Understanding the Game of Carom Billiards
If you really want to understand carom billiards you need to know that carom billiards is a family of similar games more than it is a single game although the term carom is somewhat synonymous with the earliest carom game of straight rail. Carom means to hit or to strike, so it follows that in carom billiards the striking of other object balls along with the striking of rails is the main objective.
Carom billiards, then, can be easily contrasted to pocket billiards where the balls are sunk into various pockets according to the rules and gameplay of each individual game. The original game of straight rail has visible ties to the preceding leisure games such as croquet and boule that that it evolved from.
In the basic game of straight rail, two opponents will each take to the billiards table with a cue and their own cue ball, as well a one additional object ball. The players will score points for each time that their cue ball makes contact with both the object ball as well as their opponent’s cue ball.
This game had a few flaws in its game play that led to the creation of other carom billiards games. Players soon realized that their two object balls, the opposing cue ball and the designated object ball, could be positioned so that a skillful player might strike the balls repeatedly without ever causing them to change position thus enabling the player to score an indefinite number of points with the same basic shot.
The most commonly played carom game today is three cushions, a carom game that drastically does away with the boring and less challenging techniques that ruined straight rail. In three cushions, the shooter must make contact with three cushions with his cue ball before the cue ball can touch either of the other two balls.
On a professional level, three cushions players are only likely to score one point in each round. This is extremely different than the players of straight rail would employ nursing techniques or pin the object balls in the corner of the table and rack up the points towards infinity and tedium.
There are also games other carom games that evolved away from straight rail. One other game that is still popular today is called baulk line.
In baulk line, the billiards table is divided into segments. The main stipulation in conjunction with these segments is that only a certain number of points may be scored with the balls remaining in a segment before the balls are required to be hit out of the baulk region.