Dazzle your opponents with your billiards IQ, courtesy of the Billiards Congress of America:

  • Billiards evolved from a lawn game similar to croquet played sometime during the 15th century in Northern Europe (probably in France).
  • No one knows exactly who, when or where the first billiard table was built. The earliest documented record of a billiard table was made in 1470. In an inventory of the possessions of King Louis XI of France, his table was said to have contained the following: a bed of stone, a cloth covering, and a hole in the middle of the playing field, into which balls could be driven.
  • What is billiard cloth made of? Amazingly, the main component of billiard cloth has remained unchanged for over 400 years. Wool was used in the 1500’s, and remains the fabric of choice today. It has, of course, undergone some perfecting (and some wool/nylon blends are also produced).
  • The dome on Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, conceals a billiard room. In Jefferson’s day, billiards was illegal in Virginia.
  • At times, including during the Civil War, billiard results received wider coverage than war news. Players were so renowned that cigarette cards were issued featuring them.
  • The first coin-operated billiard table was patented in 1903. The cost of a game on the first pay-for-play table: one penny.
  • The world’s largest billiard hall was built during billiards’ “Golden Age.” “The Recreation,” a mammoth seven-story health spa, was a bustling Detroit business in the 1920s. It featured 103 tables, 88 bowling lanes, 20 barber chairs, three manicuring stands, 14 cigar stands, a lunch counter on each floor, a restaurant that could seat 300, and an exhibition room with theater seating, that could accommodate 250 spectators.
  • Most chalk used today is comprised of fine abrasives and does not contain a speck of chalk.
  • The word “cue” is derived from the French queue, meaning tail. Before the cue stick was designed, billiards was played with a mace. The mace consisted of a curved wooden (or metal) head used to push the ball forward, attached to a narrow handle. Since the bulkiness of the mace head made shots along the rail difficult, it was often turned around and the “tail” end was used. Players eventually realized this method was far more effective, and the cue as a separate instrument grew out of the mace’s tail.

For more fun facts, visit the Billiards Congress of America.