English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : January, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : January, 1911

The Amateur Billiardist

When the curse of incapacity is upon me I scorn my
mistress, and with self-complacent air avoid her charms,
It is a month since I handled a cue, and more since I did
myself credit. As a true amateur, when I realize that it
would require a hydraulic press to raise my breaks to respectable
figures, I retire from the billiard room, and seek
companionship in the lounge. Here I meet the professor
of logic, of whom I have much joy. For by a process of
reasoning, which I have not space to repeat, the professor
can convince you that the revelations of imagination are
propositions of experience, He can prove that imaginary
breaks are real breaks. That your presence at the table
with a two hundred break on in imagination takes the
place there of an actual presence. Thai, for instance, my
presence, in imagination, at the recent Amateur Championship
Final as Major Fleming, can be affirmed as positively
as it could have been by my actual presence in the character
of the Major. Sweet are the uses of logic. I hereby
affirm that I, as Major Fleming, ran out in my last innings
at the Final, and that I. and not Mr. Lonsdale, am the
Amateur Champion. Let anyone who disputes my right
to the title dispute with the professor of logic.

For me I am out of love with the game. The trail of
the professional and his mannerisms is over it all. Machine
billiards may be— nay, is, I admit very excellent. But its
very excellence palls upon me for its lack of individual
charm. The pro. is too much with us. Little do we see in
the average amateur of ability that is his. He has given
his style away, and borrowed the negative, unimpassioned,
blase air of a professional, and this spoils the taste in one’s
mouth at an amateur match. When the best of our
amateurs shed for ever their personal idiosyncrasies, and
barter their natural graces for the unemotional expression
of a machine, let me be led to a Lanarkshire mining
village to end my days where piquant. Stimulating, and
“live” play may always be witnessed.

Now one of the most charming features of our present
best Scottish amateur’s style is his abandonment. I should
like to have an opportunity of analysing the emotions
excited by the gallant Major as he stalks his balls. The
passion he puts into his play, the evident love he has for
the game, the keen feeling conveyed by every movement of
his body will dominate the spectators until they are possessed
of the same way of emotional excitement that washes over
and thrills the player. And when the Major’s lips open
and close with a snap as he fails to bring off a shot, all of
us in thorough sympathy with him murmur a gentle
“damn” in our hearts as though it had been our own shot
that had failed.

This is as it should be. Colour and feeling are as much
to be desired at a billiard match as at an opera. If the
players make no appeal to our emotions as they move round
the table, by that much do they fail in their work, even
if they score like Stevenson or Gray. Their play may be
careful, accurate, and true as truth itself. I care not so
they be devoid of everything that rouses the emotional part
of me. A deadly dull commonplace truth is a disgrace to
civilized conversation. To give colour and warmth and
brightness and wit to intercourse that dainty maiden Fancy
is ever necessary. In like manner the machine-modelled
cueist who cultivates the expressionless face becomes a
weariness of the flesh; and one longs for the player who is
not ashamed to show us how he feels and what he feels
as the game goes for and against him. L. K.

There can be no questioning the supremacy of billiards
as an indoor game above all others. Furthermore, it
claims more active votaries than any other sport or pastime,
in or out of doors, over all the civilized world.- Liverpool
Evening Express.


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