English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : February, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : February, 1912

A Glossary of Terms Used in Connection with Billiards


The various appurtenances of a billiard table, such as cues, balls, marking boards, etc.
Adjusting Balls

When ivory balls lose their sphericity they are adjusted by being re-turned in the lathe.
Addressing the Ball

The movements—the fewer the better—preliminary to a stroke in fixing cue contact and regulating strength.
African Ivory

The standard ivory for billiard balls. A softer kind exported to India is imported into this country under the name of Indian ivory. (See ‘Indian Ivory.’)
Against the Nap

Playing down the table, if the cloth has been properly put on. (With slow strokes this reverses the effect of side).

The endeavour to point the cue in alignment or parallel with the intended travel of the cue ball. Thus, when side is employed, the cue must be moved bodily to such side and the body position adjusted accordingly so that the line of aim may be between the eyes.

See ‘Spot-In’.

An amateur in billiards is defined as “one who has not at any time earned his living, or any part of his living, by playing or scoring games played on a billiard table.” The word is best described by its French equivalent. The true amateur follows the pastime from love of it only, and not from hope of gain.
American Tournament

A tournament in which each player must meet in turn every other player.
Anchor Stroke

A feather stroke upon the first object ball and a full contact with the second, by means of which the two object balls are retained in their positions against the shoulders of a corner pocket.

The extent to which the second objective, whether ball, pocket, or cushion, is out of line with the first.
Angle of Incidence

The angle at which a ball reaches a cushion.
Angle of Reflexion

The angle at which a ball leaves a cushion.
An appliance for indicating the half-ball angle.

When the player’s ball, or part of it, is inside the shoulder of a pocket at such an angle from an object ball that such ball cannot be struck direct.

(See ‘Stance.’).

The product of a total score divided by the number of innings.

The player who has con ceded points.
Backward Rotation

Ensuring backward travel of the cue ball after contact with a near object ball or a cushion by low striking.
Ball-to Ball Cannon

A cannon in which a cushion contact does not intervene, although it may precede.
Ball Returner

A railroad device around or beneath a table for returning the cue ball to baulk.
Balls “Safe.”
Balls left in an almost unscorable position.
Balls Touching

Relates to, cue and object ball only. Cue ball is then in hand and the red and white are respectively placed on billiard and centre spots.

The principal playing medium in billiards. The prime essential in a set of billiard balls is that they should be equal in weight and size. The standard diameter is 2 1/16 in., and the weight from 4½ to 5 ounces.
Baulk Line

A line drawn across the table 29 inches from the bottom cushion.
Baulk, Double

See ‘Double Baulk.’
Baulk, In

When an object ball is exactly on, or is below, the baulk line it is in baulk and unplayable.
Baulk, Single

See ‘Single Baulk.’

The space behind the line drawn across the table 29 inches from the bottom.
Bijou Table

A billiard table that is considerably below standard size.
Billiard Spot

A spot 12¾ inches from the centre of the top cushion.
Billiard Temperament

The equable frame of mind that enables a man to play his real game against any opponent or amidst any surroundings.
A trade term applied to a combined billiard and dining table.
Black and Pink Pool

The addition of the pink ball, with proportionate conditions, to the black pool game.
Black Pool

A form of pool from which the ordinary pool is omitted and in which every player who takes the black is paid by all the others. Penalties are also paid all round. No lives are lost.
Blind Pocket

The farther a ball intended to be pocketed is from a line drawn across the table from the back of a pocket at an equal distance from the shoulders the more”blind”is such pocket said to be.

A manufactured material of which many billiard balls are now composed.

A special preparation for cleaning and polishing billiard balls.

A form of looped bridge in which the top of the thumb is brought against the middle joint of the second finger and there joined to the tip of the forefinger.

A continuous score.

Playing the opening stroke in a game..

Making losing or winning hazards or cannons by playing on to a cushion first. (See ‘Cannon off Cushion’).

The groove or loop formed with thumb and forefinger for the cue to.

