Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Billiards Digest: Shamos on Mark Twain

Just reading Mike Shamos' fascinating piece about American literary giant Mark Twain, who also happened to be a great fan of billiards. Twain died 100 years ago this month, on April 21, 1910. Shamos' story, which is included in this month's issue of Billiards Digest, includes a cool image of the Huckleberry Fin author at the billiard table and another of him at the billiard room he had installed in his Hartford home. There's also various Twain-related billiards anecdotes. I've included above a public domain picture of Twain playing pool with Louise Paine.

Shamos' Billiard Digest piece also makes note of Twain's first written reference to billiards. Appearing in "Innocents Abroad," published in 1869, it describes an experience in Paris:

"At eleven o'clock we alighted upon a sign which manifestly referred to billiards. Joy! We had played billiards in the Azores with balls that were not round, and on an ancient table that was very little smoother than brick pavement -- one of those wretched old things with dead cushions, and with patches in the faded cloth and invisible obstructions that made the balls describe the most astonishing and unsuspecting angles and perform feats in the way unlooked-for and almost impossible 'scratches.' They were perfectly bewildering."

-- R.A. Dyer

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