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Bar billiards is a form of billiards which is often thought to be based on the traditional game of bagatelle. It actually developed from the earlier French/Belgian game billard russe, with supposedly Russian origins.
Bar billiards in its current form started in the UK in the 1930s when an Englishman, David Gill, saw billard russe being played in Belgium and persuaded the Jelkes company of Holloway Road in London to make a similar table. It is a traditional game played in leagues in Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Hampshire, Norfolk and Northamptonshire. These counties comprise the All England Bar Billiards Association. There are also leagues in Guernsey and Jersey. Tables were also made by Sams, Riley, Burroughs & Watts and Clare. The standard "league" tables have a playing surface approximately 32 inches (81 cm) wide. Sams also made a narrower version with a 28 inch (71 cm) width playing surface.
Bar billiards is played on a unique table with no side or corner pockets but with nine holes in the playing surface which are assigned various point values ranging from 10 to 200.
There are eight balls in all, seven white and one red. Potting the red ball in any hole scores double points.
On the playfield are normally placed three pegs or mushrooms. There are two white pegs one either side of the 100 hole with one black peg in front of the 200 hole. Earliest versions of the game used wooden mushrooms instead of pegs which have a thin curved stalk and a flattish rounded cap. These were normally placed in front of the 50 and 200 holes often with a fourth mushroom in front of the 100 hole. This version was often referred to as Russian billiards, probably named after the very similar French and Belgian game billard russe which has a longer history, neither are to be confused with the common billiards game in Russia. There are a couple of leagues that still play this version in East Anglia in the Norwich and Sudbury areas.
If a white peg is knocked over then the player's break is ended and all score acquired during that break is discarded. Knocking down the black peg ends the player's break and all points are lost. In the case that a white and a black peg are both knocked over, then the first peg to be knocked over is counted.
All shots are played from the front end of the table so access to all sides is not required which is ideal in a smallish bar or pub. At the start of the game or when there are no balls remaining on the table a white ball is placed on the spot on the 'D' and the red ball is placed on the spot in front of that. This 'Break shot' may be done a maximum of three times if both balls are potted before one ball must remain on the table known as the '1-up', failing to leave this one ball up results in a foul and loss of break. The next shot attempted is the 'split shot' where the object ball is usually potted in the 50 hole and the cue ball is potted in the 100 hole. There are variants to this, sometimes it is necessary to pot the balls into the 50 an 10 holes for example. If successful the break shot can be used again and so on. Players take alternate turns or 'breaks' at the table playing from where their opponent has left off. If the player fails to pot a ball then the break has ended and the second player takes his break by placing another ball on the first spot. If all balls are in play, then the nearest ball to the 'D' is removed and put on the spot. If a player fails to hit a ball, then the break ends and all points earned in that break are lost.
The play is time-limited. A coin will usually give around 17 minutes of play dependent on region. After this time a bar drops inside the table stopping any potted balls from returning, leading to a steady decrease in the number of balls in play.
The last ball can only be potted into either the 100 or 200 hole having been played off either side cushion.
Bar Billiards World Championship
The Bar Billiards World Championship (called the British Isles Open up to 1999) is held every year in Jersey. This is a list of past winners and runners up:
|1981||Harry Siddal||Jersey||Derek Payne||Oxon|
|1982||Graham Bisson||Jersey||Clarrie Querrie||Jersey|
|1983||Tim Ringsdore||Jersey||Micky Daw||Jersey|
|1984||Peter Noel||Jersey||Don Cadec||Jersey|
|1985||Bernie McCluskey||Berkshire||Peter Webb||Guernsey|
|1986||Dave Harris||Berkshire||Peter Noel||Jersey|
|1987||Wayne Poingdestre||Jersey||Kevin Tunstall||Oxon|
|1988||Alan Le Blond||Jersey||Micky Daw||Jersey|
|1989||Trevor Gallienne||Guernsey||Bob Taylor||Kent|
|1990||Steve Ahier||Jersey||Terry Race||Sussex|
|1991||Steve Ahier||Jersey||Simon Tinto||Surrey|
|1992||Dennis Helleur||Jersey||Harry Barbet||Jersey|
|1993||Kevin Tunstall||Oxon||Graham Bisson||Jersey|
|1994||Kevin Tunstall||Oxon||Tony Walsh||Berkshire|
|1995||Tony Walsh||Berkshire||Mark Brewster||Kent|
|1996||Terry Oakley||Surrey||Don Cadec||Jersey|
|1997||Jim Millward||Sussex||Steve Ahier||Jersey|
|1998||Keith Sheard||Oxon||Nick Barnett||Jersey|
|1999||Peter Noel||Jersey||Terry Race||Sussex|
|2000||Bernie McCluskey||Berkshire||Bob King||Jersey|
|2001||Jim Millward||Sussex||Kevin Tunstall||Oxon|
|2002||Terry Race||Sussex||Nigel Ryall||Jersey|
|2003||Jim Millward||Sussex||Terry Race||Sussex|
|2004||Terry Race||Sussex||Nigel Ryall||Jersey|
|2005||Graeme Le Monnier||Jersey||Harry Barbet||Jersey|
|2006||Kevin Tunstall||Oxon||Jim Millward||Sussex|
|2007||Trevor Gallienne||Guernsey||Jim Millward||Sussex|
|2008||Trevor Gallienne||Guernsey||Kevin Tunstall||Sussex|
|2009||Phil Collins||Cholsey||Paul Sainsbury||Berkshire|
|2010||Jim Millward||Sussex||Graham Bisson||Jersey|
|2011||Kevin Tunstall||Sussex||Steven Sheard||Oxon|
|2012||Kevin Tunstall||Sussex||Paul Sainsbury||Reading|
|2013||Mark Trafford||Oxford||Nigel Senior||Sussex|
- All-England Bar Billiards Association
- Bar Billiards entry at Online Guide to Traditional Games – also has information about the French and Italian versions