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By Tomal

"All the way, all the way”- is a common thing to hear in eateries and clubs with billiard tables these days, as common as billiard as a sport is also becoming in the city! This is one game that has taken to keeping the young very busy lately.

And not just young men, women too are seen in billiard centers standing with cue in hand, ready to brave the match. The same game has many names and faces- pool, snooker etc.

Regardless of the word 'billiard' being recognized and interpreted in various ways across continents, in some countries, like ours, it refers unambiguously to a specific game. In the beginning this was an elitist game, limited to the five star hotels and clubs in Bangladesh. But the popularity of the game spread so much over the years that you can't go around the city for too long without running into a place that has a billiard table!

Billiard and us in history….
You'd be surprised how far back billiard goes in the history of our subcontinent. The Moguls were passionate lovers of the game and considered playing it, a symbol of royalty. They learnt it from the British and played it with their foreign guests to keep them entertained. Come to think of it, this may be where the regal attitude of modern kids holding the cue really comes from! If you still don't believe the game had a history intertwined with ours, check out the special billiard room at Ahsan Manzil where the Nawaab entertained his guests and himself.

In modern day Dhaka…
Billiard has suddenly made a huge comeback and ambitious young men and women have taken up the sport, spending time practicing instead of going around doing the usual gossiping and socializing. Recently tournaments are also being organized where prize money can be as big as Tk- 15000 to 30000! And of course this is more than enough incentive for teens and youngsters hard up for pocket money to join in the fun. The game's growing popularity is most obvious when you see all those people standing in queue to play it at the local hangouts, clubs and cafes.

It's uncommon for Dhaka youth to not know about Billiard, but for those who still don't, knock yourself out!

The number, type, diameter, color, and pattern of billiard balls differ depending upon the specific billiards game being played. In eight ball, straight pool, and related games, 16 balls are used: fifteen colored "object balls" and one white "cue ball." Object balls 1-7 are solid-colored, and are yellow, blue, red, purple, orange, green, and dark red or brown. The 8-ball is solid black. Balls 9-15 are white, each with a single wide colored stripe that matches the corresponding solid ball; the 9-ball has a yellow stripe, the 10-ball a blue stripe, and so on. In the game of 9-ball, only object balls 1-9 are used. Regulation balls are 21/4 inches (57.15 mm) in diameter and weigh between 51/2 and 6 ounces (156 to 170 g).

In snooker, there are fifteen red balls, six colored balls (yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and black), and one white cue ball. The red balls are typically not numbered, though the six colored balls often are, and can easily be mistaken at first glace for pool balls (the design is similar, but the number does not match pool's scheme). Snooker balls are normally 21/16 inches (52.4 mm) in diameter.

There are many sizes and styles of pool and billiard tables. Generally, tables are perfect rectangles twice as long as they are wide. Most pool tables are known as 7-, 8-, or 9-footers, referring to the length of the table's long side. Snooker and English billiard tables are 12 feet long on the longest side. Pool halls tend to have 9-foot tables and cater to the serious pool player. The length of the pool table will typically be a function of space, with many homeowners purchasing an 8-foot table as a compromise. High quality tables are mostly 9-footers, with a bed made of three pieces of thick slate to prevent warping and changes due to humidity.

All types of tables are covered with billiard cloth (often called "felt", but actually a woven wool or wool/nylon blend called baize). Bar or tavern tables, which get a lot of play, use "slower", more durable cloth. Good quality pool cloth is "faster" (i.e. provides less friction, allowing the balls to roll farther), and the best quality pool cloth is made from worsted wool. Snooker table cloth traditionally has a nap (consistent fiber directionality) and balls behave differently when rolling against the direction of the nap. The cloth of the billiard table is typically green reflecting its origin (and thus the name of the pool movie The Color of Money--adapted from the Walter Tevis novel of the same name--referring to the color of American currency notes).

Billiards games are played with a stick known as a cue. A cue is usually either a one piece tapered stick or a two piece stick divided in the middle by a joint of metal or phenolic resin. High quality cues are generally two pieces and are made of a hardwood, generally maple for billiards and ash for snooker.

The "butt" end of the cue has a larger circumference and is intended to be gripped by a player's hand. The "shaft" of the cue has a smaller circumference, usually tapering to an 11-14 millimeter terminus called a a ferrule, where a leather tip is affixed to make final contact with balls. The leather tip, in conjunction with chalk, can be used to impart spin to the cue ball when not being hit in its center.

Cheap cues are generally one piece cues made of ramin or other low quality wood with inferior tips of various materials (usually plastic). A quality cue can be expensive and may be made of exotic woods and other expensive materials which are artfully inlaid in decorative patterns. Skilled players may use more than one cue during a game, including a separate cue for the opening break shot and another, shorter cue with a special tip for jump shots.

Tips and Tricks…
If you want to be a proffessional billiard player, you must have follow some special techniques, calculations and trademark shots. The only thing you have to do is practice for maintaining good form. Ball movement, left-right spinning, and 'placing' are important for winning strategies.

Two essential things are the stop and role shots. For beginners it is necessary to hold the cue properly. But for amatuers vector calculations should be measured for each and every shot. When the cue ball hits the desired ball then it will go to the destination depending on which part of the ball is striked. So sharp calculations are necessary for excellent shots. However, you should also calculate the movement of cue ball so that it doesn't go to the pot after the strike.

Billiard seems the new thing here in Dhaka and Billiard centers are all over the place. In the modern world billiard championship are popular contests and even Asian players are doing well in playing the game worldwide. Maybe it's time Bangladeshis also stepped foot on this global arena. So, to all those young players out there, are you up for the challenge?



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