The Educative Uses of Hand Play
It must not be imagined that hand play and strokes are
merely of the freak variety and have no real billiard value.
The billiard ball, when twisted by the hand, and carefully
observed, reveals some instructive lessons.
In the first place, it discloses the enormous potentialities
of side in substitution for force, and, in the second place,
it opens the mind of the average player to the very real
differences that result in the run of a slow side-laden ball
in different directions on the table.
Stand at the baulk end of the table and spin a ball so
that it travels slowly up the board. It will inevitably veer
gradually to the left. Now go to the spot end and repeat
the process, and the veering will be found to be to the
right. Next stand at the side of the table, sending the
ball spinning gently across, and no deflection will be
noticed, because the nap influence is now negligible.
The total deflection in a table length is fully one inch,
but in contrary directions, and this deflection is gradual
and progressive. Consequently a check side slow stroke
must be aimed an inch line to ensure half-ball contact
after running a table length: half an inch for half-table
length; and a quarter of an inch for quarter-table length.
Down the table the aim would be fuller than half ball in
the same proportions, whilst with slow running side the
whole thing would be exactly reversed.
More frequently, however, the strokes are, by preference,
played faster, in order to bring the object ball back up the
table, and under these conditions the side ceases to operate,
except at the pocket shoulder, when it is, furthermore,
favouring, instead of opposing, side.
Still there are many strokes that call for slow side down
the table as well as up, and a little observation of the ball
when hand-actuated in its spin, reveals exactly how such
strokes should be treated.