I found this list of billiard facts on the website mentioned below. Lots of these facts hide many stories and they offer you a nice snapshot of the rich history of the game of billiards. To enrich these facts, placed in bold, I added information in italic format, pictures and links.
Source : http://www.dallaspooltable.com/t-poolfacts.aspxPool Facts
1.The game of billiards (pool)
evolved from a lawn game similar to croquet played sometime during the
15th century somewhere in Europe (probably in France).
Francois Villon, the french medieval poet, mentions a "billart" in his work "Le Petit Testament", written in 1461-1462 and published in 1489. Details can be found on http://www.gallica.fr . The author probably means the curved stick with which balls were pushed on a lawn. He does not mean a billard table. In the 15th century the scarce sources mostly refer to a game played outside on the ground. In this work he mentions several games.
Item plus, je adjoinctz à la Crosse
Celle de la rue Sainct-Anthoine,
Et ung billart de quoy on crosse,
Et tous les jours plain pot de Seine,
Aux pigons qui sont en l'essoine,
Enserrez soubz trappe volière,
Et mon mirouer bel et ydoyne,
Et la grace de la geollière.
The picture below comes from the book Sports et Jeux d'Adresse written by Henry René d'Allemagne (archiviste-paléographe, bilbiothécaire à la bibliothèque de l'Arsenal) and published in 1903 by Hachette Librairie.
Le jeu de billard en terre au XVI siècle
D’après une gravure sur bois tirée du « Receuil des Amours de Gombault et de Macée »
2.The term "pool room” means a
place where billiards is played, but in the 19th century a pool room was a
betting parlor for horse races. Billiard tables were installed so patrons
could pass time between the races. The game of billiards and the pool room
became connected in the public’s mind. Today, the two terms are
both used interchangeably.
3.The dome on Thomas Jefferson's
home, Monticello, conceals a billiard (pool) room. In Thomas Jefferson's
day, billiards (pool) was illegal in Virginia.
Other well known figures that love(d)to play billiards : Louis XIV, Amadeus Mozart, Napoleon Bonaparte, Abraham Lincoln, Marc Twain, Fred Astaire, Montgomery Clift, Ernest Hemingway, James Caan, Dustin Hoffmann, Mozart, Marie Antoinette, Immanuel Kant, George Washington, French president Jules Grévy, Charles Dickens, George Armstrong Custer, Theodore Roosevelt, Lewis Carroll, W.C. Fields, Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Mary Stuart of Scotland, Georg Ohm, Pope Pius IX, King Boudewijn of Belgium.
4.Billiards or Pool is one of the
safest sports around the world.
Although it all started with a murder case, if we may believe U.S. billiard hitorian William Hendricks. The oldest source (sadly not documented) mentioned in his book, relates to outside ground billiards and goes back to 1350. Hendricks found "une lettre de pardon” (a letter asking for forgiveness) written in Latin about a game played in France between Pierre Symon en Jacques de Pont Habert. Jacques hit Pierre over the head with his billiard(stick). Pierre would not survive. Jacques asked for forgiveness in a letter probably to shorten his sentence, a common practice in that era.
5.There are 15 colored balls in
billiards, 7 "solid”, 7 "striped” and the black eight ball.
There are 3 balls in the most common carom billiards games, always containing a red ball. Both players have their own cue ball. In order to distinct these, they can be either white and yellow or a second white with a black or red dot. In 3-cushion billiards (also a carom game) one also plays more and more with a dotted white, yellow and red ball in order to show the english (effect) more clearly to the spectator.
There are 22 balls in snooker : 15 red ones, 1 black, 1 pink, 1 blue, 1 brown, 1 green, 1 yellow and 1 white cue ball.
6.Professional player and trick
shot specialist Paul Gerni is nicknamed the "Ambassador” and he speaks six
7.A "Scratch" is named
for the penalty assessed for the cusinking e ball in a pocket during a
match. In pool’s early days, the score was often kept on a chalkboard.