The long cues are called the “long butt” and the “half-butt.”
Cannon Ball

The second object ball when a cannon is attempted or made.
Cannon Limitation

Not. more than 25 consecutive ball-to-ball cannons can now be made. (See Ball-to-Ball Cannon).
Cannon Off Cushion

Differs from cushion cannon, in that cushion is struck before either object ball is reached.

The successive striking in one shot with the cue ball of the other two balls.
Centre Spot

A spot in the exact centre of the table.
Chalk Cups

The six cups for chalk beneath the table rails, and the positions of which are indicated by spots in the rails.
Chalk Holders

Small cases intended to prevent the chalk from soiling the pocket.
Chalk Suspender

A rising and falling cord working in pulley attached to the ceiling.
Championship Pockets

Formerly three-inch, but now same as standard. (See ‘Standard Pockets.’)
Check Side
The side that narrows the angle of departure from a ball or cushion and decreases the pace of the cue ball after such contact.
Circular Break

Object balls over middle pocket and cue ball in hand. Play white to spot. Pot red and play cue ball a little below spot. Cannon gently and leave red over top pocket. Pot red and leave cue ball on shoulder. Pocket cue ball and play red ball to middle pocket. Pot red and continue as before.
Class Play

Play in accordance with the accepted methods of finished players.
Close Screws.

When cue and object ball are only about six (or fewer) inches apart and much less than normal screw strength has to be applied.
Closing Up the Game

Resorting to safety play when the balls are running persistently badly for the striker and the opponent is getting all the leaves.

A condition sometimes attributed to a player who has had to”sit out”during an opponent’s long break.

The application of side, force, top, screw, drag, stun, etc., to secure a desired run or positioning of ball or balls.

The points on their surfaces at which two balls come into collision.
Cork Pool

A cork with the pool money on the top is the cannon objective, which is made off the red ball. Only one white ball is used.

Missing purposely or intentionally and running into a pocket.

A ball that cannot be hit direct because another ball is in the way.
Cramp Games

Games in which the better player concedes, instead of points, advantages such as only scoring double figures, scoring no losing hazards, utilizing one pocket only, losing a point for each cushion touched by the cue ball, playing only on the ball selected by the opponent, etc.
Cramped Position

When cue ball is under a cushion, close to another ball, or otherwise difficult to deal with.

A manufactured material of which many billiard balls are now composed.
Cue Action

See Cue Delivery.
Cue Delivery

The form of cue ball contact that is made, and which ranges from a free or graceful swing to a snatchy poke.
Cue Tipping Cramp

A device for holding tip firmly in position whilst setting after having been cemented.
Cushion Cannon

Applied when the cue ball strikes first the object ball, then a cushion, or cushions, and finally the cannon ball
Cushion Crawling
A method of safety play now happily minimized, as two successive misses may not be given.
Cushion Side

Check side on the ball and running side off the cushion.

The rubber-lined portions of the inner rails of a billiard table.
Cutting Stroke

A finer than half-ball stroke, which cuts the object ball instead of driving it.
A term applied to the baulk half circle.
Deep Screw

A screw stroke in which the cue ball recoils at a considerably more acute angle than a right angle.
Defensive Play

Play in which no obvious risks are taken. The opposite of open play.
Division of Balls

See ‘Half-Ball’, Quarter-Ball’, and ‘Three-quarter’ Ball Aims. There are also intermediate aims known as “eighths.”

A ball that enters a pocket direct, after having previously been struck with intention against a cushion—usually on the opposite side of the table—is said to be doubled.

Scoring both a cannon and a pocket in one shot.
Double Baulk

Cue and red ball left purposely behind the baulk line to hinder opponent when in hand.

The retarding movement given to a cue ball by striking it below the centre, but which retardation is overcome before it reaches the object ball.
Draw Back

(See ‘Screw Back’).
Driving Stroke

A fuller than half-ball stroke, which drives the object ball instead of cutting it. (See ‘Stun.’)
Feather Contact
The lightest and finest possible contact of the cue and object balls.
Feather Stroke

See ‘Quill Stroke’.

An appliance for tapping the cue tip when shiny or clogged—a method that is greatly superior to sandpapering.

