English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : October 1996

The Amateur Billiard Player : October 1996

Letters

Dear David,

I have read the first issue of “The Amateur Billiard Player”. I enjoyed reading it and I
have sent Malcolm Lax my subscription. Good luck to your efforts and long may you continue
to publish.

I very much appreciate the kind remarks made in your editorial concerning the
“Billiards Quarterly Review”, and also those of Albert Hanson in his Secretary’s Report. I still
get enquiries about the magazine and letters from ex-readers; there are those who read
back-numbers of the BQR almost every day. This is all very flattering and perhaps you will
give me the space to say a little about my magazine.

BQR was started at a time when, with the Mini-Prix at the height of its popularity,
there seemed to be a niche in the market for a specialist publication. I was not really starting
from scratch, in my capacity as billiards correspondent for”Snooker Scene”, I had been to
many tournaments and was well known in billiards circles. My market research had led me to
believe that the time was ripe for the launch of a billiards quarterly. The first numbers were
well received, the production gradually became much more professional in its content and
appearance. My aim was to achieve a subscription list of 500 over a period of five years. I did
not think that this was over ambitious but I was wrong.

From early in 1990 until the World Championship qualifying rounds held in Leeds in
July 1995,1 was present at every billiards event – but one – of any importance held in this
country, professional or amateur, I missed just one ABC tournament. I made one trip to the
World Championship in India. Naturally I pushed the BQR as much as I could when at
tournaments. I circularised every single CIU registered club in England and Wales. I wrote to
the governing body of every Billiard playing country in the world. I advertised in”Snooker
Scene’, “Pot Black” and in overseas magazines. BQR was given good publicity by a number
of well-known players, by tournament organisers such as Derick Townend, some members of
the WPBSA notably Alan Chamberlain and Mark Wildman, and by such tireless workers for
the game as Albert Hanson. I followed up leads which came from advertisements, dealers
and collectors. I simply don’t know what else I could possibly have done to increase the
circulation.

I gradually came to the conclusion that just about everybody who was prepared to
subscribe to the BQR was subscribing – and I had not reached my target figure of 500, not
too far away, but not quite there. And so BQR was discontinued. There were other reasons
that I don’t intend to go into here, but the reason outlined was the main one.

BQR was not a commercial failure, not at all, but it was not for any profits I made that
I have regrets. I was proud that my readers included such famous names in the billiards
world as Bob Marshall, Murt O’Donoghue, Jack Karnehm, Rex Williams, Michael Ferreira,
John Barrie, Herbert Beetham and Norman Dagley. Almost all the younger professionals and
top amateurs including Mike Russell, Peter Gilchrist, David Causier, Robby Foldvari, Roxton
Chapman, Geet Sethi and Martin Goodwill amongst others. I was pleased to number
amongst my subscribers many enthusiasts for the game, two which immediately come to
mind are Jock McGregor and Ross Porter. There were many more, and whilst I cannot claim
they were all close friends, I certainly like to think they were more than mere’ acquaintances.

The BQR took me to many parts of the country and I recall some wonderful Saturday
evening meals in the company of Jock, Ivan Stevenage and others who used to travel and
stay overnight before the Sunday tournaments. I recall two or three glorious boozing and
yarning sessions in the company of a couple of famous professional players whose names I
had better not mention but whose initials are MR and PG. I had some good games of
billiards, winning some, losing more; games against opponents I would never have met had it
not been for the magazine. I once beat Gilchrist, I once beat Wildman and I once beat
Chapman! The BQR golf days were very successful and it might be possible to continue
those.

Whilst billiards continues its modest revival I am not over optimistic about the future.

I do not think that the game will ever die, there will always be, I am certain, a band of
enthusiasts keeping the game alive here and there. I feel that we perhaps missed the boat
when the Mini-Prix was doing so well. I tried very hard to get the professional body to put
some money into publicity, to support the Pro/Am, to put on Saturday evening exhibitions to
try to get more local club members to watch or play on the Sunday. I am convinced that at the
same time it could have been done and the thing which convinced me most of all was the
appearance on the scene of the young Teesside lions and Mike Russell in particular. The
sixteen year old Russell had to be seen to be believed and was without the slightest doubt
the most exciting player to emerge for many a long year, indeed, one of the most exciting
ever. That was the time when the effort should have been made, when the game might just
have had a chance of regaining some of its lost popularity. The moment has gone, it is too
late.

