When we think of cue sports we most commonly think of snooker or pool. However, these are the two most popular forms of cue sports which have evolved from a long history of other games.
Cue sports generally involve a table, balls and cues and players are required to hit balls into pockets in a certain sequence in order to gain the most point and win the game.
The cover all term used for cue sports is generally ‘billiards’, which was what games involving cues, balls, pockets and cushions were generally called up until 100 or so years ago.
Today, Carom Billiards is still played, although is probably the least popular form of cue sport. Carom Billiards is played on tables that do not have pockets and can be played as ‘three cushion’ or ‘artisitc’ billiards.
Pool is sometimes called ‘pocket billiards’ and is popular in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The game is played on a pocketed table, with ‘eight ball’ being the most popular version of the game. The game can also be played in the form of nine ball, ten ball, straight ball, one pocket and bank pool.
Snooker is technically part of the pocket billiards family but is often grouped separately from other forms of billiards as it has developed over the last hundred years. Snooker also uses different terms from those used in other billiards games.
Billiards is believed to have its origin in outdoor games such as croquet and gold, but gradually developed and moved inside to be played as an indoor game. The term ‘billiards’ is first mentioned in ‘Mother Hubbard’s Tale’, a story written by Edmund Spenser in 1591, where he referred to the game as ‘balliards’.
It is believed that the word may have evolved from the French ‘billette’. Meaning stick, or ‘bille’ meaning ball. The word ‘queue’ comes from the French word for tail.
Since 1893 games that have been regulated by internationally recognised bodies have been referred to as ‘sports’, giving greater cache to the activity. In the UK, snooker is played professionally at an international level in speicially built snooker stadium ‘the crucible’. World champions win £250,000 whilst runners up receive a prize fund of £125,000.
In the US, top pool players embark on pool tours which travel throughout the country showcasing the skills of the best players in the world. The cream of the cream can earn millions of dollars playing competitively and in exhibition matches.
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