English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : August, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : August, 1911

Questions and Answers

Tactics Against Opponents

63.—”What is the best style of play for a decent player to
adopt against a slogging and fluking opponent, who rarely leaves
anything on and yet keeps scoring himself?”

As a rule the
best tactics to adopt are gentle play, leading up to position,
with an aggressive adversary, and free and confident play with
an extremely cautious opponent. This sometimes induces the
opponent to change his style with, to him, disastrous results.

The great thing is to make breaks, or, at any rate, plenty of
double figures, and it is good policy to ignore the forcing and
kindred certainties leading to nothing definite and to try by
gentle cushion work, or carefully-aimed fine strokes, to engineer
a position. There is also much more personal satisfaction
accruing from this class of enterprise.

Nomination Games

64.—”In a nomination game does the player simply say ‘cannon,’
or, if he intended to make it off a cushion, does he say
‘cushion cannon’?”

It does not seem to us to matter greatly,
because, except in the case of all-round cannons, the nature of
the shot must usually be obvious. In the case of all-round cannons
we think the score should count, even though the player
be not sure beforehand as to whether a cushion or cushions will
help him or not. On the smaller American table the exact
cushions have to be nominated, as the game is purely a cannon
game, but on the pocket table the main nomination idea is that
an actual fluke, such as an in-off instead of a cannon or pot, or
vice-versa, should not count. In this connection it has often
occurred to us that a very interesting 100-up might be played
on the flukeless principle, but without nomination. The idea
would be for a player to stop immediately he had made anything
by chance, even to the extent of making a six where only three
had been intended or desired. Nothing would be more likely to
encourage careful position play than this, and it would present a
very healthful antithesis to the “strike hard and trust in providence” school of players.

Recognising the Half Ball Position

65.—”Amateurs are often heard to say that they can judge
angles better with cannons than with in-offs or vice-versa, or that
they can judge angles from a distance, but not near to—and so
on. What is the best remedy for this uncertainty?”

Varied
and systematic practice. A half-ball angle is always a half-ball
angle, whether from ball to ball or from ball to pocket, and the
best method of familiarizing the eye with this natural angle
under all conditions is to practise strokes with the positions
reversed, by which is meant the playing of a stroke with a given
objective and then with the cue ball placed at the objective point.

Here are a few illustrative half-ball positionings:—(a) Object ball
24 inches from central baulk spot and cue ball alternately on baulk
end spot and at the middle pocket, with cannon ball on the baulk
end spot; (b) object ball on middle spot and cue ball alternately
four inches inside baulk end spot and on the top corner pocket,
with cannon ball four inches from baulk end spot; (c) object ball
on pyramid spot and cue ball alternately on baulk end spot and at
the top corner pocket, with cannon ball on baulk end spot; (d)
object ball on billiard spot and cue ball alternately at the top
corner and opposite middle pockets. Sometimes it will be found
in developing this idea that the object ball is quite near to the
cue ball and that the stroke looks like a fine one, rather than
a half-ball. But if the cue be held very lightly and the cue ball
struck high up the half-ball stroke may still be made, even
though the cue ball may have a long way to travel afterwards.

Diagrams of Billiard Strokes

66.—”You do not often give diagrams showing how to make
certain strokes, such as all-round cannons, etc. Is not this a
mistake? It is surely clearer and simpler to print a diagram
than to give a detailed explanation.”

The usual diagrams
illustrating various ordinary positionings are not given in The
Billiard Monthly, because such diagrams may be multiplied indefinitely
and will yet be found, on examination and analysis, to be
merely illustrative, with often-times tedious iteration, of a few
fixed principles. Furthermore, such diagrams are frequently misleading,
as both cushions and balls vary and the exact measurements
which usually accompany the drawings might apply to one
table and not to another. What the student chiefly needs to
realize at the outset is that every stroke that is made on a
billiard table is the result of a given contact between a cue ball,
rotating in a certain way and travelling at a certain speed, with
another ball or balls. It may be that in order to make the
intended subsequent positioning more sure the cue ball, whether
rotating on a horizontal, perpendicular, or diagonal axis, may
have to be directed against a cushion or cushions before it strikes
a second ball or enters a pocket, or it may have to be directed
against a cushion before it strikes the object ball at all, but
precisely the same principles govern ordinary ball-to-ball cannons
and cannons all round the table. The different angles must be
got “into the eye,” and when this is done the disturbance of a
ball in baulk by a player whose ball is in hand will be essayed
with as much confidence as though the object ball were in the
middle of the table.

Importance of Care in Striking

67.—” Is it essential to strike the cue ball on its vertical centre
in order to make it travel in the direction in which the cue is
pointing?”

By no means, otherwise side strokes would be
an impossibility. Wherever the cue ball is struck it takes the
course along which the cue points, but allowance has to be
made, in slow strokes, for nap deviation when playing with side
and for swerve deviation when the butt of the cue is raised. The
two really important things to ensure are: (1) that the cue is, in
its alignment, on, or parallel with, the intended line of travel
of the ball, and (2) that the cue ball is struck exactly where it is
intended to be struck, and which should be in the dead centre,
or, so far as the edge of the cue tip is concerned, half-an-inch
from the centre, at one or other of what may be termed the. eight
points of the compass. Thus it is that professional players are
to be seen addressing the cue ball with intensity of painstaking
minuteness whenever a critical shot has to be essayed. They
know full well that the stroke is not to be trifled with, and that
upon its almost microscopical exactness depends the continuance
or termination of the break.


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