Look at the state of professional billiards in England. For a couple of weeks in
February, at the very fine Bellingham Hotel, but in the very out-of-the-way town of Wigan,
there are two professional tournaments one after the other, the UK and the British Open. Last
year there was also a pairs tournament which was an unmitigated disaster, and this year
there has been a World “Matchplay” tournament held in Ireland. Now that the World
Championship and the Grand Slams are being played from start to finish in India, there will
be no more professional play in England until February 1997. What earthly chance is there of
getting any public interest if top class play is not seen from one year’s end to another?

On the other hand, what real interest is there? Consider this. I made an agreement
with Geet Sethi’s company, Raj Travel, for a possible trip to the 1995 World Championship.

This trip would have included a direct flight from Heathrow to Bombay, courier travel from
Bombay airport to the luxurious Presidents Hotel for a nine day stay with as much free
billiards watching as anyone could wish for; a day’s sight-seeing trip would have been laid on
if there had been sufficient demand. The inclusive price for this trip of a lifetime was, wait for
it, less than £700! Two persons showed some mild interest and nothing came of the venture.

Compare that with the hordes of cricket and rugby followers who recently invaded South
Africa at much greater cost. Compare that with the reported several thousand who spent
large amounts travelling to the United States to see Frank Bruno get beaten up in less than
ten minutes!

As regards the Amateur game, things seem to be ticking along and much praise is
due to those who have kept the championships alive. Peter Shelley points out in his
Chairman’s message that the most important thing that billiards must address is that of trying
to obtain and maintain the interest of young players. It has been done with incredible success
on Teesside and the question may be asked why should it not be done in other parts of the
country. I feel that it would be very difficult if not impossible. There was a long and strong
tradition of billiards in the North east and, though the Teesside Boys League was started
because it was thought that the game was in danger of fading away in that part of the
country, the tradition was there. Let it not be forgotten that it took quite a time for the
Teesside Boys to take off, and let it not be forgotten that there were those, notably Ralph
Maklin, whose efforts on behalf of the game were not far short of heroic. Efforts which have
been carried on by the likes of Albert Hanson who has done nothing less than devote a great
deal of his life to billiards on Teesside – and nationally. It will be a difficult thing indeed to find
people who will put in a similar amount of time and effort in an attempt to reproduce Teesside
in Leeds, Birmingham or anywhere else for that matter. But I take my hat off to those who are
prepared to give it a go. I hope that Mark Wildman will forgive me for reminding him that
there was going to be a big effort to push professional coaching. I was at the meeting where
it was all discussed, but apart from Wildman’s own efforts at Raunds, there is no evidence
that anything has happened.

All this might seem rather pessimistic. Quite right, it is. I feel that billiards has no
great future; it will not die, but neither, barring some kind of miracle, will it ever become TV
flavour of the month. As far as I am concerned, I feel sorry for all those snooker players who
just don’t know what they are missing.

Last week I went to the funeral of my father-in-law; he had not been ill for very long
and he was aged 87, and so the occasion was more one of gratitude for his life rather than
one of sadness. I mention it because, though not a player, he was quite interested in billiards
and used to talk of how he had once seen Lindrum and timed him at just over two minutes for
a hundred break. So my advice to all players would be – get on with your game and enjoy it
while you can. That is precisely what I am about to do as soon as I have put this letter in an
envelope.

Best wishes to all those involved in the administration of the game and the
publication of “The Amateur Billiard Player”.

R.T. Terry

Dear David

I have read the first issue of the ABP and enjoyed it very much. I hope that you will be able to continue but I can tell you that
it will not be easy and, if my experience is anything to go by. you will likely get lots of suggestions and offers of contributions,
but not quite so much in the way of actual material!

