English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : February, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : February, 1912

Things That Matter in Billiards

XVI.—HOW SHOULD BALL AIMS BE NAMED?

This article is being penned with more than twenty books
on billiards by different authors at the; writer’s side. In
all these books the half ball aim is described as an aim
taken through the centre of the cue ball at the edge of the
object ball, and this may, we think, be taken as correct
beyond cavil or dispute. But in no book, so far as we can
ascertain, is the meaning of the term “half-ball” given,
much less that of the terms quarter-ball and three-quarter
ball. The nearest definition of these aims that we have
heard is that, at the moment of contact, and when viewed
along the line of aim, half of the cue ball covers or eclipses
half of the object ball in the case of a half-ball, a quarter
of the cue ball covers or eclipses a quarter of the object
ball in the case of a quarter ball, and three-quarters of the
cue ball covers or eclipses three-quarters of the object ball
in the case of a three-quarter ball.

However this may be it seems to be generally accepted
that aim for a half-ball is taken at the edge of the object
ball, aim for the quarter ball a quarter diameter outside the
edge, and aim for the three-quarter ball a quarter diameter
inside the edge.

Now there comes forward Col. C. M. Western, late of the
Royal Artillery, in an excellent mathematical work (3s. 6d.,
Simpkin, Marshall and Co., Ltd.), entitled “The Practical
Science of Billiards and its Pointer,” who declares—and
with no little show of reason, in our judgment—
that these aims are misnamed “unless we determine to
accept as our datum point a vague point in space one diameter
distant from the centre of the object ball and one
radius distant from its edge, instead of the centre of the
object ball, which is the natural datum point, and which is
the point, whatever nomenclature we give the divisions, that
the player would, and must, measure from in practice.”

Throughout Col. Western’s book the half-ball aim is
shown as directed at the edge of the object ball, the quarter-ball
aim as directed a quarter diameter within the edge and
a three-quarter ball aim as directed a quarter diameter outside
the edge, thus exactly reversing the accepted nomenclature
for the finer and fuller than half-ball aims.

As we have already indicated, there is, in our opinion,
much to be said for this revised nomenclature, and even
more than Col. Western himself claims for it. For not only
is the proposed new naming logical, coherent, and easily
remembered, but the same naming, if radius be substituted
for diameter, indicates simultaneously the points of aim and
contact in the same stroke, a much-needed thing that has
not before been done.

What we mean will at once be grasped when it is recollected
that contact between cue and object ball always takes
place half-way nearer to the centre than the point at which
aim is taken. Therefore a half-ball aim at object ball is
along a line a half diameter from the centre of the object
ball with which contact is made by the cue ball a half radius
from the centre; a quarter ball aim at the object ball is
taken along a line a quarter diameter from the centre of
the object ball, with which contact is made by the cue ball
a quarter radius from the centre; and a three-quarter ball
aim at the object ball is taken along a line three-quarters
of a diameter from the centre of the object ball, with which
contact is made three-quarters of a radius from the centre.

Putting the same thing into the plainest possible terms we
get:—

  • Half-ball aim.—Half-ball (or diameter) from centre.

  • Half-ball contact.—Half-inch (or radius) from centre.

  • Quarter-ball aim.—Quarter-ball (or diameter) from
    centre.

  • Quarter-ball contact.— Quarter-inch (or radius) from
    centre.

  • Three-quarter ball aim.—Three-quarter ball (or diameter)
    from centre.

  • Three-quarter ball contact.—Three-quarter inch (or
    radius) from centre.

The same applies, of course, to all other aims, thus:—

  • Eighth ball aim.—Eighth ball (or diameter) from centre.

  • Eighth ball contact.—Eighth inch (or radius) from centre.

  • Three-eighths ball aim.—Three-eighths ball (or diameter)
    from centre.

  • Three-eighths ball contact.—Three-eighths inch (or
    radius) from centre.

  • Five-eighths ball aim.—Five-eighths ball (or diameter)
    from centre.

  • Five-eighths ball contact.—Five-eighths inch (or radius)
    from centre.

  • Seven-eighths ball contacts—Seven-eighths inch (or diameter)
    from centre.

  • Seven-eighths ball contact.—Seven-eights inch (or radius)
    from centre.

If the aims and equivalent contacts need to be memorized
more easily still, this may be done by working from the
centre of the object ball by quarter inches and remembering
the contacts as being at the same number of eighths
from the centre thus:—

  • One quarter inch aim makes one eighth inch contact.

  • Two quarters inch aim makes two eighths inch contact.

Conversely, of course.

  • One-eighth inch contact requires one-quarter inch aim.

  • Two-eighths inch contact requires two-quarters inch aim.

It will be found that so coherent a nomenclature cannot
be arrived at on any other basis, and we think that the
term “quarter-ball” and “three-quarter” ball, as signifying
aims; might henceforth very well be reversed.

Meanwhile we invite free correspondence upon this very
interesting point and we shall make further references to
Col. Western’s high informative work.


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