Abstract

A system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface, the system comprises a billiard ball gauge, a pro-rack and recreational-rack. The pro-rack and the recreational-rack each include a frame having an interior opening with an internal periphery. The internal periphery has segmented circular portions. Each rack is a top racking rack used to position and hold billiard balls in close contact when the rack rests upon the top of the balls. The billiard ball gauge determines which rack is best for the given size of the balls.

Claims

What is claimed is: 1 ) A system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface, comprising: a pro-rack including a pro flat frame having a pro outer periphery and a pro interior opening, said pro interior opening defining a pro interior periphery of generally equilateral triangular shape, said pro interior periphery having twelve pro segmented circular portions to hold fifteen billiard balls in intimate contact, each pro segmented circular portion having a pro segment diameter less than the diameter of each billiard ball. 2 ) A system as recited in claim 1 , wherein said pro interior periphery has straight segments between said pro segmented circular portions. 3 ) A system as recited in claim 1 , wherein all pro segment diameters are the same, wherein all pro segment diameters are 2.0-inches. 4 ) A system as recited in claim 1 , wherein said pro outer periphery is substantially triangular. 5 ) A system as recited in claim 1 , wherein said pro-rack is a transparent pro-rack. 6 ) A system as recited in claim 1 , further comprising a billiard ball gauge including a pro opening and a recreational opening. 7 ) A system as recited in claim 6 , wherein said pro opening sized with a circular diameter of 2.240+/−0.002 inches and said recreational opening sized with a circular diameter of 2.220+/−0.002 inches. 8 ) A system as recited in claim 1 , further comprising a recreational-rack sized to accommodate smaller diameter billiard balls. 9 ) A system as recited in claim 8 , wherein said recreational-rack is a different color than said pro-rack. 10 ) A system as recited in claim 8 , wherein said recreational-rack is imparted with visual indicia to identify it as different from said pro-rack. 11 ) A system as recited in claim 8 , wherein said recreational-rack includes a recreational flat frame having a recreational outer periphery and a recreational interior opening, said recreational interior opening defining a recreational interior periphery of generally triangular shape with three recreational interior sides coming together to form three recreational interior angles, said recreational interior periphery having one recreational segmented circular portions in each of said three recreational interior angles, wherein two of said recreational interior sides are reduced length sides having a length less than the last remaining side, wherein said last remaining side has three additional recreational segmented circular portions so that the recreational-rack as a whole can hold fifteen billiard balls in intimate contact with each recreational segmented circular portion, and wherein all recreational segment diameters are less than the diameter of the billiard balls. 12 ) A system as recited in claim 11 , wherein said two reduced length sides are 0.020-inches less than said last remaining side. 13 ) A system as recited in claim 11 , wherein said two reduced length sides are straight to allow easy movement of balls along said reduced length sides. 14 ) A system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface, comprising: a recreational-rack including a recreational flat frame having a recreational outer periphery and a recreational interior opening, said recreational interior opening defining a recreational interior periphery of generally triangular shape with three recreational interior sides coming together to form three recreational interior angles, said recreational interior periphery having one recreational segmented circular portions in each of said three recreational interior angles, wherein two of said recreational interior sides are reduced length sides having a length less than the last remaining side, wherein said last remaining side has three additional recreational segmented circular portions so that the recreation as a whole can hold fifteen billiard balls in intimate contact with each recreational segmented circular portion, and wherein all recreational segment diameters are less than the diameter of the billiard balls. 15 ) A system as recited in claim 14 , wherein said two reduced length sides are 0.020-inches less than said last remaining side. 16 ) A system as recited in claim 14 , wherein said two reduced length sides are straight to allow easy movement of balls along said reduced length sides. 17 ) A system as recited in claim 14 , further comprising a billiard ball gauge including a pro opening and a recreational opening. 18 ) A system as recited in claim 14 , further comprising a pro-rack sized to accommodate larger diameter billiard balls. 19 ) A system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface, comprising: a 9-ball rack including a 9-ball flat frame having a 9-ball outer periphery and a 9-ball interior opening, said 9-ball interior opening defining a 9-ball interior periphery of generally diamond shape, said 9-ball interior periphery having eight 9-ball segmented circular portions to hold nine billiard balls in intimate contact, each 9-ball circular segmented portion having a 9-ball segment diameter less than the diameter of each billiard ball.
