Pool, or billiards, is one of the world's most popular cue sports, which are also referred to as billiard sports. Although sports featuring cues and targeting balls have been around for hundreds of years, the sport of pool as we know it has developed into a number of similar games played in the USA and the UK over the last two hundred years. from the pool hall to the basement, pool is now a competitive sport as well as a popular pastime.
There are a number of games that you may know as pool:
- Snooker, which is very popular in China and in the English-speaking countries of the Commonwealth, is sometimes incorrectly referred to as "pool." It is believed that snooker was invented in India by British army officers, some time during the nineteenth century. Snooker tables are much larger than pool tables and the balls are predominately red.
- The eight-ball variant of pool is often played in pool halls and bars in the Commonwealth and the USA. It is also referred to as "bigs and smalls" or "stripes and solids". It is played with one cue ball and fifteen colored balls.
- The nine-ball variant of pool is slightly less popular. Play originated in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. It features nine colored balls and a cue ball. Like eight-ball, it is played on a pool table with six pockets and a green baize surface.
Eight-ball pool, the most popular variant played in the United States, developed in the early 1900s. There are several historical examples that can be considered predecessors of pool, such as carom, a game played in Eighteenth Century France on a table with no pockets. The rules of pool were first standardized in the 1940s. There are many informal rules that may only exist in a certain region, or even in a certain family!
The object of eight-ball pool is to sink all of the coloured balls, then the black ball. You do not have to sink, or pocket all of the balls in order, but in order to win you must sink all the balls of one variant -- either the "solid" balls or the "striped" balls, which have less color on them. If you sink the black ball before you have sunk any other balls, you will instantly lose the game.
Today pool is associated with the rather romantic image of the mid-century "pool hall" or "pool shark," but it is also played at a high level by international-standard players. Most pool halls in the United States play by a set of rules developed by the World Pool-Billiards Association, although there is a separate form of the sport referred to as "bar pool," and these rules are more informal and more suited to play at home or in a crowded bar.
Although many would not regard pool as a sport, it requires a great deal of manual dexterity to direct the pool cue toward the ball. Knowledge of the physics of the balls is also required, as well as great aim! Anyone who has ever seen a "pool trick" or "trick shot" knows the level of skill involved in this game.
I hope you enjoyed reading this.
A sport that usually goes hand in hand with pool is bowling.
If you would like read how Bowling got started, click here.
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