Snooker Myths

Spin can be imparted to the object ball by the cue ball.

To impart any kind of spin to a ball, the point of contact between whatever is striking the ball must remain in contact with that ball for a minimum but measurable amount of time and force and with some form of grip. The longer the time of contact the more spin will be imparted and is much more important to the effect than the force used. (Even though the cue remains in contact with the cue-ball for a very short time, this type of stroke is not deemed to be a push and it is now even included in the official rules that push strokes do not include this momentarily extended contact). Thus, a roughened tip, coated with chalk to increase grip, will make the cue ball spin in a chosen direction if it is struck anywhere except centrally and the longer the contact the more spin will be imparted, so the importance of the follow through when playing the stroke is therefore demonstrated. If we accept this premise, it must be obvious that any contact of the cue-ball with an object ball is with totally smooth surfaces, is of a fraction of a second and that no follow through whatsoever is involved. This is true regardless of the speed of the contact. Whether the stroke is hard and fast, or gentle and slow, the contact between the two balls is the same in regards to time (a fraction of a second), follow through (none) and grip (none). It has been stated that to make an object ball that is tight to the cushion run along that cushion to the pocket, one must put sidespin on the cue-ball, which is then transferred to make the ball hug the cushion on its way to the pocket. The only way to get that ball to hug the cushion is to strike the object ball and the cushion with the cue-ball at the same moment. The ball situated in such a position and played as described might certainly have some spin imparted to it by its movement against that cushion as it travels towards the pocket but it will be the baize covering the cushion that causes the grip effect and that has long enough contact with the ball to introduce that spin but certainly not from the cue-ball. Logic should also tell us that when playing with spin to pot balls in areas of the table away from cushions, that it is only ever to affect the path of the cue-ball, either on its way to the ball in question or after striking it and never to affect the object ball in its straight line path from a stationary position on its journey to a pocket.

This respected coach goes onto say that he has tried this stroke both with spin and without and has found no difference in the outcome and that he would only ever use spin in such a stroke to achieve position but not to ensure the pot.

In conclusion then, it must be clear that it is impossible to transfer spin from the cue ball to the object ball and that this is a myth.

Points can be taken or awarded ‘away’

The number of players, and even some referees, that call fouls as “four (or any other number) away” seems to be at epidemic proportions. No player has ever had any points deducted from their score, there has never been a numerical negativity for anyone, ever, in the history of the game. Points can only be added to a score and, as we all know, any foul will result in the opponent’s score increasing, not the offender’s score decreasing. Fouls do not take points ‘away’ from the offender, they only give penalty points to an opponent and furthermore is in the official rules and can be found in Section 2. Rule 15. and Section 3. Rule 1 (d) and is therefore another myth.

The cue ball cannot be snookered by a cushion and any failure to first strike a ball-on is an automatic miss when playing from such a position.

Nowhere in the rulebook does the question arise, or is it written, that the above statement is correct. The Miss Rule, Sec. 3 Rule 14 b), states that if the striker, in making a stroke, fails to first hit a ball-on when there is a clear path in a straight line from the cue-ball to any part of any ball that is or could be on, the referee shall call ‘foul and a miss’.

There are two provisos in the rulebook to this admonition.

1. That penalty points are not required to win the frame.

2. That the referee does not consider the stroke intentional.

Now it must be obvious, even to the most obtuse of us, that the cue-ball, obstructed from any ball on by a cushion, cannot have a clear path in a straight line to that ball.

Sec. 2 Rule 17 (e) Snookered, is the relevant rule not Sec. 3 Rule 14.

Sec. 3 Rule 12 states that if the cue-ball is snookered after a foul the referee shall state FREE BALL and that is what is relevant to being obstructed or not by a cushion and if it is and by definition not snookered, then the free ball cannot be awarded. When playing an indirect stroke or a swerve in this instance the referee is certainly at liberty to assess whether or not the striker has made a genuine and reasonable attempt, according to skills possessed, to strike such a ball and to call a miss if it is the opinion that the stroke fell short of such a determination, but it can never be automatic as when direct access is available, with the inclusion of the two provisos stated. So, another myth.

That table needs levelling.

Yes, maybe it does, but there may be other reasons for balls to deviate from the straight and narrow. Are you confident enough in your cue action to be sure that you didn’t, inadvertently, put a little side spin on the ball if it was the cue ball that ran off true? When was the last time the table was brushed and ironed? Residual chalk and dust on the cloth could easily make a ball change direction slightly. The raised nap, especially on a heavier or newer cloth, could also cause deviation, most often on a ball that is running slowly towards the baulk end of the table against the nap. Is the cloth old and worn? If so it would have to have been on the table for a good length of time and I’m sure it would amaze you how much powdery chalk is under it and how uneven and patterned it is. Could this be the cause of that missed shot? Chalk also gathers and forms hard little bumps under stick-on spots. Areas that have been damaged by poor cueing will have “moth holes” in them. How good is the set of balls being used? Are they old with lots of chips in them? Are they clean? Did the ball run over a less than perfect spot? Possibly not a myth then but many, many reasons why it could be!

So, before lots of time and money are wasted on levelling a table that may not need it, other possibilities should be considered.

That it is only a foul if a stroke is played.

Or so it would seem from the number of players acting as referees and even some accredited but inexperienced referees, who call ‘Foul Stroke’ whenever a foul occurs. (Perhaps they are the same ones who call ‘away’ when awarding penalties). There are many, many instances of fouls occurring without any involvement of a stroke. These are mainly cuff fouls where players inadvertently contact balls when preparing to play but also include those instances where contact is made with the cue-ball when feathering. Other instances of fouls not having anything to do with a stroke being made or in progress, are the 7-point fouls of using a ball off the table (by the striker) for any purpose or using objects to measure gaps or distance. Nothing sounds more incongruous in these and like situations, than the referee declaring ‘foul stroke’. A simple statement of ‘foul’ is all that is required and will cover all eventualities in all situations whenever they occur.

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