by Joseph Bennett
ACCORDING to the latest authority (Murray. ” A New English Dictionary,” 1887), Billiards is so named from ” billard, ‘a cue,’ originally ‘a stick with curved end; ‘ diminutive of bille, piece of wood, stick.” Other derivations are balyards (a game played with balls and yards or sticks, Johnson), and billard (French bille, ball and suffix ard, Todd).
The origin of the game of Billiards is even more obscure than its etymology. In the Nouveau Dictionnaire, the game is said to have been invented by the French. Some ascribe the invention to Henrique Devigne, an artist, who flourished in the time of Charles IX., about 1571. Bouillet, Dictionnaire Universel des Sciences, magnanimously hands back the invention to the English. He says:-” The game of Billiards appears to be derived from the game of bowls. It was very anciently known in England, where perhaps it was invented. It was brought into fashion in France by Louis XIV., whose physicians recommended this exercise to him after eating. “Dr. Johnson argues that the game is probably English, Todd is of opinion that it is French; the Acadesmie des Jeux says:- “It would appear that Billiards was invented in England.”
Strutt (“Sports and Pastimes”) believes that Billiards is merely the game of paille-rnaille transferred from the ground to the table. He gives an engraving of paille-rnaille, which he calls “a curious ancient pastime,” bearing some analogy to bowling, and adds, “hence, I make no doubt, originated the game of Billiards.” But if the game with arch and king, figured in the cut, is the same as that described in the Academie des Jeux as nouveau unaille comme un billard, the inference should be that this form of pall-mall was suggested by Billiards, instead of the reverse.
The authorities are agreed only on one point, that nothing is known about Billiards prior to the middle of the sixteenth century.
Spenser is the earliest known English writer who refers to the game. In “Mother Hubberd’s Tale” (1591), he speaks of “all thriftles games that may be found” * * * “with dice, with cards, with balliards.”
It is well known that Billiards is mentioned by Shakespeare in “Anthony and Cleopatra” (1606).
Before the introduction of Billiards, the fashionable game on a board was shovel-board, the shovel-board being then as indispensable to the mansions of the opulent as the billiard-table is now. As soon as Billiards came into favour shovelboard was superseded, or rather relegated to the lower orders.
The earliest account of the game of Billiards in English is probably that in “The Compleat Gamester, by Charles Cotton” (1674). The author says: “The gentile, cleanly, and most ingenious game at Billiards had its first original from Italy [in another place he says from Spain], and for the excellency of the recreation is much approved of and plaid by most nations in Europe, especially in England, there being few towns of note therein which hath not a publick billiard table, neither are they wanting in many noble and private families in the country for the recreation of the mind and exercise of the body.”
The form of a billiard-table, says Cotton, is oblong, that is, something longer than it is broad. It has been stated, but on insufficient authority, that Billiards was sometimes formerly played on a round or square table. Strutt says that at the commencement of the last century the billiard-table was square, with only three pockets situated on one of the sides. He gives as his authority the “School of Recreation, 1710” (the correct date is 1701); but the engraving therein is only a poorly-executed copy of the one in Cotton, published nearly thirty years earlier.
It will be seen that here six pockets are inserted, and that the square appearance of the table is due to bad drawing.
In Cotton’s time the bed of the table was made of oak, and the cushions were stuffed with “fine flox or cotton.” The pockets were either nets, as now, or wooden boxes; but these, Cotton says, are “nothing near so commendable as the former.” Maces (called “masts”) only were used, made of ” brazile, lignum vitae, or some other weighty wood,” and tipped with ivory. The balls were generally of ivory, but some-times of wood.
The peculiarity of the game at this time consisted in the use of a small arch of ivory, called the “port,” which was placed where the pyramid spot now stands, and of an ivory peg or “king,” placed on a corresponding spot at the other end of the table (see cut). Only two balls were used, and the game played was the white winning-game (single pool), five up by day-light, three up by candle-light. In addition to the lives (or “ends”) as they were called, certain scores appertained to passing the port or to touching the king.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, Cotton’s “Compleat Gamester” was incorporated with Seymour’s “Court Gamester,” the two being published together under the former title. In the fifth edition of this work (1734), “French Billiards” is added: “So called from their manner of playing the game, which is only with masts and balls, port and king being now wholly laid aside.” It appears from the rules that cue-playing was permitted, but, for many years after; only good players were allowed to strike with flat-ended wooden cues, the proprietors of rooms insisting on the use of the mace for fear of damage to the cloth. “French Billiards” was essentially single pool. The leader had to give a miss from the stringing-line (baulk) beyond the middle pocket, after which the game proceeded as at pool: holing the adversary’s ball, winning two; holing the striker’s ball, losing two; hence the names winning and losing hazards. A miss lost one and a coup three. The game was twelve up.
