English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : July, 1912

The Billiard Monthly : July, 1912

Questions and Answers

Top-of-Table Superstition

156.—”Is it really a fact that proficiency in the top-of-the-table
game cannot be obtained without a lifetime’s practice?”

We
have often seen this absurd statement made, and it is apparently
believed in in some quarters, whereas the real facts must be
obvious to all. Quite young players, such as Newman and Smith,
are already making very useful runs at the top of the table, and
even George Gray, who has been very loosely termed a “one
stroke player,” has made over a hundred at the top of the table
without once going to baulk. For years Inman did not touch
the top-of-the-table game, wisely taking care to perfect his
losing hazard game first, but when he did turn his attention to
it he was not long in discovering that it is only the wider-range
game written small, and quickly mastered it. The chief essentials
are accurate object ball direction and avoidance of covers. The
routine chiefly aimed at is as follows: (1) Red on spot, with white
just behind and cue ball a little below red to one side. Play
very gently almost full on the red, moving it near to corner pocket,
and white as little as possible. (2) Put red down with strength
and/or compensation to bring cue ball to where it was before,
but on the opposite side to that previously played from. In this
way a lot of fives can be scored before the white reaches the top
cushion, and we once saw Dawson make 50 more when it got
there by the same alternate cannon and pot process. When the
ideal position is lost a pot from the spot, with proper guidance
of cue ball, may be necessary, or a gentle top cushion cannon off
the white on to the spotted red, or a very gentle screw cannon.

With foresight accompanying each stroke and every silent object
lesson remembered and profited by, the top-of-the-table game will
yield a 100 break to a fairly efficient player who devotes half-an-hour
a day to it within six months.

Fine In-Offs

157.—”When making cushion cannons or pockets which are
rather finer than half-ball is it better to use side as compensation
or to take the object ball rather finer?”

This is a moot point,
but we should say that accurate central striking has advantages
which come very near to counterbalancing, and perhaps exceeding,
the value of the margin for error permitted by the use of
side.

Operation of Side Before Contact

158.—”Should the aim be varied for slow and fast strokes with
side, also according to the distance to be travelled by the cue
ball before contact?”

Side only operates on the cloth in slow
strokes, and the aim allowance, in our opinion, is about a quarter
of an inch for each quarter length travelled by the ball. When the
cue is raised the allowance must be still greater. All this assumes
that the position of the body is right and that the cue is working
parallel with the line of aim.

Masking Opponent’s Ball

159.—”Without giving a miss is there better play than to run
the cue ball gently up against the opponent’s ball?”

Masking
is sometimes very effective, but it requires great care and judgment
as well as sensitive strength. This is especially the case if
done at a part of the board whence a gentle grazing stroke in
reply may find a pocket and so open up a good game.

Ball Forced Off Table

160.—”In The Billiard Monthly for May, on page 9, Question
No. 142, you state that when a ball is forced off the table the
non-striker has three options. Would you kindly let me know
what rule this is under? We lately got a book of rules and,
according to those rules, a ball forced off the table constituted a
foul stroke, the penalty for a foul stroke being to spot both balls.”

The B.C.C. rule (No. 18) as to ball or balls forced off table
runs:”If, in consequence of a miss, the striker’s ball is forced
off the table, the non-striker shall add three to his score. If,
after contact with another ball, striker’s or any other ball is
forced off the table the non-striker shall add two points to his
score. For a foul stroke (see rule 17, clause d), the striker cannot
score and his opponent plays from hand. His ball shall be
placed on the centre spot, the red shall be spotted, and his opponent
shall play from the D. The B.A. rules on the subject are as
follows—Rule 25:”If the striker make a miss and force his
ball off the table by the same stroke three points shall be scored
to the non-striker. If the striker’s ball hit another ball, and by
the same stroke any or all of the balls be forced from the table
two points shall be scored to the non-striker.” Rule 36: “If the
striker, after striking a ball, forces either his ball or any other
ball off the table he cannot score, and his opponent may either
follow on from the position in which the balls are left, or he may
either break the balls himself or direct his opponent to do so.”

It will thus be seen that under the B.C.C. rules the balls must
be spotted, but that under the B.A. rules the non-striker has three
options. It depends upon the rules under which a club or other
organization elects to play.

Hampering Opponents

161.—”What rule is followed for the purpose of leaving an
opponent with a difficult shot if the stroke in hand is doubtful?”

The dangers chiefly to be apprehended are; (1) Leaving red
over a pocket; (2) leaving easy cannon, and (3) leaving an easy
losing hazard. The best thing to do is to ask yourself how you
would like your opponent to play the stroke, and then take care
that you play it differently yourself. In billiards, as in many other
things,” Evil is wrought by want of thought.”

Strength in Screw Shots

162.—”Is there any rule as to strength in taking a screw shot
at distances less, or greater, than, say, a foot?”

Unless
necessary for driving purposes or very accurate contact the best
rule is to substitute fuller contact for strength. Strength at billiards
is greatly obliged alike with screws and forcing shots. In
practising, the effort should always be to ascertain what can be
done with restrained, rather than with accentuated, strength.

Allowing for the same contact the strength should be increased at
a greater distance than a foot, but up to this point right-angled
half-ball screw can be quite easily made with quite gentle pace
and low cueing.


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