When a player pocketed the cue ball, his opponent "scratched” a point off
of the shooter’s score.
Carom billiards is about scoring caroms, and the tables are pocketless.
8.According to research that was
conducted a few short years ago, billiard champions have the highest
average age of any sport at 35.6 years.
Currently in 3-cushion billiards most top players are in their 40-ies and 50-ies. It must be said that there is a younger generation of mostly South-Korean and Vietnamese players that are forging their way to the top.
9.At times in history, including
during the Civil War, billiard results received wider news coverage than
the war. Players were so renowned, cigarette cards were issued featuring
10.Tom Cruise performed his own
trick billiard shots for the 1986 film, "The Color of Money",
except for one shot in which he had to jump two balls in order to sink
another. Director Martin Scorsese said he wanted to let Cruise learn the
shot himself, but it would have taken two more days of practice, which
would have held up production and would have cost thousands of dollars.
Instead, the shot was performed by professional pool player Mike Sigel.
In carom billiards, artistic billiards (phantasy) is an official discipline. It consists of 100 predefined shots (not all shots are played in a match) that all have a specific grade of difficulty, with 10 being the maximum. A player can make 3 attempts at each shot before losing his run. If he makes the shot he receive a number of points equal to the grade of difficulty. The game is mostly played in sets to 60 points, best of 5. In some shots a pin is placed on the table around which the cue ball must be played.
11.In the course of a match, one
day a visiting cadet remarked that first-year cadets at this particular
military academy were known as "snookers”. When the cadet missed an easy
pot, a remark was made "Why, you are a regular snooker”!
The history of snooker goes back to 1875 Jubblepore in India. For more information click the link below.
12.Billiards was the first sport
to adopt a world championship in 1873.
The first officially recorded 3-cushion tournament was held in 1878 in Saint Louis.For more information click on the link below :
13.Through history, pool has
bridged the gap between the aristocracy and the masses. Gentlemen
and street toughs alike played the game.
14.There were few women’s
tournaments in the early 1890’s, if any. Whatever titles there were, were
only local, and usually were self-proclaimed. Until Frances Anderson came
along. The native of Indiana merely proclaimed herself Champion of the
World, and offered $5,000 to any woman who could beat her at billiards.
Anderson toured the country, playing men and women alike. Legend has it,
that she went undefeated for 25 years against her female competitors. She
was paid well for her appearances throughout the 1920’s, taking on any
challengers and doing exhibitions, in both Europe and in America. She
followed up with a well-publicized announcement that shocked the
pool-playing world. Her actual name was Orie from Kansas, not Frances, and
she was actually a he.
15.In the year 1586, the castle of
Mary, the Queen of Scots, was invaded and captured. The invaders left a
note forbidding her to use her billiard table. They then proceeded to kill
her, and used the cover of the table to cover her body.
16.In the year 1765, the first
pool room was built in England. One-pocket was played there, which was a
pool table with only one pocket and four balls.
17.What is billiard cloth or
"felt" made of? Amazingly, the main component of billiard cloth
has remained the same for well over 400 years. Wool was used in the
1500’s, and remains the material of choice today. Of course, it has
undergone some perfecting (some wool and nylon blends are also produced
Belgian famous cloth manufacturer Simonis was foundend in 1680 in Verviers, Belgium. The town of Verviers is in the flat basin formed by the valley of the Vesdre River. The water there was of such high quality, thanks to its low lime content, that it was particularly suitable for washing wool. It was in this valley that the Simonis factory was set up by Guillaume Henri Simon Simonis, a middle-class Verviers merchant born in the town in 1640 and known as "le Mercier” ("the haberdasher”). The company itself was established on a more permanent footing by Jacques Joseph Simonis and was named after his son Iwan, who was born in Verviers in 1769. Today the name Iwan Simonis is now synonymous worldwide with the highest quality billiard cloth. In the meantime Simonis also acquired Saluc, another Belgian company, better known by the trade name of its billard balls Aramith. Sadly the archives of Simonis were destroyed by a fire in the 20th century. Now a fierce competition is going on between cloth makers, with some like Royal Pro Cloth offering a full synthetic cloth.
