English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : December, 1910

The Billiard Monthly : December, 1910

Questions and Answers

Checking the Half-Ball Angle

5.—”A point that puzzles me very much in billiards is the
different appearance of half-ball and other shots at different parts
of the table. For instance, I always feel undecided when playing
across the table into a corner pocket, as the angle when the
object ball is below mine always looks finer than it really is,
whereas with my ball below it always looks wider?”

You are
quite right, and we are glad that you have asked the question.

The best plan is to ignore the pocket opening as the immediate
objective and judge the angle as between the object ball and an
imaginary spot only a foot away in a direct line towards the
pocket. It will then be found that, as in cannon play with the
object balls only a foot apart, the angle can be easily judged
under any placing of the balls. The same expedient can be
adopted in what are called short-legged strokes, when the object
ball is near to the cue ball and the latter has a considerable
way to travel. The spot only a foot away is easily located, and
the cue ball, if properly struck as regards rotation and cue
swing, will pass over that spot and the score will be made. Try

Correct Cue Balance

6.—”What is the correct distance from the butt end to hold
the cue?”

Place the ball on the centre spot of baulk and
the left foot beneath the cushion rail. Next make your bridge
nine inches behind ball and bring cue up against ball. The
upper part of your arm should now be horizontal and the forearm
vertical. If the forearm is not vertical the hand should be
adjusted to make it so, still leaving the cue touching the ball.

Should Forcers be Played Into Middle Pockets?

7.—”In describing Gray’s red ball strokes you say that
he never resorts to forcers or screws into the middle pocket.
But how would he do without them in the event of the red ball
being too high for the fine cutting stroke and too wide for the
top pocket in-off?”

The position you name is one that Gray,
or any really good player, never leaves. It ensues when direction
and strength are alike faulty, or when one of the two is
conspicuously so. Watch carefully the strokes in the next professional
match that you attend and we think that you will wait
in vain for a forcer or screw shot from hand into a middle
pocket. If, however, such a shot did chance to be made you
would observe an interesting thing, namely, that the immediate
shot would be purposely rendered still more difficult by wider
placing, in order to avoid commerce with the top or bottom
pocket on the part of the object ball and to ensure its final
location somewhere near the central line of the table nicely out
of baulk.

“Side” Values

8.—”I am a comparative beginner at billiards as you will
gather when I say that on striking the cue ball I do not always
know which side to put on. Can you give beginners like myself
any hint in this direction?”

No side, top, or bottom should
be employed unless some distinctly useful purpose is to be served
thereby. Although there are some shots that cannot be achieved
at all by central striking, the great proportion require no side
or other compensation whatever. Indeed, a question ever in the
mind should be “Can I do what I want to do with a plain
stroke?” The three kinds of side are pocket side, cushion side,
and deflecting side, and for these—whether singly or in combination—
either running or check side is used as the exigencies of
the case require. Pocket side causes a ball to enter a pocket
more easily from its most open shoulder, because the ball is
spinning around its vertical axis and runs on the shoulder as
regards its sides as it does on the bed of the table as regards
its top and bottom. You can soon ascertain on which side to
strike the ball for pocket side by a few experiments. Place a
ball against a cushion a foot from a corner pocket and aim
gently at the shoulder well outside the pocket. If you play with
check side the ball will not enter the pocket, but with running
side it will do so easily. This is also illustrated in a regular
stroke usually wrongly played by “amateurs, namely, the top pocket
cross in-off when a finer than the check side in-off to the
more open pocket is asked for. This should always be played
with running or pocket side, and the same applies to the run-through
shots into the same pocket. The attempt to run through
with check side might be disastrous. Cushion side is really of
three kinds, for there is a” clinging “side (partaking of the
deflecting nature) as well as a running and a retarding side
where cushions are concerned. But in the ordinary acceptance
of the term cushion sides are the running side which makes the
spinning ball take a wider angle and proceed at a quicker pace
after cushion contact, and the check side which makes it take
an acuter angle and proceed at a slower (hence the term
“check “) pace. In the same stroke the two classes of side are
frequently combined. Thus check side inside a ball near a
cushion becomes running side as soon as the cushion is reached.

Deflecting side is the run-off of a ball with or against the nap
of the cloth, and which, instead of being a hindrance, is of
enormous assistance in scientific play, as it largely increases the
number of the half-ball aims. Those long range slow three-quarter
run-through in-offs up the table by professionals are all
made with check side aimed half-ball, whilst the quarter-ball
contact can be obtained with the same aim by the use of running
side, which is also as useful in avoiding the kiss with
quarter-ball cannons when the object ball lies near a side cushion
as is the three-quarter run-through cannon with check side when
the play is behind the object ball as it lies a foot or so away
from the cushion.

Clearing Object Ball Away in Corner Run-throughs

9.—”Can you kindly explain how it is that the balls do not
kiss in some of those near run-throughs into pockets when it
looks as though they must do so? I find no difficulty in making
the shot, but have never to this day understood how the kiss is

You overlook the driving effect of the cue ball on
the object ball, which latter has time to get well away whilst
the cue ball is recovering from the temporary shock of the impact.

Sometimes, when the cue ball is very near the object ball
and the object ball very near the pocket, the kiss would take
place, but it can even then be prevented by getting a little drag
on the cue ball, which must, of course, be struck with a very
lightly-held cue. Most of these little run-through in-offs should
be very slowly played, as they then leave another certain losing
hazard from hand off the same ball

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