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  Sport > Billiards
Lankomumo reitingas Print version Print version
History of the billiardsports
History of the billiardsports

Source: Mike Shamos

Billiards knows a rich history. Kings, commoners, presidents, insanes, ladies, gentlemen and maybe criminals, have been playing the game. The Game has its origin in Northern Europe, probably France, where it was played as an outdoor game in the 15th century. Due to weather conditions the game moved indoors on a wooden table, which was dressed with a green carpet, to ressemble grass, and a slat around the sides. The balls where pushed instead of punched with a wooden stick. The name Billiards probably comes from two French words "bille" from ball and "art" from arts. The English also claim to have invented the game, but except for England nobody believes that.

The game was originally played with two balls and six pockets with a gate and a small piece of wood (the king), this was the goal. In the 18th century the gate and king smoothly disappeared from the game, and only the balls and pockets remained. The most information about the early days of billiards are from game reports of nobility players. But it is clear that commoners played the game as well. Around 1600, billiards was known enough to be mentioned in Shakespeare's, " I, Anthony and Cleopatra". 75 years later the rules of the game were written down in a book. It was mentioned that everywhere in England the billiard-table was accessible to commoners.

The cue was developed in the 17th century. When a ball was (too) close to the edge, it became too difficult to use the front of the stick (as a spoon). Then they turned the stick around and used the backside (the cue, which means tail). This was only allowed for male players, because they where afraid, that female players would damage the table.

In the beginning the edges of the table where plump, only to protect to balls going over the edge. The players found out, that they could use the edges to rebound a ball.

After 1800 the material in England was evolved , mainly due to industrial revolution. Chalk was introduced to increase the friction between the cue and the ball. Even before the first cue, the stick had a rubber end to give the ball a side effect. In 1829 the first two "parts" cues where on the market. Around 1835 cloth became popular as an underground. In 1839 it became possible to vulcanize the rubber and that knowledge was used to produce the side of the table, as we know them now.

From ± 1770 until 1920 they played English Billiards in England. It was played with 3 balls and 6 pockets on a long rectangular table. The 2:1 proportion between length and width became common in the 18th century. Before that there was no specified proportion for the table.(NOTE: Englisch Billiards is still played with the three balls on the large six pocket table in England, but it's not very popular now compared to snooker.)

The inventor of the pomerans:

Source: Biljart Totaal dec. '97

François Mingaud (1771-1847), born in Le Cailar, South of France, in the surroundings of Nimes. Was the inventor of the pomerans, the rubber on the end of the cue.
A picture of Fran ç ois Mingaud, was placed on the cover of The Billiard Player (English magazine) in May 1953. This is the only known picture of the inventor of the pomerans.

Through this invention it became possible to give the ball an effect. A new era was born in the billiard world. Before that they needed to hit the ball in the middle. Mingaud lived his last 25 years in the Hoogstraat in Rotterdam, where he remarried at the age of 64. This house was destroyed during WWII. He died December 23, 1847. Five days later he was buried at a graveyard in Crooswijk.

In 1827 François Mingaud wrote a book "Noble jeu de Billard" It was translated into English three years later. It's a very priceless book to have in your book collection about billiard.
The name Mingaud is hard to spell. He has been named Mangaud, Mengand, Mengaud, Migaud, Mignaut, Mingo, Mingot, Minguad, Wingaud and of course the correct spelling: Mingaud.

Capitan Mingaud (he was in Napoleons army) has been in the Bastille as a political prisoner. It must have been a big cell, because he had a billiard-table in there. He really loved to play Billiards. When he was released he requested to stay longer to improve his game.

         
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