RELATED APPLICATIONS [0001] This application claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/021,296, filed Jul. 7, 2014 entitled “Top Centered Billiard Ball Racking Device”, which is herein incorporated by reference. FIELD [0002] The patent application generally relates to the field of billiard ball racking devices. More specifically, it relates to a system for top-centering billiard balls and the devices needed to perform such racking. BACKGROUND [0003] In billiards it is widely accepted that the billiard balls in a rack should be grouped as tightly as possible to enable the energy transmitted from the cue ball to be evenly and quickly transmitted to all balls in the rack thus giving a more consistent and explosive breaking of the balls. A perfect rack has all balls touching at their contact points. [0004] In its simplest form, players load the balls into an oversized equilateral triangle rack and use their fingers to tighten the balls towards the foot spot corner of rack. The rack is then positioned with the lead ball centered over the foot spot on the billiard table. When the triangular rack is removed, the balls are ready for breaking. [0005] This process often produces inconsistent results due to varying pressure from players' fingers and the difficulty of removing the rack without disturbing the balls. In addition, several other factors can cause a tight rack to loosen once the triangular rack is removed. Dirt or chalk on the balls or table, variations in roundness of ball (over 0.005 inches), variations in ball-to ball diameter (0.005-0.030 inches), variations from micro patterns in the felt covering the table caused by repeated use of the same rack pattern, wear in the head spot, and damaged areas in the felt can all cause spaces to open up. [0006] When a player sees that balls in the rack are not tight, they will usually move the triangular rack back and forth over the table while keeping the balls tight with their fingers to try to remove the problem. If this does not work the player will start over and re-rack the balls. [0007] Numerous patents exist that are designed to help tighten the balls within a rack or to make it easier to remove the rack without disturbing the position of the balls. However, none of these patents deal with the issues relating to the condition of the table and/or the balls which are found once the rack is removed. And since many of these spaces are small and hard to see, it is not unusual for there to be spaces between the balls after racking with any of the patented racking devices. [0008] There are two new approaches that add either a thin layer of tape or spots to the billiard table surface. These are effective but have the disadvantage of possible interference with play or damage to the table surface. Patents have not yet been found to support these devices, although one of them is labeled Patent Pending. [0009] The purpose of the present invention is to make it possible to identify ball-to-ball diameter variability along with other parameters that create small spaces between the balls and to provide a consistent way for dealing with them. SUMMARY [0010] In one implementation, the present disclosure is directed to a system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface. The system comprises a billiard ball gauge that includes a pro opening and a recreational opening, the pro opening is sized with a circular diameter of 2.240+/−0.002 inches and the recreational opening is sized with a circular diameter of 2.220+/−0.002 inches. The billiard ball gauge can be used to separate billiard balls into a first grouping that meets pro standards (tight tolerances) and second grouping that meets recreational standards (not so tight tolerances). Knowing this information, the best rack for the given ball distribution can be used with that grouping of balls. [0011] In another implementation, the present disclosure is directed to a system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface. The system comprises a pro-rack that can easily accommodate billiard balls that have variations of less than +/−0.005-inches from the nominal diameter set by what Billiard Congress of America. The pro-rack includes a pro flat frame having a pro outer periphery and a pro interior opening. The pro interior opening defines a pro interior periphery of generally equilateral triangular shape. The pro interior has twelve pro segmented circular portions to hold fifteen billiard balls in intimate contact. Each pro segmented portion has a pro segment diameter less than the diameter of each billiard ball so that the pro-rack rests upon and aligns the balls from the top. [0012] In still another implementation, the present disclosure is directed to a system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface. The system comprises a recreational-rack that can accommodate billiard balls that have diameter variations of 0.005-0.030 inches. The recreational-rack includes a recreational frame having a recreational outer periphery and a recreational interior opening. The recreational opening defines a recreational interior periphery of generally triangular shape with three recreational interior sides coming together to form three recreational interior angles. The recreational interior periphery has one recreational segmented circular portion in each of the three recreational interior angles. Two