Learning Carom Billiards

Carom billiards is an interesting sport that has several key differences from other billiards games, especially the pool games that most armatures and spectators are familiar with. Carom is a family of billiards games that all have a similar game play since they are all played with only three balls and on a table that is not only heated but without pockets for the balls to be sunk into.


The term carom basically means to make contact with the cue ball and either a side cushion or a ball. In carom the point of the game is to have one’s own cue ball contact the opponent’s cue ball as well as the object ball and, in nearly every version of carom that is currently played, to come in contact with a designated number of side cushions as well.


The equipment that is used for carom resembles standards seen in any billiards game including a billiards table, cues for the players and a number of balls. The billiards table used for carom is actually heated to reduce moisture and aid in ball travel, as well as being without pockets, and the cues are stiffer and shorter that pool cues to manage the larger and heavier balls.


The game is played between two players who each have their own cue ball, one either being yellow or else white with a dot to aid in differentiating between the other cue ball. There is also an object ball that is usually black or red in color.


Each player takes turns, which are called innings, and shoots until he fails to score a point. A single point is score when one’s own cue ball makes contact, or caroms off of, both the opponent’s cue ball and the object ball.


The game continues until one player obtains the number of points agreed upon before the game. The game could hypothetically continue indefinitely.


The earliest versions of the game had no stipulations as to how points could be scored. This led to the development of techniques called crutching and nursing, or rail nursing that allowed a skillful player to score points almost indefinitely by either cornering the object balls in the corner or crotch of the table or by gently nudging, or nursing, the object balls down the rail and scoring points all along.


Games were subsequently developed that made it impossible for these techniques to dominate gameplay and the simplest carom game, originally called straight rail, fell into partial obscurity. The more commonly played games of carom are three cushion, cushion carom, artistic billiards and variations of baulk line.