The gentleman and billiards

I long ago came to the conclusion that there is a hierarchy of games to be played on the billiards table. There is the lowly game of 8-ball – frequently played by the anti-gentleman in public houses. The gentleman only partakes in a game of 8-ball if it is to display the deficiencies of such a primal game. If you ever see what looks like a gentleman playing 8-ball and he does not clean the table with ease followed by a witty quip about his time in the subcontinent, then you can only assume this ‘gentleman’ is actually the anti-gentleman in disguise. You should throw down your gauntlet, take out your pistol and challenge them to a dual. It is the only reasonable thing to do.

Don't be fooled by the 1940s automobile or the men with hats. This is an 8-ball hut. Gentleman should be at least three furlongs away from these at all times

A few ladder rungs above 8-ball is snooker. Some gentleman will play a quick game of snooker as a warm up for classier game. In snooker there are 15 red balls and 6 other-coloured balls. Red balls are worth 1 point to pocket, and the other coloured balls range from two points for the yellow ball to 7 points for the black ball. It’s nothing racial, it is just how the game was made.

This is the basic table set up of snooker. You place the red balls in a triangle, the coloured balls as shown and then surround the table with scores of gentleman.

At the apex of the hierarchy is billiards. The quintessential gentleman’s past-time. Its rules date back to the beginning of the gentleman – so many years ago that numbers have not been invented yet that could describe the history of this game. Some experts think they may have been crafted as early as 10,000 PC (pre-Connery).

Sean Connery lines up a shot. The game he is playing is an offshoot of billiards that involves 4 identical white balls, obstacles on the table and must be played in the presence of a hand-drawn picture of a house or barn.

Billiards requires only three balls. Two cue balls, one yellow, one white. And one red ball. You can score by pocketing the red ball with your cue ball, pocketing your cue ball after hitting the red or other player’s cue ball, or hitting both the red ball and the other player’s cue ball with your cue ball. It’s simple, graceful and games can last as long as three Churchills (or roughly 6 Earth hours).

Walter Lindrum not only revolutionized billiards, but some academics contend he invented the vest and bow-tie double

Billiards, of course, was mastered by one of the finest gentleman of the 20th century – Walter Lindrum. Lindrum was known to sample only the finest scotch, smoke only the finest cigars and play only the finest of games while wearing only the finest of vests.

He also had only the finest caricatures drawn of him.

And so when you next come across a billiards table, opt for the gentleman’s game of billiards over the neanderthalic game of 8-ball. Remember, playing 8-ball increases your chances of contracting some of the deadliest diseases in the world. But more importantly, you will be branded a bogan by your gentleman compadres and black-listed from all upcoming soirees and benefits.

Until next time,

HL Griffith

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