Cue sports (sometimes written cuesports), also known as billiard sports, are a wide variety of games of skill generally played with a cue stick which is used to strike billiard balls, moving them around a cloth-covered billiards table bounded by rubber cushions.
Historically, the umbrella term was billiards. While that familiar name is still employed by some as a generic label for all such games, the word's usage has splintered into more exclusive competing meanings in various parts of the world. For example, in British and Australian English, "billiards" usually refers exclusively to the game of English billiards, while in American and Canadian English it is sometimes used to refer to a particular game or class of games, or to all cue games in general, depending upon dialect and context.
There are three major subdivisions of games within cue sports:
- Carom billiards, referring to games played on tables without pockets, typically 10 feet in length, including among others balkline and straight rail, cushion caroms, three-cushion billiards, artistic billiards and four-ball;
- Pool, covering numerous pocket billiards games generally played on six-pocket tables of 7-, 8-, or 9-foot length, including among others eight-ball (the world's most widely played cue sport), nine-ball, ten-ball, straight pool, one-pocket and bank pool; and
- Snooker and English billiards, games played on a billiards table with six pockets called a snooker table (which has dimensions just under 12 ft by 6 ft), that are classified entirely separately from pool based on a separate historical development, as well as a separate culture and terminology that characterize their play.
More obscurely, there are games that make use of obstacles and targets, and table-top games played with disks instead of balls.
Billiards has a long and rich history stretching from its inception in the 15th century, to the wrapping of the body of Mary, Queen of Scots, in her billiard table cover in 1586, through its many mentions in the works of Shakespeare, including the famous line "let's to billiards" in Antony and Cleopatra (1606–07), and through the many famous enthusiasts of the sport: Mozart, Louis XIV of France, Marie Antoinette, Immanuel Kant, Napoleon, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, George Washington, French president Jules Grévy, Charles Dickens, George Armstrong Custer, Theodore Roosevelt, Lewis Carroll, W.C. Fields, Babe Ruth, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, and many others.
Famous quotes containing the words cue and/or sports:
“Good marriages are built on respectful disagreement and back-and-forth cooperation. We learn to cue each other, fill in for each other, forgive each others fumbles, celebrate small victories. We revel in the realization that were working on something bigger than both of us, and that parenthood is not only incredibly challenging but also incredibly enriching.”
—Susan Lapinski (20th century)
“Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,
Thy sports are fled and all thy charms withdrawn;
Amidst thy bowers the tyrants hand is seen,
And desolation saddens all thy green;
One only master grasps the whole domain,
And half a tillage stints thy smiling plain;”
—Oliver Goldsmith (1730?1774)