I am enclosing a short article dealing with Ivan’s account of his experiments with
damp cloth cushions, which I hope you can find space for. You may recall that I was a regular
contributor to the BQR on this kind of topic – until pressure of work made this no longer
In ABP no. 3, Ivan Stevenage reported on the effect that dampening of the cushion
doth has on the rebound of balls. With the cushion damp, he noted, a ball impinging at 90
degrees tended to rebound a greater distance down the table and a ball carrying side tended
to throw off at a greater angle.
Both these observations are consistent with an increased frictional force existing
between the ball and cushion cloth during the time of impact Consider first the impact at
right angles. When a ball strikes the cushion full-on, two things happen. First, the impact
(which is less than perfectly elastic) brings about a reversal in direction of the ball’s
movement, so that it leaves the cushion along the same path as it arrived by, but with a
reduced speed; second, the rotation of the ball is changed during and after the impact. This
second point needs a bit more explanation. If the ball is rolling without skidding before it hits
the cushion, then it must be rotating once (through 360 degrees) each time it covers a
distance (measured on the bed of the table) equal to its own circumference. During the time
of impact with the cushion, the friction between the doth and ball tends to slow down this
rotation, but at the time the ball leaves the cushion, it still is rotating in the same sense as it
was before impact This rotation will now slow down the rebounding ball which thus travels
less distance than it would in the absence of this contrary rotation. (Thus, a ball struck
towards the cushion with drag effect, having no rotation if the stroke is well played, will
rebound further than one rolled into the cushion at the same speed.) Hence, any process
which increases friction between the ball and doth win result in an increased rebound
Why should the friction increase on damping the doth? One might expect just the
opposite, with water acting as a lubricant The answer to that question lies in the peculiar
properties of the wool fibre. Wool is an unusual kind of fibre; seen under the microscope, it
has a scaly surface, like a crocodile’s back, each scale lying on top of the preceding one.
Picture a line of standing dominoes after the end piece has been tipped over and you have
the idea of the wool surface structure. The important thing is the way in which this structure
changes when water is applied. The water gets underneath the scale edges, where it causes
swelling, forcing the scale edges upwards. These raised edges form in effect the teeth of a
miniature saw and will bring about an increase in the friction between any contacting object
moving in the right direction. Hence, a damp woollen doth will have more friction than a dry
Human hair has essentially the same structure as wool and responds to water in the
same way, as the reader can confirm. Pull a hair lengthways through the fingertips, and feel
the frictional drag. This drag is greater when the fingers are moved towards the scalp than in
the other direction. This is because of the effect of the scale edges being different. Now wet
the hair and repeat the experiment. An increased drag will be noticed, especially in one
Cloths made from other fibres than wool are not to be expected to behave in this
way, as the unusual structure of the wool fibre makes it unique in its response to water.
Certainly, neither cotton nor any man-made fibres respond in this way, as they lack the scaly
surface wool has. Was Ivan’s pool table covered with a woollen cloth or not? If it was, it must
have had an extremely close-cropped nap.
Many thanks for the excellent magazine; I wondered if the enclosed is any good for
the Memory Comer.
During the war – it must have been about 1943/4 -1 was employed by the Airscrew
Company at Weybridge, manufacturers of wooden propellers and fans.
It was arranged that we be visited by two billiards pro’s who were touring the country
giving charity exhibitions.
The billiards table was moved from its room to the ballroom to accommodate about
200 spectators. The players arrived – Melbourne Inman and Stanley Newman. Unfortunately
the exhibition was a bit of a farce as both struggled to play well, Inman quipping, ‘You need a
shoehorn with these pockets’.
The reason was, of course, that they had been lavishly entertained by the directors
A disappointing evening, but at least the charity (does anyone know which?)
One other memory (not mine – I’m only 70) -1 have a friend, 92 next February, who in
the 1930’s travelled daily from Chertsey to Thurstons to watch Walter Lindrum.
The billiards scene is very active here in South Lincolnshire; our press coverage is
Spalding the biggest of the sports, even getting more space than football, which includes Spalding
Lincolnshire United’s results and write-ups.
