 in. by 3, and are drawn at the end of a baulk-line where it touches the rail and so divides the compartment into two squares. Only one shot is allowed in this “anchor-space,” unless a ball be driven out of it. By these methods, “crotching” (getting them jammed in a corner) the balls, and long series of rail-caroms were abolished. The push-stroke is strictly forbidden.
The Cushion Carom game is a variety of the ordinary three-ball game, in which no carom counts unless the cue-ball touches a cushion before the carom is completed. There is also Three-Cushion Carom, which is explained by its title, and the Bank-Shot game, in which the cue-ball must touch a cushion before it strikes either ball. The cushion carom games are often used in handicapping, other methods of which are for the better player to make a certain number of caroms “or no count,” and for the weaker to receive a number of points in the game.
In France billiards was played exclusively by the aristocracy and the richer middle class until the first part of the 17th century, when the privilege of keeping billiard-rooms was accorded to the billardiers paulmiers, and billiards became the principal betting game and remained so until the time of Louis Philippe. The most prominent French player of late years is Maurice Vignaux. The French game became the accepted one in the United States about 1870, and the best American players have proved themselves superior to the French masters with the exception of Vignaux. The best-known American masters have been M. Daly, Shaafer, Slosson, Carter, Sexton and Frank C. Ives, doubtless the most brilliant player who ever lived. His record for the 18-in. baulk-line game was an average of 50, with a high run of 290 points. In cushion-caroms he scored a run of 85.
The four-ball game, the original form of American billiards, is practically obsolete. It was formerly played on an English six-pocket table, with a dark-red and a light-red ball and two white ones. At present when played an ordinary table is used, the rules being identical with those of the three-ball game.
Pool is played in America on a six-pocket table with fifteen balls, each bearing a number. There are several varieties of the game, the most popular being Continuous Pool, an expanded form of Fifteen-Ball Pool, in which the balls are set up as in English pyramids, the game being won by the player pocketing the majority of the fifteen balls, each ball counting one point, the numbers being used only to distinguish them, as a player must always name, or “call,” the ball he intends to pocket and the pocket into which he will drive it. The player who “breaks” (plays first) must send at least two balls to the cushion or forfeit three points. The usual method is to strike a corner ball just hard enough to do this but not hard enough to break up the balls, as in that case the second player would have too great an advantage. Balls pocketed by chance in the same play in which a called ball has been legitimately put down are counted; all others pocketed by accident are replaced on the table. In Fifteen-Ball Pool each frame (fifteen balls) constitutes a game. In Continuous Pool the game is for a series of points, generally 100, the balls being set up again after each frame and the player pocketing the last ball having the choice whether to break or cause his opponent to do so.
The balls in Fifteen-Ball Pool are generally all of one colour, usually red. In Pyramid Pool they are parti-coloured as well as numbered, and the game, which usually consists of a single frame, is won by the player who, when all fifteen balls have been pocketed, has scored the greatest aggregate of the numbers on the balls. In Chicago Pool each frame constitutes a game and is won by the player scoring the highest aggregate of numbers on the balls, which are set up round the cushion opposite the diamond sights, the 1 being placed in the middle of the top cushion, opposite the player, with the odd-numbered balls on the player’s left and those with even numbers on his right. The arrangement of the balls, however, varies and is not important. Each player must strike the lowest-numbered ball still on the table, forfeiting the number of points represented by the ball should his ball first hit any other ball, or should he pocket his own ball. If he pockets the proper ball all others that fall into pockets on that play count for him also. Missing the ball played at forfeits three points (sometimes the number on the ball played at), as well as fouls of all kinds. Bottle Pool is played with a cue-ball, the 1 and 2 pool-balls and the leather pool-bottle, which is stood upon its mouth in the middle of the table. A carom on two balls counts 2 points; pocketing the 1-ball counts 1; pocketing the 2-ball counts 2; upsetting bottle from carom counts 5; upsetting bottle to standing position counts 10, or, in many clubs, the game is won when this occurs. Otherwise the game is for 31 points, which number must be scored exactly, a player scoring more than that number being “burst,” and having to begin over again. There are many penalties of one point, such as missing the object-ball, foul strokes, forcing a ball or the bottle off the table, pocketing one’s own ball and upsetting the bottle without hitting a ball. The game of Thirty-Four is played without a bottle, the scoring being by caroms or pocketing the two object-balls. Exactly 34 must be scored or the player is “burst.”
High-Low-Jack-Game is played with a set of pyramid balls by any number of players, the order of starting being determined by distributing the small balls from the pool-bottle. The 15-ball is High, the 1 Low, the 9 Jack, and the highest aggregate of numbers is the game, each of these four counting one point, the game consisting of seven points, and therefore lasting at least for two frames. The balls are set up with the three counting balls in the centre and broken as in pyramids, although balls accidentally falling into pockets count for the player, on which account the balls are sometimes broken as violently as possible. When two or more players