Hoyle, who died in 1769, did not write on Billiards; but in editions of Hoyle, published shortly after his death, Billiards is introduced.
In addition to the “common game,” which is the same as French Billiards described by Seymour, the losing-game (i.e., a game in which a player gains by making a losing-hazard), the winning and losing game, caramboles (cannons), and hazards are now (1775) first mentioned. The losing-game is explained to be “the common game nearly reversed. * * * In putting yourself in, you win two; by putting your adversary in, you lose two; but if you pocket both balls, you get four.” The winning and losing game is a combination of the two former games, all hazards made reckoning to the striker.
Carambole, which was the precursor of Billiards as now played in England, was played with three balls, two white and one red; the red or caram (now corrupted into cannon) ball being placed on the pyramid spot. The players led from the centre of the stringing-line or baulk, which occupied a quarter of the table, instead of about a fifth as at present. The first had to play-on the red ball. Winning-hazards and cannons (called caramboles or carroms) counted for the striker, and a baulk (now first so called) compelled the next striker to play up the table, or out of baulk, as at present. When the red was holed it was re-spotted, the white balls when holed were placed on and played from the baulk spot. The players struck alternately. It does not appear whether a score was followed by another stroke. In subsequent editions of Hoyle, carambole is said to have been “lately introduced from France,” and thence probably arose the belief that Billiards is a game of French origin. Curiously enough, the French have of late years entirely discarded pockets, playing only cannons; and what was formerly the French game is now called the English game.
The game of Hazards was the forerunner of pool. Any number might play up to six, more than six being objected to as likely to cause confusion. This was probably due to the fact that the game of hazards was played with white balls numbered, and not with coloured balls. A player might play on any ball as at selling pool. If he made a winning-hazard, he received the sum played for per hazard from the owner of the ball pocketed. A miss forfeited half the price of a hazard. Nothing is said about losing-hazards or a pool. The strokes were taken by each player in turn. Up to this time the idea of a player’s following a successful stroke is not mentioned as having entered into the scheme of any of the Billiard games.
Other editions of Hoyle followed up to 1800, in which the games mentioned are similarly treated About this period, the relative merits of cue and mace play began to be carefully considered. It seems that foreigners played almost entirely with the cue, but that in England the mace was the prevailing instrument. According to Beaufort’s Hoyle (1788), “the mace is preferred for its peculiar advantage which some professed players have artfully introduced under the name of trailing [or raking], that is, following the ball with the mace to such a convenient distance from the other ball as to make it an easy hazard. The degrees of trailing are various, and undergo different denominations among the connoisseurs at this game, viz., the shove, the sweep, the long-stroke, the trail, and the dead trail or turn-up, all which secure an advantage to a good player according to their various gradations.” In some games trailing was not allowed except by agreement, and a rule was introduced to prevent a player trailing from walking after the ball.
White (“A practical Treatise on the Game of Billiards,” 1807) says that the cue is now “by far the most universally in use,” and that it is “invariably preferred [to the mace] by all good players.” He also informs us that “Until very lately the games commonly played were the white winning and the winning carambole * * *; but the winning and losing carambole game is now become so popular, that it may at present be properly called the common game at Billiards.” The players in White’s time followed a successful stroke; but, at the winning carambole game, players might agree to play alternately or to follow their scores,-the latter mode of play being almost exclusively adopted.
Up to this time the development of the game had been very slow, owing to the poorly-constructed tables and to the general use of the mace. About the beginning of this century; the introduction of cue-playing and the refinements of leathern tips, chalk, and side-stroke, caused almost a revolution in the science of Billiards. To these must be added a few years later the improvements in tables: slate beds being substituted for oak and marble about 1827, and india-rubber cushions for flock and list about 1835.
