Balkline (sometimes spelled balk line or balk -line) is the overarching title of a large array of carom billiards games generally played with two cue balls and a third, red object ball , on a cloth -covered, 5 foot 10 foot , pocketless table that is divided by balklines on the cloth into marked regions called balk spaces. Such balk spaces define areas of the table surface in which a player may only score up to a threshold number of points while the object balls are within that region.
The balkline games developed to make the precursor game , straight rail , more difficult to play and less tedious for spectators to view in light of extraordinary skill developments which allowed top players to score a seemingly endless series of points with the balls barely moving in a confined area of the table playing area . Straight rail , unlike the balkline games, had no balk space restrictions, although one was later added . The object of the game is simple: one point , called a "count", is scored each time a player's cue ball makes contact with both object balls (the second cue ball and the third ball) on a single stroke . A win is achieved by reaching an agreed upon number of counts.