Forgotten Games

By Jim Meador

Maybe not forgotten, but no longer played as frequently are games like Cribbage and Rotation. These games met their demise with the proliferation of coin op tables which made it impossible to spot balls. Too bad, because they are games that require skillful cue ball control.

Today most players prefer 9-ball as a means to develop cue ball control since it is a game of mini-rotation. Of course it is a fast game as well, which makes it desirable to those who enjoy a friendly wager.

When I was a young man, shortly after the Civil War, Rotation was probably the most popular game among recreational players. Those who played 9-ball were money players, many of whom were also strong One Pocket and 14.1 players. It is amazing to me how many young players today have never heard of Rotation. In fact many are only familiar with 8-ball since that is about the only game played in bars.

If you are serious about developing your cue ball control, I strongly recommend Cribbage. It is a fun game to play, and easy to learn.

The official rules for Cribbage are in the BCA Official Rules and Records Book, but I can offer a summary of the game here.

A cribbage is a combination of two balls that equal a total of 15 points; i.e. 14-1, 7-8, 5-10, etc. The object of the game is to earn 5 cribbages (there are a total of 8 in a rack) before your opponent. There are 7 cribbage pairs: (1-14, 2-13, 3-12, 4-11, 5-10, 6-9, & 7-8.) After all cribbage pairs have been pocketed, the 15-ball is a cribbage by itself. The 15-ball must be the last cribbage played, and only if necessary for the 5 cribbage win. As soon as a player has 5 cribbages, the game is over.

The balls are racked with the 15 ball in the center. No two of the three corner balls shall add up to 15 points. Other balls are placed randomly in the rack.

The rack is broken from behind the head string, usually with force in order to make a ball. If a ball is made on the break, the breaker continues to shoot, but may only shoot at the companion of the ball that dropped. For example, if the 4-ball was pocketed on the break, the shooter must try to hit and sink the 11-ball. If he fails to sink the eleven ball, the 4-ball is spotted and his inning is over. The incoming player must shoot the table as it lies.

If two balls are pocketed during a single stroke, the player may select which companion ball he wants for a cribbage. If he sinks the companion ball he must go after the companion of the second ball that dropped during the single stroke. If he fails, the previously pocketed companion is spotted and his turn is over.

As with other games, the general rules of pocket pool apply to Cribbage.

Like 9-ball and Rotation, there are no optional balls to go after should the player fail to get position on the next legal ball. Cribbage is an excellent game to play to improve ones position skills. It is also a great deal of fun.

To improve your carom game, try Carom 8-ball. It is played the same as standard 8-ball, but instead of hitting the cue ball into the object ball, the shooter hits the selected object ball into the cue ball in an attempt to carom the object ball into a called pocket. It ain't easy, but it sure will help with other games when you are faced with carom shoots.

When you practice alone, consider playing Cribbage as opposed to just running racks at random. Or select another game that demands skillful cue ball control. Yes, it is work. It is hard work in fact, but very rewarding when you need to play your best pool in competition.


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