Introduced into India about the year 1871, Badminton, which takes its name from the Duke of Beaufort's famous Gloucestershire seat, was played by Anglo-indians in the East long before it became popular in this country.
In England, the game did not come into favour until a few years before the First All-england Championship Meeting in 1899. Since then, however, the growth of Badminton has been remarkable. In the latter year there were 30 clubs affiliated to the Association; now there are over 400, with an additional 25 per cent., at least, unaffiliated.
The reason why the game did not become popular sooner may be attributed, first, to the fact that it was played out of doors instead of in a covered court, and outdoor Badminton, on account of the wind and the heavy shuttlecocks and racquets it necessitates, is hardly worthy to be called a game, and is as different to the indoor as the racquet is from the shuttlecock. Secondly, it came into favour slowly because at first it was played in summer, and had to compete against lawn tennis, cricket, and the countless other attractions which the long days afford.
Diagram showing the doubles court for Badminton
The covered court season begins in October and ends in March, and, as it can be played just as well in the evening (thanks to a perfected system of a r t i fi c i a 1 lighting), and as halls can usually be found in any town to hold at least one court, even the girl whose hours of recreation are limited can find time to play.
In choosing the latter, the expert advice of a friend is always advisable. But, for those who have no friendly adviser, I would suggest the selection of a racquet weighing not more than six ounces. Owing to the lightness of its frame, however, it must be kept in a press, the cost of which is but a few shillings. The shuttlecocks, which cost about 5s. 6d. a dozen, are provided by the clubs, but a few remarks about them will not be out of place, especially if readers contemplate starting a club of their own. The shape at present in vogue is the straight feather type. A few years ago the barrel shape was in favour, but owing to their variation of flight and the rapidity with which they used to wear out, the first-named kind have been wisely adopted by all the leading tournament committees.
The Choice of Shuttlecocks
In tournaments a shuttlecock seldom, if ever, lasts through a single game, but the wearing powers depend, to a great extent, on the proficiency of the players and their powers of hitting. Whereas beginners, or players who have not become versed in the art of smashing, technically known as "killing," may make a shuttlecock last four or five games, experts can seldom, for the reasons given, play with them for more than a game. The maximum weight of a shuttlecock is 85 grains, and the minimum 73; the feathers are 16 in number. The nets vary in price, but a good one can be obtained for about 5s., and posts from 15s. a pair and upwards.
The laws of the game are published annually by the Badminton Association, in book form, which can be obtained on payment of sixpence by applying to the Hon. Secretary of the Association, Colonel Arthur Hill, The Priory, Petworth, Selham, Sussex. The rules in question are based upon those drawn up for the Poonah Club, in 1881, by that great authority on the game, Mr. J. H. E. Hart.
The game is played over a net five feet high in the middle and five feet one inch at the sides; the shuttlecock (which must be played on the volley), taking the place of the ball at tennis. The doubles court measures 44 feet by 20 feet, the singles 44 feet by 17 feet. The scoring is by aces as at racquets and fives, the side first reaching 15 winning the game - at 13 ail, five extra aces can be played; at 14 all, three - the side first reaching either of these respective figures has the privilege of deciding if they wish to "set."
In singles, however, the ladies' game consists of 11 aces. Formerly 15 were played; but, owing to the exigencies of the game, the strain was far too great, and the lower maximum was adopted. The rubber is awarded to the winner of two games out of three.
The game is started by the player in the right-hand court serving to an opponent in the opposite right-hand court (the service must be underhand; a service is deemed overhand if the shuttle at the time of being hit is higher than the server's waist). If the latter returns the shuttle before it reaches the ground, it must be returned again by one of the "in" side and then again by one of the "out," and so forth, until a fault is made by hitting out, into the net, etc., or the shuttlecock ceases, under the rules of the game, to be in play. Like racquets, but unlike tennis, only the serving, or "in" side, can score. A winning stroke by the "out" side puts the opponent who is serving out, and bars her from serving again until her partner and opponents have each served, or, in the case of singles, until her opponent has served or been put out.
A woman s dress plays as important a factor in Badminton as in every other kind of sport. On account of the quickness of the game it is essential that none of the garments worn should in any way hamper the movements of a player by being too tight. They should be as light and as cool as possible. The most suitable costume is a white cotton blouse, a soft collar and tie, a white belt, and a perfectly plain, well-gored, white drill, pique, or linen skirt, which should be quite six inches from the floor, otherwise it is likely to cause its wearer some nasty falls.
