EDWIN KENTRELD AND JOHN CARR
The first player who can be looked upon as
the Professional Billiards Champion must be Edwin (sometimes also called
Johnathan) Kentfield of Brighton, although the names of other good players,
such as a Mr Bedford and a Mr Pratt are mentioned in early writings, there does
not seem to be any indication that they could be looked upon as professionals
i.e. players who earned their livelihood solely as Billiards Players.
There was however, a Mr John (better known
as Jack) Carr who some might consider to be a Professional player, but without
wishing to be unkind, we might perhaps refer to him as the first "Hustler", as
although he earned his livelihood as a player and Billiard Room Keeper, he was
an inveterate gambler who had a rather "sharp" approach to business matters.
Carr was the Billiard Marker at Mr Bartley's
Billiard Rooms at Bath. Mr Bartley himself was able to place the red ball on
the centre spot on the table and then screw the White Cue Ball "in off Red into
a centre pocket. Mr.Bartley passed on his skill to his Marker, John Carr,
showing him how the stroke was achieved by striking the cue ball off centre,
and so Mr Bartley is looked upon as the inventor of "side" and "screw".
Carr became even more skilful than his
Master and amazed the Billiard Room patrons to whom he explained that it was
necessary to use his special "twisting chalk" which he then sold to them in
small boxes at the then very high price (during the 1830's) of Two shillings
and sixpence (12 1/2p per box.
Carr was backed to play any player for 100
Guineas (£105 - again a huge sum at the time) a side - The challenge was
accepted by Kentfield, but Carr became ill and the match never took place, so
Kentfield claimed the title of "Champion" and held it for 24 years until he
avoided a challenge for the title which was then taken over by the well known
John Roberts Senior.
When Kentfield first began to play
Billiards, the tables and equipment were very primitive - the cushions were
stuffed with horse hair or list - the beds were made of wood, the balls were
made of Ivory and the cloth was very coarse, and so it.was a case of playing
against the equipment as well as the opponent.
As a Professional player, Kentfield
co-operated with Mr John Thurston, who introduced all the major improvements in
the construction of Billiard Tables that still exist to this day.
© Copyright 1982/2002 Thurston
Cues n Views © Copyright 2002 David
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