This photo was taken June 1999, in a stone cottage on the C2C bicycle route, in the heart of the English Pennines, near Alston, Cumbria. My uncle is showing his newly-refurbished ball-game board: he calls it Bagatelle, but it looks more like a small billiard table to me. It is 18" wide and 6 feet long, folds in half and rests on a table for use.Clearly the players make shots with a billiard cue from one end only. There are markers and a baseline, but no pockets. No written instructions have been found; there is no manuacturer's name shown. The board was found in the English North country. Can anyone assist with further details? I have some information already - see below. Hugh Reekie firstname.lastname@example.org.
A good site with links describing the game and where it is played is now available.
A listing in the "newsnet" Internet communications system in March 2000, under "rec.billiards" produced a reply:
From: "Tim Ford"<TimFord.at.interact.net.au> - Canberra, Australia Re: Portable bagatelle/billiards - Sun, 23 Apr 2000
Hi Hugh - here are the rules of Bagatelle, from an mid nineteenth century copy of Hoyle.
HOW TO PLAY BAGATELLE
Bagatelle may be said to stand in the same position to billiards as draughts do to chess; but as a board is found in most families, as also in a great many houses where there is not room enough for a billiard table, we annex the following directions and rules. The games played on the bagatelle board are as follows :- L Bagatelle (or English Bagatelle), Bagatelle a la Francais (or French Bagatelle), Sans Egal, Mississipi, Trou Madame,the Cannon Game, or Bagatelle versus Billiards. A knowledge of billiards may sometimes be used to advantage in bagatelle, as the most scientific strokes are made by holing a ball of the cushion, and the high, low and following stroke may now and then be found useful. In all games the cue or mace may be used.
Also, see the University of Waterloo, Canada Museum Page. The Game of Bagatelle, using a board like the one shown, is played in a pub league in the Coventry area , England - here is some game information - various similar games exist - Early bagatelle games - See, also - the Chester, England League web page.
There seems to be both a variation of table size, and of rules, in different parts of the UK. On 30 Nov 2002, John (from Chester, England) said:
I notice that your uncle's table measures 6 ft by 18 inches. It just shows that tables come in all sizes because in the Chester area most tables are 8 feet long and either 24, 27 or 30 inches wide (approx!), but we do have one table which is only 7 feet long (the best one in my opinion!). In the Coventry League I understand the tables are even bigger, possibly 10 feet long and 3 feet wide.
There's also lots of variety in the rules. In matches in the Chester area it's more of a team game. There are 8 players in each team, each player has two sticks and the highest team score wins. Scoring is 2 points for a home win and 3 points for an away win. It's more individual in Coventry. Five men in each team and they play to a 121 finish and it's on a player vs. player basis. 5 points are at stake in each match with each point decided by the 5 games.
- updated 23 August 2009
This page is http://www3.bell.net/max-com/bagatelle.html