So long as the point of the cue was flat and unyielding, if the ball was not struck precisely in the centre the consequence was a miss cue. The first step in the direction of enabling players to strike otherwise than in the centre, was the invention of the “Jeffery” about 1790. This was a cue cut obliquely at the point; and cues thus bevelled were occasionally used for striking the ball below the centre. The next step was slightly to round the tip of the cue, which was said to diminish the chance of missing if the balls were not struck truly in the centre. About 1807 the leathern tip was invented by a professional player, a Frenchman, named Mingaud. He was a great master of the game at the beginning of this century, and it is said that his frequent disappointment at the cue’s sliding off the ball caused him to set his wits to work, and ultimately to devise the tip.
The tip being once added to the cue, side-stroke soon followed as a matter of course. It is remarkable how near players were, for some time, to the discovery of side-stroke without actually finding it. White, as late as 1818, seems to have had no idea of side-stroke. He recommends the player commencing the game to give a miss up the table and back into baulk, and not as now with side off the side cushion At the same time he cautions players when striking first at the cushion that it requires a delicacy [accuracy] of stroke to get the correct angle of reflection. This arises, he says, from the particular manner in which the point of the instrument [cue] is applied to the ball; but it does not seem to have occurred to him that it arises from striking the ball on the side.
Side-stroke, as we now understand it, appears to have been discovered by a man named Bartley, who early in this century was the proprietor of billiard-rooms at the Upper Rooms at Bath. He had a marker named Carr. Bartley and Carr, when business was slack, used to amuse themselves by placing the red ball in the centre of the table, and endeavouring to make the losing-hazard into the middle pocket from baulk, without bringing the red into baulk. This stroke would not be possible on modern fast tables without a masse stroke; but it could be done on the old-fashioned slow wooden tables with coarse cloth and list cushions. Even on these, only Bartley was able to make the stroke; and at last he imparted to Carr the valuable information that it was done by striking the ball low and on one side.
The idea being communicated to Carr he improved on it, and acquired great power in executing side-strokes. It may be said of him that he was the first systematically to apply the principles of the side-stroke in practice.
Carr is reported to have kept the secret to himself, but nevertheless to have made it a source of profit by an ingenious swindle. When pressed as to his peculiar powers, he produced boxes of twisting-chalk, which he said he had invented. These were nothing but pill-boxes filled with ordinary chalk, which he sold for half-a-crown a box. This is Mr. Mardon’s version; but it is possible that Carr might really have discovered the necessity for chalking the tip in order to prevent the cue from slipping when putting on side and screw. If so, the secret would be cheaply purchased for half-a-crown. Chalk is such a matter-of-course now-a-days, one is apt to overlook the fact that prior to Carr’s time the naked cue was used to strike with. White, who was contemporary with Carr, observes that the point of the wood should be made rough with a file, or rubbed over with chalk. From this we may conclude that the practice of chalking was not then general; and it seems likely that side-stroke and chalk came into use simultaneously.
About this time we first hear of the spot-stroke. A billiard-table keeper named May is said to have been a proficient at the spot-stroke, though a nervous hazard striker. He played the best amateurs the go-back game, fifty up, and generally won through his command over this particular stroke. It seems only to have been played by screwing back and by crossing; and not by returning from the slow list cushion, as is now done from the india-rubber one.
The earliest authentic record of a billiard break is about the year 1825, when Carr, playing a match with the “Cork Marker,” at the Four Nations Hotel in the Opera Colonnade, won three heats of 100 up. In He second heat he made 22 spot-hazards. After this display, Carr was backed against all metropolitan players for a hundred guineas a side.
Edwin Kentfield (better known by his sobriquet of “Jonathan”), proprietor of subscription billiard-rooms at Brighton, responded to the challenge. Owing to Carr’s illness, the match was never played; and, as no one came forward to dispute the laurels with Kentfield, he remained master of the situation until 1849.
Kentfield’s forte was losing-hazards and gentle strengths. His largest break was 196 points, and his largest spot-break 57 hazards. He was also unrivalled at the one-pocket game.
Bedford, a keeper of billiard-rooms at Brighton, was reckoned among the best players at this date. He was celebrated for winning-hazards. His greatest break was 159.
