Billiard Table

Billiard Table – Read It, It Is Interesting!

Billiard Table – History and Nowadays

Billiard or Billiard Table?

Historically, the term "billiards" was used as a game, and the table on which there is a game, so even the expression "play pool" is not correct, right - "to play billiards," In this regard, some orthodox theorists billiards in general deny the existence of such a thing as a "pool table". But is it really? There are two major arguments against it.

  1. Is it possible to play billiard without billiard balls or without a cue? Rhetorical question, however, the terms "cue" or "billiard balls" have the right to exist, so why to deny billiard table?
  2. For the present moment there are different constructions of billiard tables. We do not mean the difference in sizes or characteristics depending on the type of the game (Russian billiard, pool, etc.) but the peculiarities of assembling, material, etc. These characteristics significantly influence the process of the game itself as well as the cost of the billiard table. Usage of the term “billiard” in description will lead to confusion in such a case!

So let’s leave the theoretical disputes to the scientists and let’s return to the billiard table.

History of Billiard Tables

The first record about billiard table was found in the inventory list of King Louis XI of France and dates back to 1470. Billiard table, famous thanks to the extant written documents, was made by the master Henri de Vine in 1469 for the king of France Louis XI. That table looked like modern billiard table: it had stone foundation, it was covered with cloth, and it had frame/ fence.

By the middle of the XVII century billiard tables become almost standard, both in size and in design. Then the billiard tables were another improvement - trim guard desk. [1]

Here are some interesting facts from the same source – “…there was a game in Germany known as “Balkespiel”. A table of 15 feet long and 2/3 feet wide was used for this game, on which the rounded stones were rolled, pushed by iron or wooden beats. The table was covered with graphite in order that the stones slide easily. The table had cushions and pockets. The purpose of the game was to push out the opponent’s ball into the pocket that was at the end of the board.” Proceeding from the above facts we can make conclusion that the problem of the slate choice for billiard table arose simultaneously with arose of the game itself.

"Billiard Slate is the most important part in it. It must be perfectly correct. Previously wooden boards were always used, they were covered with fabric, and then the cloth was stretched on. Freiberg was the first who put the slate and marble boards, which could be treated very thoroughly. These boards were highly appreciated, and not without reason - they are very strong, moisture does not affect them. However, they are very fragile and very expensive. "[1] Russian manufacturer and a well-known player in billiard of A. Freiberg, abovementioned, in 1850 began production of billiard tables based on the slate slab. These tables were called “freibergovskimi”. Freyberg can rightly be considered one of the "fathers" of Russian billiards. He had a great talent in the game, which allowed him to figure out what to do in order that the game took on a characteristic pattern of Russian Billiard.

In the XIXth century there were 5 factories producing billiard tables and the pockets were cut on the Freiberg’s patterns.

Construction of Billiard Tables.

According to [2] there are three basic constructions of billiard tables:

1) Classic

Carcass of the billiard table consists of one, two, sometimes three frames adjusted between themselves. In the corners the lugs with the ledges from the corner and creating square opening are glued in. In this case table support has a square rod, which is included into the frame opening and it is attached there with a wedge.

2) Box Construction
Used in the "bar" billiard tables with coin mechanism. Coins or tokens mechanism allows you control the number of parties and take corresponding fee for the game. The box of the table is made closed, the balls can be rolled out by putting a coin or by opening a special window in the wall of the table. Another variant of tables of the same construction, but without coin mechanism is often made ??not with baskets for balls, but with the so-called “roll-out”, that means the balls that fell down into the pocket, do not remain in the basket, but roll out into a box located in the carcass.
Box-like structure may have some inexpensive homemade tables made of clipboard. In this case, the table box made ??of wood or plywood.

3) Side-Bar Construction
In this construction, side bars, forming a frame, are mounted on table supports. Between the side-bars bridges are set in order to give the frame rigidity and to provide support for the billiard slate. Bridges can be rigidly attached to the side-bar and adjustable. Their number and location can be different. Special substrate can be placed on supports and side-bars of the table, on which the slate is placed.

Billiard Slates – Who Is Who.

From the moment of billiard origin there were many attempts to find the change of expensive slate made of natural slate so that the quality of the play itself will not be influenced. From the beginning there were attempts to make playfield (bed) for the billiard table of granite or marble. Unfortunately such slates in case of balls strokes crumbled and cracks appeared. Stalin era, when the pool in the Soviet Union was very popular, were marked by attempts to produce billiard slates of cast iron and concrete. Deficiencies were so numerous that from these options had to give up altogether. The best idea was asphalt and gravel plate. Mention of it occurs in [2] "It is possible to replace the slate with asphalt-sand, possess all the qualities of the slate boards. Asphalt-sand boards in some respects even exceed the slates. They are lighter than the slates, extremely cheap, well handled and give an opportunity to avoid expensive imported slate boards."

Development of modern technologies pushed the constructors of billiard tables to use synthetic materials. Two variants of slates production were offered
  1. Made of Syntegran (“synthetic granite”) (so called “artificial stone”, worked out in USSR for the defense industry.)
  2. Slate Technology

Both variants use marble or granite aggregate, bound by synthetic materials-hardeners (similar to epoxy resin). At the same time slate quality for billiard tables on the base of Slate technology is considered to be the best, as unlike “synthetic granite” it is possible to process the surface of the slate much better.

Alternative substitutes of the wooden board – competitor of the billiard slate can be related as modern technologies –

- Laminated Chipboard

- Laminated MDF (Medium Density Fiberboards)

- Chipboard

Notwithstanding development of technologies full exchange of natural slates is not succeeded and as some of the abovementioned technologies are accepted by manufacturers of billiard tables, high level tournaments are held as previously only on billiard tables made of Ardeziya (natural slate).

Modern Market of Billiard Tables.

As the material of a billiard slate is the basic factor of the quality as well as of the price of a billiard table, it is logically to classify the models, offered by the manufacturers of billiard tables, first of all, at this feature. So, the models of billiard tables:

-         Ardeziya Slate

-         Sintegran Slate

-         A slate of MDF (Fiberboards)

-          A slate of chipboard LLPD (Laminated Chipboard)

-          A slate of LPD (Chipboard)

For sure the cost and quality of the tables is influenced not only by the materials of the slate but also its sizes, quality of assembling and material the table is made of. Tables made of solid woods are considered to be of the highest quality. If to examine characteristics of  the billiard table from the point of view of demands to tournaments, players convenience and quality of the play itself,  combination of an Ardeziya slate and solid woods gives the best quality. Researches held by the specialists of the company “Billiard-Prime” have shown that it is possible to reduce the price without loosing the quality by changing some parts of the table (fixing elements, etc.) with the similar parts made of cheap wood types. Such construction gives the possibility to create an “ideal” billiard table optimal from the point of view of technical characteristics as well as from the point of view of correlation of price/quality.


[1] Theory of the billiard game. A.I.Leman Edition Iris-Press: 2001 ISBN 5783604194

[2] Billiard Sports. Gofmeister V.I.; ed.Kalachev G.A. – M.: Ph&S, 1947. – 132 p

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