Play Novus: test drive table for sea billiards

Novus is sometimes called "marine billiards." This is not a new invention - it appeared in the 1920s in Latvian and Estonian ports, at about the same time in Ventspils, Liepaja, Riga, and Tallinn. “Novus” is a Latvian name that came into the Russian language, Estonians call the game “crown”.

A brief history, or what is novus

The first mention of the novus dates back to 1925 - then, in the port taverns, sailors already played strange billiards without balls on square tables. Yes, in the novus - not balls, but flat wooden chips (more precisely - pawns) with holes in the middle. Most likely, this is due to the fact that the novus came from the Indian game of Karr, brought to European (primarily British) ports by sailors who went to Asia. The square for Karrom is also square, there are also pawns, bats and pockets - but they play it not with a cue, but with the click of the fingers. It hurts, probably!

It's funny, but the design of the carrom played into the hands of the creators of the novus: firstly, the floors in the taverns did not differ in smoothness, and it was almost impossible to level the real billiard table so that the balls did not roll in one direction. Plus, ivory was expensive - then the balls were not yet made from polymeric materials. And wooden chips are cheap, easy to replace, and not prone to rolling. Finally, if necessary, the novus can be installed, for example, on a yacht without stabilizers: a slight roll will not disrupt the game.

And then the development went at the Napoleonic pace. In 1929, Estonia launched the first industrial batch of Novus tables - 100 pieces. In 1932, already in Latvia, a certain P. Tyutenikov published the first pamphlet with the uniform rules of novus, combining and systematizing all the principles that existed in different cities. Then the first professional tournament took place, and by the beginning of the war novus was a real national sport of both countries - sections functioned, championships were held.

Novus in the editorial office. The blow is inflicted by Vasily Makarov. Do not look that the bit is black: in fact, any of the bits is played - black or red. The player’s pawns are red; he aims at one of them.

After the war, both Latvia and Estonia became part of the USSR - and the novus began to develop according to new canons. In 1963, the Novus Federation was formed, and in 1980 he entered the All-Union Register of Sports.

Today, novus is more or less common in many countries - both in the CIS, and in Europe, and in America, although it, of course, has the greatest popularity in the Baltic states. Since 1993, Novus World Championships have been held - in general, this is a full-fledged sport, which at the same time is also a wonderful home entertainment. If you, of course, have enough space for a 1x1 meter table with some “margins” around it so that you can approach the sides with a cue in hand.

And here he is in front of us, a table for novus. We were provided with it by the Imerica online store, and a workshop table was made in Balashikha (yes, this is exactly what our own production is!) Therefore, we will tell you about the rules of playing novus and, in fact, about the table - why it is good, what it is bad and most importantly - what is interesting.

Play novos

To some extent, I'm a cheater. Because I have experience playing snooker - a complex and demanding perfect calculation of English billiards. Therefore, I can beat with a doublet from the side, calculate the output of the ball for the next blow, and so on. So I cleaned the table for novus almost immediately. The game is really fast and entertaining - quite rarely there are stalemate situations in which none of the players can really do anything.

So, the Novus table has dimensions of 1000 by 1000 mm. Historically, 800 by 800 mm tables still existed, but the 1932 rules approved a single standard. Today, the rules are approved by the International Novus Federation - FINSO.

The field is limited by sides with a height of 25 mm, and in each corner there is a round pocket with a diameter of 100 mm with linen bags catching pawns. The board should be smooth, polished, plus to improve glide it is additionally rubbed with boric acid (it is even prescribed in the rules that no chemicals other than boric acid can be used).

Cloth bag pockets.

Unlike billiards, the Novus field has markup. The four zones marked by the marking at the edges of the field are the zones of impact of the players (which may be two or four). Before the start of the game, the player sets 8 pawns of his own color on the opposite side of the table in the opponent’s strike zone. Then he puts his bat in his strike zone - and tries to “put” all pawns of his color, any pockets. It would seem - which is easier, even the pool - and that is more complicated. Judge for yourself: the diameter of the pawn is only 30 mm, that is, three times smaller than the diameter of the pocket!

