Some Run-through and Top Strokes
A decision that must be early arrived at by the billiard
student who aspires to “play the game” is to employ run-throughs
or fine strokes as required irrespective of the
apparent greater difficulty and uncertainty of the former.
We say “apparent,” for it often happens that the run-through,
besides being the game and leaving better position
(as it usually does) is really easier than the fineand especially
the very finestroke.
This is noticeably the case when running through with
side on to a cushion for the purpose of making a cannon
off such cushion. It may just be possible to bring off the
shot by means of a grazing ball well laden with side, but
an almost full contact with side is far more likely to be successful
from many positions, besides gathering the balls better.
This applies equally when the cue ball has several feet
to travel or only a few inches. In near cannon play, however,
the fact must be borne in mind that, in order to get
the cue ball well through the object ball, plenty of “top”
has to be employed, otherwise the cue ball would fail to
rotate and would be stunned away from the object ball.
The manner in which the cue is held is highly important
in all classes of strokes in which it is desired that the cue
ball shall leave the object ball after fullish contact with
plenty of life in it. The hold cannot be too light, and when
the cue ball is very close indeed to the object ball it is better
to release entirely the hold or touch of the forefinger and
thumb and simply leave it lying on the fingers so that only
its own weight is applied to the ball. There is no danger
of the cue moving in the hand when so held, for it must be
remembered that it weighs a pound, which effectually prevents
it from being moved back in the hand by the ball,
whilst its contact with the ball prevents it from slipping forward.
It sometimes happens that there is necessity for keeping
the cue ball close alongside a cushion for some distance and
this occurs both with very slow and very fast shots, the
object ball in each case being practically close to the cushion
and the idea being either to run through it into the pocket
beyond with either class of shot, or, with the harder stroke,
to make a cannon when the cannon ball lies along, or near
to, the same cushion.
Suppose, for instance, that the object ball lies close to the
right side cushion half-way between the middle and top pocket.
By playing rather slowly with right side from the end
spot of the D on the same side of the table, and aiming
dead at the centre of the object ball, the cue ball should be
made to run through the object ball, cling closely to the
cushion, and enter the pocket off the top shoulder. The
pocket side imparted to the cue ball, acting in conjunction
with the nap of the cloth, makes the cue ball press continuously
against the cushion and the still-unexpended side
helps it nicely into the pocket. A fastish stroke, even with
side, is not nearly so effective nor such good play. It
largely neutralizes the effect of the side, which is only operative
on the cloth at slow speed, and it may bring the
object ball into baulk.
If the idea be to play through a cushioned object ball into
a baulk pocket this somewhat similar position must, of
course, be differently treated. A slow stroke with pocket
side would not be likely to be successful, because the cloth
nap would now pull the other way. Therefore the stroke
should be played fast, with pocket side and preferably with
top. Such a stroke, properly executed, will not only find
the pocket, but will carry the object ball in and out of baulk
and probably into good position up the table.
The reason why the use of “top” is recommended in this
stroke is that top, in itself, is a very useful agency in keeping
a ball near to a cushion after contact with an object ball