Historical records about the exact genesis place and form of the game of billiards is inaccurate and ambiguous. The word billiard is derived from the French word ‘Bille” meaning ball, referring to a game involving ball and stick, and “art” meaning the art of playing the game. Although the French have given new meaning and life to the game, refining, evolving and popularizing it, they cannot claim to have invented it. Billiards was played as an out door lawn game, resembling golf or croquet, in Northern Europe during the 1500 century.
The first actual evidence of billiards was found in the 1470 inventory of King Louis XI of France in the form of a billiard game board. However, lawn games t originated from bat and ball games played as early as the 1300 century. Historians are unclear about the reasons for the evolution of these games. Whether it was merely for entertainment or served some social or religious functions in ancient times is still an intriguing debate among historians.
Billiards graduated to indoor games and became popular among aristocrats and commoners in France by the mid 1500’s. Billiards a game of subtle physical deliverance, profound concentration and metal agility allowed fair play and equal footage to players of both sexes. By the mid 1600’s, the table version similar to today’s games appeared. The innovations of the cue, in the 1700’s, lead to the disappearance of the mace that was initially used. Soon, billiards acquired its status as a scientific game with precisely designed equipment, manufacturing plants for tables, standardized rules, etc.
The leather cue tip initially designed by Captain Minguard for protection of the cue added a new dimension to the game. By 1850’s, billiards invaded most of the world. In 1826, England’s John Thurstion changed the wooden game board to slate. By 1797, new fabric replaced cotton or wool to improve smoothness and friction. Balls evolved from wood to ivory to the present Colloidal coated plastic form by 1869.
by Eddie Tobey