Billiards is essentially a game of precision, and to play it at all well you must have the right implements to play with. A cue of your own is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It is no use trying to play billiards - 'on a cloth untrue, with a twisted cue, and elliptical billiard balls,' - as W. S. Gilbert has it.
Of late years, Willie Smith has set the fashion for a heavy cue tipped with a brass ferrule. His cue weighs 18 oz. John Roberts said: As regards the weight of a cue, I think 15 oz. to 16 oz. is heavy enough for anyone.
The length of a cue should be from 4 feet 8| inches to 4 feet 9 inches. Tom Newman uses a 17-oz. cue measuring 4 feet 10 inches in length, and as Smith's is heavier still, it is evident that the best of modern billiardists favour distinctly heavier cues than were used by the old past master of the game
Weight and Length of Cue
I advise my readers to be up to date as regards using a cue of useful weight. The reason is mainly this - one of the principal things in billiard playing is to 'let the weight of the cue do the work.' Therefore, provided it does not feel clumsy and awkward in your hand, you should select a cue which is heavy rather than light. Then the 'weight of the cue' will do all the 'work' you want it to perform ; there is a lot more in this than you may think.
A point in favour of a fairly heavy cue is that, if it is made as it should be, it will have enough wood in it to be stiff. And the stiffer a billiard cue is, the better it is. A cue which shakes and quivers as it strikes a ball is good for but one thing - to lend to the man you want to beat.
Pick a cue with a fair-sized tip, have it fitted with a brass ferrule, and polish it with a dry cloth, plain paper, or constant play, the latter preferred. If you are in the habit of sandpapering the woodwork of your cue, buy a cheap one, the cheaper the better, because it will only be fit for firewood before long, and it is a mistake to pay too much to keep the home fires burning. In any other case, pay enough for your cue to get one of the best from a firm of standing and reputation.
Balls, Ivory and Composition
As regards balls, there is no getting away from the fact that ivory balls are the only kind officially recognized for the championships, which makes them the standard ball for billiards
There is nothing else for it, as far as I can see. Ivory balls really worth playing with are an expensive luxury, and a set of ivories fit for first-class play is worth a fancy price. The fact of the matter is that ivory suitable for billiard ball manufacture must be getting more and more scarce every year, while the demand is at least as great as ever
A time must come, and I think it will arrive sooner than many people think, when the law of supply and demand will bring composition balls on the table for championship billiards. The question is one for the Billiards Association and Control Council, and I should like to hint that the makers of composition balls would assist their own interests if they conducted exhaustive experiments to produce a ball which comes off at as near the ivory angle as possible, and is less apt to pick up dirt than composition balls usually are.
Once you have the proper cue and ball as outlined above, there will be no stopping you, and you will quickly learn to become a very good billiards player!