English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : November, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : November, 1911

Questions and Answers

Definition of Billiard Terms

81.—”I read The Billiard Monthly with interest and am sure
that you are doing wisely to keep it elementary. Professionals
and expert amateurs have little, if anything, to learn from published
hints on the game, but there are many like myself to
whom such hints are valuable. My immediate object in writing
is to ask for a definition of certain terms that are constantly
used in reports of billiard matches. Will you please say exactly
what is meant by (1) a drop cannon; (2) a ‘stab’ shot; (3) a
‘stun’ shot, and (4) a ‘ricochet’ shot?”

Thanks for your
remarks with regard to the paper. Yes, we want to be of service
to the ordinary player of 100 up, and are glad if we are succeeding
in that direction. A drop cannon is made when the cue
ball just drops on to the cannon (or second object ball) disturbing
it but slightly. A stab shot is a full contact with low and sharp
cueing, which leaves the cue ball on the spot from which the
object ball is driven. In a stun shot the cueing is not so low and
may, at close range, be central and the contact is not quite full.

Its chief use is to prevent follow on of the cue ball and make it
diverge slightly. A ricochet shot is one in which top and check
side cause the cue ball, after contact with an object ball close to
a cushion, to return to the cushion in a series of loops, as a result
of the top and side with which it is laden.

“Lottery” or “Certainty?”

82.—”My great difficulty in billiards is that I do not know
exactly where to aim in making a shot. I see that the angle
is less or more than half-ball, and I play finer or to run through,
or to screw, or to force, but I always have the feeling that what
I am doing is very much in the nature of a lottery. But when I
have seen professionals play I have felt that they even know
exactly where to aim in order to get on one side of the cannon
ball or the other and with just the necessary amount of contact to
guide it where they want it. How is this certainty to be

Largely by practice and observation, but more
quickly by an appreciation of certain mechanical effects. The
diameter of a billiard ball may be taken as two inches. Thus
every possible contact falls within one inch and every possible
aim within two inches. By a progression of nine aims, progressing
by quarter inches from the object ball centre to an inch
beyond its circumference, every stroke and position that is possible
on the billiard table is to be obtained if accompanied by
proper compensation, strength, and touch. So far as the mere
aim is concerned, it must be definitely graded by quarter inches,
although such is the margin for error in many pocket strokes
that an eighth of an inch of error in the aim either on the fine or
full side may not sometimes greatly matter.

The Thicker Aim With Bonzolines

83.—”I have a private billiard table and always play with
ivory balls, but I go occasionally to the house of a friend who
uses bonzoline balls, and I find that I can do nothing with them.
I feel so uncertain each time I take up the cue that I am almost
paralyzed in my strokes and it would be worth a lot to me
if I knew the secret of changing, without inconvenience, as so
many players seem to do, from one class of ball to the other.
Can you give me any hint?”

There are four ways of getting
the stroke with bonzoline balls, and the choice mainly depends
upon the intended run of the object ball. Where this need not
be microscopically considered the best plan is to play a little
fuller than with ivories. The other three ways are (1) playing a
little finer; (2) spotting (if in hand) a little more widely, and (3)
using check side. Sometimes a combination of two of these
methods may be desirable to secure a normal run of the object
ball, the extra contact being a shade less thick and the extra
putting a shade less wide. But to secure and maintain confidence
we should say;”Simply aim a little thicker with bonzolines
than with ivories, and midway between the two with

The Grading of Run-Through Contacts

84.—”I see that George Gray in his book describes the quarter-ball
run-through as being made by aiming from the centre of the
cue ball on to a quarter of the object ball, and a three-quarter
run-through as being made by aiming from the centre of the
cue ball on to a part of the red ball about a quarter of an inch
from the centre of the red. Can you kindly say why these terms
are employed for such aims?”

A half-ball means that half
of the object ball is covered in the line of aim by half of the
cue ball; a quarter-ball that one quarter is so covered; and a
three-quarter ball that three quarters is so covered. The aim for
the half-ball is consequently at the edge, for the quarter ball
half an inch outside the edge, and for a three-quarter ball half an
inch inside the edge. Whenever aim is thicker than at the edge
of the object ball the contact is in the nature of a run-through,
and we should say that a half run-through should be aimed halfway
between edge and centre of object ball, a quarter run-through
one quarter of the way between edge and centre, and a
three-quarter ball run-through three-quarters of the way between
edge and centre. If George Gray describes a quarter run-through
as aimed on to a quarter of the object ball we think he
must mean one quarter of the distance between edge and centre.

Otherwise no appreciable point of aim would be left for the half
run-through, which is, of course, intermediate between the
quarter and the three-quarter.

Science of Position Play

85.—”You are constantly saying: ‘Play for position,’ and that
it is no use potting or going in-off without leaving the other
ball where it ought to be. But how is this to be done? It is
all a perfect maze to me.”

As it is to everyone at first, but
if you apply yourself seriously to practice your marvel will
presently be why anyone should play without safeguarding position
when it can be just as easily maintained as not. The one
great touchstone in billiards, to the test of which all questions
of position, kissing, losing balls, etc., can be brought, is the
half-ball angle both for pots and for in-offs. Whenever you play
a half-ball in-off potting contact is made with the object ball
half an inch inside its edge and it takes a course along that line.

Obviously, therefore, you should never take a half-ball aim without
glancing along this line. Perhaps the result will be that
you will then shift your aim or modify or increase your strength
to avoid some pitfall that is awaiting the object ball. Similarly,
when you are potting, if the line from the pocket comes out
half an inch inside the edge of the object ball you know that
you have got the half-ball potting angle, and you know that your
own ball will take the usual half-ball throw-off.

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