English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : February, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : February, 1911

Essential Billiard Components

I.—THE CUE

Probably no game—indoor or outdoor—depends more
upon the quality of the implements and accessories that
are employed in its pursuit than billiards. Herbert Spencer,
in describing billiards as a game in which two men knock
three balls about a table with sticks, was right. Only it
is necessary that the “sticks,” the balls, and the table
should be of the right kind, and that the men should know
something of the intricate and almost limitless possibilities
that the game—elementary as it may appear to a casual
observer—yields to its votaries.

The stems of the best billiard cues are made from the
most closely-grained wood of the taller ash tree, which, in
its turn, belongs to the olive family. In the
selection of the wood that is most suitable for the
making of reliable cues the manufacturers who
specialize in that department have to bring to bear a
knowledge and an intuition that are the outcome of many
years of experience. Good billiard players know how enormously
a break is affected by the nature of the cue that is
used in making it, and those—whether professionals or
advanced amateurs—who play much would not dream of
entering upon a serious contest without having available
two cues made according to the best-known formulae, and
as nearly as possible identical in dimensions, weight, substance,
balance, and finish.

“There are cues and cues,” billiard players are sometimes
heard to say. We may go further and suggest that there
are cues and things that, although named “cues,” are not
really cues at all. In public billiard rooms, so-called cues
are frequently to be found which possess every vice that
can be attached to the implement. Unbutted, or, worse
still, unskilfully butted, they are devoid of balance, and can
never be delicately or successfully utilized. Unequal in
density and soft or springy towards the taper end, they
assist in deflecting a hard-struck ball exactly when the
utmost accuracy is required. Fashioned according to no
scientific rule, but merely to a given series of weights,
they may feel in the hand like anything from a bamboo cane
to a broom handle.

The billiard player who desires to reap pleasure from his
game and to attain to a certain degree of proficiency should
hie him at the outset to a reputable firm of billiard table
makers, who, if specially consulted on the subject, will
take pleasure in fitting him with a cue, or pair of cues,
exactly appropriate to his build, style of play, and temperament.

The right cue having once been purchased, the
utmost care should be taken of it. If its owner have a
billiard table of his own, no better place for the cue, when
not in use, can be found, than the surface of the table itself,
underneath the cover. Otherwise the best plan is to
keep it suspended in a case. The one thing that should
not be done with it is to leave it leaning against a wall.

Self-respecting cues resent this treatment very much, and
have a way of showing their resentment which is not to
their owner’s advantage when he is playing.

Perhaps a word or two may be said as to the way in
which, according to the consensus of opinion of all the
most distinguished and successful players, the cue should
be handled. The three golden rules are: (1) hold lightly;
(2) swing horizontally; (3) work straightly. To which
may be added the advice to bring the cue well back, and
then, without a stop, to send it well forward, with an easy,
flowing action. Under these conditions the cue, if properly
aligned, will drive the ball in the precise direction in which
it points. The reason why so many players fail to
score from a given shot, or even miss the object ball, is
that, in consequence of imparting a deflected motion to the
cue, a different part of the ball is struck from that which
is intended.


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