of the recreational interior sides are reduced length sides having a length less than the last remaining side. The last remaining side has three additional recreational segmented circular portions so that the recreational-rack as a whole can hold fifteen billiard balls in intimate contact with each recreational segmented portion circular portion. The recreational segment diameters are less than the diameter of each billiard ball so that the recreational-rack rests upon and aligns the balls from the top. [0013] In yet another implementation, the present disclosure is directed to a system for racking billiard balls of a given diameter on a playing surface. The system comprises a 9-ball rack having a 9-ball frame with and a 9-ball outer periphery and a 9-ball interior opening. The 9-ball interior opening defines a 9-ball interior periphery of generally diamond shape. The 9-ball interior periphery has eight 9-ball segmented circular portions to hold nine billiard balls in intimate contact. The 9-ball segmented portions have a 9-ball diameter less than the diameter of each billiard ball so that the 9-ball rack rests upon and aligns the ball from the top. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS [0014] The foregoing and other aspects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which: [0015] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of one embodiment of a rack used in conjunction with the system for racking billiard balls; [0016] FIG. 2 is side sectional view along line 2 - 2 of FIG. 1 ; [0017] FIG. 3 is a plan view of one embodiment of the system for racking billiard balls using a pro-rack version of the rack in FIG. 1 along with a recreational-rack and a billiard ball gauge; [0018] FIG. 4 is a plan view of one embodiment of the system for racking billiard balls using a pro-rack and recreational-rack version of the rack in FIG. 1 , along with a billiard ball gauge; [0019] FIG. 5 is an expanded view of the billiard ball gauge shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; [0020] FIG. 6 is an expanded view of the pro-rack shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; [0021] FIG. 7 is an expanded view of the recreational-rack shown in FIG. 3 ; [0022] FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of how various components of the system for racking balls shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 is used; [0023] FIG. 9 a is a plan view of a billiard table illustrating a first step in using a rack associated with the system shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; [0024] FIG. 9 b is a plan view of a billiard table illustrating a second step in using a rack associated with the system shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; [0025] FIG. 9 c is a plan view of a billiard table illustrating a third step in using a rack associated with the system shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; [0026] FIG. 9 d is a plan view of a billiard table illustrating a fourth step in using a rack associated with the system shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; [0027] FIG. 9 e is a plan view of a billiard table illustrating a fifth step in using a rack associated with the system shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 ; and [0028] FIG. 10 is a plan view of one embodiment of a 9-ball rack used in conjunction with the system for racking billiard balls. DETAILED DESCRIPTION [0029] In order for billiard balls to all touch in perfect pattern, they all need to be of nearly identical diameter and have only small variations in diameter within any one ball. Professional billiard balls are nominally 2.250-inches in diameter with tolerances of +/−0.005 inches. It is very expensive to manufacture billiard balls to such high tolerances. Over time even billiard balls manufactured to high tolerances can wear and change shape. Cheaper recreational grade billiard balls can from the start have large variations in ball-to-ball diameter and within-ball variations in diameter. It has been found that tight tolerance balls can be easily grouped by a top racking system if all of the balls possess tolerances generally less than 0.030-inches. When overall size of the set of balls is decreased they may be still easily racked by a top racking system, but either the size or shape of the rack needs to be changed to match this smaller diameter distribution of billiard balls. This patent application discloses a top racking system that allows the players to determine the size distribution of the billiard balls and match one of a couple rack options to the billiard balls the players have available. [0030] System 20 for racking billiard balls 22 (a.k.a. balls) of a given diameter on a playing surface 23 is illustrated in FIGS. 1-10 . System 20 generally comprises one or more racks 24 and may additionally comprise a billiard ball gauge 26 . If billiard ball 22 sizes are already known because of the type of balls provided or purchased, the player can directly use one of the racks 24 . If the player is unsure of ball size, the player can use billiard ball gauge 26 shown in FIGS. 3-5 to determine the size distribution of billiard balls 22 available for play. Using billiard ball gauge 26 the player may categorize or group balls 22 into one of three categories depending on ball size: pro balls (size range 2.255-2.240 inches), recreational