Footwear is an important article of clothing which must be considered. Shoes (or boots) and stockings should also be white. The kind of shoes worn is entirely a matter of choice. If, however, the player has any regard for the soles of her feet, thick rubber-soled boots or shoes, with canvas or buckskin uppers should be worn. There are still some players, however, who prefer, on account of its lightness, the Plimsol, often called the "gym" shoe.
Principal Clubs, Tournaments, etc.
In the official edition of the "Laws of Badminton," already referred to, are to be found the names of all the affiliated clubs in every part of Great Britain, as well as those clubs who play under the official rules in India, Canada, France, and the United States. The oldest club in the neighbourhood of London is the Ealing Club, which has built a hall specially for the game; the Crystal Palace (which plays in the Palace itself) is the second oldest; the newer clubs are the Alexandra Palace, which has seven courts and plays in the building from which the club takes its name, Streatham, Richmond (which both play in drill halls), North Kensington, which has, like Ealing, a hall specially built for the game, Balham, Sutton, Blackheath, Beckenham, Albemarle, etc.
Important clubs outside London are Southsea and Bath (the first inter-club match in England was played between them), Cheltenham, Bournemouth, Dalkey, Elgin, and Dundrum (Ireland), Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow.
The leading tournament of the year is the All-england Championships meeting, now held at the Royal Horticultural Hall, Westminster. Winners of the open events at this meeting are entitled to wear the championship colours, which are red, white, and blue, in narrow stripes on a dark green ground.
Irish and Scottish Championships
The Irish championships are held annually in Dublin, and the Scottish championships alternately in Aberdeen (the home of the game in the north) and Edinburgh.
The racquet held in the correct forehand grip
The county championship meetings are Middlesex (Ealing), Surrey (Richmond), Hampshire (Southsea), South of England (Crystal Palace), North London (Alexandra Palace), Northern (Manchester), West Hampshire (Bournemouth), Championship of France (Dieppe), in addition to other open tournaments which do not include championship events in their programmes. At open meetings the events usually include ladies', mixed, and men's doubles. Singles and handicap events are also included. As first and second classes are usually arranged for, they are extremely popular.
The entrance fee for an open event is usually 5s.; for handicaps never more than 3s. 6d., very often 2s. 6d.
In addition to the various tournaments, an international match, first started in 1903, is played annually between England and Ireland in London and Dublin respectively. So far victory has rested with England, but each year sees the standard of play in Ireland steadily improving.
In March last the first international match between Ireland and Scotland took place in London, the former winning by 7 matches to 2.
Metropolitan Inter-club League
Inter-club matches form an important part in the programme of every club, and they do much to improve the play of the members. and to discover hidden talent.
In order to promote keenness in matches a Metropolitan Inter-club League was started in 1908, the clubs competing being divided into two divisions, senior and junior. Up to the present the Ealing Club has won the Senior Shield twice, while that competed for by the junior clubs has been won by the Crystal Palace Club second -team and the North Kensington Club.
In the first year, clubs could enter one team for each division. This rule, however, was altered last season, and clubs entering a team for the first division cannot enter another for the second.
All-England Championships Winners
Ladies' Singles - Instituted 1900 1900, Miss E. Thomson; 1901, Miss E. Thomson; 1902, Miss M. Lucas; 1903, Miss E. Thomson; 1904, Miss E. Thomson; 1905, Miss M. Lucas; 1906, Miss E. Thomson; 1907, Miss M. Lucas; 1908, Miss M. Lucas; 1909, Miss M. Lucas; 1910, Miss M. Lucas.
Ladies' Doubles - Instituted 1899
1899, Miss M. Lucas and Miss Graeme;
1900, Miss M. Lucas and Miss Graeme;
1901, Miss St. John and Miss E. Moseley;
1902, Miss E. Thomson and Miss M. Lucas;
1903, Miss Hardy and Miss D. K. Douglass;
1904, Miss E. Thomson and Miss M. Lucas;
1905, Miss E. Thomson and Miss M. Lucas;
1906, Miss E. Thomson and Miss M. Lucas;
1907, Miss M. Lucas and Miss G. Murray;
1908, Miss M. Lucas and Miss G. Murray;
1909, Miss M. Lucas and Miss G. Murray;
1910, Miss M. Lucas and Miss M. K. Bateman.
Preparing to serve. The service must be underhand - that is, the shuttle at the time of service must not be higher than the server's waist