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A baize-covered snooker table

Baize is a coarse woollen (or in cheaper variants cotton) cloth, similar in texture to felt, but more durable.


A mid-17th-century English ditty—much quoted in histories of ale and beer brewing in England—refers to 1525:

Hops, heresies, bays, and beer;
Came into England all in one year.

Heresies refers to the Protestant Reformation, while bays is the Elizabethan spelling for baize.[1]


Baize is often used on billiards tables to cover the slate and cushions, and is often used on other kinds of gaming tables (usually gambling) such as those for blackjack, baccarat, craps and other casino games. It is also found as a writing surface, particularly on 19th century pedestal desks.

The surface finish of baize is coarse, thus increasing rolling resistance and perceptibly slowing billiard balls. Baize is available with and without a perceptible nap. Snooker, in which understanding nap effects is part of the game, uses the nappy variety, while pool and carom billiards use the napless type.

For gaming use, baize is traditionally dyed green, in mimicry of a lawn (see Cue sport, "History"), though wide variety of table colours have become accepted. Bay was similar stuff to Baize but lighter in weight and with a shorter nap.[2]

Idioms and catchphrases[edit]

  • "Let's get the boys on the baize!" has been a catchphrase of BBC TV snooker presenter Rob Walker since 2008.[3]
  • At one time, "the green baize door" (a door to which cloth had been tacked to deaden noise) in a house separated the servants' quarters from the family's living quarters;[4] hence the phrase's usage as a metonym for domestic service. Moving men in ‘’The Railway Children’’ wore green baize aprons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Life in Elizabethan England; "Good English Ale"; accessed 20 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Heaton distinguished between bay and baize: "the bay was light, baise is heavy and with a long nap" ("Letter Books of Joseph Holroyd," p. 1 in)." Page 152
  3. ^ Mark Reason, "Ronnie O'Sullivan greater than Tiger Woods", Daily Telegraph 4 May 2008. Accessed 5 May 2014.
  4. ^ See Graham Greene, The Fallen Idol (originally The Basement Room; Penguin; 1976; page 125)

External links[edit]

  • "Baize" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 3 (11th ed.). 1911.