balls (size range 2.255-2.220 inches) and balls that should probably be replaced (size range less than 2.220-inches). Billiard ball gauge 26 includes a pro opening 28 and a recreational opening 30 . Pro opening 28 is sized with a circular diameter of 2.240-inches +/−0.002. Recreational opening 30 is sized with a circular diameter of 2.220-inches +/−0.002. It is critical that billiard ball gauge 26 have these diameter sizes, if the opening's sizes are different then these diameters the system will not work with the rest of the components of system 20 . [0031] System 20 is a top racking system, that means racks 24 used to position and hold billiard balls 22 in close contact rests upon the top of the balls, FIGS. 1 and 2 . A top racking system offers several advantages over other racking systems. A top racking system uses the unique shape of the rack, the weight of rack 24 and/or the combined pressure from the player's hands to position balls 22 into contact. The weight of rack 24 or pressure from the player's hands can also keep the balls in contact as the racked balls are moved into a breaking position over the table foot spot on a playing surface. Open sides of the current rack 24 make viewing and positioning the rack over the foot spot easier than with other racks that have solid sides used for compressing the billiard balls 22 . The top racking system disclosed in this application has racks 24 all with interior openings and contact made only with the outer balls 22 . This open system makes inspection of all contact points between balls 22 easy to observe and verify prior to removing rack 24 . [0032] Turning to a first detailed embodiment, FIGS. 3 and 5 - 7 , show system 20 comprising pro-rack 24 a, recreational-rack 24 b and billiard ball gauge 26 . Pro-rack 24 a can easily accommodate billiard balls that have a size range of 2.255-2.240 inches. Pro-rack 24 a, FIGS. 3 and 6 , includes pro flat frame 32 having pro outer periphery 34 and pro interior opening 36 . Pro interior opening 36 defines pro interior periphery 38 of generally equilateral triangular shape. Pro interior periphery 38 has three pro interior sides 39 . Pro interior opening 36 has twelve pro segmented circular portions 40 to hold fifteen billiard balls 22 in intimate contact. Each pro segmented circular portion 40 has a pro segment diameter less than the diameter of each billiard ball 22 so that pro-rack 24 a rests upon and aligns the balls from the top. Nominally the pro-segment diameter is 2.0 inches with all diameters the same. Pro segmented circular portion 40 generally have a more complete circular arc in each of the three pro interior angles 42 , while the pro segmented circular portion along the sides have a less complete arc of a circle. [0033] Additional embodiments include pro interior periphery 38 having straight segments 44 between pro segmented circular portions 40 . Pro outer periphery may be substantially triangular or some other shape. Pro-rack may be a transparent pro-rack to allow for easy visual inspection of balls 22 . [0034] System 20 of FIGS. 3 and 5 comprises billiard ball gauge 26 that includes pro opening 28 and recreational opening 30 , the pro opening is sized with a circular diameter of 2.240+/−0.002 inches and the recreational opening is sized with a circular diameter of 2.220+/−0.002 inches. Billiard ball gauge 26 can be used to separate billiard balls into a first grouping that meets pro standards (tight tolerances) and second grouping that meets recreational standards (not so tight tolerances). Billiard ball gauge 26 is imparted with indicia to clearly identify pro opening 28 and recreational opening 30 so that the user knows which opening is which. Without the indicia, the two openings look very similar to the naked eye. Indicia might be identification of the rack name to be used with balls 22 measured by that opening, they might be the size of the opening or some other indicating indicia. [0035] System 20 of FIGS. 3 and 7 comprises recreational-rack 24 b that can accommodate billiard balls 22 that have variations of 2.255-2.220 inches. Recreational-rack 24 b includes recreational frame 46 having recreational outer periphery 48 and recreational interior opening 50 . Outer recreational outer periphery is preferred to be triangular, but could be other shapes such as circular. Recreational opening 50 defines recreational interior periphery 52 of generally triangular shape with three recreational interior sides 54 coming together to form three recreational interior angles 56 . Recreational interior periphery 52 has one recreational segmented circular portion 58 in each of the three recreational interior angles 56 . Two of the recreational interior sides 54 are reduced length sides 54 a having a length less than the last remaining side 54 b. Last remaining side 54 b has three additional recreational segmented circular portions 58 so that recreational-rack 24 b as a whole can hold fifteen billiard balls 22 in intimate contact with each recreational segmented circular portion 58 . The recreational segment diameters are less than the diameter of each billiard ball so that the recreational-rack rests upon and aligns the balls from the top. [0036] The two reduced length sides 54 a are generally 0.020-inches less than last remaining side 54 . The two reduced length sides 54 a are also straight. The straightness of reduced