English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : May, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : May, 1911

Billiard and Croquet Affinities

At the time of the year when the tap of the billiard cue
is somewhat less frequent, the tap of the croquet mallet is
increasingly heard in the land. There is, probably, at
present, greater affinity between billiards and croquet than
there is between any other games that are played from a
stationary ball, and these two games are, furthermore, the
only ones in which” breaks “are an essential feature if
any degree of success is to be obtained.

There are many other points of affinity and the fact need
not, at any rate, be much more than asserted that a good
billiard player who takes up croquet is far more likely to
achieve distinction in that game than one who has little or
no billiard knowledge. We are not sure that the proposition
might not be inverted with equal, or even greater,
truth, for to attain even moderate success at croquet the
disposition of both the striker’s and the opponent’s ball
must be equally considered, whereas there are billiard
players who continue, year in and year out, without giving
a thought, when potting, to the after course of their own
ball, when playing in-off to the after course of the object
ball, or when cannoning to the after course of any ball.

In croquet play the absolute necessity of controlling at
least two balls at a time is forced upon the player from the
outset, and there may be occasions, in close play near
a hoop, when it is advisable that he should make what,
in billiard parlance, would be termed a cannon, and make
it on selected sides of both the object and a second object
ball.

A good billiard player, watching a croquet novice place
the two balls together prior to making a stroke
knows at a glance whether the direction in which the mallet
head is aligned is the correct one or not for the purpose
aimed at and whether the amount of swing and strength
employed are more or less than the stroke demands. The
throw-off angle of croquet balls as compared with billiard
balls is less in the degree of their lesser density, but the
mind quickly becomes accommodated to this difference and
the rules governing aim and contact in billiards then apply
with equal force to croquet. If, for example, it be desired
to drive both balls in a somewhat similar direction and to
any distance, considerable strength must be applied, but
if the idea is to cut one’s opponent away to the side the
long shot towards one’s own objective may be made with
very little strength. So that the old billiard rule: The fuller
the contact the more the strength; the thinner the contact
the less the strength” applies equally to the sister outdoor
game.

The affinities between the two games are, indeed, almost
endless. Take the style in swinging, for instance. In
billiards there is only one correct style. The projection
of the cue must be at a point below and between the eyes.

In croquet three styles are practised, but the most scientific
and effective, if not the most elegant, is what is known as
centre play. The nearest akin to this is front play, which
is essential for lady players, but it is difficult to get the
face at right angles with the stroke or to regulate the swing
of the mallet when playing outside both feet, and how any
approach to accuracy is maintained with the still more
elusive and curving side stroke can only be known to those
—and there are many of them—who are fine players in
spite of such a manifest handicap.

In addition to the alignment in aim both in croquet and
billiards there is the “swing,” and this is at its freest and
loosest in the central hold.

Other affinities between billiards and croquet are to be
found in the cue and mallet contacts, such as the true
central horizontal stroke for reliability and general effectiveness
and the stroke (called in croquet “hitting up” and
in billiards “follow”) which makes contact with the ball
above its centre and thereby imparts to it greater rotation
and vitality.


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