In 1845, John Roberts, a Liverpool man, became the manager of the rooms at the Union Club, Manchester. This famous player said he saw the spot-stroke gave so great an advantage to whoever could perform it with anything like certainty, that for six months he practised it incessantly, spending hundreds of hours over it. Roberts attributed his superiority, as shown by the number of points he could give all comers, mainly to his mastery over the spot. He was, however, a splendid all-round player, and his physical power gave him great command over forcing strokes. His largest break was 346, including 104 consecutive spot-hazards.
In 1849, Roberts went to Brighton to challenge Kentfield for the championship. Kentfield, it is said, declined to play, and in consequence Roberts became champion, and so remained until 1870. In 1850 he beat the American champion, Starke at the American (four-ball) game; but in 1862 he found in Berger a superior at the French (cannon) game.
About 1868 it was rumoured that John Roberts, jun., William Cook, and Joseph Bennett were closely approaching Roberts’ old form. In 1860 Cook cut the record in a series of breaks, made in exhibition matches, his best being 388 (119 spots) and 394 (112 spots). He then (1870) challenged Roberts for the championship.
Up to this date the championship had always gone to the holder by default. Now followed a series of matches, tabulated on the next page.
|Year||Date||Winner||Loser||Points won by||Time|
|1870||Feb 11||W. Cook||J. Roberts sen.||117||5h 0m|
|“||Apr 14||J. Roberts jnr||W. Cook||478||3h 4m|
|“||May 30||J. Roberts jnr||A. Bowles||246||4h 10m|
|“||Nov 28||Jos. Bennett||J. Roberts jnr||95||4h 45m|
|1871||Jan 30||J. Roberts Jnr||Jos. Bennett||363||3h 23m|
|“||May 25||W. Cook||J. Roberts jnr||15||3h 50m|
|“||Nov 21||W. Cook||Jos. Bennett||58||4h 23m|
|1872||Mar 4||W. Cook||J. Roberts jnr||201||3h 27m|
|1874||Feb 24||W. Cook||J. Roberts jnr||216||3h 10m|
|1875||May 24||J. Roberts jnr||W. Cook||163||3h 42m|
|“||Dec 20||J. Roberts jnr||W. Cook||135||3h 35m|
|1877||May 28||J. Roberts jnr||W. Cook||223||3h 18m|
|1880||Nov 8||Jos. Bennett||W. Cook||51||4h 8m|
|1881||Jan 12-13||Jos. Bennett||T. Taylor||90||4h 52m|
|1881||Apr 13||Jos. Bennett||F. Shorter||(forfeited)|
|1884||Dec||J. Roberts jnr||W. Cook||(forfeited)|
|1885||Mar 30,31 Apr 1||J. Roberts jnr||W Cook.||92||11h 23m.|
|1885||June 1-4||J. Roberts jnr||Jos Bennett||1640||6h 10m.|
The match of February 11, 1870, was 1200 up. All the others up to 1881, were 1000 up. The 1885 matches were 3000 up,
All the matches, from 1870 to 1881, were played at St James’s Hall, except that of May 24, 1875, which was played at the Criterion. The match of March-April, 1885, was played at the Billiard Hall, Argyll Street; that of June, 1885, at the Aquarium Westminster.
All the matches from 1870 to 1885 were played for a silver cup, valued at £120, under the following conditions:-The champion to play any challenger a game of 1000 up, on a table with three-inch pockets, for £100 a side, at two months’ notice. Should any one win all his championship matches during five years, the cup to become his property.
1878, May 2.-Cook challenged. No one covered his deposit, so he assumed the title of champion, but resigned on leaving England. During the absence of Cook and Roberts in India, the title remained in abeyance.
1881, September.-Bennett met with a severe accident (breaking his arm), and resigned. Cook then styled himself champion, and was allowed to hold the trophy until he forfeited to Roberts in December, 1884.
1881-82.-Roberts was averse to playing on a championship table. In the winter of 1881-82, he offered the odds of 500 in 5000, to all comers, on an ordinary table. Cook accepted, and was defeated. Roberts then called himself champion of the world
1885, June 1, 2, 3, 4.-Roberts made breaks of 147 and 155 (best on record in a championship match on a three-inch pocket table); also spot breaks of 15 and 16 spots (best on record in a championship match). His was also the fastest time in a championship match; he scored at the rate of 1000 in 2h 3m. to 2h. 4m., averaging 486 to 487 per hour.