(See ‘Safety.’)
Fine Strokes
Finer than quarter ball, so-called.

Resorting to safety or other play likely to hamper an opponent or to secure for one’s-self an opening. It means more than merely giving a miss and may be in the nature of a “lure,” which tempts the opponent to act unwisely.
Flogging the Balls

The application of unnecessary force, much resorted to by some amateurs.

An unintended score.
Fluked Position

A favourable position that has not been played for.
Follow Strokes

In which the cue ball passes freely on after being played thickly on to the object ball at short range.

Striking cue ball with force, and usually above centre, to widen natural angle of departure after half-ball contact.
Forward Rotation

Overcoming the sliding action of the cue ball during its first few inches of travel by high striking.

Any stroke that is not made in accordance with the rules of the game
Full Ball
A contact in which the two balls, after impact, follow the same course
French Table

An 8ft. by 4ft. table for cannon play only, and with heavier cues and larger balls than are used in the English pocket game.
Gathering Cannon

A cannon in which the strength and first contact are so applied that all the three balls are near together when they cease rolling. In this class of stroke the third ball is usually only slightly disturbed, the cue ball being either screwed back on to it or just reaching it after longer travel.
Gentle Screw

A screw stroke at close range in which the balls are disturbed as little as possible.
Going Out for a Stroke

Taking some risk by choosing a not easy shot, such as a doubtful all-round cannon.
Golf Billiards

A game, the skill in which consists in potting the red from off the centre spot in the six pockets in succession.
Gray Stroke

The almost exclusive use of the middle pockets for the making of a long losing hazard break from baulk off the red ball.
The scaled instrument with which the diameter of a ball is tested.
Half-Size Table

A term sometimes applied to a 6ft. by 3ft. table, which is really a quarter-size.

An object ball, the edge of which is aimed at with the centre of the cue ball, is said to be aimed at half-ball.
Half Butt

(See ‘Butts’).
Half Push

An indescribable something in cueing which may be either fair or unfair, according to the view taken of it
Another term for “innings.”

The weighting of a better player by causing him to concede points in a given total number to be scored.
Hat Trick

Three successive breaks of 100 or upwards.

A term sometimes applied to pocketing a ball.
Ideal Position

There are certain positions off which a good player should be certain, with care, to make a break. Thus there is an ideal position for top-of-the-table play and also for getting there.
Immediate Score

The easiest immediate score irrespective of subsequent position.

The collision between two balls, either one or both of which is at the time in motion.
In Baulk
Ball or balls behind the baulk line.
In Hand

Applied to the player whose next stroke will be from baulk.
In Off

See ‘Losing Hazard.’
In Play

Applied to the maker of ah unfinished break in a game still in progress, or to the one whose turn it is to commence.
Indian Ivory

A softer kind of African ivory, in which there is slightly more elasticity or “give,” just as there is in Indian ivory as compared with crystalate and in crystalate as compared with bonzoline.
Indian Pool

A slight variation of Russian Pool.
Individual Strokes

See ‘Stroke Play’.

The turn of a player at the table.

A term sometimes applied to the balls.

The product of elephants’ tusks from which ivory billiard balls are turned. There is both African and Indian ivory.
Jam Stroke

A feather contact of the cue ball with both object balls by means of which the latter are retained in their tight position in a corner pocket opening.
A term applied to two balls when touching each other and when each is also touching a pocket shoulder.
See ‘Long Jenny’ and ‘Short Jenny.’

Familiar name for ‘rest.’
Jump Shot

A cannon or hazard in which the cue ball is made to jump on or over the object ball by directing the point of the cue between the cloth and the bottom of the cue ball. Cannons and losing and winning hazards are to be made in this way.
Kiss Cannon

A cannon in which the cue ball is knocked back from an object ball on or near a cushion upon the third ball, or in which collision between the object ball and third ball enables the cue ball to reach the latter.

A second contact, intended or unintended, between a cue and object ball in the course of the same stroke.

A tournament in which a player who is once beaten is out of the contest.
Lace Cannon

A cross-table cannon in which the cue ball strikes both side cushions between the two contacts, the first of which is usually a fine one.

