Arts and Culture  Awards 

Isidoro Valcárcel Medina, Velázquez Prize

The Laws of Billiards

Francisco Javier San Martín 

El fondo y las formas (2010-11)

The player hits the cue ball, it rolls, and when it hits another (a physicist would say ‘collides’), both are set in motion determined by the speed and rotation that the player imprinted on it with the stick. Kinetic energy, rotation and movement, elasticity of the materials, sound vibration of the collisions… Billiards is a game of physics and the player uses the laws of physics, albeit only intuitively. The table is green and rectangular, instinctively associated with a grass field, whereas the chess board, so often identified with a battlefield, is a square subdivided into 64 squares which are, in alternation, black and white, colors less identified with nature. Chess pieces are ‘eaten’ but do not bump each other; they are moved by the player’s prediction of positions. Chess is a mental game, in the order of the gray matter produced by the mix of black and white. Billiards is a game of physics (...)

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