After the June match of 1885, Roberts was not challenged. Consequently, in December, 1889, he became the owner of the cup through lapse of time.
There had been, for some years, a growing feeling in the billiard world against championship tables. It was said that the three-inch pocket, with spot twelve-and-a-half inches from the cushion, had been proposed in order to give Roberts, sen., a better chance, in the first match for the championship in 1876, than he would have had on an ordinary table. Cook was at that time known to be very formidable at the spot-stroke. Of course, Cook had to be consulted; he offered no objection, and hence the championship table. This table, in the opinion of many players, is open to various objections.
After the championship, on small pocket tables, lapsed in favour of Roberts, jun., owing to effluxion of time (December, 1889), the three-inch pocket went out of use, except by special agreement.
In exhibition matches, Roberts confined himself principally to the spot-barred game, and, by common consent, held the title of spot-barred champion on an ordinary table. Peall challenged Roberts at the all-in game; and, as Roberts refused to play, Peall claimed to be all-in champion on an ordinary table.
In 1885, a number of players who had formed a Billiard Association, issued a set of laws of billiards. Exhibition matches, after this, were generally played under Association laws, and the championship laws were discarded.
The Association made no sign with regard to championships until January, 1891; and, indeed, it is difficult to see how they could have done so much earlier, while Roberts was liable to be challenged on a championship table under the old laws.
The question of supremacy between Roberts and Peall being still undecided, it was eventually resolved by the Billiard Association, in November, 1891, to institute a championship on a table approved by that body, to be called a “Standard” table. The pockets were fixed at 3 5/8 in. at the fall, the height of the shoulder, and the shape, being regulated by a model or template submitted to and approved by the Association. At the same time the distance of the baulk line from the bottom cushion was fixed at twenty-nine inches; the diameter of the half-circle at twenty-three inches; and the distance of the billiard spot (called in this work the losing or red spot), from the top cushion, at twelve-and-three-quarter inches. The height of the table from the floor to the top of the cushions to be not less than 2 ft. 9½ in., and not more than 2 ft. 10 in. The diameter of the balls to be not less than 2 1/16 in., and not more than 2 3/32 in. No breaks to be accepted as records in future, unless played on a “Standard” table.
This was a move in the right direction; but, as the spot-barred and the all-in players could not agree, it was finally decided to have two championships on standard tables, one to be all-in, and to be called the Billiard Championship; the other to be spot-barred, and to be called the Spot-barred Championship; the two to rank as equal. The following are the principal conditions:-The game to be 5000 up for the billiard championship; 4000 up for the spot-barred. Matches to be played for £100 a side, within four months of challenge. (Cups to be provided by the Association, and to become the property of a player winning four times in succession, or six times in all, or holding for three consecutive years.
The matches for these championships did not attract much attention, nor were they productive of any record breaks. On April 9, 1892, Peall won the first of the series, all-in, beating C. Dawson and W. Mitchell. The best break, by the winner, was 2099 (305 and 393 spots). Peall won both his matches easily. No one has since challenged; Peall is therefore billiard champion, all-in (1894).
On April 25 to May 3. 1892, the spot-barred championship was played for by Mitchell, Peall, North, Cook, and Coles. Mitchell won. North challenged Mitchell (Feb. 20 to 25, 1893), and Mitchell won very easily. Dawson challenged Mitchell (Jan. 8 to 13, 1894). The game (9000 up) was won by Mitchell by 837 points. Mitchell thus became spot-barred champion (1894). This seems rather absurd while Roberts’ challenge was still open (1896) to play any man in the world, at standard English billiards, for £1000 a side, spot-barred, and to give 8000 points in 24,000.
