English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : December, 1910

The Billiard Monthly : December, 1910

What Sort of Game do I Play?

To know some means by which a fair estimate of one’s
skill at billiards may be obtained is very desirable, and
many years ago I adopted a system by which any amateur
can form a tolerably correct idea of his own powers. This
system I called the “decimal” of a player, and this
decimal is to be ascertained as follows:—
Each time a player makes his first stroke, after his
adversary has played, make a mark on paper, or on a slate,
and call this “an entry.” If the player make any number
of successive scores, do not make any additional mark,
except when this player makes his first stroke after his
adversary has played. The number of marks will then
indicate the number of entries a player has had, In order
to ascertain a player’s decimal, either at the end of a
game or during any part of the game, divide the player’s
score by the number of entries; the result will give the
player’s decimal. Thus, suppose a player has had ten
entries, and his score is 60; then 60 divided by 10 gives 6
as the decimal. Suppose the entries have been 12, and
the player’s score is 50; then 50 divided by 12 gives 4.17

As another example of this method of finding the decimal,
the following is given:—
The player A gives a miss at the commencement of the
game; his adversary B gives another miss. A plays for a
cannon, and does not score; B makes 5 and leaves the
balls safe. A plays and does not score. B makes 12, A
follows and makes a break of 20. A has now had four
entries, and his score is 21; his decimal, therefore, is 5.2.

Although during a game of one hundred up a fairly good
amateur may make breaks of 25 or 30, yet the number of
times that he fails to score reduces his decimal; and
although he may imagine that he has played a very strong
game, he will be surprised to find that his decimal is not
more than about 4 or 5.

Having kept a record of more than one hundred matches
that I have seen played, of five hundred up, I can state
that the amateur who makes a decimal of over 7 is a hard
man to beat. An average amateur rarely reaches a decimal
of 4, unless the table is very easy, and in too many cases
it is under 3.

When a player has ascertained by this system that his
decimal rarely, if ever, exceeds 5, it is a delusion for him
to imagine that he is a strong player, even though he be
able to defeat all opponents aft his club.

It is knowledge worth possessing to know the quality
of your game. Am amateur who, when using his own cue
and playing on a table he knows, cannot attain to an
average of over 4, is only a moderate player even for an
amateur. Many players who have never tested their
decimal, but who remember that they have made breaks,
sometimes, of over 50, would be surprised to find how
misses and failure to score will bring their decimal down
to something very moderate; they will then realize the fact
that they can be easily defeated by a good amateur, and
that should they encounter a professional they will stand
no chance, even though given a start of half the game.—
Major-General A. W. Drayton, in “Billiards” (Geo. Bell
& Sons, 1s.).

[There is no doubt that all amateurs would benefit immensely
by the regular adoption of this system of recording,
their games, and we have this month on page 9 indicated
a method by which it can be done. The dots, of course,
represent fruitless visits to the table, and as the dots and
score entries, taken together, represent 20, the average in
100 up on this basis would necessarily be 5. Supposing
the opponent made 50 only, his average would, of course,
be 2½, but the actual figures of each player might also be
entered, or one might record his two-figure breaks only.

No more reliable data for handicapping could be obtained
than such averages, taken over a long series of games.]

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