There are many ways to gage the changes in billiards since it was invented approximately 350 years ago.
Obviously, from the earliest days to today’s modern game there have been many rule changes but these changes extend way beyond just matters related to sport—Billiards has grown up and transformed as much as the United States has during its existence.
The way billiards have changed begins in many ways with how they began.
As an amateur sport it was a loose organization of rules and it became more and more sophisticated as time passed. After the Billiards Congress of America was formed in 1948, the rules were adapted to meet the needs of the players. Previously, the predominant game was 14.1 but as time progressed, 9-Ball grew in popularity because it was a quick game, and friendly for television audiences.
Today, many other leagues have formed. The American CueSports Alliance (ACS) and The American PoolPlayers Association (APA) offer players popular alternatives to the Billiards Congress of America Pool League. The variety of leagues and varying schedules have made it easier for working players to participate in the game that they love.
Billiards have always been populated with stars and as it grew in popularity the need to track and distinguish between players become more important. Most significantly, the Billiard Congress of America, Hall of Fame was founded in 1966.
“The purpose of the Billiard Congress of America Hall of Fame is to honor outstanding people who, through their competitive skills and dedication, have enriched our sport and industry.”
Later in 2005, the Legends of One Pocket and Bank Pool Hall of Fame were founded to further recognize players who have demonstrated excellence in competition over time.
Another way that billiards have changed over the years is of course equipment.
Brunswick Billiards dominated the table scene at professional tournaments during the 1970’s and 80’s. However in recent years, Diamond Billiard Products have become the table of choice at most professional events.
In 1976, Bob Meucci developed the concept of low deflection shafts which were further developed by Predator and OB Cues. Today, McDermott offers a wide range of GCore and I-Shafts with a carbon fiber core to give players the popular feel of a traditional shaft but with low deflection characteristics.
Years ago there was no such thing as a jump or break cue. Today, players cue cases look more like a golf bag, housing multiple cues. Specialized cues such as the Stinger Jump/Break Cue, the Lizard Jump Cue and the Sledgehammer break cue have revolutionized the sport. In fact, the need for specialized equipment has forever changed the game.
40 years ago Champion tips were the choice of many professionals. However, this trend quickly changed as LePro, Elk Master, and Triangle tips began manufacturing their products. Today, layered tips are considered to be the choice of champions. Companies like Tiger, Kamui and Morri now dominate the market. There are specialized tips for both jumping and breaking.
Even the way we rack the balls has changed. Traditionally, players used either a plastic or wooden triangle. However, the need for perfectly frozen racks has allowed companies to develop and introduce many new racking options.
Approximately 10 years ago the Sardo Tight Rack was developed and was popularized on ESPN and IPT matches. Today, Cue Sports International endorses a new product called The Magic Rack. Both racking options have forever changed the way that we play the game and have eliminated many arguments between players relating to the tightness of the rack.
Thankfully, the core of the game has remained untouched. Each player argues that the era that came before was more difficult and more authentic and all of them may be right. But even as it has morphed and changed the game of pool still remains one of America’s favorite past times.
Anthony Beeler is an instructional columnist for On the Break News and Sneaky Pete Mafia Magazine. He is a player representative for Mcdermott Custom Cues and a 2013, BCA National 9-Ball Champion (Mixed Teams Division). He finished 9th out of 1086 players in the BCA National 8-Ball Championships (Singles Division). Beeler is a certified level 3 instructor for the American Cuesports Association and is also a fully licensed Kentucky Teacher. Anthony received his Bachelor’s Degree at Campbellsville University and his Master’s Degree at Eastern Kentucky University. You can check him out on his website and on Facebook.
Editor: Dana Gornall
Photo: Janos Csongor Kerekes/Flickr