At each of the 12 annual management committee meetings, 13 members attend and
the month’s business, including some re-handicapping, is usually completed in 2 hours The
combined billiards and snooker league, with registrations at £4 each, has approximately 500
(94 billiards only) and brings in £2000 p.a.; current credit is £6000+. All individual
competitions cost 50p per player (£1 pairs).
Our annual championship finals have a new venue for this season – Springfields
Restaurant – Friday 4th to Sunday 6th April with tiered seating. The annual Dinner Dance and
prize presentations are also at Springfields on Friday 25th April
Highest billiards breaks this season remain at 96 (twice by Mick Johnson (owe 95)
and once by Arthur Reeve (owe 195)). Best average is 16.46 by Arthur Reeve, who is the
current scratch champion. Both Arthur and Mick have had eight breaks over 50 in league
I would firstly like to congratulate you on continuing a billiards only journal, to keep
people in touch with what’s going on in our game, and also to help in the undoubted revival
of the game, despite what some would have us believe. I, in fact, do not believe it has ever
been stronger in our area of Norfolk. There are some very good amateur players making very
good breaks regularly, with several more well capable of producing good performances,
though more must be done to encourage younger players to play billiards.
I was looking in issue 3 at the compilation of known leagues, so far done by Phil
Welham and thought it would be very interesting to compare playing formats. We all know
that the Teesside Boy’s League has produced, and is still producing, some young and very
exciting players. I cant help wondering if the half hour format helps in producing quick and
exciting players who ‘go for it’ in the manner in which most of them seem to do. In our area,
we are very lucky with the number leagues, which I have detailed below.
Alby League play 100 up off level; Stiffkey League play 150 up off level; Norwich
League play 300 up with handicaps; Newmarket Summer League play 200 up handicapped;
Massingham League play half an hour off level; Norfolk Super League play one and a
quarter hours off level and the Eastern Counties Sunday League play one and a half hours
The Massingham League actually changed their format this season from 100 up to
half an hour’s play. I have spoken to several of the players, and most said it was an
improvement with some players recording their best league breaks to date. I think this may
be seen as proof that this format is an improvement on the 100 up game, though some would
say anything is an improvement on that I hope these comments may produce some
interesting remarks regarding league billiards generally.
AH the best, John Carman
P.S. The Demise of the Pro-Ams – Surely it is in the interests of the professionals to try to
revive these competitions. They get valuable competitive billiards from these tournaments!
I was at the Norfolk Charity Challenge, organised by Phil Welham and others, and we
witnessed some first class professional play which was an inspiration to all us ordinary
amateurs who were privileged to see the games.
I note with some interest the letter from Mr. P. Darby to Mr. J. Karnehm published in
the January 1997 issue of “The Amateur Billiard Player”, with reference to the red, white and
yellow billiards balls and feel as a practising player and referee, I must make some comment
on the legality of their use at this moment in time. I refer of course to the contravention of two
of the rules of English Billiards, namely:
SECTION 2 DEFINITIONS
(b) The other white ball and the red are object balls.
SECTION 3 THE GAME
Three balls are used: a plain white by one side, a spot white (with two or more black
spots for identification) by the other side, and a red.
Whilst the Aramith Tournament balls are excellent to play with, there must surely be
a change made to the rules and I would not be adverse to an addendum being issued to
cover the situation as it is at the moment. There is, of course, the possibility of red, white and
yellow balls from a set of snooker balls being used to play billiards, and this would be
disastrous were it allowed to happen since there is a 3.0 gram tolerance between snooker
balls and only 0.5 gram tolerance between billiards balls.
As an afterthought, not related to the above, I was taught at school in the early 40’s
that there was no such word as “billiard*. Maybe I’m getting long in the tooth, but I find it
slightly offensive to be called a billiard player and not a billiards player.
I would like to commend you on the publication of “The Amateur Billiard(s) Player”
and hope that I shall be around for many more years to come; I enjoy playing as much as I
ever did, although nowhere near as well as days gone by, and I also love to referee a good
Yours very sincerely,