The player who has passed the score made by the other.

The position facing the striker when he commences his innings or in the course of a break.
Line Ball

When an object ball is exactly on the baulk line it is called a line ball and is unplayable. The test for a doubtful line ball is a thick coin placed lightly against it on each side of the line.
Long Butts

(See ‘Butts’).
Long Jenny

A stroke played with pocket side into a blind corner pocket when the cue ball has a considerable way to travel after contact.
Long Loser

When object ball is a considerable distance down or up the table from a top or bottom corner pocket respectively.
Long Range Loser
When the cue ball has a long way to travel to object ball near a corner pocket.
Long Rest

The rest used with the long and half butts.
See ‘Losing Hazard.’
Losing Hazard

The score made when the striker’s ball enters a pocket off another ball.
Love Game

A game in which the loser does not score.

A stroke made with the cue held vertically.
Merit Break

A number allotted to a player according to his class, and at which a break point is scored.

The slipping of the cue off the cue ball, through want of chalk, a clogged tip, or careless striking.

Striking, either intentionally or unintentionally, without hitting an object ball.

Familiar term for ‘missed.’

The product of the final dressing and smoothing of a billiard cloth. (See ‘Against the Nap.’)
Narrow Inn Off

When the angle is such that thinner contact, check side, or a run-through of the object ball has to be employed.
Natural Angle

When the centre of the cue ball is aimed at the edge of the object ball, and proceeds with normal speed and rotation, the angle of throw-off after contact is said to be the natural angle.
Nearest Ball Pool

Ordinary pool, except that the nearest, instead of a definitely fixed, ball must be played upon.
Needle Match

Term applied to a keen personal contest.
No Miss

Hitting a ball after missing an intended one.
Nomination Break

A break in which every intended stroke is named beforehand.
Nursery Cannons

Cannons made with all three balls kept very near to each other, either at a cushion or away from it.
Moving the balls very slightly in order exactly to maintain their relative positions.
Object Ball

The ball immediately aimed at.

The ball or spot aimed at or the main idea underlying a stroke.
Off the Balls

Another term for ‘break.’
On the Line

A term applied to a cue ball on an imaginary line drawn from an upper shoulder of the centre or top pockets to the lower edge of the ball on the billiard spot.
Open Play

Play in which obvious risks are taken rather than resorting to safety.

Too full contact or excessive strength, or both, resulting in more acute angle than was intended.

Applied to a player who is able to make but a poor show against a freely-scoring opponent.
Owes Points

Signifies that so many points have to be made by the ower before” scratch “is reached. (See ‘Scratch.’)

A stroke made with the butt of the cue greatly raised, but not vertically.

Object balls touching in almost a dead straight line with a pocket.
Playing Back

Playing on to a ball or balls in baulk by first striking a cushion or cushions out of baulk.
Playing for Safety

Playing to hamper opponent rather than to score.
Playing Off

See Breaking the Balls.
Playing Surface

The dimensions of a table from cushions to cushions, and which is about 11ft. 8¾ in. by 5ft. 10in.
Playing the Game

Making a stroke in such a way as to forecast another.
Pocket Finder

A device for practising losing hazard strokes, and by means of which the object ball returns automatically to its former position.
Pocket Jaw

The entrance to a pocket.
Pocket Shoulders

The rounded portions of a pocket opening.
Pocket Side

The side that will assist the cue ball to cling round the most open shoulder into the pocket.
Pool Basket

A bottle-shaped wicker receptacle from which pool balls are drawn prior to commencement of play.

Also called “Life Pool.” each of up to twelve players receives a distinctive ball, plays on a specific ball, and has three lives, one of which he loses when he is potted.
Portable Tables

Undersized tables (usually 6ft. by 3ft) with dwarf feet that are lifted on to a dining-room or other table.
Postman’s Knock

A slow and gentle cannon made off the spotted red dead on to the centre of the white banked against the middle of the top cushion. In this way a score of 50 and upwards has been made, including the red winners with which the cannons alternate.

