Supporting and promoting international sport worldwide

Spotlight on Carom Billiards

Carom billiards belong to the family of cue sports or billiard sports and is played on cloth-covered, pocketless billiard tables. The most basic aspect to the game is to score points from a single shot by caroming one’s own cue ball off both your opponent’s cue ball and the object ball. The sport also goes by the name of carombole billiards or simply carambole. There are several types of carom billiard disciplines of which the most well-known are artistic billiards, straight rail, cushion caroms, balkline, and three-cushion. Although the sport is far less popular in the States, it is mostly played in Europe and in many parts of East Asia. The table is typically 3.0 by 1.5 metres. The cloth used to cover the playing surface is made of a type of baize, which is similar in texture to felt, but much more durable. It is also made from 100% worsted wool that is known for its high quality. The colour is mostly always dyed green but can also feature in a lighter blue. The type of wool provides a very fast surface allowing the ball to travel with little resistance. To further aid with the ball rolling and rebounding consistently, the slate bed of a carom billiards table is often heated to 5°C above room temperature. This keeps moisture out of the cloth. The balls used in the sport are significantly larger and heavier than their pool or snooker counterparts. The cues tend to be shorter and lighter overall than those used in pool.   

Artistic billiards – players compete at performing 76 preset shots. These are all at a varying degree of difficulty and each shot has a maximum point value assigned for perfect execution. 

Straight rail – one point, called a ‘count’, is scored every time a player's cue ball makes contact with both object balls in a single stroke. The object balls are the opponent’s cue ball and a third ball.  

Balkline – the table is divided into nine rectangular balk spaces. A player may only score up to a threshold of points while the object balls are within that region. 

Cushion caroms – a game still very popular in Europe. Both object balls are again the target, with the cue ball striking the rail cushion before the second object ball.  

Three-cushion – the object is to carom off both the object balls with at least three rail cushions being contacted before contact is made with the second object ball. 

The Union Mondiale de Billard (UMB) is the highest sanctioning body and international governing body for the sport of carom billiards. UMB was founded in 1959 and oversees all worldwide development and the management of international competitions, including World Cup and World Championship tournaments.  

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