But it was not there. The fact is that, firstly, the players interfere with each other. That is, the task is not only to put all your pawns, but also to put the opponent’s pawns in the most uncomfortable position for the blows. And secondly, these most uncomfortable positions are determined by the rules of the game. If your pawns are in the central circle or in your zone of attack, they cannot be beaten with a direct hit! Only from the side, from his other pawn, or even directly from his other pawn, on which he beats a beat. Such an "inconvenient" pawn is called a "dark" one, and the outcome of the game most often depends on the number of "dark" pawns and their location. In addition, with a number of errors, penalty pawns are put on the table. For example, if a player didn’t hit a single pawn on impact or dropped a bat into a pocket.

Full Set: 2 Bits and 16 Pawns

Interestingly, in novus, unlike billiards, there can be a draw in the set. If, say, in a pool, a player clears the table “in one cue”, he wins, and that’s it. But if the player makes a novus, that is, the opponent does not lose the right to play - and can repeat this achievement, removing all his chips sequentially. And then the set is replayed.

Enough about the rules though. If you are planning to buy a table for a novus or, say, go to a novos club, where you can try your hand at someone else's tables, you will quickly become comfortable. Because practice is the best teacher.

Actually, the table

Yes, now about the table that has reached us. We promised to talk about the pros and cons of its design and workmanship.

It is delivered, so to speak, in almost assembled form: a playing field (countertop) and folding legs-support (underframe). Below on the countertop there are grooves, which include the stops of the table. The grooves are asymmetric, so you can insert supports into them in only one way, you won’t be mistaken.

Underframe mounting groove

Table material - high-quality plywood, boards - birch. Someone may be outraged: why is the countertop not wooden? Plywood, fi! Well, in fact, everything, even the most expensive and elite Novus tables, have plywood worktops. The reason is simple: it is more resistant to abrasion and physical damage. So this is not a sign of cheapness, but quality. Usually, during the game, the varnished surface of the table is rubbed, as mentioned above, with boric acid, but in this case it is recommended to use the usual wood polish: firstly, it can be bought at any hardware store, and secondly, the powder has one way or another abrasive properties and eventually damages the surface, unlike polishes.

Polished table surface

The manufacturer writes that the kit is compact, does not clutter up a small apartment and fits in the trunk of a car. On the one hand it’s true. On the other - let's be honest - the board feels very heavy (actually 23 kg, but it’s difficult to keep it on weight due to its shape). This gives her reliability in the playing position, but to collect it and disassemble it alone is another quest. Unless the three (two hold the board, one substitutes the underframe). I collected without anyone's help, I almost got the navel loose. Sorry for the vernacular.

Underframe arrangement

Also included are two bits and two sets of 8 checkers. Cues here without a coated tip, like in billiards, are just wooden. Over time, the end of the cue is deformed - to smooth it, you can use sandpaper. Professional players use special sharpeners for a cue stick - outwardly they look like pencil sharpeners, only in the recess they are emery, not a blade.

In general, the table is of high quality. If you play without polish (we tried), the game does not become less interesting, but over time, light damage from the cue and pawns appears on the field. So it’s better to lubricate - the table will last a couple of years longer (according to our estimates).


Honestly: before the guys from Imerica suggested we test the table, we had never heard of any news. And then a new Universe opened right. Until today, we thought that Estonians have only one national sport - kiiking, acrobatics on a swing. And here you are - novus! True, he is Estonian-Latvian, but it doesn’t matter.

The bonus of this sport, in addition to, in fact, an interesting game, is that the table is quite low and compact, that is, it is convenient for children to play Novus, and, for example, wheelchair users - in this case, the forces are absolutely equal regardless of age and player position. It is unlikely that the inventors of novus thought about such subtleties almost 100 years ago, so this advantage turned out by itself.

Novus is also developing in Russia. There is a federation, there are professional players, there is representation at the World Championships. And most importantly - there are people who make good equipment here - both for entertaining and professional games. And it’s not at all under the slogan “if billiards doesn’t fit in your office, buy novus” (although this is also a good argument), but according to the principle “it's interesting, play, our whole life is a game”.


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