Familiar term for winning hazard.
Power of Cue

A forceful and subtle quality that means something more than mere hard striking. For instance, to screw into a middle pocket from the centre of the baulk line without bringing the object ball below its former position, argues more power of cue than driving the cue ball five or six lengths.

A billiard professional is defined as “a person who, wholly or in greater part, earns, or has earned, his living by playing or scoring games played upon a billiard table.”

The strike by which the cue ball should be pushed through the object ball is now illegal.

Now a foul, it is a push when cue tip and balls are simultaneously in contact, or when the cue ball is pushed instead of being tapped.
Pyramid Spot

A spot half-way between the centre spot and the top cushion.

A game in which the winner is he who succeeds, after alternate innings, in potting the greater number of balls.

When aim is taken with the centre of the cue ball half-an-inch outside the edge of the object ball, it is said to be aimed “quarter-ball.” This aim is really a three-quarter ball aim if calculated from the centre of the object ball).
Quill Stroke

An unfair class of stroke that was tabooed before the push stroke was legislated upon.
Rail Cannons

(See ‘Cushion Cannons’).

The woodwork portion of the table behind the cushions.
Raking Shot

Shot played with top and freedom, usually at fairly long range.
Receives Points

Signifies that receiver’s score is advanced at the outset from “scratch” by so many points. (See ‘Scratch’)
Red Losers

Losing hazards off the red ball.
Red Winners

Winning hazards with the red object ball.

The making of a cannon or in-off from an object ball against a cushion, after the cue ball has struck the cushion one or more times.
Right-Angled Screw

When at no greater distance than a foot the cue ball is played well below its centre at the edge of the object ball it takes a throw-off exactly at right angles.
Rocking Cannons

Cannons made by a feather contact with the first object ball standing away from a cushion (which merely causes it to “rock”) and a full contact with the second object ball, which is tight against the cushion.

The natural revolution of a spherical body on a surface and under conditions favourable for such rotation.

A fuller than half-ball contact with forward rotation.
Another term for “break.”
Running Side

The side that widens the angle of departure from a ball or cushion and increases the pace of the cue ball after such contact.
Russian Pool

A restricted pockets pool game, played with the white, red, brown, green, and yellow, and in which cannons may also be made.

A term sometimes applied to “pocket.”

The appliance with which each ball of a set is weighed against each of the other balls of the same set.

The points allotted to a player for the immediate session.

Signifies that no handicap advantage is received.

A screw stroke in which the cue ball returns towards the point of the cue or thereabouts.
Selling Pool

A form of pool in which there is no pool nor “life.” Any ball can be played on, and the game continued indefinitely and entered and left at will.

Applied to successive breaks of good proportions, or to strokes of an identical nature, such as close cannons, or losing hazards.

When a match is carried over from period to period each spell of play is called a session.
Sessional Points

The number of points attainable by each player during each session in a match that is played by adjournment.
Set Position

Position from which, with care, a break should ensue.

The opposite of a ‘plant’. The ball played on is now exactly opposite the centre of the pocket and the other ball is touching it at right angles. Aim is taken anywhere on the outside half of the ball opposite the pocket.

Luring unsuspecting players on to increased stakes by hiding real play.

A form of pyramids in which more than two players take part, and in which a stake per ball is agreed upon.
Short-Legged Stroke

When object ball is much nearer the cue ball than the cannon ball or the pocket.
Short Jenny

A stroke, usually played with pocket side, into a blind pocket when the cue ball has only a comparatively short way to travel both before and after contact.

The horizontal twist that is given to the ball when the cue strikes it wide of the centre. See ‘Running Side’ and ‘Check Side.’
Single Baulk

Cue ball left purposely behind the baulk line to hinder opponent.
Skittle Pool

Twelve skittles are used, two of which are black (penalizing) and ten white (scoring). Cannons are made on to the white skittles off both the red and white.

(See ‘Indian Pool’).
Slow Screw

A screw stroke in which fuller contact is employed in lieu of extra strength.
Smoothing Iron

The large iron used for smoothing the nap of the cloth, and which is sometimes electrically heated.
A familiar expression denoting the overwhelming outclassing for the time being of a player.
Snooker Pool

A variation of pyramids, in which six coloured balls, of different value, are potted alternately with the reds and afterwards in succession.