In October, 1898, the Billiard Association issued revised laws, barring the spot and the push strokes, and shortly afterwards announced an open championship under the new rules. The terms of the competition were as follows-Game to be 9000 up, played on a “standard,’ table; each competitor to stake £20, the winner to take three-fourths of the stakes, the gold medal of the Association, and £100 per annum (guaranteed by the Association for three years) so long as he should hold the championship; the second to have one-fourth of the stakes, the gate-money (after deducting expenses) to be shared equally between the first and second man. The entry for the first championship under these conditions was disappointing, C. Dawson and J. North being the only competitors. The match was played at the Gaiety. Saloon, Strand, on January 9 to 14, 1899, and resulted in an easy victory for Dawson, by 4285 points. Dawson is, therefore, the world’s champion under the new rules.
After becoming champion in 1870, Cook several times cut the record. On November 29,1873 (exhibition match, St. James’s Hall), he made 936 (270 and 19 spots). In a match for £400 v. W. Moss, Cook made 156 on a championship table (at the time the record by one point, but since beaten). On January 26,1882 (practice v. amateur), Cook made his largest break, 1362 (451 spots). Scores made in practice do not reckon as records.
J. Roberts, jun., seldom plays all-in on an ordinary table, and his record is only 722 (239 spots) v. Mitchell, 15,000 up, even, for £200 (Billiard Hall, Argyll Street, Feb. 8 to 13,1886). On a champion-ship table (spot 12 3/4 in. from cushion), 10,000 up, v. Peall (receiving 2000), for a cup value £100 (at the Billiard Hall, March 29, 188,), Roberts made 283 (8, 10, 28, and 28 spots). His best breaks on a championship table, with spot 12½ in. from cushion, were at the Egyptian Hal], Piccadilly, in a match v. Richards, March 10 to 20, 1889, 15,000 up, Roberts giving 5000, for £400. In this match he made breaks of 215, 224, and 225; also 165 (50 spots, best on record On a championship table, with spot 12½ in. from cushion). On a championship table he has also scored, without any long break, 1000 in 1h. 45m (fastest thousand on record on a championship table).
The match was exhibition, v. Cook, best of three games of 4000 up, Roberts giving 1000 each game, at the Egyptian Hall, January 12 to 17, 1891.
Roberts’ records are mainly to be looked for in the spot-barred game, at which he is unequalled. He has scored breaks of over five hundred, spot-barred, between forty and fifty times. Twice he has scored over five hundred a second time in one day. Many of his spot-barred breaks are over six hundred, and two are over one thousand. It would be tedious to give details of each of these breaks. The two largest are-1017, at Hengler’s Circus, Glasgow (Roberts v. Diggle), on June 5, 1894; and 1392 (best on record), at the Concert Hall, Manchester (Roberts v. Diggle), the week previously. At the Gentleman’s Concert Hall, Manchester, v. Diggle, exhibition, commencing May 15, 1892, Roberts made a break of 608, and next day scored 234 (78 hazards) off one ball only (at that time best on record in a spot-barred game). This beat Peall’s previous record of 222 (74 hazards off one ball), v. Roberts, at the Billiard Hall, January 27, 1886, by four red-hazards. It has, however, since been beaten by Roberts playing v. Sala, at the Egyptian Hall, on December 9, 1898, when he scored 372 off the red (124 hazards), spot-barred, the present record.
In May and June, 1893, Roberts played the American Champion, Ives, 6000 up, even, spot and push strokes barred, at Humphrey’s Hall, Knightsbridge. After four days’ play, Ives worked the balls to a corner of the table, and made 1267 cannons (total break 2039), and with another break of 862 (402 cannons), won easily. These breaks are not accepted as records, the pockets being 3¼ in., and the balls 2¼ in. It was stated in some reports that Ives got the balls jawed in the pocket. This has been denied, and it does not seem possible to jaw two 2¼ in. balls in a 3¼ in. pocket.
A second match was played on a compromise table, at the Central Music Hall, Chicago, in September, 1893, corner cannons being barred by a corner baulk. No very large breaks were made. Ives won.
A third match was played on a standard table, with 2¼ in. balls, at the Lenox Lyceum, New York, October 2 to 7, 1893. Roberts won by 1262 points, notwithstanding a fine display by Ives, who made breaks of 651, 586, 515, and several of over three hundred, chiefly by cannons. These breaks do not count as records, the balls being 2¼ in.
W. Mitchell has not infrequently made breaks of over 1000. On September 23, 1880 (practice v. amateur), he scored 1839 (612 spots). Practice games, of course, do not rank as records. His best record break is 1620 (536 spots), v. Peall, November 2 to 7, 1885 at the Aquarium, Westminster.
