Hoyle's Games Modernized/Bagatelle
Fig. 1.—Arrangement of the Holes.
Bagatelle is played with nine ivory balls on a special table or board, oblong in shape, from 6 to 10 ft. long, and in width about one-fourth of its length, as shown in Fig. 2. At that end of the board which in use is farthest from the player are sunk nine hemispherical holes or cups, one as a centre, with the others in a circle round it. Each hole bears a number, as shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.—Bagatelle Board.
Fig. 3.—Playing off the Cushion.
Of the nine balls one is black, four are white, and four are red. Whatever the diameter of the balls, that of the cups must exactly correspond with it. The sides of the board are furnished with a continuous cushion, such cushion at the upper end forming a semi-circle, concentric with the circle made by the cups. The upper edge of each side of the board is pierced with a double row of small holes, sixty in each row, arranged in groups of five. The score is marked by inserting little ivory pegs in these holes, each player using one side of the board. To score the number obtained, the player removes his hinder peg for the time being, and places it the required number of holes in front of the foremost peg.
Fig. 4.—The Cue.
Fig. 5.—The Mace.
The balls are propelled, at the option of the player, either with a cue (Fig. 4) or with the mace (Fig. 5). The cue is a reproduction in miniature of that used at Billiards. The mace consists of an oblong "shoe," or block of wood, slightly curved, attached to a long thin tapering handle.
The cue is used as at Billiards. The mace is handled in a different manner. The shoe at its foot is placed in actual contact with the ball, the handle pointing over the right shoulder of the player, grasped, about one-third from the top, between the thumb and second and third fingers of the right hand. The ball is then pushed forward in the desired direction. At best the mace is but a clumsy implement, and would never be used by any one who had acquired even the most elementary skill in handling the cue.
At starting, the black ball is placed on the spot marked a (Fig. 2). The player, taking the remaining balls, places one of them on the spot marked b, and impels it in the direction of the black ball. If he hits this latter, the stroke is good, and he plays another ball, continuing till the whole eight have been played. If, however, the first ball played miss the black, it is removed from the table (whether it fall into a hole or not), and is lost to the player for that turn, as also any succeeding ball until the black ball is hit, after which the obligation to strike it ceases. If any ball is so struck as to be driven back towards the player more than half-way down the board, it is in like manner removed. After the black ball is once struck, the player is no longer obliged to place his own ball on the spot b, but may place it at any point behind such spot. He continues till the whole of the eight balls have been played.
The object of the player is to "hole" as many of his balls as possible, preferably in the cups bearing the higher numbers. The black ball counts double, and a good player will, therefore, endeavour to get this into the centre hole. This, however, is somewhat difficult, for, if struck directly towards the 9, it must pass over the 1, and is very likely to hole itself therein. It is, therefore, safer play to strike it lightly on the right side, and so drive it towards the 8, into which it may probably be coaxed by a subsequent ball. When the black ball has found a resting-place, the efforts of the player are directed to place his remaining balls to the best advantage. The approved methods of play for doing this, as to holes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, are indicated by the dotted lines in Fig. 3, the ball being so struck as to go "off the cushion" into the desired hole. The best mode of playing a given ball will, however, be greatly governed by the positions occupied by preceding balls.
It frequently happens that a number of balls lie at distances less than their own diameter from the semicircular cushion at top. In such case, a ball sent slowly round the cushion will strike them all in succession, and, driving them towards the centre, may hole one or more of them. If, on the other hand, the balls in question are more than their own diameter from the cushion, the ball sent in pursuit of them will run harmlessly round, and very probably be lost by overpassing the half-way line. Or, again, the balls may be lying close under the cushion, and the impact of the ball in play may simply drive them further round.
It frequently happens that a ball lies just on the brink of a hole, and that a discreet touch in the right place will cause it to drop therein. For such strokes as these the instructions given for securing winning hazards at Billiards may be studied with advantage.
The game is usually 120 points—i.e., up and down the board. This number, is, however, not absolute, the player who first reaches it continuing to play until the whole of his eight balls are exhausted, and scoring the whole number obtained. If he be the second player, the game is then at an end, but if he was the first to play, the second player is entitled to play his eight balls also, and the player attaining the larger total is the winner.
If, when the game is won, the loser has not turned the corner—i.e., begun to score on the downward journey, the game is a "double," and if there was any stake, the loser pays double accordingly.
Where four persons take part, two play as partners against the two others, one of each side playing alternately the whole of the eight balls.
- 69 ^ For a description of other forms of the game, see The Book of Card and Table Games (Routledge).