Friday, April 16, 2010

1985 World Snooker Championship Final

I'd like to tell you today about one of those moments of legend, a culmination of skill, luck, excitment and grown men playing with their balls.

The noble game of Snooker has a storied evolution - starting as a hybrid of English Billiards (an interesting game in its own right, related to Carom billiards but with pockets), and Pyramid Pool (also called Life Pool), a gambler's game played in England in the 19th century. There are many good online reads about the history of snooker - if you find a particularly good one, please post in comments!

Anyway, the popularity of snooker had been increasing since the 1930s, reaching its apogee in the mid-1980s. Through what Doc Brown may have called the junction point for the entire space-time continuum, 1985 coincides with the height of snooker TV viewership, the setting for back to the future part 1, and the most amazing conclusion to a cue sport championship EVER.

It was the final of the World Snooker Championship, at the Crucible Theater in Sheffield, England (Sheffield is the Mecca of Snooker, I hope to visit there sometime soon). Steve Davis, three time previously world champion, was facing Dennis Taylor, who had reached the finals once before. Steve was the heavy, heavy favorite to win.
The final was a race to 18 frames (for my American readers, 18 "racks"). If you have tried snooker before, you know that a frame takes quite a bit longer than a rack of 9 ball (probably more on par with the duration of a rack of 1-pocket than any other pool game).
This particular final lasted 14 hours and 50 minutes (!!!!), the longest ever recorded for what would become a 35 frame match.
Yes, this means it went hill-hill in the finals - can you believe it? There's more - get this : it came down to the FINAL BALL of the final rack of the final of the world championship. Great Scott!!!!
From then on, this match has been snookerpropriately referred to as the Blackball Finish.
Here is a pretty good summary of the events, and the pertinent shots of the match are shown along with good commentary.

Once you have returned from the edge of your seat, try to think of other awesome moments in cue sports and tell me about them, I will blog them up and post for the enjoyment of all!

Written in Siena, Italy on Friday, April 16th 2010.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Pool Stories part 002 - "I guess he was in heat for action"

This is my favorite story so far... Again Steve from Drexeline tells it excellently.
Filmed Thursday, April 8th 2010 at Drexeline Billiards in Philadelphia.

Do you have a good gaff game story? Or any other story related to pool that you would like to share? Let me know!

Delft, NL Tips and tricks - Unusual (at least to me) bridge shot technique

So maybe this is a technique common in many places, but no one had showed me this one until last night in Delft, The Netherlands.

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Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to use a bridge, shooting over the top of a ball, and the only bridge available is one of those X ones? I mean, the ones that are a simple cross, too low to shoot over a ball...
This situation happened last night while I was playing some 1-hole with Niels, the bartender out at the Snooker & Pool Palace. Niels simply grabbed the bridge cue, and held his left hand underneath the cue so that the butt of the cue and his knuckles were on the felt.

This allows for control of bridge elevation and doesn't seem to be very difficult to master. I tried it myself after seeing it and found it surprisingly stable and comfortable.

A bit more about the Snooker and Pool Palace:
14 American Pool Tables (Brunswicks, 9-foot, well maintained)
6 Snooker tables
6 Free dartboards
Full bar (cheap beers)
Open until 1am every day
Their busy season is November through April, because during the warmer months people tend to spend their time outdoors.

The local level is quite good - Niels says he ran 6 racks of 9-ball and has a top run of 46 in straight pool - Niels, if you are reading this, I know you are also a snooker player but just realized I did not ask you what your top break was!
A view of the Pool area:

A tough 1-pocket spot I put Niels in :

A view of the bar from the snooker area:

And of course, no trip to the Netherlands would be complete without windmills and tulips!