Trucco

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Not to be confused with the card game truco.
Two gentlemen play troco while an elegant company dines in a gazebo. English, early 17th century.

Trucco (also called trucks,[1] troco[2] or lawn billiards) is an Italian and later English lawn game played with heavy balls,[1] large-headed cues called tacks, rings (the argolis or port), and sometimes an upright pin (the sprigg or king).[1] The game was popular from at least the 17th century[1] to the early 20th century. It was a forerunner of croquet,[3][4] and itself probably evolved from ground billiards, which predates trucco, but uses very similar equipment.

The editor's preface of Enquire Within Upon Everything, a "vast congregation of useful hints and receipts" published in the Victorian era, describes the game thus:

This is a game that may be played by any number of persons in a field or open space. The implements are wooden balls and long-handled cues at the ends of which are spoonlike ovals of iron. In the centre of the trucco court is fixed a ring of iron, which moves freely on a pivot, the spike of the ring being driven into a piece of wood let into the ground. The wooden ball is lifted from the ground by means of the spoon-ended cue, and thrown towards the ring — the object of the player being to pass the ball through the ring; and he who succeeds in making any given number of points by fairly ringing his ball, or canoning against the other balls, wins the game.

Canons are made by the player striking two balls successively with his own ball fairly delivered from his spoon. Thus ... a clever player may make a large number of points — five, seven, or more at a stroke: two the first canon, two for a second canon, and three for the ring. This, however, is very seldom accomplished.

Considerable skill is required in throwing the ball, as the ring, turning freely on its pivot, twists round on being struck. To "make the ring," it is necessary, therefore, that the ball be thrown fairly through its centre. But in order to get nearer to it a judicious player will endeavour to make two or three canons, if the balls lie within a convenient distance and at a proper angle to each other. If the ball be thrown with sufficient force, it will glance off from the ball struck in a line corresponding to its first or original line of projection.[5]

The oldest name in English seems to be "trucks" or "truck" from the Italian trucco and Spanish troco, meaning "billiard".[2] Trucco was popular as a country house pastime in the 19th century. Under the name "lawn billiards", it appears as an alternative to croquet in a number of books of games and pastimes of the period.[6] Trucco was also played at pubs with large lawns, but apparently died out by the time of World War II.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Shamos, Mike (1999). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards. New York City, NY, US: Lyons Press. ISBN 1-55821-797-5. 
  2. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary, see "troco" and "trucks".
  3. ^ Gomme, Alice Bertha. Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume II, p. 309. 1898 (Dover Books reprint 1964)
  4. ^ Important British Paintings 1500-1850, Sotheby's catalogue L07123 22 November 2007, p. 24
  5. ^ Enquire Within Upon Everything at Project Gutenberg
  6. ^ See for example The Young Lady's Book: A Manual of Amusements, Exercises, Studies, and Pursuits by Matilda Anne Planche Mackarness, 1888; Cassell's Complete Book of Sports and Pastimes, 1896; The American Girl's Home Book of Work and Play by Helen Campbell, 1902.
  7. ^ Collins, Tony. 2005. Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports, p. 272. London: Routledge
This article extensively quotes text from the 1894 edition of Enquire Within Upon Everything at Project Gutenberg, a document in the public domain.