English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : December, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : December, 1911

The Meeting of the Methods

GREAT SERIES OF THREE 18,000 POINTS MATCHES BETWEEN STEVENSON AND GRAY FOR £1,000

No more important billiard contest has yet been staged
than that which, during the successive months of December,
January, and February, will take place in London,
Liverpool, and again in London, between H.W. Stevenson,
the champion of the world, and George Gray, the compiler
of many stupendous records by means of red ball losing
hazards. Here are all the elements of a strenuous and
exciting match, which should, and undoubtedly will, arouse
and maintain keen interest amongst thousands of billiard
lovers and students of the game during the next three
months. For it is not only that two great players will be
upon their trial, but two great scoring methods in billiards
will be equally put to the test and submitted to the popular
verdict.

Photo of George Gray (5k)

George Gray, Compiler of a great succession of
breaks ranging from 500 to 2,196.

Observant spectators of the forthcoming matches will
especially note two things. They will note that, whereas
Gray will take the earliest opportunity of potting the white
and of depositing
it apart from the
area of red ball
play, Stevenson’s
chief care will be
to keep it in close
attendance upon
the red ball, in
order that a cannon
may be available
between every
two pocketings—
one from spot and
one from play—of
t h e red. Thus,
whilst Gray’s sole
object will be continuous
hazards off
the red, Stevenson’s
main idea
will be as many
pottings of the red,
in the course of
each hundred or
session, as the rules
a n d opportunity
permit.

Photo of H. W. Stevenson (4k)

H. W. Stevenson, Champion of the World, and a phenomenally
fast and graceful scorer.

Stevenson, it is
true, will not
always be at the top
of the table, but he will be there as frequently and for as long
as he can. and when he leaves that most prolific area—far
more prolific, be it noted, in points per minute than Gray’s
red ball in-offs—his controlling idea will be to get back there
with the least delay possible. At the same time he will not
take unnecessary risks to avoid a return to baulk, as he
knows quite well that, when the contemplated red winner
is not to his liking a corner pocket in-off leaving either a
drop cannon or a middle pocket loser will take him back to
the top in a few strokes and that he will, meanwhile, be
scoring”all the time.

To the enthusiastic follower of the game—and no player
who has attained to anything like a scientific proficiency in
his billiards is other than enthusiastic—there are few thing’s
more fascinating than closely watching the alternate loss
and recovery of top of the table position, which stand in the
same relation to top of the table play as does the occasional
interposition of a winning hazard into the losing hazard
game. When George Gray does not find the almost
straight run through in-off to his liking he promptly shapes
for the pot, leaving the cue ball nicely placed for a succeeding
in-off and simultaneous recovery of the losing hazard
position. And it is these little interval’s of suspense and of
mental activity on the part of the spectators that lend added
spice and attractiveness to the spectacle.

But the engrossing question that is in our readers’ minds
just now is:” Will Stevenson or Gray win? “At any time
during last season, and under last season’s conditions, the
answer to this question would have been almost obvious.

Stevenson could not possibly have won. Gray, with his
extraordinary average of 81.11 against Stevenson’s also fine,
but much lower, average of 54.68, could hardly have failed
to have won. But when the changed circumstances and
conditions of the present moment are considered, it will be
found that last season’s form on either side has little to
do with the present case and that any forecast of the coming
great matches, as based upon the results of Gray’s
meetings last year
with such players as
Inman and Diggle
would be altogether
futile.

No one would
suggest that Gray
is at the present
moment playing
other than finely.

So recently as the
last day of November,
and just as
these lines are going
to press, we
have intimation of
an 875 break by
him at Birmingham,
followed by
412, 399, and an
unfinished 339.

This shows that he
is getting into his
stride again, even
with different balls
and different tables.

But in our December
issue of last
year we recorded
as then made to
date by Gray, four breaks of over 1,000, three of over 900,
four of over 800, four of over 700, eleven of over 600, and
seven of over 500, as compared with a mere sprinkling of
large breaks made during an equal period this season.

A brief and yet accurate indication of the actual position
would seem to be that, whereas Gray knew his table and
the balls intimately last season and was never puzzled by
them, he does not know the balls and the tables on which
the coming matches will be played as Stevenson just now
knows them and that herein lies the tantalizing uncertainty
of the approaching combat, concerning the ultimate result
of which only a bold and rash man would venture to
prophesy.

For the match which commences on the 4th inst, at Holborn
Hall, Gray’s Inn Road, W.C., and which will be continued
daily at 3 and 8.30 p.m. for a fortnight, a special
table will be erected by Messrs. Burroughes and Walls, Ltd.,
and a special sealed proportionate break cheque is offered
by them. It is interesting to add that the money stakes
at issue in the three matches are absolutely genuine.


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