LOOP table unveiled at top Canadian university

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The University of Waterloo unveiled their first ever elliptical pool table in the mathematics department on Tuesday afternoon and hosted a tournament for students to play a unique pool game called Loop.

As the balls bounce off the curved table they travel in an elliptical direction rather than the straight angles produced on a conventional pool table.

Stephen Watt, dean of the mathematics faculty, said the table was developed by Alex Bellos, a popular math writer from the United Kingdom.

The game Loop has only two coloured balls, along with the black 8-ball and white cue ball. The remaining rules of the game run like pool, with each player taking turns until one person sinks their coloured ball into the single hole located in the middle of the table at "one of the centres of the ellipse," said Watt.  

"It's a lot harder than it looks because you have to bring all of your mathematical geometry into play," he said. "It's the perfect game to install at the faculty of mathematics."

Watt said he hopes students will have fun with the table during their study breaks. 

"It's more about how they can apply what they've learned to the game. Instead of the banks being straight lines, the banks are curved," Watt explained. 

"If you understand the mathematics of the ellipse, then you'd be able to understand how to make your bank shots way better."

Jason P'ng, a third year computing science student at the University of Waterloo and the president of the math society, said he found the game "very fun," as he watched players line up. 

"I'm always thinking about the focal point in the table because that is really at the centre of how you play — how we have to find the strategy around," he said. 

"I think having this table will make it easier for people to have a place to chat, to hang out and to build community," said P'ng.