In Praise of Billiards
Apart from the fascination of the billiard-room, to many
especially in provincial centres and abroad-for a billiard-
room is a club in itself-the game is useful for training the eye,
and there is a certain amount of exercise given to men who would
otherwise not think of exerting themselves.
Many good shots I have known in England and abroad put down the
fact that they were able to excel owing’ to the training of the
eye in following the run of the balls on a billiard-table. A good
winning hazard player is invariably a good shot – if he uses the
As regards the exercise, middle-aged men who cannot find the time
or have not the “go” for a long walk or to play golf, will get up
enough energy to go into a billiard-room after luncheon or dinner
and play as long as the table is at their disposal. The walking
round and standing will keep the muscles of the legs in action,
and the leaning over the table and the change of movement is an
easy system of keeping the smaller muscles and nerves in trim.
Since electric light was introduced, the atmosphere of billiard-
rooms is much better, and with modern systems of ventilation the
game is played under much better conditions.
In mentioning the game of billiards and its position a few years
ago it was remarked by me that bridge had ousted billiards to a
certain extent, but I think that there is a reaction in favour of
the game played on the green tables of “12 by 6” against those
folding tables of “4 by 4.” The delight of a well-brushed, well-ironed table, with a perfect set of ivories and a delightfully
balanced cue to your weight, cannot be overstated.
After the preliminary shot the endeavour to do better at every
stroke, to get into your mind what you have seen better players
do, with just that feeling of pleasure given by an encouraging
“Well played!” from a small “gallery,” and you never wish to
relinquish your cue.
In many towns and cities and even small townships of the British
Empire there is a greater attraction in playing billiards than in
card games. To begin with, billiards can be a game played with a
stranger if necessary, a marker is available to improve your
game, and men are frequently brought into touch with each other
in the billiard room where it would be practically impossible in
a card room, besides which cards are only possible in clubs and
In many countries I have been to in different parts of the world
I have seen men brought together in the hotel or club billiard-room where otherwise they would never have met, and frequently
these informal introductions have led to long friendship, and
certainly made the life in that particular spot pleasanter.
Professional billiards as a spectacle and an attraction is
perhaps as great now as ever it was. Like every other game there
has been an evolution in billiards. New developments have been
made, much as the cricket bowlers have developed different
styles, and it is doubtful to-day whether there are not many more
discoveries to be made on the part of those to whom billiards is
With perfect tables and balls there should be a better chance
nowadays for greater skill to be displayed.
Winter tournaments are very enjoyable, and among the spectators
it is not difficult to find many enthusiasts. There is a great
spirit of emulation engendered in the game, and in the country
inter-county and inter-club matches are the best stimulus
possible. In the Army, too, there is as much keenness as ever
Those who have the best interests of the game at heart should
endeavour to stimulate this feeling of competition among the
right people in the metropolis.
It rests to an extent with those who have the real interests of
the game at heart to do something to perpetuate a game glorious
for its science and the fact-as in life- that there is always
something in it to learn.