An innovation in the game of billiards has recently been introduced in England in the form of a table in which the familiar rectangular shape is superseded by an oval. This development is the outcome of modern exigencies, more especially owing to the perfection of certain strokes, such as the “Anchor,” which, once the position has been secured, enables the player to continue scoring indefinitely. Such nursing of a certain position has rather depreciated interest in the game, and the scientific evolution of new strokes, and the study of angles resulting in what is known in the billiard parlance as top-of-the-table play, has rendered the game somewhat monotonous to follow when two skilled manipulators are pitted against one another. In order to obviate such unvarying repetition, the present table has been evolved, as thereby a more open game is assured. Though popularly described as "oval," the shape is in reality "arc-oval," its form being clearly demonstrated in the accompanying diagram. It is constructed by the arcs of two circles of fixed relative sizes, which approach the figure of an ellipse. This method of construction is essential in eliminating the difficulty in finding the angle vertex on the ever-changing curve of the oval or ellipse. This design has been worked out by Mr. J. J. Pearson, an English architect, and he was influenced in his experiments by the fact that among the many recognized geometrical figures, none approaches in versatility of angle problems those of a curved formation. The possibilities of play upon a circular table, which it may be explained also serve as a key to all play on the arc-oval table, may be gathered from the second diagram. Here a ball struck from, or in line with, the center returns direct, or if played to pass the center at a given distance, returns the same distance on the other side. It will thus be realized that the dividing line of any angle springs from a definite point on the table, in variance to that obtaining on the oblong table, where it is ever at a right angle to the cushion. The table, being inclosed by the arcs of four circles, has four central points. In this table it will be seen that it is bounded by the arcs of four circles, the arcs of the larger circles forming the longer sides, while the arcs of the small circles constitute the short sides, the pockets of the same number as prevailing in the oblong shape and placed equidistantly. At first sight such a design might appear to present difficulties to the player, but in reality the game is considerably simplified, once the geometry of the angles and the properties of the circle are mastered. Easier and improved facilities for scoring are provided, since the cushion "fields" and the pockets "invite." The possibilities of the various angles thus placed at the player's disposal are illimitable. The play is considerably opened, and rendered more fascinating, while at the same time the difficulties of the divided ball are curtailed. There are many strokes only obtainable in one way on the oblong table, which are possible in several upon this latest design, while at the same time playing for safety is impracticable, and repeat strokes are reduced to a minimum. At the same time, according to the experience of those who have tried their skill upon the new table, the balls are always more accessible, the rest is seldom needed, and one does not have to assume difficult attitudes to make a stroke. It is somewhat difficult for the player fresh from the old pattern of table to comprehend the behavior of the balls, which instead of making the designed rebound, - of ten follow a whizzing course round the contour of the cushion at great velocity, and will pass the opponent's ball, which is only standing away from the cushion the distance of its own diameter. Those familiar with play on the oblong table, and who have tested the arc-oval design, concede that the latter gives a more scientific basis to the game, and provides far greater possibilities for the exhibition of skill, calculation, delicacy of touch, and execution of stroke. For the equipment of the private house it possesses distinct advantages, and owing to the absence of the awkward right-angular corner, lends itself particularly to the encouragement of billiard play by ladies. Certainly in England its inception is being appreciated, and it is being popularly received. The destruction of lead or wrought-iron pipes by electrolysis has long engaged the attention of electricians, and expedients have been suggested to prevent it. These efforts have usually been directed toward preventing leakage of return currents, but a material has now been put on the market to insulate the pipes themselves. This is a covering of a specially-prepared asbestos paper in laminated form, thoroughly impregnated, and coated with a waterproof insulating compound. It acts as an insulating medium between the pipe and the ground, and being made of indestructible materials, is permanently durable. The covering is from % to % inch thick and is made in 3 foot sections, to fit various sizes of pipes. All joints are sealed by strips anc insulating cement, which are furnished with the covering. For sleeve couplings, etc., special sleeves are provided.
This article was originally published with the title "The Oval Billiard Table" in Scientific American 97, 26, 473 (December 1907)