Five-pinbilliards or simply five-pins or 5-pins Italian: (biliardo del) cinque birilli; Spanish: (billar de) cinco quillas, is a today usually a carom but sometimes still a pocket form of cue sport, popular especially in Italy and Argentina but also in some other parts of Latin America and Europe, with international, televised professional tournaments. The game is sometimes referred to as Italian five-pins or Italian billiards (Italian: biliardo all'italiana), or as italiana (in Italian and Spanish).
Until the late 1980s, the game (with some rules differences) was a form of pocketbilliards, known in English as Italian skittle pool, and was principally played in pubs, with an object ball that was smaller than the two cue balls. Professional and regulated amateur play today exclusively uses pocketless tables and equal-sized balls. Professional competition began in 1965, and play is centered in billiard parlors, with players competing in provincial, regional and national federations. The pocket version is still favored by some in amateur play.
Equipment and setup
The game is played on a pocketless normal 5 ft by 10 ft (1.52 by 3.05 m) carombilliards table, with standardized playing surface dimensions of 1.42 by 2.84 m (approximately 4-2/3 by 9-1/3 ft), plus/minus 5 mm (approx. 0.2 in), from cushion to cushion. The slatebed of the table must be heated to about 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) above room temperature, which helps to keep moisture out of the cloth to aid the balls rolling and rebounding in a consistent manner, and generally makes the table play "faster". In informal play, an unheated table is often used.
Like most other carom games, five-pins requires three standard carombilliard balls of equal diameter: a red object ball, a cue ball for the first player or team, and another cue ball for the second player or team. Ball sets vary by manufacturer, but typically are white for first and yellow for second (they may be plain or spotted), or plain white for first and white with a spot for second. The balls are 61.5 mm (2-3/8 in) in diameter and weigh between 205 and 220 g (7.23 – 7.75 oz; 7.5 is average). The white (or plain white) cue ball is given to the starting player, who may place it anywhere on the headside of the table (without disturbing the pins)—i.e., anywhere unobstructed between the head rail and the center string. The red object ball is placed at the center of the foot spot (i.e., the intersection of the foot string and the long string. The yellow (or spotted white) cue ball of the opponent is placed on the long string, in a position that can be labelled the "foot railspot", 10 cm (approx. 4 in) from the foot rail.
As the name implies, the game makes use of five upright pins called skittles in English (so-called since at least 1634), birilli (singular birillo) in Italian and quillas in Spanish, which look like miniature bowling pins, 25 mm (1 in) tall, and with 7 mm (0.28 in.) round, flat-bottomed bases. There are traditionally four white pins, and one red. The red pin is placed on the center spot (the exact middle of the table both lengthwise and widthwise), and the four white pins are placed equidistant from the red in a square diamond pattern around it. Two whites are aligned along the center string with the head and foot spots, as well as the rail diamonds in the center of the head and foot rails, and with the red object ball, and red pin. Meanwhile the other two whites are placed on the center string, aligned with the diamonds in the center of the long rails, and again with the red pin. The whites are spaced just far enough away from the red that a cue ball can pass between the pins without touching any of them. The final pattern looks like a "+" (plus sign), as shown in the diagram to the right. This arrangement of pins on the table is referred to as the "castle". Tables have the precise castle positions for the pins, and for the starting positions of the balls, permanently marked, as they must be placed back into position before every shot if any have been knocked over or moved.
Each player uses a cuestick to shoot the appropriate cue ball; average cue length is 140 cm (about 55 in.) A bridgestick (rest) may be used to reach long shots.
Five-pins table, showing the location of the pins.