Two pubs visited, one Bar Billiards table found, two games played.
On Wednesday 14th March we were in St Albans, Hertfordshire so took the opportunity to look up the two Bar Billiards tables that are listed in the City.
We managed to play one of them, but found the table at The White Swan on Upper Dagnall Street is no longer there. The landlord told us it had been removed before he took over the management of the pub. Even without Bar Billiards The White Swan was a nice and friendly pub. There were some games on offer including Jenga and Bōku – an abstract strategy board game that Emily and I will no doubt play at a later date.
The Goat Inn can be found on Sopwell Lane which is just off Holywell Hill and a couple of minutes walk from the city centre and Cathedral.
As we arrived at The Goat Inn we immediately saw the Bar Billiards table in the window and no one was playing it.
The Goat Inn is a fairly large venue with a three sided bar that splits up the different areas of the pub. There is a small seated area as you enter the pub, then a games room which houses the Bar Billiards table, a good quality dartboard, a huge selection of board games and a TV that was showing live football. There was also live music on during our visit and the chalkboards around the pub have listings for a number of different events including quizzes and details of the darts & dominoes teams.
In my first of two challenge matches I faced off against our friend Oxana Nikandrova. As she had never played the game before I ran through the rules and gave her some of the background to the game. Despite the game’s supposed Russian origins (via the French/Belgian game of Billard Russe aka Russian Billiards) Oxana had never seen anything like it in her native Russia.
The match was closely fought with Oxana picking up the game very quickly and at one point she had built up a break of 490 points, in part due to a brilliant rebound shot off the backboard, which resulted in the red ball landing in the 200 points hole! Unfortunately this break and the rest of her score were wiped out soon after as she knocked the dreaded black mushroom over.
The final result was a win to me with a score of 470 to Oxana’s 20 points. The game didn’t need to go to a decider as I was able to clear the final two balls from the table with my final shot.
Next up was a match between me and Emily. This match would go the distance after we had a score line of 520 to 160 at the end of regulation play, with just one white ball left to pot.
After numerous attempts at the 200 hole I managed to get the ball in and pick-up the 200 points to see the final score 720-160.
|As with the Bar Billiards table we played at The Strathmore Arms at St Pauls Walden, the table at The Goat Inn was 'approved' by the National Bar Billiards Association - the pre-WW2 governing body!|
The Bar Billiards table at The Goat Inn was in good condition and was very playable. A few of the young lads who were in the pub watching the football glanced over while we were playing and we heard them saying that they’d never played the game before and didn’t know the rules. The only slightly annoying thing about the table was that some shots towards the cushion on the left hand side could not be played as the table is positioned next to a wall and the window, so most shots (and any sudden-death shoot-outs would need to be played from left-to-right).
The pub has Darts and Dominoes teams and I wonder if they've ever had a Bar Billiards Team, or would set one up?
After playing Bar Billiards we sat down beside the huge array of Board Games and picked out the game of Flags World Tour.
A very interesting and fun game to play. We may have to buy a copy of it for our games room!
|The Flags World Tour Board Game and a flag that one player thought was the German flag - they'd had a few (too many) drinks by that point!|
The Goat Inn is a great pub that’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area. There are some nice touches in the pub, including signs with details of the history of the pub, which was built in the 15th century. An interesting facts about The Goat Inn is that in 1756 the Inn could accommodate seventy-two horses but could only sleep ten people! It is also rumoured that the historic site was once the oldest brothel in St Albans!
- All England Bar Billiards' Association (AEBBA)
- Bar Billiards Tables Map
- The Goat Inn, St Albans
Looking online the game of Bōku is also known by the name 'Bolix'! Is it any good?
Some more great Bar Billiards action... a little more practice & we'll be pros :)
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