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All You Need To Know About Billiards

Oct 12, 2007
The average amateur really wants to know two things about his billiards; first, what he can do; secondly, what he cannot do. Perhaps my meaning would be better expressed if I said that it will pay the average amateur if he knows what it will profit him to attempt, and what he had better leave alone. This does not apply exclusively, or even mainly, to individual strokes.

As regards these, I think that a bold policy is the best. The man who lacks enterprise when the run of the balls is difficult, will lose much pleasure and many games. Scoring sequences are more the kind of thing I have in mind at the moment, and I will continue regarding close-cannons, by which I mean those runs of nursery cannons so often seen in conjunction with top-of-the-table billiards when a first-rate professional is at work.

Nursery Cannons

Newman and Falkiner are the greatest adepts at this now playing, with Tom Reece not so far behind them. Consequently, from your point of view, you cannot expect to get nursery cannon position unless the balls run luckily for you. And when they do favour you, if you want to "nurse them," you need exceptional touch, and a lot of time in which to practice close cannons only.

Then you might acquire the knack of keeping the two object-balls always in front of your cue. But is it worth your while to trouble about this ? I very much doubt it, the more so as the Championship has been won before now by a player who did not make a single run of nursery cannons while winning his title.

Recognize Your Limitations

The man I am anxious to warn, is the amateur who makes occasional forty or fifty-breaks, and when he is fortunate enough to have the balls left for nursery cannons, thinks he will "try to make a few."

He may make two or three, then he leaves the balls covered and safe, or so awkwardly placed that he has to play a nasty shot to get out of trouble. Perhaps the best thing that can happen to him is for the cue-ball to be left touching one of the others, in which case the balls are spotted and he can play open billiards

Alternative Strokes

If you succumb to the temptation to try your unskilled best at the close cannons, you are sure to get into trouble before you have made enough cannons to carry your break any distance worth mentioning. But if you tap the red along nicely and leave an easy in-off, you should be able to make that to leave another of the same kind from hand, which you can make to leave another red loser, and so you continue your familiar open game, with the white always handy for a cannon when you want it.

This is far better billiards than temporizing with nursery cannons when you know little or nothing about these delicate strokes, and by frankly realizing this you will keep out of a "trap" which has brought many a nice break to a premature end. I know an amateur, a very nice player, who could tap off ten or a dozen cannons. He also "collects a few" at the top-of-the-table in good style as far as he goes.

Yet he is beaten twice out of three times by friends who make their forty and fifty breaks by steady hazard striking, and who never try to play close cannons or the spot-end game, because they know they cannot do so.

He came to me for advice on the matter, and after watching his play, I told him. "You are always trying to do more than you can do in a positional sense. If you had to play billiards for a living, and put in some hours of steady practice every day for a year at least, you would be able to do what you now try to do."

In other words, be bold, but be sure you know what you can do and what you should not attempt to do in billiards!
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