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Jai Alai (HY-lye): Game played in a court with a ball and a wickerwork racket
clues: Jai ______; Half a Basque game; Jai follower; Game ending?; Jai tail?; Betting game ending; Half court game?; Ball game finale?
Related crosswordese: JAI
Crossword puzzle frequency: 10 times a year
Jai-alai Documentary

Jai-Alai means "Merry Festival" in the Basque language. The term is used to denote a fronton (or open-walled arena) used to play a variety of Pelota called Cesta Punta, and, more broadly, to the game itself. The game is characterized by the fast pace of play, in which a 125g ball (or pelota) covered with parchment skin can travel faster than 180 mph. The ball is placed into play and volleyed by players wearing a wicker basket glove approximately 63 to 70 cm long. The glove, Cesta-punta (in Spanish) or xistera (Basque) was invented by the French Basque Gantchiqui Diturbide (also Gantxiki Iturbide) in the 19th century.

[Courtesy of Florida Gaming Corporation]

In countries such as France, Spain and Mexico the game of jai-alai is popular where, in some regions, the game is played in almost every town and city. In the United States, jai-alai enjoyed some popularity as a gambling alternative to horse racing and remains popular among gamblers in Florida, where the game is used as a basis for pari-mutuel gambling.

In contrast, the popularity of jai-alai in the north-eastern and western United States waned as other gambling options became available. As a result frontons in the Connecticut towns of Hartford and Milford permanently closed while the fronton in Bridgeport was converted to a Greyhound race track; and a fronton in Newport, Rhode Island had been converted to a main stream gambling facility replacing the fronton. Jai-Alai enjoyed a brief and popular stint in the western United States with the opening of a fronton at the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada however by the early 1980s the fronton was losing money and popularity and as a result MGM Grand owner Kirk Kerkorian decided to close the fronton and replace it with a more profitable entity.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jai alai".