The crack of cues against billiard balls echo throughout the Adanti Student Center dining area. Pool tables can be found in some residence halls, but the most frequented hub is the Adanti Student Center’s first-floor game room.
Sean Qian, freshman, healthcare studies/nursing major, found his love for pool last year as a freshman when he stumbled upon the Game Room. There, he quickly started making friends and spending most of his free time.
“[Pool] is mostly just a fun hobby for me. It’s a big part of what brought my friend group together and it’s really nice having a space where we don’t have to be super competitive but still just have fun doing something,” Qian says.
Last year, Qian found himself entering and winning a duos pool tournament hosted in Farnham Hall, with a friend he met by playing pool.
“I was able to catch on [to pool] pretty quickly. I think it’s possible [to win a tournament] as long as you’re willing to put the effort in and want to achieve that but I think most people just want to play for fun and get good enough to play,” Qian says.
The room is open Mondays–Thursdays, 10 a.m.–10 p.m.; and Fridays 10 a.m.–4 p.m. It features four, felt-top pool tables and a ping pong table. It is free of charge and open to everyone.
There are a steady stream of players there. Some of them are highly decorated, like Andrew Stone, who plays for a league off campus, and Qian.
Stone, senior, psychology major, developed an interest in pool at the age of 9. He spent his time learning how to play from his mother’s group of friends and ever since then he’s been captivated. Stone regularly heads to the pool room to kill some time.
“For me, it’s just a way to decompress and kind of zone out and clear my head and regardless of if I win or lose, I can hang out with my friends,” Stone says.
Stone belongs to the New Haven county-based American Pool Players Association league in Wallingford. Stone has been a part of the organization for three years and the group has routinely made the playoffs, and reached state championships.
The APA, founded in 1991, quickly became the sanctioning body of pool leagues worldwide. It now oversees around 300 leagues including the 8-Ball and 9-Ball League in the United States as well as the Canadian Pool Players Association, the Japanese Pool Players Association and the APA of Singapore.
Pool is a sport most popular in the United States and Canada played atop felt tables with six pockets around the sides. Pool is played with a cue stick, a white cue ball and 15 numbered balls.
“The primary purpose of this game is for one player to pocket the solid balls numbered from 1 to 7 or the striped balls numbered from 9 to 15, and then pocket the 8-ball before their opponent,” according to the American Pool Player Association Team Manual.
“The turn passes from one player to the next whenever the shooter fails to pocket a ball of their category or fouls. A player legally pocketing a ball of their category must continue to shoot. The player who pockets their entire category of balls first, and then legally pockets the 8-ball, is the winner of the game,” states the manual.
Stone says he believes that pool is something anyone can be involved in: “A lot of people can benefit from it. It’s something that can build confidence and at the end of the day even if you’re good or not as good at it, it’s just a good game to relax, play, and not take too seriously.”
Stone belongs to Alpha Phi Delta, a fraternity on campus that hosts pool tournaments once a semester, raising funds for Chapel Haven Schleifer Center, a local education organization for adults with Aspergers and Autism.
There are a lot of student-led pool tournaments; like the one Qian won and the Alpha Phi Delta hosted tournaments. Some can be found in the student center or in dorm halls around campus.
One of the organizers is Farnham Hall resident, Kim Dudley, sophomore, sociology/criminal justice major.
“My boyfriend is really into pool and it’s how we first started dating,” Dudley says.
“Farnham Hall Council didn’t have an event planned for a specific week, so we decided to choose something that we saw brought people together, and we decided on a pool tournament because a lot of people were already going to the pool room in Farnham to play, and it seemed important to a lot of people,” Dudley says.
The event was successful, a lot of people enjoyed it, staying to spectate after being knocked out of the tournament. It’s something Farnham Hall could look forward to doing again as well as other dorm halls on campus, Dudley says.
“Since there are so many pool tables on campus, it could bring a lot of people together even those who weren’t originally into it like I was,” Dudley says.
Millions of professional and amateur pool and billiards players compete worldwide: either enjoying themselves and the sport, winning championships, or joining prestigious groups such as the APA.
Pool is a game students can learn, advance and compete in. It is considered to be a fun and unique sport. Even if players don’t reach tournament-level heights, they could make a new friend or two.
By Julien Hilton Laforest