English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : July, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : July, 1911

A Discussion about George Gray

A.—George Gray is the greatest billiard player in the
world.

B.—Steady there. He has really perfected one scoring
stroke, and that the simplest, safest, and easiest on the
board.

A.—Yet that stroke requires, for its successful multiplication
by hundreds and by thousands, all the qualifications
of the finished billiardist.

B.—A man may be a finished billiardist in a section of the
game without being master of all its variations and ramifications.

A.—What stroke is there that George Gray, either in
obtaining or maintaining position, does not employ?

B.—He makes no sequences of close cannons—so difficult
to manipulate and so delightful to watch; he only pots to
obtain a cross in-off; and he excludes gathering strokes as
useless for his purpose.

A-—He can do all these things with the best and has
made a hundred and more at the top of the table alone.

B.—That may be true, but it has yet to be publicly
demonstrated to be generally accepted.

A.—If the red ball middle pocket losers are so simple why
do not more players do them?

B.—It has not been argued that this stroke is intrinsically
simple, but that it is simple in comparison with the
intricacies and pitfalls of the all-round game.

A.—What section of the game calls for more accurate
judgment of angles, contacts, and aims, or for greater
variety of these than what is known as the Gray stroke?

B.—The obvious reply to this question would seem to be:
“The Peall stroke.”

A.—In what way did the spot stroke demand more accurate
judgment of angles, contacts, and aims or a greater
variety of these than the middle pocket stroke?

B.—In the prime respect that the margin for error was
practically nil. There was no D latitude, no enlargement
of the pockets by means of side, and there were only two
pockets available instead of four.

A.—They who take this view can hardly be aware that
the middle pocket losers—amongst which the corner pocket
hazards are merely occasional interludes—require nine distinct
contacts and that each of these nine contacts requires
a different strength.

B.—Perhaps nine contacts and five strengths would be
nearer the mark, and the same contacts by eighths with a
full-ball contact added are required in the spot stroke,
which necessitates, in addition, the two-cushion run-through
with side, the cushion stab, and the seven-eighths
stun for retention of position, as against one single stroke
with side in the middle pocket game.

A.—Is not all this beside the mark. Gray is playing
under existing rules and under those rules the spot stroke
is a thing of the past. Besides this it is doubtful whether
Peall to-day would not be beaten at his game by Gray at
his.

B.—Gray is playing under B.C.C. rules and these rules
permit the exploitation of the spot stroke if the players are
agreed. The real point is: Which will future generations
rank the higher—Gray’s 2,196 off the red or Peall’s 3,304
on the red?

A.—Unless the continuous losing hazard should be barred
or the spot stroke again legalized, or both restricted to a
given number, future generations will judge the game as it
is to-day and will thus be forced to the recognition of Gray
as the champion billiard player of the world.

B. —By which may be understood at present the champion
billiard scorer. There we are agreed, and the future
may prove him to be equally master of the game in all its
many and fascinating phases.

Not Quite a Single Stroke Game

In the course of his match with Inman at the National
Sporting Club last month, George Gray twice exceeded the
1,000 and played through two entire sessions. Between
each session the cloth of the table is, of course, brushed and
ironed and any nap disturbance that takes place when one
player monopolizes the table is due to the hand or cue
movements of such player and of him alone. Thinking
that a diagram of the placing surface left under these conditions
might be interesting to many, The Billiard Monthly
obtained permission to take a photograph after the afternoon
session of June 15, and the engraving on the front
cover of this issue is the result.

Photo of Billiard Table (14k)

On Wednesday afternoon, June 15, George Gray, while making an 1,105
break, played through an entire Session, in his match against M. Inman at
the National Sporting Club, and the cue-hand marks left by him on the
cloth between the two ironings were as shown above. The darker section
of the marks indicates the attack upon the left-hand middle pocket and the
lighter that upon the right-hand middle pocket.

It will be observed that, in obtaining his afternoon’s
points, Gray had to place his bridge hand at close intervals
extending from one side of the table to the other, and in so
doing he would place the cue ball in practically every square
inch of the D.

Another interesting deduction to be drawn from the picture
is that Gray must have made a more sustained attack
upon the left-hand middle pocket than upon the tight, the
nap on the right side of the table being more deeply marked
where the bridge hand is placed than that on the left.

It would also seem that the visits to the top left pocket,
judging by the more advanced marks of the cue hand, must
have been more numerous than those to the right top
pocket, or it may be that these are also middle pocket
placings which fail to show up right across.

The general effect of the photograph would seem to be
that middle pocket play is more than a “one-stroke” game
and that, in its execution, there are rarely two successive
strokes that are exactly alike.

It must furthermore be remembered that differing contacts
require differing strengths to ensure return to the
desired area.


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