Have you ever encountered a billiards table with no pockets or been a spectator to a billiards game with only three balls on the table and wondered what kind of game is being played?
They are collectively referred to as billiards games or cue sports.
Pool, carom billiards, and snooker are the primary classifications of billiard games. Each of them has a diverse set of subcategories with contrasting rules. The most noticeable differences are the table size, design, size, patterns, and the number of balls on the table.
Even though the words “pool” and “billiards” are used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Billiards initially referred only to the game known as carom billiards, but now covers different categories played on the table with a cue rod.
For the casual player, billiards can be an overwhelming game to understand. In such a scenario, the Collins Dictionary comes to your aid with an exhaustive list of billiards terms.
How Is Billiards Played?
Billiards of all varieties are typically played on a large rectangular table. The table is cushioned with a feltlike cloth all the way to its edge. A long stick called the cue is used to help the balls to the pockets.
The equipment used to play the game is relatively standard, irrespective of the game mode.
Brief Description Of The Main Billiard’s Varieties:
Carom, or French billiards as it is also known, is played on a table with no packers and only three balls. The other prominent versions are played on tables with six pockets, one in each corner and two in the center of the long sides.
These games comprise English billiards, in which only three balls are used; snooker – with twenty-one balls and a cue ball; and pocket billiards, or pool, is played with fifteen balls, not including the cue ball.
In variants with the cue ball, the cue stick must not touch the other balls directly. Instead, the player must use the cue ball when aiming to pocket them.
Additionally, other game modes seek the attention of those looking to try their hand at billiards.
Some of these are:
8-ball, or solids and stripes as it is sometimes known, is one of the most favored by amateurs and first-timers as it is easy to grasp. The table it is played on has six pockets, and the gameplay varies slightly depending on the region.
The 8-ball pool game has sixteen balls, fifteen of which are numbered. Balls numbering 1 to 7 are solid colors, while balls 9 to 15 are striped. This is where its alias comes from. The unnumbered ball is the cue ball and is used to target the numbered ones.
All the balls except the cue ball are placed at the table’s center. The game begins by using the cue ball to break the formation. Before the game starts, the players must pick which pattern they are going after and only pocket those.
Only after either player has pocketed all the balls of their chosen pattern can they go after the black one. The black ball has the number 8 on it, and if it is pocketed, the game is over. If a player unintentionally sinks the eight ball before claiming the others, they forfeit the match, and their opponent is the victor.
2. Straight Pool:
Straight pool is similar to 8-ball, but with a few changes. The balls are placed just as you would while playing 8-ball – save for the yellow ball that goes to the back left-hand corner and the red ball that is placed in the back right-hand corner.
The players can sink both solids and stripes. All the balls are fair game except for the cue and 8-ball. If the cue ball is pocketed, you lose your turn, and your opponent plays his turn while positioning the ball anywhere behind the zone earmarked for this purpose – the second dot zone on the table.
Each ball carries different points. These would be:
- Red – One point.
- Yellow – Two points.
- Green – Three points.
- Brown – Four points.
- Blue – Five points.
- Pink – Six points.
- Black – Seven points.
Usually, the game continues till either player gets a score of 150 points. Once all the balls have cleared, the second round begins. The value of all the balls is a total of 49 points. So at least three frames have to be played to identify the winner.
3. Cutthroat Pool:
Cutthroat pool involves three players facing off against each other, meaning you’ll be up against two opponents in a free-for-all. Here there is no need to focus on solids or stripes. Instead, each player is allotted five balls.
Interestingly, you must clear the opponent’s balls off the table rather than your own. In this mode, you can pocket one of your own balls if it helps put you in a position to win. Essentially, you are cutting your throat if you sink one of the balls allotted to you. Tread cautiously, and avoid this risky situation unless you are confident about taking the shot.
If the cue ball rolls into one of the pockets, it’s a foul. Along with losing your turn, the opponent can retrieve one of their balls and place it back on the table.
There are many more intriguing versions of this game that you can look up. The complexity and the rules vary with each game. But don’t let that stop you from indulging in some fun as you explore this fascinating game, and channel your inner ‘Fast Eddie’ like in The Color of Money!
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