English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : May, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : May, 1912

A Few Elementary Position Ideas

Sometimes the position player finds both cue and object
ball in play and in line across the table a little below a top
or middle pocket at quarter-ball angle. The quarter-ball
stroke would almost certainly land the object ball under the
cushion but gentle play with the same amount of fulness
brings it out nicely for a succeeding shot from baulk into
the same pocket. On the other hand the two balls might
be so placed across the table, not quite in line, that a very
fine shot, at strengths varied according to the particular
requirement, might in the case of the top pocket cut the
object ball down the table, towards the middle pocket and a
foot or so from the side cushion leaving a drop cannon on
to the red on the spot; in the case of the middle pocket it
might scarcely disturb the object ball, leaving another in-off
from baulk into the same pocket; and in the case of a
bottom pocket it might clear the object ball out of baulk,
and, by an oblique angling with the side cushion leave it
well placed for middle-pocket-scoring.

With regard to cannon play the caution may be given that
a cannon should not be attempted when more certain position
can be maintained by pocket play, even although the
cannon may be the more appealing shot. The first thing
that the aspiring sequence player has to learn in billiards
is to take no unnecessary risks, but this does not mean
that he is to lack courage. He has to realize, once for all,
that cannon play varies the courses of three balls, whereas
pocket play only leaves one to be considered, and, realizing
this, he will not hesitate to go for a somewhat difficult pocket,
in preference to a perfectly simple cannon, if he cannot
see what the latter would leave him. When watching
professional players spectators sometimes almost gasp with
astonishment when they find the experienced cueist totally
ignoring some simple cannon position and executing a distant
in-off or fairly long pot instead. Two examples may
be given. The object and cannon balls are in half-ball relation
to each other near the centre of the table above the
middle spot. The professional ignores the cannon possibility
and makes losing hazards off one or other of the balls
until, by some slight miscalculation of angle or strength
they leave the in-off scoring area, at which point a drop
cannon or pot is probably negotiable. Or the red may be
on the spot and the white close to it. A cannon is easy but
would carry the white away. Consequently the pot is
chosen and it is found that the ensuing cannon can be
safely and easily made.

Very often it is much better to cannon by way of a cushion
rather than from ball to ball and in the same way a two
cushion cannon is frequently preferable to one made from a
single cushion. Exactly what is here meant can easily be
ascertained by practical experiment. Place the red ball on
the billiard spot and the white ball a little above the middle
pocket and nicely away from the cushion so as to form an
easy direct half-ball cannon stroke from baulk. Played
with a strength which just allows the white ball to drop
upon the red (which is the meaning of the term “drop cannon
“) the three balls will come nicely together in the
neighbourhood of the billiard spot. But if the white ball
were rather nearer the side cushion the direct cannon could
only be made by the use of force, which would render subsequent
position entirely a matter of chance. If, however,
the stroke be played half-ball on to the top cushion, the
cue ball will, if the placing in baulk and the stroke be
accurate, drop gently on to the red and be followed there
or thereabouts by the white. On the other hand if the
white ball should chance to be still nearer the side cushion
it might be better to play rather fine upon it on its cushion
side, and again drop gently on to the red by way of both
side and top cushions. Taking the ball fine for this stroke
not only drives the white ball nicely across the table but
obviates the likelihood of its kissing the cue ball when coming
down from the top cushion.

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