I once had a chap say to me that he thought it would be a good idea if the BQR had a regular contribution on the lines of.

“Guest contributor of the month” or something like that. I said that I thought it a good idea and suggested that I would be
delighted to invite him to be my very first guest contributor – and that was the end of that!

You will probably find something of a shortage of material for the summer issues and. if this is the case, and if you think it
useful, then a telephone call to me will guarantee you an article on some billiards related topic or other. Perhaps you will not
find it necessary or even desirable but I make the offer.

I enclose an acknowledgement of your remarks and a few thoughts on the game which 1 hope you will publish as to sonic
extent it clarifies the situation that faced the BQR last year. If you do publish then I would like you to publish in entirely. if
you do not have the space then no mailer.

R. T. Terry

Dear Mr. Burgess,

As a keen player of the ‘real’ game and formerly a fervent supporter of the now
defunct BQR, I was delighted to receive copies of the 2 initial issues of the new magazine
and warmly congratulate you and the team on your initiative.

Like (many?) others I’d been offered a concessionary subscription rate to”Snooker
Scene”but the paucity of Billiards coverage in the first few copies I received left me with the
feeling that I’d been ‘taken for a ride’. The minimal Billiards coverage was but a pale
reflection of that in the BQR and in your 2 first issues. Strangely, there is much more in the
July issue of the S.S. but this may result from a flurry of activity to counter the fresh
competition from an exclusively Billiards orientated publication.

I was particularly pleased to see Jack Karnehm’s contribution because several of us
in Sidmouth had wondered how he was, not having heard his dulcet tones on TV
commentaries for some time.

I enclose my completed Subscription Form and cheque and I shall eagerly look
forward to receipt of “The Amateur Billiard Player” quarter by quarter as I awaited the arrival
of issues of the BQR.

You and the others involved in the production of the ABP are to be congratulated on
the variety of content, all of which I found most interesting and I wish you every success both
with the magazine itself and in its objective of increasing interest in and the playing of
Billiards, which as Jack Karnehm rightly asserts, is the basis of all the other games played on
an English Billiards table.

Peter Wide

Dear Sir,

Words cannot express the joy which I experienced on opening your envelope
enclosing numbers 1 and 2 of “The Amateur Billiard Player”. It was a sad day indeed when I
received Tom’s note informing me of the demise of BQR.

Moving home as I did some years ago brought advantages and disadvantages. The
advantages outweigh the disadvantages I hasten to add. However, the greatest loss of
course is being absent from my many friends in the Billiards fraternity.

Through your great efforts this excellent new publication will once again bring me in
touch with our wonderful game.

Many, many thanks and very best wishes for the future.

Roger C. Davies

Dear Sir,

I have what is I believe a very common query, but one to which I cannot find a
satisfactory solution. This is a question about the weight of a cue for Billiards. How does the
weight affect play, cue motion, impact and outcome on the run of the balls?

I recently purchased a new cue at some cost. I opted for a very heavy cue, with a
weight of 20 ounces. I find this unsuitable and ruinous to my game of Billiards. I find that I
cannot make forcing shots at all, normally a strong point of my game. I am now about to have
the cue’s weight altered and so I would be grateful if you could give me advice on the
particular weight. Your recommendation would be highly regarded and greatly appreciated.

Robert Purcell

P.S. I recently purchased a copy of your video”Billiards at Home”from you. I would like to
thank you for an in-depth insight into the intricacies and subtleties of the game of Billiards.
I found it a most interesting and enjoyable video. I commend you on your production.

Dear Robert,

This could be a long answer, so I will be as brief as possible.

I would suggest at the most 17 to 18 ounces, a 10 mm ferrule and a 28 mm butt in
ebony, with the balance slightly forward, i.e. 18 inches from end of butt. The length of the cue
can vary from approximately 4′ 7″ to 4′ 9″.

With the existing balls, remember forcing shots are always a danger. Power is in the
cue action of the player; weight is not the answer.

Strike through the cue ball, not just at it, this also applies to deep screw.
Good luck,
Jack Karnehm


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