3-Cushion Billiards- The most popular of all carom sports world-wide. The game was developed as a response to the balkline games being too easy for such players as Jake Schaefer and Willie Hoppe in the early 20th century. Three cushion billiards was such a challenging game that the best players in the world barely averaged making one point per inning. Advancements in technology resulted in improved and more consistent playing conditions. That, coupled with a new playing style mastered by Raymond Ceulemans, the best players in the world began to average more than one point per inning and now regularly average 1.5+ in competition. A point is scored by a player using his cue ball to strike the other two balls on the table, but hitting the second ball after a minimum of three rails are struck. This can occur in any order meaning the cue ball can hit three cushions first and then the other balls; one rail first-ball-two more rails and the second ball; two rails first-ball-one more rail and the second ball; or by hitting one of the balls, then three or more rails, and the final ball. In the video to the right, Frederic Caudron, a friend of 3cushion.com, demonstrates a common shot.. The video is choppy, but is shot by Paul Frankel, otherwise known as "Professor Q Ball," a good friend to billiards! Caudron hits his cue ball up table, touches a ball, strikes the top and side rails, then crosses the table and hits the other side and bottom rails before striking the red ball to win the point, match, and tournament victory!
Balkline Billiards- Balkline was the most popular of all carom sports early in the 20th century. Like 3-cushion, the game was developed as a response to straight-rail billiards (called free game in Europe). Straight rail was so simple for many players that they could literally start from anywhere and within a few shots they were in total control of the balls and could play for as long as they wanted. In straight rail billiards, a player needs only to hit the other two balls on the table. In Balkline, there are lines drawn on the table that designate boxes in which only a certain number of points can be scored before needing to drive a ball across a line. There are many versions of balkline but the premise is the same for them all. A ball can cross a line and return to the original box allowing a player to make large runs. Learning balkline can be difficult because the game is only played in Europe any more. A good book on the game is Daly's Billiard Book, which was written by Maurice Daly, coach to many great carom champions of the early 20th century. Visit the collecting page to learn more about this great book.
Straight-Rail Billiards- This form of billiards sounds very easy, although it is one of the most difficult games to master. Straight rail billiards, or Free Game in Europe, requires a player to hit the other two balls on the table. The game is still widely played in Europe and Latin America. It is a good game to play if trying to learn 3-cushion or balkline, as this game is the basis for all carom games. A good book on the game is Daly's Billiard Book, which was written by Maurice Daly, coach to many great carom champions of the early 20th century. Visit the collecting page to learn more about this great book.
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