English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : July, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : July, 1911

First Principles of Billiards

By F. Lindrum in The Melbourne Argus

In delivery, what is known as the follow-through should
be carefully cultivated, otherwise the stroke will not “finish
well.” Follow-through means that there should be no
checking of the cue after impact with the cue ball, but it
should follow right on. Nobody understands this better than
Gray, who finishes the stroke with the splicing of the cue
in the bridge hand. It is worth spending a good deal of
time and pains to master this, for with the follow-through
delivery the ball will run with an amount of life that it is
impossible to communicate to it if the delivery is jerky.

On paper it may seem very difficult to locate these imaginary
points and lines from ball to ball in the mind’s eye;
in practice, however, it is not so. I proved this to a player
not long ago. I had given him all the instructions about
the proper way in which to take aim, but, though he understood
them, he could not carry them out. His trouble, I
discovered, lay in looking at the point he wanted to hit on
the red ball, and neglecting the imaginary line from the
centre of his own ball to that point. He could get a halfball
hazard without even seeing the red if he would only fix
this line in his mind first I told him. I then made him
take a careful aim, and, after this I put my hat over the
red ball, and directed him to strike. Not until he had
struck did I remove my hat, and, to his astonishment, he
could, as I told him, make the hazard every time without
even seeing the object ball.

In taking aim it will be noticed that some professionals
point at the bottom of the ball. This is because the point
where the ball touches the cloth gives the centre. Many
people suppose from this that the ball is struck below the
centre, which is not the case. In ordinary shots the ball
should be struck just above the centre. But there is one
class of shot (leaving aside screws) that presents itself
rather frequently where the ball ought to be struck low.

Suppose the two object balls, for example, are close together,
near the spot, and, playing from baulk, you want to keep
all three balls close together. If the cue ball were hit above
the centre it would have to be struck very gently, so as just
to make its objective, and nothing more. It is not easy to
judge the exact strength for such a shot, and, besides that,
a ball rolling so slowly is apt to run off. The better way is
to strike it well below the centre. It can be hit fairly hard
in this way, for the drag communicated (it will be revolving
backwards) will act like a brake, and its speed will be
sharply checked.

It is the long hazard into the top pocket that I rely on
very largely in making hazard breaks. It is just a plain
half-ball shot, and anybody with a little practice may hope
to attain a useful facility at it. The cue ball should be
struck freely and well above the centre. The red, if hit
hard enough, will always leave position for a middle pocket
or for another long loser.

The half-run through into the centre pocket is a shot at
which Gray has attained extraordinary proficiency. Though
much has been written about the efficacy of these run-through
hazards, I cannot see what advantage they have
over natural angle shots into the pocket. The run-through
is harder, and I have not discovered that it ensures position
better than the half-ball contact. Using alternate pockets,
whether for the long or short hazards, helps to give variety
to this game, and it does not impose such a strain on the
player as bringing the ball back to one position does.

In regard to sharp screw shots, I may say that, instead
of the cue being delivered horizontally and held lightly, the
butt should be raised, and at the moment of impact it
should be gripped firmly.

In making the masse stroke the cue just drops on to the
ball. Anything like a punch will destroy the shot, and it
will bruise the cloth.


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