length sides 54 a allows balls 22 of more varied diameter to easily move along these sides to accommodate the variation of the ball diameters. If all balls 22 are smaller, last remaining side 54 b will actually drop lower on the balls to move the balls tighter together towards the opposite interior angle 56 thereby making all of the balls contact each other. [0037] Turning to a second detailed embodiment, FIG. 4 shows system 20 comprising pro-rack 24 a, recreational-rack 24 b ′ and billiard ball gauge 26 . In this embodiment, pro-rack 24 a and billiard ball gauge 26 are the same as those elements described in FIG. 3 above. Recreation rack 24 b ′ now has the same structural features as pro-rack 24 a but the three pro interior sides 39 have shorter lengths. The interior sides are now nominally 0.100-inches shorter to accommodate a recreational set of billiard balls that nominally have diameters that are each 0.020-inches smaller. Because this version of recreational-rack 24 b ′ looks almost identical to the eye as pro-rack 24 a, this recreational-rack is given some type of indicia to make it easily identifiable by the player. Another way of identifying this rack as the recreational-rack 24 b ′ is to make this rack a different color than pro-rack 24 a. When using rack 24 b ′ for a grouping of smaller diameter balls, it is important that the grouping not have balls that deviate by more than +/−0.005 inches. If the grouping of smaller balls has greater than 0.005-inches between balls then the recreational-rack 24 b with straight sides should be used to accommodate the larger distribution of ball diameters. [0038] Turning to FIG. 8 , this figure flowcharts how the various elements of system 20 , TopRack™ system, are integrated. System 20 involves providing billiard ball gauge 26 , pro-rack 24 a and recreational-rack 24 b. Billiard balls 22 are first dropped through billiard ball gauge 26 . If balls 22 do not fall through pro opening 28 the balls are considered pro-sized balls and can be used with TopRack™ Pro. If balls 22 fall through pro opening 28 , but not through recreational opening 30 , the balls are considered recreational-sized balls and can be used with TopRack™ Recreational. TopRack™ Recreational can be either recreational-rack 24 b or a reduced sized pro-rack 24 b ′. If balls 22 fall through recreational opening 30 , one should consider using new balls. [0039] Turning to FIGS. 9 a - e , these figures illustrates the use of pro-rack 24 a with billiard balls 22 on table 60 . Balls 22 randomly sit on table 60 , FIG. 9 a . Balls 22 are then collected against table edge/end rail 62 in a generally equilateral triangle grouping, FIG. 9 b . Pro-rack 24 a is placed upon the grouping of balls. Pro-rack 24 is pressed downward over the balls and the grouping of balls pushed against table end rail 62 to set all balls in close contact within the pro-rack, FIG. 9 c . Next the player checks for spaces between contact points of balls 22 , if spaces are found, the player rotates the balls or cleans the balls and table. Unlike conventional racks, it is easier to adjust or clean individual billiard balls 22 . With conventional racks, most adjustments to individual balls must be done after the rack is removed which requires re-racking and creates more wear on the table and foot spot. Rack 24 can be left in place over foot spot 64 or moved to another location on table 60 without removing balls 22 . Adjustments, repairs or cleaning of billiard table 60 or balls 22 can be made without in most cases disturbing the rack. If these adjustments do disturb balls 22 within rack 24 —lifting the rack and dropping the rack back will easily correct the problem. Pro-rack 24 a with balls 22 in close contact are now moved away from table end rail 62 so that the lead ball is located on top of foot spot 64 , FIG. 9 d . Pro-rack 24 a is then gently lifted upwards leaving all balls 22 in close contact and ready for play, FIG. 9 d. [0040] Turning to a third detailed embodiment, FIG. 10 shows system 20 comprising a 9-ball rack 24 c including a 9-ball frame 72 with 9-ball outer periphery 74 and 9-ball interior opening 76 . The 9-ball interior opening defines a 9-ball interior periphery 78 of generally diamond shape. 9-ball periphery 78 has four 9-ball interior angles 79 , two that are 60-degrees 79 a and two that are 120-degrees 79 b. The 9-ball interior periphery 78 has eight 9-ball segmented circular portions 80 to hold nine billiard balls 22 in intimate contact. The 9-ball segmented circular portions 80 have a 9-ball diameter less than the diameter of each billiard ball 22 so that 9 -ball rack 24 c rests upon and aligns the ball from the top. 9-ball outer periphery 74 may be generally diamond shaped or some other shape. In one embodiment, 9-ball rack has a clear frame. [0041] While several embodiments of the invention, together with modifications thereof, have been described in detail herein and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, it will be evident that various further modifications are possible without departing from the scope of the invention. Nothing in the above specification is intended to limit the invention more narrowly than the appended claims. The examples given are intended only to be illustrative rather than exclusive.

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    Publication numberPublication dateAssigneeTitle