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any one of a number of games played with a tapered, leather-tipped stick called a cue and various numbers of balls on a rectangular, cloth-covered slate table with raised and cushioned edges. Games similar to billiards were popular in England and France in the 16th cent., and evidence even suggests that a billiardslike game was played in the 14th cent. The country of origin is disputed—England, France, Italy, Spain, and China have been credited by various historians with its invention. The game in its present form was probably fully developed by 1800. There are three main types of billiards: carom billiards, pocket billiards (also known as pool), and snooker. Carom billiards is played with three balls, a cue ball and two object balls, on a pocketless table; scoring is by caroms only, i.e., by causing the cue ball to strike the object balls in specified ways. Pocket billiards is played with 15 object balls and a cue ball on a table with six pockets; the essential object of the game is to cause the object balls to enter the pockets. Snooker is similar to pocket billiards, except that it uses 21 object balls and smaller pockets. There are many additional variations of the basic games, depending on the number of balls used, the positioning of the balls, the boundaries on the table, and the scoring. Among the variations are Chicago, golf, rotation, balk-line, and bumpers. William Frederick HoppeHoppe, Willie
(William Frederick Hoppe) , 1887–1959, American billiards champion, b. Cornwall, N.Y. He practiced billiards from a very early age and gave exhibitions before he won (1906) his first world championship in Paris.
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 is generally considered the foremost billiards player of all time.


See R. Byrne, Byrne's Standard Book of Pool and Billiards (1987).



a game played with balls on a special table (known as a billiard table). Billiards is considered to have originated in India and China. In Europe it appeared in the 16th century, and in Russia, during the reign of Peter I. The table, covered with a felt cloth, has in its cushions six holes (pockets) with little net bags under them. Some billiard tables—for example, the French ones—do not have pockets. The game is played with three, five, or 16 balls (numbered from 1 to 15; the 16th ball does not have a number), made of elephant ivory or a composition substance. These are struck and pushed by a cue—a stick made of hard wood, approximately 1.5 m in length. In the USSR the billiard games which are widespread are “American” (in which the winning player is the one who is the first to pocket eight balls) and “Pyramid” (in which the winner is the player who is the first to make 70 points).


Koriolis, G. Matematicheskaia teoriia iavlenii billiardnoi igry. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from French.)
Nauka i zhizn’, 1966, nos. 2, 3, 4, 6, 11.


1. any of various games in which long cues are used to drive balls now made of composition or plastic. It is played on a rectangular table covered with a smooth tight-fitting cloth and having raised cushioned edges
2. a version of this, played on a rectangular table having six pockets let into the corners and the two longer sides. Points are scored by striking one of three balls with the cue to contact the other two or one of the two
References in classic literature ?
Begging your pardon, ma'am, it wasn't a billiard saloon, but a gymnasium, and I was taking a lesson in fencing.
He was talking to Sir Charles ten minutes ago in the billiard room.
I think it is very strange of Gertrude to pass the whole day with Chester in the billiard room," said Jane discontentedly.
I thought you were in the billiard room," said Agatha.
Erskine heard their footsteps retreating, and presently saw the two enter the glow of light that shone from the open window of the billiard room, through which they went indoors.
Your nephew John never took to billiards or any other game, brother, and is far from losing hundreds of pounds, which, if what everybody says is true, must be found somewhere else than out of Mr.
One night as I was passing a tavern I saw through a lighted window some gentlemen fighting with billiard cues, and saw one of them thrown out of the window.
Here and there were new brick houses and shops, just set up by bustling, driving, and eager men of traffic from the Atlantic States; while, on the other hand, the old French mansions, with open casements, still retained the easy, indolent air of the original colonists; and now and then the scraping of a fiddle, a strain of an ancient French song, or the sound of billiard balls, showed that the happy Gallic turn for gayety and amusement still lingered about the place.
From the billiard room next door came the sound of balls knocking, of talk and laughter.
Hermann was sitting quite alone in the large, wooden room with the two lifeless billiard tables shrouded in striped covers, mopping his face diligently.
The tension of expectation could be measured by the profundity of the silence that fell upon the very click of the billiard balls.
The unspeakable idiots inside were crowding to the windows, climbing over each other's backs behind the blinds, billiard cues and all.