BILLIARDS (Fr. billard, originally the elle, from bilk., a log of wood. cf. Eng. billet). A game of skill, whose development as a scientific indoor game is wholly modern. Its origin is obscure. Some assert that it was hi-ought from the East by the Crusaders. Cotton, in his corn pleat Gamester (1674), between Spanish and an Italian origin; but there is better reason to believe that de Vigne, an artist of the Court of Charles IX. of France (c.1571), designed tables and drew up a code of rules. In any case, it was known in England soon after this time. Spenser. in his Mothcr Hubbard%s Tale (1591), speaks slightingly of those play— With dlep, with eards, with balyards far unfit, With shuttlecock, mis,..euming. manly Wit It was originally an outdoor sport, played on the ground, at first•with round stones, later with two balls, an ivory post, an upright cone called a king, and two sticks called masts (maces), made of heavy wood and tipped with ivory. It was then played in a similar form indoors upon a table, still with two balls, an iron arch being used throw• which the hall was driven; beyond this was tine and pin pool is a survival of this primitive form. In the Eighteenth Century boles. called 'hazards,' and suggested probably by the iron areh. •were cot in the bed of the table—first in the centre. then at the corners and sides—into which the balls were driven. Then the Drench added the third, or red ball, introducing the earambole or carom game, which involves striking both the other balls with tho cue-ball.
The next period of development is marked by improlements in the materials of the game. Where the end of the cue had been simply made rough with a tile so that chalk might adhere to it and prevent slipping off the ball. the French player Mangin introduced leather tips (first used in the United States in 1823), and a little later marble and slate came to be employed in stead of wood for the bed, and india-rubber for the cushions. In IS5-1 a new cushion. possessing great durability and elasticity, was invented by Michael Phelan, the father of billiards in Ameri ea. and the game in the next half-century at tained a wonderfully scientific precision.
The English game is played with three balls, two being white and one red, which generally measures 2 1-IC inches in diameter. One of the white balls has a sp(t upon it. the purpose of which is that one ball may be distinguished from the other. The red ball is placed upon a spot at what is called the top of the table and about 13 inches from the top cushion, but exactly in the centre width of the table; at the other, or lower end of the table, and at a distance of 2 feet inches from the lower-end cushion, and exactly in the centre width of the table, is placed :I spot, and from this spot is drawn a semicircle, with a radius of 21 inches to 23 inches, of which the spot is the center base; the space within the semicircle is called •balk."fhe object of the player is. by striking his own ball against the red ball or his adversary's. to drive either it or them into the pockets, or else effect a `cannon'— i.e. to strike both balls with the player's ball. The general limit of each game is '50 up,' as it is called, although any number of points may be agreed upon.
The method of play is as follows: for the lead and choice of balls, the players 'string'—i.e., placing their White balls within the semicircle, they cause them to strike the furthermost cush ion and to rebound; the striker whose ball stops nearest the bottom cushion may take which ball he likes and play or direct his opponent to play; the red hall must, at the opening of the game, be placed upon the top spot and replaced after being pocketed or forced off the table, or when ever the balls are broken • i.e. when the balls are played as in the opening stroke; the game is adjudged in favor of whoever first scores the number of points agreed upon. Two points are scored for a cannon or carom; two for a white hazard (pocketing the opponent's hall) ; three for a red hazard (pocketing the red ball). The following strokes count against the player: a simple miss, one point: a losing hazard (pocket ing your own ball), two; and cluing both at once. three.