It is generally believed that cue sports are an evolution of outdoor stick and ball lawn games. The word "billiard" may have developed from the french word "billart", which described an implement used in many outdoor games of the period.In the beginning, billiards games were mainly obstacle games, such as bagatelle and pin pool. Some types had structures similar to modern day miniature golf and others were played on a sloped table - these were likley the forerunners of modern day pinball tables. The obstacles or "hazards" had various functions in the games: some were obstructions that had to be avoided; others were targets that had to be hit or passed through in order to record a score. In some instances, the hazards had to be used to score in some other way, such as rebounding off them to reach a hole in a table or trapping opponent's balls.
These games eventually led to the development of carom or carombole billiards - games played with three or sometimes four balls, usually on a table without holes. The aim of the game is usually to bounce a cue ball off an object ball in such a way that the cue ball rebounds off one or more cushions to strike another ball. There are many different variations and rule sets for this type of game and they once completely dominated the cue sports arena. However, they have declined in popularity over the years.
Eventually, one of the "hazards" returned - pockets. At first, these were to be avoided, but they later became targets and this gave rise to most modern cue sports played today. Originally known as "pocket billiards" these games quickly rose to popularity and spread around the world, giving rise to pool in all its forms and also to snooker. English Billiards is a hybrid carom/ pocket game and is fairly close to the original pocket billiards of the 18 and early 19th centuries.
Snooker is generally believed to have started in the second part of the 19th Century. British Army officers stationed in India were enthusiastic english billiards players and soon began coming up with variants on the original theme. In the Officers' Mess in Jabalpur during 1874 or 1875, one group added coloured balls in addition to the reds and black that were used for pyramid pool. "Snooker" was a slang term for cadets or inexperienced soldiers and one story is that Sir Neville Chamberlain of the Devonshire regiment called his opponent a "snooker" when he failed to pot a ball - the name stuck and the game become the worldwide sport that we have today.Now, new countries are awakening to the joys of Snooker – China and the Far East have possibly the fastest growing fan base in the World. Digital TV coverage is bringing the game to a wider audience in Europe and the appetite for the sport is increasing month by month.