Monday, February 13, 2012

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth

Playing Bar Billiards at two pubs in Hertfordshire.

On Saturday 11th February 2012 me and two friends visited a couple of pubs in Hertfordshire for a few games of Bar Billiards.

Having rung round the pubs in Herts & Beds that are listed on the AEBBA map of Bar Billiards tables earlier in the day I had found out that The Red Lion in Studham, Beds no longer has a table. Nor does the Bedford Arms in Hitchin, having changed to a standard Pool table. We'd also found The Bucks Head pub in Little Wymondley has also removed their Bar Billiards table, but does offer free Dominoes, Cards and Cribbage to customers.

I did find that The Chequers Inn at Knebworth still had a table and I'd heard via twitter that The Orange Tree in Baldock also had one, so off we headed.

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth
The Bar Billiards table at The Orange Tree in Baldock
First up was a visit to The Orange Tree, where we spotted the table positioned in the 'public bar', quite nicely near to a real log fire to keep punters and players warm. After a quick run through of the rules I took on Simon in a game.

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth
The Orange Tree Bar Billiards Rules
To decide who would break we played a hand of Rock Paper Scissors. I lost.

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth
Simon 'Practice' Hall takes a shot
Simon may have won the break, but when the match came to the closing stages the score was 800 to nil, with Simon having wiped out his score by knocking down the dreaded black peg! He did however manage to score 200 points by sinking the last white ball to make the result 800-200.

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth
Lining up a shot

As the table at The Orange Tree was positioned against a wall/under a window it was only possible to play shots at the 200 & 100 holes from the left hand side of the table. Not a major obstacle really. I did like the fact that there were three sizes of cue available to use. As the pub was busy and there was a door behind the baulk line end I opted to use the 'baby' cue which was only about two and a half foot long.

Having had two games at The Orange Tree we decided to head over to Knebworth and The Chequers Inn for a game or two.

When I had phoned ahead earlier in the day the man at the pub had confirmed they still had a table and said that the baize on it had been relaid. The table did look and play nicely indeed, with the balls rolling very smoothly indeed. But unfortunately in the second game a lot of the balls kept getting 'stuck' in the pockets after being potted!? This meant for much of our second 'three-way-dance' match we were not playing with a full deck!

Simon picked up wins at The Chequers Inn. Both games once again went to a shootout on the 200 hole.

Interestingly the table at The Chequers Inn had a different layout to the table in The Orange Tree and was also different to the only other table I'd actually played, at The Strathmore Arms in St Paul's Walden. Both of those tables had three obstacles (one with 'mushrooms' the other with 'pegs'), but the table at The Chequers Inn had four mushrooms, with one guarding the 200 hole, one at the 100 hole (which was not marked as a scoring hole) and the other two were in front of each of the 50 holes. It certainly made the table a lot harder to score points on. The positioning of the table at The Chequers Inn also meant that shots at the 200 hole in the last ball shootout could only be made from the right hand side of the table.

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth
The Bar Billiards table at The Chequers Inn at Knebworth - this one had four spots and four 'mushrooms'! Shooting for the 50s was very difficult

There was a nice old rules sheet/poster on display next to the table at The Chequers Inn. it was originally revised in 1973 and reprinted in 1976 and described "The Game of Bar Billiards - sometimes called Russian Bagatelle, Skittle Billiards or Snookerette etc."

This rule sheet had the rules laid out for playing the game using the 'first arrangement' and 'second arrangement' and it was this second type of rules the table had been set up for, with the previously mentioned four peg/skittle marks. There was also a good section on the sheet on 'How to Promote Interest' in the game.

Bar Billiards in Baldock & Knebworth
The nice old Bar Billiards rule sheet at The Chequers Inn

An enjoyable day out at two different pubs, playing a fun and very tricky game. On an incredibly cold day it was nice to be in two very warm pubs.

Related Blog Posts:
- Another new game played – Bar Billiards
- Snow causes blog post in Guildford

- The All England Bar Billiards Association
- The AEBBA Rules of Bar Billiards

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