18.The first coin-operated pool
table was patented in the year 1903. The cost of a game on the first
pay-to-play table was only one penny.
19.No one knows precisely when or
where the first billiard table was built, or by whom. The earliest
document on record of a pool table was made in the year 1470. In an
inventory of the possessions of King Louis XI of France, his table was
said to have had the following: a cloth covering, bed of stone, and a hole
in the middle of the playing surface, in which the balls could be driven.
Le premier modèle de table connu est attribué au Maître ébéniste-menuisier Henri De Vigne qui l'aurait conçu et réalisé en 1469 sur commande du roi Louis XI pour sa résidence parisienne préférée, le château de Bastille.
The first reference to a billiard table is attributed to an order from Louis XI for a billiard table in 1469 to the master wood worker Henri De Vigne in 1469, to be placed in Louis favourite castle, the "château de Bastille".
20.Before the celluloid and other
plastics were invented, billiard balls were made from ivory. The elephants
could thank their present existence on the invention of plastics. Since
billiard balls had to be cut from the dead center of a tusk, the average
tusk yielded only 3 to 4 pool balls.
21.Until just about 1920, American
billiards was dominated by the carom games. Billiards was a dying sport.
When the initial championship pool tournament was held in 1878, the event
and the winner, did not go unnoticed.
22.Captain Mingaud, credited with
the invention of the leather cue tip, went to prison for political reasons
during the French Revolution. With the help of his fellow prisoner, he was
able to have a pool table installed in his cell. It was during his
imprisonment that be became obsessed with the game of billiards, that he
came up with and perfected his invention of the leather cue tip. His
obsession became so intense, that toward the end of his prison term, he
actually asked for a longer sentence in order to complete his study of the
Dutch billiard historian Cees Sprangers has done, and is still doing, a lot of research about François Mingaud.
Mingaud was born in the region of Nimes on January 4 1771. He was in prison from 1804 until 1814 (1793 until 1803 according to Wikipedia??) for complotting against the French state. As from 1827 his manuscript with for the time revolutionary figures were published in Paris, Brussels, London and Calcutta (India) and probably also in Saint Petersburg (Russia). Mingaud traveled around giving exhibitions for free. He settled in the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands were he would remarry and die on December 23 1847. Mingaud lived also quite a while in the UK (London amongst others) where he was married. Mingaud still has decendants living in the UK. Mingaud was quite a colorful person, to say the least.
23.Most chalk that is used today
is made from fine abrasives that do not contain any chalk.
24.The world’s largest pool hall
was built during the golden age of billiards. A mammoth seven-story health
spa "The Recreation", was a bustling Detroit business in the
1920’s. It had 103 tables, 20 barber chairs, 88 bowling lanes, three
manicure stands, a restaurant that could seat 300, 14 cigar stands, a
lunch counter on each floor, and an exhibition room with theater seats,
that could accommodate 250 people.
For more information see the related article below :
25.Willie Hoppe was a truly
legendary pool player. Yet, his most famous match strangely had to do more
with a penknife, than his unequaled wizardry of the billiards game. In
1925, Hoppe met Robert Cannefax, the Three-Cushion champ. After several
games of pool, Cannefax, who preferred a faster cloth, asked to move the
match to a different pool table. Hoppe, who was in the lead, said the
cloth was fine, and refused to allow any change. An angry Cannefax drew a
penknife and cut the cloth down the center of the table. Hoppe was awarded
the match immediately, and Cannefax was suspended from competing for one
year. Ironically, Cannefax never played another game of pool. He toured
Vaudeville for a couple of years, and eventually died from meningitis in
For more information see the article below :
26.Charles Goodyear – who invented
vulcanized rubber, which revolutionized billiard table cushions and many
other industries – died a pauper. His business failed, he went to prison
for his debts, and he profited little from his wonderful invention.
