English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : April, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : April, 1912

Questions and Answers

Starting the Game

128.—”Can you advise me, in your next issue, with regard
to the start off in a game? Red is on spot and white in hand.
Playing from either baulk spot, using a fast, thin grazing shot,
I have put red in either top pocket (of course, from left baulk
spot put red in right top pocket, and vice versa.) What would
you advise as a good start off? Are big breaks made from the
start-off shot?”

Big breaks are not very likely to be made, at
any rate, in these non-spot-stroke days, by a player who begins the
game by attempting to cut in the red. The safest stroke, if you
wish to avoid the usual opening miss and make an opening more
likely at your second shot, is the giving of a single baulk. Aim
from near the baulk corner spot to the further edge of the red.

This should leave the red over a baulk corner pocket and the cue
ball near the side cushion. If the opponent goes out for the
cannon he will probably miss it and an easy red winner or
loser may be left on.

The Kiss With Object Ball Near Side Cushion

129.—”The one stroke that thoroughly beats me is the attempt
to make cushion cannons round the table or on to the red on
the spot from the white when near a side cushion. I nearly
always get the kiss, and playing half-ball or fuller or finer
with necessary side seems to make no difference. What ought
I to do?”

What you do is right, but you evidently do it at
the wrong time. Your first thought must be the course that
the white will take after the intended contact. A glance through
it on to the cushion will reveal this, and you should then be
able to judge whether it would meet the cue ball. If an intended
half-ball would occasion a kiss, a finer contact with running
side should achieve the desired result and get you out of the

Screws or Forcers

130.—”Frequently I am in doubt whether to force or screw
a ball. Which is considered safer or the better play?”

It is
entirely a question of where it is desired to direct the object ball.

If screwed, the aim would naturally be finer, with the result
that the object ball would be cut rather than driven. Forcing
strokes, if delivered with top, are perhaps safer than screws,
but, as we have said, it is all a question of position. In addition
there are, of course, many occasions when, playing from hand,
a forcing or screw stroke is played, although a natural angle
stroke is on, and the same may be said of strokes not played
from hand. Position is, in short, everything, and without it
billiards is not billiards at all.

Allowance for Nap Deviation

131.—”Following your advice as to playing fuller with slow
running side and finer with slow check side, I frequently find that
I get too thick or too fine, although sometimes it comes off all
right. Can you help me on this point?”

We do not know
exactly what directions you are referring to, but if we went at all
fully into the matter we must have explained that the aim varies
with the position of the stroke, with the distance to be travelled,
and with the raising or not of the cue. Down the table the side
must be reversed or double the allowance made; dead across the
table no allowance need be made; at shorter distances the allowance
varies from a half diameter to a quarter of an inch; and
with a raised cue the allowance may have to be doubled. The
only thing is to try all these varieties until you get used to and
sure of them.

The Straight Kiss Cannon

132.—”In Roberts’s book I read that the dead straight kiss
cannon when the white is behind the red on the spot and the
player is in hand is really difficult to miss and does not deserve
the applause that its successful accomplishment generally evokes.
But it seems to me that a dead-straight aim is just the way to
spoil the stroke. What is your opinion?”

If for “dead straight
aim” you substituted “dead-full contact” we should
agree with you, but have you ever made this dead-full contact.

It is the practical impossibility—or the extreme improbability—of
the dead-full contact at such a distance that makes the stroke,
when properly played, come off. When it is missed it is a hundred
times more likely to be attributable to very bad, than to
dead-full, aim.

Quick or Careful Play

133.—”At the championship match between Inman and Reece,
which I went to see, the players frequently took several most
careful aims at quite simple shots, and a friend who was with me
said that if he himself did not play quickly he could not play at
all. Which method is correct?”

It is a question of the circumstances
and of the players. All good players take care, although
they may not seem to do so. They possess the art that conceals
art. In a stern match, such as the championship, neither player
knows what a single misjudged stroke may produce against him.

Perhaps a 500 or 600 break! Then, again, he may be feeling a
little anxious or perturbed and he knows that a few conscious
lapses will make him feel worse still and perhaps put him off
his game for the session. Under circumstances such as we have
described the only safe principle is never to let the cue go against
the cue ball until all necessary attention to the sure aim has been
paid. We noticed what you refer to ourselves, and especially in
the play of Inman, who seemed, from the state of the score-board
at the time, to need it less than Reece. But he was religiously
adhering to the time-worn and quite useful billiard maxim:
“When you hold the lead keep it?”

Potting the White

134.—”Cannot some steps be taken to bring home to the
minds of amateur billiard players, as a body, the absurdity of
not potting the white when it is to their advantage (apart from
the immediate score of two) to do so? What do you recommend?”

The white is potted more now than formerly, and
we believe the prejudice against the practice is slowly breaking
down. The best plan is for the player who holds the correct
view to request his opponent to put him down when that becomes
the obvious play. An understanding will thereby be effected in
a perfectly natural manner, and the idea will spread. Those who
resent being put down do not realize that they are thereby given
the latitude of the entire D to play from, and if their opponent,
instead of giving a single or double baulk, goes for the red he
he is as likely as not—unless a very good player—to leave a good
game on. The white should always be potted when this leads to
a further score or to safety, provided that an equal score or
safety appears less possible without it.

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