Applies to snooker pool rather than to billiards, and means that the position of the cue ball is such that the next legitimate ball cannot be struck direct.

A rest sufficiently arched to pass over a ball that would otherwise impede the stroke.

The high rest that is employed when, with the ordinary one, the cue ball might be fouled with the cue.

After two successive pots into corner pocket or pockets of the red ball on the spot, such ball is placed on the centre spot of the table.

A match in which the unlimited spot stroke is allowed.
Spot Hazard

See ‘Spot Stroke.’
Spot Stroke

The continuous potting of the red in the top corner pockets effected by guiding the cue ball at each stroke to a favourable position for the next.

See ‘Billiard Spot’,

A dead full screw or close stroke which leaves the cue ball where the object ball stood.

The attitude of the body when addressing the ball.
Standard Pockets

Pockets matching the templates of the official body whose rules govern any given match. The width at the fall of the slate is about 3 3/8 in., and the shoulders are less rounded and the fall of the slate is more retired than in ordinary tables.

In life pool. A player who loses his three lives early in the game can resume by increased pool payment.
Steeplechase Shot

See ‘Jump Shot’.

Familiar name for cue.

The adjustment of cue swing to the intended contact, travel of balls, and cushions to be encountered.

The amount and quickness of swing applied to the cue.

A method of deciding choice of balls and order of starting by playing the cue ball up the table from the baulk line, the player whose ball comes to rest nearest to the bottom cushion winning.
Stroke Play

A series of successful strokes, all difficult, and often necessitated by faulty judgment.

A somewhat-heavily played stroke at near range and not quite full, which sends the cue ball only a few inches and drives the object ball.

The general combination of attitude, cue swing, and delivery.
Swerve Shot

When the cue is raised in striking, the cue ball, if struck at all off its centre, swerves, sometimes so pronouncedly that a ball angled at a bottom left corner pocket can be “swerved” well out and pot the red lying over the top left corner pocket, passing in its way the white over the middle pocket.

The shaped piece of wood by which the size and cut of the pocket shoulders and fall is regulated.
Thick Strokes

Appreciably fuller than half-ball strokes.
Thin Strokes

See ‘Fine Strokes’.

The point in life pool at which only three players are left and it is necessary to consider where the object ball will stop if not pocketed.
Three-Quarter Ball

When aim is taken with the centre of the cue ball half-an-inch inside the edge of the object ball it is said to be aimed “three-quarter ball.” (This aim is really a quarter-ball aim if calculated from the centre of the object ball).
Time Limit

When games or sessions are agreed to end by the clock instead of by points.
Top-of-the-Table Play

The successive making of cannons and red winning hazards (restricted to two from the spotted ball) at the spot end of the table.

The easy and harmonious adjustment of strength and cue swing which assures a striker that he has got the balls nicely under control. The term “a touch” is also applied to the object and cue ball when close together.

When a number of players, starting level or otherwise, play successively in a series of games to reach a specific number of points.
Transmitted Side

A practically nonexistent effect which might conceivably be communicated by a spinning cue ball to a stationary object ball.
Another term for “innings.”

Screw in which the overcoming of the forward movement by the back spin is very marked.

Insufficiently full contact or strength, or both, resulting in a less acute angle than was intended.
Unfinished Break

Applied to a break in the course of which a match terminates.
Walking the Cue Ball

A term much used by a former generation of players to indicate the gentle run-through into a pocket which leaves the object ball ready for a second stroke into the same pocket.
An expression sometimes foolishly applied when the white ball is potted.
Wide In-Off

When the angle is such that slow running side, force, or screw, has to be employed.

See ‘Winning Hazard’.
Winner-Cannon Movement

The alternate cannons and winning hazards by means of which the balls are kept at the top of the table. The theory of the movement is to keep the white ball near to the billiard spot and to pot the red in such a way that a gentle cannon or near-pocket losing hazard will be left.
Winning Hazard

The score made when a ball other than the striker’s enters a pocket.

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