27.Many handicapped people played
the game of billiards, but the story of "Handless George” Sutton is one of
inspiration. Born in 1870, Sutton lost both of his hands in a sawmill
accident at the early age of eight. Despite being handicapped (and long
before advanced prosthetics), Sutton studied medicine and graduated from
the University of Milwaukee. During college, he took up the game of pool.
He became so proficient at pool, he set an 18.2 Balkline world record with
a run of 799, in 1921. Sutton took his playing skills on the road, touring
the country and amazing audiences for nearly 35 years. He left an
everlasting legacy upon his death, in the year 1938.
28.The movie "The
Hustler" was based on a novel by Walter Tevis. The novel, however,
was based on a short story that he had submitted earlier to Playboy.
Before "The Hustler” released, the Philco TV Theater aired an episode
called "Goodbye Johnny”, which had an uncanny resemblance to the short
story in Playboy. In it, Cliff Robertson acted as the cocky young hustler,
making Robertson – not Paul Newman – the original Fast Eddie Felson.
29.The art of making pictures or
designs with thin slices of wood, shell or other materials, Marquetry, has
long enhanced the beauty of pool tables and billiard cues. The art form is
hardly a new development. It was practiced in Egypt and Asia more than
3,000 years ago.
30.W.C. Fields, despite having a
slapstick persona, was an accomplished billiards player.
W.C. Fields brilliant and humoristic view on the game of billiards, scroll down on the following page : Music - Humor - Art
31.Throughout most of the 19th
century, the chalk that was used on the new leather cue tips were made
from carbonate of lime, also known as blackboard chalk.
32.The Church has been a part of
billiard history for a long time. From its earliest days, pool was often
denounced as a dangerous, sinful, and morally corrupt activity. In 15th
century France, playing billiards was forbidden by the Church and the
King. In early American history, laws were actually passed (because of
religious influences), outlawing the game of pool in many parts of
33.The initial 18.2 Balkline
Championship was held in Paris, France in 1913. It is the only world
championship in history ever to be decided by the courts. After six days
of playing, three contestants tied for the first place. When a
tie-breaking playoff was suggested, Maurice Vignaux, a French champion and
notorious whiner, scoffed at the suggestion. He insisted the title should
be awarded based on the highest average overall (which he had at the
time). Vignaux refused to continue, and the decision wound up in the
French courts. (Of course, they awarded Vignaux, the Frenchmen, the title,
after a delay of more than two months passed).
34.Harvey Hendrickson made
probably as much money as anyone else with his limited skills at a pool
table. He actually toured America and amazed his audiences. Not because of
an ability to run racks or pocket billiard balls, but because of his
freakishly unique ability to pick up and hold all fifteen billiard balls
at once using one hand.
35.The word cue was derived from
the French word queue, meaning tail. Before the cue stick was used,
billiards was played with a mace. The mace consisted of a curved wooden or
metal head used in pushing the ball forward, that was attached to a narrow
handle. Since of the mace head's bulkiness, shots along the rail were
difficult, the mace was often turned around and the "tail” end was used.
Players realized, eventually, that this method was far more effective, and
that the cue as a separate instrument grew from the mace’s tail.
36.Behind the eight ball – A very dangerous position in which it is unlikely
a player can escape is a version of the game of pool. The balls are
numbered and have to be potted in order. The game is forfeited if a
player’s cue ball hits the eight ball first. A "behind the eight ball”
position leaves a player in immediate danger of losing the match.
37.The tables originally had
vertical flat walls for the rails and their only function was to keep the
billiard balls from falling off the table. They resembled riverbanks and
used to be called "banks”. Some players discovered that balls could bounce
off the rails and began deliberately aiming for them. Thus a "bank shot”
is one in which a ball is made to bounce from a cushion as part of the