W. J. Peall has made about thirty breaks of over 1000 (including several of over 2000, and one of over 3000). At the Aquarium, Westminster, v. Mitchell, 15,000 up, even, for a prize of £50, presented, he made five breaks of over 1000 including 1922 (634 spots). At the same place, November 1 to 6, 1886, v. G. Collins, 15,000 up, Collins receiving 5000, exhibition, Peall scored a break of 2413 (338 and 449 spots). At the same place, January 13 to 20, 1889, v. F. White, 15,000 up, White receiving 5000, for £400, Peall made a break of 2170 (721 consecutive spots, best consecutive spot break on record). At the same place, v. C. Dawson, 15,000 up, Dawson receiving 3000, exhibition, Peall in 2h. 40m. scored 3304 (93, 3, 150, 123, 172, 120, and 400 spots, best all-in break on record). He has also made 142, 146, and 184 screw-back spot strokes (best on record). On a championship table, spot 12¾ in. from top cushion, he made 445 (128 spots). This does not rank as a record on a championship table, as the spot should be 12½ in. from the cushion.
F. White has not infrequently made breaks of over 1000. His best is 1745 (554, 3, and 18 spots).
T. Taylor has scored 1233 (406 spots), and several other fine breaks, including one of 1467 (729 cannons, the balls being jawed in a pocket). Opinions differ as to receiving breaks off jawed balls as records. Independently of this, Taylor’s break was not made in a game. The game was 600 up, exhibition, and, having run out from 236 off the jawed balls, Taylor was requested to finish his break.
J. North’s best break, considering the conditions, is 1066 (100, 25, 6, 99, 33, and 71 spots). North was limited to 100 consecutive spots.
E. Diggle holds the record cannon break, 115 cannons, the balls not being jawed. This beats Roberts’ previous best by seven cannons. Diggle’s break was played on Jan. 3, 1894, at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, in a match of 24,000 up, spot-barred, for £200, v. Roberts (Diggle receiving 9000).
In the spot-barred game the best breaks (bar Roberts’) are-Diggle, 530; Peall and Coles, each 571; Dawson, 698; and H. W. Stevenson, 660 (all on standard tables); Dawson’s was played on March 27, 1893, in a match v. Richards. Stevenson’s was played on Jan. 14, 1898, in a match v. Roberts, at the Egyptian Hall.
In 1898 professional matches were principally played push- and spot-barred.
Roberts v. Sala, Egyptian Hall, March 12: Roberts made a break of 549, push- and spot-barred.
On April 4, at the Egyptian Hall, v. Harrison, he made 609, push- and spot-barred.
On April 15, at the Egyptian Hall, v. Diggle, he made 679, push- and spot-barred (best on record).
On April 7, 1898, at Messrs. Burroughes & Watts’ Saloon, Manchester (E. Diggle v. J. Mack), Diggle made 569 push- and spot-barred.
On April 21,1898, at Messrs. Burroughes & Watts’ Saloon, Birmingham (C. Dawson v. Bateman), Dawson made 572 under like conditions.
Under the revised laws of the Billiard Association, which came into operation on Oct. 1, 1898, the push and spot strokes are barred. Several players, playing under these laws, have made breaks exceeding 500.
On Nov. 25, 1898, at Messrs. Orme’s Saloon, Soho Square, London (H. W. Stevenson v. Diggle), Stevenson made 582.
– On Jan. 25, 1899, at Messrs. Burroughes & Watts’ Saloon, Dean Street, London (Diggle v. Duncan), Diggle made 510.
On Jan. 28, 1899, at the Egyptian Hall (Roberts v. Stevenson), Roberts made 548.
On Feb. 14, 1899, at Messrs. Burroughes & Watts’ Saloon, Dean Street, London (Stevenson v. Diggle), Stevenson made 544.
On March 3, 1899, at Messrs. Orme & Son’s Saloon, Blackfriars Strett, Manchester (Roberts v. Diggle), Roberts made 597.
On Oct. 21, 1899, at the Argyll Hall (C. Dawson v. J. Mack), Dawson made a break of 722-the record break under the Association Rules, beating J. Roberts’ previous record of 597 by 125 points.