Google is honoring Masako Katsura, the world-class billiards player who blazed the trail for women to be included in the sport, with an animated homepage Doodle.
Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1913, Masako Katsura was taught how to play billiards at age 12 by her brother-in-law who owned a game room. Within three years, Katsura earned the title of Japanese female champion in straight rail, a variant where the cue ball needs to hit two balls in a row in order to score any points.
Immigrating to the United States with her new husband at the end of 1951, Masako Katsura was invited to participate in the 1952 World Three-Cushion Billiards tournament by impressing eight-time world champion Welker Cochran. Three-cushion billiards is a particularly challenging variant of the game, where the cue ball must hit at least three cushions before striking two other balls to earn points. Today’s Google Doodle shows an example of three-cushions billiards in action.
As for why Google has selected this day to honor her with a Doodle, Masako Katsura made history at that tournament, which took place on March 7, 1952, by being the first woman to be included in an international billiards championship. During this event, it was expected that she would not be able to hold her own against the men, but Katsura proved them all wrong by taking seventh place. Her victory that day opened the door for more women to play billiards and prove that women were more than capable of facing even the greatest men of the sport.
The tale of Masako Katsura’s ability to make a way for women in a sport that was dominated by men is a fantastic lead-in to International Women’s Day (IWD) on Monday. Google has already begun celebrations for IWD and the grander Women’s History Month with the addition of some fantastic “Curated Culture” wallpapers for their Pixel phones in the March Feature Drop.
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